VAMPIRE HEAVEN?

pearly gatesDo you think there is a heaven for vampires? Should there be? Would it be the same heaven humans go to, or a place all their own? I’ve explored this thought a LOT, simply because Gabriel Strickland, the double dead vampire in Cold in California, my urban fantasy book being released on May 15, is working his way toward heaven. Sort of. You can imagine how tough something like that would be. Poor dude sees his final demise, thinks it’s totally over, only to find himself living out purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse with a bunch of other dead supernaturals. He has a chance to earn a ticket through the Pearly Gates. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Ladies and gentlemen, let’s go through the pros and cons. Not everyone wanted to be a vampirePRO – Not every vampire asks to become a vampire. We’ve all read the stories and seen the movies, right? Most vampires didn’t ask for it. It’s usually a surprise sneak attack or worse yet, an offer of misunderstood immortality. Granted, the newbie adjusts quickly to the demands of his new existence. He may struggle to hold on to some of his humanity, but to become a cruel, evil creature, one must consciously choose to be so. There are vampires all over the fictional universe that think before making the wicked choices. CON – Not every vampire finds it so terrible, especially if it feeds their need for mischief. Now, naturally there are criminal and questionable humans all over the place—my Uncle Nunzio comes to mind. There is the chance that one of them reluctantly becomes vampire … and zealously likes it. Those personalities relish in the mayhem and bloody chaos they can wreak on human beings, mostly because they liked it so much when they were human. An evil human soul has no more chance at reaching heaven than an evil vampire soul, so I say. gotta eatPRO – A vampire’s gotta eat to survive. Okay, it is a conundrum, but solutions can be sought. Charlaine Harris invented True Blood for her vampires. Being Human’s vampire Aiden worked as a nurse and fed from the blood bank bags. Good vampire souls find ways not to drink too much blood and keep their human hosts, friends, and acquaintances alive and well.  Restraint is the name of the game, even though a vampire has to eat. After all, survival is more than nutrition, it’s also emotional support, a shoulder to lean on, and an occasional ride to the airport late at night. CON – A vampire doesn’t have to kill or turn his lunch into an immortal dining companion either. I sometimes think of vampires as human teenagers just after the full bloom of puberty—out of control with little desire to reign in their new found sexual and emotional tendencies. It must be like eating chocolate. When have you had enough? When should you stop? Opps, the chocolate is gone, too bad, too sad. Seriously, aren’t the vampires who at least try to take the noble road more attractive? Don’t eat so much or so fast, damnit! Bored LestatPRO – A conscience is a good thing! Louis might have bored the hell out of Lestat, but at least he tried to preserve his humanity. Now we’re getting in to the definition of a soul. Is it conscience? Is it guilt? Remorse? Acting and feeling truly contrite for something one has done? If those feelings and emotions relate to the soul, than there are many, MANY, vampires in fiction who have retained their soul. It can be done! YAY! CON – Bad vampires live a lot longer. There’s a lot of fictional proof that evil, cruel, and demonic vampires have an inbred self-survival gene. If it ever comes to their continued existence or the life of a mere human’s—slurp, choice made. Even though many famous and not-so-famous vampires have complained about the boredom of immortality, most aren’t interested in facing the alternative. loving motherPRO – Vampires were once human and cared about society. Yes, they were born, tiny, soft and sweet, loved in their mother’s arms, and taught all the rules of living within society. They understand the laws, the morals, and the reasons for toeing the line. Most people do. Granted, once turned into a bloodsucking monster, it’s a hard road keeping to those strict societal limitations, but luckily, many of our most beloved vampire heroes do their best. CON – Few vampires go to confession. The ones that don’t learn the lesson in their human life then discover that vampiric life is a free pass from all the rules, run amuck. We like those vampires too, don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t love a bad boy? The question is … do they get a chance at redemption? What are your thoughts? Does a vampire have a right to heaven or not? Even if they’re doing their best and being as good as a vampire could be?

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Cold in California

Book 1, Twice Baked Vampire Series

COMING SOON!

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He’s back …

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How Many Vampires Fit in an Elevator?

Funny how we writers think. Sometimes we’re overly concerned about whether it’s clear that our character took the car keys with him or buttoned her coat, and other times we feel it’s vital to make our fiction as solid as indisputable scientific fact.  Believable fiction is always the best, but there are times I think maybe we go too far.

