Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guest Blogger: Michelle Rowen

The winner of Michelle's book is: Blakey Girl! Congrats! Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Michelle. Thanks to everyone for participating.

My name is Michelle and I'm a Twi-hard Fanpire

I love vampires. I love watching TV shows and movies about them, reading books about them, and writing books about them. A year ago I bought Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and it sat on my shelf for months. I'd tried reading the first few pages but it didn't connect with me. But since it seemed to be popular I decided to force myself since I want to write young adult novels as well as those for adults (actually, my first YA is out next October! Woot!). Plus, since I'd bought it in hardcover, I would have kicked myself if I didn't at least try.

So I tried. And I finished it. And then I went out and bought the rest of the series which I devoured in matter of a couple of weeks. There was something timeless and classic about this modern, vampiric retelling of Romeo & Juliet that connected with me. And this is from a Team Jacob member's point of view. Maybe I'm Team Switzerland. If you've read the books you know what that means. ;)

I couldn't wait for the movie. While I did consider myself a fan of the books, I stayed away from the fan sites, mostly due to lack of time. I'd been disappointed by movies I'd really looked forward to before, so I decided to go see Twilight with lowered expectations. I hoped for the best, but expected the worst.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed the movie. In fact, I've seen it twice. While it's not perfect -- the effects are a bit cheesy and the acting isn't solid across the board -- it lived up to the image I had in my head. It was a satisfying love story, perhaps aided by my love and knowledge of the books. I'm not sure if someone who hadn't read the books would understand the "unspoken" bond that Bella and Edward feel toward each other. That magical connection that makes them soul mates.

The books are in first person from Bella's very internal world. The girl thinks A LOT, but doesn't speak very much. That might make it a bit difficult to connect with her quiet, awkward onscreen persona. But I actually preferred movie-Bella to book-Bella because I found that overwhelming thought dump in the books a bit too much. Kristen Stewart's a good actress and I think Robert Pattinson is a fabulous Edward. His self-hating, manic-depressive take on the character is spot-on. You'll find this especially the case if you've read the "Midnight Sun" partial available on Stephenie Meyer's website -- which is Twilight retold from Edward's point of view.

I know that many fans were disappointed by this movie. I can only imagine it has a lot to do with viewer expectation. If one imagines exactly how something will be for a year and it doesn't end up hitting every note right, then the fan will be disappointed. I count myself very lucky that I enjoyed both the books and the movie. In fact, I'd happily see it again while it's at the theaters. And I'll be counting down the months until New Moon is released in 2010.

Have you seen the movie? Did you love it, hate it, or feel meh about it?

Leave a comment and be in the draw for an ARC of my April '09 vampire release, STAKES & STILETTOS.
Happy reading!
Michelle Rowen is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Immortality Bites vampire series among other romantic paranormal romps.
The winner's name will be posted here when Michelle selects one! Good luck.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guest Blogger: Sapphire Phelan

The winner of Sapphire's download is: Anne Sorgeson. Congrats, Anne! Send me your email address and I'll pass it along to Sapphire. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Thank you, Lynda, for letting me blog here today.

Since I write horror, fantasy and science fiction under another name and used the same ideas for my paranormal romances, I want to talk about some of the influences in my life that lead me to write like I do.

I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Madeleine L’Engle, JRR Tolkien, and Ray Bradbury. I had been writing stories by long hand since I was eight. But these authors were the shapers of my imagination and wonder, the building blocks of me becoming a writer.

Darkness and dark things intrigued me. They frightened me, but I wanted to dissect more of the power that rippled beneath the skin of the monsters. Poe had his monsters, but much of his stories were of the mind. Lovecraft wrote of cities beneath the sea and on land that had terrifying majesty. Creatures, that if we peeked into the shadows and caught a glance of them, would drive us insane.

