We are thrilled to welcome Rodd Clark to Sinfully today, in the “thriller” sense of the word, to celebrate his upcoming release Ash and Cinders on 5th December. He is writing about Delving into Darkness, the creation of the good vs. the bad characters in romance.
Mark loves this series and characters don’t come much darker or more disturbing than Gabriel Church. Read how Rodd developed the character Gabriel Church and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a copy.
Delving into Dark Waters
The creation of the good vs. the bad characters in romance.
There have been many great characters born inside romantic novels. We’ve all seen the unrepentant vampires and werewolf shifters, and we’ve fallen in love with the bad boy bikers with the hearts of gold. But creating a character that is truly unapologetic, one who commits atrocious crimes bordering on the shocking, can represent a challenge. Having your readers fall in love with said character, and become invested in his journey, or even find themselves cheering for him along the way…well that for a writer can be a mammoth task indeed.
When I began writing a story about a serial killer named Gabriel Church, a heterosexual man who unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with his biographer, it wasn’t something I envisioned as a great success. But it became more right with every page I grappled over. I wanted my audience to understand his background and find pity in the shadowy corners of Gabe’s upbringing.
I didn’t wish to explore something as dismal as the heavy-handed abuse or outright torture of an innocent, but something plausible, more realistic and closer to home for a lot of folks. I wanted my readers to connect with the main character in a way they might’ve originally found uncomfortable, since it’s easier to say how abhorrent his actions were as a whole, regardless of the despotic circumstances of his childhood.
I also wanted Gabriel to be a product of a religious dichotomy. I needed him to cherish his savior, while simultaneously committing unimaginable acts of atonement for a god whom he would never truly know. One of the transformations had to be his sexuality. Since having a straight man fall in love with another man is so damned intriguing for all of us (if we’d care to admit that in public circles).
It’s not about the crimes, but the development. And having Gabriel finally learn to love another person and ultimately place that person’s safety and security above his own was key to the romance captured in the story. I wanted to push the boundaries of what every reader was comfortable in knowing about themselves. But still find they’d come out the other side a different person than before the Tales had begun. I believe there are those who fell in love with Gabriel Church (not unlike myself) and a few who saw themselves as Christian Maxwell, the voice of better reason in a chaotic set of circumstances they’d never envisaged they’d ever find themselves.
Without giving away too much, I will say the third and final book brings a new character into the fold. Deputy Bleu Corso is the depiction of all those other readers who refuse to connect their lives to either the killer, or the product of that killer’s love and affection. The deputy is the symbol of everything normal or customary. I hope the addition is a welcome one, and I hope the ending is something that can work for every reader. It was, as they say so often, a labor of love. I will always cherish the creation of such a darkly inspiring character as Gabriel Church, and I hope the same can be said of all those readers who journeyed with me and took a risk on such a bizarre expedition as the Gabriel Church Tales.
Ash and Cinders (A Gabriel Church Tale, #3)
by Rodd Clark
Title: Ash and Cinders
Author: Rodd Clark
Publisher: Driven Press
Release: 5th December 2016
Genre: M/M (murder/mystery)
“It’s just the devil’s share. When life evens itself out and every bad guy gets what’s coming to em’ . . . it’s one of the few balancing things life really offers.” ~ Gabriel Church
Gabriel Church has done a bad, bad thing . . . and normally that doesn’t bother him too much. But everything changed when he met Christian Maxwell. Chris became his unholy grail. The thing he sought more than any other treasure, yet still a priceless pearl beyond his reach. Nothing he does seems to solidify any prospect of them being able to remain together, to live that happily-ever-after story. Even if he were to make a promise to stop his killing in the name of God, it would still only be a salty futility to wet and tempt his lips.
Christian Maxwell discovered a damaged soul inside Church, with a goodness plumbed somewhere below the visible surface. He saw pain shadowing his killer like some trailing footprint left moist in the sand. But he failed to recognize each victim, or the costs of every action the fugitive took for granted. He simply pushed those faceless victims to the dark recesses of his mind, hiding them from plain view as if they were discarded things, recollections intentionally forgotten.
The one thing Church knows with certainty is the writer is the only person who really knows him, and the only man other than himself who possibly understands where they are both headed. But life is about to get more twisted and dangerous. It begins with a backwards Deputy Sheriff and that same ill-fated chance that always prevented him from slowing down his pace or finding a peaceful place to rest with Chris Maxwell by his side.
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Rubble and The Wreckage
(A Gabriele Church Tale, #1) by Rodd Clark
Rating ~ 4 Stars
Gabriel Church knows you can’t take a life without first understanding just how feeble life is, how tentative and weak it stands alone. If you desire murder, you hold a life in your hand. Whether you release it to grant life or grip tighter to end it, it is at your command and discretion. Gabriel is a serial killer with a story he wants told.
