From College Professor to Vampire Slayer (or at least Vampire Writer)

FictionReboot2Welcome back to the Fiction Reboot! Today I am pleased to host Margo Bond Collins, author and blogger, who shares a rather similar trajectory with me. Once upon a time, we were both headed toward tenure-track professor careers…and now we, you know, write about vampires. Like you do. I asked Margo to join us an say a bit about this journey–and I jumped over to her blog and did the same!

About the Author

158ccae60c980a82390b6f.L._V354516721_SL290_Margo Bond Collins is the author of a number of novels, including Waking Up Dead, Fairy, Texas, and Legally Undead. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.

Welcome, Margo!

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So, how does a college English professor end up writing urban fantasy books about vampires?

That’s a question I get more than I expected when I first started this fiction-publishing journey.

Over on my own blog today, my fabulous host here is doing her own guest post. We decided to trade posts because after meeting online, we discovered that we both have Ph.D.s in eighteenth-century British literature and write about vampires.

In some ways, that similarity is perhaps unsurprising. The eighteenth century is full of vampires, starting with the great vampire debate of 1732 (see this post for more details) and continuing through a number of stories, poems, and plays—enough to fill a book, and then some!

indexMoreover, the eighteenth century saw the development of gothic literature, starting with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto—and we can trace the influence of that gothic literature pretty much through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and right up to today’s urban fantasies.

So I can certainly point to some nicely academic reasons for writing a book like Legally Undead. And as my edited collection of early vampire stories illustrates, my interest in vampires is a long-standing one.

But honestly? I wrote this book because it’s what I wanted to read.

I love urban fantasy. It’s my favorite escapist fantasy.

But when I started writing Legally Undead, there weren’t nearly enough of the kinds of vampires I wanted to read about. The thing is, I like my vampires to be brutal and bloodthirsty—as much as I enjoy the recent trend toward sexy vampires (because YUM), I think there’s a reason that we, as a culture, keep coming back to the kinds of vampires who are absolute monsters. Both kinds of vampires—those we want to devour and those who want to devour us—are the expression of the human id, that part of us that is unsocialized, that wants what it wants without thought of consequence. The hot vampires of paranormal romance allow us to fantasize about one kind of unsocialized behavior. But the murderous vampires allow us to explore even darker fantasies.

The vampires in Legally Undead don’t have a sparkle among them; they are definitely more beast than beauty—and that’s what I like best about them.

I’d love to hear from other folks, too. Tell me: What do you like best about vampires and vampire fiction?

Connect with Margo

cLegally Undead

A reluctant vampire hunter, stalking New York City as only a scorned bride can.

Elle Dupree has her life all figured out: first a wedding, then her Ph.D., then swank faculty parties where she’ll serve wine and cheese and introduce people to her husband the lawyer.

But those plans disintegrate when she walks in on a vampire draining the blood from her fiancé Greg. Horrified, she screams and runs–not away from the vampire, but toward it, brandishing a wooden letter opener.

As she slams the improvised stake into the vampire’s heart, a team of black-clad men bursts into the apartment. Turning around to face them, Elle discovers that Greg’s body is gone—and her perfect life falls apart.

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Excerpt 1:

The worst thing about vampires is that they’re dead. That whole wanting to suck your blood business runs a close second, but for sheer creepiness, it’s the dead bit that gets me every time. They’re up and walking around and talking and sucking blood, but they’re dead. And then there’s the whole terminology problem–how can you kill something that’s already dead? It’s just wrong.

I was twenty-four the first time I . . . destroyed? dispatched? . . . a vampire. That’s when I found out that all the books and movies are wrong. When you stick a wooden stake into their hearts, vampires don’t disintegrate into dust. They don’t explode. They don’t spew blood everywhere. They just look surprised, groan, and collapse into a pile of corpse. But at least they lie still then, like corpses are supposed to.

