New “Luke” Novel Taking Shape Before Your Eyes! Hurry and Subscribe!

thumbnail for Tapas contest

Luke as a surgeon’s mate in the American Revolutionary War. Cover thumbnail for “Against Heaven and Hell”

Hello, neglected readers! Do you remember Luke from my vampire diaries? I hope you like him (or love to hate him?), because he is the main character in a serial novel I’ve entered in the Writers Camp serialized novel contest on Please don’t wait to check it out, because the contest ends on April 19. Here is the direct link to the story, “Against Heaven and Hell:

If you think the story has merit, please join the site and subscribe to it by April 19. A subscription does two things: It allows you to read the whole story easily after I post in it every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and it is a vote toward making it the readers’ choice winner.

“Against Heaven and Hell,” a horror novel set in 18th Century America–a story of the younger years of the character I like the best among those I have created so far, Lucas Fleeland (Luke). He’s interviewed, and takes over the interview of Carletta, in these earlier blog posts (the last too are better):
Calm, Cool, and Condemned: Luke answers 11 questions
Carletta’s Second Interview: Not-so-sweet 16 Responds to the Rest of the Questions
At Last–Luke Answers the Rest of the Questions (Dual Vampire Interview Continued)

After exploring the experiences and processes that make Luke a complex and secretly rebellious young man (and something more than that), the novel intricately weaves in an often misunderstood historical figure, General Benedict Arnold, in ways I hope you will find both informative and entertaining. According to my fiction, Luke meets Arnold when working as a surgeon’s mate (medic assistant) in the Revolutionary War, and attempts to mold the heroic general into someone he can better relate to.

Heaven and Hell banner

Banner for the online novel, “Against Heaven and Hell”: General Benedict Arnold, “the Dark Eagle,” is lured by more forces than history knows, according to this historical horror novel.

I originally wrote “Against Heaven and Hell” as a novella I submitted to a collection called “War is Hell.” It was not accepted for the anthology but the editors liked it enough to say they might want to use it in another publication. I wasn’t satisfied with the story as it was; I wanted to expand and deepen the plot, possibly making it a stand-alone novel that is a prequel offshoot to my AVS series. And here I am doing so at last!

I started rewriting the story after I heard about the contest, which started March 19 and would continue for just a month. Last night the artwork was completed, and this morning I posted the new banner. I have just less than two weeks to attract a following large enough to win the readers’ choice award or to interest the judges enough to win by the second option.

I don’t expect to finish the whole novel by the deadline, which is okay. I’m working hard at the new parts and even the old parts require editing for improvement and consistency with the new version. On top of that, I must return to the historical research needed to recreate the time period and historical figures accurately. I WILL finish it, though! I just may not post as often once the contest ends, because I don’t want the quality to suffer (the quality either of the novel OR of my life).

So far, 4 installments are available for your reading pleasure. More to come tonight! At least 10, probably more, will be completed by the April 19 deadline.

Hope you enjoy it!




At Last–Luke Answers the Rest of the Questions (Dual Vampire Interview Continued)


For newer readers: The opportunity to interview vampires through the Vampire Lover Blog Award inspired this blog a few years ago. To read the rules and questions, go to

For newer readers: The opportunity to interview vampires through the Vampire Lover Blog Award inspired this blog a few years ago. To read the rules and questions, go to

In October, 2013, I met with two vampires in a local Starbucks. There Luke helped me do Carletta’s second interview. How do I explain why you were left waiting with bated breath for Carletta to help me interview Luke? Hard to say. But it’s time to get excited, because now you are about to read… the rest of the story! (And no, these interviews are not the AVS stories themselves; the series of books is still in the works—and I promise they will be well worth the wait.)

My daughter drew this Manga image of Luke before his first interview; I colored it . Note the pure white skin characteristic of my undead-type vampires. Live vampires (like Carletta) have more human coloring.

My daughter drew this Manga image of Luke before his first interview; I colored it . Note the pure white skin characteristic of my undead-type vampires. Live vampires (like Carletta) have more human coloring.

Caption: I made this clay sculpture of Luke’s smirking face a number of years ago. Why I didn’t post a good picture of it on this blog before… I don’t remember. It looks better in person than this photo made by my old-style cell phone.

Caption: I made this clay sculpture of Luke’s smirking face a number of years ago. Why I didn’t post a good picture of it on this blog before… I don’t remember. It looks better in person than this photo made by my old-style cell phone.


And now, without further ado–The Interview!

I can’t account for the passage of time. I find myself back in the Starbucks, looking at the two vampires sitting on either side of me. Luke’s cell phone chirps. He answers it and says into it, “Hold on.” To us: “I’m terribly sorry, some unexpected business has come up.”

“Oh, ho!” Carletta says. “You can’t waltz out of here without taking your turn with the questions.”

“I’m telling you the truth.” He pulls his wallet out of his pocket and hands me a business card. “If I don’t come back, you can reveal my secret screen name here to the world. Promise me you won’t tell a soul otherwise.” Under the screen name, in script it reads, “Professional Hypocrite.”

I look up. He’s gone. I turn off the tape recorder.

“Maybe he really went out for a bite,” Carletta says.

“He just had that sandwich—Oh. You mean…”

“Yeah. Or to throw up the sandwich. Though he ate a lot more than I could and held it down a lot longer.”

We stretch our legs. I get a chocolate pastry and a water. We return to our corner. Carletta starts reading the questions quietly to herself.

After half an hour, Luke walks back in. I re-start the recorder and pick up my notebook and pen.

Carletta begins: “Does living as a vampire have the same appeal as prior to being turned (if you’re that type of vampire)?”

Luke answers, “Nothing can prepare a human for the realities of this dimension of existence. I can’t say it has the same appeal. It’s far better than my expectations.”

I think his last sentence came too easily. No one asked whether vampires always tell the truth. Amazing how many people may think they do. In my pocket I finger the business card. Just how much can you trust a professional hypocrite?

Luke notices my movement and cocks his head. Nothing seems to escape the bastard, but I’m sure he can’t read my mind… or can he? Another question no one bothered to pose.

Carletta squints at him. “You wanted it, didn’t you?”

