Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vampires: Guest Blog with Kathy Bryson

I’ve been a huge fan of vampires from the days I first saw them in old black and white movies babysitting as a teenager. This usually comes as a surprise to people who don’t know me well. I admit I come off as a bit of a Pollyanna because I don’t like stories that are just dark and violent. They’re too depressing. I prefer a tale where people win out over their problems and find happiness.

Which actually explains why I like vampire stories. There’s always this element of triumph whether it’s Jonathan Harker defeating Dracula or Louis holding his own against Lestat. And as time progressed and vampires became heroes, I rooted for the vampires as well, first for Team Bill and then Team Eric!

I love the larger-than-life battles where the hero conquers evil and reaffirms the basic humaneness of life. Vampire stories, at their core, are very encouraging. Life continues. Okay, I’m also an incurable romantic. But really, there’s a lot more to a vampire story than just the thrill of getting your neck nibbled by a handsome, mysterious stranger! Though that’s not a bad thing either.

Case in point – my first book, Feeling Lucky, was inspired by Kathy Love’s Fangs, But No Fangs. She wrote about a vampire who’s trying to regain his humanity and, in one hysterically funny scene, gets his butt pinched by an older lady. Talk about getting in touch with your human side! I laughed, but thought, “That’s a little unfair. Older ladies can appreciate a good-looking man too!” And then it occurred to me that while vampires might be sexy, what you really need is a leprechaun because they have money!

So in Feeling Lucky, Megan O’Malley give in to drunken temptation, pinches a cute guy’s ass at her cousin’s wedding, and ends up with an angry leprechaun camped out on her sofa. And no, leprechauns are not little, green men. According to Irish etymology, leprechaun means ‘sons of Lugh’ or the Celtic god of commerce and war. Leprechauns are actually closer to Marines, doing whatever it takes to preserve their gold.

My latest book, Restless Spirits, shares the same background in fairy folklore though it can be read independently. Again, I’m exploring the same question of how to persevere in the middle of despair and darkness. Marilee is literally surrounded by death in a haunted B&B, but life, in all its quirky humor, persists. Ghosts haunt, Elvis doesn’t speak, and love triumphs always!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about leprechauns on a mission and innkeepers with a take-no-prisoners attitude. They’re just the beginning of the epic battle brewing between the King and Queen of the Fairies. Shakespeare may have brought a long-standing feud to light in 1590-something with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it’s heating up in the modern-day Midwest. What? You thought the Queen would just get over that joke about falling in love with a donkey? As a romance novelist, I’ve gotta say there’s not much hope of reconciliation there. Vampires might be the good alternative!

About the Book –

Marilee Harper is desperate to find another job after she accidentally set fire to the home of the richest woman in town. Converting an old hospital into a B&B seems like a golden opportunity. But fixtures turn themselves off and on, and old baseballs fly without help. Stressed and aggravated, Marilee wants nothing more than to redeem herself, even if it means hands off her sympathetic boss!

John Smith has every confidence in the bossy, strong woman he hired. She handled difficult customers at the bank and now she’s handling electricity and plumbing and whatever unseen force keeps throwing baseballs. Who can blame him if he starts to admire the woman in more than strictly professional terms? But when the angry, treacherous King of the Fairies shows up, can Marilee become his champion?

Book trailer for Restless Spirits -

Excerpt –

Waiting nervously in the hallway was the last of our college visitors. This lady, if I remembered correctly, worked for the National Transportation Safety Board and had something to do with the grant we didn’t get for the new road. She’d stayed later than the others because she had to coordinate flights out of the county seat back to the capital. She’d also said something about enjoying a vacation, but now, she seemed more bothered than relaxed.

“Are you okay?” I booted up the microcomputer and started compiling her final bill. I probably should have led up to the question more gently, no sense in inviting complaints, but the woman was clearly disturbed. She was dressed in a somber suit that only emphasized her pallor. What makeup she’d managed to apply stood out in stark slashes of color across her face and her hair looked like it was in open rebellion against the clasp she’d used.

“No, no, I’m fine.” She glanced nervously around the hall. “I just need to get to the airport.”

“Well, it’s probably a good idea to get there early all things considered.” I craned my head to see through the parlor windows. “It’s coming down pretty heavily. Is your flight still scheduled?”

“Oh yes, I’ll just . . . I’m sure I can get a room at the airport if I have to.” The woman’s hands shook visibly as she took the credit slip I handed her.

