Vampire Week: Michele Bardsley
Mar 22, 2011 Filed under: book recommendation, excerpts, guest blogger, interview, paranormal, vampire, Vampire Week
Today the lovely Michele Bardsley shares her creative take on vampires….
Vampire Moms are Cool (and Scary) by Michele Bardsley
Writers are often given the advice to “write what you know,” which honestly isn’t all that fun. We know boring crap, like how to do dishes and mow lawns and yell at children. Wait. That’s what parents know. Writers know … how to make up stuff and Google a lot.
In 2004, I really wanted to write a vampire novel. Even though I was told the market was oversaturated with fanged ones (Hah! We are still neck deep in vampires, people … and yes, I will continue to make lame vampire jokes. You’re welcome.), I couldn’t get the idea outta my head about a group of single parents who were suddenly undead. My parental mind whirled with all the possibilities.
What would you do if you could never see the sun again? What if you were on a permanent blood diet? What if you had no choice but to become nocturnal? How in the world would you raise kids when you’re dealing with paranormal issues–not to mention a few cool new superpowers like über strength and mind control? How would you deal with the concept that you’re immortal … and your children are not? And what if a 4,000-year-old Irish hottie told you that you were his destined soulmate? (Okay, that last question was just a perk of writing romance. Heh.)
Answering these questions is how the small town of Broken Heart, Oklahoma and its supernatural residents were born. The first character to experience the wonders of being undead was Jessica Matthews, widowed mother of two. She’s just a normal mom dragging the trash can out to the curb one night, and then she gets attacked, killed, and wham! She’s sucking on the muscled thigh of a vampire with a killer accent and eyes like silver (that’s Patrick O’Halloran … oh, yeah, he’s that hot).
I wasn’t sure that readers would embrace the idea of parental bloodsuckers. After all, my vampires (aside from Lorcan, of course) aren’t driven by angst and guilt. Mostly, they’re cool with being undead and immortality and having awesome abilities. Also, my heroines are all snarky, and the stories, even when I’m addressing serious issues, are all on the humorous side.
Readers not only liked the concept of paranormal parents, but also enjoyed the world I created in Oklahoma, which is now populated with a variety of parakind. Broken Heart has lycanthropes, were-cats, fairies, dragons, and … well, who knows what else. Those are stories waiting to be told. To think, it all started with one smart-ass mother who doesn’t mind being a vampire at all. And when she says clean your room, kiddo, she means it. Hey! Don’t make her get out the fangs.
Excerpt from I’M THE VAMPIRE, THAT’S WHY
By Michele Bardsley
The night I died, I was wrestling a garbage can to the curb.
I had a perfectly healthy fourteen-year-old son who should have taken out the garbage after dinner, but he, and let me quote him directly here, “forgot.”
Every Sunday and Wednesday night we had the same conversation, usually five minutes after he crawled into bed. Here’s the script:
Enter the Mother into the Pit of the Despair. I refuse to walk more than a foot into the Pit because I’m afraid a radiated tentacle might emerge from a gooey pile of papers and clothes and drag me, screaming and clutching at the faded carpet, into the smells-like-lima-beans clutter. I open the door, try not to inhale any noxious boy-room fumes, and delicately scoot one Ked-protected foot inside. Cue dialogue.
“G’night, honey. And Bry? Did you take out the garbage?”
“It’s twice a week. It’s your only chore. I pay you ten bucks every Friday morning to do it.”
“It’s a heinous chore.”
“I know. That’s why I pay you to do it.”
“Sorry, Mom. I forgot.”
At this point in the twice-weekly argument, variations occurred. Sometimes, Bryan faked snores until I went away, sometimes he actually fell asleep mid-lecture, and sometimes he whined about how his nine-year-old sister Jenny didn’t do chores and I still paid her five dollars every Friday morning.
So, yet again, just after ten p.m. on a Wednesday night, I found myself pulling first one, then the second thirty-gallon garbage can down the driveway, and trying to align the grimy plastic containers near, but not off, the curb. Do not get me started on sloppy, lid-flinging, half-trash-dumping garbage men who are extraordinarily picky about the definition of “curbside pick-up.”
