Hello everyone! I’m Lex Chase, and it is my pleasure to be on Kim’s blog today. I’m the author and brainchild behind Pawn Takes Rook, the first installment of the Checkmate series. It’s a tale about the disgraced superhero Memphis Rook told through the eyes of his sidekick Hogarth Dawson. And that’s what I’m talking about today, telling a story through first person point-of-view.
Let me go on record and say I hatefirst person in fiction. It just gives me the utter skin-crawling heebie-jeebies. It seems to be the trend with Young Adult fiction these days, and I just can’t get around it. I think the fault in Young Adult these days is you have these 16-year-old protagonists that are beautiful, perfect, and good at everything. Or so they say because these teens are not aware of their own faults, so of course they’re going to talk themselves up.
The only time I ever liked first person in a book was Perry Moore’s Hero (ironically a book about a gay superhero!) because our protagonist Thom Creed was very aware of his own inadequacies or had his own reasons to fear failure. We identified with him. He was like us. He was like many kids that read about him.
Now, here’s a problem, doing first person POV in adult fiction. Not only adult fiction, but adult fiction with sexual situations. I don’t know about you, but there is something about that it makes me want to scrub the yickiness off with sandpaper and kerosene.
And here’s where my book Pawn Takes Rook comes in. When I conceptualized the story, I saw Rook in my head first. Dark, brooding, badass, pissed off at the world, determined to say fuck it all to everything. Because of a failed mission that was entirely his fault, he was kicked out of his superhero team, all his connections burned, his assets liquidated, and had the clothes on his back.
If I don’t know about you, but after I got over my crippling depression, I’d be pissed. That’s Rook. He’s pissed.
But honestly? If I told the story from his POV, it would be one dark angst-filled story, and there’s only enough room in the world for one Batman. And then, I came up with Hogarth.
What a contrast of voices! Rook’s anger versus Hogarth’s overeager hyperactive chipmunk ways. Framing Rook’s torrid tale through Hogarth’s rosy pop-culture laden POV, now, I had something. Now, I had a comedy that made fun of superhero tropes as much as it made fun of itself.
Like Thom Creed of Hero, Hogarth is inadequate at many things. He’s unapologetically nerdy, cripplingly insecure, but is the eternally infectious optimist. But Pawn Takes Rook is a romance. And there’s sex. And Hogarth is the bottom. And the book is in his POV. And then I start getting weird in my head all over again.
I don’t know if there’s a solution for me to get over it. All I know is while one part of my brain utterly winces about it, Pawn Takes Rook is told in the best POV possible.
Because you seriously don’t want to hear what’s going on in Rook’s head 24/7.
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The first time Hogarth Dawson sees superhero Memphis Rook, he comes to Hogarth’s rescue by cracking the heads of two thugs like eggs into a skillet. Hogarth is utterly smitten, but he soon discovers the superhero Power Alliance has ejected Rook for failing to protect a civilian.
Hogarth devises a plan that will reinstate Rook and might even earn Hogarth a place in Power Alliance roster. But what he expects to be a simple few missions rescuing kittens and helping little old ladies cross the street turns into a shocking reality of citywide chases, foiling robberies, and facing his ex. Then Hogarth discovers the beating Rook saved him from wasn’t a chance attack. It’s possible Hogarth is just a pawn in Rook’s game….
I jogged up the steps, then cracked open my squeaky door, only to be greeted with the esteemed sight of Rook, clad in Pac-Man pajama bottoms that were definitely not mine and little else. I watched as he polished off my gallon jug of milk, tossed it aside, and moved on to the OJ, fresh from the fridge. If you could have seen the utter horror on my face at watching my hard–earned groceries disappear with shocking efficiency, you’d agree with me. One thing was for certain, he didn’t eat double–decker buses, but he pretty much ate everything else! I had to step in before he slurped up the remains of the pickle juice straight from the jar.
I snatched the jar out of his hand, and he looked at me like a swatted puppy. I was onto his game, and he wouldn’t sucker me for sympathy.