When I’m not writing Urban Fantasy, I’m an author success coach, a book reviewer and an acquisition editor for a small publisher. Trust me, I see it all, from the car keys obsession mentioned earlier, to the mammoth scientific explanations as to why a werewolf changes during the full moon. Sometimes it’s entertaining, other times it gets a little boring, but every time I see this kind of thing I understand with my whole heart. It’s the process.

Take my Twice-Baked Vampire Series. I knew I was crossing a bazillion lines with the concept of a double-dead vampire getting a chance to earn his way into heaven. The words Redemption and Vampire are never mentioned in the same sentence and getting this concept into the realm of the believable took a lot … of editing. I, like just about every other fantasy and urban fantasy author in the planet. felt that I not only had to tell my readers how many vampires fit in an elevator … I had to convince them.

Back up and punt is a way of life when the editing part of a writers journey comes along and my best editors are the first round of vital eyes … my friends. Nope, they’re not writers or certified, diploma toting editors … they’re average readers with average readers’ eyes and thought processes. They are the prototype for the book buyers down the road. I honestly think that no qualified line editor could be as brutal as a friend (the one you spent detention with years ago) writing a note on your manuscript that says “all right already! I get it!” These readers are priceless because they help me take the temperature of the market. Real editors? Of course I and my publishers use them too, but by the time they see the book, I’ve created a world and reality that is palatable, enjoyable and hopefully pretty darn believable.

Personally, I like the supernatural details in the everyday life events. That cookie recipe your Aunt Mary has, how come they always taste slightly different, made you feel slightly giddier, looked slightly more inviting than when anyone else in the world makes them? Is it because Aunt Mary is so sweet and special and loving? Or, is it because Aunt Mary is part Fae and uses an ingredient that comes trough her fingertips and makes those cookies irresistible!  And that kid playing Little League Baseball at the park across the street. Is he really that extraordinary? Does he really have a stronger, more accurate arm than any other ten year old in the world? Does he carry himself like Chipper Jones because he loves the Atlanta Braves? Or is that little boy actually a pure bread werewolf destined to be in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame along with a few of his own kind we never knew about? My mind is always roiling with these possibilities. Are those colorful auras in the room really ghosts who came uninvited to my party? Maybe I’m just tired? Maybe they are ghosts. The dishwashers working in a professional kitchen are all seal shape-shifters. The bank teller was once a statue overseeing a mummified Egyptian king’s fortune. The elderly crossing guard at the corner of Westfield and Bower Hill is really Merlin. My sister is really … well, you get the point. When ideas twist and swirl like Dorothy’s Kansas tornado, any writer feels the responsibility to defend and explain their concepts.

But in the end it isn’t about how many vampires I think fit in an elevator or how many trolls I think it takes to change a light bulb. It’s not even about whether I think my Aunt Mary is part Fae … it’s all about what I can make you believe.

Now, believe it or not, something just tapped me on the shoulder and whispered “GET BACK TO WORK”. I’m not even going to try to explain that one.

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of The Twice Baked Vampire Series. Book 1, Cold in California

COLD IN CALIFORNIA

What Happened to My Fangs?

Fangs? Well of course I don’t really have fangs. When I say that, I really mean my creativity, my mojo, my playfulness or my keyboard time. What happened to it? Life happened to it, and in an effort to regain control of my writing time and flow, I decided to play a little game with myself. WARNING: Don’t be trying this stuff at home, kiddos, unless of course you need to blast through a creative wall or are willing to cause havoc with the family who lives under the same roof and expects your undivided attention.

I currently have three books in the works (and another non-fiction, but for that I’m cool, no inspiration needed). All three fictions are steeped in the supernatural, one involves a fallen angel, one incorporates Native American mysticism, and the third is Book #3 of The Twice-Baked Vampire Series. All three have finish deadlines before the end of the year … and all three have hit a wall. I refuse to use the words writer’s block, but sometimes, even when your head is overflowing with ideas and images, you gotta admit that the well is a little dry and the pieces just aren’t fitting together. At times like this there’s only one path I can take.

Let’s take a journey through the vortex, the rabbit hole and maybe even a few nightmares. After all, those are the only ways I know how to grab my creative crown back from oblivion. Here goes.

