First I’d like to thank Mychael for allowing me to be guest host today. It’s a genuine pleasure to be here.
I’d originally planned to talk about a western I’d been working on for the past five years. Home Before Sundown is a historical western that takes place during the Civil War era, and it turned out to be one of those stories that refused to cooperate, no matter how often I reworked it. Finally, in October of last year (that would be 2016, kiddies), a minor character began talking, proving he wasn’t so very minor after all. I finally finished it on February 1st, but it will be a few days before I can submit it to my publisher, so…
What I have decided to do is talk about the two vampire books I’ve had published. (There’s a short in the works that ties in with both books, Wishing and Hoping, but that won’t be out until Halloween.) The books were written for short story submissions, one for a Facebook group and the other for a publisher. Y’know what’s interesting? Aside from two out of two short stories turning into novels, which was why I had to write the third short? Both the group and the publisher requested the vampires not be your typical Bram Stoker vamps.
Okay, so I rubbed my hands together and got cracking.
The first book, which wound up being published by Dreamspinner, was They Come By Night. (enter cover here) The premise for this one was that after the Black Plague, the human population was so depleted, vampyrs had no choice but to survive on the blood of livestock. However, they still needed occasional infusions of not merely human blood, but sabor blood. Sabors where not quite human, and because their blood contained an element that kept vampyrs healthy, they were valued by the vampyr community. This community consisted of two types of vampyr: those who were actually born, something that made them royalty, and normals who’d been turned and only got to feed from a sabor by permission of the rege, the vampyr king. They Come By Night is about Tyrell Small, a sabor who is remarkable even among those who are seen as extraordinary, and Adam Dasani, the vampyr he considers his. The unusual thing about Adam drinking from Ty is that it’s an almost sexual experience, and Ty invariably passes out each time from a powerful orgasm. This is a good thing, since in order to keep their blood potent, sabors must remain virgin, and at least they have that. This is a long book, running a little under 148k, and it covers Ty’s adventures with not only the vampyrs who come to feed from him, but with werewolves, day watchers—those who guard vampyrs during the day (because they aren’t that different!)—gypsy fortune tellers, and even Înger Păzitors, the dogs bred to guard sabors.
And the normals of his world have no clue they share the planet with these beings.
The Black Swan, the second book, only runs about 43k. It was published by JMS Books and also has its own take on vampyres. In this story, Gabe Granger is turned during the American Revolution. He’s a spy for General Washington, and once he’s turned, he feels he has no recourse but to walk into the sun. (In both books this bit of vampire lore remains the same.) However, he’s got a staunch friend and lover in Remember Littlebury, who stands by his side and becomes his black swan, the being who lets Gabe feed from him when necessary and who protects him, much like the day watchers in They Come By Night. They travel through the decades, (thanks to judicious ingestion of Gabe’s blood) and continue to gather intelligence for various administrations and during numerous wars. And while Gabe loses Remember during the Civil War, there are other black swans, descendants of them both, who are willing to take Remember’s place, although none of them last as long as Remember—that thing about needing to break eggs to make an omelette, especially during wartime. By the time the Vietnam War ends, Gabe has lost another black swan, and he decides he’s had enough and resigns. The thing is, vampyres don’t do well without their black swans, and Gabe just can’t seem to find a replacement. He even goes to the extent of signing up with the Golden Circle Matchmaking Agency, which pairs vampyres with black swans. When Gabe finally finds Noah Poynter, he thinks he’s discovered the perfect black swan, only to realize Noah is refusing him. Or is he?
If you give these two books a try, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.
Oh, and be on the lookout for Wishing and Hoping come October 31.
Excerpt from The Black Swan:
Remember had been right, Gabe mused. There were wars without number, conflicts aplenty, and a need for a man like Remember and a being like him.
Occasionally they would travel to England or France to see if they could discover what those governments planned for the fledgling country. And when Gabe had some spare time while there, he searched for the Englishman and the Frenchwoman who’d had a hand in making a vampyre of him.
Remember managed to learn the French vampyre hadn’t survived the French Revolution, and that gave him a mean sense of satisfaction. As for the Englishman, Gabe had had no luck finding him as yet.
