I’m so delighted you’ve asked me to come talk about one of my backlist titles, Lisa! I’ve always loved vampire stories, and I set out to write the freshest, darkest, sexiest, scariest vampire story I could imagine. My Channeling Morpheus series was completed in 2009, and so it’s quite possible that plenty of readers discovered the genre well after the series wrapped. Here’s a taste of the first story, Payback:
The hunt is on.
Pretty young men and women like Michael’s best friend, Scary Mary, are disappearing from underground goth clubs all over Detroit. For over two years, Michael has been scouring the midwest for buried newspaper articles and obscure medical reports, and now he’s finally pinpointed the source of the problem. Too bad he can’t exactly go to the cops and tell them his friend was murdered by vampires. Since it’s his duty to start wiping out the scourge, he’s posing as bait—and he’s got a bag of sharpened hickory stakes to do the job.
Everything should go smoothly, given the amount of preparation that Michael has put into the hunt. He’s got a practiced repertoire of come-hither eyeliner looks and a full blister-pack of the date rape drug Rohypnol. But he didn’t count on Wild Bill showing up.
Wild Bill is a vision in spiked hair and scuffed black leather—exactly the type of guy Michael would have fallen for…if he’d ever had the chance. Unfortunately, with a vampire in his sights, Michael has no time for an actual date. Despite his best efforts, it seems there’s nothing Michael can do to shake Bill loose. Looks like they’re in for a wild, wild ride.
I picked up my bag, or satchel, or whatever you want to call it, and checked it again—even though I knew everything was still there. It had to be, because it’d been pressed against my foot, and if anyone had been rifling through it, I would have felt them doing it. Mallet? Check. Wooden stake—hickory, of course? Check. Crucifix? Well, yeah. Like five of those. Rohypnol? Check. Holy water? Check. Eyeliner? Check.
Yeah, eyeliner. It looks good on me. Scary Mary used to say that. She’d sworn up and down that I was one of those guys who could pull it off.
My hand sank deep into the bag and brushed against the eyeliner. Or maybe it was a pen. I inched my fingers down the length of it and felt the tip. Damn. It was a pen. Maybe I could use it for touchup anyway if I sweated off all the eyeliner.
Or else I’d have to find the vampire and lure him out of the club before it came to that.
“Got a light?”
I jumped. I wasn’t scared, though. Just startled. It was way too early for vampires, barely an hour past sunset. But I hadn’t realized there was anyone standing practically on top of me while I was digging through my bag. Or whatever you want to call it.
“I don’t….” He was so hot he was incandescent. “I don’t smoke.”
The guy who’d wanted the light was smiling. Still standing practically on top of me, too. Staring me right in the eye.
You’d think that would be all. He asked for a light. I didn’t have one. And then he would move on. But maybe it was more than that. Maybe he’d just been looking for an excuse to talk.
He slid himself onto the barstool beside mine. I did my best to look nonchalant. He was…amazing. Tall and lean, with ripped up jeans and spiked blond hair, earrings and a snake tattoo on his neck and chipped black nail polish. And he wanted to talk to me.
Couldn’t I have run into him any other night? Like, a night that I didn’t already have a date with a vampire?
“Got a name, Mister Lung Association?” he asked me.
“Michael, Michael, Motorcycle.” He tucked his cigarette behind his ear and shook my hand. Well, more like he jammed his hand toward me, and I either had to shake it or be knocked off the barstool. “Wild Bill.”
A hot guy who had the balls to call himself Wild Bill, straightfaced no less, was hitting on me in a mostly-empty bar. My mind reeled. I hadn’t been putting on my approachable vibe. I saved that for the vampires. I’d been going through my bag, minding my own business. And here he was, with a cigarette tucked behind his ear, chatting me up.
“Is your name really Bill?” I asked.
“Is yours really Michael?”
I rolled my eyes. He smiled wider, a weird, tight-lipped grin, and planted his elbow on the sticky bar top. “What’s with the purse?”
“It’s not a…look, I’m meeting somebody, okay? Don’t you have anyone else to bother?”
He shrugged and half-turned in his seat to spare a glance for the rest of the place. It’d be a cool enough club once it started to fill up, but right now there was only a scattering of people in it. A tight clique of girls in thick eyeliner and hair extensions dominated a pair of pushed-together tables beside the dance floor. A couple swayed together on the glowing tiles. They were so androgynous you could only tell the boy from the girl by the flat planes of his ass. Fog that smelled like cotton candy wafted around their platform boots. And the remainder of the early crowd hugged the perimeter of the bar, backs to the wall, drinking warily.
I pretty much looked like everyone else there. Black clothes and silver studs. Alone and staring. Except that I’d been staring into my bag instead of cruising.
“I’ll keep you company, then,” Bill offered. “Until she…or he…shows up.”
“He,” I said.
Wild Bill’s smile curled the corner of his lips.
Damn. If only there were some way, any way at all, I could ditch the vampire and take my chances with Wild Bill. But it’d taken me two whole years to track this vampire down and figure out where he’d been hunting. Two years’ worth of newspaper clippings, of Coroners’ reports photocopied by bribable janitors, of buried articles printed out from the Internet, accessed through the library’s computers, that I’d stared at until their letters slipped out of focus when my body forced me to rest my eyes.
Maybe Wild Bill would take a rain check. But I kind of doubted it. Besides, after I left a smoking corpse in my wake, I’d have to get out of town. Fast.
Gritty, urban vampire tales
These novelette-length stories are scary as hell and packed with freaky sex. Michael is a waif in eyeliner who’s determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill’s got his eye on Michael, and he’s willing to do anything to go home with him. If the romance between Gomez & Morticia gives you goosebumps of delight, if you look forward to Halloween movie marathons all year long, if you’ve got a soft spot for fake fog and black lights, then Channeling Morpheus is the series for you!
The series consists of ten novelettes and two shorts. The novelettes are available in the paperback collections Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary and A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion.
Official Channeling Morpheus site with bonus wallpaper, flash fiction and character interviews –
Bundle Deals – Save on a Channeling Morpheus bundle at http://jcpbooks.com/bundles. Payback is also included in the $5 JCP Sampler
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