Thursday, October 6, 2011

Augusta Li (and Eon) it's wonderful to have you as a guest again for Ramsey's Reviews 2nd Annual Halloween Bash. I see you have been busy creating more stories to entertain your readers with. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us.

Tell us your latest news. Do you have any current projects your working on?
I've been fortunate enough to have quite a few new releases in the last couple of months! Silver Publishing released my urban fantasy novel Epiphany on August 13th. It's the story of two young men, Elijah and Dust, trying to make a place for themselves in the tumultuous climate of 1970's America, while trying to secure a dangerous enchantment that will save Dust from the forces trying to destroy him. It's the first in a series called Ensorcelled, and a novel-length sequel will be forthcoming. In the mean time, I'll release a series of novella-length works about Dust and Elijah's adventures working as freelance wizards. Those are titled, appropriately, Ensorcelled Adventures. The first is my Halloween-themed story, The Midnight Children, in which Dust and Elijah are hired to seek out a local legend that's targeting magic-users. The second, Wisp and White Hart, is a holiday story, but it's anything but sweet and fluffy. The Midnight Children will be available at Silver on October 29th, and Wisp and White Hart in December. Read on, and I'll post some excerpts from Epiphany and The Midnight Children!Epiphany is available now: other news, I released Boots for the Gentleman, an epic steampunk adventure written with Eon de Beaumont, at Dreamspinner Press. It isn't a horror story, but there's plenty of fighting, magical creatures, faeries, zombie-like automatons, and an adorable clockwork boy called Frolic. On September 19th, I'll be releasing a solo-written spin-off set in the same universe, about a young pickpocket named Robin who's trying to protect himself from the dangerous faeries living in the wilderness around him, even as he's falling in love with one. It's called Snowdrop, and will be available here:

You can read
Boots now!

When and Why did you begin writing?
I've only been writing for a few years now, and I really do it out of love for my characters. I feel like these great people exist out there in the ether, and just need me to help them be born.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
A lot of my work is set in made-up worlds, so that just comes from my head! When I do need to do research, I find it best to go to the source. Epiphany is set in 1974, well before my time. The most valuable information I got was from people who experienced that era first-hand. I do the same with locations, trying to find someone who lives or lived there who is willing to let me pick their brain.

What do you think makes a good horror story?
Originality. The market is flooded with vampires and werewolves, probably due the success of Twilight and similar books. A few of them are handled by their authors in a unique way, but there's a lot of similarity. I like to read a book where the unexpected happens, whether it's because a new creature or threat is invented, or because a traditional monster is portrayed in a new and different way. I like to take chances in my books, and I like books that take chances as well.

What is your favorite scary movie or book?

When I was a kid, I looked forward to watching the old black and white horror movies on TV. My favorite was Bela Lugosi's Dracula. I looked forward to Halloween in a large part because I knew it would be on late at night. I never missed it, and I still don't. I love that the actors and the writing conveyed the mood without the need for flashy special effects.

What makes you interested in the genre your write?
I write across a lot of genres. The common themes are action and adventure. I like a face-paced, unpredictable story, be in a realistic setting, an urban fantasy, a steampunk, sci-fi, or fantasy world. Most of my stories are pretty hot, too, though they're often nowhere near traditional romances.

When you were a child, what creature or story scared you the most? And did it propel your creative muse to write about it later?
I'll be honest and give everybody a good laugh. I've always had an irrational fear of narwhals. In attempt to get past it, a wrote a rather touching scene in my novella Neskaya where my protagonists bond while watching a group of narwhals swim by. I still think they're really bizarre and kind of creepy, though.

Do you remember ever coming up with anything so wild that you scared yourself, leaving you to wonder where that came  from?
The blood rituals in Neskaya were pretty intense. I don't think I slept more than a few hours over the weeks that I wrote that one. And it was originally intended to be a Christmas story...

Want to read it?

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory description and/or erotic content?
Heh. I don't.