Three times I had written Lovecraft stories. All three are horror, but two were love stories of a sort. Unwitting Sacrifice, my upcoming one, is like that, and yet, there’s dread and madness too. I keep going back to Lovecraft, as ideas form in my mind. What if that handsome lover is something more? Not a werewolf or a vampire, or a spirit or a demon, but something that came with others from beyond space and time, revered as dark, terrifying gods in our world. Lonely gods. Even monsters fear being alone too.

Why do I keep returning to this world? Maybe it’s my way of exorcising these monsters, trying to tame them, and hopefully to banish the darkness that is within them. Maybe to bring a bit of sympathy to them.

Maybe it’s because they’re different from the normal stream of monsters that hover among the pages of books these days.

What authors of horror, fantasy, and dark fantasy inspired you, the ones you keep going back to read over and over?


I wanted to let you all know that my erotic Lovecraftian horror novella, Unwitting Sacrifice, comes out as an ebook November 30, 2008 from Under the Moon, and in February 2009 it will be in print, as a chapbook. Also, I have the first in an erotic urban fantasy trilogy, Being Familiar With a Witch coming from Phaze Books January 2009.


Answer Sapphire's question above and one person will win a download of Unwitting Sacrifice when it's released. The winner will be posted here Tuesday night.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Twilight" the movie, and interview with me in Colorado Springs Independent

Okay. I'm probably going to be unpopular, but I thought the movie was boring. I almost got up and left right after the tracker vamp was dispatched in the dance studio. Maybe the things that appealed to me about the book -- introspection and deep character focus -- were impossible to portray in a movie. And I never thought the guy who plays Edward was a good casting choice. He seemed to have a very limited acting range (he never looked like the Edward character -- no long hair, etc.) and, added to the blandness of the Bella character, the whole movie -- for me -- was a huge yawn. I read a review this morning which said pretty much that if someone hadn't read the books, she or he would be hard-pressed to find anything in the movie that warranted all the hoopla. I couldn't agree more.

In the frenzy of "Twilight" madness, I was interviewed by a local newspaper for my take on things:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest Blogger: Susan Hubbard

The winner of one of Susan's books (you can choose) is Jessica! Congratulations, Jessica. Send me your snail mail infor and your book choice and I'll pass it along. Thanks to everyone who participated.


In June 2005 I had a dream set in Savannah, a city I'd visited briefly, twice. Like many writers, I've learned to listen to my dreams, and I wrote this one down: the story of a man and woman meeting in a Savannah café, told from the point of view of their daughter. The daughter's voice was what I remembered best when I awoke; it was fresh yet bittersweet, with a measured cadence that lingered with me.

I read the narrative to my family, and a day later to my agent, over the phone. They were as haunted by the narrator's voice as I was, and they wanted to hear more.

That dream became the preface of The Society of S. After the preface came a chapter. And then, to my surprise, came vampires.

No, I didn't plan to write a vampire novel. But there I was, writing a novel in which some characters were vampires. Maybe I should backtrack here to explain that my day job is teaching creative writing in a university that traditionally doesn't respect genre fiction. Faculty members actively discourage students from writing it. But they do sanction "magical realism" and acknowledge that many writers incorporate elements of the fantastic into "literary novels." Academia simply isn't comfortable with terms such as "paranormal" and "sci fi."

Forgive the quotation marks. For me, all of these terms have blurred and become nearly meaningless. If I'd obsessed about them then as I'm doing now, the book would never have been written.

Anyway, once the vampires came along, I found my book wanted to write itself. It was surprisingly easy to assemble an outline of the plot -- something I'd never written when working on previous books. Two more chapters followed. I sent the nine-page outline and three chapters to my agent, and on January 24, 2006, she sold the uncompleted book to Simon & Schuster. (Selling a partial book hadn't happened before, either.) A sequel, The Year of Disappearances, was published last spring.

My protagonist is Ariella Montero, a 13 (going on 30)-year-old home-schooled resident of Saratoga Springs, taught by her father, Raphael (who, in the author's mind, bears an uncanny resemblance to Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor). What is Raphael doing in the basement? Biomedical research! Or is it? Why does the local mortician make regular house calls?

