I have gathered you all here today to talk about my new novel, the epic love story of our age, Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird. There has never been (I quizzed some chicks hanging out in the Romance section of Barnes & Noble) a tale which so richly embodies what it means to be hopelessly in love. If you’re looking for shirtless pirate dudes that look like that guy who sells that fake butter on TV, you have come to the right place.
This should be an internet rule: DO NOT Google 'shirtless pirate dudes'
Billy Purgatory is, I dare say, the new template for romantical fiction. I know tons about this subject, being in touch with my feminine side and all that nonsense, and it will be my pleasure to show you just exactly what an expert I am and prove my point.
Why is this not a relationship status choice on Facebook?
I am friends with tons of writers, but the ones who I really feel a connection with are those who are in the heart-string-pulling business. My sisters and I are in the trenches every day, sipping lattes and typing away on our laptops with the Hello Kitty stickers, trying to bring some class and culture to the general readership population of the world. It’s not only our goal, but our immense joy, to push on your little cold-dead-heart.
You tell him, sister!
That heart of yours: The very emotionally destitute organ that got all stomped on the last time you trusted someone’s profile pictures were current on Match.com. That heart that believed the phrase, “It was just a barista, they aren’t real people.”, or, “How can I be fully invested in our relationship when my guild is taking such a beating in World of Warcraft? That just wouldn’t be fair to you.”
Love is a tough business, especially for a rainmaker. I have taken my knocks to the head from the whack-a-romance hammer. People like to categorize me and my writing into these really unfair boxes – they say I’m not in touch with my feelings and that I don’t understand what it means to share stuff, and – like – talk to other human beings about adult topics. I am here to express to you that I have feelings, and they are legitimate. I am not some reality-TV automaton attention-whore who makes it all about me. I want to share secret love poem what-have-you’s with that special someone.
Don’t try and put Baby in a corner! I will not let you box me in. Just because I like barbecue, and motorcycle explosions, and gunfire, it doesn’t make me at all distant to your inner monologue of candy-cane hopes and dreams, or crying, or beautiful sunsets.
In life, and in literature, it’s time for love outside the box! Okay, that just didn’t sound right…
That'll teach that dude to smack-talk Downton Abbey.
Nobody has taught me more about girl-type books than author Tess Hardwick.
I didn't have a Tess comic book panel to put here. I did consider Gwen Stacy, though.
She wrote a book called Riversong, and when I told her I was going to read it she said, “It’s a girl book.” What did that mean exactly? It had girls in it? I like girls just fine. So, I read it and I figured out that what she meant was it had to do with ‘girl problems’. This was unfamiliar territory for me at first, I’d never read anything like it, aside from Wonder Woman comics – and those have an entirely different kind of girl problem – it usually involves Wonder Woman getting kidnapped and tied up. It really makes me think that actual women don’t have anything to do with the creative process of Wonder Woman.
No, Wonder Woman is not kidnapped and tied up in that barn. What is wrong with you people?
What surprised me, were all the parallels I was able to draw between Billy Purgatory and Riversong. The VP at Booktrope, Katherine Sears, explained to me that Riversong was actually something called ‘women’s contemporary fiction’. I asked her what Billy Purgatory was considered and she told me that she had to get off the phone and go to a meeting.
Suddenly, we're at Billy Purgatory and we're back to comics images. Notice the lack of tears this time.
Genre classification should not be sexist – genres should stay out of women’s utereses. So, if Tess can do it – so can I. I have pulled some excerpts from Riversong to illustrate my point. I didn’t ask permission to print any of them, but I have my lawyer on speed-dial.
Riversong is about a woman named Lee whose life becomes unhinged when she finds out that her husband took some money from the mob to start up their tech company and live their fancy life in Seattle. Billy Purgatory is about a boy whose life becomes unhinged because he talks to a giant drunken rooster in his backyard and finds out that his Pop has been lying to him about why his Mom ran off and left them. Mobsters are cool and so are giant drunken Devil Birds – so that’s EXHIBIT A.
Where did all the hot chicks in love go? Why is Quincy M.E. there?
In Riversong, Lee is forced to go on the classic Campbell Hero’s Adventure of self-discovery and learn about herself. In Billy Purgatory, said protagonist is also forced to go on a quest and kinda learns nothing about himself. This does not negate EXHIBIT B in any way, because while Billy remains partially confused throughout the entirety of the book, he loves barbecue potato chips and Tess’s Lee Tucker starts a restuarant in her home town. I feel we’re both going with the tried and true Rachael Ray trope of homestyle comforts in the midst of epic tragedy. So, score one for me again!
Hiding behind that jar of Prego is a love beast ready to be unchained.
Lee meets this guy who’s a Fireman/Musician (I know, it writes itself) and falls madly in love – yet, she’s cautious and gunshy because she’s been hurt before and isn’t sure who she is, or, even worse, who to trust. Allow me to examplificate using Tess Hardwick’s own words:
He smiled but there was something in his eyes and how he wanted to kiss him then, to feel his body next to her. He pulled the ponytail holder from her hair, and she felt him breathe her in and out, the scent of his breath chocolate.
