PERSONALIZED BOOKS FROM DARK DELICACIES

I’ll be signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, California at 2 pm on September 14.  You can order autographed and/or personalized copies from this terrific horror-oriented bookstore by going to their website then clicking “Signings/Events” in the upper left, and scrolling down to September 14, where you’ll see The Sorority, The Forgotten, Bad Things, and Eternity listed.  Order and, in the notes, let them know what you’d like in the way of personalizations or signings. (You can specify something — and if it’s a gift, make sure you give the name! — or you can leave it to me, your choice.

Candle Bay, Moonfall, and Haunted – last year’s releases – aren’t listed but you can order them as well. Just write them in in the notes section, along with personalization requests.  These three are a bargain at $4.99 a piece!

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The Theme is Vampires (and Sororities, Ghosts, Evil Nuns, Jack the Ripper, and Halloween)

Joining me are Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, signing her new Count Saint-Germaine novel, Night Pilgrims, Amber Benson signing  the 2014 Buffy calendar, and — squeeee! — Lara Parker, the original Angelique from the original Dark Shadows, signing her novel, Dark Shadows: Wolf Moon Rising.  (I was Angelique for Halloween in sixth grade. Oh, the beautiful gown my mother made for me! I wish I’d  kept the photos!)

Professor Tongue and the Sorority Girls

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What’s in a name?  Plenty.

Back in his early years, well before I was published,  a very popular (now) thriller/horror-type writer  had a habit of bestowing names like “Don Jackson” and “John Hanson” on characters appearing in the same book. I couldn’t keep them straight and I’m eternally grateful to whatever editor didn’t insist he fix them because it made me very aware of the importance of names.

Sometimes a name appears simultaneously with a character, like Tom Abernathy, in Thunder Road.  He just appeared one day, introduced himself, then hung around in the waiting room in my head for about three years, until his story arrived.  It’s a name that isn’t too descriptive, but Tom is a modern-day cowboy, and when you apply it that way, it works.  I’m just glad he didn’t tell me his name was Chaz Wadsworth.  That would’ve been a tough one for a cowboy.

In The Sorority, though, many of the names were carefully chosen either as references to Arthurian lore, stereotype, bad puns, or in the case of Professor Tim Piccolo, (aka Professor Tongue) at the suggestion of a friend.

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The titles of the individual books (now within the omnibus), Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha belong to each book’s heroine and are Arthurian in nature. Well, at least the first two are.  Eve is a play on Guinevere, and Merilynn (pronounced Merri-Lynn) is a reference to Merlin.  Samantha is simply a strong name because I didn’t care for any feminine versions of Arthur.  Their last names, as well as the last names of most of the other characters, particularly the football players, are riffs on things found in Arthurian lore, too. Many of the footballers are named for knights of the round table, in fact.

maloryblog The main antogonist  throughout the book, Malory Thomas is a play on a name historically vital to the legends that only an Arthur-fan will snicker over; more importantly, and conveniently,  “Mal” conveniently means “bad” or “wrong.” And Malory certainly is that.  Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha are three faces from Arthurian lore, and Malory is a fourth.chipmunkblog

Sorority girl Brittany is a double play.  She looks like the teen version of Britney Spears, and Brittany is King Arthur’s old stomping grounds.  She was a character who took off and grew on her own. Oh, did I enjoy her. So did Malory, for that matter.

The cheerleaders.  Most of them – the minor players – are referred to en masse as “The Heathers.”  These girls are interchangeable and “Heather” is often perceived as a popular name. Heather the cheerleader sounds right. It’s also a nod to the classic mean-girl movie, Heathers, and  the flowering plant, heather, would have been plentiful in Arthur’s time.

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Kendra? Kendra is our constant friend throughout the books and she simply popped up and told me her name. I like it, but I would have used it even if I hadn’t, because characters usually know best.

There are a couple of minor characters with important roles, professors McCobb and Piccolo.  Professor Daniel S. McCobb, houosemanblogDan to his friends, imparts history and folklore to his students.  In my mind, he’s a ringer for John Houseman, but that’s not the interesting part.  Say his name out loud.  Then say his wife’s. Her name is Vera McCobb.  You can bet I was having fun — and it’s a fitting name.  Dan S. McCobb first appears, by the way, in The Forgotten.