Luke’s smirk mocks her. “So did you,” he pronounces.

Her big eyes widen.

“You said yourself you wanted the power.”

“Okay, okay,” I break in, trying to hide the tremor in my voice. “It’s Luke’s turn to be interviewed. And I didn’t even finish the question.”

Luke looks down at the list of questions. “If I had to do it over, yes, I would without question.”

As he reads the next question over my shoulder, he pauses. I speak it quietly: “What aspect of humanity or being human have you lost or used less–or has diminished the most?”

“That one hard for you?” Carletta spits.

“I’m just puzzling over the wording,” he says. “It’s so negative!” His voice rises higher. “I haven’t lost anything worth losing. It’s all been gain to me.”

“Ah-hah!” Carletta reaches toward him, her manicured fingers curved like a cat’s claws and her voice like a cat in triumph. “Then you admit you’re not human. You’re undead.” She smiles. “There are things you can’t stand that I can!”

“Oh, please, as if—”

“You can’t go out in the daytime at all,” she presses. “And I can.”

Luke smiles back. “I can go out in sunlight.”

“Robin.” Carletta leans so close, she’s almost in my lap. “Let’s stop now and finish this interview after sunrise. I guarantee he won’t show.”

She has a point. Luke personally requested our double interview be at night. Who is he trying to fool?

Luke appears amused. “You really want to delay it further? I would be happy to re-convene in the daytime on a later date. But I have plans for later tonight, and tomorrow I have a board meeting.”

Carletta giggles. “Super powerful vampire man has a desk job?”

“I own several companies,” Luke announces.

“Do vampires need businesses?” I say. “I thought they were all filthy rich, just naturally. Isn’t that what all the novels say?” I can’t keep the sarcasm out of my voice.

Luke chuckles. “A fortune not invested is a fortune soon lost. Besides, I have a natural propensity for leadership.”

“What kind of business is it?” I ask. “A mortuary? A police squad? A vampire mafia?”

“This one is a cosmetics empire.”

Carletta laughs so suddenly she goes into a coughing fit. “How macho of you! How dangerous and frightening.”

“You want to tie vampirism into the whole interview?” Luke says. “I’ll oblige. One line is for the undead: natural darkening.”

“Oh,” Carletta says. “That explains why you’re not as white as the papers we’re reading off of. I take it you use your own product.”

Luke nods. I look hard at his natural beige skin and the slightly pinker shade of his cheeks, chin, and ears. Nothing betrays that he is wearing make-up, not even his hands. “Excellent product and application,” I admit.

“To finish answering the last question,” Luke says, “if I’ve lost anything, I’d say it’s vulnerability. Something foolish humans use to excuse their failures.”

I read the next question, wondering if Luke can say anything interesting about it: “Is it true you have to be an old vampire to fly or teleport?” I leave off the questioner’s definition of teleporting, sure he knows full well what it is.

“Since death, I’ve had many more powers than I had as a live vampire,” he says, looking directly at Carletta. “Much stronger ones, which do increase with the years.”

“The next one is open-ended,” I say. “What’s it like to be a vampire?”

“We vampires are all very individual. For instance, Carletta, you seem conflicted about your own existence—troubled by some personal problems. They may not all come from being a vampire. But I embrace my nature wholeheartedly. It’s truly the fulfillment of what I was meant to be, even from the day of my human birth. Being what I am is glorious. I’m more myself than I ever could be as a mortal. It’s easy being at the top of the food chain, but there’s so much more to it. I’m over 200, so I’ve had plenty of time to refine my intellect, my aesthetic tastes, and my influence. I’ve had more to do with the state of the world than you know, and I’m bound to accomplish far more.” His smile is as big as his ego. “We all love blood. For some simple ones, maybe that’s enough. I, however, have a personal score to settle against someone who’s wronged me horribly. I live to avenge my adversary.”

“What adversary?” Carletta asks.

“God.” He leans back and folds his arms.

I want to say, “What has God done to you?” but we have already spent some time on a single question, and there are quite a few left. I steal a glance at Carletta. Her expression is brooding. She looks down at the list and takes over the interview, her voice pouncing catlike once again: “Do you miss food, the sun, or your heartbeat more? Robin,” she says aside to me, “I can hear a heartbeat from him.”

Luke nods. “I regulate its tempo. Along with my body temperature. And why would I miss food? I can eat what humans eat, as you saw, but my regular diet is best. Just think how much time people waste growing, raising, preparing, and eating food and washing dishes, when they could be enjoying their favorite pastimes and improving themselves!”

Carletta looks down at the list again and rolls her eyes. “I have to ask this stupid question again. Do you have another spin on it? Are there any female vampires around?”

“None that can outwit or control me,” he says quickly.

I see the green sparks in the girl’s eyes light up, and I glower at Luke myself. He bursts out laughing. “I think,” he adds, “the guy who submitted this question is looking for a female vamp, under the delusion that he’ll get what he wants from her. Isn’t it lovely how fools seek us? Sic him, Carletta! I won’t tell your boyfriend. And this guy won’t be able to tell anyone when you’re through with him!”

Carletta reads the next question: “What was your first feed, slash, kill like?”

“I don’t have to answer that question until you finish answering it, sweet sixteen. You glossed over that one. Traumatized? And you call yourself a vampire?”

“Shut—up!” she hisses. “It was—it was like… I honestly can’t remember… the first time I killed to feed…” She looks at me. “I must have blocked it out.”

“Do you know how old you were?” I ask.

“Pretty young,” she admits. “I’ve grown since then. People don’t think vampires age after they’re changed, but I have… Not as much as I should have, I mean would have if I were a regular human.”

Seated instead of walking around in high heels, it’s easier to remember she’s only five feet tall. Looking past all the make-up, I realize she could pass for thirteen. Her breasts are small, her whole form petite, her head rather large for her body.

Luke says, “My own first time was a marvelous feast! After my mentor turned me, the cold fire of his blood coursing through my veins pressed me on to the joy I anticipated. I grabbed a tender little woman, but my mentor wrested her from me. The fat, haughty British official I then attacked was a better meal, anyway. I had killed before, when I was mortal, but this intoxication was new.”

