Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vampires Revisited

Liz Jasper is my guest to-day. The cover on the left is the cover for her print version of UNDERDEAD. Scary stuff!

Questions for Liz Jasper

I chose to interview Liz hoping she would convince me to love reading about vampires who live for hundreds of years in a strange underworld before emerging into the present time. I mean what is attractive about male and female vampires who suck blood, hide from the sun and have dreadful teeth.

Over to Liz Jasper

Your prize winning mystery, UNDERDEAD, made me sit up and take notice about vampires. You followed that success with UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL. Vampire myths have been around in various forms for centuries. What is their enduring appeal?

Well certainly not the looks. The Dracula in Bram Stoker's classic novel was a shriveled hairy thing. Thankfully, liberties have been taken with that aspect of the story over time. These days we like our vampires hot and sexy. I should be clear here that I don't write erotic novels. Or dark ones. Though my main vampire character, Will, IS very attractive, as are all the other members we meet of his Undead clan. It makes sense, doesn't it, that current vampires looking to add a new vampire to the group, would pick someone they liked looking at, since they're going to be looking at them a long, long time.

Which sort of answers your question (finally). I think part of the appeal is that a vampire who chooses to turn you undead, is essentially choosing to be with you forever. There's also a hurdle to overcome for the person who is becoming undead. Assuming it's their choice to become a vampire (which in today's vampire books it often is, especially in romances), they are in effect choosing to give up their life to be with vampire. It's a pretty big step and can be very heady stuff.

Having said that, while that issue is implicit in the romantic subplot of my mysteries (or my heroine would have been with him by chapter three of the first book, I mean who's kidding whom? He's hot.), what I find interesting about vampires is that we know they're not real. I mean, if someone bit you on the neck, you wouldn't think, "Oh no! Vampire!" You'd think "Freak taking the Goth thing a leeettle too seriously."

In most vampire books, the second the vampire comes on scene, we shift into the vampire world. In the Underdead books, my protagonist Jo Gartner stays in her world, as a (new and struggling) middle school science teacher, and has to deal with the fact she's turning into a vampire in that context. How does she explain to people what's going on? When she can't tell them and she's not sure she believes it herself? If she wasn't a strong person and didn't have a sense of humor, she'd go nuts.

Before writing UNDERDEAD, did you do extensive research?

No. Unless you count watching lots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Yes, I admit it here.) I wanted to be able to have Jo respond in the way anyone would, which meant I didn't want to bog down with too much vampire lore. Having said that, I have done some research or I wouldn't have Will's back story in the back of my mind to draw from.

What about the myth appealed to you sufficiently to write two books featuring a wickedly handsome vampire and a delightful human heroine? Do you plan to continue the series?

I find it fascinating to throw a myth shrouded in darkness and romance into the bright light of daily life. That's where the humor comes in. I mean, how do you explain to your mother why you have a garlic necklace on? And what do you do when she tells you to take the darned thing off, when you know what might be lurking around the next corner? I have books three and four plotted out, so yes, I'll continue the series. Jo's dilemma between the two men in her life (Will, the vampire who is her perfect match if only he weren't undead, and Gavin, the hunky vampire-slaying detective who represents the normalcy which is all she really wanted but now can't have either) gets more complicated and more fraught with tension.

Your writing style, Liz. Are you a plotter or a "pantser?" Plotters are organized. Pantsers are disorganized. Plots are like straitjackets to them. Where do you fit?

I vascillate between the two extremes. I don't know how anyone can write a mystery with out plotting out a lot of stuff, though I know some do, and do it very well. But I can't write without knowing where I'm going.

Blurb for Underdead

Science teacher Jo Gartner thinks teaching geology to hormonal pre-teens is deadly... until she is bitten by an inept vampire and becomes UNDERDEAD--all the problems of being a vampire, none of the perks.

When she finds a body on her classroom floor with teeth marks in his neck, she must figure out "whodunit" before her Underdead secret gets out.
But she's running out of time. The detective in charge of the case is dogging her every move, her vampire traits are evolving in new and embarrassing ways, and someone wants Jo dead...the traditional way!

Blurb for Underdead in Denial

Gorgeous, enigmatic vampire Will is back and almost undead Jo Gartner is more determined than ever to avoid all things vampire and maintain a normal life. And what's more normal than doing community service to help a lovesick friend? But getting dressed up in a Halloween costume for a haunted house fundraiser is not what Jo had in mind. Especially when one of the extras turns up dead

You have convinced me to have a second look at vampires and their stories. Thanks for joining me on Hallowe'en when the witches, goblins and vampires are abroad. And for readers interested in something completely different, check my web site, to learn more about me and what I write. Not vampires!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking a Dream, Part II

Dream time again. I explained "breaking a dream" on my last blog. It has happened again. I'm dreaming a lot lately and last night I dreamed I was in a house. I went outside. Two men walked towards me from the double garage. They were talking and paid no attention to me. A young man came out of the house. I seemed to know him. He walked to the side of the garage and re-appeared carrying an empty cardboard box.

At that point I think my husband poked me because I was snoring or snorting (not true, of course. Ladies do not snore or snort Do they?)

I forgot about the dream. I drove into the parking lot of the market where I shop and there was a young man carrying a cardboard box right in front of my eyes. All very strange and very interesting. I don't know the young man but he was dressed like the man in my dream.

