Revising a novel is like giving something a fresh coat of paint – you loved the original, but now it looks even better. It looks different, it looks fresh, and there’s a wonderful feeling of old/newness to it. I wrote Dark is the Night several years ago, inspired by the lack of good Christian vampire fiction. Vampires are ripe for symbolic use, and I’ve always had a deep love of the gothic – graveyards, werewolves, forbidden asylums. You get the picture. Dark is the Night was my stab at a modern Southern gothic western.
A friend once described it as what would happen if ‘Supernatural and the Vampire Diaries had a Christian baby,’ which…well, sums it up better than I ever could. It was also my first real attempt at an adult novel, and I didn’t quite make it – the characters were adults, but I, a teenager, had still written a novel that felt very YA. (Something about being a young adult at the time, or some nonsense.) Now, revising the novel after leaving it untouched for nearly two years, I find it’s incredibly easy to ‘update’ into the adult genre. The novel is still the same, but better. Updated. Like a surprisingly good remake of a fun-but-dated 80’s movie.
I was asked to post some snippets from the work in progress, as I’ve just reached roughly 52% completion on the manuscript. Disclaimer: There is plenty of serious content in this novel, but you’ll have to take my word for it because humorous snippets are just so much fun.
“I found you,” he said, opening the box and pulling out a bottle of aspirin, a handful of paper squares, and a small tube of antibacterial ointment. It took Skata a second to realize he was talking about him, and not the kit. “You were on the side of the road.”
“Do you usually stop for roadkill?” Skata asked, wincing as Cassis pulled off one of the bandages and frowned at what he saw underneath.
“Only when I’m hungry,” said Cassis lightly. He bit off one end of the paper from a square and tore it away, then put the fresh gauze patch over the gash. “I was full, but you looked pitiful.”
Skata followed Angel up the stairs. “Big place.”
The vampire grinned over his shoulder. “Thank you; it’s been in the family for generations.”
“Vampires don’t do generations.”
“I didn’t say it was my family. Don’t jump to conclusions, now.”
Skata let out a sigh of relief when they stopped at a red light in the middle of the town square. Green, carefully tended trees shaded either side of the street, and the brick buildings lining the sidewalks were like something out of an updated Mayberry reproduction.
“My driving bother you?”
Skata leaned back and attempted to look more relaxed. “Just remember that your passenger isn’t immortal.”
“There you go, making me all nostalgic for humanity. Oh, oh – nope, there it goes.”
He sped forward as the light turned green, and Skata clenched his teeth, hoping a deputy would show up and arrest the vampire for speeding.
“You don’t miss being human at all, huh?” he asked, trying to keep his mind off the vampire’s ridiculous driving.
“Pros of being a vampire,” said Angel. “Super speed, super strength, the ability to compel people to do whatever I want, and – oh! Not dying. Pros of being a human? Eh….”
“Not wanting to eat other people?” Skata suggested sarcastically.
Angel held up a finger. “Cannibals, my friend.”
“I like them better.”
“I didn’t know there was a cannibal problem in…wherever you’re from.”
“Ahhh,” said Angel, as if that explained everything.
The woman turned to Skata and held out her hand. “I’m Zoe, the best bartender this side of the Bible belt. Are you a friend of Angel’s?”
“No,” said Skata.
“Glad to hear it,” said Zoe seriously. In a loud whisper she added, “I’d stay away from him if I were you. He’s no good.”
“Slander,” Angel protested lazily. “Lies.”
Skata lifted the bottle to his lips and took a long swallow that left his throat burning and his mind clear. “Hey, do you know the Montgomery brothers?”
Angel lifted his shot glass and peered through it. “Sure do,” he said, with false cheer.
“We have special moments where one of us shows up and the other one leaves.”
When Skata came back from dropping Easton off at her house, Angel was stretched out on the couch reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
“This chick had some serious issues,” announced Angel, turning a page.
Skata pushed the book forward toward Angel’s face and scanned the back. “She killed herself.”
Skata let go of the book and Angel gave him a sideways look. “What?”
“You invited her to the party.”
“I did not,” said Angel, looking mortified. “She killed herself. Even if I invited her, odds are she wouldn’t be able to att—”
“Easton, you moron, not Sylvia Plath.”
…he saw the kitchen and moved quietly through it, into what had probably been a parlor in the eighteen hundreds.
To his surprise, it still seemed to be a parlor, furnished with antique chairs and some kind of fancy mahogany table near the center of the room.
One of the chairs was occupied by a man who gave off the aura of a black-and-white movie star, his casual suit spotless, his hair impeccable. He held a cup and saucer in one hand.
He rose to his feet as Skata entered the room, setting the cup and saucer on the table. “Good evening,” he said, as if he had been expecting a visitor. “I am Gideon Montgomery. You must be Skata.” He held out his hand.
It took Skata a moment to realize that the vampire wanted a handshake.
Refusing the handshake would probably be a bad idea, so he stepped forward and clasped it briefly before letting it go.
Gideon smiled and gestured to the other side of the small table, where a second cup and saucer sat steaming. “I took the liberty of making you a cup of tea.”
“So, Macon seems like an interesting guy.”
Easton groaned. “You woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me about my boyfriend?”
“We could always talk about something else,” said Angel, and the stuffed rabbit rubbed its chin with one stubby paw. “But I really like this Macon subject.”
“For heaven’s sake, why?”
“Because I don’t like him,” stated Angel abruptly.
“Is that supposed to affect me in some way?”
“Don’t be childish.”
He widened his startlingly blue eyes. “Me, childish? Perish the thought.”
“You’re holding a stuffed bunny,” she pointed out.
He looked down. “It’s your stuffed bunny.”
He made his way to the kitchen where he found Angel expertly flipping pancakes in a non-stick skillet.
“Look at you,” said Angel without turning around, “all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Pancake?”
“Is it poisoned?” asked Skata, sitting down on one of the barstools with a groan.
“For shame. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Poison is reserved for dinner.”
“I was hoping you could explain why exactly there were slime and teeth in the drain?”
“Slime and teeth? What color is the slime? What consistency?”
“I don’t know, it’s slime. Clearish, kinda thick, kinda drippy.”
“Okay, just don’t say ‘drippy’ again. What about the teeth?”
“Looks like three back molars.”
“What’s the ratio of slime to teeth?”
“What — seriously? A palmful of slime. Three teeth. Is this really relevant?”
“‘Oh boy’ isn’t the answer I was hoping for,” said Angel.
Angel stood up straight to prove his point and immediately wished he hadn’t. He leaned over again, pressing his palms against his knees, and groaned. “Oh – yeah.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “I’ll kill him. He’s dead. I’ll bury him just so I can vandalize his tombstone.”
“You killed an innocent woman—”
“Shhh.” The shifter pressed a finger to his lips. “You don’t want to embarrass yourself.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The shifter gave him a narrow-eyed, strangely condescending smile. “Your denial is cute, but it’ll get you exactly nowhere.”
Skata felt his pulse pounding against the side of his neck, throbbing against the rope.
“Now…” The shifter pointed in the direction he’d come, to an entrance Skata couldn’t turn far enough to see. “I have to leave. Be a good boy, Skata.”
“Go to hell.”
“Already been,” said the shifter. “Got out on good behavior.”
Colton looked over his shoulder. The roof was completely gone, a mound of junk piled in the center. “What was this place?”
“Beats me.” Angel shrugged. “Haunted house?”
“Yeah, but what was it before it was a haunted house?”