I hope everyone had a great first-day-of-the-summer and took a moment, while having a good time, to remember that many men and women had to die to ensure us the opportunity to have a good time. Here I was a few minutes ago, prancing around in my new bathing suit ($21 and change at an outlet store in Calhoun, GA—score!), and I couldn’t do that if Muslim extremists took over our country. I’d have to stay covered from head to ankles, and I’d be lucky if I could even show my face. I’d have to stay home and let my husband beat me because he’s a man and I’m worthless, except for my ability to have sons, and seeing how I can’t have children at all, I’d just be a complete waste of oxygen that some man could be breathing.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate how much freedom we really have, and how little, everyday things to us would be considered a major freedom for someone else. That, and extremists of any sort are to be abhorred. I don’t care if you’re killing in the name of Allah, Jesus, or humpback whales, anyone that kills people because their ideology says other people are not worth life, that’s extremism.
Anyways, I had a very nice weekend visiting with friends. My husband bought a new sword and got it sharpened, and we went out back and “killed” things with it. We started out with milk jugs full of water (I hacked one through on my very first swing), then moved on to several layers of cardboard box. I now have a bug for hacking things with a sword. When watermelons go on sale, we’ll be like Lee Ermey on Mail Call; die, watermelon, die!
Here I haven’t even finished polishing my first book and I’m already hard at work on another one. Of course, I already had scenes from the second book written before I finished the first one, namely because I wrote more stuff than could fit in the first book. But the story I’ve got burning in my brain (I told my husband today I have characters in my head and I have to let them out, or bad things might happen), actually has nothing to with the original plot line of my book.
Here’s the deal: the plot line of my book centers around Kalyn and Anselm. They are my two main characters. And I plan on writing three books that revolve around them. But they are not without their supporting cast. We find out in the first book that Kalyn’s mother and the vampire leader of their group had a romantic relationship before Kalyn’s mother met Kalyn’s father. I already had the idea to write a book that featured just them and shows their relationship from the beginning until the end. When my husband was finished reading my book, he said, “You know, this book is just begging for a prequel. I want to see how Isaac and Alice fell out of love.” (BTW, they didn’t really fall out of love so much as Alice found someone else to love—someone who was normal and human; she decided she wanted human.)
The other book that my husband wanted to see would feature Joshua, the Supreme Leader of all the vampires. I don’t know where Joshua came from, because I never made a concerted effort to make him any certain way; he just happened. And he’s awesome. He’s awesomeness personified. And I feel like I can brag on Joshua’s supreme awesomeness because I don’t feel like I can take credit for him, because, like I said, I don’t know where he came from. He just sprang out of my head whole and fully-formed, like Athena. But writing a book about him as a young man, and how he came to be a vampire will take a lot of work, because he was a young man when the Roman expelled the Jews from Jerusalem. I will need to do a lot of research to pull that book off. Neither the middle east nor Roman Empire are historical specialties of mine.
But the other spin-off/prequel book that I thought would be good is that of Rose. We hardly see anything of Rose in the first book. Her most noticeable qualities are that she’s very attractive, she’s always impeccably dressed, and she’s very quiet. You might ask yourself, why would I want to write a book about someone who didn’t have a star-crossed love affair, or who isn’t awesomeness personified? Well, some time ago, I came up with the back story for Rose. Like Joshua’s character, her back story just sort of appeared of its own volition. And it’s a lot more interesting than the Rose we see in the first book (we’ll see some more of her in the subsequent books, but I’ll never bring her to the forefront as much as Joshua, Ciaran or Micah, who are the highest-ranking secondary characters).
The setting is Knoxville in 1924. I’m going to have to do some research for the book—more than for the story of Isaac and Alice, which is set in the 1980’s, but much, much less than I will have to do for Joshua—but it’s not so far back in time that I can’t make a good start of it right now. We see Rose when she is fifteen. She’s a human, born into the Yaechahre. She meets James, a new vampire, still fairly young (he’s barely reached his age of majority among the vampires—25 years), who moves into their group. They have an instant attraction to one another and begin to flirt. Rose’s parents are traditional and don’t want Rose to be interested in him, so Rose and James start seeing each other on the sly. They eventually get caught and Rose is banned from seeing him again.
Furthermore, Rose’s parents ask the group’s leader to throw James out, but the leader can find no cause to throw him out. James, being a very smart man, was very careful to do nothing with Rose that was at all questionable. He attempts to make peace with her family and proposes honorable marriage, but they refuse. He gives them a couple of months, to see if they might come around to the idea, but they shut the door in his face when he attempts to talk them into it again. Finally, heartsick without seeing Rose, he slips her a proposal letter and one day, instead of going to school, she goes with him to Georgia and gets married (Rose now being 17 years old).
I haven’t quite figured out if Rose ever becomes reconciled with her parents—they sure weren’t happy when she came home married. But life happens for a little while, and then she and James decide to adopt a child. Life is good and then the child is killed in an accident and life is not too good. James eventually talks Rose into becoming a vampire, because he is so afraid of losing her, the way they lost their son. In 1942 or ‘43 (I will have to check my dates), they move to Oak Ridge (along with many other vampires and Yaechahre) to work on the Manhattan Project. They meet Isaac, Anselm and Micah there and become friends.
One day, however, there is an explosion (a fictional explosion, to be sure, but I can get away with tweaking history a little there, seeing how it was a secret installation and you never know what didn’t get declassified), and James is killed. Anselm, Micah and—especially—Isaac take care of her, but her spirit is broken and she’s never the same person afterwards that she was before. The bold, smiling, fun-loving person dies and Rose is, ever after, quiet and sedate. Even when we look at her sixty some-odd years later, when the trilogy takes place, we can see that she is still, in some ways, in mourning for her husband.
In some ways, these prequels/spin-offs parallel Kalyn’s journey and choices as well. Alice (Kalyn’s mother), has the love of a vampire from a young age, but rejects it for a normal life, with marriage and a kid. Rose, on the other hand, accepts the vampire, but still tries for the normal trappings of life by staying human and adopting a child (then, when that doesn’t work out, she accepts being a vampire, only to lose her husband a few years later). Of course, I think all this illustrates is what Anselm tells Kalyn in the first book, which is “life is never easy.” Whether you are human or a vampire, life contains its ups and downs, and for every glorious high, there is a corresponding low.