REAL vampires don’t [insert thing here].

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research, and I thought I’d share some of the interesting tidbits I’ve come across as I create The van Helsing Legacy (which you can read free HERE).

Whenever new vampire media comes out, it’s common to see strongly-worded objections in the comments section of all the reviews – something along the lines of “A REAL vampire doesn’t [insert thing here].”

Common complaints include sparkling, failing to burst into flames in the sun, not being a corpse, being capable of, ah, engaging in hanky-panky with humans, being able to consume the blood of animals, being too pretty, being too ugly… The list goes on and on.

The reality, though, is that our idea of what a real vampire looks like is extremely recent. Even when Bram Stoker wrote “Dracula,” ideas of vampirism were only just beginning to consolidate. The folk beliefs from which our current ideas have grown are… shall we say, “loose” at best.

For example, in many regional traditions, the distinctions between a vampire and a witch are casual or even nonexistent. A witch might become a vampire after death, but she also might prey on other people even while she’s alive, sometimes by changing her form into some predatory animal or by leaving her body as a spirit and attacking people as they sleep. Whether or not she is considered a vampire before she dies depends entirely on which old person is telling the story. And of course, while this predatory creature usually seems to do her predatory thing at night, she usually spends her days trying very hard not to be burned at the stake, hanged, or stoned to death for witchcraft, all of which tend to be more immediately dangerous than sunlight.

The dead kind of vampire catches fire in the sun, though, right? Actually, no. There is no folkloric support for sunlight destroying vampires. That bit of our modern myth comes from the 1922 film Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens, and even in the film, it’s not the sun itself that kills Count Orlok, but the noble sacrifice of a pure woman. In folklore, it’s true that vampires usually do their nasty work at night, but many also attack humans in their sleep, which has been known to include daytime naps as well. Others simply vanish when the sun comes up, with no mention of what would happen if they stuck around.

But they can only drink human blood. Sorry, this one is recent, too. Traditional vampires do an awful lot of harassing livestock, and often took the blame for plagues among cattle and sheep. On the other hand, the monsters of folklore never go after livestock because they have any moral compunction against going after humans, as contemporary vampires often do. In fact, a European peasant was likely to be just as devastated by attacks against his livelihood as by attacks against himself, so killing his cows was certainly not a decision of mercy.

They do drink blood, though. Weirdly enough, not always. The stories lumped together under the ‘vampire’ umbrella cover all kinds of depredation, and not all of it centers on the blood of humans or of animals. Eviscerated livestock was blamed on vampires. Failing crops, dying trees, noises on the roof or in the chimney, disappearing money, dry wells, bad dreams, good dreams that made people feel guilty, unexpected pregnancies in unmarried women… Heck, vampires even took the blame for eating their own bodies. Essentially, if there’s any kind of trouble in the neighbourhood, you might have a vampire problem.

So the next time someone gripes at you about contemporary media getting it wrong, you can head them off with a “Well, actually…” The only real constant in folklore is that it’s constantly changing. I, for one, am interested to see how it changes next!

Further reading:
For an interesting and informative read, check out “Vampires, Burial and Death” by Paul Barber.

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A Writing Meme – 5

The Writing Meme – Part 1
The Writing Meme – Part 2
The Writing Meme – Part 3
The Writing Meme – Part 4

23. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?

Oh, perfectly willing. In fact, I’ve just… Ah, but no. Spoilers. Mwahahaha.

24. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

Kim had an obese cat named Bud. He got old and died, because even wizard cats get old. If you’re following the Liminality Series, you’ll soon be introduced to Erin, who has a squad of buff men she calls her “entourage,” though they’re actually thralls, which is what you call it when a faerie keeps humans for pets.

There may be more miscellaneous pets in the future.

25. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favourite picture of him!

bashful_by_justleftofcenter13-d34dw92Well… I do. Just very, very poorly. I used to keep a file of sketches of my characters, until I realized my descriptions were more useful than my doodles, most of which looked like unidentified marsupials.

