WEEK EIGHT: 13 Weeks of Vampires
Spoiler warning: there will be many discussions of plot points and characters below, so if you haven't read these books yet, you may wish to give this section a pass. You have been warned.
CONFESSIONS OF A VAMPIRE'S GIRLFRIEND is a omnibus of two YA books: GOT FANGS? and CIRCUS OF THE DARNED
GOT FANGS? was originally published January 2005
All sixteen-year-old Francesca Ghetti wants to do is have a normal life where she’s one of the crowd, blending in so no one will know just how much of a freak she is. Dragged to Europe by her mother to join
GothFaire, a travelling band of psychics, magicians, and assorted other oddities, Fran has to cope with not only the normal angst of always being a fish out of water, but also with her own fate as a psychometrist.
Enter one Moravian Dark One (referred to by most people as vampires) named Benedikt who claims Fran is the key to redeeming his soul, a mysterious horse who seems to have an involved past, an immortal friend who remembers what Mozart was like, and a demonologist who thinks he’s Elvis, and you can understand why Fran despairs of ever fitting in.
CIRCUS OF THE DARNED was originally published January 2006
I’ve given up all hope of having a normal life. As if things weren’t freaky enough traveling around Europe with a group of witches, mediums, and magicians who make up my home-away-from-home (aka the GothFaire), now I also have to cope with a mysterious man who wants to steal my horse, and a time-travel counselor who insists I’m Cleopatra
I just want to go on a date with Benedikt, but when your boyfriend’s a vampire, nothing is easy. Not only is Ben keeping secrets from me, but somehow, I raised an entire battlefield of warring Viking ghosts–all of whom refuse to be sent back.
And I thought all I had to worry about was what to wear on my date…
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: HOW THE BOOK CAME TO BE
Way back in 2004, I had the idea of taking my adult vampires to the YA world. I had an inkling that teens would enjoy a less sensual version of the books, and since I was currently unleashing my inner 16-year-old via the Emily books, I figured I could handle a YA Dark Ones series pretty easily.
I put together a brief overview of what the first five books in the series would cover (see below), and sent it to my then-editor Kate, who was heading up the Smooch (young adult) line. Kate loved it, and I sat down to write the first vamp YA book, which I called Goth A Go-Go.
Instantly, I fell madly in love with both Ben and Fran--Fran was the girl I had wished I had been when I was a teenager, and Ben was just hands down super sexy. Especially when he rode his motorcycle.
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR THE SERIES
The Ben and Fran books were always intended to be a series, but unfortunately, the Smooch line closed down right as the second Ben and Fran book was being edited. Just for giggles, here's a series overview for the first three books that I sent to then-editor-Kate, so she could have an idea of what I was thinking for the books (the last two book outlines are redacted since they contain story elements that I may well work into future vamp books):
***begin series overview***
Goth a Go Go
All sixteen-year-old Francesca Getti wants to do is have a normal life where she's one of the crowd, blending in so no one will know just how much of a freak she is. Dragged to Europe by her mother (a witch) to join GothFaire, a travelling band of psychics, magicians, and assorted other oddities, Fran has to cope with not only the normal angst of always being a fish out of water, but also with her own fate as a psychometrist, someone who can tell things by touching objects. Enter one Moravian Dark One (referred to by most people as vampires) named Benedikt who claims Fran is the key to redeeming his soul, a mysterious horse who seems to have an involved past, an immortal friend who remembers what Mozart was like, and a demonologist who thinks he's Elvis, and you can understand why Fran despairs of ever fitting in.
The Circus of the Darned
Fran faces a new challenge when GothFaire is joined for a week by the famed Circus of the Darned, a sideshow of even odder people than the witches, mediums, and magicians who make up the Faire. When one of the circus folk inadvertantly raises an entire battlefield of warring ghosts, Fran has to resolve a four hundred year old curse in order to have peace and quiet for her much anticipated first date with Ben, her vampire boyfriend.
Word about Fran's ability to sense things by touching objects has spread throughout the European psychic community, bringing Fran more attention that she wants. Not only is a team of psychic investigators getting in her way while they test her abilities, a pack of local werefolk ask Fran to find their missing leader. Reluctant to help, she does when it becomes apparent that there is a connection between the missing werecat and Ben--a connection that could spell disaster for all of them.
***end series overview***
When I dug this out of my book archives, I was really surprised to see that I had intended on making Fran a Guardian, as well as introducing another love interest (something that was included in the redacted info). I guess, all things considered, it's a good thing the series was shut down at the two books, because I just can't see Fran with anyone but Ben.
Note also that in the third book description you can see elements of the story contained in the Ben and Fran Become Adults and Have Sexy Times book, AKA IN THE COMPANY OF VAMPIRES.
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: GOTHFAIRE
Why, someone once asked me, did I resurrect Gothfaire for the YA books, when it was such a sinister place in A Girl's Guide to Vampires?
The answer is that I have always been smitten by the idea of a traveling fair that catered to all things spooky. And I knew that given Fran's special abilities, and her desire to be "normal" that such a setting would provide lots of delicious conflict for her. So it was that the Gothfaire was brought back, but with a difference. Gone were all the original people, and instead a pair of German twins bought the fair and repopulated it with interesting acts and personalities.
Because it was a YA book, I had to leave out most of the dark roots of the Gothfaire (I think there's one mention of the previous owners being deranged killers), and concentrated instead on a group of wacky people who would give Fran the support (or distress) that she needed. Of all the secondary Gothfaire people, I think Tallulah is my favorite. She has unplumbed depths that I want to explore some day.
BEHIND THE SCENES STUFF: THE NORSE CONNECTION
I will freely admit that the Viking ghosts stole my heart the second I started writing for them, but they sealed that position with their shopping trip with Fran in CIRCUS OF THE DARNED. Their breezy irreverence, their fascination with all things modern, and their desire to be helpful just make me want to write vast numbers of novels for them, but I know that they are best savored in smallish doses.
I have no memory of how or why I thought up the Vikings, other than hey, the book was set in Sweden, so it had to have Vikings somehow, right? The fact that there was so much Norse mythology in Circus just made it seem imperative that there be some goofy characters to counteract all those powerful gods and goddesses.
And in case you are wondering, yes, this book had an impact on me writing the Norse Truly novella for Ain't Myth-Behaving. I loved seeing a modern version of the Norse gods so much, I had to explore all that fun a bit further.
As for Loki and Tesla...well, less said is probably best where Loki's wild days as a mare are concerned. Tesla came about because of my life-long love of Lipizzaners. In case any of you are worried about him, he will never die. I love him too much to ever let him age. Plus, you know, he's kinda immortal...
None for these two books, although the follow-up with Ben and Fran as adults is another matter... :)