“Hey….” he groaned like a five year old denied ice cream.
I squinted at him and frowned. “Do you want to make yourself sick again? I saw you puke your brains out. I’d like it if you’d refrain from decorating my apartment with an explosion of Baskin–Robbins!”
Rook went silent. His lips pursed, his wild eyes narrowed—I should add he had some crazy long lashes. Like that guy in that show about the crazy mysterious island with the smoke monster. Yeah! Guyliner dude!
Anyway, he was about to say something. I could see the train of thought coming to the station. He took a breath, and then broke into a bright superhero grin, blaze of gleaming white against tawny skin.
“You’re sweet, Garth,” he said.
My ears felt hot. I flushed like a freak. At that moment,my feet became really interesting. He stepped past me, rummaged in the pantry for the Golden Grahams, and then poured them straight down his gullet. I spun around and ripped the box from his hand. Tiny squares of tasty goodness showered the floor.
“Don’t ‘hey!’ me, bucko!” I snapped at him. “You don’t get to say sweet things to me, show your junk to me, or other sundry flirty things to get your way. You do not get to use my credit card in return for giving me a peep show. You do not get to raid my fridge just because you pay me a compliment. You do not get to waltz into my life and not explain a Goddamned thing to me! Why did you puke, then pass out? Why did you pass out when you saved me? More to the point, why do you goddamn flat fuck fall over all the time?”
Rook crossed his arms and pressed his lips into a thin line. “Will there be anything else you’d like to file with the Complaint Department?” He grinned. “Press one for ‘sit and spin’, and press two for ‘cry me a fucking river’.”
God, this man was absolutely incorrigible. If you can’t beat ’em….
I shook the box of Golden Grahams as a temptation. “Answer my questions, and I’ll show you where I hide the pretzel M&M’s.”
Rook gently took the box from me and shoved his hand into the crinkling plastic. He popped a handful of cereal in his mouth and crunched obnoxiously. “I freaking love the pretzel ones,” he mumbled.
I sat on the counter and watched him scarf down my beloved Golden Grahams. “Why did you puke?”
“That’s appetizing….” he said and scanned the fridge, choosing a bag of shredded cheese.
I pointed a finger and watched him pour the Colby-Jack from the bag into his mouth. “Are you like a gremlin? Can I not feed you after midnight?”
“And you don’t know what DeLoreans are,” he chided, then slurped caramel sauce from the jar.
“Hey. One ’80s reference at a time!” I scolded him. “Answer the question.”
Rook smirked as he popped the tab on a Sprite. “You know how every superhero has some ultimate super-secret power?”
“Yeah?” I said, leaning in eagerly.
“That’s mine,” he said and chugged the soda.
I didn’t get it. “…Puking?”
Rook coughed, and his hand clasped over his nose. Let it go down in the history books the moment I made Memphis Rook snarf on Sprite.
“No!” he gurgled, then coughed wetly. He snorted carbonation up his nose. “Raising the dead….” he said softly.
“Say what, now?” I blurted out. Not the smoothest of things to say at the moment. “But… you’re a fighter.”
His crazy eyes met mine. “You could say I’m a giver too.”
Man, my shoes were seriously interesting at that moment. Wow, never noticed that peculiar dapple of puce paint on the toe. The more I tried to make myself stop blushing like a freak, the worse I made it.
Lex Chase is a journalist by day and a writer by night. Either way you slice it, she makes things up for a living. Her style of storytelling is action, adventure, and a dollop of steamy romance. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes it’s never a party until something explodes in a magnificent fashion, be it a rolling fireball of a car or two guys screaming out their love for one another in the freezing rain.
Lex is a pop culture diva, an urbanite trapped in a country bumpkin’s body, and wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse. She has learned that when all else fails, hug the cat.
She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine residing in the ‘burbs of Northwest Florida where it could be 80F and she’d have a sweatshirt on because she’s freezing.