Could you share some of your blurbs or exerts with us?
From Epiphany (Ensorcelled 1)

1974. When the residents of the backwater town of Epiphany, Nevada drive off a hurt and hungry young man because he has long hair, timid diner cook Elijah Tupper can't find the courage to stand up to them. Later, both guilt and strong attraction compel Elijah to seek out the drifter who calls himself only Dust. He finds him camped in the Mojave, and Dust and Elijah agree to travel together, though Elijah can't possibly imagine the task that awaits them.

Dust's painful past has left him mistrustful of people and the world. He also possesses mysterious powers, though hunger and injury have left him weak. Elijah vows to aid and protect him, even if Dust can't believe that Elijah has no ulterior motives. A fragile trust slowly forms between them, despite Dust's cynicism and Elijah's insecurity. As they seek to recover the magic that will save Dust from the forces trying to destroy him, they must enlist the aid of the county sheriff who originally banished Dust from Epiphany.

Though Sheriff Sam Woodward doesn't approve of Dust or his blossoming relationship with Elijah, he agrees to help the young men to protect his town from Dust's enchantments. In order for the three men to succeed and survive their dangerous, magical journey, each of them must adapt and grow. They'll need all of their skills to survive the corrupt city of Las Vegas and the twisted, supernatural realms beyond.