WHAT YOU REMEMBER

The first place I always start when I’m like this is inside my own real life memories. I explore the things I’ve seen and experienced that made no sense. Was that a ghost I saw last winter, pacing outside the window on my front porch? Did I really feel someone breathe on me or touch my hand the night I was alone? Once while participating in a Native American Peace Ceremony and camping in the high desert, I watched the full moon turn the big boulders into monster opals. And once while sitting in my back yard I saw what I could swear was a UFO, zigging and zagging it’s way across the sky. Then there was the time I sat in traffic on the 405, that notorious Los Angeles freeway that seems to never move, and I felt the world spin into a vortex. It felt like a scene from The Matrix!

Okay, right about now you’re starting to think I’m a little off my rocker, but I honestly believe that if you tour through your own memories, you too will find a plethora of unexplained experiences just sitting there, ready to be explored. That’s exactly what I do, I examine these experiences and jot down every possible explanation for them, practical and supernatural, physiological and emotional. Inevitably the thought process leads me like a puppy dog right back to my creative mind and spawns all kinds of plot solutions where I’d originally seen none. I for one am convinced the paranormal is all around, sometimes we just have to acknowledge it … and in return, it will help us expand our creative boundaries.

WHAT YOU READ

Another thing I tend to do when my Fangs are lost, is read. I read contemporary authors and not so contemporary authors. Sometimes I focus on the genre I’m writing and sometimes I look toward historic or science fiction for my reading pleasure. I re-read old favorites and watch for the newest ideas out there. No matter what I read, it triggers something in my head. Sometimes a wisp of a concept that is completely unrelated to the book in my hand, generates a power surge for the book in my head. Needless to say, lots of those books get set aside so that I can write.

If I read that a Victorian character stumbles down the steps and is left in a coma the doctors can’t treat, in my mind that extrapolates into the tumble of a gnome from a latter while trying to escape, or the dangerous, damaging fall from grace by an angel, or the loss of important memories by the devil himself. It all starts to gel! I want a bumper sticker that says “Got Writer’s Block? Read!”

WHAT TERRIFIES YOU

Sometimes I go back to my childhood, or even to last week when I noticed the biggest praying mantis I ever saw walking along my arm. Thinking about what really terrifies me brings home the need for emotion and depth in my work. It pretty much helps me hook into the characters with a fresh point of view. If the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz terrify me, what would terrify a vampire? A savvy business woman? A young witch or an errant angel suddenly blocked out of heaven? What would show their vulnerability? Their not-so-good side? Oh, this little trick definitely helps me flesh out characters and create situations I wouldn’t have thought about before! This one most certainly gives me back my sharp, pointy writer fangs!

WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE

Laugh. Some people laugh when their nervous or afraid, some laugh all the time, some laugh so seldom, the sound of it startles us. I like to take a few minutes to look around me. Look at smiles, listen to laughter, taste the energy of teenager girls giggling, men laughing at the football game, your best friend chuckling on the phone. All the shades and shadows of laughter can add great depth to a character, as well as great humor. I tend to look for comic relief when I write. I often create a character specifically for that purpose, but if I’ve done it really well, Mr. Comic Relief becomes an important part of the story … and a fond friend of mine.

Fangs restored and the family’s reluctant acceptance that I am writing and not to be disturbed, nothing ends the dreaded writer’s block better than a little journey down the rabbit whole. The questions create a thousand other questions that blessedly lead to a million creative solutions.

Now, I have to go write! See you all later!

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of  the Twice-Baked Vampire Series. Book 1, Cold in California

COLD IN CALIFORNIA

 

Love with the Perfect Supernatural

It happens. All the time. Some unwitting human falls head over heels for a supernatural creature. A Vampire who makes them buzz with sexual desire. A Fae  bad boy who charges their batteries. A Werewolf who completely understands them. Humans are extremely susceptible to supernatural beings. Even Trolls have a sweet side, even though they tend to smell a little like burned dirty socks. Supernatural sexuality is dynamic, diverse and nothing like a human expects. Look around you. How many of your friends do you think are involved with or married to a Leprechaun, Gnome, Pixie or Shape-Shifter. My guess is that lots of people fall for these beings. They lust for them, fight with them, break-up with them and never, EVER recover from the experience.

Let’s play a little SUPERNATURAL DATING GAME. Which of these creatures do you think you’ve already had dinner and a movie or more with?