I like it a lot better when other people draw them for me.

Here’s Lenny, as envisioned by my dear friend Jennifer.

26. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

As in, are they significant to the plot? Eh, some. Morrigan, for instance, is not a conventionally pretty girl. She looks startlingly like her brother Sherlock in a wig and will, in a much later book (not a major spoiler) be arrested for posing as female for the purpose of felonious solicitation. Hard to make the charge stick, of course, after an undignified strip reveals that she is a bit female.

Most others work off certain archetypes, or common-sense extensions of their personal habits, genetics, etc. Lenny is nonthreatening: small, untidy, blond, but with unusually bright blue eyes. Daniel is severe and has an ascetic, angular appearance to match. Kim spends an awful lot of time sitting and reading, so she has thick, soft hips and thighs. She has the black hair and warm, dark complexion that comes from her mostly Indian ancestry. Jadwiga has the brown hair and eyes that are prevalent in Poland. Her scars prevent her from re-entering a society that largely frowns on extensive body modification, even though it wasn’t voluntary.

27. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

A few. In the small stuff, Daniel has such poor eyesight as to be non-functional without glasses. He can perceive large, blurry shapes, but wouldn’t be able to identify an object on a table three feet away, unless it was producing a distinctive sound or smell. With glasses, though, he can see just as well in the dark as in daylight.

Lenny suffered a brain infection as an infant and was totally deaf until his teens, except to the voices of ghosts and other dead beings. When he was fourteen, he began to regain some hearing and could perceive loud noises as a buzz. Becoming a vampire restored it completely, but left sensitivity and the inner-ear damage that prevents him from balancing. Other vampires would still consider him disabled, since the lack of balance means he can’t move superhumanly fast without hurting himself. Also, though not in the category of disabilities, I write him as non-neurotypical and asexual. A few readers have asked me if he’s on the autism spectrum, and while not precisely correct, it’s a useful analogy. His brain is designed for effective interaction with the dead, and as a result, interacting with the living is often difficult for him; likewise, his body is designed to facilitate moving spirits out of the world, not into it, so no sex drive.

Now you know.

Virtual Book Fair Booth: The Medium by M.R. Graham

I am a participant in The Virtual Book Fair. The event is live November 12-21. For more information, check out the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/927569970656592/ or just head over to The Virtual Book Fair page right here on the blog!

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Welcome, and thanks for visiting. I’m M.R. Graham, author of the Liminality Series: The Medium, The Mora, and at the end of this month, The Mage. I’m a strange bird, an academic, a collector of books and umbrellas, and a lover of tea and hats. I write about things that go bump in the night, both of the supernatural and early varieties.

Liminality follows a cast of characters trapped between, because that is what liminality means. Betweenness. Between life and death, between dreaming and waking, between family and friends, between guilt and repentance. In The Medium, Lenny, a defective vampire unable to take a life, is kidnapped by a creature far worse, a vicious abuser determined to turn him into what a vampire ought to be. Even a gentle monster has his breaking point. Kim is a wizard with a unique perspective, one of the very few who believes you don’t have to be human to be a person. Perhaps she can save Lenny from his captor and from the spark of violence growing inside him…

For a limited time, both published titles are discounted in anticipation of the release of The Mage.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE MEDIUM for only USD0.99.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE MORA for only USD1.99.

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Scavenger Hunt Number 5.

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The Mage – Preview

As NaNoWriMo progresses, I’d like to share a snippet of The Mage, Book 3 of the Liminality series.

San Antonio, Texas
1985

The teenager in the Mazda’s passenger seat kept her arms tightly folded and the headphones of her Walkman clamped down immovably over her ears. Her mother should have known better, really. You can’t force a fifteen-year-old to move away from all of her friends and expect her to be happy about it.

