Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Featured Book: The Judas Kiss

Today Tess Tremaine talks with homicide detective Benjamin Elijah Stanford, from Angella Graff's urban fantasy, The Judas Kiss. And keep scrolling and reading--you'll find an excerpt from the book and a chance to enter a giveaway.

About the book:

Judas’ Kiss haunts him 2 millenia into his unending existence. Torn between petty gods and their hunger for power, a faithless police officer slips further into machinations that have already cost the life of someone he loved. Mark’s story finally begins to unfold in the newest volume of Angella Graff’s well received series: The Judas Curse.

Just as Detective Ben Stanford is ready to put the past at rest, he’s pulled down once again into the chaos of gods, theology, and mystery. Told that his sister is alive and the two immortals, Mark and Judas, have been kidnapped by the treacherous goddess, Nike, Ben must find a way to rescue the pair before she can harness their powers.

While Mark waits alone, forced to write out the story of how their powers came to be, and Judas lay tortured by the angry Goddess, a reluctant Ben must enlist the help of an unwilling being from the ancient Norse Pantheon.
Time is ticking, and the hard-headed detective must use everything he learned in the past to prevent another disaster, which could potentially wipe-out the human race.

About the character:

Benjamin Stanford is a homicide detective for the San Francisco PD. Growing up with an alcoholic mother, Ben took care and raised his younger sister, Abigail. A hard-nosed Atheist, Ben will do anything to rationalize what he sees, and has no problem taking even his most loved ones to task when he feels he doesn’t have any other choice.

Tess Talks to Benjamin:

Ben, how did you first meet Angella?

As far as I know, she dreamed me up out of nowhere. Originally I was supposed to be some beer-guzzling frat-bro, and the twin brother of Abby, best friends with Judas and Mark.  Apparently her book took a really bizarre turn somewhere and here I am. Thanks a lot for that, by the way.

Want to dish about her?

God yes, please. What a sadist. I’m not even kidding. She’s written me with this hideous backstory, the kid who had to be the parent to his own mother and baby sister? Then killing everyone and just sort of knocking me around until I don’t know up from down.  She’s not my favorite person, let me tell you. And she’s extremely unfocused. 9uipl[mnk  I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, trying to write a detective, but it’s a load of crap.  That’s all I’m saying.

That's just crazy. I'm so sorry for you. My author, Amy Metz is very nice. She let me meet a handsome man and fall in love. Sorry. I don't mean to rub it in. Although...she did put me through some pretty scary times. Hmmm...sorry, this isn't about me, is it? Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Absolutely not. What a joke. Of course when things started getting crazy and Greek gods started popping out of the freaking walls, I guess it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Well, when you put it that way, yes...But Angella must have given you some nice parts in the book. Tell us about your favorite scene.

Any scene where I’m not being pummeled, physically or mentally. I was pretty impressed with reading Mark’s back story, and I had no idea how much he really went through. It changed my perspective on a lot of things.

I'm guessing you had a hard time convincing Angella to write particular scenes for you. What do you wish she would have written into the story?

As much as I begged for some time off, she just wouldn’t relent. All I wanted was a little time to heal, but she only gave me a short while.

That's just awful. What do you like to do you get a few minutes away from Angella?

I love to watch TV. Old 1970’s action flicks are some of my favorites. The more guns and bigger the explosions, the better. 

Oh, you men and your guns and explosions. If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?

Well I’d probably keep my sister alive, to tell the truth. Actually all of it, just re-write all of it and leave me alone, you sadist!

Well, we certainly get how you feel about Angella. What do you think of your fellow characters? Tell the truth, now.

Oh, I have no problems telling the truth. Mark is a smarmy ass. He’s cocky and weird, and I can’t make heads nor tales of that guy. Jude, that guy is just a hot mess. He doesn’t make sense when he talks, he stares off into space, I just...I try and steer clear of that guy. Stella, well I love her, I really do, and that’s saying a lot for me because I do not love easily. She’s smart and strong, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone, and that’s important in a woman. As for the others, I could take them or leave them.

Do have any secret aspirations that Angella doesn’t know about?

I feel like I shouldn’t say here, she does not need that much control!

