Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Stevenson


Beth was the first character who came to me when I was contemplating the question, "Why would any woman sign a contract with hell to become a succubus?" Beth's story is I think what fanfic calls my "reader crack." "Reader crack" is the kind of story that you, personally, can never pass up, no matter how it's written or how it comes out or anything. For some, it's M/M romance between alphas. For some, it's a teenage girl who battles baddies in a dystopian future.

My "reader crack" is the woman whose husband of 20+ years hands her divorce papers out of the blue, and her life is destroyed. It's a train wreck I can never look away from. What happens next? I gotta know.

So Beth gets her papers and her life is destroyed. And she can't seem to put it back together again--her kids won't take her in, she can't find a job, her settlement check bounces--she's homeless and ready to  jump in front of a bus. And then she gets the offer. Does she look ahead, jump into her strange new life? Or does she look back, trying to make sense of the train wreck? How does a "nice, normal" woman cope when one day she looks in the mirror and sees a coed demon slut?

I wanted to begin with Beth. "The first one's free." Bwa ha ha.

Beth is fifty, dumped by her husband for the babysitter, jobless, skill-less, homeless, cashless. She’s about to jump in front of a bus when she meets Delilah, recruiter for the Regional Office, and receives an offer she can’t refuse. Heartbroken, Beth decides to use the powers of this new body and the remains of her thrown-away life to track down her ex-husband and make him tell her why he dumped her.

But Beth can’t get information without help from her team, and she can’t accept their help until she learns something about what she has become—a coed demon slut—who she’s always really been, and who she wants to be from now on.

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Jee's story is the least standalone of my Coed Demon Sluts series. It's also a bit shorter. This story came out in a rush, like a series of punches over the heart. I had a heck of a time adding any filler to it--you know, the down time between intense scenes, the breathers where we shop, eat, or loll around the Lair in our underwear, drinking beers and playing video games. Jee is a total drama queen. She doesn't do "down time."

Jee had a hideous childhood, first losing her whole family at age five during the 2004 tsunami in Sumatra, then being carried away by slavers to a brothel in Bangkok for seven years. When she's offered a chance to get a new, healthy, immortal, infinitely changeable body, a fat paycheck, choice of who she services, and control of the sexual encounter, she feels she's died and gone to heaven.

Then she took on the taming of the Sluts' "onsite manager," Reg, to disabuse Reg from the notion that he is now their pimp by, well, abusing Reg. That little arc in Beth set off a hellacious struggle in Jee's own book where she finds out that if you're not an experienced Dom, you can get into a lot of trouble. It's not like Reg doesn't roll over and beg to be dominated. But as you know better than Jee does, dear reader, this is a delicate relationship, full of pitfalls for the amateur.

I'd better stop there. Jee tells her own story better than I do. And Reg, if you can get past his ignoramus version of the English language, has even more to say about Jee, and Dom/sub relations, and what freedom means, and what to do when you wake up to a weretiger in your bed.

Jee was a child sex slave in a Bangkok whorehouse. Just as she was getting worn out and rebellious, Delilah came along with an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Jee’s childhood scars won’t begin to heal until she lets her team under her skin. She thinks she’s too tough for that, until she takes pity on the unlikeliest teammate of all.

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I actually wrote Melitta's story first, although I always meant to begin with Beth. Melitta gushed from my raging teenage heart faster than any book I've ever written.

She carries on her back all the challenges that I failed as a teenager. She's braver, angrier, more honest, and oh yeah she has a fabulous new succubus body and this team of coed demon sluts on her side. But she's like my teenage self in one respect: she's convinced she's all alone. Melitta never does, in this series, become a full-on slut. She has another agenda, and being relentlessly Melitta, she lets nothing get in the way. I loved writing this story.

Brainiac Melitta is nineteen. She’s repeating senior year of high school, oh the shame. Melitta’s mom is the school guidance counselor. In spite of this responsible position, her mom has a weakness: she can’t cope without a man telling her what to do. Melitta’s stepdad is the school district’s psychiatrist. He’s also … a little too affectionate. Melitta is too smart to run away from home, too angry to put up with her stepfather’s advances, and too fond of her mother to abandon her with that jerk. Then Delilah offers her powers to intimidate her stepfather and get him out of her mother’s life, a safe haven, a job…a team.

Melitta’s not alone anymore. She has the sluts on her side.

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Author Bio:
Twenty-five or more years ago, I was born under a cabbage leaf into a family of nature worshippers. They were low-key about it. No robes, no chanting, no burnt offerings. My family joined the Sierra Club, the Save-The-Dunes movement, and the Prairie Path movement long before it was fashionable to be green. My grandma taught my brother and me how to identify poison ivy and what woodland berries were or weren’t good to eat. My grandfather told me what to do when a critter that might be rabid comes near. My mom made jelly out of wild grapes, black raspberries, and crab apples, using chokecherries to make them gel. We kids blackened our hands hammering open the walnuts for her homemade conserve. My brother was the rockhound; I was the bird nut.

Now I live in the city with conveniences like sushi and live theatre. But I haven’t forgotten birds, or wild grapes, and I don’t try to pet the coons and possums that raid my garbage cans.

My neighbors worry about school quality, McMansions going up everywhere, rising real estate taxes. I pay attention to how many pairs of nesting crows I can spot–more and more every year since the great West Nile plague of 2001, thank goodness. I worry about emerald ash borers, and my heart pinches whenever I see a big fresh stump. I plant crocus and aconite and scylla and snowdrops in my lawn because winter is too darned long.

I think the bare trees, especially big ones like cottonwoods and elms, look like the nervous system inside our brains. What if trees are the earth’s brains? As buds start greening up the tips of all those big bare trees, I imagine the thoughts nature is having with all that quickening leaf. Sap running faster. I feel the heartbeat of the world.

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