Somehow, though, that seemed to be exactly what her mother was expecting. She chattered away at the unresponsive girl. “And we’ll be able to go hang out on the Riverwalk,” she was saying, as though the San Antonio Riverwalk was the be-all, end-all reason for moving anywhere. “And we’ll be so much closer to your Aunt Cecilia, and there’s the Alamo, and the culture is just so unique… Kim, are you listening?”

Kim was not listening. She was rolling her thumb across the Walkman’s volume knob so she wouldn’t have to listen.

They followed the big moving truck around Loop 1604 and off into the wilds of San Antonio. It was virtually frontier land, Kim thought. It was tiny for something called a “city”. It would never hold a candle to Houston.

The truck snaked through a tangle of residential streets, beneath a similar tangle of dark, old live oaks. The ground was thick with their powdery, yellow-brown pollen. It lay on sidewalks and rooftops and completely coated any car that had been sitting still too long. It coated the square, gray house that waited where they pulled up, and the unkempt lantanas by the door. It was a ridiculously ugly house, and Kim was pretty sure that opinion had nothing to do with her desire to live somewhere else. It was legitimately awful. Other than small, regular windows, its face was completely featureless. It looked like a prison. Maybe that opinion wasn’t entirely unbiased.

Two big men and a bent-over old one slid out of the cab of the truck and began to unload, with the two muscly ones lifting and carrying and the old one directing. Kim found the room that was meant to be hers and stayed out of the way by sitting on the floor of the closet with her music and a book. It wasn’t even a good book, but it was the only one that had escaped the packing boxes. It was also a library book, and the odds were that Kim was never going to have a chance to return it, now. She had never not returned a library book, before. One more small misery to add to the growing list.

When the men were gone, Kim and her mother unpacked a few boxes, just until they found a pot and two bowls with which to serve their improvised dinner of macaroni and lunch meat.

Two towels and a rolled-up sweatshirt served for blankets and pillows until the bedding could be found.

Some neighbors arrived the next day. One elderly couple brought a blueberry cobbler as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood present. They exchanged phone numbers with Kim’s mom and obtained a detailed description of the family car, including license plate number, so that they could be on guard against trespassers. A young couple brought a bowl of black-eyed peas and a green bean casserole. They repeated the ritual. Lasagna arrived later in the day, borne by a middle-aged couple that seemed to fall almost exactly between the old and the young. Kim was bright and cheerful until everyone was gone, because she didn’t want anyone to think her a morose teenager, even if she actually was one.

When the unpacking was finished, Kim’s mom went to work, and Kim stayed behind with piles and piles of books. She saw to her own homeschooling, which wasn’t exactly legal, but what the authorities didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them. It was only for the end of the school year, anyway. She’d be back in high school come fall.

Besides, a young wizard’s education is a uniquely personal affair.

Math and science and history had their places on her shelves, but memorizing facts and formulas was easy for Kim. Magic was a lot more time consuming. The conventional wisdom was that only so much of it could be taught, and the rest had to be discovered in order to stick, and so Kim huddled in her room with a bag of chips and discovered.

The conventional wisdom, in Kim’s opinion, was crap. Her mom would have absolutely turned inside out if anyone had suggested teaching a teenager to drive by sticking her behind the wheel of a car and telling her to have at it, and if there was one thing that had been drilled into her head since birth, it was that there was absolutely nothing more dangerous than magic. It was like teaching a teenager to drive by sticking her in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle. Her cousins all got more guidance than she did, she was certain. But then, none of her cousins had mothers all set and lined up to take over North America’s most powerful Circle as soon as the patriarch decided he’d had enough.

Her cousins all had dads, too.

They had been in San Antonio about two weeks when the next-door neighbor got back to town. Kim was helping unload groceries from the trunk when a dark green Lincoln Continental coasted up into the next driveway. Its driver climbed out and ducked into the back seat to retrieve a battered brown suitcase. Then he straightened, shooting upward like a stalk of bamboo, tall and thin and wiry.

