Today, I am being hosted on Blog Tour Day Four – at The Author’s Cafe. I particularly enjoyed writing this guest post because it’s something I probably would have written here anyway. Today’s post is about not allowing agents, editors, publishers, or – really – anyone tell you what you should write, or what you can’t. It’s one of the biggest shames of the publishing industry, in my mind, that authors have become convinced they have to emulate the “big thing” to get ahead, that they have to write just one thing so as not to confuse fans, and that they have to do what their agent tells them. Newsflash. The agent works for the writer, and if that’s not true, it’s not really agenting – if your agent isn’t enthusiastic about what YOU DO and how you do it, you have the wrong agent. Anyway, here’s a short excerpt from today’s guest post:
“Genres and Why I Hate Them
By David Niall Wilson
All through my career I’ve been plagued by a couple of misconceptions and a string of bad advisors. The misconceptions are:
A: You should write what’s hot.
B: You should choose a genre and stick with it so fans don’t get confused.
I won’t get into the long string of bad advisors, except to say that at least two of my agents turned out to be crooks (one went to jail for it), one told me things were being submitted and I later found out – not so much. Still another advised me to pick a bestselling book and try to do something “like that” – which led to a string of outlines, with three chapters each, that said agent could not “get behind.” I had her get behind me, and it worked out better. I sold all of those books….” ==> READ THE REST OF THE POST AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE.
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Today is the third day of my Nevermore blog tour. Not every day, but most of the days of this tour, there will be a stop at a different blog – some are reviewers, some are authors, others just like books. At each stop you can enter to win free copies of the book. At each stop you have the opportunity to read Chapter One of the novel. Then, the unique part – each stop has either an interview with me (all different) an interview of one of my characters, or a guest post. Today, the stop is at Nancy Jardine’s Blog – the “Welcome Wednesday” post of the week. Since it’s a guest post, and I was given no direction, I started off with the beginning… Authors don’t really like the question “Where do you get your ideas?” very much. I have a lot of answers for it, but it’s mostly irritating, because it’s not a question that you can simply answer. What I did in this guest post is to reverse engineer the question – where did I get the idea?
As is so often the case, it’s a dual answer – history, and one of my other stories combined. I’m not going to spoil the post by going on about it too much here.. If you would like to know more about how the novel was conceived, how I came up with the character Lenore, and to read a very nice review of my book, head on over to NANCY JARDINE’S BLOG and check it out!
From the review (I love this): “The language flows beautifully, harking back to olden times. It is a dark tale which left me a bit staggered at the end- but I don’t do spoilers- read this really good tale for yourself!”
ALSO today, I was interviewed for Blog Talk Radio for the tour:
THE TOUR SO FAR!
So, it’s day two of the big blog tour has arrived, and I have been interviewed by Hywela-Lin for her blog. This was a fun interview, not necessarily the same old questions, and I went out of my way not to provide the same old answers, as well. One of the tricks of this blog tour thing is – in my opinion – mixing it up. If you have nothing new to say, and twelve blogs interview you, asking the same old questions and getting the same old answers in slightly different hats, well, I think you can see how boring that would be. I am not famous. Instead, I strive for interesting. I believe (probably foolishly, but there you go) that if I make a real effort, I can show people who I am, and why I write what I write, and why it would be worth their time to check it out. One thing you learn in life is that even those who are already mildly interested in you have their reasons. Sadly, for me, only a small portion of those interested enough in me to know who I am are also interested enough to read my books.
I wish I had a small truckload of copies of Nevermore … I would ride to the next two fan conventions I could reach and just hand out copies. I wonder how many I’d have to hand out before a sufficient number actually read them, and then talked about them, and it became a “thing?” We’ll never know, sadly – books are expensive. I DID lower the eBook price on Nevermore – a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe to only $2.99 for the duration of this blog tour. $2.99 is still in the impulse buy range, right? I want to give you that impulse, so, without further ado…
Here is a very short bit from the interview with me over at Hywela Lin’s blog… and a link to the rest. Below that are links to yesterdays posts, where I conducted interviews with my own characters, Donovan DeChance, and Edgar Allan Poe…
READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW AT HYWELA LYn’s Blog – along with an excerpt from Nevermore. Enter to win copies of the book – or just buy it already!