Here's an excerpt. Enjoy!
The whole frigid, lonely time he'd spent walking from Epiphany, Elijah had imagined various scenarios. He'd pictured Dust hugging him with gratitude and inviting him to be his companion. He'd anticipated being greeted with happiness and surprise by the other man. Until now, it hadn't crossed Elijah's mind that Dust might not want to see him. After all, Elijah hadn't defended Dust when the townspeople drove him away hungry. Elijah had been too scared of his mother and the sheriff to speak up. What if Dust thought he was a coward? Elijah felt queasy. He was sure, now, that he'd misinterpreted the look Dust had given him and the way he'd stroked Elijah's hand. Nobody like Dust would be interested in somebody like him: an insignificant person from an insignificant place. Elijah had been fooling himself.
As much as he wanted to turn back and save himself the hurt and humiliation, Elijah kept walking. The least he could do would be to leave the coffee and sandwiches. Dust would certainly appreciate the blanket. Elijah would set them down, apologize for what had happened at the diner, and start the long trek back home. Hopefully, he'd be able to sneak in the back door and through the mud room without his mother catching him, grilling him, and eventually pummeling him with whatever was closest to her hand. Whatever unpleasant thing befell him, he would accept as penance for not speaking up against what had been done to Dust.
The drifter sat in front of his tiny fire, hugging his knees. His dark hood covered everything but his nose, lips and chin. His frozen breath hovered in the stillness like a ghostly companion. Elijah took a deep breath and said, "Hello."
Dust turned his head quickly toward Elijah, the fire reflected in his eyes making them look like glowing embers against his shadowed face. His hand shot out in Elijah's direction as if he held a weapon, but his palm was empty. It groped the cold air, the way a person felt around for a pair of lost spectacles. He slid the hood back and squinted into the darkness. Seeing Elijah, he dropped his hand and relaxed.
"You're the cook from the diner," Dust said.
Elijah nodded. "I brought you some sandwiches and coffee."
Dust rose stiffly and walked over to where Elijah stood just at the edge of the ring of fire light. He looked amazed. "You mean you walked all the way out here to bring me sandwiches?"
"Yeah, it's no big deal," Elijah said.
"Thank you," Dust said.
Elijah slid the bag from his shoulder and held it out to Dust. "There's a blanket in there too. I thought you might be able to use one."
Dust seemed too stunned to even reach for the offered provisions, so Elijah set the bag down by the drifter's feet. "All right then," Elijah said, "guess that's it. I'm sorry about the way everybody treated you. It wasn't right, and I do apologize. Take care." He thrust his shivering hands back into his pockets and turned.
"Wait," Dust said, and Elijah faced him.
"You need anything else?"
"No," Dust said. "Why did you do this?"
"Well, you were hungry," Elijah said. "And it's cold out here."
"You mean that's it?"
"What else would there be?" Elijah asked.
"Come sit down," Dust said. "At least warm up before you walk all the way back to your town."
"Okay," Elijah said, and he followed Dust to the fire. They sat cross-legged on the hard-packed earth, looking at each other over flames. Dust unzipped the gym bag and stripped the foil from the sandwiches. He smiled at them as if they were priceless jewels before starting to eat. Then he silently tore pieces of bread and meat into chunks and shoved several of them into his mouth at a time, looking over his shoulder now and then as if Elijah's mother might appear from behind a cactus and snatch the food away again. Elijah had never seen a human being eat like that. He was reminded of the stray dogs they sometimes had to drive away from the dumpster behind the restaurant. Dust's rapid swallowing, an occasional grunt of pleasure, and the soft crackle of the fire were the only sounds. In less than ten minutes he'd finished three sandwiches. Elijah poured some coffee into the thermos lid and handed it to the drifter.
"Hope you like lots of sugar," Elijah said.
Dust took a long gulp. "You have some too," he said to Elijah. "To warm up." He held the little metal cup to Elijah's lips and tipped it forward. As Elijah drank from the cup in his hand, Dust slid closer until their shoulders touched. The sudden warm solidity against his arm shocked Elijah. When he realized that Dust had touched him, he almost choked. Dust lowered the cup but didn't pull away. Elijah wiped the coffee from his chin with his sleeve.
"You don't have a cigarette, do you?"
"No, sorry," Elijah said. Questions raced and collided in his mind like bumper cars. He wanted to ask Dust where he was going, where he'd come from, and why. He wanted to know how the drifter had been injured, how long it had been since he'd eaten. The biggest question also remained: Would Dust let Elijah go with him?
"You said there's a blanket in here?" Dust asked as he rummaged through the pack. He found the corner of the blue quilt that had been on Elijah's bed and unfolded it. He threw it over his shoulders like a cape and said "Well, get under."
Elijah hesitated and pulled away. He hadn't been expecting this level of familiarity so soon. It confused him and scared him a little bit. He had almost no experience with such situations, but Dust smiled sincerely, and Elijah took a deep breath, forcing himself to say, "Don't worry about me. I'll be fine."
"Come on," the drifter urged, holding the corner of the blanket out from his shoulder. "We'll both be more comfortable if we share."
Elijah spread the blanket across his back and tucked the satiny edge under his chin the way he did when he went to sleep at home. Dust's warmth beside him after his long walk acted almost as a sedative. He realized, to his surprise, that he felt completely safe and comfortable around this stranger. He poured another cup of coffee and laid his cheek lightly against Dust's shoulder.