Kim gaped. He had to be six and a half feet tall, with his brown fedora pushing him toward seven. The afternoon light fragmented against the sharp angles of his narrow face, almost startlingly white beneath dark hair majestically winged with gray. Piercing, frost-pale eyes regarded her and her scrutiny with mild affront from behind wire-rimmed spectacles. A muscle twitched in his jaw, like a failed attempt at a smile.

He was spectacular. Spectacularly frightening. Sort of like her grandfather, Kim reflected.

“Good afternoon,” he said crisply, raising incredibly long, white fingertips to the brim of his hat. “Ma’am, Miss.”

English, Kim thought, or something like it. The ‘r’ was missing from ‘afternoon’, and ‘ma’am’ lengthened into ‘maahm’.

“Afternoon,” said Kim’s mom. Her fingers dug painfully into Kim’s upper arm and squeezed, pushing her toward the house.

Kim stumbled a step away and stopped. Her mother nudged her again, and she pushed back in irritation.

“Hi,” Kim said brightly. “I’m Kim, and this is my mom, Cindy. We just moved in while you were away.”

“Cynthia Reed,” her mom clarified. She gave Kim another discreet prod.

The man nodded, staring hard at Cynthia. “Daniel Leland,” he replied. “It’s a pleasure.” His sharp gaze traveled to Kim. “I think your mother wants you to go inside, Miss. It is usually best to do as your mother wants.”

Kim felt Cynthia stiffen beside her.

Daniel Leland’s thin lips twitched into an expression a little too sardonic to be called a smile. He locked his car and strode up the sidewalk to his front door, disappearing inside.

Cynthia seized the last remaining grocery bags, shut the trunk, herded her daughter inside, and locked the door.

“Holy beans, Mom,” Kim griped. “What the heck was that? I’m supposed to be polite, but you get to be a complete jerk to that man?”

Cynthia pressed her flat palm to the door and whispered a single word. Kim could feel the power that surged through the house’s walls, its windows, its roof, down into the foundation and the surrounding soil. It felt like caulk, something that was meant to stop up holes.

“That’s not a man,” Cynthia muttered. “Our neighbor is a vampire.”

 

Expect The Mage out some time in 2016. In the mean time, you can start the series with The MediumIt’s still only 99¢ for Kindle.

Here it is! The Medium is out!

A little bit behind schedule, but I prefer to think of it as fashionably late.

The Medium is now available digitally from Amazon (and that link will take you to the page for whatever Amazon region you’re in), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Paperback soon to come. (And if you live in the US, go check out the Goodreads page, because there will be a giveaway for two signed paperbacks posted there at some point over the next couple of days.)

Links, blurb, and an excerpt can be found on the book page at the Books of Lost Knowledge site.

In the mean time, In the Shadow of the Mountains is on sale for $0.99 for the month of December. Purchase links can be found on the book page. As always, reviews are appreciated. (And it may take a little while for the discounts to show up; Amazon and B&N both take a while to think about any changes made.)

Go forth and read things!

EDIT: And for those interested, the giveaway is now live.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Medium by M.R. Graham

The Medium

by M.R. Graham

Giveaway ends January 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Suddenly crafty

I have suddenly and unexpectedly become crafty again. It had been almost a year since I last did anything particularly creative – other than writing, of course. Now, all of a sudden, I’m making things again, and it feels great.

I picked up some double-point needles and am putting together a pair of half-finger gloves in this deliciously soft lavender-ice woolly lace yarn. I grieve, because the rest of my knittery is still in storage, or I wouldn’t have bought another set of double-points.

I also dug up the belt sander and the circular saw and my collection of cheapo woodworking tools, and I’m making stakes. Yep, stakes. The plan is to have a bunch of them to sell at Aggiecon next year, assuming I can grab myself a table. The plan is also to set up an Etsy store and sell vampire-slaying kits. I had several people ask about mine this last Aggiecon, and a few expressed interest in having kits of their own.