First, let me start by posting a link to the main site for the blog tour. At this site you’ll find a schedule of all the blog stops, all the ways you can enter to win copies of the Hardcover, trade paperback, audio and eBook editions of Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. The book is discounted for the length of the tour from $4.99 to $2.99 – nearly half off! You can find tour info here: The Buy The Bool Blog Tour for Nevermore!
The First two stops on the blog tour required me to do something I have never attempted before. They are “character interviews,” where I sit down in a virtual room and chat with the characters from my own worlds and novels …quite the change from other types of guest posts I’ve written in the past. Sort of half fiction, half real – and as it turns out, not a bad exercise in getting into the head of your own character. As it turns out, I actually had questions, and probably have a lot more – I limited myself this time out to things that relate one way or another to Nevermore…
At LAURIE’S THOUGHTS AND REVIEWS – there is an interview posted today with the protagonist of my series, The DeChance Chronicles… It’s an interesting way, I think, of showing how the series ties in with Nevermore, and hopefully convincing readers of Nevermore that they might want the entire story…and vice versa. Assuming Donovan has fans, I want them to know it is important for them to read Nevermore.
DNW: Today, I am interviewing Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, sometimes private investigator – and some say – hero. The book Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe would never have happened if not for Donovan’s chance visit with Poe so long ago, so I thought it would be appropriate to see what he has to say on the subject. I’ve spent a lot of hours chronicling your adventures, Donovan, but I must say – despite all of that, I still have a lot of questions.
I spend far too much time on trivialities in this blog, ignoring what it should truly be about. Words. Stories, creation and art – the ups and downs of the particular life behind my own stories. Some things matter more than others, and today, I have decided, is a very good day.
First, unrelated to any of the other topics involved, I went running for the first time in almost a year. I made it a mile and a half in the brand new Vivobarefoot Running shoes (more on those in another post). I came home, got the leash, and took Gizmo for a long cool walk, came home once again, fed the birds and closed their door so the rest of the family could continue sleeping…
Then, as I shook loose the final cobwebs, I opened up my Kindle Fire, turned on the Wi-Fi and began the download of the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s newest – The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I knew nothing about this story. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I knew one thing. There are things you look forward to. There are movies coming out – concerts to see – television premiere’s – vacations. All of these things you hold inside and when things get rough, you turn to them and wonder about them a little, and forget the world.
For many years now, one of the things that has done this for me is the work of Neil Gaiman. It’s infectious, of course, and has spread somewhat to the rest of the family. I pre-ordered the book because I think Trish might want to read it, and that Katie most certainly will. (She loved Coraline and has The Graveyard Book and Fortunately, the Milk waiting on her Kindle). While I will sit and agonize over buying new books and paying bigger prices, I have cast this aside as unimportant in a very few cases, and this case – this new story waiting – has been a top-of-that-list case for some time now. I pre-ordered the audiobook the minute it came out, and purposefully timed the last book I listened to to end yesterday, so I’d be ready.
So, I ran a mile and a half. I opened up my computer browser and went to check on my own story (written with the very talented author Steven Savile who – as it turns out – is also my very good friend) – Hallowed Ground, which has been enjoying a two day free promotion and has given away a (to me) staggering 18,200 copies or so. Currently, our little tale is #6 of all the free books available for the Kindle. If the gurus are right, well, this will continue on into sales when the promotion ends. If not – just maybe – some of those 18,000 people are settling into their day – perhaps with the Whispersync for Voice audio that is only $1.99 with the free book – but more likely with a Kindle – and dropping through time to the city of Rookwood, where magic, and crow-men, and even Lilith herself awaits them. That is what I hope, because here’s the thing.
I do not want to write like Neil Gaiman, though I count him among the three or four working authors I most admire. I do not want to write like Neil – but I want to “be” like Neil. I want to be seen for what my heart tells me I am – a teller of stories. Some of them are good, and others, probably not so much, but they are mine. I want to write like me, and be like Neil Gaiman, and -right this very moment – I want to be back on the bench, by the pond, where I left the protagonist of his new book staring at a pond and remembering. I want to listen for Monster, padding through the grass. I wonder what happened to Lettie. I will say nothing more about this book until I reach the other side…
But so far, this is a wonderful day. Thanks Neil.
