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I’m With the (Vampire) Band, a guest post by Marlene Perez

Writers have always found inspiration from a multitude of sources. For me, television, books, and music sparked my imagination. My taste in music was as deeply personal as the kinds of books I read. For me, the two have been intertwined since childhood and I still hang out in my room listening to my vinyl record collection and reading. Or writing.

I created a playlist for every manuscript I’ve written. Sometimes, I listened to the songs before I wrote, which would bring me into the world more quickly somehow. Other times, I would listen as I wrote, feeling the emotional highs and lows the music evoked. My Dead Is series even featured a jukebox that provides clues to the mystery through song titles, so those playlists always included the clue songs.

The titles of my new teen vampire trilogy, THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY, I’M WITH THE BANNED, and A SUCKER FOR YOU, were all riffs on song titles. It wasn’t too surprising then that the vampires in the books were musicians. In THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY, the main character, Tansy Mariotti, went to a party with her two friends to listen to a band, but got more than she bargained for. Spoiler alert, Tansy hadn’t expected the band, even though they were called The Drainers, to be a group of bloodsucking fiends.

Writing about vampires can be challenging because of the depth and breadth of the vampire canon. From Dracula to Twilight, authors have written about every kind of vampire under the sun, even vampires who can actually spend time in those golden rays without turning to ash. As I was figuring out what kind of vampire I wanted to inhabit my fictional world, it sometimes seemed like everything had been done, even vampires in a band. In Anne Rice’s novel Queen of the Damned, the vampire Lestat joined a rock band, and his song woke the queen of all vampires, and boy was she cranky.

Stories of real-life musicians and how they treated their fans were the inspiration for The Drainers, my fictional vampire band. In some cases, it was almost unbelievable the way certain rock legends treated their fans. If you type in the name of your favorite artist and the word “groupies” into a search engine, you might find some disturbing stuff. But fair warning, it made it impossible for me to listen to their music the same way. In my trilogy, the vampires were bloodthirsty creatures, willing to use their power to compel their fans to give them their blood. It’s no wonder Tansy wanted to stake them.

Like many writers of paranormal fiction, I was a huge fan of (most seasons) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What’s not to love about a kickass yet vulnerable main character, her loyal friends, and her hot vampire love interest? Not to mention the live music at The Bronze. I found the whole Spike/Buffy pairing incredibly squicky and not just because I was Team Angel. Despite some shortcomings (Spike, Riley, and what we later learned about the treatment of cast members), I admired the overall tone of the show. Buffy the Vampire Slayer mixed humor with more serious themes, such as friendship, consent, and death. The show inspired the snark meets dark tone of the Afterlife trilogy as well as Tansy’s weapon of choice for fighting vampires.

One of my favorite vampire novels was Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Sunshine was a post-apocalyptic novel where vampires were out in the open, instead of part of some secret, hidden world. The world of Sunshine held a variety of paranormal creatures, including vampires, witches, and werewolves. Robin McKinley took a common “rule” about vampires, the inability to withstand the sun, and made it her own. Sunshine helped me to think about what strengths and weaknesses my vampires had. Would they be creatures of the night or able to glitter in the sun? How can you fight a vampire? How can you kill a vampire?

Tansy learns the answers to some of these questions in the first book, but in I’M WITH THE BANNED, the second book in the Afterlife trilogy (October 5, 2021), she and her friends had a whole new paranormal creature to figure out. They had to discover who was murdering werewolves before someone sets off a vampire-werewolf war.

And finally, in A SUCKER FOR YOU (TBD 2022), somehow Tansy found herself in a van full of werewolves heading to Vegas to stop an elopement and just maybe prevent the end of the world. And a certain band might be headlining in Vegas.

If you want to spend a few hours reading and listening, pick up a copy of THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY or I’M WITH THE BANNED and check out the playlists for the books. You can find them here on Spotify.

THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY

I’M WITH THE BANNED, Part 1

Meet the author

Marlene Perez is the author of books for children and adults, including the best-selling DEAD IS series for teens. DEAD IS THE NEW BLACK was named an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers as well as an ALA Popular Paperback. DEAD IS JUST A RUMOR was on VOYA’s Best Science Fiction, Horror, & Fantasy List.  Her novels have been featured in Girl’s Life, Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan. The first book in her new teen vampire trilogy THE AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY is out now and the second book I’M WITH THE BANNED, will release October 5, 2021.

