Okay, let’s talk Dim Sum Asylum. Or rather, let me ramble. About urban fantasy romances and well, a bit of world building. Or rather, species building.
Back in the beginning of this story, I was contemplating what to do with the urban fantasy aspect of it. I wanted something different but still familiar and as I kicked around a few ideas, I realized I’d never actually explored the idea of faeries.
And I’m talking full on insect wing, human-sized faeries. We have them in our stories, usually tiny sprite things intent on haranguing Lost Boys or stealing things right out from under your nose or even cobbling together shoes in the wee hours of the night. But nothing more involved in that. I’ve got the Sidhe and Unsidhe down over in San Diego and Kai’s world but that’s a pretty gritty, hard-scrabble life. I wanted something a little bit softer but with a hell of a lot more magic.
So, Roku MacCormick was born. And so were the faerie clans.
By the way, I’ve gotten some shit about Roku’s name from more than a few people. In a teasing way. Mostly because it was oddly used for a television box. Don’t know the reasoning behind that but hey, sometimes words just fit a situation and you run with it. In the MC’s case, his full name is Rokugi but shortened to Roku, it means six. More importantly, it also is a slang word for “rock” as in rock music and was a bit of a shout-out to Hyde, a Japanese musician I adore. His 666 (roku, roku, roku) album is fantastic and one of my mainstays. There’s odd things that happen along the way when naming characters. So there you go.
Back to the faerie. I wanted wings. I didn’t want my main character to have wings—although I debated it—but rather him to be marked as faerie through his eyes and some markings. There really isn’t a lot of differences between the humans and the fae in this world other than culture and a bit of language…okay and wings and magical ability and eyes looking a bit like insects but small things *grins*. That was important. We needed to be a species to the left and to the right in this. There’s some species tension but not overtly so. Undercurrents, some riots and pretty much a civil rights movement but nothing on the scale of the Human-Underhill wars in Kai’s world. I wanted something closer to our current situation but with a shit ton of magic and well, faerie clans.
It seems silly to base an entire story on wings but at the time, I really wanted to run with it. There’s a lot of… suppose this happens… in urban fantasy. I like having that little bit of shift off of the normal, mundane world to build from and in this case, the faerie were the perfect fit.
So much to play with.
The fae ended up having some pretty seriously cultural shifts, very different from what I’d originally imagined. One of the build about including an other race into a UF story comes at you from very odd angles. When writing the short story, I could sort of skip over them but in expanding out the story into a novel, I ended up having to dig through funeral practices, worship, symbology and keep them based on the cultural anchors the fae originated from. So, while the fae have a common wing rite following a death, its incorporation had to make sense for their ethnic origins. Scottish fae are still Scottish and so on. Complicating things are clan connections so an Odonata fae like Roku is connected to another Odonata even though they are ethnically disparate. That was a complication I needed to account for. A thread in the weaving of a world tapestry. And oddly enough, these are questions that are answered in the background of a book—in its bible—and may never ever see the light of day in the actual text.
I had wings and death rites and well, a bit of a tension between natural fae and kids who’d been spliced with fae DNA. There was a bit of questioning on why I introduced that into the original story but to be fair, I thought it was something humans would do. We like tinkering with our bodies. Let’s face it, some people would want butterfly wings. Or rather they would want their kids to have them. It’s what we do. We’re an odd species. Now the wings can’t support flight but still, someone would want them. I bowed to the logical humanness of who we are when I wrote that in. And well, the backlash that would soon follow. Because tinkering sometimes leads to odd, bad things.
This tells you nothing about the book. Okay. Something about the book.
I kill a few people but there are reasons! And honestly, there’s a bit of Roku’s life that’s more than a little bit out of control. He’s trapped between who he is to himself and who he is to other people. He’s kept himself a bit apart from life because he’s a shit storm waiting to happen and he’s doing the best he can to keep the people of his city safe, happy and able to live their lives because he can’t really live his. Then he’s given a new partner and this guy… Trent Leonard…challenges him. Pushes him to do more than live, eat and sleep. Up until Trent, Roku’s marking time, waiting for the other shoe to drop because really, he lives in a centipede wearing clogs kind of world.
Dim Sum Asylum is about that reboot, about that re-energizing and re-engaging in Roku’s life… and I had a hell of a lot of fun filling in all of the spaces I’d wanted to write about in the original. Hope you like it and it’ll be out in full, expanded wording on June 9th!
Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford
Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.
Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.
While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down.
Grab Dim Sum Asylum at Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Dim-Sum-Asylum-Rhys-Ford-ebook/dp/B06XBCN3R9/) and Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dim-sum-asylum-rhys-ford/1125877467). Dreamspinner Press link to follow.