Understood. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

I would probably drink. A lot. Drink, sleep, eat something really bad for me, watch TV until my eyes burn, and absolutely refuse to answer any calls.

What are you most afraid of?

All of this being real. Obviously these gods or whatever, they’re something, but the thought of them being right, I think, is the scariest thing in the world to me.

What aspect of Angella’s writing style do you like best?

She has a great grip on dialogue, and when she works hard, her descriptive scenes are pretty awesome. I think she’d do a great job writing a historical novel, maybe about Mark, let me rest in peace for a while.

If your story were a movie, who would play you?

I’m sure Angella would pick one of her snarky British actors she’s so in love with, but I think I’d like to see a real down to earth guy tackle my role. Maybe Mark Ruffalo?

Will you encourage Angella to write a sequel?

Please no. No. Get a new hobby. How about just kill us all and just be done with it!

Darlin', you really need to come to Goose Pimple Junction. You are way too stressed. 

Excerpt from The Judas Kiss

I had one chance, and that was to beg Yosef to take me in. When my grandfather couldn’t find me, he’d eventually leave Alexandria and I would be free. I couldn’t live in the Senate and debate with those horrible old men about things I didn’t know or didn’t care about. I wanted to be free to learn everything, to take my place in my life with the people I chose, and I couldn’t have it any other way. Any other way, and I would die.

It wasn’t long before my grandfather retired for the night; he was very old and when he slept, he didn’t hear me creep out the front door and hurry down the street. It was late, the moon was shining full overhead, and I navigated my way through the streets with ease.
I knew the house of Yosef would be asleep, but I was counting on Yosef to be working fierce into the deep, early morning hours. I could hear the rough scraping sounds as he rubbed down wood as I turned the corner. Bypassing the front door, I crept to the side and around to the back where he was.

He was working by moonlight, the full moon providing him with exactly what he needed, and as I stepped up to the table, he startled. “What are you doing here?” he hissed when he realized it was me. “Makabi, do you realize how late it is?”

“My mother died,” I said miserably, and for the first time since she’d gone, I cried. I was just a small boy right in that moment, letting my sack slide down my leg and I crumpled to the ground.

Yosef came around the table and picked me up, holding me tight as I sobbed, feeling her loss, grieving for the loss of her life, and the loss of the future that I had so desperately wanted. “Hush now,” he said, rocking me slightly.

It only took a few moments for the sobs to subside and I wiped at my face with a dirty palm. “My grandfather wants me to go to Rome.”

“I see,” he said slowly.

“I don’t want to go,” I continued. “I want you to take me in. Please.”

“I can’t,” he said, letting his hand rest on my shoulder. “You’re young and I know you are happy here, but you’re a Roman citizen, Makabi. I can’t take you in.”

“I’m just a kid,” I cried, and then fell again into sobs so fierce that as Yosef sat there and rubbed my back, I fell asleep.

I woke the next morning lying on the floor next to Yehuda. Although the twins were mirror images of each other, I’d learned to recognize the subtle differences between them. Yeshua also carried a light but etched scar on his right temple, the product of an accident when he was very young.

I scrubbed at my face, yawning and blinking against the sun’s first rays pouring in through the open door. As I stirred, Yehuda did as well, and he looked as surprised to see me as I was to find myself on their floor.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“I um,” I said and looked around. My bag was lying in the corner of the room neatly, and I’d been tucked in by a rather rough covering made from material I didn’t recognize. “My mother died,” I finally said.

Yehuda’s face fell. “I’m sorry.”

“My grandfather wants me to go to Rome. I came to beg your father to take me in.”

This obviously worried Yehuda, and he crossed his arms as he stood up, stretching his back just a little. “Keeping you from your grandfather could put my parents in danger,” he warned.

“I’ll hide. They’ll never know, and if they find me, I’ll take the blame,” I begged.

“We’ll let you stay here, but if anyone comes looking for you, I’m afraid we’re going to have to turn you over,” came the soft voice of Maryam from the doorway.

My eyes widened as I looked at her, and fought the urge to rush and hug her. My mother was gone now, and Maryam had always been so kind. “Thank you,” I whispered, trying my best not to cry.

“You boys need to eat,” she said, nudging the sleeping form of her younger son Yaakov. The twins’ smaller sisters were already awake, playing loudly outside as Yosef helped prepare a breakfast of dried fish and bread.