But as his friend reminded him, they had all the time in the world, and they would return.
Sure enough, another assignment took them back to England once again. American sailors were being impressed into the British Navy, and Gabe and Remember had been tasked with the duty of learning how the British planned to react to the accusations.
“It’s not good, Gabriel,” Remember said. “Many still don’t see us as a free nation.”
“No, but we’ve done what we can.” As usual, in their spare moments they’d tried to discover the whereabouts of the damned English vampyre who’d had a hand in Gabe’s turning, but again to no avail. “It’s too late to return home just now.”
“Shall we see a play until it’s time for us to go?” While working under President Washington in New York City, they’d come to appreciate the theater.
“Let’s. I understand there’s a very fine production of Henry VI, Part 2 at the Lyceum.”
They purchased their tickets and found a box from which to enjoy the machinations of British nobility—something they assured each other would never occur in their beloved country.
The play ended, and they strolled out into the thick fog of the chill London evening, speaking of what they had just seen.
And then, as fate would have it, they walked right into the “damned English vampyre.” Gabe was able to tell—the taste of the vampyre’s blood was in his mouth as if it were that night.
“Well, well, well. Who have we here?” The English vampyre didn’t appear to pay any attention to him. “Shall we dine?” His gaze was fastened on Remember, and there was a gloating note to his voice.
Gabe could feel his eyes glow red. This vampyre might be older, which might make him more powerful—although on the other hand, it might not—but that was Gabe’s black swan he was taunting. Before the vampyre knew what was happening, Gabe blurred the area surrounding them and attacked him. He drove his fist into the vampyre’s chest and tore out his heart. For a moment, the vampyre stared at him, horrified. His lips parted, as if he would speak, but in the end, all he could do was collapse into a heap of dust and ash in the gutter.
Gabe took out a handkerchief and wiped the blood off his hands. He nodded in satisfaction.
Just then a street sweeper came by, and oblivious to them, he swept away the English vampyre’s remains, mingling it with mud and manure.
“No!” Out of the heavy fog, a young woman launched herself at him, a silver knife in her hand. Fortunately, Remember grabbed her hand before she could sink the knife into Gabe’s heart.
“She’s his black swan,” Remember told him.
“That explains how she saw us. Christ. What do we do with her?”
She had collapsed and was weeping hysterically. Remember scooped her up into his arms. “We can’t leave her here, that’s for certain.”
“Well, we can’t take her to our hotel.”
“No,” Remember agreed. “We’d be thrown out on our ear.” He looked down at his feet. “Get her handbag, would you? Maybe something in there can tell us who she belongs to.”
“I belong to myself, you bastard,” she hissed, and too late Gabe realized she’d been playing them false. She twisted around and sank her teeth into Remember’s shoulder.
“Ow! Little witch!”
Gabe knew Remember wouldn’t do anything to a woman, but he had no qualms. He pulled her out of Remember’s hold, gripped her by her neck, and squeezed. Oh, not enough pressure to kill her, but enough to render her unconscious.
Remember stooped and retrieved her handbag and pulled open the drawstrings. “All that’s in here is a handkerchief, a pocket watch, and a train ticket to Bicester.”
“See if the watch is engraved.” The black swan started to regain consciousness, and he gave her a shake. “Hold still.”
She bared her teeth and tried to bite him.
“Listen to me,” he snarled. “If you don’t stop, I’ll wring your neck like a chicken’s and leave you here for the Peelers to find.”
She subsided, although she continued to give him hostile looks.
“All the watch says is To my beloved daughter.”
“Not very much help.”
“No. Why don’t we just ask her where she’s from, Gabriel?”
Gabe studied the young woman. She was pretty enough when she wasn’t trying to stick a knife into his heart or bite him or Remember. Her blue black hair had spilled free of the chignon that had confined it, and her black eyes flashed with hatred. “If you tell us where you call home, we’ll return you to your people.”
“Why would I believe a Yank?”
“Mostly because you have no choice.”
She looked indecisive. “But you killed Hugh. How do I know you won’t kill me?” She worried her lower lip. “Why did you kill Hugh?”
