I am excited to welcome author Jocelynn Drake as we start off a fabulous week of interviews with the characters from her new series, Asylum Tales. The first novel, Angel’s Ink, won’t be out until this October, but we’ll get our first glimpse of the world tomorrow when Asylum Interviews: Bronx is released.
The first of two prequel stories to Jocelynn Drake’s Angel’s Ink. It’s not easy being a tattoo artist and a warlock, especially when you’re in hiding. Or when a botched tattoo has amplified an incubus’s existing sex appeal into one that could wreck the whole town. And your only help is a troll.
Today we’re getting to meet our hero, tattoo artist and warlock, Gage. Make sure you check out All Things Urban Fantasy, Tynga’s Reviews, A Great Read,and Larissa’s Bookish Life this week for interviews with Parker, Bronx, Trixie and Gideon throughout the week.
Want to know what LE thought of Asylum Interviews: Bronx? I can tell you Nicole definitely recommends picking up this short story and Jackie said Bronx is like the perfect tease for this new series.
To celebrate the release of the new novella (Asylum Interviews: Bronx) and the new series (THE ASYLUM TALES), I popped over to Low Town to interview Gage and some of his friends who appear in his stories. Let’s just say it was an adventure. This somewhat long interview will be posted in five parts over the next week, introducing you to Gage’s world and friends.
Seeking Asylum: Jocelynn Drake’s Adventure in Low Town Part 1
The early spring air is growing cool now that the sun has set and I find myself walking a little faster down the street toward Asylum. Lights blaze from nearly all of the shop fronts I pass and music tumbles out from the open doors of the bars and restaurants that line this long block. I keep my eyes straight ahead and my head up as I walk, trying my hardest not to gawk or at the very least scream, but it’s not easy when an ogre steps out of the shadows and gives me a knowing grin. (Yeah, I’m not from this part of town.) I keep moving, determined to get to the tattoo parlor before I make an idiot of myself.
Gage and I have worked on two books and two novellas together, but it’s always been him telling me the stories on my own turf. This is the first time I’ve dared to come to his part of town, walk in his shoes a bit. It’s more than a little overwhelming. (At least when I was working with Mira, the vampires tried to keep their otherness somewhat low-key.) But I studied journalism in college, I can pull it together and be professional about this (so long as Gage doesn’t invite his incubus friend).
Asylum Tattoo Parlor is near the end of the block with an alley running along the left side. It’s in a tall, two-story building with a large picture window. There’s a neon heart with mother written across the center. The building is old and quaint, reminding me of the place where I got my first tattoo, which seems to instantly set me at ease. The front door creaks softly and an electronic chime announces my entrance. The lobby, with its hardwood floors and covered fireplace, is empty. I pause, standing on the giant area rug, half-tempted to pull up the edge to see the antiglamour spell carved into the wood. I fight back the urge. No one is supposed to know it’s there and I’m sure I’m being watched on the surveillance camera in the tattooing room.
“Go ahead. Look.”
My head pops up and I find Gage smiling at me from behind the glass case that is in front of the doorway leading to the main tattooing room. I had been lost in the sound of the buzzing tattoo machine and my own wonder at standing in the place I’ve heard so much about. With a smile, I kneel down and pick up the corner of the rug to find the edge of the pentagram that has been carved in to the wood.
Dropping the rug back in place, I stand to find Gage leaning on the counter with an indulgent smile. The poor man has been putting up with my questions for well over a year now, he’s learned to be indulgent. When I look at him, I’m always struck by how young he appears. He’s twenty-seven now, but it seems too young when you consider all that he’s done and seen. He was sixteen when he escaped the Towers and twenty-one when he opened Asylum alone.
“You’ve got that look again. What are you thinking?” Gage demands, his expression growing guarded.
I shake my head and smile. “Sorry. Just thinking. You ready?”
Gage stares at me for another second, wary, before he turns and waves for me to accompany him. “Let me grab something. Come and say ‘Hi’.”
I slip around the glass case and step over the threshold. On my right, Trixie is sitting on a small stool beside a chair that is the overflowing with … something. I’m not as good as Gage at identifying some of the people who walk into his shop. It looks like an ogre in size, but its skin is softer. Trixie is working on the creature’s bicep. She’s still in her glamour of brown hair and human features. She lifts her gun and looks up at me with a warm smile. We had met a couple of times when I was working with Gage, and she’s been kind enough to give me some details that Gage was reluctant to share.
Directly in front of me across the room sits Bronx. I hadn’t met the enormous troll before, but there was no doubt as to who it is. His blond hair is cut short and styled so that it sticks straight up from his round head. His skin has a slight grayish tint to it and looks at hard as a rhino’s, which explained why he has no tattoos. However, Trixie has already drawn a series of different birds along his bare forearms. My first impression is that he is big and scary and could rip my head off without trying – and I’m not particularly proud of myself for those thoughts considering what I know of the troll.