There is a lot of timing involved in a writing career. Anyone who does not believe this should pay attention. Here’s a story for you…and a commentary on where I find myself these days. This is not a complaint, or a call for, well, anything…just what I do. When I write in this blog, I try to adhere to my own advice to write what hurts…
When I started writing back in the 80s, horror was in a boom. Due to circumstances that could have gone other ways, I became a writer of horror and dark fantasy early on and I had a unique opportunity. I either blew that opportunity, or avoided it. The votes are still out on that. I had an agent at one point who called while I was away at sea. If I’d been there when that call came in, there was “a slot”. What this meant, at the time, was that pretty much whatever I’d turned in (and I had books) would have been published in the raised-foil tsunami of horror. That probably would have irrevocably changed my career. Maybe I’d still be riding the wave – maybe I’d be drowning in the aftermath of the big crash. No way to tell, because I was out at sea, and missed it.
I set off on my own multi-directional path. Star Trek, White Wolf, Vampires, horror, science fiction, fantasy – mystery and thrillers. I’ve written them all. Most of my books have gotten good to great reviews. I’ve won awards. People in some small circles know who I am. I write a lot, and that will probably never change.
Along the way, though, something weird happened. I never reached the heights of best-sellerdom, or even the upper middle-class of writing. I just did okay. I barely missed a lot of things that would have changed everything, and I kept writing.
Recently I started noticing that – despite the fact people know me and congratulate me when I finish a project, they don’t read them. It’s not that no one likes the books – people who do read them like them – sometimes even love. I don’t see any of those dreaded threads on message boards about how no one gets how I am still writing, or they couldn’t get through my books. I also don’t see anyone starting threads about me in any positive way, or any excitement over whatever I’m working on. What I get – mostly – is nothing. Nothing at all. Those who have always been famous remain famous. Many newer authors, some awesome, others mediocre, and even a few I consider a long way from ready for prime time, get read. People gather together and read their books in groups. They line up to buy them before they are even published. For my books, people are happy to enter a contest and maybe get the book for free, but buying seems to just never happen, and when people DO buy the books…well, if they ever read them I seldom hear about it.
I’m the author in the middle, currently. I still believe I’ll find the way out – not sure what it will be. If I do make it out, I hope those who “discover” me also come back and read the older books – the ones I’ve spent a lifetime writing. I hope they like/hate/talk about them. Mostly, I hope they read them.
Besides just being the first full-length novel in the O.C.L.T. series, The Parting is novel that I discovered while researching. That happens to me a lot. I go to look at one thing, and I end up with a handful of events, facts, bits of synchronicity that bind it all together, and I end up working on something new. When I decided to write about Rebecca York, a woman with a great deal of magical ability, and roots reaching back into Egypt, I downloaded a very old book on Folklore. In the process, I found a story about an ancient sorcerer. He apparently had the ability to part water. From that I made the leap to Moses, and the fact he studied with the Egyptians. I made some other connections and discovered that there might just be an ancient talisman, The Aptet of Tchatcha-em-ânkh, that assisted with this particular spell, and I was off to the races.
The first chapter – about 7700 words – is available for you to read here. It is the beginning of the novel, and it is the basis for the plot. I brought that talisman into modern times, put it in the hands of someone with an agenda, and pitted several of the agents of what would eventually become the O.C.L.T. against the evil. At the time of The Parting, the O.C.L.T. did not exist. There was a network – a computer web – created by Wendell “Mack” MacKlemore. He collected and fed information to different contacts, sort of trying to run the whole thing himself. It was too big for him, and the events of The Parting serve to set the stage for this realization. In the follow-on novel by Aaron Rosenberg, Incursion, the actual creation of the organization, and the establishment of a base of operations.
There are a lot of fun characters in The Parting – an old monk, a young Israeli boy, his family, an agent of the Mossad, terrorists, diplomats, and of course, another sorceress. I think this is one of my faster paced, more intriguing novels, and I very much look forward to more adventures with the agents of the O.C.L.T. in the future. I hope you’ll take some time to read the opening chapter – it stands alone, I think, as a novelette – though it obviously leads into the story at large.