The Society of S traces Ari's journey to find the mother she has never known, from upstate New York to Asheville and Savannah and on to Florida. In assembling the narratives of her father and mother, Ariella constructs her own story, inspired in part by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bertrand Russell, T.S. Eliot, and Jack Kerouac.

My vampires have turned out to be complicated characters. For starters, they're synesthetes, and they're able to turn invisible. Sadly, they can't shift shapes or fly.

Some of them, aware that they might be around forever, care about saving what's left of our environment and promoting social justice. Others are as callow and greedy as most humans. But their great appeal to me has been their "otherness," which allows me to explore questions about ethics and politics and culture.

At the time of my dream, I'd read very little vampire fiction; as a teenager I'd read Bram Stoker and later skimmed two or three of Anne Rice's Lestat novels. I was afraid to read the many contemporary vampire novels, because I didn't want to be influenced by them. But I loved ghost stories, and I'd always had a penchant for the dark side. As some of my students, and one of my daughters, flirted with Goth culture, I found myself similarly intrigued. What led them, and me, to prefer the dark corners of the imagination to the neon-lit strip-mall reality of suburban America? Why did we feel more revulsion at the increasingly casual use of the word "evil" by politicians and news commentators than at the thought of drinking human blood?

That's my question for you, readers. What draws us to the dark fantastic, and what keeps us coming back? The best response wins a hard-cover copy of The Society of S or The Year of Disappearances, and, with your permission, will be featured on

Having established my own vampire world, I'm more comfortable exploring those created by others, and I've read a range of wonderful books. Reading the series of blogs on this website makes me want to read even more. What a motley crew we are! Each of us is drawn to read and write speculative fiction -- the dark fantastic -- but why?

Susan Hubbard is the author of six books and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the AWP Short Fiction Prize.
Susan will select a winner on Friday evening. The name will be posted here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Guest Blogger: Carrie Vaughn

The winner of Carrie's book is: BoxingKing! Congrats to you. Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along. Thanks to everyone who participated.

The Everyday Paranormal

First off, thanks to Lynda for letting me blather at you today. Second, my next two books, Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand and Kitty Raises Hell, will be out in February and March 2009. But I’m going to spend today talking about ideas.

Vampires, lycanthropes, psychics, mages, necromancers – no one will argue that these are the stars of paranormal fiction. But I have a confession: I’m always looking for something new and different. Off the beaten paranormal path. A) I like writing different, and B) I think readers, while remaining loyal to the genre’s stars, are also looking for new and different takes on the topic.

The cool thing? As I writer, I don’t have to look very far to find interesting examples of magic and monsters. The world’s full of ideas. I’m not even talking about obscure and interesting folklore, like Navajo skinwalkers, which according to the stories aren’t were-beasts at all but magicians who have the power to take on the shape of any animal by wearing the skin of that animal. How cool is that?

But I’m talking about paranormal ideas right here in our modern technological life:

Modern ritual. A couple of years ago I served on the jury for a DUI trial. At the start, the judge swore us in, and I felt the power of that vow. The courtroom became a sacred space in that moment, and those of us on the jury understood our power. Now, what if that power was literal and not just symbolic? What if there really were spells that could make every witness tell the truth, and give the jury supernatural wisdom and sound judgment? What would that do to the legal system?

Gremlins. These are a relatively recent invention. They became the scapegoat for when things went wrong on aircraft, especially during World War II. They’ve made their way into lots of technology since then – anyone who’s had a computer crash for no apparent reason has probably wondered if there wasn’t something supernatural going on.

Early in the twentieth century, Harry Houdini made it his mission to debunk fake mediums and psychics. At the same time, when he encountered psychics who really believed they were using otherworldly powers to help people, rather than using stage tricks to bilk people, he left them alone. Because he wanted to believe. What if he was right? The first modern paranormal detective, maybe?

