Welcome Guest Author Allison Pang & Win A Brush of Darkness!

Today I'm truly excited to welcome guest author Allison Pang to Cheeky Reads! Allison's debut book A Brush of Darkness has been one of my favorites so far this year and part of that is due to the pretty awesome world she creates. That's why I'm excited that today she's introducing us to it and talking about an idea central to the book - Keystones.

I can't recommend this book enough if you are looking for a new Urban Fantasy world to get lost in. Now, check out Allison's post and comment with an answer to Allison's question below or a ask Allison a question to enter to win a copy of A Brush of Darkness!

Welcome Allison!


Mystic groves, haunted houses, magic wells – even in the real world there are places of sacredness that cause people to pause and wonder. (Or give them that lovely prickle down their spine.) For whatever reason , these locations pick up a reputation for having some sort of power or otherworldly presence. In A Brush of Darkness, this concept becomes the basis of something called a KeyStone.

As part of the overall world building, many of these beings (Fae, angels, etc.) like to come and go between their worlds and ours. However, I wanted to limit this a bit, so for the sake of keeping these beings under control, I set it up so that they can only cross over at the four hours – midnight, noon, twilight and dawn – unless they have a TouchStone…or access to a KeyStone.

TouchStones are mortals who enter a Contract with one of these beings, and part of that bargain allows the OtherFolk to travel whenever/wherever they want. If the OtherFolk doesn’t have one, they are usually limited to hanging out at one of these mystical places known as KeyStones. The Hallows, for example, is an OtherFolk bar that’s actually built on top of a more ancient place, but the power still holds true and the OtherFolk take advantage of that.

In some cases, humans can be living KeyStones – with the rare power of being able to TouchStone any OtherFolk person they come in contact with…without the need for a written Contract. I’d been thinking on the idea that so many talented people tend to die so young (i.e. Mozart, for example). In much of Faery lore, the Fae are drawn to that sort of thing – musicians, poets, writers, etc. I began to wonder what might happen if a particularly talented person captured the Fae’s attention and attempted to Contract to too many OtherFolk at once? Undoubtedly the effort would eventually drain them and thereby quite possibly cause their death.

In the book, the Fae actually police these Contracts through the position of a Protectorate, who oversees the written Contracts so that this doesn’t happen (since they don’t actually want that sort of attention drawn to themselves.) On the other hand, a living KeyStone would be a very precious commodity among the OtherFolk, since it would allow them to potentially abuse the system. With no written Contracts needed, a human KeyStone could find him or herself passed around between OtherFolk with very little say in the matter.

In A Brush of Darkness, Abby Sinclair eventually discovers that she is a KeyStone, although being already TouchStoned to the Faery Protectorate lends a certain amount of protection, since very few OtherFolk would want to cross the Protectorate in such a way. Of course, her situation does lend itself to a few humorous moments, particularly when Abby finds out she’s accidentally TouchStoned to a small unicorn who likes to nest in her underwear drawer.

I’d love to hear if anyone has ever run into a KeyStone of their own – a place that felt “haunted” or magical or seemed to have a presence that wasn’t particularly tangible. :)


  1. I'm so excited to have you here today Allison! I relaly enjoyed your debut and love the new spin you've put on some of the paranormal creatures in your book.

    I'll have to think more on the Keystone idea. We moved into a new house about a year ago and I do feel that sometimes something is off there, but not in a good magical way - a little more scary than that. :)

    On a visit to Ireland a few years ago I went to The Hill of Tara and definatly felt something special there. :)

  2. Heh. I also visited the Hill of Tara - about 15 years ago. And I fell down it. And got coated in mud.

    Apparently the Fae didn't want me up there. LOL.

    I claim it's because of my noble blood. (My maiden name is Hogan...one of the most famous who was the uncle of Brian Boru. So, yeah. That's it.

  3. Allison, I've been hearing so many great things about your book, and I can see why. I'm definitely picking it up on my next bookstore run (I go there before the grocery store -- priorities, right? LOL)

    I'm trying to think of any keystones for me. I do know that years ago when I was in London for the first (and only, so far) time, it felt like I'd lived there before. I never got lost while I was there, which is not my usual style, and I just chalked it up to having tons of British ancestors. But now I'm wondering if it wasn't something else. :)

  4. Two places come to mind for me. El Morro Monument in the desert of New Mexico. It's a mesa where native Americans used to dwell and at the foot lies a large pool of water and a wall of rock that became a sort of graphitti spot for people passing through. I remember standing on the top and feeling a great draw of energy all the way down to the bones of the earth.

    I felt a similiar thing at Mt. St. Helens, several years after the eruption. Like the earth took a deep breathe.

    Your series sounds fascinating! A miniature unicorn in her underwear drawer...dare I ask? Does it like it there because she's... pure!?

  5. Danielle (lush26)2/9/11, 12:15 PM

    I have been hearing so many wonderful things about your new release. I am very excited to read it :-) I haven't come across any keystones yet but I am keeping an open mind because I love to experience new things :-)

    Dhester23 AT yahoo DOT com

  6. I've heard great things about your book too!

    It's kind of a different idea than a Keystone, but I have met people who gave off so much positive energy that you felt better just being around them. I loved that!

  7. Allison, congrats on your debut! I love UF books and will check yours out. As for Keystones, nada. I would love to experience something like that. The closest I've gotten is hearing a melody that literally gives me goosebumps.

    Thanks, CheekyGirl, for the recommendation!

  8. Congrats on the debut. I am really looking forward to reading this book. It looks really good.
    I haven't come across any keystones but I think it would be cool to.


  9. @Maureen. Um. No. The unicorn isn't very pure either. *cough*

  10. I like the cover, maybe I just need a wind machine to look bad-ass and sexy like she does. There might be a few other investments required...

    The Book looks really exciting. I will be checking it out for sure!

    Terry Kate

  11. Well, I'm shocked! What a nasty little unicorn!


    Actually a bit refreshing to have a unicorn not fixated on purity. ;-)

  12. Congrats on the book. :)

    I'd have to go dig into my old photo album to get the name of the place, but there was an old cathedral in Lyons that I visited when I was in high school on an exchange trip that had the weirdest feeling to it. It really didn't look like much more than a big abandoned barn with gorgeous stained glass windows by that point, but it was so still that the hairs went up on the back of my neck. All these years later, I still remember how freaked out all of us were by the place.

  13. I haven't come across any keystones. There was this heritage house where we used to live and it was said it was haunted but I never felt anything when I was there.

    I love the idea of a miniature unicorn and an enchanted Ipod.I'm soooo looking forward to reading this book :)

  14. I can't say that I've ever run into a KeyStone of my own, but I did visit an old plantation once and the slave quarters made me feel sad.

    I'm really looking forward to reading A Brush of Darkness, it's on my wish list.


  15. Can't wait to read this one!

    No keystones for me, but I'm still hoping to find a cool special place like that.

  16. Well, New Orleans did that for me. Vampires, zombies, voodoo and such aside, I felt like I belonged to New Orleans when I was there. Possibly because I'm from Paris, France, and New Orleans is her sister city?

  17. Well, it is funny that Anonymous said New Orleans because I live not that far from it and that is my place! I love it there!
    Oh this is awesome!!!!!

  18. Thanks for sharing! I dont know that Ive ever run into a KeyStone so much as been places where great tragedies have happened that just radiate a sense of sorrow and loss. They are permanently marked whether you can see it or not.

    Looking forward to checking out your book.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com