Hello, I’m Lex Chase, the brainchild behind the superhero romantic comedy Pawn Takes Rook, the first book in the Checkmate series from Dreamspinner Press. I want to thank Pants Off for letting me join in for Geek Week. It seems Geek Week was an event that the universe seemed to have made for me and others like me. I answer the question of what is it to be a geek and have written a book that celebrates geekdom.
To be a dirty hipster for a moment, I was a geek before being geeky was cool. I was a geek when it seriously wasn’t cool and I honestly wished I could have been anything else. But I never really made a conscious shift of giving up comic books to become a cheerleader. Cheerleaders in my small middle school world were selfish and self-centered, I was not those things, and apparently Fox’s Glee plays this stereotype quite well. Geeks and nerds of all ilks I’ve learned growing up are rather caring individuals. They’re polite, they pick you up when you’re down, and they’re passionate about their interests. But then, yeah, you have a few rotten eggs in the bunch that ruin it all for everyone because My Fandom Is Better Than Your Fandom or the ones that were obviously raised by rabid hyenas. Let’s not focus on them. Let’s focus on the awesome.
My novella, Pawn Takes Rook, is a tiny morsel of how being nerdy is actually pretty cool. Our protagonist, Hogarth Dawson, is a 23 year old that was pretty much raised by the internet. He grew up on I Can Haz Cheezeburger, YouTube, Internet Memes, Videogames, and Nyan Cat. He is a very current nerd, he’s very now and in the moment. However, in the case of his partner in crime, the stoic Memphis Rook who has been on the planet longer than he cares to admit but is a gigantic nerd for all things ‘80s, these references go sailing over Hogarth’s head. The generation gap is one thing, but the generation gap in geekdom is another. The good news is like all geeks, they can find common ground—to a point. Rook is more into the original Terminator film and Hogarth is more about Terminator: Salvation. Like comedian Bill Engvall says about his and his daughter’s musical interests: “I don’t mind my daughter’s taste in music… Just my taste in music is better.” Music is still music. And Terminator is still Terminator and Star Wars is still Star Wars… Wait. Did I say that out loud? Forget I said that. Strike that remark from the books.
I think all geeks everywhere (excluding the ones raised by rabid hyenas) all seek a common ground. Or their interests intersect in some way. My own true story of the Matrix of Geekdom is I was introduced to a young lady that was an award winning costumer when at the time I was still a comic artist. When we first met, I felt she was far and beyond out of my league in maturity. However, she was rather in love with my character designs for a comic I was doing at the time. And then, a couple years later, we met up at Anime Weekend Atlanta, where she had created a costume based on one of my characters seen here:
Since then, she has become my Sister-From-Another-Mister and hopeless geek-in-arms of The Avengers, Lost, True Blood, and the Walking Dead. In return, I’ve become extremely geeky about WWII era music, and Russian opera. See? She’s getting some class in me after all.
So no matter the continents that divide us, and the miles between us, all geeks intersect at some point and find common ground. And that’s why being a geek rocks.
The first time Hogarth Dawson sees superhero Memphis Rook, he comes to Hogarth’s rescue by cracking the heads of two thugs like eggs into a skillet. Hogarth is utterly smitten, but he soon discovers the superhero Power Alliance has ejected Rook for failing to protect a civilian.
Hogarth devises a plan that will reinstate Rook and might even earn Hogarth a place in Power Alliance roster. But what he expects to be a simple few missions rescuing kittens and helping little old ladies cross the street turns into a shocking reality of citywide chases, foiling robberies, and facing his ex. Then Hogarth discovers the beating Rook saved him from wasn’t a chance attack. It’s possible Hogarth is just a pawn in Rook’s game….
When I first saw Rook, he was cracking the skulls of two goons like eggs into a skillet. I sat there like a freaked out choir boy on my butt between the trash cans lining the alley behind Ted’s TV Tabernacle, gazing in awe and wonder. Rook had hands that could mold steel like Dollar General Play-Doh. He did just that by wadding up Random Thug Number One’s Louisville Slugger into a sadistic snowball and beaned the guy right in the ear. Getting snow in your ear has to be the most excruciating sensation in existence. I can’t imagine getting Kentucky’s finest steel shoved into your noggin.
I don’t remember if I screamed. I likely did. Totally did.
Random Thug Number Two went flying past me in an expert over-the-shoulder throw, his open mouth smacking wetly into the bricks. Broken teeth bounced over the sidewalk. Random Thug Number Three ducked behind the trash cans opposite me. He popped up once in a while, hidden behind the mound of bags and cans. His alligator eyes inched over the unfolding scene from the safe vantage point of the trash bag swamp.
Rook surveyed the alley, making sure he had gotten them all. He snorted a puff of steam with menacing satisfaction at seeing one guy out cold and another on the fast track for full dentures before sixty. Then he came to me. Now, when I say he was smoldering, that’s totally what he was doing. Smoke rose off his tattered trench coat in ethereal coils. Rook’s smoking frame could have been caused by the chill of the oncoming winter and the steam of sweat, but it definitely added to the sexy first impression.
His eyes, oh my Christ on a cracker…. They were not quite blue, not quite green, but like that girl on the National Geographic cover. Those haunting Afghan eyes.
“Are you okay?” Rook rumbled in a perfect antiheroic growl while reaching for my hand. His fingers, broad, callused, and strong, hung there long enough to cue the musical montage in my head. I couldn’t believe it. The one and only Memphis Rook had swaggered into my mugging, ready to bust heads. It was like he planned it, really. Or our universes collided in some awesome poetic way that I can’t think straight at the moment because holy crap, those hands are huge!
That’s when Random Thug Number Three opposite me decided to ruin the amazing moment, popping up like a spring-loaded Halloween skeleton and launched at Rook.
Rook turned in a smooth whoosh of muscle and fabric, and I shrieked as the knife skewered into his gut. He latched onto his killer’s knife hand in surprise.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God!” I screamed. I knew in that infinitesimally dark moment, I was going to die alongside the guy who fought in vain to save my life.
Confused, the thug glared at him, then to his captured wrist, and back again. “W-what are you?” he stammered as courage ran down his pants leg.
Rook released him. The thug held up the knife with the blade crumpled onto itself like a bullet impacting a Kevlar plate. The thug backpedaled, falling backward over a black plastic trash can after slipping on a greasy Five Guys burger wrapper. He screeched, twisting in an about face, and ran like a kid who had spilled orange juice on his dad’s vintage Playboys.
Then Rook turned those Afghan eyes on me, and the musical montage returned. The sleepy, sultry lyrics to “Dream Weaver” crooned in my head along with the accompanying halo of sparkles. His hand, those powerful, thick fingers, reached for mine….
And then he flat fuck fell over in my lap like a Buick dropped from low earth orbit. Steam rose from his body in the not so sexy eau de parfum of burned rubber and gasoline. He lay there, crushing my pancreas while out cold.
And that’s how Memphis Rook fucked up my life.
By coming into it.
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