Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dark Heirloom: History, Mythology, Magic, Science, and Vampires

I have no problem tooting my own horn, and yet, oddly enough, I still struggle with the inevitable question: “What’s your book about?”

I hate that question. I’d rather just hand people a copy of the book. And yet, I understand it. If someone told me they were filming a movie, the first question out of my mouth would be “what’s it about?” I’d want to know if it’s something I’d be interested in too.

The problem is authors want so very badly to believe that everyone in the world WILL be interested in their book, all the while knowing deep inside that not everyone will be – and we dread the day when we’re forced to face that reality.

A prime example of this happened to me recently. Old friends of the family came over for dinner and of course Mom and Dad did their duty of bragging about their daughter, the published author. Then it came, like the shark from Jaws. I could even hear the “da-dum…da-dum…” music in my head:  “I knew she was writing, but I didn’t know she was published! What’s the book about?”

I’ll admit, one of the reasons I’m so hesitant to say my book is about vampires is because I’m fully aware of how divided the general public’s opinion of vampire novels is – remember that fear of finding out not everyone will be turned on by your book? Yeah, so I try to handle it with more fineness before people can jump to conclusions. But this time Mom beat me to the punch and blurted out “it’s about vampires!”

The friend’s immediate response was “Oh gosh, I can’t read about vampires, they’re too scary.”

Okay…this person OBVIOUSLY never read or watched Twilight…

But no matter how much I tried to explain to her that my book is not horror and NOT scary, she was already shut down and locked tight. There was no getting through to her.

I’ve also had the opposite happen, were people were quick to assume that my book isn’t scary enough – that it would be too much like Twilight. Um, no. There is some blood and gore in my book, okay? Just not enough to warrant it as a horror novel.

So then, what the heck IS Dark Heirloom about?

In a nutshell, it’s my unique spin on vampire urban fantasy with a light romance thread. But gosh, that sounds an awful lot like all the other books on the market, doesn’t it? It’s not. Honestly, every review I’ve received has commented on the uniqueness of the story and characters, but… Oh forget it, let me just give you the book:  

Excerpt from Chapter Four:

            “Ema.” I peeked at Jesu from behind my fingers. His eyes sparkled as his lips pursed in concern. “Ema, I promised my brother an answer.”
            My hands fell to my lap as I shook my head. “An answer to what?”
            “Who did this? Who bit you?”
            “I don’t understand. Jalmari did this, you know that. You said so yourself he wanted to kill me. I don’t know what made him change his mind—”
            “Jalmari brought you here because you were already changing. If not, he would have finished the job. There must have been someone else.”

Excerpt from Chapter Seven:

            Jesu scanned the room for minute, and then he faced me. “How much do you know about evolution?”
             I shrugged. “The basics, I guess. I’m a historian, not a scientist.”
            Jesu cocked a brow. “So you are familiar with ancient history?”
            A small grin tugged at the corners of my lips. I nodded. “Ancient, European, American. I majored in world history. The Baroque art in the dining hall was fascinating to see without the protection of fiber glass. Thank you for that.”
            He grinned. “So you know the stories of the nephilim?”
            “The giant sons of Cain?” I shook my head. “I’ve heard of them, but I’m not Jewish and I don’t study religion or mythology. Historians follow dates, events, and facts.”
            “What if I told you the nephilim were real at one point?”

Excerpt from Chapter Thirteen:

            “No, you promised you’d help me get home, you promised!” I shook my head, but I knew he was right. I had no control over the animal inside me. Last night I had gone after a reindeer, but what would have happened if I had found a person first? What would have happened if that man hadn’t had a gun and Jesu hadn’t been there to stop me? “Maybe not now…” my voice quivered. “But I can learn. You said I could learn. I just need practice, right?”
            Jesu shook his head. “Ema, I do not know how long—”
            “Shut up. You promised you would help me. You have to. I didn’t ask for this like you did.” I faced the entrance of the cave. I wanted to run. If not for the threatening sunlight, I would be halfway across the island. Who cares if I go blind? I stepped in the direction of the forest.
            Jesu grabbed my shoulder and forced me to face him. His embrace startled me. His thick arms wrapped tight around my back as he gently pressed me against his chest. I stood speechless in his arms. He hugged me so tight I thought I could feel his heart beating. It was all in my head, of course, I could only hear it.