She grew up in Story City, Iowa and is the youngest of twelve children. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband and children.

Find me on social media.

www.marleneperez.com

https://www.instagram.com/marperezauthor/

https://twitter.com/MarPerez

About I’m with the Banned

I never wanted to be a vampire queen.

But on the bright (if not sunny) side of the debacle, I’ve got a super-hot new boyfriend. And he just might be the perfect guy.

Well, if the perfect guy ghosts you for a month and then comes back to school with a new look, a pack of friends, and a secret. But we have bigger problems.

The Drainers are back. They’re singing a different song, but have they really changed?

Even worse, werewolves’ hearts are being ripped from their bodies—which is putting the people I love in danger. I need to figure out who is behind the murders before there’s an all-out vampire werewolf war.

No one is going to mess with my friends, even the ones who like to get wild and howl at the moon.

Sometimes, all a girl can do is grab her tiara and start kicking some supernatural ass…

The Afterlife series is best enjoyed in order.
Reading Order:
Book #1 The Afterlife of the Party
Book #2 I’m with the Banned

ISBN-13: 9781649370099
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 10/05/2021
Series: Afterlife #2
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years

Book Review: Crave by Tracy Wolff

Publisher’s description

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

Amanda’s thoughts

Here is the passage that really sums up what is happening to Grace and should hook readers:

“Five weeks ago, Heather and I were shopping for homecoming dresses and complaining about AP English. Now I’m an orphan living with half an encyclopedia of supernatural creatures and dodging death on the regular”(341).

You in?

Confession: I’ve never read Twilight. Well, that’s not entirely true. I read about 1/3 of it as an ARC while working at a bookstore, said, meh, this isn’t for me but will probably be popular, and moved on. I am very much a contemporary/realistic reader. I am also very much a fan of Buffy. Every once in a while, I try to read outside of my preferred genre, so I gave this a try. I read the final 150 pages in one go, my house growing dark as I finished, my dogs whining at me to get up off the couch and feed them. I found this book totally enjoyable. There were many points while reading that I did shake my head at how quickly Grace gets wrapped up in powerful vampire Jaxon, but that’s the 42-year-old human/parent of a teen reading, which is not who this book is aimed at.

Jaxon is frustrating and terrifying and exciting. Grace is instantly attracted to him, despite him warning her that she should leave, that she should watch her book. He doesn’t exactly seem friendly, but there’s just something about him that she’s drawn to, even when he outright tells her he’s made her a pawn in a game. Jaxon is deep, he’s in pain, he tears pages out of an Anais Nin diary to give to her. He flips chairs around to sit on them. Grace repeatedly notes that he’s “damaged.” He’s notorious and powerful and growly. Grace is very into all these things.

The very distinct groups at school all seem to be against Grace, or at least wary of her. In fact, it would appear that someone may be out to get her. It’s hard to know who to trust, especially when it seems like Grace isn’t being told some very important details about life at her new school. Once she learns the truth, she continues to fall for Jaxon, even though everything about him is a warning. Everything about him also makes her swoon. (A few times in my notes I have written, “NO. THIS IS NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.”) And while Jaxon rescues her and cares for her a lot, Grace is pretty self-aware, and certainly not helpless.

The story of life at the academy is that of history, secrets, power, distrust, prejudice, genocide, lies, plots, and protectors. In the one week or so covered in this book, Grace gets an intense crash course in what it means to fall in love with a vampire. The first in a series, this ends with lots of drama, action, and a dramatic reveal. A satisfyingly engrossing read, especially if you can get past wanting to tell Grace to just pack up and go back home to California.

Also, friendly reminder: Twilight came out in 2005. That’s a loooong time ago. While this might seem derivative to many adults who lived and read through the vampire craze of that era, today’s teens were not even necessarily born when that book came out.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781640638952
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Publication date: 04/07/2020
Age Range: 14 – 17 Year

Why We Love the Fantastical in Fiction, a guest post by Tracy Wolff

Big news! Universal has picked up the film rights to Tracy Wolff’s Crave, which came out this Tuesday!