My full kit currently includes stakes, bottles of garlic powder sealed with wax, some little crosses and larger crosses (naturally), baggies of salt and rice, and a slayer’s manual I’ve been working on for some years. The manual will probably be up for sale eventually – I started work on it before I had really fleshed out my Lost Knowledge mythology, and I’d rather have one that fits in with that.

More ideas for niftier kits are welcome, of course!

stakes

They’re incomplete, at the moment. I’m going to carve up the shaft of the third one, sand them down a bit, stain them dark, and wrap the grips with wax thread.

stakes

The one on the left is my current favorite, but it resulted in a bruised palm and a pretty big chunk out of my thumb.

stakes

The photo unfortunately doesn’t capture the color of the yarn. That’s a real shame, because it’s truly beautiful!

 

A Prescription for Delirium by Noree Cosper – Book Tour Guest Post!

prescription for delirium noree cosper blog tour van helsing organization gabby gabriella di luca

Today, I have the honor of hosting a blog tour stop for Noree Cosper, author of A Prescription for Deliriumbook one of the Van Helsing Organization Series. When it comes to research and history, Noree is just a little bit mind-boggling, and she’s kindly agreed to share some observations on Vlad Tepes, the historical Dracula.

Bram Stoker partially based his Dracula off the historical figure of Vlad Tepes. Stoker combined possible references to the historical Dracula, Slavic folklore about vampirism, and the modern vampire. It’s no wonder, considering some of the monstrous acts Vlad Tepes committed. His name, after all, means Vlad the Impaler. So, who was he?

To us vampire fans, he is the ultimate fiend, the trendsetter. To the Romanian people, he is a folk hero who fought against the Turks and their oppression.  To other, he was a tyrant.

Vlad Tepes was born sometime in 1430 to Vlad Dracul of the Order of the Dragon, a Christian brotherhood dedicated to fighting the Turks. He was claimant to the throne of Wallachia, part of Romanian located south of the Transylvanian Alps. That’s right, though he was born in Transylvania, he actually was prince of another region. When he was just a child, his father entered a truce with the Turks and had Vlad and Radu, one of his other sons, remain with the sultan as part of the pact. This had a major impact on Vlad. While he took the time to learn the Turkish language and customs, his treatment caused a deep cynicism and Machiavellian outlook. It drove him to seek revenge from anyone who wronged him.

His first act of revenge was after his father and one of his brothers were killed with the help of the ruling families of Wallachia. After fight and regaining his throne, he arrested the nobles of Wallachia and impaled the older members outside of his castle. This was the first incident and why he was named Vlad the Impaler. He forced those who were still fit to build his new outpost overlooking the Anges River.

Tales about his cruelty spread, though his reign (off and on) was very short. Impaling wasn’t his only method. He also employed torture, mutilation, and burning alive. No one was safe, but a majority of his victims came from nobles and merchants of Transylvania and Wallachia. These atrocities were Vlad’s attempt to enforce his own moral code on his country. In his eyes, these were murderers, thieves, and those who preyed upon Wallachia. There is one tale where he invited the disabled, poor, and vagabonds to a great feast. He asked if they preferred this to not working and they said yes. So, he locked them in the building and burned it down. He said that Romania should not suffer those who didn’t do their part and now they were no longer poor or hungry.

Vlad continued to fight the Turks until his death at the hands of an assassin in December, 1476. For this, the Romanian people loved him. However, his actions sparked one of the most famous monsters of all time. I think we like to create creatures like vampires to hide the fact that humans can be the most monstrous of all.

She also risked life and limb to interview Marge Devereaux, a very angry demon hunter with some serious issues and some serious skills. More about Marge can be found in A Prescription for Delirium.

Thank you for joining us today, Marge.