The other professor, Tim Piccolo, began as a cameo for Tom Piccirilli, and as is often the case, turned into a bigger character.  Just as another writer-friend chose the name and physical attributes of Andrew Harper, Natasha’s massively endowed human lover in Candle Bay, Tom chose to be petite below but be able to lick his forehead. Tim is a gentle name and Piccolo means small, as in the tiny flute.

Finally, there’s our ghostly sorority girl, Holly Gayle.  I’m going to leave that one a mystery, but you’ll figure it out!

The sorority300dpiAvailable Everywhere August 27ith

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Sorority Countdown: Day 8 – Water Ghosts

What do King Arthur, cheerleaders, greenjacks, sorority girls, jocks, Tom Piccirilli, sex, ghosts, more sex, and really really shameless puns have in common?  Why, they all share the pages of The Sorority, which is just days away from hitting bookshelves everywhere.  Each day, I’m going to tell you a little about the story, some trivia, some true facts and some fun ones.

Originally, the Sorority Trilogy came out as a serial novel over a summer several years ago, but now it’s back as a nice fat trade paperback (and all e-formats). And the cover is to die for.  In fact, I can tell you that the beautiful blue The sorority300dpicover girl has died. She’s a ghost who haunts the lake at the old cheerleader camp near the Briarwood College campus just inland of Caledonia, California.

Holly Gayle was once a member of the Gamma Eta Pi sorority house, but she met with a horrible fate. An accident, they say. However it happened, she drowned in the lake and if you dare go rowing on a quiet night, she may appear to you, floating just beneath the surface, seemingly asleep.

There’s no need to be afraid, at least not until she opens her and looks at you. . .

And rises.

But she isn’t the only ghost in the lake; there are many, many more.  A century ago, the original town of Briarwood lay in that valley,  then the townsfolk decided a reservoir was necessary and they rebuilt on higher ground, leaving behind all the homes and shops. Even the churches, cemetery,  roads, and the skeletons of oaks, pines, and apple groves are still down there.  Students brave enough – or foolish enough – to paddle far out into the lake at night report seeing lights winking on one by one as the ghostly town comes to llfe.  Sometimes they even see lantern lights moving slowly along the road and, in the fall, bonfires.

The lake is based in fact; on a story I begged my mother to tell me over and over.   As a girl, she lived in a little town that was eventually rebuilt so the original could be flooded to make a new dam.  Years later, when she got married, she and my father revisited the original site of the town, under the lake.  The reservoir is surrounded by forest and they laid out a picnic on a flat boulder near the water. After a leisurely lunch, they relaxed and my father talked my mother into taking a swim.  They stripped to their bathing suits and my father jumped in, daring my mother to join him.  She was nervous about swimming over the old town, but she finally joined him, paddling out until sunlight revealed the tops of drowned pine trees a few feet below her.   That was too much for her — what else was down there? — and she waited on the picnic rock while my father dived deeper and deeper, swimming well away from the shoreline.  Eventually he yelled to her that he’d found the church  and he dived and dived, staying down for minutes at a time.

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When he finally got tired, he swam back to her and told her how he’d explored the old steeple, swimming through the belfry and trying to get inside the lower part of the building. He almost managed it, but something shifted and the opening he’d found closed before he could get inside. My mother told me she’d almost become a widow the same week she married.

Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved stories about drowned towns thanks to my mother’s tale.  I always wanted to write about one and when I thought up The Sorority, I knew my ghostly lake finally had a home.

Favorite drowned town book:  Under the Lake by Stuart Woods’ Under the Lake.

Favorite drowned town movie: In Dreams.

Tomorrow:  Cheerleaders, Sex, and Professor Tongue.  Or maybe Football Players vs Knights of the Round Table.  We’ll see what comes out of my fingers!

Here’s a look at the original set of covers for The Sorority

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This Eternity Review is Better than Sex!

Mike Aronovitz. author of Alice Walks,  has put his reviewer and professorial talents to the test with this review of Eternity, just published on Hellnotes.  Take a look!  I’ve gotta tell you, I’m in heaven!  Alice Walks, his first novel,  is officially one of my all-time favorite ghostly tales.  (His first guest blog is just a couple posts down.)

You can pre-order Eternity in paperback now.  It will be available everywhere in early September. (Or you can get an e-format today.)  You may also order signed and personalized copies by emailing your request to Dark Delicacies I’ll be signing there on September 14, 2013.

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