Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guest Author - Teal Ceagh (aka Tracy Cooper-Posey)

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Tracy Cooper-Posey to SciFiGuy. Tracy writes as Teal Ceagh and has prepared a terrific post on urban fantasy world-building for you as part of her blog tour for her urban fantasy romance Carson's Night which released at the beginning of this month.

We have an excerpt of the novella for you after the post and Tracy is also giving away a copy of her erotic paranormal romance Eva's Last Dance to a commenter. Details on the giveaway are at the end of the post. Tracy will drop in to chat so the floor is open to commenters. Tracy also asks a question in her post that she is curious to hear your opinion on.

To find out more about Teal Ceagh visit: Website | Blog | Books | Newsletter | Facebook | Articles | Events | Email

The Great Revelation -- It’s Not As Simple As Showing Us Your Fangs

I love urban fantasy and I especially love the softer urban fantasies – urban fantasy romances, and erotic urban fantasy romances. But I cut my reading teeth on hard science fiction, especially the classic hard core stuff: Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein are still favourites of mine and I’ll mix them up with China Miéville, Lora Leigh and when I come up for air, John Wyndham, Susan Cooper, Ben Bova... My reading diet is omnivorous, unlike the real calories I consume. Because of that, my world-building is probably more complex and conceptualized than the world actually needs for the sake of the story. But I do love world-building.

One of the most fascinating characters from my favourite Stephen King novel, The Stand, was the sociology professor, Glenn Bateman, who could predict the tides and movements of a society based on the actions and reactions of a group of people to stimulus and response. It was fascinating, and I’ve never forgotten that society itself is a character in my own novels.

Society is also a character in urban fantasy novels. It must be given recognition – it’s included in the genre name (“urban”) and is an expected part of the reader’s experience.

So I’m always interested to see how other authors handle the great revelation question. Are the fantasy creatures in their world known or not known to the general human population?

There’s some profound implications on the storyworld, depending on which way the author jumps.

It’s not as simple as saying it’s all secret, so it’s just today’s contemporary world with vampires in disguise. That seems like an easy way out, but it’s really not. If it really is just one big conspiracy, how has the secret been kept all this time? That takes an enormous amount of ruthlessness, money and hidden communications. I actually speak from a teeny amount of experience here. I spent six months maintaining a secret pen name before I stepped out of the closet as Teal Ceagh (Tracy Cooper-Posey is my real name), and the amount of energy, time, money and paperwork that took is mind-numbing. For a whole planetful of undead to maintain such an elaborate shield of falsehood, the complexity spirals into the stratosphere. How ruthless do your fantasy creatures become? It’s simply not possible for humans to go year after year without tripping over some evidence of otherworld creatures sooner or later. What do the creatures do with those humans then? The author has to make these decisions before word one is written of the story, and the more decisions the author makes, the more complex the world becomes, the more layered and, often, the more darker the story.

I like to use this “we’re still a secret” alternative in my stories. It’s not used as often as the “we’re out” option, which means there’s lots of variations still yet to be explored. The one drawback to this, of course, is that any human characters in the story must find out about the fantasy creatures and live to tell the tale, plus deal psychologically with the reality of the fantasy creatures as swiftly as possible while not slowing down the pacing of the story too much, either. But it can be done, and it’s often worth the challenge just to provide a slightly different story world to the often used “we’re out” scenario.

The other alternative, of course, is that the vampires, werewolves, fae, witches, goblins, ghosts, gremlins, or other creatures who inhabit the author’s urban fantasy have already “come out” into human view, and co-habit the world, jostling the city streets along with humans. There has already been a great revelation of some sort. Harris, Hamilton, Butcher, and other urban fantasy masters all use this alternative for their worlds and it makes for great variety and interest in world building, because it opens up the floor to some wild future-world type possibilities, while still keeping the story in a contemporary setting: What rights to the fantasy creatures have? What sort of culture acceptance do the humans give the fantasy creatures, regardless of legal rights? What sort of biological cross-breeding is possible? What sort of political activist groups would start up as a result of these species coming out? What sort of hate groups? What sort of crimes would become more frequent? How would society change as a result?

Depending on how long ago the fantasy species came out, the changes that are possible could change the urban landscape in ways that could render it almost unrecognizable to what we think of our cities today.

This is where I think the Glenn Batemans of the world would have the most fun, figuring out the ramifications of introducing a new species amongs the human population, sitting back and watching it mingle and seeing if what they predicted would happen actually takes place.

There are variations to both “secret” and “out” options. Some species may have come out, and some remain hidden – Harris did this for some of her creatures throughout the early parts of her Sookie Stackhouse books. The timing of the revelation that has an impact on the structure of the storyworld when the story takes place.