“You killed before you were turned?” Carletta says. Her voice betrays a tremor.

Luke studies her. “Does the idea bother you? Why?”

Carletta lifts her hands and spreads her fingers out in front of her as if to ward him off.

“You want to know who I killed, and why?”

“That’s—all right,” she says.

“Why in the world are you squeamish about it?” Luke presses. “You’re not exactly Miss Innocent. Something tells me you’re hiding something.”

“Enough!” I break in. “Her interview is over. Here’s another question for you, Luke. If you had the choice to no longer be a vampire–to just be a human again–would you go for it?

“No,” he says firmly. “As I said, I love being what I am.”

I look to Carletta to ask the next question, but she waves for me to go ahead. “What do you think of the recent fashion for vampire books and films?” I read. “Has it made your life harder or easier?”

“I’ll tell you first of a business that is more central to my existence than the cosmetics company,” he says. “I protect vampirekind. The new adoration for vampires has made that easier. The best tactic for a long time was the widespread belief that we don’t exist. Now that’s less important than the belief that we are wonderful and desirable. People gladly open their doors to us!”

“The next question is similar,” I say. “With the success of vampires in the mainstream, do you find it harder in this day and age to survive?”

Luke blinks. “The success of vampires? Is this questioner a true believer? The question answers itself. Success is so much more than survival! Someday, you will all be our slaves—and may not even realize it. Let’s see how your petty little God feels then!”

Not a soul in the Starbucks looks at us. It is as if Luke has wrapped a soundproof barrier around our corner of the room. His proclamation makes me squirm. Being a slave of vampires would be bad enough; not knowing it would be even worse. People who don’t know they are slaves don’t seek freedom. Luke looks right through me. His blue eyes are icy and remind me of a shark’s. So this plan is the ultimate intention of all his charm and deceit.

The next few questions go by in a blur for me; I lose track of which of us asks which. What does it matter?

“What happens if you suck your own blood?”

“I quench my thirst for a short time, and soon the appetite comes rushing back.”

“Can you be turned back to a human?”


“Can you have sex the ‘traditional’ way? Do you have any desire for sex?”

“Yes and yes.” He looks at each of us and licks his lips. “It’s not a need. I’m not driven by it like many men are, especially since I died. I carefully plan what I use my body to do, but I enjoy sex, certainly. I can stretch things far beyond tradition, and there are so many traditions, anyway.” His eyes bore into me.

“According to folklore, vampires can’t cross moving water. Does this present problems for you?”

“It only presents problems for vampires who never learned to swim. Next!”

“Is it possible some vampire-related genes can be passed down through human bloodlines over the centuries?”

“That’s something I’m looking into,” he said. “It’s impossible for the undead to have children, and rare for live vampires. But rumor has it that those who do have extra power over their offspring. I’d like to know whether we have control over offspring sired before we were turned.” He looks off out the window, his eyes shining.

“Are there other vampires, and if so what role does gender play in vampire society?”

Luke yawns. He sweeps his arm to include Carletta. “There are many vampires, many societies. Different views and practices about gender, more so than among humans, I would say. As with humans, the men are usually physically stronger than the women—leaving the women to focus more on manipulation and magic.”

“How much is a pint of blood?”

“Enough to whet the appetite.”

“They say a vampire’s bite brings pleasure rather than pain. Is that true, and how is that even possible?”

“Carletta answered that one sufficiently. The ratio of pleasure to pain depends on the amount of vampire saliva applied. If we begin with a wet kiss, the victim might not be aware of being bitten at all.”

I stop when I see the next question. I didn’t remember coming across it before. I shuffle the papers, wondering. I read, stammering: “Who—made you—and why?”

“Are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes?” says the “wolf” who sometimes dresses in sheep’s clothing. “I don’t need to answer anything she hasn’t answered.”

“I swear I didn’t see these questions before,” I said. “Is the list growing like magic?”

“Ha ha,” Luke says humorlessly. “We’re the ones who can do magic. Not likely the humans who posed these adolescent questions.” I note a growl in his voice I didn’t hear before. It sends a shiver up my spine. You can’t trifle with him.

“I have no problem answering these new additions, as long as they don’t take all night. But ladies first.” His eyebrows rise as he turns to Carletta. When the girl sits stone-faced and silent, he quotes the rest of the question: “Was it by choice, or was the choice made for you?”

“I don’t remember,” Carletta says.

“I can tell you’re lying,” Luke presses. “Tell the truth, or—”

“I don’t know!” Her feet in her red high-heeled pumps are turning inward. I feel sorry for her.

“How can you not know?” he says more softly. “You weren’t that young.”

Her eyes rise to meet his, anger blazing in their gray and green depths. “We’ve been over enough of it! A lot of things were beyond my control. I was tricked. I tried to do one thing, and ended up doing another… I made myself.”

Luke squints. “How could you make yourself? You had to have a sire, a donor.”

Her answer comes out all in a high-pitched rush: “I was pushed to the brink, I think he planned it that way, but I did it myself, he was asleep and I didn’t know any better.”


“I think she’s telling the truth,” I say.

“Who was it?” Luke asks.

Suddenly Carletta jumps to her feet and runs outside.

Luke runs out after her, his form blurring.

Oh, no, I think, she’s been pushed too far. What will he do to her? This must be the end of the dual interview. I glance down at the questions, to see only three more.

Is he doing something to her because she won’t answer?

Shouting to the man behind the counter that I’ll be back to my stuff in a few minutes, I rush outside.

The rain has stopped, though clouds still cover the stars, but a slip of a moon I call “God’s fingernail” shines. I look around, heart pounding. My instinct to protect the weaker from the stronger kicked in before I even thought it through. “Carletta?” I shout into the night. “Are you all right?”

I hear a sob. Luke steps from behind the building next store.

“What did you do to her, you…?” slips from my lips.

“Only made a deal with her.”

“What kind of deal?

“All you need to know is that your blog isn’t going to tell who turned her.”

I feel relieved; it seems to matter so much to the girl. Why I find myself siding with one murderer against another, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because Luke has been bullying her so much. While we interviewed Carletta earlier, he tricked her into saying more than she was willing. Trickery must really get her goat.