Next item. On my first "breaking a dream" blog I wrote about dreaming of a horse and the following morning opened our morning paper and the first picture I saw was a horse. It's all in my previous blog. Breaking a dream is supposed to bring good luck. A horse is a powerful symbol in a dream, says my author friend, Teri. Within days I heard from All Romance E-Books that Isabelle's Diary to be featured in their January RT was randomly drawn to have a review in Romantic Times. I am thrilled to bits. All is in order. I hope to see the review in the February issue of RT.

Thanks for dropping by,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Breaking a Dream

When I lived in Wales my Welsh mother-in-law did not attempt to interpret dreams I told her about. She said; "If you break a dream, it means you will have good luck." Breaking a dream is to have a follow-up experience that links to your dream.

Last night I dreamed I was with a group of people and for reasons I can't recall, I had to ride a horse. I have NEVER ridden a horse but it was imperative I do so. The horse was mostly brown with some black. I got into the saddle and grasped the reins. The horse knew I was a rank amateur and attempted to balk. I managed to control him and off we went. I was very nervous about handling the big animal. I had to get on an elevator with the horse, which I did. When I got off I was in a big space walled with shiny aluminum. Then I wakened up.

I picked up The Globe and Mail this morning and opened it. The first picture on page three was taken at the famous Vienna Riding School where for the first time in over one hundred years women are being trained to ride the white Lapazziner stallions. The picture was a young woman preparing to dismount from one of the stallions. A trainer held a lead rope.

Will this be my lucky day? What might happen? My book, A Very Difficult Man, will be released in print! It is scheduled for October/November.
I hope the Dream Maker is hard at work on my behalf.

Thanks for coming by. Do you dream? In colour? Black and White? Have you ever heard about "breaking a dream?"


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Queen Victoria and Dr. John Snow

Dr. Snow was one of the first physicians to study and calculate dosages for the use of ether and also chloroform as surgical anaesthesia. He personally administered chloroform to Queen Victoria when she gave birth to the last two of her nine children.

Thanks to Her Majesty having an anaesthetic during the births, she set the stage for other women to request pain relief during child birth. We have come a long way since the nineteenth century and have much to be thankful for.

And that brings me to another subject linked to A Very Difficult Man. BRIDE SHIPS. But that's for another day when I link a scene in my book to the voyages of the Bride Ships to Victoria, Canada, in the mid nineteenth century.

I'll post a short excerpt about my heroine, Catherine Thurston and why she was studying shipping notices at the London docks. Her beautiful gypsy friend, Riena Stanley, had already embarked on a bride ship but Riena had no intention of becoming a bride when she disembarked in Victoria. But that's another story.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Cholera and Dr. John Snow - London, England. 1854/55

Catherine Thurston, my heroine in A Very Difficult Man, is determined to keep her unfortunate position as a companion to Lord Glenmore. But he is just as determined to get rid of Catherine.

What is she to do after he threw one book at her and a second that thudded against the door as she escaped from the monster? Catherine opened the door a crack and sat outside in the hallway to converse with him about current events. You can find this scene in the e-book format of my book on page ten.

"There is cholera in London," she ventured. The year is 1855

At the time, 1855, Catherine was unaware of the detective work of Dr. John Snow who did not agree with popular opinion that cholera was caused from breathing foul air. The year is 1854. Germ theory was not widely accepted at the time but Dr. Snow believe cholera was a water borne illness and set out to prove it. A cluster of cases in and around the Soho area confirmed his suspician. People were drawing their water from a Broad Street well. Dr. Snow drew a map illustrating how cases of cholera were centered in the area around the pump.

Further investigation showed the well had been dug only three feet from an old cesspit that had begun to leak fecal material. He persuaded the local council to remove the pump handle and cholera cases in the area dwindled and eventually ceased. But the River Thames was also polluted with sewage and a source of cholera.

So how did Catherine get on with the monster? He dismissed her news-of-the-day comments and ordered her to talk about herself which she refused. Want to read more? My book is available at Click on historical romance. Click on my cover and off you go to the check out. I know there's a shortcut to make the ordering easy. I have to learn the trick so you can enjoy the story of Catherine and Lord Glenmore


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ding, dong ... The witch isn't dead!

Before getting serious about creating a buzz for my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man, I decided to give you this lovely piece of information about a Norwegian witch. I was looking through a notebook yesterday and a little clipping from a newspaper fell out. I may be treading on someone's copyright toes and hope he/she will forgive me. Here is the story.

Ding, dong ...
Lena Searbninga, a 33-year old Norwegian witch, has received a 53,000 kroner ($9,800) grant from the Industrial and Regional Development Fund to make and sell magic potions door to door. "I'll travel to customers' homes," she told The Associated Press. "This is what I always wanted to do." Her specialty elixirs include night creams for vivid dream, a day cream to combat indecisiveness and a foot cream to change a user's bad habits. A government official said her business plan was "pretty reasonable and well thought out."

I'd love to have Lena come knocking at my door but she's in Norway and I'm in Canada. When we lived in Wales gypsies used to come knocking at our door selling trinkets and clothes pins (to hang out laundry) I was afraid not to buy a few clothes pins in case the gypsy but a hex on me.

Check out my next blog. I'll be back in London, circa 1854/55 connecting my book with events in London at that time.