Excerpt from Chapter Fifteen:

            I knew the timeless tale of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer from England whose true identity had never been found. Yet these articles claimed to have a pretty good idea of who Jack the Ripper really was. One even had a photograph of him. A black and white profile shot of the supposed killer as he was vanishing around a corner. Looking closely at the picture, I could have sworn I recognized the young man and the hint of a dagger by his side.
            Suddenly, horrid memories flashed before my eyes. I was back in the alley, thrust against the cold, brick wall. Jalmari’s silver dagger pointed straight at my heart.
            I slammed the book shut. Meaning shone through. This wasn’t just a library it was a cave of secret truths. Humans lived in ignorance of vampires and nephilim, and Jalmari wanted to keep it like that, so he hid the evidence. Nausea knotted my stomach. Everything I learned in college…everything I thought I knew about the world…was a lie.

Excerpt from Chapter Twenty-four:

            “Whoa.” I stood. “Hold on. You’re saying we can use magic to go to hell and kill Satan?”
            Leena rose. “That is correct.”
            “Are you out of your mind?”
            “I am perfectly sane.” She put her hands on her hips.
            I rolled my eyes. “You can’t be that sane if you honestly don’t see anything wrong with that plan. Magic isn’t real, the spell will never work. The only way we’re going to hell is if we kill each other.”
            Leena snorted and mumbled something that sounded like “stupid human.”
            “Excuse me?”
            She rolled her eyes. “Before mainstream religion, everyone used magic. But the dumb humans die so quickly, they forget what they’re capable of. We remember.”
            “Uh huh. Let’s say, for the sake of arguing, that the spell does work and we go to the underworld and actually find Apollyon. You really think you and I can kill a man that evil?”
            “Oh please.” Leena waved a hand. “He will be weak from being in the underworld for so long. Defeating him will be easy.”
            I grumbled. “If everything is so peachy, then why do you need my help?”
            Leena pressed her lips into a thin line. Her brows furrowed as she stared at the pink stain on the carpet. “Neither of us would make it alone. You need me for my knowledge and experience. I need you for your power and strength.”
            I almost laughed out loud. Me, strong? She must be mistaken.
            “I am not mistaken.” She stomped her foot and clenched her fists. “Please, you do not know what it’s like to lose so many people you love. Everyone around me grows old and dies so quickly. Jalmari is all I have left and—”
            “I know what it’s like,” I blurted out. “Not the growing-old-and-dying part, but the losing-someone-you-love part.” Images of my mom and Anthony flashed through my mind. I winced, knowing Leena probably saw those images too.
            The smile on her face confirmed my suspicions. “So you’ll help me?”
            I groaned. Nothing good could come from this. I should stick to my original plan and fly to Alaska.
            “Please? I am begging you. I cannot lose Jalmari. Not like this. Not without the choice being his own.”
            I hesitated. The last time Anthony and I spoke, he told me he had cheated on me. Anthony wasn’t possessed. He was just a normal guy breaking up with his normal girlfriend. He chose to be dishonest. Had it not been Anthony’s choice, had it been something vile and sick inside him, wouldn’t I have done everything in my power to help him? Of course I would. I was even willing to forgive him.
            Leena bit her lip. No doubt she had heard everything I just thought, yet she waited patiently for my answer. Something inside me shifted as I studied her. Suddenly, none of it mattered. My human life was history. I was a vampyre, and these were my friends and family now.
            I nodded at Leena. “Okay. I’ll help.”

The first ten chapters of Dark Heirloom by J.D. Brown are available for free upload on the author’s website:  http://authorjdbrown.com

~ Try it before you buy it! ~

Dark Heirloom is available for all e-readers from MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon.com, and Smashwords.com and coming soon in paperback.

About the author:  J.D. Brown graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, her writing is influenced by the multicultural urban society of her youth which she continues to visit each summer. J.D. loves paranormal characters; from vampires and werewolves, demons and angels, to witches and ghost. Her writings are often a combination of suspense and romance.

Visit J.D. Brown on Facebook!


Rosalie Skinner said...

JD, interesting excerpts. Your experience with family friends too is entertaining. Funny how people accept stereotypes so easily without being prepared to discover for themselves how your vampires are different.
Still.. these short glimpses into your characters are terrific.

J. D. Brown said...

Rosalie, thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpts. :)

I bet the stereotypes issue holds true for a lot of genres. I know I still think of LOTR when someone says fantasy. LOL.