Even astronauts aren’t immune to mysterious phenomena. On his 1962 Mercury space flight, John Glenn reported seeing “fireflies,” tiny lights streaming past the window of his capsule. Later Mercury missions concluded that this was caused by ice crystals breaking loose from the capsule. But some hopefuls still point to this as possible evidence of mysterious extraterrestrial influence. Personally, I quite like the idea of fairies in space.

Fiction has the amazing ability to make these ideas real, to make some of these metaphors explicit. That’s the great “what if?” What if all this were real? That’s where paranormal fiction starts. Fortunately for the fans, the answers to that question are just about endless.

Answer Carrie's question: What if all this were real? and one person will be randomly selected to win a copy of her first book, Kitty and the Midnight Hour. Winner posted Tuesday evening.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wonderful reviews from Closet Writer

Lea at Closet Writer has reviewed both THE VAMPIRE SHRINK and DARK HARVEST. She said such nice things! It's so great when someone really "gets" your books! (Thank you, Lea!)

Here's the link:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Local Newspaper Asks Me About Vampires & CRW at the Library Con

Elaine Levine, me and Melissa Mayhue at the Colorado Association of Libraries conference. We had a blast.

Here I am at the Boulder Bookstore signing with authors Carrie Vaughn and Esri Rose.

(Telephone interview by a newspaper staffer.)

The Vampire Chick Lit crowd has welcomed new author Lynda Hilburn into the fold. She has penned two books on vampires: last years The Vampire Shrink and its follow-up, Dark Harvest, which was released earlier this month.

Hilburn, a real life licensed psychotherapist, will discuss why women love vampires and the paranormal at two events this month. She provides a preview in the following Q&A.

Westword: Why are women suckers (no pun intended) for vampires?

Lynda Hilburn: I think it’s the blood. Imagine the level of intimacy required. There's something so primal about that. Unlike other monsters, vampires started out as human and they retain quite a bit of their humanity. Here’s this good-looking guy sucking on your neck. There’s nothing more intimate than that, because he needs your very blood to exist.

WW: Is it necessary to have a vampire with a touch of humanity?

LH: One of the things that bothered me about some early vampire books is they (vampires) were just mindless drones. They’ve existed for centuries, yet couldn’t figure out anything better to do than kill each other and do ridiculous things? What if they actually decided to utilize their years, to learn more, and to become wise? They realize they need blood to exist, but there's no need to be primitive or animalistic about it. (Unless it's a monster-type vampire story.)

WW: Why do women feel safe with a vampire?

LH: I’m not sure they feel safe, exactly. The woman finds herself so incredibly attracted to a supernatural being, while realizing at the same time he’s a predator and she's in danger. But women view vampires as they do human men: we see what we want to see. We want to believe he wouldn’t really do anything to hurt us.

WW: Is it our secret desire to be de-moralized by submitting and becoming immortal?

LH: We're terrified of death and we’ll do anything not to face it. So here’s this creature that lives, if not forever, very long -- who has the power to actually bring us over to immortality. That’s an incredibility enticing and desirable thing.

WW: And then you add the sexiness factor...

LH: Oh, you bet. Because human women have such fantasies about love. We want to believe the man we're with will stay with us forever. That our passion will burn for the rest of our lives. Forever takes on a whole new meaning with vampires.

WW: So we have this guy who has lived forever and has seen so many things and he picks you. Talk about an ego boost!

LH: I know. Can you imagine? That's the idea of the soul mate. Waiting for the one who's yours. This guy's been alive for centuries and he wants you. I mean, how much more desirable could you possibility feel? And of course we’d assume that he has incredible sexual stamina. He’s not human. He really could be -- resilient -- if that’s what you want.

WW: Is it difficult to blend humor with horror?

LH: Well, it seems it could be, but I didn’t think about it when I was writing the book. I don’t know if it was easy, because it’s kind of dark humor and that’s how my mind works. Blending genres has become popular. These days, the idea of blending horror, humor, romance, mystery and sex -- well, everybody’s doing it.

