QSFer Damian Serbu has a new MM paranormal book out, and he’s sharing a guest post with us:
I set most of my stories in places where I have lived or visited. Not just because it helps for me to set the scenery by seeing it again in my head, or even going to pictures of places, so that I can accurately describe it. But also as a celebration of my travels and the locations I called home. Sometimes I may venture to a place in my writing that I don’t know about – but really I set it where my mind can grasp concretely the setting. Let me give some examples. In fact, The Vampire’s Protégé has a lot of examples of just this idea for me to use!
The first part of the novel takes place primarily in Florida. Specifically, Ft. Lauderdale/Wilton Manors and Venice. I chose Florida because it’s one of our favorite vacation destinations. Paul and I love to visit the Ft. Lauderdale/Wilton Manors area! We go to veg out. Every day we exercise, lay by the pool, lay on the beach, read, and then have happy hour followed by dinner. Every day! It’s so amazingly relaxing. And because there is such a vibrant gay community there, I wanted to celebrate it by starting The Vampire’s Protégé there. The novel next shifts to Venice, Florida. That, too, is because Paul and I vacation there every year. His parents rent a place in Venice every March, so we join them for about a week to escape from the Chicago winters. Again, setting my novel there helped me to celebrate what it means to us.
Next, Charon, the main character, sets up his secret mountain base in Colorado. I like to set things in Colorado because that’s where I grew up, and my family still lives there. Specifically, my sister lives in Nederland. So I wanted my vampire to live near her! In fact, I was visiting her house, which is in the mountains, surrounded by beautiful scenery, when I decided that he would establish himself there. I pointed to a mountain that you can see from her deck, and asked for its name. Just like that, Charon dug deep into that mountain to set up his secret lair. Setting him in Colorado gives me a sense of still being there myself.
In another scene, Charon travels to Romania. A few years ago, my parents, Paul, and I took a trip that toured Romania, focused on the life and career of Vlad the Impaler. It was an absolutely amazing trip!! I learned so much, and Romania was a delightful, beautiful, and fascinating country. I love talking about that vacation, to share the history of Romania, and especially Vlad, and my mom’s father was Romanian, his parents immigrants to America from there. So by taking Charon to Romania, I could celebrate a bit of my heritage, give people a taste of an amazing place to visit, and relive the experience myself!
Even lesser scenes take place where I have been. I was born near Omaha, Nebraska and have family there still, so I set one scene there. A major scene takes place at the Oriental Theater in Chicago. That scene happened in my mind one night when Paul and I were there for a show with a good friend – in fact it was Jule, to whom I dedicated this novel! So I always wanted to set a scene there where that auditorium came to life. The Vampire’s Protégé offered the perfect opportunity for me to do it. The same thing happened with a Halloween scene that takes place in Boystown, here in Chicago. It was based on a time that my aunt, uncle, and cousin were visiting, and we attended the famous parade.
So my settings almost all have some meaning for me, or are attached to a special memory!
About the Book
A sinister vampire offers Charon a choice he can’t refuse: play a deadly game of winner takes all, losers die.
Charon relishes the competition and molds himself into a sexy vampire who defies vampire law, savoring his power and embracing the role of villain. He also loves surrounding himself with hot young men. But when an alluring vampire stalks him and threatens to turn him into the Vampire Council unless he helps with a seemingly impossible task, will Charon risk his perfectly narcissistic life on the challenge? Does he have any other choice?
One lucky winner will receive an ebook of their choice from NineStar Press
Everyone thinks they adore the Vampire Council with its rules and regulations that allegedly govern all vampires and thereby ensure the safety of virtuous humans. People want to lose themselves in the tales of the Council members: Xavier and Thomas and their love; Anthony and Jaret and their guarding of humanity; Catherine and Harriet and their whims within a righteous vampiric empire. Most of all, the Vampire Ethic provides comfort with its guarantee that goodness protects an individual from a vampire attack, with its promise that all vampires defend innocence.
Vampires accept this reality because it gives them a collective soul. The ethic protects them from the stereotype of evil incarnate preying upon humanity. Or, in the least, obedience to it keeps them alive, lest the Council hunt them down and murder them for transgressions against it.
Humans desire the Council’s laws to maintain their fantasy of security from the supernatural realms. Who would dismiss a hidden force of vampire police that might swoop in at any sign of danger and annihilate the perpetrator?
Yet deep inside, so many long for something different, something that avoids this utopian trope and perfect world, all tied up in a pretty bow. Part of everyone, that piece so desperately stamped down and derided, seeks an alternative story.
To be sure, many will deny it. Fight against these words and honorably cast them out as the devil’s temptations. Yet no proof of Satan or such demonic forces presents itself. Because even those thoughts really stem from the inner being in everyone, that secretly locked-up atom inside a person that pines for freedom and seeks release, even as the goodness scolds it.
Still people contest these words. Deny them.
Yet a fascination with villains thrives in America. Think of the great antiheroes of history and their legendary fame. The Wicked Witch of the West. Darth Vader. Hannibal Lecter. The Joker. The infamy of historic figures such as Adolf Hitler or Ted Bundy or the Son of Sam. The people who don the costumes at Halloween of Lord Voldemort, Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler because it empowers them for a night with beautiful wickedness. People laugh at Scar, Ursula, and even Mr. Potter. They read the tales of Lex Luther and Cujo, privately wishing they would eventually triumph over the heroes of the story and bring a bit of destruction to the globe.
Jack the Ripper lives through the ages because he successfully hid himself, true. But also because his perfect malevolence went unpunished. People want that for themselves. His legend draws them back again and again to that story with the hope of their own misdeeds going unchallenged.
Thus, whether admitted or not, people long to meet Charon. Yes, so many cry out for Charon and his story. People want him. Readers desire him, need him, really. The world will have no choice but to love him. All will embrace him as they have these other villains of history. They will celebrate his perfect treachery.
Unlike those obedient to the Vampire Council, Charon hardly worries about a bit of notoriety from time to time. Fear of retribution never enters his vocabulary. He need not concern himself with the Vampire Council and its regulations. Nor does Charon often fret over any other person or entity cracking down on his masterful empire.
Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!