I wanted a world that was uncomfortable and addicting at the same time.
Hollow Beasts is a story about monsters. Some monsters look the part and others a deceiving, their worst side buried under an appealing skin. And on the other side of the coin are those who think they're monsters, but they're anything but.
Meet Piper, a woman who was born to the role and has spent her life wanting to be free, so badly that the idea of death doesn't just not scare her, but it comforts her. She is a character shrouded in darkness and carrying a past that's sucking her soul dry. To escape her burdens, she enters a morbid dance with death... until a beast from the legendary Shady Woods sets his eyes on her.
Avalon is the epitome of a man who's had a long time to get to know his monster, hate it, befriend it, and not only cope with it, but embrace it. As a grim, he's been cursed since he was an infant to share his body, soul, and mind with a wolf. In adulthood, he rose to be the king of his domain and that domain is the Shady Woods.
"If you're unfortunate enough to live in the Scarlet Reach,
you must learn three rules. Always lock your doors at night,
never talk to dead loved ones,
and never go into the Shady Woods."
~ Hollow Beasts ~
The Shady Woods: The world is full of territories, kingdoms, and lands, one of which is the Scarlet Reach. It's the place between. The valley you must cross to get from one kingdom to the next. But the Scarlet Reach is more than that. It's where the discarded, deformed, unfortunate, cursed, and outcast go when there is nowhere else to go. To some, it's home. To others, its a terrifying, hellish landscape filled with nothing but the unwanted. The rest of the world calls them "hollow beasts." Creatures with no souls.
In the Scarlet Reach lies the Shady Woods, a vast, woodsy terrain said to be purely evil. Some call it the Red Stain. It's a place where monsters are born and imprisoned, haunting those who walk its borders. A place where the old world--a world of magic, war, and horrors--thrives and lives on, and if you should ever find yourself in the Shady Woods, know you will never be free of it. For once you step foot past its border, the Woods remember your name. Created from blood and bone and magic, the Shady Woods is both warden and protector of those who live within it.
And the appointed king of the realm? Avalon, a powerful beast feared and respected by all those who live in his domain.
“I will decide what happens to her when I get her here.
No one else. The Woods might like a taste,
but the Woods listen to me and the woman is mine.”
~ Avalon ~
Who is Piper and why did I write her?
Piper has been dragging heavy chains (figuratively) her whole life. Cursed to feed on rotten flesh, she finds herself appalling and undeserving of life and remains blind to the good things she has to offer. Piper is a woman who doesn't even know her identity. She's drifting in the world, watching things move around her while she remains stagnant and drowning in a bleak, small town filled with people in a similar position. Her world is gray and cold and stale, reflecting the person she's become. She smiles when it hurts and she longs for an end to give her release. Life, to her, is a cruel prison in which she is forced to carry her disappointments like a ball and chain until she has the guts to end it. Hollow Beasts deals with dark thoughts. Self-loathing. It explores extreme depression and numbness and thoughts of suicide. And perhaps these things are uncomfortable to some, but as someone who's been in extremely dark places multiple times in my life, I felt I needed to put those uncomfortable things in this story. Piper is imperfect. So what she needed was someone who saw her flaws as tantalizing and gorgeous and taught her to use them rather than despise them. To take her appalling curse and make it into something grotesquely beautiful.
Hope was the greatest poison. One that tasted sweet
and kept you returning for more. But what people didn’t know was that it was a slow killer. One you didn’t know was sucking the life
out of you until you were taking your last breaths from the same darkness you’d always been drowning in.
~ Piper ~
Who is Avalon and why did I write him?
Avalon is the powerful beast who is comfortable in his own skin. And rather than wanting Piper to change, he is attracted to her darkness. I created him to counter her harmful thoughts and instead of being her knight in shining armor, he becomes the anchor keeping her on earth where she is forced to let her darkness consume her until it becomes her power. While Piper wants to bury and suffocate the worst sides of herself, Avalon encourages her to embrace what she hates most until she can reshape it and create herself stronger. He isn't blind to her depression. He sees it and he feasts on it, forcing Piper to rebuild herself and that just set me on fire when I wrote it. He's her savior in the most twisted and torturous way. And perhaps he saw himself in her. An old version of himself that he devoured until it was the thing that nourished the beast he'd become. The king of his world.
"I’ll break you again and again and put you
back together again and again until we find how your pieces truly fit. Until you’re right, butterfly."
~ Avalon ~
So why did I write Hollow Beasts?
Because every book I've written means something to me. I try not to write what people want. I write what comes from my heart and if people like it, I consider that the biggest compliment. Whether a book is based on a vivid dream (Genesis), my favorite tropes (A Storm of Fire Series), a good mood (Beyond the Merillian), or the darkest most terrifying pieces of my life (Hollow Beasts), I'm always evolving and so are my stories. I am a person who hates to be afraid. So when I am afraid, I tend to bring the things I fear into my life in abundance until they're a regular for me.
As a teenager, I had vivid nightmares that kept me up for days and to combat the way they made me feel, I became a huge fan of horror. I used horror movies to desensitize myself to uncomfortable things until it was one of my biggest fandoms. In 2022 I experienced one of the largest dips in my life in terms of emotion and mentality and self-worth. I would say TMI, but I don't think sharing these personal things should be considered TMI. Too often, people who are depressed and in scarily dark places do not talk about it and it makes them feel more alone. Not that I'm going to get into the nitty-gritty details of my mental state just prior to me writing this book, but I will say that it terrified me and I believe people who have experienced similar lows will know exactly what that means. Piper and Avalon were my escape. I created this dark world so that I could write a twisted brightness into it. And that's not to say I've come out of that place yet, but I'm working on it and Hollow Beasts was one way that I could find relief.
I hope you enjoyed this little dive into Hollow Beasts! If you're not afraid of a dark, twisted world with a HEA, pick it up today on Amazon. I promise there is a lot to love about this dark tale... if you're willing to step foot in it 🦋
"This is a story you can really sink your teeth into. Pun definitely intended."
"I really liked the theme of loving all the parts of yourself including the darkest ones you despise."