Guest Post by The Kingdom Author J.R. Mabry - Is The Kingdom Christian Fiction? - Excerpt - Giveaway
Berkeley Blackfriars Book 1
by J. R. Mabry
Genre: Urban Fantasy
An unhinged tycoon.
A lodge of evil magicians.
A plan to steal every child from the face of the earth…
When Kat Webber discovers her brother’s comatose body in the midst of a demonic ritual, she knew she was in over her head…
Fr. Richard Kinney is having a crappy week. He’s not at all sure he’s the best leader for the demon-hunting Berkeley Blackfriars, and his boyfriend has just broken up with him. But when a violent demon possesses one of the richest men in the world, Richard doesn’t have time for self-pity.
Kat and the Blackfriars discover their situations are entertwined—leading them to a lodge of black magicians who make every avocado in the world disappear. Their dark power growing, they eliminate every dog from existence.
Kat and the Blackfriars find themselves in a desperate race against time as the magicians try to eliminate their next target—every child on earth. To save the world’s next generation, Kat and the Berkeley Blackfriars will have to put themselves in the line of fire instead…
The Kingdom is the first book in the Berkeley Blackfriars series. If you love supernatural suspense laced with humor and danger, you’ll love J.R. Mabry’s Berkeley Blackfriars’ books. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Preacher, The Dresden Files, and the Mercy Thompson series will thrill to this new paranormal fantasy adventure.
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A Guest Post by J.R. Mabry
Is The Kingdom Christian fiction?No. Have you ever heard of Christian fiction where half of the characters—the good guys, mind you—are gay or bisexual or transgendered? No. Have you ever heard of Christian fiction in which the good guys have extramarital sex and swear like longshoremen? Nope.
When people hear “Christian fiction,” they think several things: novels pushing an Evangelical Christian belief system, conservative politics, shallow 2-dimensional goody-two-shoes main characters, all aimed at a Christian sub-culture “in” crowd.
You don’t have to get very far into The Kingdom before you realize that none of the above apply. Sure, my main characters are religious—the Berkeley Blackfriars are catholic friars, after all—but they’re not Evangelicals, they don’t give a rat’s ass about converting people to anything, they voted for Hilary, and they’re seriously fucked up people (in the nicest possible way).
And they are also trying their best to do the right thing. And it’s not always easy to know what that is, or to do it without fucking something up or hurting someone (as well all know too well).
Having said all that, I need to come clean about my day job. I’m a Christian pastor, in a very progressive denomination. We champion LGBT rights and we are always on the side of the poor, regardless of which way the political winds are blowing. But like the Blackfriars, I’m not trying to convert anyone to anything. I believe God is bigger than any one religion, and that there are lots of life-giving spiritual paths.
But I am trying to do some important things in The Kingdom. First, most media these days paint people of faith as either dangerous or stupid. That doesn’t describe most of the people I know, and it sure doesn’t apply to the Blackfriars. I wanted to show people of faith as I know them—complicated, fucked up, but with their hearts in the right place. And that sums up the Blackfriars pretty well, I think.
I also want to ask some big questions—questions that don’t have canned answers. Questions about the corrupting nature of power, the ethics of doing magick, and how hard it is to embrace people who are different from you.
Of course, along the way the Blackfriars kick a lot of demon ass, too. Let’s not forget about that.
The biggest problem I run into is people pre-judging the book before they’ve read it. Because there is a religious element to it, people assume it’s pushing a conservative Christian agenda. But once people read it, they realize it’s completely unlike anything they’ve ever read before and they love it.
In a way, the Blackfriars books are too religious for mainstream readers, and too profane for uptight religious readers—which leaves the books in the outer darkness where the worm dieth not and you can’t get a decent burger.
But if you are interested in the religious fringe of any tradition, are into authentic magick and occult theory, and love a killer demon-hunting fantasy, give The Kingdom a read. I promise you won’t be able to put it down. And the Blackfriars? Fucked up or not, you’ll wish they were your family.
Keep reading for an excerpt from The Kingdom, by J.R. Mabry.
ExcerptWhen the demon appeared, Randall Webber nearly jumped out of his skin. He was an experienced magickian, but the appearance of an infernal dignitary is never a commonplace event, and it shook him every time. He knew that if he stepped even momentarily outside the circle he had painstakingly burned onto his hardwood floor the demon would be at his throat, and in an instant would separate his soul from his body and devour it—or worse.