Since the days I was involved with licensed fiction for White Wolf, writing in their World of Darkness for the Vampire the Masquerade line, Wraith, and later for Vampire the Dark Ages, I’ve had a soft-spot in my heart for series fiction. I have also had a bone to pick with most of it, and when I set out to create my own series – there are three now – I was determined to make an attempt to fix what I saw as problems in most shared world and series work – particularly the kind that shares authors. First off, the problem with a formula is … it’s a formula. While that formula may work wonderfully for a time, and even become a comfortable fit for a large group of readers, what my own reading has taught me is that – as an author – it grows increasingly difficult to be original, compelling, and in any way relevant if you allow the formula to take over too much.
The second problem I have found is rigidity. When you write licensed novels, you find that a lot of what you love in your work is cut out because it doesn’t fit the narrow mold envisioned by the license holder. For instance – my vampire, Montrovant, hero of my trilogy The Grails Covenant – had some abilities that stretched beyond his “clan”. Now, their books clearly stated that – with effort – this was possible, but when I turned in the books they acted as if they’d never written that, and wanted me to just make him a good little vampire who only used a particular set of powers – ever – and even went as far as to tell me that NO vampire would ever act differently than another… what? Their vampires are fully formed entities – if they were not, it would be like trying to write a zombie novel where the only characters were mindless ghouls eating people and nothing changed. Bleah.
So – I’ll cover The DeChance Chronicles, and how I try to keep them fresh in later posts. This weeks books in the Year of DNW promotional push – are my two current entries into the O.C.L.T. series – the novel THE PARTING and the Novella “The Temple of Camazotz”.
When we set out to create the O.C.L.T. (originally three of us, but it ended up being myself and author Aaron Rosenberg) we wanted something different. The first notion was that it could be a home for books other authors had written as Fringe, X-Files, Buffy, Angel, whatever licensed novels that were rejected for whatever reason. Change them around, add in a consult from one of our agents, or any loose tie-in you like, and you’re in. What it grew into was something much better. We created a series of agents that are constants. These are the core agents, and mostly – if there are novels that feature them – we will be writing them. The beauty is – any weirdness, any occult, alien, or other-than-natural event can trigger an appearance or a connection to O.C.L.T. – and any author’s own character can benefit from the joint marketing by writing us in. Crossroad Press is doing an original series by Melissa Scott & Jo Graham, for instance, The Order of the Air. In both of the first two books, Geoffrey Bullfinch (who may, or may not be the one who wrote the mythology book) is mentioned and on the periphery. Their series takes place in the past, but many of the O.C.L.T. characters have been around for a very long time. I have also tied in The DeChance Chronicles – directly connecting Donovan to Bullfinch and Rebecca York, agents of the O.C.L.T. – and thus tying them in (as well) with my new novel NEVERMORE, and my fictional Old Mill, NC. It’s one big magical world, and that opens up the fictional possibilities. There are few rules. That helps as well. I’m going to end this with links to the Books of the O.C.L.T. (I may write about mine separately later in the week) and with a list of the O.C.L.T. agents as they appear in our series “Bible.” I hope you’ll give it a try. I’m betting if you do – you’ll like it.
No Laughing Matter – A Tie-in Novel to the O.C.L.T. – By Kurt Criscione – AMAZON – (Audio coming soon)
Geoffrey Bullfinch: named for Chaucer and Bullfinch of the mythology book. Stands just under six feet tall, nondescript, often carries a pipe. He has gray eyes, gray hair, but is difficult to pin down on his age. Dresses either like an academic, or, on a mission, like a 1960s African Explorer in Khakis. Expert in folklore, mythology, ancient cultures and religions as they relate to supernatural entities and events. Also has some power, but it comes from written spells, sigils, and amulets, and is drawn from a vast library and a lot of research. He is slender, of Anglican ancestry, but with an accent that hints of Wales, or Ireland. Besides his work with OCLT he is an author and lecturer on cryptozoology and the occult. He has served as a consultant to most of the intelligence agencies of Europe, has contacts with CIA, MI6, etc. While appearing bookish, dressing impeccably, and speaking softly, he is surprisingly adept in martial arts and has an encyclopedic and practical knowledge of most weapons.