Carletta creeps out behind him. Her mascara is running. She wipes her face, smearing the black mess. To my surprise, Luke produces a handkerchief and dabs her face.

“Shall we continue?” he says to me. He steps forward, then suddenly stops.

I strain my eyes to see that he’s stumbled on something. He looks down at something at his feet.

Carletta grimaces and brings her hands to cover her mouth. She shakes her head and starts to tremble.

By the headlights of a car pulling into the parking lot, I see they’re both looking at a dead cat. I feel sad the poor animal was run over but surprised the two vampires care. The girl looks much younger in this moment, and she stifles a sob. Luke, on the other hand, is as motionless as a statue. I step closer, expecting Luke to mock Carletta or take advantage of her vulnerability in some way, but he seems entirely oblivious of her.

A foul smell accosts my nostrils. I see maggots writhing on the feline corpse. Luke appears to be staring at them.

“Are you two coming back in?” I venture.

Luke’s head snaps up. He steps backward and widely around the cat. But he still doesn’t seem quite his suave self. Is he, just slightly, trembling?

“What’s up?” I say.

Carletta hugs herself and shakes her head.

“You guys especially fond of cats?” I said.

“I am,” Carletta said.

“Oh, that’s right.” I turn back toward the Starbucks. “Your familiar demon is a cat. But Luke? Yours is a wolf. You got a soft spot for roadkill?”

“Never mind,” he says stiffly. “That’s not on the list. Let’s just get this overwith. I’ll answer the latest one right now. I was changed by an older man, a vampire named Thaddeus, who was a newcomer to Manhattan, where I grew up.” The lack of emotion in his voice is unlike him, but I feel it’s not because of what he’s saying. He appears to be trying to distract himself. Something about those maggots, I think. Why in the world would an undead creature be bothered by maggots?

I shrug as Luke strides forward and opens the door for me, and soon we are back in our corner. My stuff is untouched, but the old-fashioned tape has run out; I left it playing.

Luke doesn’t wait for me to rewind the tape or put another one in. “The choice was my own, as I’ve said before. I’d wanted it for a long time, but I had to talk him into it by promising that if he turned me, I’d serve the forces of darkness for the rest of my existence.”

“A Faustian bargain,” I say. “For eternal youth?” I scramble to change tapes.

He half-shrugs. “Spending the rest of your life looking eighteen has its disadvantages,” he says. “But not dying—not—compromising with my worst enemy, those were the reasons. So I don’t have to be punished for being who I choose to be…” I sense a hollowness in his voice. The picture of him staring at those maggots flashes through my mind. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he identifies with that dead cat, and he’s horrified of its parasites. He became a vampire so he wouldn’t have to die. But die he did. Unlike Carletta, he’s been where that cat has been, and come back to avoid talking about it. I don’t know whether to laugh over his secret vulnerability, or cry.

“Three more questions, vamps, and then we’re through.”

Carletta nods. Her face is gray-streaked, but it no longer looks like the living dead. How ironic that it did, when she’s the one who is still alive.

“What is the most important thing to you?” I ask.

“Vengeance,” Luke says without hesitation.

Carletta’s brows knot. “Self-preservation, I guess,” she says.

“Question 32,” I say. “Wow, to think there were originally supposed to be only eleven. It’s three times that long now. Another one about sex.”

Luke snorts. “Figures.”

“Is sex that much more enhanced than before?”

“Oh, yeah, it’s wonderful because of the heightened senses,” Luke says. He turns to Carletta. “How do you answer?”

Carletta’s lower lip jerks askew. “Kind of a weird question for someone turned as a child, don’t you think?” Her voice sounds dry and jaded.

I move on to the second half: “Do you feel your sexual drive is greater than before?”

“Than as a child?” the girl says. “Well, yeah.”

“Luke?” I inquire.

“It’s different,” he say. “I’m more controlled… Most of the time.” He breaks into an evil smile. “But when it’s time to let loose, it’s a wildfire!”

“One more question wraps it up,” I said. “From Francis Franklin, who hosted this blog project. Where do you come from?”

“My mother’s womb, originally,” Carletta says. She stretches, catlike again, and yawns wide.

“Pre-Revolutionary Manhattan,” Luke says. He pulls his ponytail forward, and I see his wavy dark-brown hair is longer than mine. “Born and raised long ago, but I still live there a good deal of the time. It’s changed a great deal, but some of the changes are nice. Plays on and off Broadway to watch, write, and direct. People who don’t give a damn who disappears. Ritzy apartments. My own mansion.”

“I think,” I say, “you both come from our nightmares.”

Carletta looks at me with a haunted expression.

Luke says, “That too. That too…”

As I gather my notebook and tape recorder into my briefcase, I look up and see them both rush into the darkness outside, in different directions. Soon both are out of sight.


Check out the added content on the “About the AVS” page!

Here is the new content:

It starts with a teaser to the first novel-in-progress for the AVS series.

Next, I corrected the link to my Goodreads blog, “From the Red, Read Robin,” and added descriptive teasers for the short stories on my Goodreads profile that relate to the AVS vampire series.

Last, I mentioned my special services and provided the link to my website about them, which also contains more samples of my writing.


More material coming to this blog and to the other one, as time allows. On this blog–possibly on the Goodreads one as well–I plan to post about the agonizing dilemma of having a first novel too long and the need to decide to cut about half of it out or re-form the book into two separate ones. For once I partly identify with Dr. Frankenstein: Creating a monster can really be more than you bargained for! Yes, definitely more on that later. And, eventually, I intend on following up on my promise to write about Carletta interviewing Luke–if they both cooperate, that is. You can never tell about the whims of vampires… especially ones that hate each other. We can only hope they don’t step outside and run beyond my ability to track them, in their own showdown to the death. I can’t run as fast as either of them by a long shot, and I daren’t step between them, in any case.


And You Thought I’d Abandoned You? No Fear!