*Marge shrugs* Whatever. Gabby promised to pay me to be here. Let’s get this over with so I can get paid.

Where did you grow up?

In New Orleans, the Garden District.

What was your family life like?

On the surface, we were the perfect family. Rich, influential, respected. It was all a fucking lie of course. Before you open your mouth, I’m not getting deeper into it. You’re not my shrink. I don’t need to tell you anything.

In A Prescription for Delirium you like to use a lot of kicks. Can you tell us a little about your fighting style?

I know a little of other styles but I mostly focus on Taekwondo. It’s Korean martial art that emphasizes mostly on kicks and punches, pretty much why it’s called the way of the foot and the fist. I started learning it when I was thirteen and did some runs through some underground tournaments until I started hunting demons.

How long have you been hunting demons?

About two years.

How did you get started?

Well, I there’s this demon I need to find. At first I went to the psychic for help, but she was a useless fake. So, instead I found A Vodoun priestess who helped get me started.

Do you have any friends at all?

Why the fuck would I need friends? They’re just a liability, demon fodder, or they’ll to betray you later on. I have contacts that are useful a good distance away.

What is it that you think you offer to Gabby and the Van Helsings?

I’m willing to do what makes them sick to their stomach. I get answers.

Are you religious?

Nope.

Why not? You know demons exist.

Where is God in this world? Buddha? All is see is a shitty place full of pain and suffering.

Do you have any regrets?

That I exist. *crosses her arms* That I never got to deal with my father on my own terms.

A Prescription for Delirium is avalaible from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Smashwords.

Ninety years ago, Gabriella di Luca promised to protect the family of her dying lover. She failed to keep that promise.  She was too far away to stop the devil that murdered the eldest Van Helsing son. Years later, Gabby learns the devil has resurfaced. She arrives in Hampton, TX, determined to stop the devil before it can lay a bloody hand on the remaining three brothers.

However, madness is spreading through Hampton. She suspects the devil is using this madness to test a drug which has a side effect of demonic possession.  Gabby rushes to end the source of the madness only to fall victim to it. For a woman cursed with eternal life, dying is no threat. However, Gabby must stop the devil’s plot or risk losing her most precious possession: her mind.

Fantasy is not serious literature.

Apparently.

The conversation went something like this:

“Oh, you’re a writer? What do you write?”

“Lots of stuff. I’ve been writing poetry for a while, and I’ve recently published two volumes of a fantasy series. There are several more coming. I’m also half-working on a piece of literary fiction that touches on women’s issues of the first half of the 20th century. It’s somewhat based on Pygmalion, but with a dark twist.”

“Oh, I see. Pumping out the fluff while you work on some serious writing, huh?”

 

Of course, those weren’t the exact words. Or actually, they might have been. It’s hard to hear well when smoke is pouring out of your ears. I swear, if I could reach through a computer screen and flick a moron on the forehead, I would have. Fantasy is not serious writing. Fantasy is fluff. This story I’ve been working on for eight years, in which I have invested countless hours of research and revision, stress and tears, is somehow less serious than my unresearched side project that may or may not ever see completion.

Bollocks.

Literature – all literature – is a vehicle for meaning. That meaning is not lessened by its setting any more than an actor’s skill is diminished by the transition from the big screen to cable. If there is a strong message, deeply considered and skillfully presented, why the hell should it matter that the message is couched in terms of magic? Fantasy is a medium of symbols. The threshold, hospitality, duty, deception, faith… Symbols within words, which are themselves symbols, the most self-conscious of literary genres.

No one calls the Arthur legends “fluff” because they lack the grit of modernity. No one suggests that Mordred’s betrayal could have cut deeper if he hadn’t had the help of spells and trickery. Those stories mean something. They have stayed with us, not because they are light fare anyone can consume, but  because they are deep with layers of meaning, with lessons, and with parallels that continue to touch us. If your wife cheats on you with your best friend, that hurts, and it doesn’t matter she does it clad in samite or cutoff shorts. If the emotion is real, and the reader feels it, the literature is pretty damn serious.

