The Moonlight Market
by Aidee Ladnier
Genres: Gay (M/M), Fantasy, Paranormal, New Adult
College senior Cory Long tracked his missing sister to the magical Moonlight Market to bring her home. Instead, he found a disorienting world of performers and hawkers, bizarre sights and sounds, and one very familiar showman, Sanderson Beets. Like a drowning man, he latched onto Sanderson, trusting him to navigate the twists and turns of the Market as unerringly as he had steered Cory to passion in their furtive trysts on campus.
But Sanderson was tired of being the quickie in the alley.
Sanderson Beets had escaped the Moonlight Market to attend college, hoping to settle into a normal life, maybe meet someone and fall in love. To obtain that new life he made a dangerous bargain. And when the sinister woman known as the Weaver of Dreams is involved, second chances always come with strings attached…and sacrifices. Sanderson’s debt has come due, and the only payment he has to offer is Cory, and their chance at a relationship.
He swiveled to see Sanderson leaning out of the main office of the Center. “Is there something I can help you with?”
Cory felt tongue-tied for a moment. He stepped back, and the pins on the corkboard stabbed into his spine. Sanderson would be here. Of course he would—he was a center volunteer. Here to witness Cory at his most vulnerable. That was pretty much the only time they interacted. Ever since the Meet and Greet and the abortive drink at the bar, Cory had gone out of his way to avoid seeing Sanderson. There was only so much self-loathing and want Cory could stomach in himself. And he didn’t want it on display to someone as nice as Sanderson had been to him.
But he remembered their first time and the flyer Sanderson had ripped to give him his number. Could it be the same one Cory was looking for?
“Hi…um, I was looking for a flyer I thought I saw up here.” He pointed to the bulletin board. “It was yellow?”
Sanderson gave the board a once-over and shook his head. “Looks like someone snatched it. I know the one you’re talking about. I’ve got more.”
Sanderson jogged back to the desk, and Cory trailed after him. He bent down to his backpack, affording Cory another eyeful of muscular ass. The barest strip of pale skin showed between the hem of Sanderson’s T-shirt and the belted waist of his jeans. Below it, his hips rounded into a tempting curve. Cory clenched his fist, pushing back the yearning to crowd close behind Sanderson, push him to his knees, and let his fingers delve under the denim to grasp that curve as he—
I adore Aidee's writing. Her world building is always brilliantly detailed with characters who are full of life. Sanderson was desperate to escape the path life had written for him, so desperate that he was willing to do anything in order to gain his freedom. Until he met Cory and realized how unexpectedly dear the price of his freedom would be. Overcome with a new type of desperation, he's now searching for a way to save the keeper of his heart. You're sure to fall in love with the romance, mystery and adventure that is The Moonlight Market.
1. Tell us about your cover and how it came about.
I LOVE the cover to THE MOONLIGHT MARKET. It not only has a beautiful man on it, but if you look really closely, you can see the dark outlines of a carnival which is perfect for the slightly sinister nature of the Market. The cover was created by the extremely talented Natasha Snow. Loose Id sent me a cover art request form where I was able to list the genre of the book (Magical Realism, Horror) and the tone (Dream-like, overtones of darkness, pools of light and bright colors with dark shadows around the edges, music, laughter, edge of danger). I gave the artist a brief sketch of the setting which was the magical market itself. And a quote about how the setting is described in the book:
“They inserted themselves into the flow of attendees thronging the midway. Sanderson walked, unperturbed by the music and laughter, the bright lights and hawkers beckoning visitors to view their wares. Little alleyways and temporary shops branched off the lantern-lit walkway. Each tent had a pool of light, music and color, tempting baubles, and exotic foods.“
I also provided the artist some key scenes that might inspire the cover and pictures of my visual models for my characters (which are on my Pinterest if you’re interested in seeing them) as well as passages from the book that described them. One of the passages for Sanderson was:
“The barker's blond, close-cropped hair glinted with perspiration. It glowed in the bright lights that burned away the shadows along the Moonlight Market. His long-tailed jacket, wrinkled by the steam, covered his bare, muscled chest and matched his silvery pants. His dimpled smile promised mischief as he gestured with his top hat, arms flung wide to embrace the crowd.”
2. Share an interesting or fun fact about your book.
This book originally started out as a novella. It was told completely from Cory’s point of view and his sister, Poe, had been missing for a year when the Moonlight Market returned. I received a revise and resubmit from a publishing house (which had closed by the time I was ready to resubmit) and one of the submission editor’s notes stated that the story needed a little more character development. She wanted to see the ordinary world before Cory stepped into the Market. She wanted to know why Poe had run away. And above all, she wanted to know what Sanderson was getting out of helping Cory. So I began rewriting, giving Sanderson a full half of the story, complete with his new bargain with the witch, the Weaver of Dreams. The Weaver became the full-blown villain of the book instead of just a slightly sinister cameo. Poe even gained a few scenes from her point of view to illuminate her need to leave home and why. Adding all that, and a few sex scenes, since the novella had only one, made the novel my longest one to date at nearly 200 pages.
3. Do you have any real-life inspirations you used when writing this book?
Madame Irina is the fortune teller in THE MOONLIGHT MARKET. She has an amazing tent filled with brightly colored pillows, candles, bowls (some filled with water and others empty), and little statues of animals everywhere. And there are stacks of coins and rolled up dollars, under the statues, on shelves, on tables as well as gems and jewelry hanging from them. I actually based the interior of her tent partially on the “sanctuary” of a voodoo priestess. When my DH and I visited New Orleans a few years before Katrina, we took a tour which ended with a visitation to a voodoo priestess. She (very like a minister) gave us a very good sermon about taking a leap of faith. I was endlessly fascinated with all the knickknacks she had scattered around the room as well as the money that was displayed out in the open. It wasn’t gathered up like an offering in church but laid about rather haphazardly as if left by several parishioners who didn’t know where to put it. I remember wondering why she wasn’t afraid that someone would steal a dollar or two, but she seemed very unconcerned. Perhaps no one wanted to get on the bad side of a voodoo priestess!
4. Do your characters ever take over your writing and make the story go somewhere you hadn’t originally planned?
Always. I try to outline my novels but inevitably, as soon as I sit down to write, all those plans go out the window. I’ve even had characters pop up that I hadn’t planned on. One of those characters in THE MOONLIGHT MARKET is Gigi of the Flagpole. She both provides a warning against the Weaver and forces Sanderson to admit that he didn’t necessary have to do everything his family asked of him, that his life didn’t come down to a choice between college and family. Looking back, that scene is so necessary to foreshadow later events, but it was nowhere to be found in the original outline.
5. What is the most satisfying thing about being a writer?
Definitely meeting readers. I love to share my characters and my stories with other people. Look for me at RainbowCon later this year!
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