QSFers Amir Lane and N.J. Ember has a new lesbian urban fantasy out, Heavy Metal Magic Book 1: “A Falsetto of Fury.”
When Heavy Metal Meets Serious Magic, Get Ready for Some Monstrous Consequences.
Lottie Ferro lives her life by order and rules, but on stage it’s nothing but chaos.
While leading goth metal band The Furies on their first tour of the year, Lottie uses her band’s witchy theme to hide her magic in plain sight. As Lottie struggles to keep their manager, Trenton from sabotaging their careers, she starts to suspect she isn’t the only one who’s hiding something. Trenton discovers her secret and offers her an ultimatum: perform a ritual for him or get shut out of the industry forever. Lottie has no choice but to tell her bandmates the truth. Together, they agree to find a way to give him what he wants.
When the ritual goes wrong, it opens the door to bigger dangers than any of them are prepared for.
From author N.J. Ember and USAT Bestselling Author Amir Lane comes a story of music, magic, and mayhem.
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The gods didn’t always have names or faces, but Lottie felt them everywhere. When she found the right lyrics for a verse, in the hum of a single chord vibrating through the air, in the harmony of perfect notes, when the bass rumbled through their bones and under their feet, Lottie felt the strings of the universe tying them together.
The closest Lottie ever felt to the divine was when she was playing, especially on stage. While the chanting crowds might have felt like a group of worshippers when her band played onstage, the truth was, they were just four more devotees to the sound.
Chasing the elusive muse wasn’t without its challenges. There was a reason muses were said to breed madness, but Lottie always felt oddly at peace in the chaotic order of their music. Maybe the gods were fickle, or maybe they didn’t appreciate her offerings as much as she hoped they would, but one thing was certain: nothing short of divine intervention would make their drummer be on time.
It wasn’t an observation Lottie really needed to make. The conspicuous lack of Nadira Asfour behind the kit wasn’t exactly hard to miss.
“She’s always late,” Amara said.
Her fingers pressed soundlessly into the keyboard, and she hummed one of the many melodies that haunted Lottie’s dreams as if it didn’t even matter that their drummer was missing. The melody was the one Lottie was supposed to be rehearsing right now.
Amara was right, but it didn’t make Lottie feel any better. It was a well-known bit of irony that their drummer was chronically late. She was somehow physically incapable of being less than ten minutes behind to anything. If she wanted to be on time, she had to plan to be half an hour early. The only thing Nadira hadn’t been late to was their high school graduation, and only because Lottie’s parents had driven them.
At least Nadira had the foresight to set up her kit before running off to record tracks for whichever band she was doing sessions for this week.
Lottie checked her phone. There was nothing from their missing drummer. It made sense if she was still recording. The only unread messages were from her mom.
Can we come see you before you play?****
Lottie tapped her thumbs against the screen. It was a welcome coincidence that her parents had a performance of their own in Seattle while she was here. The band normally left from their home of Salem, Oregon — not the cool one — but their headliner was from Seattle, and it was easier for all of them to leave from the same place since they were sharing a crew.
Yeah for sure. We’ll be at the venue soon. We’re at the studio right now.**
They’d already done four hours of driving, and they’d be doing a lot more by the time this tour was over. The Furies were on first at seven, which meant they had to be at the venue no later than five to unpack their equipment, run a sound check, and warm up.
“We could start without her,” Brogan said.
The suggestion was light and optimistic, but Lottie shook her head.
“This is our last rehearsal. We have to do it properly.”
And that meant waiting for their drummer to show up. The absolute last thing Lottie wanted to do was throw their vibe off before they even started the tour. It was bad luck.
Lottie raised a hand to the pendant around her neck. The pentacle with crescent moons on either side was warm from her skin. There was an almost electrical hum running through it that helped settle some of Lottie’s nerves.
“She’s got to be done recording by now,” Amara said.
She pulled up the sleeve of her green sweater to look at the watch on the inside of her wrist and frowned.
The absent strumming of Brogan’s bass stopped as she straightened to her full height, which still put her a few inches shorter than Lottie. Her entire face lit up in a way reminiscent of a golden retriever catching sight of a tennis ball.
“Here she is!”
Brogan barely finished speaking when the door to the rehearsal room opened.
Lottie didn’t know how she did it. Brogan had some uncanny sixth sense for this sort of thing. If Lottie didn’t know any better, she might think Brogan was the empath she pretended to be as part of their act.
The thought almost made Lottie uneasy, even if she didn’t know why. Brogan wasn’t a witch. She should know.
Lottie turned and opened her mouth to chastise her almost-adopted sister, even though it would do no good, and stopped when she heard Nadira’s raspy drawl and saw her raised index.
“— you, ease up on the double bass and hit one of the bigger cymbals on every beat instead of just the offbeat. It’ll give it some more depth. Look, just tell Tommy to try it. If it sucks, he can go back to doing it the first way.”
As she spoke, Nadira unzipped and shrugged off her hoodie to reveal a black sports bra that covered part of the tree tattoo taking over the bulk of her chest and abdomen. She opened the bag holding her assortment of drumsticks and mallets. She wasted no time acknowledging her bandmates as she rushed past them to settle behind the kit. Lottie caught a whiff of sweat barely concealed by men’s deodorant as she walked past.
“Trust me on this one. Look, I gotta go rehearse. I’ll call you from the road. Yeah, you too.”
She pushed the button on the cord of her wireless earbuds and hung them around her neck. She rubbed the tree branches inked over her chest with a sigh. Her joints cracked as she stretched.
“Sorry. I swear, I finished those drum tracks for Killing January on time, but I got a call from Hale and I had to take it.”
Lottie and Nadira were the only full-time musicians in the band. When they weren’t touring, Brogan was a bike messenger and Amara worked at a daycare. Their music paid for itself, but it didn’t pay the bills. It was a sad fact that Nadira made most of her money drumming for other bands, and Lottie from the Salem symphony and teaching guitar and violin.
This tour would be the one to change all that. Lottie could feel it in her bones.
“You’re drumming for Emperor Immortal again?” Brogan asked.
She bounced on her toes a little, either from excitement or restlessness, or both.
“This was something else. I’m warmed up, so we can get started. From the top?”
It was good to see her back where she belonged. Her presence and perpetual nonchalant expression eased some of the unease tightening Lottie’s shoulders. She tried not to be overbearing where Nadira was concerned — they were both adults after all — but it was hard not to worry that her absences were because of a lapse into old habits. That didn’t appear to be the case now.
Lottie nodded. She ran her fingers up and down the neck of her guitar one last time to make sure they were warm enough, and took a drink of water.
“From the top.”
Amir Lane writes supernatural and fantasy with LGBT+ characters. From the frigid and mysterious land of Northern Canada, Amir is obsessed with loud music and black magic. They spend most of their writing time in a small home office or doing the circuit of local coffee shops. They live in a world where magic is an every day occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.
N.J. Ember is a paranormal fiction author who loves to write stories about survival and triumph over adversity. Whether her characters are dealing with the paranormal or everyday life, she seeks to show that strength is not always about being superhuman or invulnerable. She enjoys anything with mystery, suspense and horror, so when she’s not writing you can find her watching shows like Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful and Sherlock. She currently lives in Michigan with her grandpa and a forever growing collection of books and Funko Pop! figures.