When Michael asked me to write a bit about my favorite book, I waffled. My stories are bits and pieces of me. It might be easier to pick a favorite hair on my head. So I’ve picked one I particularly like, one that was great fun to write, but it also happens to be Michael’s favorite ;)
Boots was conceived out of one of those conversations with friends and critique partners that amounted, more or less, to a series of “I bet you can’t” statements, some of which involved turning classic heterosexual fairytales into gay romance. The first suggestions were easy ones—Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and so on. Good stories, but easy to change a bit to fit the bill and, by that time, authors had done so a number of times. Some of the suggestions I tucked away for later, but the one that struck me was when someone threw out “Do Puss In Boots!”
My initial thought was “How the hell would you do that? The main character’s a…cat.” But that was the beauty of it, the challenge, and thus our snarky Kasha with his need for a practical yet stylish pair of boots was born. It’s been over a year and a half since Amber Allure picked up the contract for Boots and Trace Zaber created its amazing, iconic cover.
People don’t recognize me, but they sure recognize those kitty eyes.
The other reason I bring Boots up now? Ah, yes. The ulterior author motive. December 2012, Boots will be available for the first time in paperback as part of a pair of novellas offered in No Princesses Need Apply. Kasha and I are rather excited about that. He’s made some disgruntled noises about having to share paperback space with a bear, but really, I think he’s all right with it as long as he doesn’t have to share the marquee with a dog.
by Angel Martinez
Willem’s father never approved of his artistic talents, his choices in life, or the fact that he’s gay. When the only thing Horst leaves to Willem is the family cat, he thinks it’s his father’s last insult from the grave. That is, until the cat starts talking to him.
Though Willem’s lost his boyfriend, his home, and his job, Kasha, who claims to be a magic cat, reassures him that all will be well. All he needs is Willem’s trust and a good pair of boots. But giving boots to a talking cat has unexpected consequences when odd events ambush Willem at every turn, such as the appearance of a handsome stranger in his arms at night. While he begins to suspect Kasha’s plans might be dangerous for all involved, how can he distrust such a charming kitty in cowboy boots?
Kasha sat on the bureau by the window in Willem’s old apartment, watching the entwined figures on the bed. Lazy slugs. Willem would never sleep this late.
The smaller boy, Joey, slept on his back, mouth open, hand cupping his balls. It wasn’t a good look for him. Kasha had seen him with Willem before, though, and had never been impressed. Something in his restless, shifting eyes kept him from being a handsome young man. If once, just once, he had gazed at Willem with adoration rather than calculation, Kasha might have reconsidered what he was about to do.
The taller boy, the one he didn’t know, stirred first. He had no quarrel with that one, except that he had been instrumental in causing Willem’s pain. Any collateral damage would be little cause for regret.
The tall boy yawned and rolled over to slide a hand across Joey’s bare stomach. He startled when he spotted Kasha.
“Fuck. That’s one big-ass cat.” He nudged Joey’s side. “You didn’t tell me you had a cat, babe.”
“Cat? Wha—” Joey rubbed a palm over his face, one eye opening far enough to show the bloodshot evidence of heavy excess. “Don’t have a fucking cat.”
Prim and proper with his tail curled around his feet, Kasha did his best to give off a non-threatening air. While the slugs untangled from sheets and each other, though, he began to weave. Some spellcrafters saw magic as flowing streams to direct; for others it came in flecks and motes to puzzle together. For Kasha, magic was the complex pattern of threads that ran through all things, the very fabric of reality.
He pulled threads to him from Willem’s ex-lover, from the street outside, from the woods outside of town. A bright green thread of poison ivy, a dark skein of spite, a brown, chitinous thread of bedbug, a vibrant thread of scarlet from Willem himself, and Kasha’s own rainbow hues wove over and under into the pattern he desired. It was an inelegant thing with the feel of a rag rug, unsecured ends and all, but the spell wasn’t meant to endure or accomplish anything elaborate. He sent it into Joey’s underwear drawer.
“How’d the damn cat get in here?” Joey muttered as he opened the drawer and pulled out a pair of powder blue bikini briefs.
Kasha wrinkled his nose in disgust. The room stank of stale sweat and sex, and the boy wasn’t even going to clean himself before he dressed? He truly deserved what he was about to receive. The new lover at least staggered to the shower first.
During his search over the floor for clothes, Joey began to scratch absently at his balls and his stomach. By the time his lover emerged from the shower, smelling a good deal better, Joey’s scratching had become persistent.
“What’s the matter, babe? Got crabs?”
“Shut up, Leo.” Joey’s scratching became frantic.
“Those new briefs? Did you wash them first?”
“No, dammit, I didn’t. They came packaged. Why would I wash them?”
Leo stopped toweling himself dry, watching Joey with a wary expression. “’Cause they use like, bug spray on imported stuff. Can play hell with your skin sometimes. Take ’em off, babe. You’re making me itch.”
“You just want me naked.”
“Yeah, well—holy fuck!”
Leo’s eloquent expression of disbelief leapt out when Joey pulled the briefs down to expose sunburn-red skin covered in angry, swelling blisters. Some of those had begun to ooze from Joey’s scratching. The sight of those blisters on his genitals made even Kasha wince in sympathy.
Some other fun Boots items:
Haven’t read it yet? I’ll be giving away an ecopy of Boots to one luck commenter! Don’t forget to leave an email addy J
Angel Martinez writes both kinds of M/M fiction—Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her work currently lives at Amber Allure and Silver Publishing. For more info, visit her website: