I enjoy a good vampire story as much as the next person, but I found that I missed the vampires of old. You know, the original Dracula, or Barlow from Stephen King's great novel 'Salem's Lot. If you're into movies, I wanted more of a Fright Night or Lost Boys feel to them. But the majority of vampire fiction I've been finding lately is more redemptive in nature, and while that's great once in a while, I wanted to shake things up.
So I started writing Cowboys & Vampires - Venom Valley Book One, the first book of my vampire / zombie mash-up. It started with the small grain of an idea and kind of grew from there. I wanted to see vampires and zombies fight it out. Zombies are slow moving, but the danger with them is they gang up and overwhelm any resistance by swarming it. I thought, what if zombies could bite through vampire flesh? What if, other than silver or holy water, it took a bite from the undead to penetrate that cold skin?
And, as if I didn't have enough of a challenge, I decided to set the story in the American Old West.
The first book, Cowboys & Vampires, introduces the three main characters of the series: Josh Stanton, Dex Wells, and Glory. Josh was orphaned as a young boy and raised by the schoolteacher in the nearby small town of Belkin's Pass. He harbors a secret power that might prove true the rumors that his mother was a witch before she vanished one dark night. Dex is a couple years older than Josh and watched over Josh when he first arrived to town. They became best friends, and now that they're in their twenties, both of them want a more physical relationship but just don't know how broach the subject. Glory is a saloon girl, half Native American and half white, who has a secret of her own: a spiritual protector.
And then there's Balthazar. He's a vampire who shows up and quietly begins feeding off the saloon girls and their customers, building an army of undead followers. The only people who stand in his way are Josh, Dex, and Glory, and he sets his sights, and his army, on them. Balthazar is an old school vampire: sleeps during the day, can be injured by silver or holy water, avoids crosses and garlic, and can be killed with a stake through the heart. He is old, at least a century, and has quite a violent history to his name.
Oh yes, and he can command wolves and other creatures of the night. There will be at least two more books in the series, Stakes & Spurs - Venom Valley Book Two is due mid-summer, and Blood & Stone - Venom Valley Book Three is due in the fall. Be warned, Balthazar is not the least bit interested in being kind or forgiving.
Cowboys & Vampires is available now from Wilde City Press. If you sign up for their email newsletter you'll get updates about all the hottest new gay fiction they release each Wednesday, including my upcoming Venom Valley books.
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Here's a short excerpt to wet your whistle. Enjoy!
"Get off them!" Dex shouted and fired a few shots in the air to try and frighten the girls away from the men, but to no avail.
He glanced over, watching as the half-breed girl--was her name Glory?--grabbed her bag and disappeared around the side of the saloon. Every instinct told him to go after her, to find out what she knew about these girls and how they could move so fast, and he had even taken a few steps in her direction when the screams of the men being attacked fell silent. Blood pooled on the ground beneath them and the girls seemed to be drinking it from the wounds on the men's throats.
"Leave them!" Dex fired more shots in the air.
One of the girls turned to him, bloody mouth open wide to reveal sharp, wicked teeth. She hissed and, in another disquieting flicker of movement, suddenly stood in front of him.
Dex took two steps back and started to raise his gun. The girl put a hand to his chest and gave a push that sent him sprawling. He landed hard on his back, his head tapping against the hard dirt and leaving him dizzy. The girl straddled him, her thighs clutching either side of his chest, squeezing his ribs hard and making it impossible for him to breathe. He opened his mouth and tried to catch a breath, but she wouldn't allow him.
She leaned down, bloody mouth drawn up in a smile, and tore open his shirt. Then she shrieked as if he had branded her and suddenly the pressure on his chest eased and he rolled to the side, drawing in deep, grateful breaths.
After a few moments, he scrambled backwards, shirt hanging open to expose the white of his undershirt beneath. The gold cross he had inherited from his father bounced against the soft material and glowed in the moonlight. Had that scared the girl off?