If the author is worth their paycheque at all, then they won’t wing this part of their world-building, and they won’t settle for the easy or cliched answers – or I always hope they haven’t when I pick up a new world and a new author.

What’s your preference? 
Secret? or Out?

Carson’s Night by Teal Ceagh
It’s August 1977 in New York City and the weird sculptor Moss Alex Meinhardt lies dead at the foot of an ugly gargoyle he’s half-completed. Natalia Grey’s demon hunter father is also dead, and his new partner, the astonishingly sexy Carson Connors, can’t remember how it happened.

Carson isn’t sure what role he has played in Natalia’s father’s death, but after one look at Natalia, he does know that guilty or not, he’s doomed.

Natalia must take up her father’s sword and her heritage as a demon hunter and figure out what happened this night, for the gargoyles Meinhardt carved have life they should not have without the help of dark forces she and Carson must defeat—once the gargoyles have risen, of course. But the night is hours away yet…

“What did you murmur to her just then?” Carson demanded, moving around the couch.
Sherwood looked up, his eyes narrowing. “Ah, you noticed.”

“I don’t have vampire hearing but for a human I hear better than most. You told her something, probably about me.”
“A good assumption, as you are the only one in the room we couldn’t speak freely in front of.” Sherwood strung his fingers together and let them hang between his knees. He looked relaxed and comfortable on the low chair.
Carson didn’t let that fool him. He kept his guard up and the couch between them. “We’re not going back to destroy the gargoyles while they’re in their stone sleep?”
Sherwood shook his head. “It would seem like a natural move, especially as we know where they’re nesting—a rare advantage with gargoyles. But there’s a powerful demon out there guarding them. Azazel. He’s hunting me because he knows I will kill him the moment I can re-gather my resources. All I have is Tally, who is untried.” Sherwood’s gaze flickered to the still form on the couch and back up to Carson. “No offence.”
“The gargoyles will abandon the nest tonight. You know that.”
“You’re not the only one with experience hunting gargoyles, Connors. We’ll find them again. When we’re stronger.”
“So we hide instead?”
“We regroup,” Sherwood amended. “This apartment has been specifically warded against Azazel. He cannot enter without invitation.”
“You’re a witch too?”
“I have friends.”
“And money. Those sorts of wards don’t come cheap.”
“No, they don’t,” Sherwood agreed. He sat unmoved, staring at Carson.
“We regroup until when?”
“I would prefer than Damian be on his feet again. He is a good right hand to have in a fight.”
“He’s a hunter?”
“A Spartan,” Sherwood amended.
Carson considered that. The Spartans were considered one of the most effective foot soldiers in history. Sherwood wasn’t indulging his personal whims by delaying long enough for Damian to recover. With a short sword and a long knife, Damian would be a deadly fighting force. Find a way to give him a shield as well and very little would stop him. Only being caught unguarded and weaponless by a handful of gargoyles had slowed him down tonight. Carson had a feeling neither vampire would be caught flatfooted again.

To buy Carson’s Night, click here.

Nearly 100 years after their last dance together, Eva’s long lost love, Edward makes contact again. Eva—petite, blonde, blue-eyed, lonely and a vampire now—can’t resist falling into his arm and under his erotic spell. She’ll do anything he asks of her now.

Until the spell is rudely interrupted by human demon hunter, Ryan Jefferson, who is on the trail of an incubus. He sets out to seduce Eva properly in a searing night of dance and passion—and attempts to avert the disaster that hovers over the delicate, beguiling creature.
  1. A copy of Eva's Last Dance to giveaway courtesy of Tracy Cooper-Posey, name to be drawn randomly.
  2. Leave a comment or question for Tracy. Tell us your preference for whether supernatural creatures in urban fantasy world-building should be secret or out in the open.
  3. Open internationally.
  4. Leave a way to notify you if you should win.
  5. Blog, tweet, post on Facebook or other social network sites for an extra entry. Leave a comment here to let me know.
  6. Giveaway open until Midnight, April 20, 2010 EDT.


  1. Secret or Out !

    Actually a difficult question but on balance I think initially secret but revealed at some appropriate time in the book or series.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T (International entry)

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. I think the story line should dictate if secret or out. This adds to the story.

    Tracy, how did you come up with the story line of Eva's Last Dance?
    Thanks for stopping by to chat today. I enjoyed your intereview.

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

    Follow via twitter(@misskallie2000


    Latest: creative_author Guest Author - Teal Ceagh (aka Tracy Cooper-Posey): The author has to make these decisions before .. Retweeted by you less than 5 seconds ago

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  3. I like either as long as it's written in a way that's believable.
    At the moment I'm writing a story myself where some of the supernatural creatures are out, but others not, so that's a third option.

    I posted a link to this post on facebook.

    (email in profile)

  4. Great post. :)

    For PR - secret to everyone but the love interest and for UF - out and about.