“I was turned because of him and a bitch of a French vampyre.”
“I have no idea.”
“Hugh used to work with her. He always said he was fond of her.”
“It didn’t seem that way to me. He was annoyed when she bit me and then refused to complete the transference.”
“The act that would have made sure I lived past my first sunrise.”
She nodded. “So that’s what you Americans call it.”
“Why? What do you call it?”
She shrugged. “I’ve always heard it called the metamorphosis.”
“Well, whatever you call it, I think it was just as well it wasn’t completed, Gabriel,” Remember said. “You’re much better off with me.”
“Yes I am.”
A frown furrowed her brow. “But if it wasn’t completed, how did you survive?”
“My black swan took care of me.”
For a second the girl looked wistful, but then her scowl returned. “Was Desiree very pretty?”
“I couldn’t say. She only stayed around long enough to do the deed, and then she left.”
“You make it sound as if she took your virginity.”
“That isn’t amusing.”
Remember bit his lip, trying not to laugh.
Remember cleared his throat. “I know. Not amusing.” He tipped up the black swan’s chin so she had to meet his eyes. “What’s your name?”
“Eloise Poynter.” Her face crumpled. Gabe tightened his grip on her hands. He wasn’t falling for that again. She glared up at him. “I want to go home,” she said sullenly.
“Tell us where.”
“King’s End, Bicester.”
“That explains the train ticket,” Remember murmured.
“But not why she had one. She’s a little thing. Her vampyre would have been able to transport her quite easily.”
“I’m not little. And stop talking about me as if I’m not here.”
Gabe turned her head so she had to meet his gaze and peered into her eyes.
“What… what are you doing?”
“Nothing you need to be concerned about.” He’d got the information he needed, so he flung her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and held out his arm to Remember.
“I take it we’re traveling vampyre fashion?”
Remember looked unhappy about it, but he stepped into Gabe’s embrace.
Gabe turned his head and brushed a kiss over Remember’s mouth. “It won’t take us long. England isn’t as big as our country.”
“Can we please get going? I’m about to vomit,” Eloise said sulkily. She gave a satisfying gasp when he heaved her back over his shoulder and set her down in front of the small cottage. “How did you—”
“Next time, don’t discount what a Yank can do. Remember?”
“Why do you keep asking me if I remember?” Eloise scowled at him again—that seemed to be her favorite expression—but he had no intention of answering her.
“Aren’t we going to wait until she’s safely inside?” Remember asked.
“If we must?”
Remember tugged a lock of Gabe’s dark hair. Gabe enjoyed the feeling. He always had, and he’d missed it during the years when Remember had felt it was best if they didn’t touch. That was one thing about being turned that he found he couldn’t regret: they were free to love each other, and no one dared say nay to them.
“Hurry, girl,” he instructed Eloise.
She gave them a final glance, then raced up the path. The door wasn’t locked, and she yanked it open, got herself inside, and slammed it shut behind her.
Gabe could hear muffled complaints, then questions, then happy welcoming. He leaned against Remember. “Can we go now?”
“Yes.” Remember brushed his lips over Gabe’s.
Gabe wrapped Remember in his arms, and they returned to their hotel to pack and check out. Once that was done, they would start their journey back to America.
I never had visitors. Who the heck was on my front porch?
The knocking became more impatient. I had a doorbell—it played the first notes of the overture from Phantom of the Opera. Why hadn’t my visitor rung it?
Oh, geez, not someone peddling religion! We’d gotten holy rollers at home a few times, and nothing stopped them from trying to convert us—not Dad telling them we were Catholic and related to the pope, not me piping up we were card-carrying Wiccans—that only made them try all the harder. The only way Dad had gotten rid of them was by slamming the door in their faces.
“We need a big dog, Ty,” he’d told me when I was about eight. “One with a really big bark!”
We’d gone to the local animal shelter and picked out the puppy with the biggest paws. Dad had high hopes for that dog.
“This pup is going to be a big boy, Ty. What do you think we should name him?”
“How about Andre the Giant?” Dad was a big wrestling fan, and I’d often watched his World Wrestling Federation VHS tapes with him.