Webber mustered his courage and put on his best poker face. He was in control here, he told himself. He was the magickian. He called the shots. He commanded the hosts of Hell. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and upper lip and then put his hand in his back pocket to stop it from shaking.
The demon did not speak but appeared in the form of a dragon. It hovered as an image cast upon a small paper triangle about the size of Webber’s fist, set safely outside the circle on an end table. The dragon uncoiled its tail in slow motion, gold-flecked pupils staring straight into Webber’s own. Webber gulped and willed his voice not to waver as he spoke.
“Greetings, noble Articiphus, commander of many mighty hosts, Duke of Hell. I acknowledge thee and bid thee welcome. I command thee by the holy Tetragrammaton to assume thy human form and speak with me!”
So far, so good, Webber thought. He was still in one piece; the demon was still constrained within the folded paper triangle, and he thought he had just given a flawless performance of a man in command of himself. He fought the urge to run through his mental checklist to make sure he had not forgotten anything. One missing link and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down and he would be demon chow. He fought the urge. He had been careful, and if he had missed anything it was too late now to do anything about it. Right now, he needed to focus.
The triangle shimmered, and a regal-looking gentleman hovered in it dressed in ermine and satin. One half of his face was serene, the other horribly scarred. A diadem sat upon his head, and his face bore a resentful scowl. Nobody likes to be told what to do, Randall thought, least of all a man of power—or a being of power. “Hail, Articiphus, Duke of—”
The demon interrupted him impatiently. “Cut the shit, Magickian. What do you want?”
Randall’s eyes widened. He pushed a lock of long brown hair out of his eyes and consciously straightened his perpetually stooped shoulders. He was expecting the typical exchange of ritual pleasantries, a ping-pong volley of testy manners conducted in Elizabethan English, but he had never summoned this particular spirit before. This one, apparently, had no time—or patience—for small talk. Very well, Randall thought, let’s just cut to the chase. “Is it true, noble Duke, that you have the power to remove souls and put them in other bodies?”
Whether the demon’s voice was audible or whether it merely resonated in his mind, Randall couldn’t tell. It had an odd quality about it as if Randall were wearing headphones. There was no resonance in the room, so it was hard to tell. He dismissed the thought as irrelevant and willed himself once more to focus. The words were clear, regardless of their source. The big question had just been asked. And for a demon in a hurry to be rid of this pest of a human, Articiphus was certainly taking his time replying.
The demon’s eyes narrowed, and he looked like he was trying to stare past the magickian. Randall stole a glance behind him, but there was nothing. Out the window he could see drizzle swirling around a streetlamp, forming wispy ghosts that, he prayed, were neither conscious nor malevolent. In this business, however, one could never be sure.
Randall shifted nervously, noting that the meat of his thigh seemed to have gone numb. He slapped it with the flat of his hand. “What say you, noble Duke?” he called, with a note of impatience.
“I. Can.” The demon let the two words drop like ice. He squinted at the magickian. “You want to share a body with another soul.” He spoke it as a statement, but a raised eyebrow indicated that it was more of a question of clarification.
“No. I want to trade bodies.”
Randall saw the demon nodding, understanding. “Man or woman?” he asked.
“Neither one,” Randall said. He forced all the air he could into his lungs, expanding them as far as they would go given the acrid sting of the incense that hung as thick in the air of the apartment as the fog outside. “The being I want to swap bodies with is…not human.”
The demon opened his mouth to speak but then closed it again, furrowing his brows instead.
“Oh yeah,” Randall added. “When I go, I need to take this with me.” And he held forth a purplish-green fruit.
“What are you going to do with an avocado?” asked the demon, now truly curious.
Suddenly, Webber was not nervous at all. He knew what he had to do, and he knew he had the means at hand to do it. He didn’t answer the demon but only smiled.
Check out the relaunch of The Kingdom, out now from Apocryphile Press. The relaunched The Power will be out next month, followed by the all-new The Glory—also known as the Berkeley Blackfriars series. The Berkeley Blackfriars aren’t your ordinary priests—they curse like longshoremen and aren’t above the occasional spliff or one-night-stand. But if you’ve got a nasty demon on your ass, they’re exactly the guys you want in your corner.
For a free short story in the Berkeley Blackfriars universe, download. For more on The Kingdom and the Berkeley Blackfriars, visit J.R. Mabry’s website.