    I think it has to do with the world building and the story. Whether the vamps, were's and whatnot are the good guys or the bad guys has a lot to do with what I want out of the book.

    kweenmg at yahoo dot com

  5. Hey Doug:

    Thank you for hosting me here today. I appreciate the opportunity. This is my first visit to SciFiGuy, so this is all shiny, new and exciting for me!



  6. Hi Carol!

    Where's the "international" bit come in? Where are you, if you don't mind revealing? Given the hour you posted, I'm betting either UK or Australia, betcha, betcha.

    I see you like to eat your cake and have it, too.

    I have an urban fantasy proposal doing the rounds of publishers now that has the great revelation in the second book of the series. If it sells, you'll be a happy camper. ;)



  7. Happy to have you visit Tracy! I'm going to answer the question too. For me I prefer the supes to be out. It was what thrilled me about the genre the first time I read LKH. It presents so many more interesting world-building challenges than a secret society.

  8. Hello misskallie! Thanks for stopping in.

    I can't speak for all authors, but for me, the decision about "in" or "out" is often made before any storyline decisions, so it would be difficult to let the story dictate if the secret is in or out. In fact, whether the fantasy species are in or out has major effects on the story itself, so it usually HAS to come first in the decision-making process.

    Sometimes that decision could be wrong, though. I suppose it's possible to get further along in the plotting process and realize that the plot is developing in such a way that it would work far better if the species were in rather than out or vice versa, and have to go back and rework the plot and universe accordingly...but I don't know if I would knee-jerk a reaction like that. I might sit and think about it, and wonder if making it easy for myself that way would really serve the story or just make it convenient for me. It might actually help make the story better if I keep struggling with the situation as I already have it set up.

    So...even then, the story doesn't always get to dictate the in/out, or even the half-in/half-out world-building.

    As for the idea for EVA'S LAST DANCE...well, that actually does have a story behind it. A sleepless one. I'm pasting from my site here, to save a bit of time:

    "Eva’s Last Dance wrote itself overnight, literally. I had a Starbucks barista who I should have kicked in the ghoolies for screwing up my decaf order one night, because he gave me straight caffeinated coffee. Actually, as it turned out, he did me a favour, because as I lay wide awake, blinking at the ceiling and watching the clock tick through 1 a.m, 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and so forth, I plotted out a story about a sleepless night for a hero, and it turned into the story of Eva’s Last Dance. It took me another week to write the actual words down, but I didn’t have to plot a single thing after that night of no sleep. I got up the next morning and started writing."

    If you've read EVA'S LAST DANCE at all, you'll understand how this really did give me the idea for the story, but I can't explain much more without giving away major plot twists.



  9. Hi Sullivan:

    Have you read versions that aren't believable?



  10. Hi Michelle -- and thanks.'re the first to break it up according to the genre you're reading. Very interesting.



  11. I just tripped over a pair of articles that are compulsive reading for anyone involved in the publishing industry.

    The first is from the Atlantic, and talks about pricing -- it's refreshingly upbeat about the publishing industry.

    The Economist article it talks about is here, and it's fascinating.

    Thought I'd pass it along, for what it's worth. I'm going to drop it onto my blog, too.



  12. Hi Tracy, love your blog post.

    Looking over my favorites shelf, I tend to read more books where the secret is out. Lora Leigh's breeds, Kim Harrison's, Rachel Morgan series, Anita Blake, Rachel Wilk's, Lilly and Rule series, and the Sookie Stackhouse series, to name just a few.

    Each of these series have amazing world building that keeps me coming back for more, and amaze me with the level of the author's imagination.

    Thanks for another great excerpt for Eva's Last Dance.


  13. Hi Tracy!

    Always working lately huh. Your last stop so whats next?

    Secret or out, I think it usually has to be secret, Haven't read much any other way.

    I'd love to be entered in the contest too.

    I posted on facebook:

    I tweeted too:


    Good Luck everyone!


  14. Hi Cathy!

    Yeah, the "out" option definitely gives an author far more flexibility when it comes to world building...or does it?

    I just spit that out because it seems like it would be more easy to build complex worlds if the fantasy creatures were out, but now I'm starting to think about it harder. I am nothing if not stubborn.... One of my series, the DESTINIES TRINITIES series, is an "in" series. It's urban fantasy, too. There's a whole war that goes on under the noses of humans who are totally ignorant that vampires exist in their world, and the vampires actually have a policy of integration and invisibililty. Later novels I've written and published, including EVA'S LAST DANCE, and most especially in an upcoming one, KISS ACROSS TIME, which take place in the same universe, without specifically using the same characters, expand on this integration policy and the politics of the vampire world. It's complex, ancient...and hidden. There are penalties for revealing oneself to humans unnecessarily and the guidelines are very strict. There's hierarchies, sects, political infighting, powerplays and more. (and I pride myself on doing all that while still devoting plenty of wordage to the most essential element in an erotic romance!)