The Giant lived up to his name, not only having huge paws, but a deep, thunderous bark that scared the shit out of anyone who came to the door.
It was too bad Mina was still at the vet’s, although I was afraid the only thing her bark would cause to happen would be for my caller to fall on the floor laughing.
I sighed and went to the front of the house to see who was there.
A glance through the peephole revealed nothing. The sun had gone down a few hours ago, and there was no moon.
I flipped on the switch for the porch light, and in spite of me knowing someone had to be there, I jumped when it revealed a man standing there. I knew, although I didn’t know how I knew—maybe it was a sabor thing: he was a vampyr. And he was gorgeous.
My dick began to harden. It remembered as well as I did how good it had felt when Adam had fed from me. He had licked the birthmark that covered my carotid artery. Some element in his saliva had an anesthetic quality to it, and there had been no pain when his fangs had slid into my throat, just pleasure such as I’d never expected to feel, and an overpowering orgasm that led to me blacking out.
At least I had with Adam, and I saw no reason why that shouldn’t happen again with the vampyr who stood waiting on the other side of my door.
Remembering the care my first vampyr had taken with me, I had no qualms in opening the door.
“Hi!” I smiled at him. “I’m Tyrell Small.”
“I know who you are.” He was a couple of inches shorter than me, which made him about five foot seven or eight.
I continued smiling at him. For the longest time I couldn’t grow an inch over four feet, and to now be able to look most men in the eye was a pleasure I wasn’t sure I’d ever outgrow. And to look down on one….
“You should have been mine.”
“Excuse me?” I’d started to extend my hand to him, but that brought me up short.
“I should have been your first. I am Juan de Vivar.” In spite of the fact he was shorter, he peered down his nose at me, and his lips curled, revealing his fangs.
I swallowed and involuntarily stepped back. Adam had at least waited until I was comfortable with him before he’d let me see his fangs.
“Well? What are you waiting for?”
“Uh…” My smile had vanished around the time he’d told me he should have been my first, and suddenly Juan de Vivar didn’t look so gorgeous anymore.
“Are you as dense as your uncle?” he snapped.
“I can’t enter unless you invite me in.”
“Of course. I’m sorry.” I opened my mouth automatically to grant him entrance, but the invitation caught in my throat. Instead, I found myself asking, “What did you mean about my uncle?”
“He thought he could escape his destiny.” De Vivar sneered, and that really killed his looks.
“Geez, what is it with everyone and this destiny shtick? What happened to free will?”
“You’re not only as dense as your uncle, you’re as foolish!” His scowl deepened. He had a serious case of red eye going on there, and I backed away another step. It wasn’t that I was suddenly scared, precisely. It was just that….
Okay, I was scared. But you didn’t show fear in front of a wild animal, so I wasn’t going to show fear to this bozo.
“All my people know what a fool he was, to throw away what he had for the ephemeral dream of love.”
“And what did he have? A vampyr sinking his fangs into him a few times a year? Big fucking whoop. Why shouldn’t he give that up for someone who loved him?”
“You dare argue with me?” The vampyr’s teeth ground together. “Vampyrs do not fall in love with sabors!”
“Well, why not?” I was kind of surprised his fangs didn’t snap off, and then I found myself wondering: Do vampyrs have a dental plan? Do they have dentists who do root canals? “We’ve got to fall in love with you.”
“Yes, and why haven’t you?” His complexion was swarthy, but the fury in it now made it even darker. “I should have known your line would prove difficult!”
“Y’know what? Insulting my family isn’t going to get you into my house and your fangs into my throat. Adam said I didn’t have to accept you…” Maybe not in so many words, but I didn’t like this Juan de Vivar and I’d be damned if I let him sink his fangs into me. “…and I’m not going to.”
“He said what? You can’t!”
“Oh, no? Watch me!”
He howled and reached for me, and I slammed the door in his face and threw the bolt. My heart was pounding in my chest, and my erection had long since deflated. I backed away from the door.
The vampyr couldn’t enter—I’d refused him permission—but I looked around for a weapon. I didn’t have any sacred silver, but I did have a bulb of garlic in the fridge, so I ran to get it. Somehow holding it helped steady my nerves.