…And here she is! Flirting with someone, as usual… I originally planned to give her essentially the same background as Hugh’s picture (posted with his interview), as seated in the same restaurant booth with him (hence the pencil lines). However, those colors don’t go well with the background I made for the book cover, so I may paint the background plain gray. Or do it gray, scan it, and then go over it with the blue and leafy booth backgound, so I can have both to work with. This is but one example of one of the many things I have been doing since my last post in October. I have not meant to ignore you all. I have been working a lot on my novel, as well as doing other things in my life. I wrote four chapters, the novel’s premise, and most of the emotional character arcs to go with that premise. I’m still working on those of the last two main characters, Melanie and Alex. I haven’t mentioned them on this site. Setting up steps to obtain a long-range goal (in this case, finishing the first book in my AVS novel) and then scheduling deadlines to do each step and days to work on them, really help. One cost has been neglect of my two blogs (this one and my Goodreads one). Just wanted to let you know I haven’t abandoned you, friends. I am thinking of you and of this blog. Luke and Carletta haven’t yet revealed what they will say and do in the continuation of the interview I recorded in October–but then, I haven’t looked over the rest of the questions and thought about it, so I can’t put all the blame on them. Rest assured that Luke is cooking up more dastardly plans than we have yet seen. I haven’t had a lot of chance to look into those plans, partly because he doesn’t actually appear until the second book in the series, and I have been concentrating on the first. Bug me, and I will be more likely to get out the interview sooner.

Carletta’s Second Interview: Not-so-sweet 16 Responds to the Rest of the Questions


To refer to the original Vampire Lover Blog Award
and its questions, here is the link:

I close my dripping umbrella and walk in the door of Starbucks. Luke insisted it would have to be after dark, of course. I look around and don’t see either of the vampires I invited. I look at my watch: It’s 7:09 p.m. I’m already nine minutes late because of the stupid bus. Hoping (and at the same time fearing) they didn’t stand me up, I choose a quiet corner with a black padded couch and matching chair and a table where I lie my briefcase. Chilled, I order an herb tea. As I turn around again, there she is—Carletta, in the flesh. I didn’t hear her enter. I have to remind myself she is only five feet tall, because her presence is bigger than I imagined. She is not dressed for the weather, and it doesn’t appear to bother her. A short white dress with a big red buckle, red lipstick, and red nail polish accentuate her short red hair, and her gray eyes above her cheek-top freckles look huge. I don’t think it’s just the mascara and the eye liner. They’re bigger than I imagined.

“What are you staring at?” she says. Every head in the place turns, every eye looks her way when she speaks. Carletta straightens; the ghost of a smile crosses her face. In most circumstances, she would be grinning and winking at all the guys.

“N-nothing,” I find myself stammering. But I am staring. Without stepping closer, I’m looking for the flecks of green I’m always mentioning in those eyes—and wondering, with a frightening thrill, whether I will see her eyes glow. It could happen . . . Something could anger her or she could grow hungry.  She is a predator, I remind myself. My hands tremble. Should I shake her hand? It seems inappropriate. “I’m Robin,” I say.

“Robin,” a voice echoes behind and to my right. Confused, I turn to see it’s only the woman behind the counter telling me my tea is ready. I grab it and feel it warm my hand.

“Well,” Carletta says, “let’s get on with it.” Her voice is dry; could she be nervous? She gazes about the room and says under her breath, “Nothing to listen to here.” When I see everyone else turn back to their business again, I think, These are not the droids you’re looking for. If she wields that much power over people, maybe it’s for the best Luke didn’t show.

I motion to the corner I chose. “I guess Luke couldn’t come,” I say.

“Who’s Luke?” she says, smoothing her skirt as she takes the chair.

“I thought I told you this would be a double interview. Mix it up, make it more interesting.” I pull out a tape recorder and a folder of papers.

“I don’t remember you saying that. Whatever. Why’d you want to do this, anyway? Those written answers weren’t enough?” She looks at my humble, old-fashioned cassette recorder and makes a face.

“They were great,” I say, taking the rest of the questions out of a folder. “So I wanted to hear how you’d answer the other ones people posed. And I figure it’d be nice if they could see you, so to speak.”

“Why that old thing?” She points to the tape recorder.

“Sometimes I can’t read my own notes,” I confess. “And I want to catch everything.”

Assuring her I don’t have a camera with me, I set up the mic, pick up my scratch pad and the list from the Vampire Lover’s Blog Award, and begin with the first: “Does living as a vampire have the same appeal as prior to being turned?”

Carletta cocks her head. “You think it appealed to me then? Well, maybe it did—sort of. Next question.”

I’m thinking that’s not a full answer, but I don’t want to raise her ire. So I ignore the rest of the question, and go on to the second: “What aspects of humanity or being human have you lost or used less—“


The voice, though quiet, startles me into jumping in my seat. I look up. The contrast can hardly be over-emphasized. The man standing at Carletta’s side is six just short of six foot three, I know, and his voice is cool and confident. “Answer her first question.”

Carletta grey eyes lock with Luke’s blue ones. The color drains from her face (Carletta isn’t pale like your stereotyped vampire; her complexion tends toward the rosy side and reddens from sunlight). Luke’s moods don’t change his beige complexion; it isn’t his real color but the work of a cosmetologist. His eyes are what I always like to describe as china blue—beautiful, winning, contrasting to his dark brown hair, which I cannot see the length of at the moment.

“What question?” Carletta says.

Calmly, Luke repeats the words he must have heard before I knew he was anywhere near.

“I was so young—“ she stammers. “It’s hard to tell. I just wanted to get free—out. I wanted the power for myself, or at least to just be myself.” Her fists pound against her thighs.

Suddenly Luke is seated right next to me on the couch, leaning over the page of questions. He looks up and delivers the second part of the current one: “If you had to do it over, would you?”

“I—don’t know . . .”

“Tell us the truth,” he says, his mature confidence belying his apparent youth (Luke was 18 when turned).

“I . . . think I would have tried to just run. With Mom’s help.” She looks up. Now her fingers are interlacing like she is trying to untie knots. “But—I don’t think we would have gotten too far as long as I was just a weak, ordinary human being.” Her eyes plead. What happened to all her power and confidence?

Still calm, Luke looks back at the page.

“Who are you?” Carletta blurts out. “Get out of my head!”