WW: You imagination is, let’s say, different than most. Tell me about your process from thought to paper.

LH: It was quite simple with this particular series. I've had Goth-type clients and young people who wish they were vampires, but the client who triggered this for me talked about having been abducted by aliens. I was just thinking afterward, as I wrote up my case notes, wouldn’t be exciting if there was a real vampire sitting in my waiting room? I went home that night and started writing.

WW: How did you visualize the vampire in you waiting room?

LH: He’s the Devereux character. And I was shocked because I'm mostly attracted to dark-haired men. I was surprised that the vampire in my waiting room had long, light-blond hair. I didn’t see that coming.

WW: How do you connect and engage the readers to Kismet?

LH: I modeled the heroine after an idealized version of me. But I give my heroine a lot more permission to be eccentric.

WW: Were you a weird kid?

LH: I was a very strange kid. I grew up in a situation where my relatives came from the south and the Appalachian areas, where there are "wise women" and laying on of hands. I always saw things that nobody else saw and heard things that nobody else heard. That was really awful; it wasn’t normal and it wasn’t okay. So, I just kept to myself. I was a lonely little girl. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I discovered it was cool to be weird in the way that I am. I’ve learned over the years I actually like my weirdness.

WW: What are the codes of vampires?

LH: In my world, they're a lot like people, in that there are some really awful ones and some who are thoughtful and wise. A few of the vampires in the books are just animals. They look for bodies so they can drink them dry before discarding them. None of my vampires subscribe to human moral codes.

WW: How would you treat a "real" vampire?

LH: Ohh . . . I don’t know. If they were like the one in Stephen King’s novel Salem’s Lot -- that is, just looking for blood, a predator, with no interpersonal aspects at all, that would terrify me. But if it were Devereux, I’d probably be like every other woman he encounters, and I’d be so attracted and aroused I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

WW: Tell us about Devereux. Is he Denver’s protector?

LH: He has no moral human agenda. But he has his own personal ethics code. He's not very tolerant about what we humans do. He wouldn’t get involved with us, unless he’s running The Crypt, a club he owns, which is modeled after The Church in downtown Denver.

WW: Tell us about the beauty of vampires . . .

LH: The draw is to the mysterious bad boy who is forbidden and incredibly alluring. And the notion that this powerful being needs my life force to exist -- needs me in a way that no other being does. It’s so attractive. Often, women lead cautious, thoughtful lives. We wouldn't let a troublemaker in, especially non-human. But with someone who inspires such primal instincts and emotions, like Devereux? Would we let Devereux in? I would!


What I've learned about giving telephone interviews and will do in the future: speak slowly, choose my words more carefully and use a cheat sheet of good quotes!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Sharon Ashwood

The winner of Sharon's book is: Freedom Star. Congratulations! Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Sharon. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Back to the crypt?

What is the future for our paranormal bad boys? Is tomorrow’s hot vamp going to be the same as today’s? It’s interesting to look outside the romance pond to see what writers from other genres think.

I recently returned from the World Fantasy Convention in Calgary, Alberta, which attracted very fine authors of science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy from all over North America and beyond. I went to a panel on the evolution of the vampire and its hunters.

To boil down one slice of this varied and fascinating discussion, our fangy friends have had a makeover from Nosferatu (evil, dangerous, in severe need of dental hygiene) to the hunky Spikes and Angels of the world. The vampire hunters themselves have changed just as much. Rather than an older Dutch professor armed with a cross, we have hot young women with tattoos and the latest in ammunitions technology.

Those of us dealing in paranormal romance are already well aware of all this, but the larger question is where we go from here. One of the ideas bounced around is that, once the heroic, romantic vampire is old hat, we’re going to start seeing a return of the truly monstrous, evil vampires. At that point, we’ll have come full circle, the vamps will leave our boudoirs and return to their horror fiction roots.