Isabella Ferrara: an Italian monster hunter, Isabella works for the Vatican but has been seconded to OCLT. Tall, curvy, and olive-skinned, with clear green eyes and dark blonde hair, she is a striking woman if not a beautiful one. Isabella is also deadly as all hell—she is versed in pretty much every weapon and martial arts, and also an expert in monster lore. She is a talented tracker and hunter as well. Isabella is deeply religious, but highly adaptable—she has no problem working with people of other faiths, or seeing things that wouldn’t normally be encompassed by Judeo-Christian beliefs, but she very much believes in the Holy Trinity and the Mother Church.
Reed Christopher Hayes: The team leader and strategist. American. He goes by R.C. or Reed, or Chris to some old friends. His nickname in Military Intelligence was “Crease.” R.C. looks much like Denzel Washington–average height, black, reasonably good-looking but not stunning, close-cropped hair turning salt-and-pepper, the same stubble on his cheeks and chin if he’s not careful, a serious, intelligent face. He isn’t young anymore—he had a promising career as a field agent for Military Intelligence but then got stuck in a lot of dead-end assignments and desk jobs and the like after the thing with the troll before he finally got fed up (hah!) and transferred stateside to the FBI, who were thrilled to have an agent of his experience. He’s still fit, though—he doesn’t look like much in a suit, necessarily, but he’s in good shape and still solid in a fight. R.C. is happily married, and he and his wife Nancy have two kids.
Gunter Krieg: Tall, mid-forties, born and raised in Berlin, with crazy gray hair that sometimes sits down and sometimes waves around his head like a cloud, Gunter is a professor at Evergreen State University (and yes, there are dozens of Evergreen States around the country, and no, he will not bother to tell you which one is his home). He has had offers at all the major schools, but none of them would give him the freedom to pursue his crazier theories and without that he’d go mad. Evergreen State has only a small science department, but they hired him because he paid for a wing to be built for research and because he wins them big grants—they have no idea what he’s doing, beyond checking regularly to be sure he’s not experimenting on people, and they don’t really care. Gunter’s mind is somewhat like a calculator on steroids. He’s respected, feared, and ridiculed by the world of Physics. He is a theoretical physicist who likes to move from theory to physical testing sooner than is wise, but he is (at heart) good. He would never harm anyone purposely, and he believes that science and those who understand it owe their gifts to a higher purpose—he will fight tirelessly to stop science from being used for evil but he does not know how to interact with most people beyond seeing them as mathematical constructs and treating them as such. He is, of course, brilliant.
Elizabeth Lapsey: Elizabeth is a short, overweight Cuban-American woman in her forties with high-functioning Asperger’s, who always provides more information than is necessary and also is incapable of not finishing a sentence she starts. She has a gift for languages in particular, but in general loves to find patterns. She loves to talk to people, and indeed tends to be almost Golden Retriever-ish in her ability to talk to anyone. The babbler of the group, and also a born researcher, the problem isn’t inducing her to talk, it’s getting her to stop. A born and bred New Yorker, she is not now and has never been a fan of nicknames—she answers only to “Elizabeth” or more formal modes of address, and in fact the one surefire way to get her to stop talking to you is to call her “Liz” or “Beth” or some other diminutive.
Wendell Macklemore: “Mack” is a computer and electronics wizard. Graduated from college at age 12. Went to MIT and dropped out because he was bored and had things he wanted to “work out”. Has worked for the defense department, and been released from several projects because of an inability to work within boundaries. Responsible for numerous breakthroughs in technology. His hacking is beyond brilliant, and his quarters are, basically, a mainframe with a bed and kitchenette. He is jacked into every electronics system in the world, largely because he is security consultant to some of the most powerful governments and industry giants in the world. He runs the OCLT computers and databanks, and is quartered in Arizona, not that far from Area 51 (which he is also jacked into). Tall, athletic, with dark wavy hair and a handsome smile, he absolutely does NOT look the part of the geek. He is always up for action and has an impressive array of self-designed gadgets that, at times, border on magical abilities. He lives in a trailer outside a place called Brisbee, Arizona (I’ve been there). He lives in the desert, surrounded by strange antennas and signs claiming “mind-control free zone,” and “alien monitoring station” – his cover is as an alien-seeking wackobird who writes for the tabloids. There is an entrance in the trailer to an underground cooled bunker filled with his actual surveillance and network equipment.