VAMPIRE – He or she works the night shift, prefers Bloody Marys or beer with tomato juice over vodka-anything. They tend to be pale and avoid the beach at all costs, wears sunglasses all the time and talk quietly. They are volatile in nature, argue at the drop of the hat and have a criminal record hidden somewhere in their past they never talk about. In bed, well the experiences are off the chart. Your Vampire lover wants sex all the time, especially in the middle of the day with thick curtains drawn and a glass of cranberry juice on the nearby dresser. They have no opinion on your day-to-day life, and expect you to drop everything when they call. (Hey, I just described both of my ex-husbands!) They are selfish but protective of their possessions (including and especially you) to the extreme. When their full attention is on you, they make you feel like the best thing walking on two legs.

PIXIE – Well these guys and gals take the cake for sexual dynamos. Surpassing the Vampire by a mile, Pixies simply can’t get enough and they don’t particularly care who it’s from. Loyalty and fidelity are not part of the Pixie lexicon. They’re stunning to look at, have not a single working brain cell in their head and avoid conversation at all costs. You’ll never notice though, because a Pixie can distract you with a sensual look, a teasing touch and a few magical sighs that drop you right onto your back, ready, willing and able. Pleasure is the name of the Pixie game, and if they can get a few laughs along the way, it makes their lives even better. Go ahead, date a Pixie but don’t be looking for anything with promise. One day, maybe in the middle of the best sexual climax you’ve ever had, they’ll simply disappear … off on the next adventure. You will have a few grains of Pixie dust on the carpet to sweep up, though.

WEREWOLVE – Ah, the damaged, troubled, doe-eyed lore of the Werewolf is irresistible to humans.  Even if you’re the kind of person who seeks out relationships with self-empowered, self-sustaining, emotionally-stable partners, one whiff of a Werewolf will change all that. These creatures are deeply broken by their lot in life. Beautiful, strong and powerful, they are emotionally shattered, constantly worried … the kind who over-insure themselves to protect their mates. A Werewolf is definitely the marrying kind. Children may not be in the cards because they’re so afraid of passing on their terrible curse, but you can’t find a better wife or husband. Loyal as a Labrador and partial to quiet nights at home, what you’ll have with your Werewolf is plenty of peaceful evenings, snuggled on the couch with a beer and a good movie partner. Once a month your Werewolf will disappear for a few days. At first you won’t notice, then you’ll get jealous because he or she is unwilling to explain where they’ve been or who they were with. Then you’ll cry and walk away. It’s just how it is. But you’ll always fondly remember the sweet lover who brought you the newspaper every morning.

TROLL – Trolls are the hoarders of the supernatural world and they bring it right into your world the minute you hook up with one. A Troll loves to collect things – stamps, old film posters, Civil War memorabilia, tea pots, thimbles, you name it. As soon as the two of you shack up together, the first thing your Troll does is build shelving and buy curio display cabinets. At first it won’t bother you one bit, after all, a hoarder also collects skills that come in very handy in the bedroom. But soon enough, you will find yourself picking pathways between boxes of stuff waiting for new shelves to live on. Before you know it, there’s no room for you! Then … you discover that your Troll has been collecting something else while you weren’t looking. Trolls are another supernatural race with no regard for fidelity. Trolls collect divorces.

SHAPE-SHIFTER – You already know this guy or gal. You’ve already come across them at work, at the country club, and in your dating life. These are the ones who can change on a dime. One day they have brown hair, the next, flaming red locks. One day they work as a financial analysis and the next, they decide to become housepainters. One minute they’re happy and laughing and the next, out-of-control pissed off. They know things they shouldn’t know, like what the whale on the Discovery Channel program is thinking, or what you talked about in your women’s support group. They recall things more clearly than any human and for a while, you think your lover is just insightful or has a photographic memory.  It’s nice at first, but soon all the always-being-right stuff rags on your nerves. The uncertainty of never knowing what your lover will look like or say or do in the next minute will drive you batty. Unfortunately, when you throw this one out on their ear and adopt the stray kitten that appears at your door a few moments later, the one thing you will miss most is that Shape-Shifters ability to know what you love most between the sheets – all those things that made you squeal with delight. Ah well, for now you have you new kitty friend to talk to. That should be enough to get your life back to normal.

