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Friday, June 13, 2014

From fanfic to vampires!

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the publisher...
It was 2011, and I was new to the publishing scene. I’d been writing fanfic for several years, putting in my million words of writing before taking the plunge and submitting my first original story for publication. To my surprise, it was snapped up, as well as the one right after it, and the next one, too.  So there I was, a published author with several stories to my credit, and I was poking around the internet looking for open submission calls, when I ran across one for a story about lesbian vampires.

Well, I’d never written a vampire story before, nor one about two women. My previous stories had been M/M romances, but I thought it would be fun to take on this prompt. I was 30 K into the story when I went back to check some details on the submission call. Whoops. They were looking for a short story, not a novel! I finished the story anyway, and then began shopping around for a home. Sadly, the pickings were thin. I made the decision to change the characters to male and revise it for submission to my M/M publisher.  Mostly because I was comfortable with the M/M genre and because I already had the connections. I didn’t have the vaguest idea how to sell a F/F story, so revision seemed to make the most sense.
It was ten times harder than I ever expected.

Changing the gender of the characters wasn’t a matter of a simple ‘find and replace’ of names and pronouns. I had to go back through the story line by line and alter almost everything. Men act, move, and think differently from women. Women tend to be more polite, tend to use more qualifiers in their speech. They are far more likely to discuss emotional situations and relationships, too. I was forced to re-evaluate every single sentence I’d written, and I believe the story is stronger for that. In the end, I had a story that I could take pride in having created.
I also had next to zero knowledge or experience with the vampire lore. I tend not to read scary things. What I know of vampires was gleaned from watching Bela Lugosi movies and reading Salem’s Lot when I was in high school. What business did I have writing a vampire novel? I made a conscious decision not to do any specific research on the topic, and instead, wrote what I thought made sense to me. 

I wanted an explanation for why some vampires could be out in the daylight, and I wanted to poke a little fun at the vampire lore and how it came into being. When I discovered that the mythology about werewolves developed in part as an answer to societies trying to explain serial murders, I realized that nothing about the written lore had to be followed—that basically, in my world, I could make up the rules.
This made some people call Crying for the Moon one of the most refreshing and original takes on the vampire novel, while other people were disappointed not to get their typical trope.  Crying for the Moon was given a Recommended Read Award by Coffee Times Romance, and Jessewave named it a  Recommended Read for August 2011, as well. It was also first runner-up in the Golden Roses Awards for best paranormal M/M romance for 2011, so I’d have to say all-in-all, more people loved it than hated it. In fact, it has been one of my bestselling novels to date.
I do have plans for more stories in that universe. Tate and Alex aren’t done with their story, and it is mistake to think that Victor will accept defeat easily. 

Werewolves Peter and Nick deserve their own story, too. I do make the distinction between werewolves and shifters—to me, a werewolf can only change during the full moon, and has no control over this ability. In other words, when the moon is full, he *must* change. A shifter can change at will, given the constraints of his or her abilities. I don’t see this as limiting. I see each trope as being a stepping stone for storytelling in a universe of my own making.

I think some people don’t believe Alex is bloodthirsty enough, but in Crying for the Moon, he’s made a conscious decision to leave his vampire lifestyle behind. In Blood Moon, the as-yet-unwritten sequel, everything that Alex loves will be threatened once more—and we’ll find out just how bad-ass Alexei Novik can be. 


“It’s no trouble at all,” Tate insisted. “Besides, things change.” His smile was warm and promising before he suddenly got an alert expression on his face. The smile returned, this time looking naughty. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Alex frowned. Usually his hearing was superior to everyone else’s. Usually you’re not so distracted, he thought.
Tate took hold of his sleeve and dragged him over to the wall, releasing Alex to place his ear near the pale green surface. “Listen.”
At first, Alex could only think about how easily Tate touched people. First Nick. Then Peter. Now him.  Then he heard running water. Makes sense. The bathroom was on that side. Nick and Peter were in there now.
“No. Ow!” He heard Peter’s protest clearly, followed by the lower, indistinct murmur of Nick’s response. He had no idea the walls were thin enough that Tate could hear through them. Of course, he realized he seldom had anyone over and had no previous way to test this fact.
“No. I’m serious, Nick. That fucking hurts. I don’t care if all my flesh rots off, you’re not doing that again. Cut it out!” Alex heard the sound of a hand swatting a solid body.
“You’re such a big baby,” Nick said, his voice almost soothing. “Come on, buddy. Let me help you out there.”
“Just leave me the fuck alone.” Peter sounded more pathetic than pissed.
“It can’t hurt everywhere,” Nick said in a reasonable tone of voice.
“Yes, yes, it does,” Peter insisted. “It hurts just to sit here. It hurts to fucking breathe. I’m not going to let you pour that shit on me and poke around in my lacerated flesh.”
“Big words, Professor. I’m almost done. Come on. That doesn’t hurt, does it?”
Alex strained to listen, pressing his ear up close against the wall as well. He found himself almost nose to nose with Tate, his expression wicked and charming. Alex started to pull back, but Tate grabbed him by the arm and briefly held up a finger to his lips.
“Well, no.” Peter admitted in a small voice. “That doesn’t hurt too much.”
“What about here?”  Nick questioned, and the husky overtones in his voice sent a little pool of heat to Alex’s belly. He thought he could make out the sounds of lips against skin, and he glanced involuntarily at Tate.
Tate’s pupils dilated suddenly, and his lips parted; his breathing was shallow and rapid. He smiled seductively at Alex when their glances met. He pulled Alex closer to him so that their breath mingled. The warmth of Tate’s body was like a siren song to Alex’s pulse.
“How about right here?” Nick practically purred.
“You might have to go a bit lower than that,” Peter suggested with a slight rasp to his voice.
Alex brought his hand to Tate’s face and pulled him all the way in for a kiss. He could feel Tate smile beneath his lips, and then somehow Tate had turned them so that Alex’s shoulders landed against the wall with a small thump, all the while continuing to kiss Alex hungrily. It had been a long time since Alex had kissed anyone like this. Victor hadn’t believed in kissing and only did it when seducing a victim.
Tate kissed Alex like he couldn’t get enough of him, and the surge of excitement it caused made Alex want to strip him down then and there. Tate’s tongue pushing against his own brought to mind Alex’s hot-tub fantasy. When Tate slipped a hand under Alex’s sweater and began to curl his fingers into Alex’s flesh, Alex opened his mouth with a small moan before Tate swallowed it down with another kiss.
“Did you hear something?” Alex heard Nick ask from the other side of the wall.
“Shut up and get back to what you were doing,” Peter ordered. “Hurt man in need of some comfort here.”

Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She is a terrible cook, and concedes that her life would be easier if Purina made People Chow. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.
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