It's easy to brush off self-published authors. After all, gatekeepers exist for a reason. Even alternative newspapers like WW mostly ignore people who can't persuade an agent or publisher to rep them.  

But this weekend's Northwest Book Festival will draw more than 100 industry outsiders to Pioneer Courthouse Square, where they'll showcase their independently published tales of dragons, paranormal romance and Jesus. In honor of the occasion, we chatted up three lone wolves to hear them pitch their projects.

Allie's War by J.C. Andrijeski

What used to be the "dirty stepchild" of romance has made its way into the mainstream through sparkly vampires. But where mainstream publishing misses the mark in paranormal romance, indie succeeds: with raunchy sex. And lots of it. Vampires, werewolves and fairies—all having raunchy sex.

"It seems like everyone wants some dark twist to romance these days," says local indie author J.C. Andrijeski. Andrijeski began writing before self-publishing became a popular alternative. Even after New York publishers expressed an interest in her work, she decided to go the indie route. "I don't have to be Snookie or write Twilight," Andrijeski says. "I can do my own thing, which is really freeing for an artist."

She didn't bother with vampire sex in her adult-themed apocalyptic series, Allie's War. Instead, she created a race of her own—super-beings with incredibly powerful psychic powers called "Sarhaciennes." It's an apocalyptic series centered on a girl who grows up thinking she's human, only to discover she's not, and whose appearance others believe is an ill omen for humankind. There's war. There's evil. And, of course, there's sex. Andrijeski hopes it's not too "gratuitous."

The Moby-Dick of spanking vampires and aliens: J.R. Ward's vampirical love saga, Dark Lover, which ranks No. 1 among Best Paranormal Romance Series on Goodreads—ahead of the Twilight series.

The Sum of Our Gods by Benjamin Gorman

What kind of coffee date would God be if a curse afflicted on you meant you had to meet with Him every week? What happens when you put Jesus in a room with Egyptian, Inca, Japanese and crocodile-headed gods? Find out in Benjamin Gorman's The Sum of Our Gods—a tale of a depression-addled Jesus and a comedy he calls "as black as God's coffee." A full-time English teacher, Gorman tried the traditional publishing route but gave up when agents told him they didn't know where to sell an "off-the-wall" book. So Gorman started Not a Pipe Publishing. "I wanted to illustrate the absurdity with which we simultaneously dismiss some ancient religions as ridiculous and others as fact,” he says. 

The Moby-Dick of Jesus in your living room: Gorman says it's Christopher Moore's Lamb, which chronicles the early years of the Messiah's rather rambunctious life.

Run Away Jamie by Rita Traut Kabeto

You're walking somewhere you've never been before. You turn the corner, and the view seems oddly familiar. You smell something—also familiar. According to local author Rita Traut Kabeto, you're encountering a metaphysical, "supernatural" experience, something she calls an "interconnection to what you see." Such a storyline is what you can expect in Run Away Jamie, except that the book's protagonist, 11-year-old Jamie, connects not with nature but with the dead. To cope with an emotionally absent mother, Jamie finds solace in conversations with her deceased grandmother. Kabeto, a Portlander from Germany who chose self-publishing after her bout with traditional publishing resulted in what she calls a "long, sad story of attempted exploitation," wouldn't say her stories are paranormal exactly. Instead, she calls them "supernatural poking through the fabric of ordinary life."

The Moby-Dick of I see dead people: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

GO: The Northwest Book Festival is at Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave., 11 am-5 pm Saturday, July 26. Free.