I feel like a giddy girl getting to share this find with you. From the first time I read this book, and it was even in its unrevised draft back then, I set myself to be its #1 Fan. When I selected this piece to critique, I had my doubts that I'd be able to be much help. After all, vampire stories just aren't my choice of read. I was afraid I'd judge it far too harshly. But, I went into it with the thought that I'd offer suggestions on the the mechanics. Boy, did I prove to be a fool.
This MS, and I don't think J.D. will mind me mentioning this, was 120k words. (It's now a 90k word novel). I started it on a Friday afternoon and by Saturday night, I was done. My eyelids turned into sandpaper, but I finished that thing in record time for me. I promptly emailed her and went nuts. "What? That's it?" And I proceeded to tell her everything I expected to come next, what I thought this and that would end up being, and jabbered on (albeit by text) about the characters. I love, love, love the characters!
Oh, yeah. I'm the #1 Fan of Dark Heirloom, book one of the Ema Marx series. I'm proud to introduce you to J.D. Brown.
I wish I could say I’d always wanted to be a writer, but that simply isn’t true. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always confidently answered that I wanted to be a veterinarian. My mission in life was to be the provocative voice of the animal kingdom. There was even a time when I thought I’d live in Africa like Jane Goodall.
But high school and hormones have a way of changing a child’s dream and what followed was a string of disjoined college classes and even rockier stream of dead-end jobs, until about four years ago when the office I was working at closed down due to economic problems. I was laid off and facing unemployment at the beginning of this economic crises. Trying to find a new job was suddenly a giant pain in the butt.
With very little money, I couldn’t even afford to leave the house much. But I had a laptop and abundance of “me” time and I got this crazy idea that maybe I could write a book.
I admit, I’d had the idea before, but I always quickly dismissed it. I hated writing essays and term papers in school so I didn’t think I’d enjoy writing a book. I’d never taken a writing a creative writing class before, I knew absolutely nothing about the craft or the process. And besides, weren’t authors like really smart? Didn’t they major in English Literature? The last thing I wanted to do was brave college again.
But I thought, hey, it’s not like anyone is going to read this. I’m just passing time before I lose my mind.
So laptop and I went back into my room and one thing lead to another. Next thing I know, I’m head over heels in love with writing fiction and laptop and I had our first beautiful bundle of joy titled Dark Heirloom. I suddenly knew in my heart that I wanted to be a published author. It just felt right. So I took as many workshops as I could to hone my craft and learn about the publishing business. It wasn’t easy. It took me three years to whip Dark Heirloom into something worthy of being published, but somehow, laptop and I managed to pull through and I haven’t looked back since.
I’m still pretty shocked that I made it this far. The odd thing is my family and friends don’t seem all that surprised. They say things like, “Well, you were always reading. You had more books than toys, growing up.”
Huh. Couldn’t they have told me sooner that writing would be my calling?
In Dark Heirloom the readers live vivaciously through Ema Marx, a young woman who is turned into a vampire by Chapter Two. I can only think of one other character in the story that is human and that person plays a very minor role. The rest of the cast and the story itself are entirely of the paranormal caravan.
I knew right from the beginning that I wanted my readers to get up close and personal with my vampire characters and experience the culture of an underground society first hand – as if they were an exchange student in a foreign land.
Because Ema is newly turned, she still clings to human habits, keeping the reader comfortable with relatable – and witty – main character...
My reflection haunted me as I stood with my forehead pressed against the mirror in the bathroom. I couldn’t feel the glass. My brain told me it should’ve been cold and hard, but all my skin felt was pressure.
I looked like a zombie. My tan had disappeared, replaced by liquid white, my skin a numb rubbery latex. My teeth fanged like an animal’s. My eyes…
Two days ago, my eyes were bright brown. Now they were the darkest shade of black, like onyx beads. The irises blended into freakishly wide pupils. Little specks of scarlet glittered in tiny splashes around the irises. Shuddering, I stepped away from the mirror.
I couldn’t believe it. One thing was for sure; they weren’t human. Humans couldn’t fly or walk through walls. Humans couldn’t hear or smell things from miles away with precise accuracy. They couldn’t see distinct detail or vivid color in the dark of night.
Aliens, ghosts, monsters…it didn’t matter what name they chose. The fact remained the same; they were convinced I was one of them now.
“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?
Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.
The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…
In the following scene, Ema is helping a female vampire named Leena cast a spell to open the gates to the underworld. As you’ll notice, Leena ends up doing most of the work…
“Why are we in the dungeon?”
“It is easier to open the gate to the underworld when you are technically already underground.” She spoke matter-of-factly as she laid Jalmari’s paralyzed body on the floor in the center of the dungeon. She pulled out the tiny red candles from the knapsack and placed them in a perfect circle around Jalmari’s body.
“Don’t just stand there.” She tossed a lighter at me. “We only have a few hours before the nightshade wears off.”
I started lighting candles. “Won’t a few hours be long enough?”
“How should I know? I’ve never been to the underworld before, have you?”
I rolled my eyes and ignored her sarcasm.
She unpacked more things from the knapsack and set them down near Jalmari’s feet. “Here, put this on.” She tossed a bright cherry-colored shawl at me. I hadn’t seen a shawl since the last time I saw my grandmother. I frowned at the ugly thing. “What for?”
“You have to wear red to enter the underworld.” She produced a sporty red jacket for herself, looking much more hip than I did with my granny shawl.
Leena took the small pot of red and yellow face paint and smeared some across her cheeks and forehead. She held the pot out and motioned for me to do the same. “For the same reason as the shawl,” she explained.
After I smeared the paint across my face, she handed me a red apple. “Hold this. Guard it with your life. We will need it in the underworld, unless you want this entire effort to be a failure.”
I swallowed and hugged the apple to my chest.
She took out the skein of wool and tied one end securely around Jalmari’s ankle. She put the rest of the wool down and opened her spell book. I watched in silence, in doubt, in disbelief, in a million other pessimistic ways, as Leena chanted words in a language I never heard before.
She moved her arms through the air in a rhythmical way as she danced around Jalmari and the candles. Her hips swayed slowly arching her back as her torso rolled in fluid, drawn-out motions. She looked very graceful and sure of herself.
Then, her pace quickened. She chanted faster. The movements became wild and rigid. She slashed at the air. She jumped and whooped and made all sorts of screeching sounds. Coal-black hair puffed in frizzes about her triangular face and her eyes glowed like green fire. Her lips moved quickly as she chanted faster and faster until her ringing voice became a sharp buzz of consonants and vowels.
I clung to the apple. I clung to the apple good.
Dark Heirloom is available through MuseItUpPublishing.com.
And you can connect with J.D. Brown at her website, http://AuthorJDBrown.com, or around the web:
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Until next time, may your dreams be magical.
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Charlene A. Wilson is an author of paranormal suspenseful tales that take you to other dimensions. She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue into multi-layered story lines to immerse you into the lives of her characters.