Malana Tai: Malana is from Tuvalu (also known as the Ellice Islands), a Polynesian island nation midway between Hawaii and Australia. Though only twenty-five, she has an old soul and has proven herself capable of remaining calm and even upbeat in tense and dangerous situations and when facing creatures outside the normal human scope. Thought not particularly pretty, Malana exudes a certain friendly, healthy appeal, and can win people over with a single bright smile. She is energetic, rarely still, and friendly, and though happy to talk she is also an excellent listener. That is in part due to her special “gifts.” Malana is a telepath and an empath, most of it subconscious—she constantly picks up thoughts and emotions from those around her, and automatically adjusts her own behavior to suit, making her something of a social chameleon. She can look below the surface if she focuses, but too much contact can make her dizzy, nauseous, and even unclear on the boundary between herself and her target. Malana’s home is one of the smaller Pacific Islands, which made growing up a bit difficult—because of the small setting she knew everyone’s innermost thoughts and desires, and had a hard time separating herself from the mix. Big cities offer anonymity and a comforting white noise, psychically as well as audibly, so as soon as she was old enough (and had aced the interviews and exams and got offered a scholarship to a good school), Malana lost herself in the big city and never wanted to look back. She loves traveling and loves meeting new people, but prefers big cities and crowds to smaller, more intimate settings.
Hideyoshi Tidijin: small, slight, delicate Japanese man of indeterminate early to late middle-age (he’s actually fifty but could pass for thirty easily). Dresses impeccably, usually in hand-tailored brown or gray suits unless he’s in the field. Wears gloves most of the time, and often a face mask. Tidijin–who insists upon being addressed as “Professor,” “Professor Tidijin,” or “Tidijin-sama” — is an archaeologist specializing in early human history and pre-history (and in nonhuman history, though that isn’t on his public CV). Nicknamed “Tidy-bowl” by successive years of students, Tidijin is an excellent archaeologist and a renowned professor, considered one of the leading experts in his fields. Which is ironic, given his pathological fear of dirt, dust, and contamination. He is meticulous and precise and has an incredibly delicate touch, ideal for unearthing and reassembling ancient artifacts–but he has a hard time operating in the everyday world, especially in crowded places. Tidijin is a practitioner of Tai Chi (“It clears the mind and focuses the body”) and has a surgeon’s touch with a scalpel, but he is so strongly against contact that he would only engage in physical combat as an absolute last resort.
Rebecca York: Indeterminate age, very attractive and dark, appears late thirties to early forties, but over time will be found to be much, much older – Rebecca, daughter of Ivan of York from Ivanhoe, was thought to be a Jewish Sorceress, and Rebecca may possibly be the source of the character in the first place. She has a working knowledge of most of the schools of magic, but is particularly adept at the Kabala and the type of ritual magic practiced by Crowley and the Golden Dawn crowd. She has served in Israel with the Mossad, but has been an advisor to leaders in many places. She has powers, but they are seldom shown overtly. Height: 5’11” Slender, long dark hair in a braid. Soft spoken, but with eyes that grab and hold those she speaks with. Rebecca lives in a secluded home in the mountains of North Carolina. She drives a Jeep, and has an adventurous streak that often gets her in trouble.
- Write what you know.
- POV Matters.
I’m not much for cut-and-dried rules; I write what I write, and I write ‘how’ I write, but sometimes I can go back after the fact and pick out some things that are important. Since this week I’m talking about my novel, This is My Blood, I thought I’d start with that.
When I parted ways with organized religion, the insides of my psyche were not a pretty sight. I had issues. I had some anger, too. Mostly, though, it was growing pains. I was drawn into the “fold” the way many are – I was young, lonely – girls asked me to a Bible study (pretty girls) – it gave me a sense of belonging, and, for a while the notion that I knew something important. I’m not planning on bashing religion in this post. I’ll say that I write fiction, and it can be powerful. Ancient people wrote fiction too, and just because it helped them get through the night, and the stories were passed down from generation to generation, I see no reason to consider them more than they are. Fiction. The world does not need Gods or higher powers to believe in – it needs men to step up and take responsibility for their own good, and bad works.
