Today I’m visiting with Michelle Osgood, author of Huntsmen. Hi Michelle, thanks! Could you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book?
Hi! Thank you for having me. I’m a queer romance writer from Vancouver, BC. My first novel, The Better to Kiss You With, was a F/F paranormal romance published by Interlude Press in 2016. Huntsmen, the next book in the series, is a F/NB romance with more of an urban fantasy feel, and follows Kiara, the Alpha-designate of her werewolf pack as she’s forced into hiding with her genderqueer ex-lover, Ryn.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I’ve learned over my first two books, and I’d like to share some tips for new authors!
1. Read. Read books in the genres you want to write in, read books from different genres than the ones you want to write in. Read books written by people like you, read books written by people not like you. Read the newspaper, read Tumblr, read Twitter, read fanfic. Read anything and everything because you never know where you are going to find something new and exciting to inspire your writing!
2. Write. Write in a journal, write in your phone, write on the paper napkin beside you at the bar because you forgot to bring a notebook with you and your phone battery is about to die. Not everything you write needs to be brilliant – most of the notes on my phone, or in various notebooks, are jumbled half-nonsense or stray observations or an overheard piece of conversation that I liked. But sometimes those weird little thoughts spin out into something bigger, and you never know where you’ll wind up.
3. Learn to accept criticism. This is a tough one. If you are able, I recommend taking some sort of writing class, or even organizing a writing group with some friends. It’s so important to be able to hear criticism of your work, and to be able to accept that without taking a critique of your story or your writing to be a critique of you. Most folks who take the time to provide you feedback are invested in the outcome – they aren’t trying to tear you or your story down, they are trying to help you make it better, and that is what you need to remember. And the ones who aren’t, well…
4. Learn not to accept all criticism. Not all critics are created equal. Maybe you write lavish orc erotica – the guy in your class who only writes thinly veiled self-insert fanfic of himself as Alexander Hamilton probably doesn’t have a lot to contribute. If his comments are “I just don’t understand why the orcs have to be orcs – what if you made them founding fathers instead?” it’s perfectly okay to be like “LOL NO” and ignore him. After all, you know your genre, you know what orc erotica readers want to read.
5. Learn to apply criticism. Once you’ve sorted the helpful critiques from the not-so-helpful critiques, you have to be able to apply that to the story you’ve written. Once a manuscript reaches a publisher, there will still be several rounds of editing to go through. Your story is a living, breathing thing and it takes a lot of nurturing to raise it into adulthood! Sometimes that means cutting scenes or ideas you loved (you may have heard the phrase kill your darlings), but sometimes that will mean adding new scenes or ideas that you hadn’t considered! The biggest disservice you can do your writing is to think that there is no room for improvement.
6. Don’t give up. We all know Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by several publishers before it found a home. If writing is important to you, it’s important that you keep writing. Sometimes that is going to feel impossible. Sometimes it’s going to be the last thing you want to do. And it’s okay to take breaks – it’s okay to step away from the keyboard or the pen and watch ten episodes of iZombie if that’s what you need. As long as eventually you pick up the pen or roll up to the keyboard. You are the only person who can become the writer you want to be!
Months after saving Jamie and Deanna from crywolf, Kiara and her brother Cole have moved into the city. While clubbing one night, Kiara is stunned to see her ex, Taryn, onstage. But before she can react, Jamie notices a distinctive tattoo in the crowd: an axe rumored to be the mark of the Huntsmen, a group of werewolf-tracking humans. The girls need to leave immediately—and since Taryn is also a werewolf, they need to take her with them.
The Huntsmen are more than a myth, and they’re scouring the city for lone wolves just like Taryn. Until the General North American Assembly of Werewolves lends a plan of action, Kiara’s small pack is on lockdown in a friend’s apartment, where she and Taryn must face the differences that drove them apart. Furthermore, the longer the group waits, the more it seems the Huntsmen haven’t been acting entirely on their own.
About the Author
Michelle Osgood writes queer, feminist romance from her tiny apartment in Vancouver, BC. She loves stories in all media, especially those created by Shonda Rhimes, and dreams of one day owning a wine cellar to rival Olivia Pope’s. She is active in Vancouver’s poly and LGBTQ communities, never turns down a debate about pop culture, and is trying to learn how to cook. Her first novel, The Better to Kiss You With, was published by Interlude Press in 2016.
* * *
She couldn’t imagine a future without a pack… could she?
* * *
The hallway was eerily quiet. At this time of day Kiara’d expected at least a few people headed off to work. They rode the elevator in silence down to the garage level. She was taking Nathan’s car, something she knew he wouldn’t thank her for, but the car keys had been on the same keychain as the house keys, and it had seemed too perfect to resist. Besides, once they got far enough away she’d dump it and find something else.
For the first time since that night at Kings of Hearts, there was no tension between her and Ryn. The silence as the elevator moved could have been awkward, but their shared purpose burned away any discomfort. Kiara felt herself falling back in sync with Ryn. A part of her worried at the ease of it. Would it be as easy to pull back if—when—she had to? But she’d cross that bridge when she came to it. For now, she had one goal, and that was to get Ryn as far from the Huntsmen and GNAAW as she could.
The elevator doors opened, and they stepped out into the empty lobby. The parkade was through another door, where the pop of lime-green glowed bright in the concrete lobby, and Kiara pushed through it. She jogged down the few stairs before she stepped out into the parkade. “Nathan has a Mazda3 hatchback,” Kiara said. “I don’t know where he parks it, but—”
“Kiara.” Ryn’s voice was sharp. Kiara froze, all her senses suddenly on alert. They weren’t alone.