“Does your hair smell like strawberries because of it’s color?”
Billy Purgatory meets Anastasia, who is a vampire/sociopath that repeatedly tries, at best, to bite him, and at worst, to kill him. Billy isn’t sure if he should trust her either, because, although she’s really hot, she might not be the best choice for a compassionate and fullfilling relationship:
Long black hair swayed about her back to his approach. She moved in this really great way, like the top part of her body wasn’t attached to the lower. She was the Goth-kid at belly dancing class,and as her hair swung from one side to another, Billy got the flash of gold hoop earrings, which might have been the most out of place fashion enhancement he had ever seen a cold-blooded killer wear.
She downed the beer and threw the now empty bottle at the barred doors of the Tiki bar. A shriek left her lips and mated with the breaking glass to form one continuous frightful war cry. Grown men screamed in terror from the other side of the barred door. Anastasia was having a good time, and she laughed at their fright.
She looked good. Billy knew he really shouldn’t be staring at her ass. He was rubbing his neck as he watched her, he realized that he
had stopped and his full attention was on her. Billy pulled it together and jerked his hand from his neck like he’d just touched a hot stove.
This action came fast enough so it ended before she looked back and saw him. Ana had been just about to swing the crowbar at the doors of the bar.
“Billy Purgatory.” Her face lit up even more. “Want a beer?
-Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird
EXHIBIT C: emotionally-unavailable ties it all together.
Anastasia: doesn't bring milk-shakes to the yard
And meanwhile, in Riversong, to further complicate her love life, Lee just happens to be pregnant with her dead ex-husband’s baby (I know where you think I’m going with this – it’s not zombies this time). Billy Purgatory, while not pregnant, has to be born – and this happens in a nifty little flashback I came up with because I watched too much LOST.
Please, grab your Jiffy-Pop and compare and contrast with me:
The doctor, hair disheveled, was between Lee’s legs. “Just one more push and we’ve got a baby.”
Lee flopped back onto the hospital bed, looking first at Tommy and then Ellen. She’d pushed for two hours and she was beyond fatigue, almost delirious. “I can’t do it. I’m too tired.”
Tommy’s voice was in her ear. “Just one more push and you get to see the baby.”
“What’s all the commotion?” asked the Doctor. He checked his arm and realized he’d forgotten to put on his wristwatch.
“End times, Doctor!” Humphrey screamed and sounded like
one of his little sisters when he used to scare them on Halloween.
Karma had never met the big teddy-bear of a man in any situation where it was rooting for Humphrey. “Dead moved out of the graveyard.”
Emelia drew the sword as the doctor readjusted his ass on the stool. Doc Mitchum didn’t seem at all fazed by the prospect of the end of days, or didn’t hear, or was too pre-occupied by the idea of having a sandwich if this baby could ever be squirmed out.
“One more big push. Really try this time. I know it’s hard for your generation to get excited about anything without rock music blaring.”
The doctor watched little Billy Purgatory making his entrance into the world: mother and son were really trying, as if they were as anxious as the Doc to move on to the next act.
“Come on out, bucket-head,” Doc Mitchum coaxed in his googoo voice. “You got a worthless hippie’s life to lead.
-Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird
In conclusion, what have we learned (beyond the fact that I’m a romance/girl-book genius!)?
A) Finally giving yourself completely over to love and staring into the eyes of the fireman/musician that you’ve come to care for deeply while working through the pain, and magic, of childbirth – comforted in it all by the realization that you have finally completed your quest to build the perfect life for yourself and those you love. That is love right there. That is high romance!
Alright Ladies, you read the whole post almost so I Google'd 'Fireman Musician' for ya. You're welcome.
B) Unsheathing your stolen, dark magically enhanced, +5 sword of undead slaying while giving birth to the skateboarder who is probably (not) going to save the planet from the forces of evil – EXHIBIT D: it just don’t get any more women’s contemporary fiction than that.
Read an amazing book of essays and help in the fight against breast cancer!
Write for the Fight: A Collection of Seasonal Essays (all author proceeds for this book donated to the fight!) Tess Hardwick & Tracey Hansen along with 11 other writers…
Click on the picture to be magically transported to B&N and help in the fight!
Riversong by Tess Hardwick: When Lee Tucker’s husband commits suicide, he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother’s dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh start. Lee’s resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband’s debt as her business blooms.
Click for Riversong for Nook!
Jesse James Freeman wrote Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird. It’s a stupid book about guy stuff that has vampires and Time Zombies and Sword Witches and skateboards in it. The cool part about it is all the romance, mystery, and exotic intrigue involved as intelligent female characters try their best to interact with Billy and drag any emotion out of him they can get. He, like all men, just doesn’t know how to express his feelings and is completely undeserving of their love.
Click to Billy Purgatory for Nook!