When huge, hairy hands grabbed my shoulders and heaved me across the street and into Mrs. Ryerson’s prized rose bushes, I didn’t have time to scream, much less panic. The whatever-it-was leapt upon me and ripped open my neck, snuffling and snarling as it sucked at the bleeding wound.
Good God. What sort of man-creature could hold a grown woman down like a Great Dane and gnaw on her like a favorite chew toy? It slurped and slurped and slurped … until the excruciating pain (and honey, I’ve suffered through labor twice) faded into a feeling of weightlessness. I felt very floaty, like my body had turned into mist, or like that time in college when I took a hit of acid and had the “Tinkerbell” episode. I knew that if I just let go, I’d rise into the night sky and free myself from gravity … from responsibility … from Bryan and Jenny.
Just thinking about my kids slammed me down to Earth. My husband had passed away a little more than year ago in a car accident. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though. I was in the middle of divorcing the son-of-a-bitch.
I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t lift my arms. I couldn’t open my eyes. But I felt my body again, every aching, pain-throbbing inch of it. The heavy, smelly thing pressing my limp body into thorny branches and noisily smacking against my throat grunted and rolled off. Dry grass crunched and leaves rattled as it moved, growling and groaning like well-fed coyote. I didn’t flicker an eyelid for fear it would try for a killing blow, though if the state of my neck wound was as bad as I thought, I was dead anyway. Then I heard the sounds of bare feet slapping against pavement and realized the thing was running away. Fast.
I don’t remember how I disentangled my sorry self from the bushes. I have vague memories of the roses’ too sweet scent as I crawled across the street and collapsed near my knocked-over garbage cans.
For those who know me, meeting my end amid muttered curses and spilled refuse was not a great shock. But, shock or not, it was still a crappy way to go.
* * *
Some people believe that dying ends all possibilities of humiliation.
When I awoke, I wasn’t standing at the pearly gates of heaven. Well, not unless the religious definition of “pearly gates” was way, way off-base.
I was latched onto the velvety inside of a muscular male thigh, my teeth embedded in the flesh near his groin, my mouth soaked with warm, very tasty liquid.
No, the man was not wearing pants. Hell, he wasn’t wearing underwear. Who am I kidding? The man didn’t have on a stitch of clothing.
I wish I could say that the embarrassment of my cheek brushing against his testicles outweighed my need to suck his blood—and yeah, I know, ew—but it was like … it was like … a half-off sale at Pottery Barn. No, better. It was like eating, without gastrointestinal or caloric consequences, a two-pound box of Godiva’s champagne truffles. No, no … like … oh God, like finally fitting into that pair of skinny jeans that taunts every woman from the back of her closet.
Uh-huh. Now you know the ecstasy I’m talking about.
After another minute or two of sucking on the stranger’s thigh, I felt firm, long fingers under my chin.
“That’s enough, love,” said an Irish-tinted voice. “You’re healed now.”
With great reluctance, I allowed the fingers cupping my jaw to disengage me from the yummy thigh. I sat up, licking my lips to get every dribble of blood (ew, again) smeared on my mouth.
“Where am I? What happened? Where are my kids?”
“Ssshhh. Everything will be explained.” He tilted his head, looking me over in a way that caused heat to skitter in my stomach. “Your children are fine. Damian is watchin’ them.”
Damian? Who the fuck was Damian? Whoa, girl. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Well, crud. The whole breath thing wasn’t working. I didn’t even want to think about my lack of heartbeat. I had to stay calm. I focused on the room and realized I could see everything clearly. What the hell? I had been relying on glasses to see past my nose for almost ten years. With this kind of vision, I probably could see all the way to Canada.
“So … with all the, uh, blood-sucking, I’m guessing I’m a vampire now.” Just saying “I’m” and “vampire” together was so ridiculous, I wanted to giggle.