GNOME – Ever met someone who is happy all the time? A not-so-pretty and rather short person who makes you smile and laugh and feel better about yourself? Those, my friends are Gnomes. Wiki’s Mythical Creatures and Beasts Directory says that Gnomes are tiny creatures, but I can tell you that over time, they’ve grown. Some area as tall as five foot five! Short women and men have no issues with partners that height, so the intermingling of these two races is on the rise. Gnomes never make you cry, they never argue and they always see the bright side of everything. Some people like that. Personally, I’d toss a Gnome across the living room is he told me “life is a bowl of cherries”. Gnomes are great gardeners. In fact, most find fantastic careers as landscape and garden designers. It’s not just the green thumb, it’s the instinct for soil, root and bloom that make them so good at it. Real Gnomes never have silly plaster garden gnomes in their yard. It’s a reminder of so many generations of being too short to have sexual relations with the pretty women whose skirts they’d been looking up. Even a silly Gnome knows where heaven is.

LEPRECHAUN – These dudes are more pleasant and luckier than they should be. Never taller than five feet ten, the Leprechaun is the lover who talks about counting cards in Vegas during dinner, develops a system for knowing when his numbers will hit the lottery while having sex with you, and decides which horse to bet on at the track while showering with you. You don’t mind one bit and do you know why? Because this guy ALWAYS wins! Life with a rich Leprechaun can wash away a plethora of evils. You’ll live in a fabulous mansion, wear designer cloths, travel the world every year and, when your Leprechaun lover isn’t thinking about winning the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, enjoy fabulous sex with an Irish accent! How bad can that be?

FAE – The Fae like multiple relationships and multiple marriage partners and they’re right up front about it. This is the lover who asks for a ménage a trios on the first date. This is the one who loves swapping partners in a group setting. The more the merrier! The Fae are stunning, strikingly gorgeous and completely irresistible. Needless to say, most humans go with the flow wearing a goofy starry-eyed look and bigger than possible smile plastered across their faces. The Fae have an agenda, but no human understands it or can survive a relationship long enough to figure it out. The circus of sexual tension becomes crazy and it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex too long. More than one human involved with a Fae has awakened, years older, exhausted and in need of medical attention. The best thing to do when a Fae crosses your path and asks “Do you wanna?” is to run the other way, but of course, we don’t. The biggest issue with Fae/human relationship is that even though the Fae has been up front and honest about their desires, we still foolishly think we can someday have him to our self. Sad but true.

Okay, now we’ve explored relationships with supernatural creatures. Seriously, would you date any of these guys?

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of The Twice-Baked Vampire Series. Book #1, Cold in California

COLD IN CALIFORNIA

 

Urban Fantasy – The Character of Environment

Readers and writers know all about characters – that they require fleshing out and development, names and backgrounds, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Readers become attached to the mental image of what that character must look like and how his or her voice might sounds. But there’s more to it than that. More than the description of hair color or warts, more than the story … more than the era or genre.

 

There’s the environment. And I’m not talking about a little rain or maybe a vague description of a fictitious city here, I’m talking ENVIRONMENT on steroids!

 

Take Twilight. All that thick cloudy gloom of the Pacific Northwest combines to create a total package for Bella and her experiences. It does more than serve as a literary tool to permit vampires not to sparkle so much as to be recognized, it sets the mood. Now skip over to Charlain Harris’s Dead Until Dark (True Blood). The environment in this series is painted by poor and lower middle class Northern Louisiana. The prolific environment there is the sordid haze of southern prejudice and bigotry.

Environment tells more of the story than plot or characters! Ask any reader about a story they loved and the answer will include everything from location to weather and cultural influence, perhaps before even one character is mentioned. It’s the careful setting of the stage that makes the difference.

 

In my book, Cold in California, I was determined to make the environment a character in and of itself. Yes, California is the clothing this character wears, but the true environment is the warehouse where 60 or so dead and double-dead supernatural creatures live together. There, secretly hidden in West Hollywood, they try to find ways to behave themselves so they can take advantage of their one last chance to earn heaven. It’s about redemption in a city knee deep in anything but redemption. The warehouse needed to be a canvas for these creatures. It’s not exactly “the island of misfit toys’, it’s more like the Murphy’s Law pathway to the Pearly Gates. This environment needed to do two distinct things. First, the warehouse had to create a safe environment for dead supernaturals to be themselves, and second, it had to be real-world recognized for what it is, a holding tank for the world’s incorrigibles.