“Carletta, this is Luke,” I say. “If I didn’t tell you he was also to be interviewed tonight, I’m terribly sorry. But I was sure I did.”

“Just—get him out of here,” she breathes.

Luke gets up and goes to the counter. From the back, I can see his long, wavy ponytail. I imagine it tied with a ribbon like George Washington’s, and I wonder whether Luke ever actually met the Commander in Chief during the Revolution. What kind of war is brewing between him and Carletta? If he doesn’t leave or back down, will she stick with the interview? He has done a good job of uncovering things so far. It occurs to me that this break from the interrogation is strategic. I am the journalist. I should be in control of the interview. I turn back to Carletta, who is composing herself and looking tough. And she is tough. I don’t know how many people she has killed. Have they all been male? Even that I don’t know, but I see her glaring at Luke’s back as he orders something. She wouldn’t dare try to kill a vampire as powerful as him, would she? “I’m going to go on with this interviewing,” I say. “I didn’t intend for him to do it.”

Carletta breathes a sigh and leans back, crossing her hands behind her head.

I read, “What aspects of humanity or being human have you lost or used less—or have diminished the most?

“Robin, I am still human. I’m not the undead type.” She gazes at Luke again. He adds cream to his coffee and glances our way. Carletta leans forward and squints at him. I hope she won’t insist he leave the premises. He arrived even later than her; there’s no telling when I’ll get a chance to meet with him again.

“Next question,” I say. “From what you’ve witnessed yourself, do the history books have it right?”

“History books don’t tell you what it’s like to be a vampire. Most history books won’t even tell you we exist. They just talk about superstition mumbo-jumbo and maybe ideas from novels and movies.”

I nod and scribble her answer, not trusting to the tape recorder to catch it all and worrying something might happen to the cassette.

Luke, still at the counter, takes a sip of his coffee. He’s looking at me questioningly. “Excuse me,” I say to Carletta. “I’ll be right back.”

I walk up to Luke.

“I want to apologize for being late,” he says. “I had unexpected business to attend to.”

“And how about for barging into the interview and taking over?” I whisper.

“You needed some help,” he says.

“I’m not sure I welcome your approach,” I went on. “I wasn’t sure if she was going to burst into tears or go on a rampage.”

“She can hear you,” he said. “You are a mousy interviewer.”

“I prefer to think of myself as tactful.”

Luke laughs. “Let’s see if we can strike a deal,” he says, and motions me back to our corner. He offers to let Carletta assist me in interviewing him if he can assist in interviewing her. When I hesitate, he says, “Come on, this is Starbuck’s. We’re not going to do anything here.”

“I don’t think it’s a fair offer,” I say.

Carletta, however, protests that I’m calling her weaker than Luke.

“So you agree?” Luke asks. He sits beside me again and takes a long swallow of his steaming coffee.

“How do you do that?” Carletta says.

For a moment I don’t know what she means. But Luke does. “It’s not hard when you take the proper steps. Especially with a substance as simple as coffee. Maybe I’ll teach you, if you be a good sport and accept my challenge.”

“Really?” She licks her lips and sounds too much like a little girl. “Let’s do it,” she says.

Luke’s eyes sparkle. He raises an eyebrow a minuscule degree.

I look down at my tea with the strange sensation that my ability to drink it is a privilege that must be unusual for vampires. I take off the cover and see it’s well steeped, but I feel awkward taking a sip.

Luke looks down at the page and points to me with his thumb.

I read the next question aloud: “What’s it like to be a vampire?”

“That’s a big question!” Carletta says. “It’s like—well, it depends on who you are and how powerful you are.” She looks down at the floor a moment. “For me, the power feels good. But—I want more so I can be safer.” I’ve seen this before, this drive to release secrets; it’s so strong, she abandons the danger. Luke is watching her expectantly. “Sometimes the power gets out of control. And it’s a lot of work, too—hiding what you are from the people around you. And scary. Everybody who knows what you are wants you dead! Just about everybody, anyway. My poor mother, she just wants to cure me. Thinks it’s a disease. I don’t want to hurt her for anything.”

I don’t expect such a confession from Carletta. Earlier, she was no doubt under the influence of Luke’s powers. But she smelled that rat, and he changed tactics. I don’t know whether he’s influencing her again, or whether she is starving to express herself. I move on to the next question from the compiled list: “Do you miss food, the sun, or your heartbeat more?”

“Do I really need to answer all these questions? Even the ones that assume things that just aren’t true?” She heaves a theatrical sigh and makes a dismissive hand gesture as she says, “If I didn’t have a heartbeat, my boyfriend would be really suspicious. And I can handle sunshine—don’t like it, but it hasn’t killed me yet.” She gazes at Luke’s coffee cup as he savors its contents again. “I miss the food! Drives me crazy when Mom insists on having me at the dinner table with her and I have to smell all her cooking and watch her eat while I down a bag of blood.” Does she smell my tea? Is she envious? Maybe I shouldn’t care, but I don’t want to get a vampire upset at me.

Luke reads the next question to himself, grins, and reads with mock innocence: “Are there any female vampires around?”

Carletta rolls her eyes. “You see what I mean? Idiots! To whoever wrote that question, I’d say, Ehem! You’re talking to one! I’ll bet a guy wrote that question.”

Luke nods.

“Leave it to a guy to ask a question like that,” she says. “Next!”

I see no harm in letting Luke continue.

“Is ‘live’ blood more beneficial than bagged blood?” he asks.

“Yeah. But don’t tell my mother.”

“Wow,” Luke says, “your mother is . . .”

“Yeah,” Carletta says.

They seem to be getting along now. I am relieved. Less self-conscious, I let my tea warm my insides.

“Is it true that the last blood from a dying person is sweeter due to their fear of death?” I add the rest of that question.

“Sweet’s not the word. Wilder. Tarter.”

Luke pauses over the next question. He looks introspective, closing his eyes, and his lips twitch in a repeated smile. Then he raises his brows as he asks Carletta, “What was your first feed or kill like?” His eyes lock with hers.

Carletta coughs. “That’s none of your business.”

Luke entices her with his coffee. “I said I’d think about teaching you my secret if you answer all these questions honestly.”