    So I think it's entirely possible to build just as rich, complex and fascinating a world that is "in" as it is in novels where the fantasy creatures are "out".



  15. Hi Christine!

    Yeah, I'm always working!

    This has been one of the most hellish months on wheels for me: four books (and book tours) and the Romantic Times Convention thrown in on top. And just to add to the challenge, I'm such a poor writer, I can't afford the airfare (which triples as soon as you cross the Canadian border), so Mark and I are driving down to Columbus, which adds three days either way. So I'm going to be blogging and writing with a combination of my Blackberry-as-wireless-modem + netbook on the road, to cover the four book tours that fall across the convention time.

    Next up: The book tour for my King Arthur historical romantic suspense, DIANA BY THE MOON is just gearing up. Then the book tour for my romantic suspense, DEAD AGAIN, starts rolling just as I get into Columbus for RT, and THEN, as I leave Columbus, my book tour for KISS ACROSS TIME (the erotic urban fantasy-time travel romance I just mentioned) kicks into gear AS I'm on the road back to Edmonton.

    Somewhere in there, I have to finish the third in my Guns 'n Lovers series, which Ellora's Cave are patiently (ha!) waiting for, too....


  16. Wow Tracy, thats quite the schedule!
    Your books look really interesting. Do you find it hard to switch between the genres?

    I would say I prefer the out option, I really enjoy both the Anita Blake series and the Sookie Stackhouse series. I've read fewer that are secret so I guess that shows my preference.

    I'm in Canada and my email is
    sleepingaurora at gmail dot com

    Thanks for another great contest!

  17. I like when the secret's out more than hidden. It just helps build the storyline for me and makes it more of a real story.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    rosie0512 @ hotmail . com

  18. Hi Ms. Laura:

    I quite enjoy switching off between genres. It's a mental break, like exercising different muscles. Stops me from getting stale. The first few days are slow, though, I must admit, as I change gears.

    But I always enjoy getting back to urban fantasy. I guess that's my SF reading roots showing. Worldbuilding is a compulsion with me. I love the early days of a new novel, when anything is possible.

    I'm curious, Ms. Laura: Would you actually put a book back on the shelf if you knew that the fantasy creatures in that world were "in" rather than "out"? It would make that much of a difference for you?



  19. Hi Rosie:

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I'm does the fantasy species being "out" make it more real for you?



  20. I think that creatures should be hidden with just a few select groups knowing about them. If there are not hidden I think the book turns a bit toward Science Fiction and less Urban Fantasy. Not that Science Fiction is bad :) It is just a different genre.

    Tweeted here:

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  21. Hi Robin;

    Thanks for commenting. Do you have a favourite urban fantasy where the fantasy races ARE hidden? Most of the titles and series quoted so far are the "out" variety, so I'd be interested to hear of any "closet" varieties apart from my own titles.



  22. I think that thay should be a secret that makes it more entresting.ecept for a few people.
    Well I blog about this on my myspace blog and here is the link


  23. It's really a difficult question on whether its better to be out or remain in secret. To an extent it really depends on the story, but I prefer it to be a mix with the secret slowly being integrated to the rest of us (otherwise it'll be mayhem!)

    Thanks so much,
    chichai_hana at hotmail dot com

  24. Personally I like out , I like the possibilities and the reactions in the story more and they tend to be stories that are less insulated and more complete and complex. Of course there are exceptions but on the whole out.

    eilidhdawn at prodigy dot net

  25. In or Out? I like both! With out you've got the tension of different types of people having to live & work together, which can really add to the story line. Especially if "Regular" humans have just recently discovered the "monsters" are real & living among us.
    With in, you've got the tension of keeping the character's real identity secret & the possibility of that secret being exposed.


  26. If supernatural creatures were in the open I would want to be one of them so keep them in secret unless I was special too.


  27. I like to see them out in the open. I like to read their difficulties in being accepted in "normal" society.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  28. Hi Tracy, thank you for the interview and the giveaway!!

    I have to admit your are a new author to me, so I'm glad that thanks to this interview hosted by SciFi Guy I discovered you and added your books to my TBR list.

    I usually prefer reading novels where the paranormal world is hidden, because then it creates much more complications, things to patch up and hide so the humans don't become aware of the existence of this dark side of their world. But it depends on the books, because I have read some wonderfully written novels where the magical beings were in the open and I enjoyed them very much.

    I tweeted here:

    spread the word on Facebook:

    Thank you!

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

  29. I think it really depends on the story. But I like when some sups are out and some are still secret within the same story.

    sgiden AT verizon DOT net

  30. Count me in! This sounds like a good read!



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