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Turning Conventions Inside Out
by Elle Hill
In Hunted Dreams, my male protagonist, Reed Jayvyn, is also a villain. In the Hunted Series universe, two groups remain locked in a centuries-long civil war: The Broschi (also called “Leeches”), beings who feed off humans’ powerful emotions, and the Clan, superhuman beings – comprised by female Hunters and male Psychics – who make it their sacred duty to protect humans from the Broschi.
Reed is a Leech. He feeds off intense, negative human emotions the way you or I might snack on a ripe grapefruit. You can imagine, then, how he might feel when he encounters Katana, a woman trapped in a seemingly endless loop of nightmares. Some serious psychic pizza, right?
I loved writing this book. In my novels, heroes aren’t always heroic and villains don’t always twirl their mustaches and plot world domination. I like the gray areas, just as I like turning conventions on their heads. In my first two novels, Hunted and Hunted Past, we see the Leeches through the eyes of Hunters. As in most wars, the Hunters and Psychics have objectified their enemy, the Leeches, stripped them of their personhood in order to kill them cleanly and without conscience. In Hunted Dreams, we spend the entire book surrounded by Leeches. We get to know them; we can no longer objectify them. In the meantime, the Clan, the ones we might think of as the white hats, hurt innocent people in their zeal to rid the world of Leeches. No one is quite who they seem to be.
I’m also pretty fond of messing with gender conventions. Reed is pretty invested in rescuing Katana from her nightmare world, and she’s just as convinced she can and should do it on her own, thank you very much. Now, that doesn’t mean Reed and Katana don’t help one another on their journeys; instead of heroes, though, they’re one another’s support staff.
Oh, and did I mention the plus-sized woman gets the hot guy in the end?
About Hunted Dreams
A woman trapped in an endless cycle of nightmares. A handsome hero committed to rescuing her. It’s just like Sleeping Beauty – except the dreaming damsel is the sword wielder and the hero is a psychic vampire feeding off her pain.
Her history, her whereabouts, her name: She knows nothing. Nothing but her current reality: a constant stream of horrific, surrealistic scenarios in which she fights not only monsters and unseen attackers but also her own pain and despair.
Reed Jayvyn is an ex-Army vet, penniless and living in his truck. After saving a young man from attackers, he finds himself embroiled in a superhuman drama between the Broschi and the Clan, two groups engaged in a centuries-long war. Worse, he finds he is one of them—a Broschi, a psychic vampire that feeds off the pain of humans. But Reed’s greatest surprise comes each night, when he finds himself dreaming of a fierce, nameless woman.
She is dreaming. So says the handsome man who uses his heretofore latent psychic ability to flicker in and out of her dreamscape. With Reed’s help, she slowly learns more about who she is, why she is here, what trauma in her past keeps her locked inside her mind. Meanwhile, Reed explores his own heritage, discovering enemies and allies in unexpected places.
But most important to Reed is freeing this woman caught in an endless loop of nightmares, someone he considers in every way to be the woman of his dreams.
“Who are you? What do you have to do with”—she jerked her head toward the wall—“this?”
Reed gestured to the sky, the walls, the buildings that crowded around them at unnatural angles. “This is your world,” he said, “not mine. I’m just a bit player. Somehow you pulled me into your subconscious playground.”
She drew her breath in sharply, and her nostrils flared. “Are you saying this is a dream?” she all but whispered.
Surprised, Reed nodded. “Yeah. Didn’t you know?”
She shook her head. “I didn’t know where this was. I considered a dream, but why don’t I ever wake up?”
Forgetting the sword, Reed took a step toward her. She threw him a cautious look but didn’t say anything. “It’s just a dream,” he said. “You do wake up. You just don’t remember it. You’re sleeping right now, just like me. The only mystery is how you dragged me into—”
“You’re wrong,” she said hoarsely. “I don’t wake up, not ever. I just flow from one scene to another.”
“Girl, you’re dreaming,” he soothed. “Dreams make us think weird shit, forget the waking world. In ten minutes you’ll move on to another sleep stage and forget all about this conversation.”
He heard her painful exhale. She tilted her head at him. The movement caught a ray of light, and he could see her eyes sparkled with a haze of tears. “I’m not wrong or crazy. If this is a dream, I can’t wake up.”
About the Author
An inveterate fan of fairy tales, particularly the darker ones, Elle pens paranormal romance. Her urban fantasies envision an alternate Los Angeles (or is it?) in which Leeches — scheming psychic vampires — and Hunters and Psychics — the beings that exist to thwart them — fight fierce, primal battles in the land of movie stars, silicone, and sunshine.
Born in Idaho during the height of disco, Elle Hill now chicken-pecks at the keyboard while rocking out to Donna Summer and KC and the Sunshine Band. She worked in Idaho for several years as a secretary and journalist before moving to California and selling her soul to academia. After receiving her PhD in Sociology, Elle Hill became a not-so-mild-mannered college instructor by night and a community activist during the remainder of her waking hours. Always a journalist and writer at heart, one of her favorite pastimes includes publishing commentary on the political and social states of the world; some of her thoughts are posted on her blog at ellehillauthor.blogspot.com.
Elle welcomes visitors to her website at www.ellehill.com. She also urges everyone to become a superhero and adopt their next non-human companion from a local animal shelter.