Friday, December 14, 2012

From Minor Character to Female Lead in "Hearts of the Hunted" by Kathleen Tudor (GUEST POST)

Earlier this year, my story "War and Peace and Brotherhood" was included in the Fraternal Devotion anthology from Storm Moon Press, featuring a m/m romance in an alternate reality, where superhuman powers are spread through sexual contact, and many of these newly minted supers are hunted down and killed by the fearful and power-hungry.

While the main characters fought for their love despite their differences, another character cropped up in the background, and though she didn't seem to have a huge role to play in that original story, she definitely appealed to me as a complicated and passionate character. That character was the young Camille, who became the heroine of my first novella, Hearts of the Hunted.

Camille was young and scared, but she was still passionate and energetic and determined to do what was right, even if it was harder or scarier than the course she was already on. She abandons her escape to a safe haven, choosing instead to continue the heroic efforts of the new Underground Railroad, bringing the Transformed of the embattled Midwest to safety in Canada.

I was so pleased to be able to give Camille her own story. From the moment that she first popped up in the original story, I knew that she would be an important character. As I wrote, I was surprised to discover that her part didn't really get any larger in the original story. I guess I was just saving her for something special of her very own. And when my editor emailed me to ask what happens to Camille after finishing the first story, I knew that I was right to have decided to pass the spotlight on to her in my next piece. Camille would never have accepted anything less!

While a few references are made to the original story, including using the former Underground leader as a contact during a moment of desperate need, Camille's story is completely different and wholly her own. Far from the careful underground flight to freedom that "War and Peace and Brotherhood" portrayed, Camille has a problem closer to home: a woman has been raped in her base city, and unfortunately for everyone, the rapist is a Transformed man.

The implications are quickly clear—if Camille and the victim, Hannah, can't stop the rapist, he might eventually attack someone who would be willing to use their involuntary transformation to infiltrate and take down the entire Underground. Not to mention, the police are clueless, and a violent rapist is on the loose.

Camille might be distrustful, but who can blame her, since Hannah's power seems to be the ability to persuade and manipulate others? And Hannah isn't in the mood to be a hero; she's just come through a terrible trauma, and the last thing she feels like doing is letting down her guard and learning to trust someone new.

Nevertheless, these two very different women—one who has spent years on the run and in the wild, and one who prefers the wilds of the shopping mall—have to work closely together to achieve their joint goal of making the city a safer place by taking a rapist off the streets.

They will face dangers along the way, and both will have to stare their fears in the face to get what they need out of their partnership.

This was a really fun story for me to write, not only because I got to give a minor character that I loved a bigger role in her very own drama, but because I got to explore a different mindset than I normally do in my erotic romance. Mostly, characters in erotica are ready to go when it comes to sex, but Hannah has just suffered a serious sexual assault, and her mindset and emotions are in a very different place than most characters in an erotic romance.

Not that this book doesn't get steamy! Camille and Hannah have a lot to navigate, feelings to explore, a criminal to stop, and decisions to make about the shapes of their futures and the paths they walk. I invite you to come along for the journey, and find out what the shape of their romance becomes!

Kathleen Tudor (aka D.K. Jernigan) got her start in freelance writing, but she eventually discovered that the erotic side of life is where the fun is at. She lives in California with her partner of over a decade, and a small menagerie consisting of a dog, a cat, and a fish, who mostly get along despite the obvious conflicts. Her novella, Hearts of the Hunted is available now through Storm Moon Press. She can be found via e-mail at or by visiting her website,

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