This novel started with a one-star review. Someone who had obviously not actually read one of my stories before she reviewed it had said, “I hate first-person stories, and this is in first person, so I hate this book.” I thought, sheesh, I’ve never written a first person book. I was inspired. Now I wanted to try it!
I love chick lit in present tense. Everything is happening right now. I love that immediacy. What if I did a whole novel in first person, present tense? Take it all the way to eleven.
From there I wondered, how could I mix chick lit with my kind of story? Vampires seem popular. Cool, I’ve never written a vampire either. I wanted to try a ton of new things all at once. (This is why I’m generally tearing my hair out by page 200.)
Here I hit a roadblock: I don’t write about corpses.
C’mon, who doesn’t do corpses? A vampire story cannot happen without gore. Can’t be done.
Panicked, I bargained with my muse. How about this? She isn’t a blood-sucker. She’s an energy sucker? How does she get to be an energy sucker? [handwave, handwave] She has a rare opportunity to set the rules for her own vampirism…and she doesn’t want to suck blood because… beeeeecause… because she’s vegan. A teenaged, vegan energy vampire. That’s right. Blood is politically incorrect. Energy’s nice and clean, right?
Not really. By the time I have arranged for this poor dumb kid to get hold of the power to turn herself into a custom-designed vampire, it is too late for her. She finds out that sucking someone’s energy means eating their mood as well. And if her victim is in a sucky mood…their energy tastes terrible. In fact, not all energy is clean energy.
Moreover, she realizes that she is just as politically incorrect as a blood-drinker, because she never puts energy back into the world—she only uses it up. This makes her a very broody, angsty vampire.
Now my energy vampire is on a quest for a square meal that doesn’t taste awful.
Which is how roller derby comes into the story. I have written elsewhere about roller derby. For women who watch it, it’s exhilarating. For women who do it, it’s mind-blowingly exciting and challenging and painful and full of agony and ecstasy.
Once I put those two things together, vampires and roller derby, I realized that my energy vampire could very well discover that, oh, yes, there’s something magical about roller derby. Maybe it’s the circular motion, like a prayer wheel cranking out extra life force. Maybe it’s because they skate widdershins, like witches circling a cauldron. Maybe it’s simply because they’re women, releasing their pent-up ya-yas.
Whatever the reason, my energy vampire has learned that she can fill up on positive energy by attending a roller derby bout. But wait. How many more square meals could she score if she joined roller derby?
Roller derby has saved my sanity.
I have a conscience about my carbon-footprint. It kills me to think that I’m some kind of life-force black hole, always sucking it in, never giving back. Until roller derby, I had concluded that prana is a nonrenewable resource, and therefore that, as an energy vampire, I am an obscene parasite on the planet’s soul.
So it’s been a boon to discover that, while we skate, jostling, racing, knocking each other ass-over-teakettle, even when it’s not in front of an audience, we generate extra prana.
From here, she has to fall in love, because her life doesn’t suck enough. (This is how authors think.) Naturally she hasn’t been able to have sex since she turned into a vampire, because the first time she gets carried away, she ends up draining her partner and he blows away in a cloud of fluffy gray dust
I make her wait a loooong time before she finds someone she can’t kill during sex.
Did I mention, I don’t write corpses, but I do write sex.
There you have it. The perfectly logical path leading from “How hard can I make it to write my next book?” to a roller derby vampire romance.
Sample it here.