Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When the Mosquitoes and Vampires Start Biting…

One of these days I'll get around to actually writing my own blog post again, I promise, but 'tis the season for debut authors, and I've got another treat for you today. Please put your hands together and welcome my friend, fellow ITW debut buddy, Southern Author, and acolyte of our very own Carolyn Haines, the marvelous Jeannie Holmes, whose first book, Blood Law, is scheduled to arrive at a store near you any day now. You can check out an excerpt HERE; you won't be sorry.

Without further ado... here's Jeannie:

I’d like to thank all the regulars here at A Good Blog Is Hard to Find for giving me a guest blog this week, especially Jennie Bentley who gave me a topic when my mind went on strike and refused to consider any form of work. I also want to give a big shout-out to my former teacher and current good friend, Carolyn Haines. Everything I learned about writing I learned from her. Hmm…should I really be saying that aloud? (Just joking. Carolyn knows I love her.)

When Jennie first approached me about blogging my debut novel, Blood Law, on a Southern writers' blog, I thought, “I can do this. I’m from Mississippi, and I live in Alabama. The book is set in Mississippi. No problem.” That’s what I continued to think until my brain decided to take an unannounced mid-week vacation last week. So when Jennie reminded me that I still needed to turn in a blog, I admitted I’d drawn a blank. She was nice enough to offer a topical setting question: Why are so many vampire books set in the South? Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere.

The short answer to this question is “I don’t know.” Honestly, I don’t know why or how vampires came to populate the South, but I believe it started with Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. If you’ve ever walked the streets of New Orleans’s French Quarter, with its narrow alleys and brick-paved streets, it’s easy to image Louis and Lestat hunting the residents after the sun goes down. Conversely, if you’ve ever spent time in one of the many small towns that dot the rural landscape of Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama, it’s equally easy to imagine the likes of Bill Compton or Eric Northman taking an interest in a local telepathic barmaid, such as Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse.

However, this doesn’t answer the question of why so many vampire books are set in the South. Well, I can’t speak for other authors, but I know why my debut novel, Blood Law, is set in small-town Mississippi. It boils down to writing what you know, and I know small-town Mississippi life and have been intrigued by vampires since my dad first allowed me to watch Bela Lugosi as Dracula when I was six. (My mother wasn’t very happy with him for about a week or so afterwards because she was the one who had to deal with my nightmares.) I’ve also had a life-long admiration for law enforcement so I combined all of these into a book and the result is vampire cops tracking a killer through the streets of a small Mississippi town. Ta da!

My personal reasons aside, what is it about the South that makes it fertile ground for vampires? I think it’s because the past is still very much a part of the present here. As my grandmother would say, “Even the ghosts have long memories,” meaning there are reminders of the past all around us. Whether it’s the antebellum mansions of Natchez, the Spanish moss-laden oaks of Mobile, or the wrought-iron balconies of New Orleans’s French Quarter, history is alive in the South. Vampires, especially the modern anti-hero variety, are walking remnants of that past and to place them in an ultra-modern setting seems almost a disservice. They are creatures of other places and other times, and as my Los Angeles-raised husband will tell anyone, “The South is a world unto itself where time slows to a crawl…at least until the mosquitoes start biting and then it’s every man for himself.”


Author Bio:
Jeannie Holmes is a Mississippi native who now lives in Mobile, Alabama with her husband, four neurotic cats, and an arthritic shaggy dog. Blood Law is her first novel.

If you'd like to hear more from Jeannie, she's also over on the Working Stiffs today. Yeah, I've been very bad about writing blog posts lately. Although you can catch me all week on 7 Criminal Minds, if you want.


Jennie Bentley said...

Thanks for gracing us with your presence, Jeannie! I can't wait to read Blood Law!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree. The past hangs over the South like humidity. Nice essay.

Jeannie Holmes said...

Hi Jennie!

Thank you for inviting me! This was a lot of fun. :)

Jeannie Holmes said...

Hi "Anonymous"!

Thanks for the compliment. It was a lot of fun to write. :)

bed frames said...

I hate waiting. I wish you publish it very soon. I am hoping that it will going to be enough for all of us.

Carolyn said...

Jeannie, (yes, we do have a mutual admiration club going on here!) I only gave you the tools. You're the one who had the story to tell and did the hard work of telling it in a bang-up way. I'm very proud of you. And I can't wait for the dang book. Six more days! Where are you launching the book? And when?

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