I think one of the fun and frustrating parts of being a writer is that the idea you start out with is often not the story you end up with (or is that just me?). BLOOD WITCH is a prime example.
This novella started out as a way to keep myself occupied during my Christmas break last year, and turned into a labour of love. It's also turned out to be a bit of an exquisite corpse, in the sense that it's a patchwork of ideas and characters from other projects I started and abandoned in the past. Some facts:
1. The opening scene is an adaptation of something I scribbled in a notepad before work one morning. A witch (then called Lilah) was being interviewed by the police. At that point I had no idea why and I never wrote any more. I did steal that opening and turn Lilah into Lola for BLOOD WITCH.
2. The start of chapter two, where Lola visits her ex-girlfriend, Rowan, started life as an urban fantasy parody I was writing to amuse myself. It was supposed to be part of a really OTT cliched UF story, but I ended up taking it too seriously (as I am prone to do) and decided to make it part of BLOOD WITCH.
3. One of the side characters, Caleb, was originally a secondary character in a paranormal romance I was writing a few years back. I got about 20k in before realising I didn't really know what I was doing, but I liked Caleb and decided to work him in somewhere else.
BLOOD WITCH has come a long way from my initial idea of a short story about a witch falsely accused of murder. That core idea is still a big part of the story, but the world has grown beyond my plans and I now see this as the start of a series instead of a stand-alone mini project. I'm so glad my original plan changed so much because now I get to explore and share a whole new bunch of ideas and characters with you!
There was probably never a good time to have the police knock on your door, Lola reflected. But three am on a September morning was definitely one of the worst. The fog outside seeped into the house with the stone-faced detectives, and the brisk chill of the night sank into Lola's bones. She'd only been home a couple of hours; only just stripped off and gone to bed. Now, huddled in her ancient rocking chair by the embers of a dying fire, she didn't feel as exhausted as she should. She felt like someone had stuck a live wire up her ass.
“I know this can't be good news,” she addressed the female detective, who introduced herself simply as 'Hardy.' “So you'd better just get on with it.”
Hardy, a brunette who did look exhausted, raised an eyebrow. “What makes you so sure it's not good news, Miss Guntram?”
Lola tried a smile. “Do the cops ever show up after midnight with good news?”
Her partner, Scherer, looked fresher. He sat on the edge of his seat like he might spring up any second, but he smiled back. It wasn't an entirely happy expression. “You caught us out, Miss Guntram. This isn't a social call.”
“Then don't drag it out,” Lola said. His nervous energy was infectious.
They exchanged a knowing look. “Where were you between ten and midnight tonight?” he asked.
The blunt question created a knot of dread in her stomach and she had to swallow hard before she answering. “Working. I was with a client. Why?”
Hardy fixed cold blue eyes on her. It was a searching look, penetrating. If Lola didn't know better, she'd wonder if the detective was trying to probe her psychically. But both detectives felt like nulls to her sharp senses. “Can you prove that?” she asked.
Irritation mixed with the dread. “Yes, of course. I have a diary in my office and you can call the client – although she probably isn't going to be any happier to hear from you than I am. What's this about?”
Scherer couldn't quite manage Hardy's gimlet gaze, but his half-smile had disappeared. “What exactly is your job, Miss Guntram?”
Lola shifted in the rocking chair, wishing she could cover herself with the blanket she sat on. But it would make her look vulnerable and she had a distinct feeling that wouldn't do her any favors. She settled for tightening the belt on her robe and pushing her shoulders back. Three years of childhood ballet lessons had taught her that good posture always created a good impression.
“I'm a spiritual consultant. I help clients with difficult decisions, life choices, with emotional and psychological problems.” That was an edited, socially-acceptable answer. Lola wasn't about to get into witchcraft and spellcasting. She rubbed her wrists absently, glad her robe had long sleeves that hid the scars on her arms.
Scherer sneered at her answer, making her doubly glad she'd given the short version. “So you're a New Age guru or something? Separating the gullible from their money?”
“Scherer,” Hardy said, “let's not get distracted.”
“Yes, I'd love it if we could stay on track,” Lola snapped. “Maybe we can start with you telling me what this is about? It's late, I'm tired, I have an early start -”
“Why does 'spiritual consulting' take place so late at night?” Hardy asked. “That strikes me as odd, Miss Guntram.”
The sound of her own surname was starting to grate on Lola. “It's a new moon tonight. Very good for certain practices.” Were they ever going to get to the fucking point? She couldn't think of a single thing she'd done that would bring them to her door, and it felt like she'd never find out at this rate.
“So if we checked with your client, they would confirm you were nowhere near the Red Lotus tonight?” Hardy asked.
Lola blinked. “The Red Lotus? No, of course not. Why would I be there?” The idea was so laughable, she almost forgot her nerves and irritation for a second. The Red Lotus was a pretty exclusive S&M club – members only, sky-high fees, that kind of thing. It was also owned and managed by Lola's ex-girlfriend. Even if she'd been into the kink that the Red Lotus offered, Lola could never have gone there. It would have been mortifying. She felt herself blushing at the very thought.
