Guest Blogger’s October
I have always thought of our books as if they were movies. I make videos about them in my head when I listen to music, I compose exciting trailers, and imagine the events in vivid detail. Even in the early days of working together as an author duo, when we knew very little of writing as a craft, our instinct was to follow one character instead of using an omniscient POV. I distinctly remember that we used to say that “the camera” should follow character A when we planned scenes.
It’s impossible to deny that this is still the case, and we tend to be heavily inspired by visual arts, particularly movies and television. This year, we decided to make one of our series, Kings of Hell MC gothic in atmosphere, and we believe that the heavy use of atmospheric descriptions serves those books very well and makes the experience intriguing for our readers.
When the idea for We Met in Death first came to us, we didn’t have a plan to use noir elements, but they sneaked into the prose so fast that we then made a conscious decision to reimagine this story as a black-and-white drama that would have had a dooming ending if it wasn’t for the fact that this is a romance and so the characters need their HEA. Still, the sense of danger lurking just beyond the well-lit part of the screen stays with our MCs till the very end.
The most obvious noir element of the novel is its bad boy protagonist, Robert Zidane, who in the opening line states that “It was a good night to die.” This first sentence immediately introduces the sense of doom that had settled over him after a job for the boss of the criminal underworld had gone horribly wrong and cost lives Robert hadn’t wanted to take. Robert hadn’t led a good life, and the disappointment in his own choices became a burden too heavy for him to bear.
Very much an anti-hero, Robert had put himself in this position by associating with the wrong people, but what used to make him proud when he was young and reckless is now a rusty chain weighing him down every time he deals with the not-so-pretty business. He is trapped in the prison of the criminal underworld that he knows would never let him out, so his mind came up with one solution – death.
“Guilt was a noose around his neck, but despite the visceral desire for it to tighten and choke the life out of him, a part of Robert wished for a few more minutes to finish his liquor. So he followed the invisible pull and walked off the asphalt, away from the safety of a guided path. The grass was soft beneath his feet, even if slippery with moisture as he climbed a soft slope toward a grave that stood alone beneath a leafless tree.
Aimlessly, he moved his hand under his leather jacket to touch the hard steel of the handgun. It was still there, still loaded and ready to use as soon as the bottle was empty. He hadn’t left his apartment with a plan, just wishing to dull out the pain, but his mind had become clearer with each sip. He just needed those few more drops of liquid courage before he pulled the trigger.”
As a gay man who’s never accepted his identity, Robert couldn’t allow himself to be honest with people. Not with his family. Not with his friends in the small Texan town he’s from. Certainly not with other gangsters. He was an outsider wherever he went, and as years went by, dissatisfaction and regret have made him bitter, a self-destructive man with nothing to lose. That is, until an opportunity came to do something right for once.
Robert saves Nathan, the other MC, on a whim. While not the classical femme (homme)fatale all fans of noir know and love, Nathan is the person who pulls Robert into trouble yet gives him hope that something might change for the better after all. Unlike the tropey object of a noir hero’s lust, he is overall a good person, even if one who’d made some questionable choices in his life. His presence triggers something new in Robert, a lust that he’d denied himself all his life.
Robert’s sexual orientation is one of his demons, and no matter how badly he wants to be around Nathan, admitting to it and reaching out for the man he so desperately desires is another thing altogether. With a sense of fatalism, Robert keeps rejecting the sole idea of giving in to his needs, and in a way it had been the fear of what being gay meant that originally pushed him into a life of crime.
“The liquor made the inside of Robert’s head tingle, but it couldn’t affect his marksmanship. He hadn’t had nearly enough whiskey yet for that. He steadied the gun (…) and pulled the trigger.”
Violence is far more familiar to Robert than tenderness and intimacy. As one of the most prominent elements of noir, scenes of bloodshed and danger are present throughout the novel. Even the title indicates that the two MCs meet on the brink of death. Each of them would have died without the other’s presence, but they save each other, which sends them on a journey to solve a mystery unfolding in the background, and become their true selves.
“Slowly, he looked up and spotted faint lights in the fog ahead. For a brief moment, he wanted to walk the other way, to take care of the business he’d wanted to deal with since he’d left the bar. But maybe there was a part of him that wanted to prolong the inevitable, because instead of doing the sensible thing, he stepped toward the weak light that moved in the air like a giant firefly.”
Numerous events in the novel take place at night, in narrow corridors, ruined buildings, in fog and shadows, and the dark atmosphere reflects the state of mind of the characters. For both Robert and Nathan, darkness is the natural habitat. Each of them is, in his own way, an outsider who doesn’t belong in the normal world. They do, however, belong with one another.
We Met in Death
— This is not the night you die. —
After years of working for a loan shark, Robert is done with blood and violence. All he has to show for it is a bag of money and a lifetime of regrets. There’s no other way out of his line of work than in a body bag.
So Robert decides to die.
But on the night he chooses to seal his own fate, destiny offers him a chance at redemption. When Robert saves a handsome young escort from a terrible death, he has no idea he is setting in motion much more than one last attempt at proving that inside the hardened shell, he is a decent human being.
Charming, quick-witted, and full of smiles, Nathan is all Robert could dream of. He’s also ready to fall into the arms of his gruff protector. Robert, on the other hand, has never been with a man and will first need to fight his own demons if he is to accept that his whole being wants to make Nathan his.
With his former boss hunting them both, time is ticking, and Robert might just not get the chance to decide before it’s too late. More importantly though, Robert will stop at nothing to protect the man who’s made him feel alive again, the man who is the only thing between him and the abyss.
“I never had to think much about death before, but I did yesterday. I thought I would die. In a hole. Covered with dirt. Suffocate underground.
But then you saved me.”
Themes: enemies to lovers, protector, cruelty, homophobia, crime, self-discovery, family conflict, age gap, escort, self-hate, first time, revenge, on the run
Genre: Dark, gritty, contemporary romance
Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes
Length: ~90,000 words (Standalone novel, HEA)
WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, torture, mentions of suicide, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters, homophobia and homophobic language
K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.
K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.