When I was thirteen, I read my first story by Edgar Allan Poe. It was called “The Black Cat,” and from the moment I turned the first page, I was hooked on his spectacularly spooky storytelling. At sixteen, I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. At seventeen, I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Hawthorne’s “Rappacini’s Daughter.” And by eighteen, I was in search of whatever paranormal fiction I could get my hands on. Stephen King. Anne Rice, Lois Duncan, Diana Wynne Jones. If it was spooky, I read it. If it was spooky and had fantastical creatures in it, I read it and loved it and read it again.

My love affair with the fantastical and the macabre hasn’t dimmed through the years—I still love a good vampire novel or ghost flick as much as I ever did. But even so, I have to admit that there was something exciting about reading “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates in my first college lit class. And something scary and utterly fascinating about reading a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s Misery when I was alone in my dorm room late at night.

So what is it about dark and paranormal stories that appeal to teenagers so much? What is it about reading them for the first time as a teenager that feels different than reading anything else? And different from reading them later in life, no matter how much you might still enjoy the story? After years of writing paranormal stories for YA and adult audiences, as well as teaching spooky stories in my college lit classes, I’ve decided there are three things that make paranormal stories such a hit with teenagers.

  • Paranormal stories are Counter-Culture. Whether they are macabre, depraved, or just set in a different world with different rules, paranormal books and short stories let teens live by a different set of rules for a little while.  Not bad rules, necessarily, just different rules from the everyday ones regarding curfews and class tardies and school social standing. People can imagine being whoever they want to be when reading paranormal novels, doing whatever they want and having whatever powers they would like, all while being some super cool creature. And they get to do things that are probably frowned upon in their own lives. Running wild and howling under a full moon in the middle of the night. Sleeping all day and partying all night. Making potions to control parts of your life you have no control over. What’s not to love?

  • Paranormal stories are a powerful escape. Whether a teen wants to escape from a mountain of homework or an embarrassing moment in front of their crush or a pandemic that has taken over their whole lives, paranormal fiction gives them a chance to do just that. Don’t like the world you’re living in? Pick up a book and change the world for a while. Afraid things are going to end up really bad for you because of a failed test or a fight with a friend or a global pandemic? Jump into another world, one where a lot of bad stuff happens, but an HEA is almost always guaranteed. What a great coping mechanism, and a great chance to let your subconscious sort out some of the more complex feelings you might not be ready to deal with yet.

  • Everything is heightened to the highest degree. In paranormal novels, the stakes are always super high. Good or Evil. Life or death. Salvation or damnation. Emotions run high and danger abounds. Everything is the end of the world … until it isn’t anymore. And creatures are rewarded for their bizarre behavior and talents as opposed to punished or ridiculed for them. For teens, who are often embarrassed by so many things about themselves, including their emotions, this escape into a world where nothing is too extreme or fantastical helps give them a chance to come to terms with their own heightened emotions as they experience things, often for the first time.

Paranormal fiction has always been a haven for me in times of change or despair. It is more exciting than comfortable, more scary than secure, yet somehow by the end of a paranormal novel, I’m always a little more comforted and a little more secure than I was when I picked it up. And as a writer, this is the gift I hope to give my readers with my own paranormal stories.

Upcoming event!

YA SCIFI/FANTASY PANEL featuring Tracy Wolff, Alexandra Monir, Romina Garber, and Victoria Lee, moderated by Aurora Dominguez

FRIDAY, APRIL 10TH AT 7PM ET: RSVP HERE!

Meet Tracy Wolff

Photo credit: Mayra K. Calderón

Tracy Wolff is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixty-four novels that run the gamut from young adult action adventures to new adult romance and from women’s fiction to erotica. A long-time devotee of vampires, dragons and all things that go bump in the night, Tracy loves nothing more than combining her affection for paranormal creatures with her love of writing tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. When she’s not writing (which is a rare occurrence), she can be found trying out new recipes, offering make-up tips online, wandering comic book/gaming stores with her sons, and watching movies or plotting stories with her besties. A one-time English professor, she now writes full-time from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family.

Visit her website at: www.tracywolffbooks.com Twitter: @TracyWolff Facebook: @TracyWolffAuthor Instagram: @tracywolffbooks

About CRAVE by Tracy Wolff

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

ISBN-13: 9781640638952
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years