Guest post by Casey Wyatt
Hi, everyone. Thank you ParaYourNormal for hosting me today.
If you’re a geek girl, ahem, women like me, then you know we are living in a Golden Age. At long last, popular culture has embraced things that are different, strange, and outside of the norm in television and movies. Super heroes, time travelers, space ships, magicians, and all manner of paranormal and mystical beasts can be found.
Those of us who are readers have a leg up since the paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy genres have been around for a lot longer. Think Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and Bram Stoker. Yeah, things that go bump in the night have been fashionable for a long time now.
One of the great things about so much openness to all things mystical and otherwise is that there is no shortage of ways to twist tropes and bend genres. My first published paranormal romance novel, Mystic Ink, takes gods and goddesses from myth and legend and deposits them in present day Mystic, CT (a real place).
While that was fun to do (and the two other books that followed), I received a gift from the imagination in Cherry Cordial, a vampire stripper forced to flee to Mars. The seeds for what is now Dead Girls Don’t Cry were planted by that single idea.
Initially, I balked, thinking, “Who is going to want to read this book?”
Vampires on Mars? Come on.
But then I thought who better to live on an essentially dead planet? Undead creatures would love the place. But it wouldn’t be all hearts and flowers for them. They’d need a way to eat. And of course, the different races would have to learn to get along. Then there was that bad thing Cherry was accused of – namely assassinating the Queen of Vampires. Good times, right?
I committed to the idea and wrote the book faster than any book I’ve ever written to date. And then a bit of real world panic set back in. The one all writers faces regardless of how the book is published.
What shelf does it belong on?
Meaning, I couldn’t answer that all important question – what genre was it?
Urban Fantasy? The story is in first person and the heroine is a vampire.
Paranormal Romance? There is a love story and hot, steamy love scenes.
Sci- Fi? The book takes place mostly on Mars or on a spaceship.
What makes a book land on which shelf? Argh!
Some hair pulling ensued. Then I asked my fellow writers. Some came down on the side of paranormal romance because of the vampires. Others said science fiction because of the setting. And of course, there was the urban fantasy camp because of the way the story was told.
So, not helpful.
Back to the drawing board I went.
This time, I thought about the other two books in the series: Dead Girls Don’t Sing and Dead Girls Don’t Lose. Cherry is still my intrepid heroine. She still manages to find trouble. And, no, she wasn’t going to find a new hero and ‘happily ever after’ in each book.
I scratched paranormal romance off the list. Science fiction quickly followed because given the tones and themes of her stories, she didn’t land in the science fiction camp or the sci-fi romance camp for the aforementioned reasons.
That left urban fantasy or what some call contemporary fantasy. Until Amazon, libraries, and other retailers make contemporary fantasy an actual category when uploading a book, my choice was clear – urban fantasy.
I’m okay with that.
Dead Girls Don’t Sing’s first draft is near completion at the time I’m writing this. And in hindsight, I’m okay with my paranormal/sci-fi/urban fantasy mashup. Genres and tastes change over time so I think as long as the story is fun and captures readers’ attentions, geek women of the future will always find something good to read.
What does everyone else think? Is genre just a stepping stone? And do you ever wander off your favorite path? Comments and questions are most appreciated!
Dead Girls Don’t Cry
The Undead Space Initiative
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: August 18, 2016
Number of pages: 410
Word Count: 83,000
Cover Artist: Kim Killion, Inc.
Cherry Cordial, vampire stripper extraordinaire, spectacularly messes up her life with a single act of kindness. How could she have known when she rescued gorgeous rogue Ian McDevitt that she would be implicated in the vampire queen’s murder?
Soon, she faces the wrath of the entire vampire community. To escape retribution, she joins a settlement program to colonize Mars. Her choices are grim: hurtle through space to the red planet to face the unknown and possible death, or stay on Earth and face certain annihilation.
To make things even more complicated, a certain gorgeous rogue seems to be shadowing her every move…
Suddenly, I wasn’t the biggest, baddest thing on the block.
They always traveled in packs. Enough of them could take me down. Revenants were cousins to vampires, undead beings with too much spirit. Essentially ghosts with physical reality.
I picked up the pace, steering toward the middle of the street and well away from dark corners. If I had a heart rate, it would have been pounding. My blood was rare and prized. One sip and the revenants would keep me alive to serve as a drink dispenser.
I fished through my bag. Where was my cell? Jonathan would come. Provided I could find the damn phone.
Meaty thwacks rang out in the alley as I passed by.
Do not look.
A soft oomph, followed by a clipped English accent, “Try that again, bastards.”
A lone and gorgeous male vampire had been captured. Three revenants had him pinned against the wall. Two held his arms and one pinned his legs. Three more surrounded him like a pack of knife-wielding hyenas.