In any case, there I was. I had recently decided NOT to become a campus minister, but had studied quite a lot toward that end. I had a wealth of biblical knowledge, and some very strong ideas about what I did NOT like about Christianity. It had nothing to do with Jesus, or with God – for that matter, though he seemed (and still seems) far too clinical, judgmental, and violent for my taste. It had to do with rules, with the men who made and enforced those rules, and the hypocritical nature inherent in anything important that becomes ‘organized.’
I started with my plot – it was straightforward. Someone near Jesus would be cursed with vampirism. I did not want to change the main story. I did not want (as many suggested I should) to turn it into some sort of cosmic romance novel. I had something to say, and I needed the proper voice to say it. So I started with what I knew.
Religion – particularly Christianity – is based on faith. You don’t’ get to know things, you have to trust…God, The Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Church. You just take what they say on “faith” and forge ahead. That is the flaw. It is not enough, and it never was enough, because men are creatures of intellect. We can think for ourselves (and should do so) and in a faith-based system, that’s not only frowned upon, but you are told in many cases that the thoughts and facts you encounter are just tests from some dark, evil entity trying to lure you from the fold. Clearly, then, none of the men surrounding Jesus was going to be able to tell the story as I wanted it told. It had to be someone who knew the truth. Someone who had walked where Jesus had walked, had absolutely no doubt there was a Heaven, and a Hell – someone without the false support of faith crumbling beneath their feet.
I chose an angel. I chose to have Lucifer raise one of the fallen in the form of a woman, ostensibly to test Jesus’ will to resist temptations of the flesh, but in my mind, to provide the perspective – the point of view – that could make my book more than a vampire story.
I don’t want to get mired in talking about that book, because I want you to go and read it. I’m greedy like that. I love feedback. The point is, as Mary often tells us in the novel, she has walked the roads of both Heaven, and Hell, and her memory will suffice. She was disgusted by the greed and infighting among the apostles, astonished at the blindness of those witnessing miracles, and five minutes later arguing over points of “law” as if their opinions mattered a whit. She knew what was at stake, and so, as she walked along through the gospel of Judas Iscariot, she was the perfect voice to comment on things that had been left unsaid, to voice the concerns and fears that the Bible ignores.
She was MY voice, my message to my past, and my hope for the future.
I call these posts “Writing What Hurts” for a reason. When you are really writing, everything about the words matters to you. Sometimes you are just storytelling. Sometimes you are fulfilling commitments, or putting bread on the table. Other times, like the time I spent writing This is My Blood¸ you are consumed by the work – obsessed with it – invested so deeply that every comment, every reaction, every turned page matters to you. If Clive Barker is right, and we are all books of blood, then our best work is flesh torn from our hearts.
When you decide what your book is about, think about who is involved. Think about all of the points of view from which the story could be told, the problems inherent in each, the gains and take-aways of each choice. Think about how you want your readers to react, and to which characters – and events. Choose your book’s voice wisely, and stay true to it. You may find that, by the time the work is done, you’ve learned as much as you’ve taught.
Now, as I’m certain I’ve caught your attention – Buy This is My Blood now at Amazon.com…
This is the first post in the series I announced yesterday. I intend to go through my entire Amazon.com catalog of titles, probably in alphabetic order, though possibly not. Since my first published novel, This is My Blood, was based on the story “A Candle in the Sun,” which is included in this collection, and since these stories very literally span the decades of my career – up through about 2010 or 2011 – it seemed like a good place to start. Below is the author’s introduction to the work. Also included at the end of the revised Kindle Edition is an excerpt from the vampire novel DARKNESS FALLING which will be discussed later in the year. Each of these titles will be updated, formatted to the newer Crossroad Press template and edited (as I can) on Goodreads as well. For those that have print editions there will be giveaways. The first five people to comment on this post will receive complimentary eBook copies of the book from Amazon (Make sure you register the comment with the e-mail address you use at Amazon).
Author’s Introduction to A Taste of Blood & Roses
I’ve been writing since the mid 1980s, and during all those years, vampires have remained close to my heart. There were periods when it seemed as if you couldn’t have an anthology unless the theme was erotic vampire stories. There were other times when all you heard was, “no vampires.” I can say that I survived both – even selling vampire stories to two editors who said they didn’t think they’d ever buy another one. Both of those are contained in this collection.