“Hi, I’m Jocelynn Drake. I’m the writer working with Gage,” I say, quickly crossing the distance between us and extending my hand toward him. My hand is shaking slightly, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I meet his eyes and smile.
Bronx’s face splits into a warm smile that spreads to his eyes. They are deep blue and so … perfect. Deep and soulful, they are the kind of eyes that you could get lost in if you stare too long. Gage had failed to mention that. There’s something about Bronx’s eyes that is comforting and still, like looking at a placid pool of clear water.
“Bronx. It’s nice to finally meet you,” he replies in a deep voice as he takes my hand. His skin is warm and not as rough as I had expected. His handshake is surprisingly gentle, but I have a feeling that he’s afraid of frightening me more.
Releasing his hand, I step back and watch as Gage bends down while opening a cabinet. Peeking around him, I spot several guns lying about next to a couple bottles of alcohol.
“I thought you were going to get rid of those,” I say.
Gage laughs, quick and easy. “Working on it. I’ve been a little busy.”
I laugh too. “So I’ve heard.” The tattoo artist has been getting hit from all sides recently, but I think things might quiet down soon.
“Want to try some Mordred?” he asks, holding up an unopened bottle of dark elf whiskey and shaking it at me.
“No! Geez, Gage, I’ve got to try to remember this interview later.”
Gage laughs again as he puts the bottle back and stands. “Just kidding. I’ll save it for when you interview Parker.” He wags his eyebrows at me and I can’t stop the blush that rises to my cheeks. Okay, despite being a mature twenty-seven, he can still be an ass at times.
“I don’t think I’m ready to be alone with your friend just yet. I’m still … adjusting to your world.”
“Don’t worry,” Trixie calls over the buzz of her tattooing gun. “He’ll help you adjust.”
“No doubt,” I mutter. I’d prefer not to be alone with an incubus, particularly one that may still be adjusting to his single status. I force a smile on my lips and look over at Gage. “Ready?”
The warlock-turned-tattoo artist leads the way through the back of the shop and out a door to the wooden staircase up to the second floor. The apartment is small and more than a little run-down. The walls are that neutral beige with a few cracks and holes while the carpet is a worn brown that helps to hide so many stains. The air is a little stuffy, but it’s not oppressive as the summer heat has yet to set in throughout Low Town.
Gage plops down at the far end of the couch and drops one foot on the scarred coffee table while giving a deep sigh. Sitting on the other end of the couch, I pull a recorder out of my purse and start it before opening my notebook for additional notes.
Drake: Yes, but readers want to know more about you and your friends. The details of who you are, besides all the insanity of your life.
Gage: (Flashing me his trademark smirk, Gage stands and shoves his hands in his pockets) Hi. My name is Gage Powell and I’m … I’m a … warlock. It’s been … three days since I last used magic.
Drake: (rolling my eyes) Sit down and be serious. (But as soon as it’s out of my mouth, I know it’s impossible. A serious Gage is hard to pin down.)
Gage: (resumes his seat with both feet on the coffee table) All right. Serious. What do you want to know?
Drake: When we first met, very few people knew that you once studied as a warlock, but it seems like more people are finding out the truth of your past. Are you worried about people knowing who or what you are?
Gage: Not too much. The majority of the people that stroll into Asylum don’t know and the few that know can either be trusted or are just scared of what I’ll do if they say something. On a day-to-day basis, I rarely use magic and never where someone can see me. My secret is safe.
Drake: And the release of the books doesn’t worry you?
Gage: (smirks at me) You mean those works of “fiction” being published under your name in your world? Please, even your publisher doesn’t believe the stories are real.
Drake: Well, there aren’t too many people who would believe that I spent the evening talking to an elf, a troll, and a warlock for my job.
Gage: I could always tattoo you.
Drake: Thanks. I’m looking for another tattoo, but not right now. I would prefer that my world thinks this is all fiction. I don’t want to cause trouble for you.
Drake: There is one thing that is very different from my world. You don’t have a lot of tattoos. Just the back piece of the tiger. The tattoo artists I’ve known are all covered in tattoos. Is that not common here?
Gage: Yes and no. There are people here who love tattoos for the art and they are covered with just art – no potions. A number of them are tattoo artists. But the difference is that the majority of people who get tattoos also have a potion put in the skin. You have to be careful with that. Too many potions in the bloodstream and skin can start to counteract and interfere with each other – causing bad things to happen. In addition, most of those potion tattoos are very identifiable. Your entire life history is written on your skin so everyone will know you have trouble in your love life and with money and luck and all those other things.