The vampire snarled. Long fangs bared, presumably pissed off at his capture. With his sculptured physique, he could handle the situation. Right?
None of the baddies had noticed me yet. I could leave.
Another punch landed, connecting with the vamp’s mouth. The crack echoed in the alley. Liquid splattered, followed by cruel laughter.
The vampire hottie spat, his lip broken. Blood trickled down his jaw, seeping into the stark white collar of his button down shirt. “Think twice before you cut me, mate. I’ll smash all of your fucking heads in.”
“Shut up, meat.”
One added, “I’m so scared,” before swinging his knife and tearing a gash in the vampire’s chest. The pack laughed. A revenant approached the vampire with IV bags.
Crap-a-roni, now I had to get involved. They planned to bleed him out. That’s what revenants did. They took a vampire’s blood and drained him or her dry. The blood was then sold to the highest revenant bidder. They believed our blood could remove the excess spirit from their bodies, returning them to their true vampire form.
Problem is—it’s a myth. There’s no way for a revenant to become a vampire, any more than I could become a zebra if I wanted to. These guys were zealots. Deranged lunatics.
“This is your last warning, blokes,” Mr. Sexy English accent said. I tried not to shiver at the sound of his rich voice. Heady whiffs of his sweet scented blood drifted my way. Like a fine wine, the smell promised a delicious and satisfying taste. Saliva pooled in my mouth. My fangs dug into my bottom lip.
“Well lookee here!”
Damn. I should have run when I had the chance. The pack turned in my direction, their faces eager for more blood. I cringed under the gaze of the hollow-eyed, pale-skinned nightmares who all wanted a piece of me.
The nearest one licked his gray, rubbery lips. “Yum. Dessert.”
I was too stupid to live. Why didn’t I run? My feet were frozen to the spot. I did the lamest, girliest thing possible. I swung my purse. And connected. A solid hit to the nuts.
The revenant shrieked, clutching his junk. “Bitch!”
The male vampire bucked, tossing the revenant off his left arm. Partially free, he ripped the arm off the other revenant before the thing could even react. With balled fists, Mr. Hottie crushed the skull of the captor holding his feet.
“Don’t stand there like a daft pony!” the vampire scolded. He snapped the neck of the nearest revenant, then motioned. “Get out of my way!”
“What? Without my help, you’d still be trapped against a wall!” I ducked and stepped aside, narrowly avoiding the gray-lipped revenant who had thought I was dessert.
“The rubbish bin would be more help than you!” Mr. English silenced two more revenants with brutal, neck-twisting efficiency.
“Oh really?” What a prick.
The revenant recovered from the nut bash and charged me again. His fingertips knocked off my ball cap. I kicked him in the stomach, grabbed the garbage barrel and slammed it over the revenant’s head as he honed in on me. The plastic bin wouldn’t kill the thing, but he couldn’t see either.
“Pathetic,” the vampire said.
Mr. English and I watched as the last revenant bounced against a brick wall before falling over, his legs scissoring.
“Time for this one to bugger off as well.” Mr. English yanked off the barrel and snuffed out the revenant with a bone-shattering blow to its head.
One by one the corpses disintegrated into dusty husks. A breeze blew through the alley and scattered the remains. Gray vaporous clouds floated around before dissipating into the air. To a passerby, the revenants’ final passage would look like dirty car exhaust.
“Well, I’m off then. Have good evening.” He brushed dirt off his tailored trousers. “Sod it, they scuffed my shoes. And this shirt is ruined.”
“Yeah. What a tragedy. You’re lucky. You could have been a revenant Slurpee.”
He sniffed at the suggestion. “I was never in any real danger.”
“You could have fooled me,” I retrieved my ball cap from the grimy sidewalk.
A late afternoon sunbeam penetrated the alley, illuminating the vampire’s blue-green eyes and highlighting the fine bone structure of his face. I tried not to gawk.
I gathered my tangled hair and mashed it under the hat. “Looks to me like they had you pinned against the ropes.” Did I mention he was gorgeous? Like a cover model. An underwear cover model. I cleared my throat. He was a total stranger, and while I bet he looked divine in only underwear, I needed to stop ogling him.
When he stared at me and didn’t reply, I lamely added, “You know? Down for the count.”
“I understood the reference, luv,” he said in his damn fine accent.
A man-shaped shadow shifted from across the street, forming a dark blot in the alley’s entrance. We weren’t alone.
About the Author:
Casey Wyatt grew up in a mid-size Connecticut town where nothing exciting ever happened. To stem the boredom, she spent plenty of time reading fantasy and sci-fi novels and imagining her own adventures in her head. Not much has changed since she’s grown up, only now she shares those made up stories with her readers and earns a coin or two.