“Well, you tell us, Miss Guntram.” Hardy leaned forward again, resting her elbows on her knees and clasping her hands under her chin. The movement put her face in shadow, with the room only lit by a soft peachy lamp, and Lola was struck by the thought that Hardy would be beautiful if she didn't look so tense and tired. “You see, a woman was found dead there tonight.”
Lola's heart jumped, then plummeted. “A woman? Not Rowan?” Her voice squeaked and she covered her mouth as if she could recover the sound.
“Ms Morgan is fine,” Scherer said. Lola felt some of her dread drain away.
“She is the reason we're here, however,” Hardy said. “She seems quite sure you're responsible for the killing, you see.”
Naomi likes writing, perfume, fancy tea, and unfathomable monsters from the dark spaces between the stars, not necessarily in that order. She has been writing stories ever since she learned how to write, but is still trying to master the art of biography writing. When she's not dealing with werewolves, demons, or sea monsters, she's hanging out with her cat and probably watching a documentary about Bigfoot. If the cat isn't available, she's with her fiancé watching cookery shows and silently plotting her next book.
Welcome to The Purple Dee. Pull up a chair and get settled in, the show will start soon!
Our featured performer tonight is Jack the Stripper. He's Jack Severn, newly back from the dead. He's magical, he's hot, but evil he's not!
Jim Ling-Li, Necromancer extraordinaire, brought him back to life, gave him some extra features, and, as you'll see, made him irresistible --
Especially to Jack's ex-girlfriend Brianna. Jack's sexier than ever, and they're better together. But she doesn't want to risk her heart, not again, and definitely not with a zombie.
Jack also has a mission. He's back to catch the Heart Taker, the mutant that's been terrifying human and undead alike. His current obsession's none other than Jack's Brianna.
So give a big hand for Jack...he's going to need all the support he can get to catch his own murderer.
*Jack the Stripper was originally published by Loose Id as "Zombie Jack". It has been re-edited and re-issued by Evernight Publishing.
Now available at Evernight Publishing!
His arm fell off again. The first time it happened, he’d been holding a heavy suitcase. A woman noticed and let out a terrified scream. He looked down. The suitcase lay on the ground, his hand still gripping it.
“Ahhhh!” he screamed too. Suddenly everyone in the bus station was either screaming or running. Panicked, he grabbed his arm, first having to pry his fingers off the suitcase, and fled.
With the bus station far behind him, he slowed down and tried to take stock of his situation. He was lost. His arm had fallen off. Well, it could be worse. At least he hadn’t lost it. He took his shirt halfway off and popped his arm back into its socket—getting it backwards the first time.
It was so bizarre. His arm was like part of a toy that popped in and out of its socket. A strange, magnetic, magical effect held it together. At least he didn’t feel anything and it wasn’t too gross once you got used to seeing bare bone and muscle. No blood. No pain. No suitcase—he’d left it in the bus station. No clean clothes. A raindrop landed on his nose. Then the sky opened up and let down a deluge. Great.
Hunching his shoulders against the rain, he hurried down the street, letting his instinct guide him. A sort of whispered tingle ran through his body, urging him this way and that. It was the same sort of tingling pull that made him go to the bus station. It had led him this far—he might as well follow it to see where he’d end up. The mysterious force coursing through his body tugged him along, and then spun him around and pushed him into a dark, narrow alleyway.
He looked around. At one end of the alley was a dumpster. At the other end was the quiet street where he’d arrived. He knew where he was. Things were starting to fall into place.
He waited a few minutes, but no one had followed him. He sighed, and went to the green door. He tried the handle, but it was locked, and when he pulled it, his arm fell off again.
Depression and dismay rolled over him. He bent down, picked up his arm, and put it back in place. Nothing was going right. He kept hoping he’d wake up from the nightmare he found himself in, but it wasn’t happening. He was dead, and he had no place to go except here. Timidly, he rapped on the green door. No one answered, so he knocked harder, and then, when the door remained shut, he made a fist and pounded with all his might.
After a few moments it opened and a man with long blond hair down to his waist peered out at him. The man rubbed bloodshot blue eyes, yawned, and then said, “You’re too early for the audition. It won’t be for another couple hours.” With that, he shut the door in Jack’s face.
Audition? Jack blinked, backed up, and looked more carefully at the green door. Taped to the door was a sign. “Auditions. All day Sunday.”
He rapped on the door again, and the blond man opened it. He looked cross. “Look man, it says starting at 2 p.m.”
“It says all day Sunday,” said Jack. “Is today Sunday?”
“Of course.” The blond man looked perplexed. “All day Sunday? Let me see that.” He stepped out and examined the sign. “Right.” He looked at Jack. “Wait a minute.” He went inside. A minute later he was back with a felt-tipped pen. Carefully, he blacked out the “All day” and wrote, “Starting at 2 p.m.”. Putting the top back on the pen he nodded. “Better.”
“Could I wait inside?” Jack asked. “It’s raining.”
The blond man had been about to shut the door. He scratched his head then shrugged. “All right. You can wait in the lounge. Follow me.”
Gratefully, Jack entered the building where he was pretty sure he’d been killed.