I’m not going to bore you with a dissertation on vampires as characters, or why I think the undead remain undead in fiction as well. I will give you a short introduction to each story, and then leave you to the words. As Mary says in the first story … I have walked this road, and my words should suffice.
A Candle in the Sun (originally titled The Fifth Gospel) was written on a US Navy ship. Someone – I don’t remember who – said, “What if Jesus was a vampire.” I said that wouldn’t work, but what if someone near him was? The rest, pretty much, is history. I turned it in to my writer’s group and Richard Rowand, then editor of STARSHORE magazine, asked to buy the story immediately. My first pro sale that wasn’t porn to a men’s magazine. This story has been reprinted several times. One of those times was by Karl Edward Wagner in Year’s Best Horror XIX – he was the first of the editors who said they thought they were done with vampires. He was also – over the years – a good friend. He is missed.
Flash Fiction is a brand new, unpublished story as of the publication of this collection. It was inspired by something that vampire author Karen E. Taylor wrote in her online journal. It’s a humorous story – humor is something I like even more than vampires. You’ll have to let me know how they mix.
Bloodstained Glass was written for a now defunct magazine. I honestly don’t even remember the name of it. It’s a little old fashioned. I like the imagery of it, so I’ve included it here as a change of pace. In this story, I pay homage to the beautiful cover painting that Lissane Lake did for my first novel, This is My Blood. Those familiar with the art for that cover will probably spot it.
Miracles in the Night is a hold-over from my days writing for White Wolf Publishing. It wasn’t written for the company, but for a fanzine called “Norfolk by Night” that was published locally. I wrote it as a favor, and yet, it stuck with me. The robed homeless man actually lived in Norfolk at the time.
Smiling Eyes and Haunted Face is one of the aforementioned erotic vampire stories. It first appeared in the anthology “Love Bites,” edited by Nancy Kilpatrick. I wrote this one a long time ago – I hope it holds up.
To Dream of Scheherazade is the second of the stories sold to an editor who said no vampires. It was first published in the Terminal Frights Anthology by editor / publisher Ken Abner. Ken also bought the novel that I adapted from A Candle in the Sun – “This is My Blood,” which had already had a checkered past. You can find that novel for your eReader through Crossroad Press.
The Subtle Ties That Bind was published in “Love in Vein II,” edited by Poppy Z. Brite. I actually submitted it to the first volume, and it was accepted, but there wasn’t space. When the second book was announced, I sent it back in and reminded her she liked it, and it’s been one of my best-earning stories ever. I still get royalty payments. The version here in this collection is the original – shorter than the version that was published. I found the file and thought it was a good way to make this collection complete. If you are squeamish, this story might not be for you. It’s pretty explicit.
A Taste of Blood and Roses – which inspired the title of the collection – is not a vampire story. I am not going to tell you what kind of story it is, or where it was originally published, because one of the problems I had with that original publication was that the title of the book and the theme of the book spoiled about half of the stories. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
The Death-Sweet Scent of Lilies was published in a book of stories involving Vlad Tepes. This is my homage to Dracula – my thoughts on just how that historic figure might have turned into a man who dined in the center of hundreds of human beings staked out in the sun, and how he might have become the lord of darkness we all know him as.
Against His Bitter Judgment was written as much for myself as anyone else. It’s a sequel to A Candle in the Sun, and the novel This is My Blood, a look in on Judas Iscariot after centuries of…well, you’ll know when you read the first story. It was published on line at the old Chiaroscuro web site. I think it adds something to the story. Maybe someday I’ll add more.
The final story in this book, The Sound of Drums, is also not a vampire story. There are ghouls – or – sort of ghouls. There’s a cargo cult. There’s US Navy stuff from my days serving my country. This story was written for my buddy Brian Cartwright when he first started Cargo Cult Press…it was printed as a book and given only to the people who bought lifetime subscriptions. It’s a very, very rare book worth a lot of money…but the words still need to get read, and so I present it here. Some of you will recognize names in the story … Brian and I both appreciate you guys…Cargo Cult Press put out some of the most gorgeous books ever. I own a complete set from the Cartwright years…and as payment, will receive one of every book ever published under that line. Best deal I ever made.
And now…let there be vampires.
–David Niall Wilson