 

The space wanted to feel scrapped together with furniture left on the street for trash pick-up. It needed a system that reminded readers of the unemployment or social security office. And it had to serve every kind of race that might end up there, even Stick Man who is 12 feet tall, so he has a double-wide room where he sleeps on two beds head to head. The warehouse is bricked with history no one knows or wants to know. It has secret areas where the head honcho – like Crudo, the troll in charge – can find a few hours of peace and quiet when he wants. This warehouse makes love to it’s inmates by providing everything each one needs, high walls for one character’s vast collection of murder mystery books, dark corners for the double-dead vampires to lurk and meet and squabble within. Private places for pixie/leprechaun (uh-hem) interaction and a door that closes so that loner and soon-to-be hero, twice-baked vampire Gabriel Strickland, can sulk and bemoan his situation, at least in the beginning.

 

The warehouse keeps secrets and exposes treachery. It provides safety and yet is extremely vulnerable. It breathes with a life of its own. And it does all that without one line of dialogue or one action. Now, how’s that for a stellar character?

 

What book environments have impressed you most as you read or wrote them?

 

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series! Cold in California

Cold in California cover, lgCOLD IN CALIFORNIA

 

Supernatural Characters – What’s in a Name?

Where were we? Vampires werewolves and trolls, oh my! Here at Vampire Explored we talk about where the paranormal ideas come from and where they go. What they mean and what they don’t mean.

So … let’s play the name game.

What’s in a character name that makes it memorable? Where do these names come from? Do they mean something or are they hard to come up with? Considering the fact that most authors have their own ways of developing character names, I can only speak for myself. Hopefully this is interesting and informative, but also gives you a few laughs. I’m going to do a run through of each of my character names in COLD IN CALIFORNIA,  how they came to me and why I used them. Here goes.

GABRIEL STRICKLAND – Hero, twice-baked vampire, loner and skeptic. Gabriel’s name came from the obvious places – my life and heaven. Since the double dead vampire was given a second chance to earn a ticket through the Pearly Gates, I thought it might be nice to have the same name as the gatekeeper. It might (and I stress might) give him a leg up when the time comes. His last name came to me because I liked the hard and soft sound of it. Strickland seemed to encompass all of Gabriel’s personality traits and flaws.

CRUDO CUSHMAN – Crudo is the troll in charge of the secret West Hollywood warehouse where Gabriel must live out his purgatory. The place is crowded with dead supernaturals and Crudo cares (grudgingly) about all the inmates. He definitely wants them to earn their way into heaven, but he’s no pushover, he knows trouble when he sees it. Where did his name come from? No clue. I think he just told me as I began writing him. But think about it … a troll, five foot nothing, swarthy and gruff. What else would his name be?

PETE MALONEY – With so many dead and double-dead supernatural races coping with having to suddenly behave themselves and be good enough to make the grade, Crudo needed some help. Pete Maloney (all around nice guy and demised werewolf) came to me in a dream. He was big and  warm, kinda like everyone’s favorite Uncle Pete so that’s where his first name came from. After that I discovered that inside my head, every time I wrote his dialogue he had a slight Irish brogue. He’s goodhearted, funny, a great friend and support for Crudo. Oh, and Pete has no designs on the big responsibilities. He likes being number two. It suits him just fine.

SHIRLEY – Oh, dead pixie Shirley only goes by one name. She’s the Cher of the warehouse, hot, sexy and insatiable. She’s a gorgeous supernatural woman pretty much living in the middle of an ongoing “squirrel moment”. Self absorbed but sweet, Shirley has an impact on just about everything and everyone at the warehouse. She got her name because I loved the fact that Crudo liked to call her “Shirley Girly” … that and “Trouble”.

NATHAN COOK – How does evil look to most readers? Ugly? Demonic? Nope, startlingly beautiful. I needed a villain that took a reader’s breath away but he too needed a few little distracting flaws. What he had in looks, he certainly wouldn’t have in savvy. Nathan is a bit of an egotistical jerk, the kind of man who as a kid, never got picked for the baseball team, the one who didn’t realize he was walking around with a “kick me” sign on his back or toilet paper on his shoe. As an adult his striking good looks and dark witchcraft put him into a league of his own, so who cared about not being popular, he was powerful. So, his name had to be powerful too. It had to be a name that never politely asked for what he wanted, it demanded.

DORI GALLAGHER – I never met a Dori, much less a Dorianna and when Dori formed in my imagination, I wanted the perfect name for Gabriel to want to roll off his tongue. Dori’s not too pretty or special, in fact, I was really focused on her imperfections that would attract Gabriel. I wanted her to have a name that stood out but not so much it demanded attention. I wanted a name for this woman that told her story … and that’s something shocking you don’t learn until the very last few pages of the book.