Drake: Since I haven’t heard from you recently, I’m assuming that things have gotten quiet. How are things between you and Trixie?
Gage: Your readers want to know about my love life?
Drake: Of course. Everyone likes to hear about love and happiness. Or are you just evading because you are embarrassed?
Gage: I’m not evading or embarrassed. Trixie and I are good together. I mean, we’ve been friends for a couple years and now it’s just … more. It’s also nice that she knows about my past. I didn’t like hiding that side of my life from her and Bronx. It’s out in the open now and while I know it makes her nervous sometimes, we laugh about it and I need to laugh about that stuff or I’ll just go crazy.
Drake: In the book we recently finished, I remember you saying that “Everyone deserved a shot at normal.” That line stuck with me. Could you tell me what your idea of “normal” is?
Gage: (chuckles softly) You think because I live with elves and pixies and vampires and everything else, I don’t have a normal?
Drake: I just think your idea of normal might be different from mine.
Gage: I remember the line you’re talking about. My idea of normal is growing up with people who love you and protect you. Normal is going to school, playing with friends, and annoying your teachers. Normal is not worrying about anything more serious that being the fastest on the playground, finding a date for prom, and figuring out what the hell you’re going to do with your life when you finally move out of your parents’ basement. Normal is going to work, having drinks on Friday night, and curling up next to your mate at the end of the night.
Drake: (smiling) Sounds a lot like my normal.
Gage: Thought so. It just happens that my normal includes a vampire ex-girlfriend, a troll coworker, and a bartender who happens to be a minotaur. Our worlds aren’t that different.
Drake: Except for the Towers.
Gage’s smile evaporates with one word and I instantly regret spoiling our relaxed mood. But now that the word has been spoken, I feel like I should press on.
Drake: Do you ever miss that life? Or even anything about it?
Gage: Living in the Towers? (He frowns and looks away from me as he seems to grow uncomfortable for the first time.) I wish I could instantly say no. After everything that has happened and all the people who have been hurt by the Towers, I wish I could say that I don’t miss anything, but that would be a lie. I don’t miss Simon or all the abuse I suffered through. I don’t miss watching the horrible things that they did. But I miss the magic. It’s the one thing in my life that has always made sense to me. I miss studying it and weaving together threads of energy to do your bidding. There’s nothing like that feeling of power and ultimately connectedness to something larger.
Drake: If you could be a warlock without the Towers, would you choose that over being a tattoo artist?
Gage: (His smile creeps back) I can’t answer that. First, you can’t be a warlock without the Towers. And second, I love both, just differently. Magic is something that seems to fit my soul, while tattooing gives me contact with interesting people, my friends, and challenges me in interesting ways. I will never be as great an artist as Trixie or Bronx, but I am a great potion stirrer. I’m happy with my life.
Drake: I’m glad —
A knock at the door startles me and I turn a confused expression on Gage, who is struggling to keep a grin from his face. Damn it, the devil has planned something. Gage gets up from his end of the couch and walks to the door. He doesn’t ask who it is before pulling it open. He already knows. I rise from my seat as if pulled by an invisible thread as a breathtakingly handsome man strolls in. His eyes are locked on me. When my brain starts functioning again, I glare at Gage, who is looking far too tickled with himself. I know who this is. Gage had described him as having a movie star face and the body of an underwear model. From what I can see, it’s an accurate description.
To catch the second part of this five-part series and my meeting with the incubus Parker, go to All Things Urban Fantasy on Tuesday.
Meet Jocelynn Drake!
Love comes in many varied forms. There is the love of family, love of country, and love of chocolate. But for Jocelynn Drake, one truly treasured love is the love of a good story. This Midwestern native spends the majority of her time lost in the strong embrace of a good book, whether she writing it or reading it doesn’t really matter. When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard, frowning at her monitor, or curled up with a book, she can usually be found cuddling with her cats, Harley and Demona, walking her dog Max, or flinging curses at the TV while playing a video game. Outside of books, cats, and video games, she is completely enamored of Bruce Wayne, Ezio Auditore, travel, explosions, fast cars, tattoos, and Anthony Bourdain (but only when he’s feeling really cranky).
Want to purchase Jocelynn’s novels?
- Angel’s Ink at Amazon | Book Depository
- Asylum Interviews: Bronx at Amazon
- Asylum Interviews: Trixie at Amazon
- Nightwalker at Amazon | Book Depository
- Dayhunter at Amazon | Book Depository
- Dawnbreaker at Amazon | Book Depository
- Pray for Dawn at Amazon | Book Depository
- Wait for Dusk at Amazon | Book Depository
- Burn the Night at Amazon | Book Depository
- Nightwalker / Dayhunter (Omnibus) at Amazon
- Bound to Me at Amazon | Book Depository
- The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten at Amazon