Creating a Modern Beast

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Eighties television and vodka are a potent combination.

Let me back up. My little sister and I have a long history of staying up way too late and watching television reruns. It started back as kids when we’d watch Nick at Nite during summer vacations and nosh on popcorn dripping with butter and snowed in salt. Anybody else remember Mr. Ed and The Patty Duke Show? As teens it was Wings and Quantum Leap on USA, always accompanied by root beer and baby carrots. Don’t judge; you know you’ve eaten stranger things. So have I, but we’re not going there.

Now that my sister and I are adults and, to our sadness, live in different states, it’s harder to find time to indulge in our old habit. The last time we did have the chance, we popped in that old Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton Beauty and the Beast. Instead of the tried and true root beer and carrots, we elected to invent our own cocktails. The evening began with Ron Perlman on the screen and vodka, club soda and an assortment of berries and herbs on the counter. It ended with two drunken women, a lyrical rewrite of Peggy Lee’s “You Give Me Fever” in beastly Ron Perlman’s honor… and the idea for Wesley “Hauk” Haukon, the hero for How Beauty Met the Beast, book one of the Tales of the Underlight. (Book two, How Beauty Saved the Beast, releases in February, and the final book, How Beauty Loved the Beast, releases in May.)

Does anybody else remember Ron Perlman as Vincent? His voice is incredible, the kind that could read me a phone book and I’d be happy. But the makeup job, while beautifully done, always left me feeling… well, my sister summed it up best when we saw the first episode. Somebody asks Vincent why he looks the way he does. He answers, “I have an idea,” but fails to explain it. My sister scrunched up her face and said, “What? That your mom made it with a lion?” Ahem. Yeah. Vincent is sweet, innocent and platonically devoted to his beauty in a way that mimics courtly knights of Arthurian romance. And he looks like a lion. (I couldn’t find an image of him to share without a copyright issue, but you can see a picture on Wikipedia.)

As much as I love Ron Perlman’s manimal, the kind of beast I want to curl up with at night has less of a mane and more of an edge. I want a trained fighter who has a libido—a frustrated one. A bad boy with leather and a motorcycle who remembers what it was like to be a normal man and must deal with the curse of his transformation. I’m also not a fan of cuddly or rakishly scarred “beasts”; in my opinion that attractiveness misses the heart of the story. Hauk’s appearance is the result of horrific burn scarring from a fire he barely lived through while serving with the Rangers in Afghanistan. Jolie, the beauty of the story, first sees him when he’s fighting, and he terrifies her with his looks and his ferocity. The scarring’s impact on both Jolie’s ability to realize she loves Hauk and Hauk’s ability to accept love is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever written.

No matter what the incarnation, Beauty and the Beast is a story about finding the person behind the facade and falling in love in the least expected place. It reminds us that each one of us has so much more inside than a mirror can reveal. Whether your personal beast-crush leans toward a motorcycle-riding anarchist with war wounds, an arrogant, animated prince under a curse or “a mythic, noble man-beast” (as IMDB refers to Vincent) of indeterminate origins, I hope you enjoy this version of How Beauty Met the Beast.

In case you need your own inspiration, here’s the winning cocktail from that night with my sister:

In a tall glass, muddle strawberries and mint
Add a shot (or two) of chilled vodka and stir
Add a few cubes of ice
Top off with club soda

Because I’m sure there’s another TV reruns night in my future, what is your most inspiring cocktail recipe for my sister and me to try?

***

My sister (in blue) and I (in orange) vs. the ancient shark jaws at the Smithsonian. I'd show you a picture of us behaving like proper adults but I, uh, don't have one.

Jax Garren is descended from Valkyries and Vikings (she’s part Swedish) but was raised a small town girl in the Texas Hill Country. She graduated from The University of Texas with a degree in English and a minor in Latin then found her own Happily Ever After with a handsome engineer who is saving the world through clean energy technology. Jax loves meeting new people, so if you see her out and about say hello! She’s always happy to raise a glass with her readers (or anyone else) to toast courage, adventure and love.

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2 thoughts on “Creating a Modern Beast”

  1. Hauk’s a wonderful hero! Can’t wait to read more of his and Jolie’s story in February.

  2. Jax Garren says:

    Thanks Nicole! He has been so much fun to write. I admit, I can’t wait for the release of How Beauty Saved the Beast, either. For anyone that’s interested, there’s a sneak peek of Chapter 1 on my website: http://www.jaxgarren.com/books/how-beauty-saved-the-beast/


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