(Time for another Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff book feature! I’m delighted to hand the blog over to author Pam Jernigan and her debut novel Whispers in the Dark.)
Monsters, misfits and mushy stuff are some of my favorite things! I especially like it if the ‘monster’ turns out to be the good guy – trope subversion for the win!
The Mindless are zombie-like creatures who’ve had their capacity for rational thought and self-awareness almost completely destroyed. The lights are on (they’re still technically alive) but nobody’s home. The transformation granted them a new way to perceive the world – to them, human emotions are emitted as colorful energy, but those are the only colors they see. Their normal world is shrouded in gray.
The Mindless need that energy to survive but they can’t generate emotions themselves. Luckily for the Mindless, humans tend to emit a lot of blood-red fear when they’re hunted. Even better, when humans die, all their emotional energy is released at once, in a dark flood, temporarily satisfying the Mindless, enabling them to function better and even see their surroundings in color. It never lasts, though, leaking away, leaving them once more stuck in a world of fog and shadows. So they have to find new glowing sources of life-giving energy.
At the beginning of the book, Leo is barely able to comprehend a basic sentence, acting solely from need and instinct. Just aware enough to know that he’s missing something. He needs fuel.
When Leo encounters Karen, she’s sure she’s going to die. Just before he gets to her, she’s trying to ignore her fate by focusing on her memories and love for her sister. Leo’s never seen energy like that before. It’s golden and amazing and does things to his brain, and he never wants it to end. While protecting Karen, he absorbs her fear, further revving his mental engine. The encounter starts him on a long crawl back to consciousness.
He attempts to take her home with him, but that plan goes sideways when she’s rescued, and he’s captured.
Karen’s a normal girl in an upside-down world. Seven years into a not-quite-zombie apocalypse, a lot of things have collapsed, but she lives inside the safe zone of a walled city. College is still a thing, for some, but not for her; she’s been saddled with adult responsibilities, and she’s convinced that she’s not smart enough. Her boyfriend and her little sister are smart, and might even save the world; but Karen’s not that important. She figures she’ll be stuck teaching preschoolers until she dies.
Then Karen winds up in a research camp. She doesn’t fit with the soldiers or the farmers, and certainly not with the brilliant biochemist investigating the Mindless. Instead, she sneaks into the biochemist’s lab to get pictures of his notes to take home, for the smart people to look at. A lab which is close to where Leo is being held. The one she feels most comfortable talking to is the Mindless who saved her earlier, and who’s concerned about her welfare, and who introduced himself as Leo. He keeps watch while she spies, and she finds herself protecting him, too.
My favorite side-character is another misfit; she’s a country Christian farm girl, looked down on by the soldiers and scientists. They think she’s dumb, but she catches on to what’s happening long before they do.
I love mushy stuff, and all the adventures are really just a framework to support the love story. There are a few kisses but nothing more sexual, either on or off screen.
Leo’s incredibly sweet as he starts to recover, concerned about Karen. If she’s safe, he’s satisfied. If she talks to him and acts as if she likes him… that is so much more than okay. Her welfare is his main concern.
Karen resists the idea of falling for a monster, doesn’t even think of him as a person at first, but just can’t help noticing how adorable he is. After some adventures they escape the camp and spend more than a day (and a night) together. Leo makes his first joke, Karen finds out about the emotional energy thing, and they accidentally sle… err, never mind, spoilers. It’s all fluffy fun until disaster strikes and they’re separated.
When Karen gets home she’s even more of a misfit, determined to go rescue her monster, so she can have some more mushy stuff!
Read the beginning of Whispers in the Dark for free here: https://instafreebie.com/free/jeLUa
About the Author
Pam Jernigan started writing in elementary school and never quite got over it. Invisible friends are some of her favorite people. She was born a Yankee but realized the error of her ways in her early twenties and moved to North Carolina, where she now lives with one husband, two almost-grown children, and two almost-grown kittens. The cats may move out before the children do; time will tell.
She’s always been a sucker for variations of Beauty & the Beast and is partial to romance stories that feature a hero who falls for the heroine on sight and has to hustle to get her attention and prove himself worthy. Snappy dialog is always a plus. She’s a firm believer that people have enough angst and drama in their real lives, so she writes to entertain and let readers escape into fun worlds.
Pam has generously offered to give away a signed paperback of Whispers in the Dark as well as two e-copies (three winners). Open INT (paperback US only).
She’s a preschool teacher. He’s kind of a zombie. It would never work.
Karen teaches post-apocalypse preschool, safe inside city walls. She never intended to get caught outside.
Leo is technically alive, but perpetually zoned out: Mindless. He can see emotions as colors now, though, so at least there’s that. Like the other Mindless, he feeds on the emotional energy of humans. Then he meets Karen – her unique energy jolts him partly awake, and he’s hooked. He protects her but when she’s rescued, he lands in a cage.
Karen wants to go home, but until then, she also wants to spy on her sketchy host, which brings her into contact with Leo. He’s recovering, and surprisingly sweet, and he’ll protect her in any way he can. She returns the favor, but this alliance can’t last; she’s leaving, and he’ll be killed for science.
Leo doesn’t expect her to even talk to him, much less help him. But she does – and that emotion she has when she looks at him? He doesn’t know what to call it, but it’s not fear.
Karen can go back to her life – if she abandons Leo. She can’t stay with him, she can’t take him home… but without her, he’s dead.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, June 12th
Tuesday, June 13th
- Interview & Book Review – Lauren Craft
Wednesday, June 14th
- Guest Post – Monster, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff
Thursday, June 15th
- Interview – Michele Israel Harper
Friday, June 16th
Saturday, June 17th
- Wrap-Up Post – HOPE through the Pages