Okay, but I’d like to add that not all vampires, even in paranormal romance, ever completely left their horror roots. It’s true some are quite domesticated, but there’s a range out there. You have to keep some of the “bad” in the bad boys, or you’ve just got bunny rabbits.

And real vampires don’t eat carrots.

Of course, combining the horror and romance elements is a tricky business and takes a light touch. When I was working on RAVENOUS, I found there was quite a fine line to walk between having a vampire who was really just a funny, nice guy with a V8 fetish and one who was a homicidal threat to the heroine. One step too far either way can give you boring or icky. Get it right, and it’s dynamite.

Alessandro Caravelli, my hero, is six feet of blond, leather-clad gorgeousness -- but he is a real, drinking-from-the-vein vampire. In other words, a dangerous guy. Even though sparks fly between Alessandro and his sometime business partner, Holly Carver, they both know anything more than friendship could be fatal. He can protect her from their enemies, but is far more challenged when it comes to protecting her from himself. Fortunately, Holly’s a witch with magic of her own -- she can give as good as she gets when those sparks turn into an inferno.

If I’d left out that element of danger, it would have been a very different tale. It’s far more interesting when the romantic vampire still retains a pinch of that original Dracula. He can go either way -- good or bad. He has to fight his way through his darkness and into the light through a series of tough choices. He’s uncompromising, self-aware, and prepared to sacrifice to get what he wants -- the woman of his dreams.

Overall, I think we probably will see some vampires return to the purely horror genre, but I don’t think that’s the only place the fang-boys are going to hang their literary hats. There will always be a place for this quintessential dark hero. The opportunity for a complex, heart-breaking journey of the soul is just too good to pass up.

What do you think? How scary should our paranormal heroes be? How much of that good, old fashioned monster is too much of a good thing? I’ll pick one answer to receive a signed copy of RAVENOUS once it’s released.

Sharon Ashwood
RAVENOUS (Signet Eclipse, Feb 2009)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Guest Blogger: Lori Devoti

The winner of Lori's book is: JSB (Jana). Congrats, Jana! Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Lori. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Blind Read-Test. Could You Spot the Vamp?

Most of my books feature shape-shifters -- garm (wolf) and hellhounds. In a couple of weeks my first published vampire tale (Holiday with a Vampire II, Silhouette Nocturne) comes out. When I am writing my shape-shifters I have very specific personality types in mind for each. Hellhounds are hunters; garm are protectors. So, while each individual garm or hellhound has his or her own personality, those traits tend to rule them.

When I sat down to write my vampire hero I had to come up with something else. Which got me to thinking, if you were to just sit down and read a paranormal with some kind of creature as the hero, but you didn’t know what kind of creature he was, could you name it? Should you be able to name it? Is there some trait that does or should shine through with all weres, vamps, etc.?

I think there are. Werewolves tend to be pack oriented. If you don’t have a pack, you are looked down on. They are also, I think, more aggressive than your average vampire. I see vampires as much more likely to sit in the back corner of the bar waiting for his prey . . . date . . . to come to him. He might even use a little mind power to pull her back there. A werewolf, he’ll stalk forward and make his claim. And any interlopers who think of butting in? Bad news for them. The vampire, he’ll probably wait outside, address those little issues later. He can be offended and he won’t be walked on, but it isn’t about territory to him. In other words, a werewolf lives by a lot more rules. They are clear cut and whoever crosses them better watch out. A vampire, he’s a loner. He doesn’t worry about what others think.

So, if my hellhounds are hunters, and my garm are protectors, what was my vampire? I hate to say it, but I think I’m going to have to go with tortured. Obviously that fits with vampires. They spend a lot more time living and regretting their own personal hells -- which just makes us love them all the more.

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Can you think of a were and a vamp that stand out as clear-cut examples of their kind?

Post your opinion and feel free to disagree with me totally. I’m giving away a copy of my second Nocturne, Guardian’s Keep (garm hero). The follow up to this book, Dark Crusade, will be out in April.