I wasn’t going to cower in a corner, though. I went back and held my breath, waiting to see what would happen.
It was kind of anticlimactic. There was a polite tapping on the door.
“Go away!” I yelled.
“Tyrell, open the door, please.” It wasn’t Juan de Vivar’s voice.
I tiptoed back—although why I tiptoed I had no clue. It wasn’t as if it was a surprise I was in the house—and peered through the peephole. The vampyr who stood there was as gorgeous as de Vivar had struck me at first, and even taller than Adam.
“You needn’t be afraid.” How did he know I was close enough to hear him? “I’ve sent him away.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Alexandru Mondragon.”
“Uh… okay. What do you want?”
“Open the door. I wish to speak with you.”
Cautiously I opened the door and looked around. De Vivar was gone. Or at least he wasn’t in sight.
“Okay, I’ve opened the door. But I’m not inviting you in.”
He gave me a thoughtful look, and then smiled. It was a very charming smile, and he was very handsome, but I felt no tug of desire toward him. Was that because I wasn’t ready to feed a vampyr—it had only been about four weeks since Adam was here—or because he didn’t need to feed?
“First I wish to express my regret to you for de Vivar’s behavior. He forgets this is the twenty-first century and things are different than when he was a young man.”
“When was that?” About a thousand years ago? I thought snidely.
“Are you asking how old he is? He wasn’t young when he manned the redoubts at Balaclava when the Light Brigade charged it. You do the math.”
I swallowed. That battle had been fought in 1854, a hundred and sixty years ago.
I wasn’t a big history buff, but after Dad had told me how the relationship between sabors and vampyrs came about—even though he had it wrong—I’d done some research. I’d been intrigued to learn one theory was the Black Plague had first been brought to Europe by Genoese trading ships returning from Balaclava.
“May I come in?”
“I have a headache,” I informed him. I wasn’t expecting him to laugh, but he did.
“No, I promise you, I won’t touch you.”
“All right, but just remember… I’ve got garlic!” I held up my hand with the bulb in my fist.
“I think you’ve been watching too many vampyr movies.” He continued to chuckle, waiting patiently, and this time I felt a tug of something.
“Enter freely, but just remember I reserve the right to boot you out at my own discretion.”
“As you will.” He stepped across my threshold, and I closed the door behind him and led him into the living room. He looked around. “Where is your Ȋnger Păzitor?”
“Mina? She’s at the vet’s.”
His gaze locked on mine, the expression in his eyes cold and sharp. “Why?”
“She had to get spayed.”
“And you just happened to choose today to do that?”
“No, I was actually going to wait until Thursday to call Dr. Ingram. I have no classes on Thursday and Friday,” I explained.
“Why didn’t you?”
“Her office called yesterday. They said they had an opening this morning and it would be a good idea to bring her in. Why?”
“This wouldn’t have happened if your Ȋnger Păzitor had been here.”
I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. “Have you seen her? What, she’d have licked him into submission?”
He wasn’t amused, and my laugh petered out. “It was highly fortuitous for Juan de Vivar that she wasn’t here when he came to call on you. It was highly fortuitous for you that I happened to be in the neighborhood when he did. Let this be a lesson to you—she is never to be away from you overnight ever again.” Flames seemed to burn in his eyes. “Have I made myself clear?”
“Ye-” I swallowed. “Yes, sir.”
“I hope you never need be protected by her, but….”
Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn’t survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.
It was with the advent of the family’s second computer – the first intimidated everyone – that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste.
While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.
A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3.
Ernest Hemingway’s words reflect Tinnean’s devotion to her craft: Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.
She can be contacted at:
Live Journal: http://tinnean.livejournal.com/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Tinnean/e/B004QS65KQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1391469662&sr=1-2-ent
Books can be found at:
JMS Books: http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=tinnean&x=25&y=10
Nazca Plains: http://thenazcaplainscorp.com/Tinnean.aspx
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tinnean?Nrpp=20&page=2
If you’d like to sample her earlier works, they can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/fl5/tinnssinns/Welcome1.html