Christian Maxwell studied abnormal psychology in college but chose instead to focus on a career in writing. His background comes in handy when he thinks of writing about a serial killer. He can’t think of anyone more qualified to write the story of Gabriel Lee Church, and do so in the murderer’s own words. It’s been done before, but never with a killer who has yet to be captured or convicted.
There was never anything more than a gentleman’s understanding between the two men that Christian would record Gabriel’s life story. The killer did not ask for his complicity in any crimes, nor did he ever ask for his silence. Christian’s interest in the man, though, is fast becoming something more than academic. When the writer and his subject become unexpected friends and then lovers, the question remains: What is Gabriel’s endgame . . . and why does he want his story told?
“This was definitely not my usual read, so did I like it? Yes, I did. Was it what I was expecting? No, not really. Is it an M/M romance? Yes, of sorts. This story for me was interesting in many ways. It took me out of my comfort zone, made me review many values and in many respects a real mind bender as I felt myself being fascinated, invested and pulled in by the attraction of a serial killer.”
Torn and Frayed
(A Gabriel Church Tale, #2) by Rodd Clark
Rating ~ 4.5 Stars
“Conscience isn’t something all people are born with . . .”
Gabriel Church is a portrait in contrast. It would be easy to get lost in his pale-blue eyes, ache with the need to feel the strength of his masculine frame. He appears to be nothing but animal and instinct. The only people who know the full depth of that truth are dead, murdered, or two thousand miles away.
Gabe is a serial killer. For the first time in his life, he has more on his mind than his own survival. This time he is running from Seattle to protect the only person he thinks innocent in his laundry list of crime and murder: Christian Maxwell, his biographer and unexpected lover. Drawn to a place he never thought to return, Gabe finds new and different realities. Realities that insist he let go of his tragic past, those incredible perceptions of God, and his own divinity. He must open his eyes to what the love of a good man can do to heal a broken soul.
But when the killer is confronted by his own willingness to love and sacrifice, he is forced to ultimately ask the question: Just how far will he go to save a life . . . when all he’s ever done is take them?
"A great psychological thriller with a warped M/M romance thrown in. A super book and an exciting read! The writing of Rodd Clark is detailed and empathetic of his characters, letting the reader delve right into the psyche of Gabriel Church. Maybe it’s a place you want or don’t want to go but just the thrill of going somewhere you normally wouldn’t, pushing your boundaries, questioning rights and wrongs, makes for a super book and an exciting read. Can’t wait for the next book."
Looking at the man from across the room, one would never have imagined how dangerous he actually was. The serial killer was hot and threatening in his own physical way, but there seemed to be a sympathetic kindness scratching below the surface of those mirror-like pupils of his. At times they looked bluish, while other times they appeared to be color of industrial slate. But in that instant, they reminded the deputy of humid childhood summers and seeing a cool slab of concrete in the shade beckoning him to rest upon it.
He had been drawn like a magnet after meeting the man he only knew by the name Carl Whiting. And from the first second they spoke, he found himself wavering under the killer’s impressive build and mischievous crooked smile. He hadn’t known at the time, but the name Carl Whiting was only an alias. Nor did he know that he was meeting a killer who’d claimed a multitude of victims over several years and many miles of this vast country. He only knew there was something unique about his country drawl and those sinful eyes that hinted with sexual tension and risk.
Facing Gabriel Church alone in a room without backup would be intimidating to anyone, to say the least. Even the weight of Deputy Corso’s holstered sidearm didn’t seem to offer him much security. The killer strangely didn’t appear anything but relaxed and surprisingly at peace with himself.
“You know I kinda like the idea of being hunted,” the killer said quietly. “It sort of makes my dick hard, as if you couldn’t tell.”
As he said that, Gabriel readjusted himself in his chair, shifting slightly and opening his legs wider apart. The deputy could see that even concealed under his faded blue Levi’s there was a sizable bulge exposed that indicated he’d been telling the truth. The killer’s smile hadn’t evaporated once since they’d begun talking, and it made the officer think it was intended as his own challenge, daring the deputy to make his move as was expected that he would.
Meet Rodd Clark
Rodd currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He shares his life with numerous cats, dogs, and his partner of many years. He has many projects under his belt and is working on many others. Some of his works are There Is Always Another Boogey Man, Jesse, Justice Denied, Short Ride to Hell, A Cache of Killers and the recently completed final book in the Brantley Colton Mystery series, No Place for the Wicked.
Always penning his next work, Rodd likes to keep busy with writing and reading and of course his menagerie of critters.