Since that first kill (I might as well use the word–there really isn’t a better one), I’ve discovered that only if you’re lucky do vampires look surprised before they groan and fall down. If you’re unlucky and miss the heart, they look angry. And then they fight.

There are the other usual ways to kill vampires, of course, but these other ways can get a bit complicated. Vampires are notoriously difficult to trick into sunlight. They have an uncanny ability to sense when there’s any sunlight within miles of them, and they’re awfully good at hiding from it. Holy water doesn’t kill them; it just distracts them for a while, and then they get that angry look again. And it takes a pretty big blade to cut off someone’s head–even an already dead someone–and carrying a great big knife around New York City, even the Bronx, is a sure way to get arrested. Nope, pointy sticks are the best way to go, all the way around.

My own pointy stick is actually more of a little knife with wood inlay on the blade–the metal makes it slide in easier. I had the knife specially made by an old Italian guy in just about the only ratty part of Westchester, north of the city. I tried to order one off the internet, but it turns out that while it’s easy to find wood-inlay handles, the blades themselves tend to be metal. Fat lot those people know.

But I wasn’t thinking any of this when I pulled the knife out of the body on the ground. I was thinking something more along the lines of “Oh, bloody hell. Not again.”

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Legally Undead Trailer:

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Buy Links

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Legally-Undead-Vampirarchy-Margo-Collins-ebook/dp/B00KKV44BK/

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/legally-undead-margo-bond-collins/1119607989?ean=2940149615803

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/legally-undead

Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Legally-Undead-Vampirarchy-Volume-1/dp/0692211497/

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Friday Fiction Feature

FictionReboot2Welcome back, ladies and gents to the Friday Fiction Feature and your usual host Tabatha! This week we continue the monster theme, so quickly grab your silver and stakes, get under the covers, and join us for some really sharp fiction!

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Starting off this week’s feature is the reason we’re so vamp’ed for the 2nd edition monster mashup:

Villagers by Brandy Schillace

Villagers (Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles #2)I know, I know, it’s bad form to toot your own horn, but Brandy isn’t writing this, Tabatha is, so I get to toot all I want! And this week we’re celebrating the release of The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles Book 2: Villagers where Brandy brings us back to Newport News and the thrilling world of love, adventure, and teenage journalism! (Also in kindle!)

It’s not easy being the only unofficial vampire at Newport News High–especially when your sister starts dating the local jock (and first-class jerk) Tony Peterson. Convinced that Tony is up to something, Jacob and his best friend Henry hatch a plan. Jake’s investigative journalism doesn’t break up Lizzy’s romance, but it does lead him to some unexpected twists. Teaming up with co-newsie Trish Cohen, Jake and Henry take on a suspicious case of bike thefts–in between trips to the hospital for more tests (and more needles).

Will Jake be able to thwart an increasingly prying medical community to keep the blood supply flowing? Will Peterson and his posse clean Jake’s clock?
More importantly, will Jake ever get a date to Homecoming?

Now that I know you’re all as excited as me for the release of the Maresbeth sequel, lets see about some vampires who are a little more certain of their monstrous status.

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks 

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake, #1)Our next contribution features a new kind of identity confusion with a heroine who desperately wonders, ‘Do I have what it takes to stay a dentist?’ before she even knows what a sharp career path that can be. And so, without further ado, I present a book with a title I just couldn’t resist repeating: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

Roman Draganesti is charming, handsome, rich…he’s also a vampire. But this vampire just lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn’t have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop-sided eater for all eternity.
Things aren’t going well for Shanna Whelan, either. After witnessing a gruesome murder, she’s next on the mob’s hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral, because she’s afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she’s found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman’s fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her?

Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson 

Keeping with the romances that really suck, Vampire Crush shows a normal world with a normal, intelligent, girl suddenly caught between the desire to uncover the mysteries of a high school full of students who want to stay after classes end, and the more baffling conundrum of cute boys.