“I don’t like coffee!” she cries out.

A few people look her way. Plainly, she has lost some control over the rest of the room.

“How long has it been since you drank any coffee?” Luke says quietly.

“I don’t—I didn’t—Those are two different questions in my case,” her voice began to charge. “Maybe more than two. Does the drink that turned me count? That—that was a nightmare.” She lowered her voice, apparently giving up her “Jedi” trick and using plain human volume control for privacy. “After that it was a nightmare until I got some human blood. Then I wanted more and more. I didn’t kill at first. Wait . . . My first kill . . . Do I really have to go there?”

Luke leans back. “It’s okay,” he said. “Some of us hold those memories more pleasantly than others.”

Pleasantly? I wince. I look down at the page, eager to go on, and am glad to see the one question I contributed to the bunch. I ask: “If you had the choice to no longer be a vampire—to just be a human again—would you go for it?”

That seems to give the girl a chance to compose herself again. She looks around the Starbuck’s, muttering under her breath at the others, “You can’t hear us,” but when she answers, her voice is subdued. “That’s a hard question. I think sometimes I’d be happier if I wasn’t a killer. But I’d be so vulnerable!”

“That’s right, you would be vulnerable,” Luke says. To both of us, he says, “I don’t know why some people insist on fantasizing that there’s a way out—especially when it’s the best life available.”

“I understand your point of view, Luke,” I say, “but I’m the interviewer, and it’s my decision to ask all the questions in the contest that weren’t answered in the other interviews. So the next one is, “If you had the chance to be human again to do one thing, what would it be?”

“Just one day to be normal!” Carletta chimes, smiling and breathing in some imaginary scents. “I’d eat a nice Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and boyfriend with plenty of pecan pie and whipped cream.”

Luke snorts. “Look, you can have that anyway. I can teach you.”

“Will you?” she pleads.

“I’m not sure you’ve done a good enough job to earn it,” Luke says. “Of course, there is a price for such things. Let me do the next question.” He reads it. “Hm. This is an odd one. What do you make of it, Carletta? It says, How much is a pint of blood?”

“Duh—a pint! And no, I don’t sell or buy it. I get it free. A pint is enough to whet my appetite. Again, don’t tell my mom. She thinks her supply from the bloodmobile is enough.”

“Your mother is a fool,” Luke says.

“You’re tellin’ me!” Carletta nods emphatically. “I have her wrapped around my little finger.”

“That’s good,” Luke said. He reads some more. “Now they want a science lesson. Let’s see how you do on this one, kid. It says, Vampire physiology must be very different from human physiology. How is human blood digested and processed in the blood system?” He restrains a chuckle.

“Oh, man.” Carletta runs a hand through her hair. “First off, nobody’s ‘blood system’ digests anything.”

Luke nods. “Good call.”

“But I’m not a scientist,” she continues, “so I’m not sure exactly how it works. It’s a mystery to the few people who have managed to study it. Most humans would just think I was crazy and try to lock me up, so I keep a low profile. I don’t hang around with other vampires—well, not normally—so I’m not sure what they’ve figured out. Do you know, Luke?”

Luke makes a motion of dangling something in front of her. Carletta purses her lips. “Never mind.”

“Go ahead with the next one, Robin,” Luke says.

So I ask, “What happens if you suck your own blood?”

“It tastes good—different from a human’s—a sort of cold fire. But pretty quick, I just get hungry again.”

Then I read, “According to folklore, vampires can’t cross moving water. Does this present problems for you?”

“Tell that dude I’ve never had trouble crossing any kind of water,” Carletta says. “Don’t believe everything you hear or read.”

I then ask, “Is it possible some vampire-related genes can be passed down through human bloodlines over the centuries?”

Carletta draws in a sharp breath. Luke leans forward. “Maybe,” the girl says. “But it’s—it’s very rare for live vampires to have children, and—and the undead ones can’t at all.” Her face is pale again. “Vampires who have children or descendants have more power over those children and descendants than they do over other people.”

“Really,” Luke says. “How do you know that?”

To my amazement, she looks as if she is about to break down. “I think I’d better go.”

“But we’re almost done,” I say.

“And I haven’t taught you my secret about food,” Luke says.

“Just because you can drink a cup of coffee without barfing doesn’t mean you can have a whole Thanksgiving dinner,” she says.

“Oh, but I can! If you stick around, I’ll show you what I can eat. Robin, see what’s left at the counter.”

I resent being ordered around when interviewing someone. But nonetheless, I find myself at the counter looking at a limp salad and a tuna sandwich. I order the sandwich. I hear Luke saying, “Do vampires possess a soul? What difference does having or not having a soul make? What happens when you die? Assuming you can actually die . . . Can you?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” Carletta says. “And deep ones. I don’t know if anybody has a soul. I guess if I have a soul, I’m on the way to Hell, so really I hope I don’t.”

I hurry back with the sandwich, feeling an urge to comfort the poor little murderer, tell her there is a way she could stay out of Hell. It isn’t the point of the interview, but . . .

“Let’s get this overwith,” Carletta says as I hand Luke the sandwich. “What was the other question?”

“Can you actually die?” He looks at her as if he is hopeful about the possibility.

“You know I can die, Luke, you—“

“It wasn’t my question,” he says. “You’d do better to maintain a little more control, young lady.” He breaks open the sandwich bag with a fang that the other people in Starbucks cannot see.

“Yes, I can die. It’s harder to kill vampires, but it can be done.” She hangs her head as if admitting defeat.

“Why don’t you leave off tormenting the girl?” I say to Luke.

“Was I tormenting her?” he says innocently. “Carletta? I offer you something you really want, and I get this treatment?”

“Please, no more questions!” Carletta cries. “I can’t handle it!”

“There’s just one more,” I say. I don’t think this one will upset you. Would you date a werewolf?”

Luke chomps into his sandwich. “Mm-mm,” he mutters.

Carletta lifts her head, and silent laughter escapes from her. “That’s it? That’s the last question? I might, if he’s cute. I’ve never met a werewolf, as far as I know.”

Luke swallows his food and sets the sandwich down. “Only a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he says with a smirk.