* * *
“You can’t come back here.”
Confronted by an upheld palm, Kiara halted at the stairs that led backstage.
“This area is for performers only.” The Latina woman’s face was set in bored lines; her yellow shirt identified her as one of the club’s staff. Clearly it was not the first time she’d turned someone away that night.
“Look, I’m meeting—”
“Hun, I don’t care if you’re meeting Evan Rachel Wood herself. Performer’s only.” The woman enunciated the last part without managing to pull her attention from the room behind Kiara.
The prickling behind Kiara’s eyes mounted and was echoed in the flesh of her gums.
“Maria, hey.” Ryn pushed back the black curtain. “Come on, let her through.”
“Tar—” Reluctance was heavy in the woman’s voice. “You know I’m not supposed to.”
“I won’t tell if you won’t, ‘kay? This is my girlfriend. We won’t cause any trouble. Promise.” Ryn held out her hand past Maria.
Kiara placed her hand in Ryn’s and plastered a smile across her face. “I’ll be good.” She added a flutter of her eyelashes and coaxed a blush to her cheeks. Ryn’s skin was hot under her palm. Touching Ryn had always felt like touching the sun.
“You’d better be,” Maria warned as she stepped aside and let Kiara through.
“Thank you.” Ryn winked at Maria, and Kiara heard the woman’s heartbeat accelerate in response. With a valiant effort, Kiara swallowed her huff of annoyance.
The back of the stage was dimly lit. Ryn kept Kiara’s hand in hers as she led the way, deftly avoiding the few other performers who loitered about, waiting for their turns on stage.
“We have to go,” Kiara repeated. She spoke more loudly now that they were away from everyone else.
“I heard you the first time.”
“Then what are we doing?” Kiara’s fingers curled perfectly around Ryn’s. She wanted to yank her hand free. She wanted to kiss the spot where they fit so well together.
“I have to get my bag.”
Ten years. Surely ten years was long enough for feelings to fade, for the memory of what they had been to dull. She shouldn’t feel the bright hurt, the greedy hunger, as though it had been yesterday.
In the back of her head a siren screamed, a warning that she didn’t have time for this. Kiara’s grip on Ryn’s hand tightened involuntarily.
“I’m not leaving it. There’s five thousand dollars’ worth of equipment in there.”
“Ryn, you heard me. The Huntsmen are here.”
“Maybe.” They reached a set of lockers, and Ryn wriggled her fingers free of Kiara’s. “Aren’t you the one who told me they’re a myth? Do you really think they’d show up in Vancouver? At a drag king show?” But even as she spoke she opened the locker door and pulled free a large duffle bag.
“Werewolves are supposed to be myths, too.”
“And yet,” Ryn conceded. She slung the bag over her shoulder. “My bike is out front.”
* * *
Kiara spilled out into the night with Ryn’s hand tucked securely in hers. The snow had stopped, finally, but the night had been cold enough to steal Kiara’s breath away. She tugged her coat tighter now that they were outside the smoky, sweaty club and wished she hadn’t worn a skirt.
“We’re never going to get a cab,” Kiara moaned. “And the busses don’t start again for another,” she checked her phone, “Two hours.”
“Aww, poor pack princess,” Ryn teased. “Did it ever occur to you that there’s another solution? One that doesn’t require us to stand in the cold for two more hours.”
Kiara furrowed her brow. “Do you know someone who can come pick us up?”
Ryn laughed delightedly. “Love, we don’t need a ride. The night is ours—we’re made for this.”
“Ryn,” Kiara said reluctantly. “We’re not supposed to shift when someone might see us.”
“Who’s gonna see?” Ryn threw out her arms. “It’s three in the morning, and it’s colder than my Aunt Nari’s side-eye. No one’s gonna see us.”
“We’re in the middle of downtown.”
“Come on,” Ryn gave Kiara a gentle shove. “Live a little. Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like? To run through the city and know you own it? That no one can take that away from you?”
Kiara glanced at the street behind them. Now that they’d moved farther from the club, it was deserted in all directions. She’d lost track of how many shots she and Ryn had done in the club, but it was enough that alcohol buzzed through her system and awoke something wild and reckless.
“I’ve done it before,” Ryn coaxed. “It was fine. No one saw me. And I got home in one piece, well before the sun rose and people started venturing out. It’ll take us like, half an hour, max.”
“Our clothes though, my purse?” Kiara was wavering, and Ryn could tell.
“We’ll stuff them there.” Ryn pointed to a stack of milk cartons at the edge of a nearby alley. “And tomorrow we can come back for them.”
“Well…” Kiara had a midterm tomorrow afternoon and she’d been planning to get up early to study since she’d missed the last few classes. Not too early though, she thought giggling, remembering that it was already tomorrow. “All right. As long as no one sees us.”
Ryn grinned and grabbed Kiara so she could kiss her. Ryn tasted like alcohol, and warmth, and the menthol cigarettes Kiara had been smoking. Kiara’s resolve crumbled, replaced with a mounting excitement. She had wondered what it would be like, but neither she nor her cousins had ever gotten up the nerve to disobey their parents and shift in a city.
Ryn let out an excited, drunken whoop and started to shed her clothing.
* * *