"Dust," Elijah said, barely above a whisper. The drifter's blue-gray eyes stayed fixed on the fire. "Dust?" he said again, a little louder.
The black-haired young man turned. He looked so beautiful and mysterious in the amber glow that Elijah inhaled sharply. "Dust, can I ask you something?"
"You said, at the diner, that you were Dust," Elijah said, blushing and feeling stupid. "What should I call you?"
Dust placed a soft kiss on Elijah's forehead that made him tremble from his ears to his freezing toes. "Call me whatever you want. Call me Dust if you want to, and ask me whatever you want."
Elijah swallowed hard. "I want to help you. Whatever you're trying to do, I want to help."
"It's okay," Dust said. He put his arm around Elijah and pulled him closer. "I'd like it if you came with me. It's pretty rough, though, as you can see." He pointed at his camp: a backpack for a pillow and a pile of burning twigs and brush.
"I don't know what I'll be able to do," Elijah said. "I don't really have any talents, except cooking."
Dust nestled his face into Elijah's thick hair and spoke softly into his ear. "That's not true. You have a pure, innocent soul. Real goodness is rare, rarer than riches, or power, or anything. It's a treasure. Besides—" Dust gripped Elijah's chin between his thumb and finger and inclined his head so their eyes met. "—you're really cute."
And here's a sneak peek at The Midnight Children, my Halloween offering this year! Dust and Elijah have been hired to investigate the murders of several magic-users. They've just arrived in town, and are staying at the home of their employer...
Hours later, Elijah and Dust lay sleeping together on one of the narrow beds. They’d opened the window to the fragrant, night air and their room smelled of pine, wet maple leaves, damp soil and wood fires. Dust’s eyes fluttered open, and he became aware of Elijah’s bare back against his chest. The toasty meeting of their skin beneath the blankets contrasted with the chill breeze. Soft snores drifted from the other man in a slow, peaceful cadence. Maybe he’d dreamed the faint laughter he’d sworn he heard. His nightmares came less frequently now, but they still came. Odd that he had no memory of this one; normally it took him hours to banish the visions from his mind. Maybe his imagination played a trick on him. Still, Dust lay awake with his arm draped over Elijah’s ribs, listening.
Something disturbed the gravel outside; it sounded like a person running. Pushing himself up on his elbow, Dust leaned closer to the window. Another person ran past the house, and another. Squinting into the night, Dust perceived almost a dozen small, dark silhouettes flitting about, racing and skipping up and down the dirt road that ran next to the house. He heard high-pitched, tinkling laughter: a young girl. More voices joined hers in merriment. Some of them sang an old nursery rhyme: “Boys and girls come out to play. The moon doth shine as bright as day. Leave your supper and leave your sleep. Join your playfellows in the street.” Dust shuddered.
What the hell is going on? It must be three in the morning.
Elijah.” Dust shook his shoulder gently, and Elijah grumbled and stretched his arms over his head.
Wake up. Put your clothes on and get your sword.”
Huh? Why?”
Something’s going on. Hurry.”
They dressed quickly and crept through Jonas Kehler’s silent house to the front door. Outside, a chill mist obscured the bottoms of the trees and made the ferns and berry fronds appear to float, disembodied, from the vapor. Cold wind whipped up eddies of brittle leaves and small twigs. The gibbous moon had fallen below the mountain peaks, and most of the residents had long since turned off their porch lights and Halloween decorations. The small town didn’t have streetlights, or even traffic lights. Dust looked up and down the narrow road, straining to discern what direction the eerie laughter came from. “Can you give us some light?” he asked Elijah.
Elijah opened his hand and a sphere of warm, golden radiance formed over his palm. It floated into the air, level with their shoulders, and drifted along with them as they walked. A shriek pierced the night; not a scream of terror but a child’s exclamation of delight. More laughter followed. Something rustled the bushes about a hundred yards ahead of them before a few small shadows darted across the path.
What are kids doing out here?” Elijah wondered aloud. “Some kind of Halloween prank?”
Dust shook his head. “They seem way too young for that. Listen, they’re singing. I think most of them are up ahead, near those houses.” He pointed to a semi-circle of modest homes arranged around an old, stone well. In the high grass of the round lawn they shared, a group of children giggled, jumped and frolicked.
This is really creepy, Dust,” Elijah said.
Without responding, Dust cautiously moved closer. He and Elijah had almost made it to the edge of the grass when all of the children stood as one and rushed toward the door of a brick house. Still laughing and singing, they beat against the door, kicked it, and threw the weight of their small bodies against it until it gave way. Dust heard the wood splinter just before the group poured into the building. Glass broke inside, and a woman screamed.
Oh, shit,” Elijah said as he unsheathed his katana and ran for the house.

Where can your fans go to find more information about you and your books?

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Is there anything else additional you would like to share with your readers? 
Have a Happy Halloween! Thanks from the bottom of my heart to those who support me! Thanks to Amy for having me!
<3 Gus.


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