Vampire CrushI swear, my life was always totally normal.

 Normal house, normal family, normal school. My looks are average, I don’t have any superpowers, no one’s showing up to tell me I’m a princess – you get the picture. But when my junior year started, something not normal happened. There were new kids at school . . . new kids with a wardrobe straight out of a 19th-century romance novel, and an inexplicable desire to stay at school until sundown.

And on top of that, James Hallowell showed up. James, who stole my sandwiches in fourth grade and teased me mercilessly through middle school. James, who now seems to have the power to make my heart race any time he comes near.

But something weird is going on. Because James rarely goes out during the day. And he seems stronger than your typical guy. And he knows the new kids, all of whom seem to be harboring some kind of deep secret. . .

Chibi Vampire by Yuna Kagesaki

Chibi Vampire, Vol. 01In Yuna Kagesaki’s Chibi Vampire we’ve got a vampire as confused as Jacob and with even more baffling symptoms. While Brandy’s intrepid journalist can’t decide if drinking blood makes him a vampire, this next monster knows she’s a vampire, but hasn’t quite figured out the drinking blood part.

Karin is a cute little girl who also happens to be a vampire… with a twist. Once a month, she experiences intense bleeding from her nose – we’re talking gushers! In other words, she’s a vamp with blood to spare, so rather than stealing blood from humans she actually gives her blood to them.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Another in the line of my never-ending quest of fill academia with adventure, I bring you The Historian

The HistorianTo you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history….Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of-a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known-and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula…Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions-and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad’s ancient powers-one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful-and utterly unforgettable.

Vampire by Richie Tankersley Cusick

VampireFinally I will leave you with another book whose cover just dares you to leave it behind, Vampire. With all the old staples: a haunted house, monsters, solitude that isn’t quite as solitary as you think, hunky men, and a threat which dates back to dear old Vlad, this book doesn’t miss a thing.

It’s Darcy Thomas’ summer home: the Dungeon of Horrors, owned by Jake, the gorgeous green-eyed uncle she’s just met. But the gory fun turns to terror when real bodies are found with the mark of a vampire on their throats–and Darcy is targeted as the next victim.

Summer Fiction Reboot

A strange quiet has descended. Beyond my window, a sleepy town of roughly 30,000 inhabitants blinks in bemusement. 10,000 members have gone, vanished like smoke-whisps in the night.

Is it the Rapture? Is it plague? Will we be reduced to filling mass graves with the nameless dead? Doubtful… You see, this is summer break in a college town. And it has not come a moment too soon.

After all, it’s Fiction-Feature Friday.

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It the past few months, my blog has sadly languished while I plugged away at academic articles, grading, course prep. But no more, I say! For twelve glorious weeks, I am dedicating myself to active reboot of the fiction blog, and it begins today. First, many thanks to Sick City Project and the upload of my recent pod-cast on vampires, venereal disease, and Gothic fiction (available here). Second, many thanks to friend Andrea Wood and her suggestion that I follow Lucienne Diver’s blog. From these seeds a plan has lately germinated: I intend to post every weekday on the progress of my two ongoing YA series, along with some guest pieces from other authors and agents. I hope to post the first of these this coming week–watch the twitterverse for more.

And now, the promised fiction-feature: I am adding the following books to my summer reading list–some new, some old, in no particular order (except that this is how I packed them into my vacation suitcase).

  1. Bad Blood by Lucienne Diver
  2. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
  3. The Physick Book ofDeliverance Dane by Katherine
  4. Passing Strange by Catherine Aird
  5. Bryant and May Off the Rails by Christopher Fowler
  6. Red Hot Liberty by Devin O’Branagan
  7. The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson
  8. The Great Mortality by John Kelly
  9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  10. And… one on syphilis in 1883. (Hey, I have to research some of the time…)

Check back for more this coming week, including teaser excerpts from Maresbeth Chonicles and Witchwood!