I know that some fantasy writers do write fluff and intend their work to be consumed only as fluff, as something to entertain. I’m good with that. I put entertainment pretty high on my own list of priorities, because I want people to enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. I also want people to hate reading them as much as I hated writing them, to know these characters like I do, and to hate me for some of the stuff I put them through. I want these stories to make people feel, yes. But I am, at heart, an academic, and I also want these stories to make people think. If I did my job right, everyone will get something concrete out of my books, and everyone will get something different.

And truly, I don’t even mind if people don’t like them. I knew when I decided to write fantasy that I was writing to a niche market, or at least to a market that popular media and culture has been trying to keep in its niche, despite its best attempts at escape. I know that fantasy doesn’t float everyone’s boat. But anyone who gets hung up on vampire fangs and wizard circles and calls it “fluff” based solely on those characteristics does not know how to read.

I didn’t put any less symbol or meaning or allegory into my Books of Lost Knowledge than into my unnamed, half-outlined litfic piece. They are not less serious because they are fantasy, or because I chose to touch on a wide range of issues rather than focusing on one. I did not put less of myself into them. I did not incorporate less of my experience of reality. I did not hold back on pain, or love, or rage, or peace.

My fantasy is serious freaking business.

Proof: A Short Tale of the Undead

Just a wee little thing, available exclusively for Kindle,(Now a functional link) for the time being. It’s not actually a part of my Lost Knowledge series, but does take place in the same ‘verse.

Proof CoverThe day Connor cornered me in the library, I thought he was cracked. The day he covered my walls with crosses and filled my apartment with garlic, I thought he was psychotic. The day he killed someone on the floor in my living room, I had no choice but to believe. This is my last confession, the story of the years we spent hunting Them and the mistakes we made. This is my memorial to the people we lost. This is my realization of the importance of Proof.

They have been lurking in the shadows for untold years, waiting for the chance to burst free. Only the ragged few, held together by the charismatic Connor, have seen the signs and dare to stand up against Them, the undead. In this battle, no one leaves unscathed.

Also on Goodreads.

Proof: A Short Tale of the Undead

In the Shadow of the Mountains – Most Excellent.

Shadow of the Mountains ebookGoodness, so… After eight years in the works, something like five massive rewrites, countless shouted arguments with my computer monitor, endless hours of roleplaying with these characters to get their personalities down straight, and no fewer than three (fortunately unsuccessful) attempts to throw in the towel, In the Shadow of the Mountains is now available on Kindle. I’m experimenting with Amazon’s Select program, so for ninety days or so, it will be available only on Kindle. (At least, as far as ebooks go. It ought to be out in print before Christmas, if nothing goes horribly wrong.)

In the twilight of the year 2003, a stranger arrives in the tiny town of Burns, Colorado. Whispers begin to fly as bodies appear, savagely mutilated, throughout the neighborhood, and the responsibility falls on two monstrously unprepared high school students to uncover the truth before the undead can destroy their hometown.

Chris Doyle is a slacker and a sci-fi geek, barely eking through his senior year of high school; Aaron Margolis is a child prodigy who could have graduated at age twelve if his parents had let him. They have never had anything in common until a woman is murdered and Aaron comes asking for Chris’s help – he is seeing Texans who cannot be real.

Then the high school’s English teacher disappears and is replaced by Daniel Leland, the sharp and reclusive newcomer, a man already convicted by public opinion. He says that he is a hunted man, and Aaron believes him, but Chris is not as sure. Doubts or no, Chris has no choice but to join up with the teacher when his best friend is kidnapped by superhuman forces, but this adventure is nothing like his comic books.

Again, these don’t have to be read in any particular order, but if you feel you must read the first book first, The Wailing is free on Amazon until midnight 5 December. That is, the midnight between 5 December and 6 December.