I offered them coins to help pay for food, but Yosef and Maryam refused to take money from me, claiming that they had no need of coins from a boy when they could feed me just fine. I didn’t argue, and simply followed the routine of the home, getting straight to work as I had done before my mother fell so ill.

The hard labor of etching and carving, polishing and hammering took my mind off of my dead mother, and my possible fate if my grandfather found me and took me to Rome. As the day passed, every footfall I assumed was that of a Roman soldier coming to take me away from this family and force me back to a place I didn’t want to be. But every footfall turned out to be nothing, and by the time the sun set and we sat around preparing to sleep, I felt more and more at ease that maybe the old man had forgotten me.

The truth was, until I was nearly a man, I thought my grandfather had just never bothered to look very hard. It was only when I was viewing some scrolls from Rome that I found out the old man had died that night, and no one had bothered to look for the young child that escaped the house. The servants had been reassigned, the house sold, and my name had been forgotten. My father never inquired about me, and my brothers had gone on to train and die in the service of the Caesar.

I’d been with the family of Yosef for almost half a year when it happened. It was the middle of the night, and we were sleeping soundly until I woke at the sounds of hushed, frantic voices.

“You think they mean to come for him?” came the fierce whisper of Maryam. She and Yosef were in another room, but through the silence of the night, their voices carried.

“I can only suspect yes,” Yosef replied in the same hushed manner.

Yehuda, who lay beside me, shifted, and in the dark, I could just make out one of his eyes open. “What’s going on?” he whispered almost inaudibly.

“I don’t know,” I hissed back. “I think your parents are arguing.”

We both rolled over onto our stomachs to listen. Our whispers had caused us to miss some of the conversation, but my stomach sank when I heard, “We have no other choice but to go.” That was Yosef, and he sounded absolute. “We need to leave now, Maryam, if we want to make it before they can reach the city and find where we’ve gone. They found him as an infant, they’ll find him again.”

“They must be talking about the men from the East coming for your brother,” I whispered.
The noise of footsteps caused Yehuda and I to throw ourselves back down and we both quickly tried to even our breaths, pretending to be asleep. Sounds of shuffling items filled the room, and after a few minutes, we were shaken awake.

“What’s going on?” Yehuda asked, attempting to sound like he’d been fast asleep.

“I have no time to explain. I need you to get your brothers up, and we need to pack the home,” Yosef said, not bothering to cover his voice much. “We have to leave.”

“Where are we going?” Yeshua asked, now awake and attentive.

“Back home. To Galilee,” Yosef said, his voice heavy and deep with regret.

I wasn’t sure what that meant for me as I sat there while the sons of Yosef began to scramble to put their most valuable things in sacks. After a few moments, Yosef fixed me with a firm eye. “Are you not intending to help, Makabi?”

“I wasn’t sure...” I said, trailing off. “What does this mean for me?”

“You asked me to take you in as one of my own, and I’ve done so. If we leave, you will come with us. Now get to work,” he snapped, but the edge was absent from his voice.

Flooded with pride and relief, I jumped up and began to grab and pack everything that Yosef pointed to. I wasn’t sure how we were going to carry it all, or how we were going to get to Galilee from Alexandria, but I was ready to go. Armed with packs of items from the home, and my small meager belongings, we started out on the road.

About the author:

Angella Graff was born and raised in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona. She married and became a mother very young, and after getting started with her family, began her University studies where she found her passion for creative writing, history and theology.
She now resides in Tucson with her husband Joshua, three children, Christian, Isabella, and Adia, and their three cats, Archive (Ivy), Lasciel, and Fix. She prefers to spend her days writing, gardening, and reading non-fiction theology theory books. Angella is also an avid, if not fanatic fan of Doctor Who and BBC Sherlock, which tend to dominate her dry, sarcastic humor, a lot of which is apparent in her writing.

Currently Angella is working on an Urban Fantasy series called The Judas Curse, involving extensive research into Mythos, Christianity and history. The first book of The Judas Curse, The Awakening, was released November 2012.

To learn more about the author, visit the Author Showcase and In A Nutshell Interview.

Connect with Angella:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon page

Buy the book:
Amazon  | Createspace

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