“Does that mean you’re not keeping your promise?” she says.

“I didn’t promise, brat,” he returns. “The only thing I promised is that you get to help interview me next.”

Carletta’s hands bunch into fists again. The green flecks in her eyes spark with the hope of revenge. For a moment, I am lost in that hope, forgetting who I am and what I stand for. We shall see if sweet revenge is for her—or whether she ends up being able to eat anything sweet. Her two goals are mutually exclusive. Luke must have planned it that way.

Still a Vampire Lover? Time to Make a Choice

There you have it, folks: Five interviews with five vampires, eleven questions each. As the eleventh hour approaches, how do you react when you hear them outside your door? Would you let one in? Would you dare interview one yourself?  Perhaps ask for–or allow–something much more? 

Calm, Cool, and Condemned: Luke answers 11 questions

I’ve been told I don’t have to link to the questioners; that makes my job a lot easier from here on out. I bring you now a vampire who’s older and more settled in his ways than Carletta, though certainly no less deadly. Watch out now for Luke!

If you live forever, or for thousands of years, and are difficult to kill, and are very strong and powerful… how do you not become a sociopath? And go off and start doing anything you want and acting on any impulse? (Katya)

Why wouldn’t I do whatever I want? Don’t you? Or wouldn’t you if you could get away with it? But no, I don’t act on every impulse. Some pleasures are better spread over time. I pride myself on my self-control. I was raised to be a gentleman. That training can come in handy.

From what you’ve witnessed yourself, do the history books have it right? (Sylvie)

What do you mean by “it,” Sylvie? History books change over time, and vary from country to country. One particular figure in American history became quite the scapegoat: General Benedict Arnold was a great hero in most eyes, before I helped him fall into infamy. He became a bitter, miserable man—just like I like them.

Is ‘live’ blood more beneficial than bagged blood? Is it true that the last blood from a dying person is sweeter due to their fear of death? (Dii)

Vampires were not made to live on bagged blood. Think: Which came first, blood or bags? Most vampires may love the taste of the kill. I am more of a spiritual man. I have a taste for souls. Better than just ending a life is making certain that that life ends up in Hell. I find that victory delicious!

Do you find the idea of being undead – ‘living’ for ever, sleeping in a coffin, and so on – as horrifying as I do? (Lucinda Elliot)

My undead existence is not an idea. It is my reality. Do you find your own life horrifying? It was in order to live forever that I chose to become a vampire. Consider the alternative. I am something of a traditionalist in that I prefer to sleep in a coffin. It’s quite comfortable. One likes what one is used to.

If you had the chance to be human again to do one thing, what would it be? (Justin Bienvenue)

Become the Antichrist.

What significance, if any, does gender identity and sexual (etc.) orientation have for vampires? (fjf)

It depends very much on the vampire—what they are like to begin with, and what they focus on after they’re turned. I’m not sure what you mean by the etcetera, so I’ll just address the sexual aspects. Being a vampire has not made me cease to be a man, that is, an adult male. I cannot produce children, but I can function sexually quite well. I never have wanted to be a woman or dress like one, but I appreciate beauty. In rebellion against the Creator I use my sexuality, like I use my other abilities, to corrupt others along with myself. Preference, orientation, it’s all a means to an end for me. There is so much to take! I despise vampires who are squeamish about what they are and what they can do.

Vampire physiology must be very different from human physiology – how is human blood digested and processed in the blood system? (Jeff Dawson)

I assume you mean How is the blood digested (in the digestive system) and processed into the circulatory system. This question can only be answered by studying vampires who are “alive,” and most are hostile to experimentation. Of course, that doesn’t stop me when I find one I dislike who is unable to exact revenge. I’ve had the opportunity now and then. A vampire’s blood is quite different from a human’s, transforming the system of any human who drinks it. We need human blood to thrive. Our stomachs can not only tolerate large amounts of it at a time, they are nourished by it. Most of the ingredients of human blood are useful to our bodies. Our powerful stomach acids begin the transformation of the blood from human to vampire. The blood is absorbed by the stomach walls and enters our bloodstream much faster than a human can digest its food. Hence, imbibing affects us almost as quickly as an injection. 

Do vampires possess a soul? What difference does having or not having a soul make? What happens when you die? (Assuming you can actually die… Can you? (Francis Franklin)

Interestingly put—a soul? All vampires possessing the same one? That would be fascinating, but I assume it was a typo. It depends on what you mean. If you mean a conscience that makes you a do-gooder, I don’t think so. Angel of television makes me laugh. Any of you still recall him? Getting his soul back at the whim of a gypsy? Losing it again from a roll in the hay with a so-called slayer? When we die, I can tell you our bodies don’t just vanish or turn to dust like in some of the movies. What’s convenient (for us) is that a dead vampire’s body resembles a human’s unless you really know what you’re looking for. What’s inconvenient (for you) is that if you kill a vampire, you will likely be arrested for murder.

Do you believe in ‘true love’ and ‘soul mates’? (Francis Franklin)

Ha! I had infatuations in puberty, when I was still human. Love is a chemical reaction in the brain whereby humans tend to reproduce and rear young, to keep the species alive. It’s useful, of course, to keep our food supply going, but any vampire who might claim to be in love is delusional.

Would you date a werewolf? (Francis Franklin)

Why not? My familiar demon is a wolf. I’ve seen much through his eyes. And wolves have a reputation for devouring “sheep,” even while dressed in their clothing. I suppose you’re suspecting some kind of innate animosity between vampires and werewolves. That’s a modern misconception. Even Bram Stoker’s Dracula took the form of a wolf.  

Should humans tolerate the existence of vampires? (Francis Franklin)

That’s a funny question for a human to ask a vampire. What am I supposed to answer—no, you should chase us all down to the ends of the earth and expend all the efforts you can to kill us all? But maybe you are asking for justification for our existence. So many of you love us so much, why would you want us to not exist? We are the stuff of your nightmares and fantasies. We help you live with the darkness in yourselves. Without us, without all evil creatures, how would you recognize the good? Or is there really any good at all? If there isn’t, at least with our help, you can feel that there is. You humans seem to need that belief.