Today, please welcome my long-time friend and fellow mystery author Kerry Schafer – who also writes fantasy (if you haven’t read her fabulous Books of the Between, you should) and her debut women’s fiction novel CLOSER HOME (written as Kerry Anne King) releases in March.
Kerry is here to celebrate next week’s release of her new paranormal mystery DEAD BEFORE DYING (Diversion Books), which I read (and adored, and blurbed, and STRONGLY recommend to anyone who likes mystery novels with an edgy sense of humor).
I asked Kerry to share the interesting story about the inspiration for DEAD BEFORE DYING–and happily, she agreed:
Dead Before Dying: A Twitter-Spawned Tale
by Kerry Schafer
If you hang out on Twitter, you know it’s a procrastination destination. You may also have noticed that it’s like a shopping mall for ideas, except that a mall is crowded and annoying and you have to pay for things. The Twitterverse is free and liberally strewn with ideas up for grabs.
Sometimes, one of those Twitter-spawned ideas takes on a life of its own.
Dead Before Dying is a prime example. One fine day, back in the spring of 2010, I was hanging out on Twitter with some writer friends. We were engaged in some sort of conversation about vampires. For the record, at that time I was not a vampire fan. I had watched nary a vampire movie nor read a vampire book. Not Dracula. Not Twilight. God help me, I had never even watched an episode of Buffy.
But somehow, for some unremembered reason, I suggested I should write a geriatric vampire novel.
I wasn’t talking the sparkly-two-hundred-years-old-but-looks-eighteen sort of vampire. What I had in mind was a genuinely aged vampire. A poor old bastard already old at the time of his turning. This vampire isn’t happy about his unlife. He’s got arthritic knees. He has no teeth. And he wants, more than anything, to die.
When I threw this image out there, I was joking, but the idea wanted to live. Writer friend Linda Grimes (author of the fabulous Ciel Halligan series) egged me on. Still all in fun, I sat down and wrote the opening scene for her.
I’ve tried to search out the tweets from that particular conversation, but if what happened five years ago is still on the internet (and I’m sure it is) it’s buried deeper than I have patience to dig. I do still have that email and that very first appearance of Gerry Vermeer, as he came to be called. Here’s a snippet:
Her pulse was a fragile thing, fluttering beneath the transparent skin, and he made the bite as delicate as he could. Just deep enough to puncture the jugular vein, without tearing the skin. It had taken a lot of practice to get this down; the dentures lacked the sensitivity of living teeth and made it difficult to gauge different textures.
He got at least part of it right: the blood spurted hot and salty onto his tongue. He swallowed, already stronger, feeling the bloodlust take over and still reminding himself to go easy, easy, to not take more than he needed.
She woke, her startled cry little more than a whisper in his ear, and struggled against him. Her strength was no match for his. He pressed her shoulders down against the bed with his hands, continued to drink the blood that flowed from her to him. After the initial cry, she did not try to scream. Little gasps of breath fanned his cheek and neck. Pleasure, he told himself. Women love the vampire, no matter how they may pretend to fight against him.
And then her chest stuttered as it rose, her breath rasped and rattled beneath his lips. One fierce throb of her pulse, one more spurt of blood, and then nothing but a trickle. No more pulse. No more breath.
He’d killed another one.”
I sent what I’d written off to Linda.
She said I should write more.
By now, the joke was on me. The old vamp had his fangs firmly into my imagination and wouldn’t let me forget. But I was busy marketing Between, and when it sold I had plenty to do keeping up with my contract, so it took five years for me to take old Gerry from that first idea to the completed version of Dead Before Dying.
A lot changed in the writing. For one thing, it’s no longer Gerry’s book. The lead is firmly in the capable hands of Maureen Keslyn, a well-seasoned paranormal investigator who rivals Buffy Summers in her dedication to putting evil paranormals out of commission. Gerry is relegated to a secondary role. The genre ended up being a weird combination of paranormal mystery-thriller with cozy overtones.
As for me, I’ll always have a soft spot for Gerry Vermeer, may he someday rest in peace.
Kerry Schafer writes fantasy with its teeth sunk into reality, mystery that delves into the paranormal, and women’s fiction that embraces the dark and twisty realms of humanity. She is the author of the fantasy trilogy The Books of the Between (Penguin/Ace Books) The Dreams Wars novellas, and the paranormal mystery Dead Before Dying. Closer Home, her first women’s fiction title, will be released by Lake Union Press in March 2016 under the pen name Kerry Anne King. Kerry lives in Colville, Washington, with her Viking, three cats, and a dog, in a little house surrounded by trees. She spends her days working as an RN in a family practice clinic, spinning her tales early in the mornings before work, assisted by liberal amounts of coffee.
DEAD BEFORE DYING is available in paperback and ebook formats, in bookstores and online. Click here to find out more, or to find the book at a location near you!