Friday, October 17, 2014

Character Pets: Nova and Virtus from Jill Archer’s Noon Onyx Series

The Noon Onyx stories are set in a dark world. Armageddon is over and the demons won. Although this post-apocalyptic world is far from perfect, beauty, goodness, light, and love still exist.

From the beginning, I wanted to create a dramatic, unique world where my main character could experience moral conflicts, solve intellectual puzzles, fight deadly monsters, and fall in love. In fact, the stories are as much about Noon’s relationships with other characters as they are about her academic challenges and off-campus adventures.

Two characters that were especially fun to write about were the four-footed ones: Nova and Virtus.
Nova is Noon’s barghest. Telling you that is somewhat of a spoiler because Noon doesn’t adopt Nova until the end of White Heart of Justice, but if you haven’t read the books yet, I’m betting you need a little encouragement and maybe this post will pique your interest. :-)

What the heck is a barghest?

It’s a goblin dog – a hellhound – from British folklore. Other names for it are the Demon of Tidworth, the Black Dog of Winchester, the Padfoot of Wakefield, and the Barghest of Burnley. Its appearance is considered incredibly unfortunate. It often portends death. It has fiery eyes, huge teeth, and razor-sharp claws. In other words, this is not a dog you want to curl up on the couch with.

But all of this means that a barghest is the ideal companion for Noon. (She’s training to be a demon peacekeeper; poodles, pugs, even pit bulls weren’t going to be tough enough to hang with her). She doesn’t need a dog you can curl up with. She needs a loyal monster who’s not afraid of rogare demons!

And what about Virtus? Who’s he?

Virtus was actually introduced a book earlier than Nova, in Fiery Edge of Steel. He’s a resplendent feline beast – an “exotic” tiger who lives in a land where most of the dangerous creatures are demons. He belongs to Fara Vanderlin, a Guardian Angel who becomes one of Noon’s close friends.

Virtus (which is Latin for courage, btw) is strong and sleek. Looks-wise, he is everything Nova is not. Nova has grub-laced gums, horrible breath, and mangy fur, whereas Virtus has pearly-white teeth, a glossy pelt, and bright eyes.

Do Nova and Virtus get along?

Ha! Now revealing that really would be a spoiler. For now, I’ll simply echo Noon’s thoughts on their first meeting (see the excerpt below – Ivy is Noon’s roommate and Fitz is Ivy’s cousin; they’re all good friends).

If you are interested in reading more about barghests, check out these links:

If you are interested in reading more about my pets (who also served as partial inspiration for Virtus and Nova), check out these links:

I’m giving away a signed set of Noon Onyx novels – all three books: Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. U.S. only due to mailing costs. Leave a comment, answer any of my questions, or ask your own to enter to win. 

Do you have pets? Dogs? Cats? Something more exotic?
Who is your favorite four-footed character?
What neat monster out of myth or folklore do you think would make a good pet?

Thank you, Lee, for inviting me to guest blog today!

Excerpt from White Heart of Justice
“I saw you got a dog,” Fara said.
I bristled. “A barghest.” As if anyone would mistake a barghest for a dog . . . I knew Fara was teasing though. She loved to try to get a rise out of me and I loved her for it. My mock frown turned into a grin, but quickly disappeared when both Ivy and Fitz started shouting at once. Ivy wanted to make it absolutely clear that she would not, under any circumstances, sleep next to a barghest. She’d just gotten used to Virtus, Fara’s tiger, and now she was expected to live with a barghest?! Besides, no barghest would even fit in Room 112 of Megiddo. Where on earth was I going to keep it?
“Her, not it,” I corrected. “Her name’s Nova.”
“Nova,” Fara said, amused. “That’s cute.”
Fitz, on the other hand, just wanted to make it absolutely clear that I could not, under any circumstances, allow anyone else but him to dog sit.
“She’s not a dog,” I cried, groaning.
“I wonder how she’ll get along with Virtus,” Fitz said. We all looked at each other, eyebrows raised, considering—and then we burst out laughing. Their first meeting wouldn’t be dull, that’s for sure.


Noon Onyx has been accepted into the prestigious St. Lucifer’s Law School where her mother hopes she’ll be trained as a Maegester. But Noon doesn’t want to control demons, set fires, or destroy things. She wants to become a Mederi so she can grow gardens and heal people.

Noon's best friend, Peter Aster, is an Angel spellcaster who thinks he has the answer to Noon's predicament - an ancient, mysterious, lost spell that can turn Noon into the Mederi she always wanted to be. Only one person stands in the way of Noon's dream - Ari Carmine, a fellow classmate who seems fascinated by Noon's fiery side.

Noon Onyx is the first woman in memory to wield waning magic. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways.

When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race.

Noon’s task, however, is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from.

But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse – and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again.

Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

Discussion Questions:

***Jill's winner is traveler!  Please email with your mailing details!***


Lil said...

We don't currently have a pet. In my youth we had a wonderful orange tabby named Reba. She was extremely gentle and patient with us humans including children but she was fierce with other animals. We once heard a ruckus outside and saw her standing on the back of a dog that was running in circles on the sidewalk area. I suspect that she was digging in her claws in order to stay on the poor dog what with the noise that was coming out of the poor dog. I have often wondered what would be a suitable pet to follow such an audacious nature. Although it would be difficult, I am particularly charmed at the idea of having a pet dragon. Will try to console myself with the small figurines of them, but have always had a deep fascination with such creatures.

traveler said...

I have two dogs. A ten year old Maltese, Guido, who is a beautiful little fluffball and adorable. We have a dog, from lap dog rescue, a 16 lb. handsome, little guy, Bogie. He is a little dear, a fearless adventurer, a loyal companion who just wants to be loved. Dogs are so dear and special. They are sensitive, devoted and intriguing too. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

When we were young we had a dog from a farm. Ginger was spoiled and our only dog. She lived 18 years and was worshipped. After her no dogs again. I think that dogs are philosophers and sages. They sense, feel and know so much. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

jillarcherauthor said...

Hi Lil,

Reba does sound fierce. Possiby even fierce enough to stand up to a barghest. :-)

It's not the same as having a real dragon, of course, but have you ever thought about getting a bearded dragon? They're not for everybody, but might be the perfect pet for you. My friend who is a biology teacher has one in her classroom. She brings him home during all the breaks.

Want to see a picture of him? The link is below. If you scroll to the end, you'll also see I used my paint program to give him a "Toothless" makeover:

Thanks for sharing your story about Reba!

jillarcherauthor said...

Hello traveler,

I agree. Dogs are wonderful companions. Yours sound terrific and I think that's great that one of them is a rescue dog. They are both very lucky.

Thanks for stopping by to check out the post and telling us about your two pets!

jillarcherauthor said...

Hi petite,

It can be hard to replace a beloved pet after they pass on. We still haven't adopted another dog, despite the fact that our original plan was to get another one this fall. But, hopefully, in time, we'll both have new puppies in our future.

Thanks for sharing a little bit about Ginger. Have a great week!