J. M. Failde spent just over one hundred fortnights rigorously studying the complexities of the English language at Florida International University. While she is not conjuring up stories, she can be found searching for el chupacabra, befriending the ghost in her house, or dying her hair a new shade of blue. Failde currently resides in her gothic manor on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, with her partner, Mike, and her familiar—the round but feisty calico cat, Maki.
“What will you give me?” His voice again was like melted gold. Like a whisper in the bedroom. “Anything.”
Malvania is broken into four manors ruled by the Viper Morada, the Arachnid Estate, the Maggot Mansion, and the Crow Court. After escaping the cruel and malicious Viper siblings in search of her brother, Lila Bran finds herself caught in the gaze of the Crow Lord himself, Ambrose Draven.
Beyond her better judgment, Lila strikes a bargain with Ambrose, five favors in exchange for safety. But when she ends up back in the hands of the Vipers, can she trust the Crow Lord to save her despite her desire to hate him?
Now, Lila must discover more to Ambrose Draven than his title as the Monster of Malvania in order to save her brother and fulfill her half of the bargain. As she fights to survive, she uncovers the truth behind her lineage, ancient vampire secrets, and the heart of a monster.
Trigger Warnings: This book contains mature language, themes, and content that may not be suitable for all readers. Reader discretion is advised.
Their gazes lingered on each other for a moment before Lila faced the ceiling. The silence between them grew, and Lila found herself flicking her fingers back and forth, awkward and unsure.
“It’s a bit cold, isn’t it?” Lila blundered. She truly didn’t know what to say or do, and she still felt Ambrose watching her.
“I think I can help with that.”
She turned to him and in the blink of an eye, all Lila saw was gray wings ready to encompass her, causing her to jump and gasp. Ambrose lay still, watching her, as his hair shifted from fine, straight hair to a mess of a white mane. And he was massive. She forgot his size in this form, and his body took up nearly the entire bed. He scooched one wing under her as he pulled her closer.
“It won’t hurt if I lie on it?” she asked, worried to put her full weight on it.
“Not at all,” he breathed. As his large arms surrounded her, she instantly melted into his embrace. He was so soft for being so muscled, and so warm against her skin. “If you get too hot, just push me away.”
Lila nodded, too comfortable to speak.
He rested the other wing over her, like an extra blanket, cocooning her inside of his touch. She felt her eyes drifting close as she rubbed her face against his chest, absent-mindedly. She felt his long, clawed fingers gently wipe the tear stains from her eyes and she felt so warm—mentally and physically.
Without thinking, Lila turned her head up. Ambrose was already watching her, those black eyes only deepened by the white hair falling into his face, the charcoal color of his cheek bones. Lila could live off that stare alone. She pulled herself up against him and gently placed her lips on his. The size difference was alarming, and had never been more obvious, and Ambrose seemed startled for a moment, but then he returned the kiss. His lips were so soft, so delicate. They didn’t force their way on her, nor did they try to deepen the kiss. They were tender and warm, and Lila—for the first time ever—felt truly cared for as he pulled her flush against him, wrapping his thick thigh around her tiny ankles. His hand was the size of her back, and it made her feel cradled and encompassed even more.
She broke away, brushing her lips against his a final time, as she nestled into his neck. Her eyes closed once more, and she felt his lips on her forehead as he nestled into her hair.
Before Lila knew it, her worries were cast aside and her mind drifted into dreams of wings and kisses.
I have always enjoyed telling stories, making up worlds, and developing characters to inhabit them. I knew, “One day, I’ll write these characters into a book,” but I had no actual plans to do so. For the longest time, I wanted to be a screenwriter for movies and TV, but once my love of books really took off, I knew I wanted to also be more apart of that world. In 2019, I started writing my YA horror novel, Where Did the Wind Go?, which also became my debut novel. Next, I wanted to tackle switching gears from YA to an adult world and, boy, was it so much fun! I have so many ideas built up from years or work in my head that I cannot wait to dive into as the years progress.
It’s a lot of chaos, mischief, giggling, and googling. I like to think I become a gremlin that has been fed after midnight, exposed to sunlight, AND been doused in water because things get w e i r d. I usually will just be hit with an inspiration punch that I simply cannot ignore, so I’ll start writing. It’s usually around the second to third chapter of a first draft where I’m like, “Wait, where is this actually going?” That is when I create my skeleton outline. Outlines for me are very . . . finnicky. I acknowledge they’re needed, but I don’t love them. So, I make mine a skeleton, its the bare bones of what I need to keep on track for the story. After the skeleton comes all the internal organs, the heart, the brain, etc., making the first draft. Then it gets all the added stuff, the blood, the sinew, the veins–that’s the editing process. And finally, the skin is my publishing process. Once it’s down, my book becomes a whole human body ready for the world!
I’m a huge binge watcher, so when I’m not writing (nor reading) I can probably be found binge watching K-dramas, horror movies, or the latest Netflix show. I also read a ton, as I believe it not only helps build an author’s creative well, but also an author’s writing. I usually stick to anything that has fantasy, romance, or horror.
I throw a dance party! So far, attendees have just been me and my cat, but don’t worry, you’ll be invited to the next one! <3
I definitely celebrate way more on launch than when I finish my first draft, usually consisting of a party with friends and families (with treats and decorations inspired by the book) and then I’ll have a fancy, lobster-filled diner with my partner as a second celebration! (Can you tell I’m an only child yet?)
I had a very strong image of this character in my mind. White hair, dark skin, and fangs. Something in my brain clicked, and I felt the strongest need to write a book about this hot POC vampire man that would go against the typical image of pale-skinned vampires. Ambrose is what started me on this journey, but I always knew I wanted to write a vampire romance story, and Ambrose basically enthralled my mind till I made a world and accompanying characters. Lila was next, and I struggled defining how she looked in my head. Appearances are so important to me in these early phases, I need to SEE the characters before I can get to know them and definitely before I can write them. So once I gave her the lilac hair, she became real and her entire personality enfolded in my head. So, in short, the characters really forced this book out of me. They were the driving force of how The Crow Lord came to be.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, no. I struggle making characters based on people in my life, as all of my characters feel like their own people running around my brain. There are dynamics or encounters that were inspired by real life you can find in usually the more quiet moments.
Breaking the outline. These characters practically wrote themselves, and developed way further than I was anticipating them to. Because of this, my original idea for the ending just didn’t work anymore. I ended up having to figure out a whole new ending right as I was nearing it in the writing process, which now directly changes things I had planned for book two. But, I think it worked out and I find the new ending to be much better and much more Lila-and-Ambrose than the original.
Without a doubt, the most fun I had with this book was writing the spice. It’s just so much fun and I already can’t wait to write more for the second book.
Once Upon a Broken Heart and the Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber were definitely inspirations for me. I also was really inspired by classic vampires, books and movies alike, so the originally Dracula, which I had read a few months prior to starting this, was also part of the inspiration.
For a moment, all was still. The man didn’t move, and Lila didn’t breathe. And then, the most melodic voice Lila had ever heard—a voice that made her think of liquid gold and thorns on a flower, a voice that made her toes curl—said, “Now, now, Kazimir. Is that any way to treat our guest?”
Without question, I’d want to meet Ambrose and say to him, “Marry me, take me, love me.”