Oh, and because I’m all over the opportunity for pimpage, stop by my blog this Wednesday. I’m starting a promotion titled 30 Days of Vampires. That’s right (at least) a post a day for 30 days on vampires. Editors, authors and readers , interviews, essays and excerpts. Lots of great stuff, and, of course, prizes. Grand prize of $100 (or there about) of vampire stuff -- just comment on the blog posts to be entered, and some daily prizes too. and the ever-growing schedule (prizes shipped to U.S. addresses only)

And thanks to Lynda for having me. She’ll be blogging during 30 Days too!
Wild Hunt, Silhouette Nocturne
Holiday with a Vampire, Coming Dec. 2008

A winner will be selected on Tuesday evening. Leave a comment!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

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.

Many thanks to Lynda for having me as a guest! Lynda gave me my first interview three novels ago, and I’ve always appreciated her “First Sale” feature.

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)?

Visit Marta at her website: and her blog,

Marta is giving away a copy of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula to one person leaving a comment here. The winner will be selected Friday evening.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Guest Blogger: Linda Wisdom

The winner of Linda's book is: Sarabelle! Congrats, Sarabelle. Send me your snail mail information and I'll pass it along to Linda. Thanks to everyone who participated. Next guest blogger, Thursday, Nov. 6: Marta Acosta.

A Hexy Recipe

What do you say you get out your best cauldron and we’ll whip up something fun.

Take one snarky witch, add a heaping cup of sexy vampire (after all you can never have too much vampire), a tablespoon of disgruntled ghost and add a dash of troublesome bunny slippers and you have a recipe for magick chaos. Or maybe not. After all, we are talking Jazz Tremaine, curse eliminator, 700 year young witch and attitude with a capital A. She’s not exactly made of spice and everything nice. More like magick and snark, but that’s what makes this recipe fun because it also includes the unexpected.

It’s a good thing that Jazz is used to multi-tasking. She has a successful curse eliminating business -- we are talking LA after all -- and working as a driver for Dweezil, a creature who can make Scrooge look like a philanthropist.

But her world is shaken up -- again. It was bad enough when a past evil intruded into her life again and she had to face that horror and destroy it. This time it’s affecting Jazz’s need for a good night’s sleep. She isn’t getting any quality sleep and a sleep-deprived witch is a cranky witch.

It’s not so much that Jazz is missing sleep; she’s had terrorizing nightmares to boot. But then, who wouldn’t be freaked out if the nightmare involved your vampire lover tearing your throat out? And it doesn’t help that Fluff and Puff are accused of eating a Wereweasel carnie, which is a death sentence, and now incarcerated in bunny slipper jai. Irma wants Jazz to find a way to give her a d look worthy of the new millennium and Dweezil is naturally demanding his share of her time. No wonder she’s cranky!

The only good thing is Jazz’s latest order of bath products and a pair of sexy crocodile stilettos named Croc and Delilah from fellow witch Thea. It’s just a shame they like to get into her make up, perfume and think human housemate Krebs is yummy.

Jazz is in a stew of magick problems that could easily overflow her cauldron. Especially when a dash of a sexy female vampire who was Nick’s ex is tossed in for some bitter flavoring and along the way Jazz ends up with the worst 48 hours of her life that no witch should endure.

The problem is figuring out what ingredients will work for this witchy stew and which ones are outdated and need to be tossed out. I’m sure you can guess which spices Jazz is ready to get rid of.

Who’s behind her nightmares? Who wants to unsettle Nick so badly with nightmares of his own that he might abandon her? Who’s setting up booby traps if she tries to track down the source and did Fluff and Puff really eat a Wereweasel even if there’s no way the bunny slippers would eat something that disgusting?

What about you? Do you see your books as an intriguing recipe with a hint of this and a pinch of that?
Leave a comment answering Linda's question, and one person will be selected to receive a copy of her book. Winner chosen Tuesday night.