And two more for good measure …

FEEVER CLOVELY – Feever Clovely is a dead leprechaun. In my imagining, leprechauns are conniving, grumbling, unhappy beings who are always taking a political stand of some kind. Feever is the head of the West Hollywood Warehouse Leprechaun’s Union and he’s always looking to picket something. Where did his name come from? I have no idea, it was just there the minute he arrived in my head. If you run into a leprechaun one day, maybe ask if it’s a common Lep name.

DON CARSON – Both Feever Clovely, the dead leprechaun and Don Carson, ancient Soul Eater, are small players in Cold in California, but I wanted to touch on their characters and names because both play a huge role in the second book in The Twice Baked Vampire Series, Monkey Jump.  A Soul Eater is immortal, sort of. He serves a Sin Eater. How did this particular Soul Eater get his name? Well … he reminded me of a former boss of mine. Not that the boss was a soul eater, but he was brilliant, a company man who played by the rules and seriously competitive. My Soul Eater needed a contemporary name because he’s always around, trying to do his job. A simple name like Don fit the bill. He seems to like it.

So … there ya go. Character names and where they come from. Is this what you expected?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series! Book 1, Cold in California  !

Cold in California cover, lgCOLD IN CALIFORNIA

 

One Werewolf’s Conscience

What’s a werewolf? I mean, in most imaginations it’s that scary creature that – without any choice of its own – changes into a deadly animal during the full moon and tries to eat people roaming through the woods. Well, okay, not everyone has woods, or forests, or even a nice large park close by, but as paranormal and supernatural adventures continue to fascinate readers, werewolves are sure to show up just about anywhere …

  • In a pretty woman’s bedroom
  • In the animal rescue league kennels
  • At a back yard cookout
  • A ballgame
  • In the dirty city alleys
  • In a warehouse

Yes, a warehouse. In this case, no, it isn’t a warehouse shipping werewolves like an import/export business. This warehouse is purgatory for dead werewolves chosen for a second chance to earn a ticket through the Pearly Gates. In Book 1 of the Twice Baked Vampire Series, Cold in California, lots of dead, and in the case of vampires, double-dead supernaturals get this cool second chance to prove themselves worthy. This particular warehouse, located in West Hollywood, might be a really sweet, happy kind of place – if every character living there gave a good goddamn about getting to heaven.

Here are the facts: Survival is what matters most to these creatures. After all, survival was the focus of their lives, so why not their purgatory? Second, these are political animals, more so than humans by a long shot. The Gnomes are ambitious, demanding and extremely creative creatures. The Shape-Shifters are metro-sexual, mainly to fit into the Hollywood environment. Well hell, Shape-Shifters were always responsible for blending in, right? The Twice-Baked Vampires are volatile, no surprise there. The Fae are the resident elite while the Leprechauns are belligerent in their efforts to pay homage to no one around them. The trolls are efficient and effective managers. The Pixies, well, the Pixies are kind of like the sex symbols of the warehouse, hot, steamy, lustful and satisfying … if you can catch one that is.

The only dead supernatural creatures facing and dealing with the stark reality of the warehouse purgatory are the werewolves, and in the West Hollywood warehouse, there is only one werewolf, Pete Maloney.

Some (specifically Twice-Baked Vampire, Gabriel Strickland) call him “The Reverend”. Pete sees the whole picture, which is why he has always stood at the side of the warehouse manager to help keep peace and organization among the inmates. They’re all there to earn heaven, but they’re all pretty flawed souls who’ve spent a lifetime or two ignoring the golden rule. Pete likes the golden rule, and he generally likes his position as helper and second fiddle. He gets to watch souls come and go, see where they’re most likely heading (up or down) when final judgment arrives for them, and this is one werewolf wise enough to steer clear of controversy. He’s not a politician, he’s a brilliant trouble shooter. He’s not interested in power, he’s fascinated with the effects of the unscrupulous desires of others. “The Reverend” can laugh, enjoy some play time with a Pixie, stand at the leader’s side during a battle or storm, and still read a good mystery alone in his room. Pete Malone is an enigma among the population of the West Hollywood warehouse!

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series, Cold in California

Cold in California cover, lgCOLD IN CALIFORNIA