It all started with Dracula…

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Dracula and I go way back.

I first decided to write a vampire novel when I was in high school but didn’t actually do so until many years later. When I was in high school, I took drama class and we once took a field trip to Birmingham-Southern College for a drama convention. The drama majors at the college put on a production of “Dracula” which, I found out later, followed the storyline of the novel much better than any of the movies of it I’ve seen. (This was before “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” the one with Gary Oldman in the title role, which, although an improvement over much of the older crap, still doesn’t get it quite right. Although Gary Oldman is awesome.) One of my older brothers has always been fond of campy Universal Studios monsters and my first thought, upon hearing that we would be seeing a stage production of “Dracula,” was, “Some guy running around in a cape and biting people…yawn…not scary.” Was I in for a surprise!

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Not only was the story fascinating – and it WAS scary! – the drama students were all VERY good in their roles. When I got home from that trip, I had to read the book! And I did – stayed up late, after everyone else had gone to bed, and I was almost afraid to fall asleep.

I tried reading other vampire novels – none of them did anything for me. I was disappointed. Well, I thought, I’ll have to write one myself.

At the time, I was quite addicted to Gothic romance novels – you know, they all have a young heroine who, for some reason or other, finds herself in some creepy, remote castle or mansion, surrounded by shifty characters, none of whom she can trust, and one of whom is, invariably, some devastatingly attractive man. Does he have evil designs upon her? Who is behind all the sinister goings-on? Will she come out alive? I wanted to write one of those, but the devastatingly handsome man’s secret would be that he was a vampire. Keep in mind, this was before “vampire romance” became its own genre – I’d like to say I started it, but since I am far from being a household name, of course I will get no credit.

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I had the beginning and the end of the story, but no idea what happened in the middle, which was kind of a problem. So the idea kicked around in the back of my head, literally for years. In the meantime, I got the idea for another vampire novel, about a vampire who hides in plain sight as a rock musician in a sleazy little club, and the teenage girl who falls in love with him and learns his terrible secret, to her horror. It went through several versions before finally becoming Fiend Angelical, which was actually the second novel I published.

And while I was working on it, the inspiration for my first vampire novel idea – the woman in the creepy castle – came out of the blue. What was missing was a key character – who turned out to be the main character, who took the story and ran away with it. I couldn’t write it fast enough. It was The Blood Waltz. Originally, Philip was the mysteriously handsome guy who turned out to be the vampire. But the story couldn’t go anywhere until Kieran dropped in, because, as it turned out, Kieran was the romantic hero (anti-hero?) and the story was all about him.

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I published The Blood Waltz in 2000. The self-publishing option was still fairly new then. I resurrected my contract with iUniverse to bring it back in preparation for the sequel, Selena’s Requiem, which I have just finished and released this fall. It’s been kind of a reunion with old friends. If you enjoyed the original, hopefully you find this one…satisfying.

True love deserves a second chance.

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My BFFs (Best Furry Friends)

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“There are no ordinary cats.” – Colette

I share my household with two furry friends (although for several years I had three). You may have met a couple of them in my novels.

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Josh has been with me the longest – we got him when he was a kitten and my son was in first grade, so they have grown up together. (Josh is now 19!) I answered an ad for free kittens – he belonged to the owner of a small art gallery near Vanderbilt University. He made a brief cameo appearance as Kassie’s cat in Fiend Angelical.

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Morticia has not been in any of my novels – she’s rather shy and would hate the publicity. She is deathly afraid of vacuum cleaners, ceiling fans, strangers, plastic bags and ducks. (Yes, ducks – she had a traumatic experience with a brooder-full of ducklings when she was a kitten. She doesn’t like to talk about it.)

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Here Morticia proudly displays some of her handiwork. She has managed to destroy nearly every piece of upholstered furniture I have owned since she became part of the family. She ruined two sofas by peeing on them – all the Nature’s Miracle in the world could not get the odour out, and there was nothing to do but haul them to the curb.

In Reading the OED, a delightful book which I heartily recommend for word-lovers, author Ammon Shea offers up some particularly wonderful and amusing words he discovered while reading the entire Oxford English Dictionary. One word he shares is “unbepissed” – “Not having been urinated on; unwet with urine.” He remarks, “Who ever thought there was an actual need for such a word? Is it possible that at some time there was such a profusion of things that had been urinated on that there was a pressing need to distinguish those that had not?” Well, Mr. Shea, I have news for you – if you had a cat like Morticia, you would understand the handiness of such a word. “My brown IKEA sofa is unbepissed.”

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And then there is our fallen comrade, Rufus Maximus. Rufus was as sweet as he was beautiful and had a way of charming everyone he met. He made a brief appearance as Selena’s cat in The Blood Waltz. Also known as “Sweetums,” Rufus went on to that great catnip garden in the sky in 2009, but his alter ego returns – again, rather briefly – in Selena’s Requiem, due out later this year.

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RIP Rufus 1998 – 2009