Guest Blogger: Marta Acosta
The winner of Marta's book is: ren! Congrats, ren. Send me your mailing info and I'll pass it along. Thanks to everyone who participated.
The first heavy rain of the season was pounding down, and I turned on the television and found a movie I haven’t seen in years, Peter Weir’s “The Last Wave.” An Australian lawyer, David Burton (Richard Chamberlain), begins having strange dreams when he is assigned to defend an aborigine, played by David Gulpilil, on a murder charge. While David tries to discover the truth about the murder, frogs and mud rain down on Sydney in a series of fierce storms.
David discovers that he is not the normal, conventional man he thought he was and the world is not what he thought it was. Most people only see one reality, but a few rare others, including David, see “dream time.” In a haunting scene, a shaman tells David, “A dream is a shadow of a real thing.”
“The Last Wave” is a beautifully crafted, eerie film that is all the more unsettling because it builds steadily to the apocalyptic ending.
The idea that the world has secrets and parallel realities has always captivated me, which is why I am a fan of paranormal fiction, film, and television. I’ve always been intrigued by stories of ordinary people who discover that the world is not what it seems. What happens to a teenage cheerleader when she learns that she’s a vampire slayer? How should a reporter react when he interviews someone claiming to be a vampire? What will a computer geek do if he learns that his world is only an illusion created by a matrix?
These stories have inherent conflicts as the main characters confront their initial skepticism (vampires, ghosts, werewolves -- you’re kidding, right?), and then have to face dangerous situations without assistance from the usual sources. “Hello, officer, I’d like to report a brain-eating zombie who is stalking me. Yes, I can hold.”
While I love creepier supernatural thrillers, I have a passion for stories that find humor in these situations and for characters who use humor as a way to cope with incredible dilemmas. My favorite characters come face-to-face with danger and cannot resist the urge to say something snarky, generally making a bad situation worse.
The heroine of my Casa Dracula series, Milagro de Los Santos, is very reluctant to give up the belief that she’s a normal human girl -- because “normal” means that you don’t have to have blood-sucking extremists trying to serve you on the dinner menu. In Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, Milagro is accidentally infected with a strange “condition” and must hide out with a nest of snooty blood-drinkers who resent her presence. The next book in the series, Midnight Brunch, follows Milagro’s adventures as she tries to learn more about this secretive and powerful clan. In The Bride of Casa Dracula, Milagro is the victim of mysterious “accidents” as she prepares to walk down the aisle with her vampire fiancé. Throughout it all, she maintains her sense of humor and manages to find parties and attractive guys.
In many ways, Milagro is regular. She’s like many young women who are heading out on their own without a real map to follow. She wants love, but how much is she willing to compromise her own spirit? She’d like a terrific career, yet can’t quite get it together. She’s drawn to glamorous people, but she can still have a great time at a biker bar or burger joint (so long as that burger is extra rare).
Milagro’s uses her wits, her wiles, and her network of eccentric pals to survive various attempts on her life and on those of her new vampire pals. No, my books aren’t as atmospheric as an apocalyptic film with didgeridoo music, but I do hope they provide some laughs and show that when the situation demands even an ordinary girl can do extraordinary things.
What kind of character do you like more -- an ordinary character (like Xander, a hapless nerd) or one who has extraordinary abilities (like Buffy)?