Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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BLACK DOG — cover reveal

Hey, check this out:

Here is the official back cover copy, and then we will have a brief Q and A session where I provide the Qs you ought to ask plus the As.

Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

This is basically accurate, which I do think is a plus. Obviously it is not completely accurate, and I remind you all that encapsulating a book in a couple of paragraphs is not at all easy. Hopefully this description also sounds, you know, intriguing and engaging and like the kind of book you might like to read.

Now, Qs you might possibly be asking:

Q. Why did you make your protagonists Hispanic?

A. Because they walked into my head that way, and then because it made sense in plot terms.

Q. So you didn’t deliberately set out to have non-White protagonists in order to contribute to diversity in the SFF young adult genre?

No. That’s just a perk.

Q. Did it complicate your life to have Hispanic protagonists?

A. Yes. I don’t speak a word of Spanish. My friend Abi Borrego was super-helpful in making sure my horrible computer translations come out in colloquial Mexican Spanish.

However, it’s important to note that, to Natividad, Alejandro, Miguel, and everyone around them, the most important component of their identity is whether they are Pure, black dog, or an ordinary human.

Q. Why did you name your main protagonist “Natividad”? Isn’t that a bit hard to pronounce?

A. Not once you get used to it. Just think of “Nativity”. Naturally you all know already that I like names that are a little out of the ordinary, but I’m not the first SFF author to use this name. Octavia E Butler named a minor character Natividad in PARABLE OF THE SOWER and I totally fell in love with the name. I’ve wanted to use it ever since.

Besides, the name is actually kind of plot-appropriate.

Q. How can the name “Natividad” be plot-appropriate?

A. Because in this world, vampires are demonic and black dogs are tainted by demonic influences, and if you’re going to have evil stuff arising from demonic influence, then some of the good stuff is probably going to be religious in nature, and Natividad is from a family that has been involved with supernatural stuff since forever. So there you go.

Q. There are vampires in the world of BLACK DOG?

A. Not anymore. They all got killed in the recent backstory.

Q. So, no vampires?

A. No.

Q. But the black dogs are essentially werewolves?

A. Yes, but they are not at all wolf-like. Nor are they humanoid like the one that represents Alejandro on the cover. Only one black dog in the story can take an intermediate shape like that, and it’s not Alejandro. The humanoid appearance of the black dog on the cover is artistic license. Black dogs actually look more like this:

Only not quite as much hair, no orange markings, and about the size of a bear.

Q. That is one scary dog. What the heck is it?

A. That is a Tibetan mastiff. I’m sure that dog is very nice when you get to know him. Probably his owner just held up a treat and yelled, “Cookie!”

Q. Wow. So, about the size of a bear? So conservation of mass, not so much.

A. Magic, right? Black dogs also take their clothes with them when they shift, so that’s one detail they don’t have to worry about when they shift back.

Q. So black dogs in this story don’t have anything to do with the kind of black dog that is supposed to appear when someone is about to die?

A. No. Sorry. That coincidence of names is just a coincidence. Except of course that black dogs may very well kill someone, so in that sense, it is indeed bad luck to see one.

Q. So, paranormal. That’s new for you. Whose fault is it that you decided to write a paranormal, anyway?

A. Glad you asked! This is entirely Patricia Briggs’ fault. I’ve never met her, mind you, but she is the author who made me want to write a werewolf story.

There are now other paranormal / urban fantasy authors I love, but Patricia Briggs was definitely first.

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3 Comments BLACK DOG — cover reveal

  1. Diana

    Tibetan Mastiff – good inspiration. But I am thinking there wasn’t a cookie so much as a lure (lure coursing) – far too predatory a face for a cookie. :-). Question you didn’t anticipate- if the demons are gone (in back story) would not their influence (ie. Black Dogs) be diminished? Or is it a different demon?

  2. Rachel

    Hey, Diana! Okay, yes, we’ll say lure coursing — or a brand new squeaky toy.

    Good question! The creation of a vampire involves a different kind of vampire than the creation of a black dog. But, actually, the disappearance of the vampires has had a huge (huge) effect on black dogs and on the world, though the effect is indirect. I will just say that getting rid of vampires has not solved all of Dimilioc’s problems.

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