I held out a pen. “Is there a problem with your room? ‘Cause you’re welcome to stay here, you know. We’ve got books and videos, and I think Elvis is making chili for supper.” That actually sounded a little lame, but the woman seemed to appreciate it.

“No, no, thank you, but I need to go.” She handed me back the signed slip with a hesitant smile and bent to pick up her bag. When someone knocked on the door, she jumped nearly a mile.

Thumbs cocked an eyebrow at her as he passed by from the parlor and opened the front door. Still watching the jittery woman, he pushed the door open wide. The porch was empty.
“Close the door, Thumbs. You’re letting the rain in.” I sounded more irritated than was probably reasonable, but we’d been cooped up all morning, and I could see water splashing into the hall as I spoke. Then a shadow darted across the door and as I watched, one of the battered balls from the porch rolled across the entry.

The nervous woman made an odd choking sound, somewhere between a squeak and a gasp. “I can’t stay.” She looked at me almost pleadingly. “All the knocking and things moving. The lights and the faucets and everything. I can’t take it.”

“Well, of course not,” I told her. “And you shouldn’t have to. I told you, outside!” And I pointed a fierce finger at the presumptuous baseball.

The ball wavered a moment, rolling back and forth, then, picking up speed, it rolled swiftly inside, darting into the parlor as Thumbs lunged for it. I could hear cries of “What the . . .?” and “Hey!” but my attention was riveted to the front door as dozens of other balls followed the first daring sphere.

The nervous woman’s gasp became a high-pitched whistle and she went a funny shade of pale, white with red splotches across her cheeks. Grabbing her bag, she ran down the hall, directly into the path of a pitch that came winging through the open door at eye level.

Without thinking, I stepped out and snagged the ball before it connected. The woman ducked underneath my outstretched arm and ran screaming out into the rain.

“That’s it! That’s it! That’s it!” I shook the ball I caught in the air, dimly aware of my stinging palm. “If I see one more ball inside this house or airborne without a real person responsible, I am dumping the whole lot of you in the gorge! Now get out and stay out!” I threw the ball back out into the yard and the rain.

 There was a moment of complete silence. Even the rain seemed to have frozen still. Then I took a deep breath and turned back around. Everyone in the house stood open-mouthed in either the doorway of the parlor or the dining room, staring at me. I straightened up and automatically pushed my hair back. “Trog, please follow that woman and see that she gets to the airport safely. One of you boys can go with him.”

Robert and Thumbs eyed each other, then me, and both reached for their jackets.

“Or both of you can go.” Clearly I had overdone the scary, in-charge thing. “John, maybe you can help me pick up the balls.”

John swallowed hard, then glanced over his shoulder into the parlor. His face twisted in a wry grimace. “There aren’t any balls in the parlor.”

“What?” I couldn’t believe it. I know what I’d seen. I’d saved that poor woman from getting brained. Sports paraphernalia had invaded us, so there should have been balls all over that beat-up Persian carpet.

“It’s okay.” Taking me by the elbow, John steered me into the dining room. “I saw them, too. I guess you just scared them back.”

“Well, they cannot go around hitting guests. I don’t care it if is raining.”

“Well, that’s no reason to screech, Marilee,” Mom sniffed.

John drew a chair up beside me and took my hand in his, rubbing it gently. Mr. Jennings very courteously pulled out a chair for Mom as well. Judging from Mom’s pursed lips and puckered eyebrows, she had more that she wanted to say, but I ignored her. Right or not, I wanted John’s reassurance more than anything else and I didn’t care who saw me holding my boss’s hand.

About the Author –

Kathy Bryson knew she wanted to be a writer when she finished reading through her school and local children’s libraries. She spent 20 years honing her writing skills on marketing brochures, websites, and several unfinished manuscripts before going into teaching and finishing a book with all the stuff she enjoys most – from coffee to love to Shakespeare! Kathy lives in Florida where she caters to the whims of two spoiled cats and wonders what possessed her to put in 75 feet of flower beds.

Her first book, Feeling Lucky, won the 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for Best First Book.

You can follow her on:


Roxanne Rhoads said...

These books sound so amazing.

I have them ready to if I can just find the time...

Kathy Bryson said...

Thanks, Roxanne, for having me on today! Always a pleasure to discuss vampires - almost as much fun as reading them!