My mother used to say about her childhood summers in Illinois that going outside was like stepping into a warm, dirty bathtub. I’ve been thinking about that lately as it certainly applies to August in North Carolina, where we take our daily walks early in the morning or not at all. The gym is, fortunately, air conditioned, and lifting weights has never seemed as key as it does now, a month before my seventieth birthday.
As I plan my rock-and-roll party, it’s a good time for reflection. I have loved my sixties, and captured the joys of the decade in a recent guest blog for Rachel Peru. But something about being on the edge of my eighth decade has me in the grip of powerful nostalgia, as memories flood in: What it felt like to sit on a pile of telephone books when I was too short just to sit in a chair at the table. My grandfather’s voice as he succumbed to dementia, decades after being exposed to high explosives in World War I. The sensation of holding my infant twins, one in each arm, back in the 1980s. I understand why, in her nineties, my mother was so connected with the past, seemingly at the expense of the present. I hope to cultivate a balance, honoring my vivid memories and leaving room for this moment and the future.
Tension about time is central to my new book, Vampires of a Certain Age, which launches September 15th. The main character, Marion Chase, has lived for five centuries and has trouble keeping it all straight. Our brains were not made to hold this much, she tells her second-in-command at a Chicago blood bank. The new novel is a time-bending story that carries us back and forth between present-day Illinois and medieval Yorkshire, where in her youth Marion was a healer suspected of witchcraft.
The story touches on familiar themes with a new twist. For example, while many of us wrestle with the desire to look younger, Marion must keep dyeing her hair greyer and greyer to avoid suspicion as decades pass and she does not age.
Between now and the September 15th
launch date, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Once the book launches, you can order a copy from your local bookstore too. I’m hearing from early readers that they would love to read a sequel, or even a series about matriarchal vampires—so who knows? One book at a time…
I’d love to hear where your creative passions are taking you these days. Are you writing playfully? Gearing up for National Novel Writing Month in November? Thinking about a wicked revenge novel? Whatever you write will transform you, and if you share it, your writing will help transform the world.
So keep the pen moving (or the keys clicking), and invite your Inner Critic to cool her jets—even in August.
An immortal healer turned blood bank director falls for the one person who can destroy her.
Marion Chase is a healer in medieval Yorkshire. Accused of witchcraft, she is rescued from certain death by a vampire. Now an immortal vampire, Marion joins a Sisterhood in York dedicated to ethical feeding. Centuries later Marion finds her true calling as president of a Chicago blood bank. There she falls in love with the one person who can destroy her: Rachel Sutter, an FDA inspector who is the living likeness of Marion’s lover in ancient Yorkshire.
I publish two blog articles (published online on the 10th and the 20th) and this newsletter every month, so you hear from me (or a guest blogger) a few times a month. Below is a brief extract from last month's blogs - click the links for the whole enchilada! If you've ever considered getting your voice out there, I welcome suggestions for topics, or a fully written guest piece in line with my philosophy for the site. Drop me a line......
I published my first novel a mere six days after my eldest child graduated high school.
The metaphor is not lost on me.
In fact, the juxtaposition of these milestones helped me process my feelings about both in a way that was healthier and more productive than simply eating a gallon of Breyers Strawberry ice cream (my original post-graduation plan). Instead, I’ve been able to see with fresh eyes the way her coming-of-age at 18 and mine at almost 50 overlap and, more importantly, how they diverge. How both stages are ripe with promise and the opportunity to define -or redefine- us.
Thus, in the spirit of celebration, I offer the following commencement address to all my Gen Xers out there:
In 2020 I signed up for a clinical study out of UCSF called the Brain Health Registry. This study of 100,000 people uses online questions and cognitive testing to gauge brain health over time. Its stated goal is to enhance research into dementia diagnosis and treatment. Each participant is asked to return every six months to revisit the questions online.
My motivation to join the study was to help fight disease. But I saw the study differently when I returned to the website in 2021 for follow-up questions. I had just finished reading Dr. Becca Levy’s book, Breaking the Age Code. In that book, Dr. Levy summarizes her decades of research about the negative effects of internalized ageism on health and longevity. Her oft-quoted statistic that people with a positive view of aging live 7.5 years longer makes the point that our attitudes shape our future. So the ninety minutes of questions in the Brain Health Registry, which were laser-focused on age-related decline, set off my alarm bells.