Book blurb: Eighteen year old Rick Thompson is a marked man. When Damien Masonite comes to his school, he knows something is up. And when his friends start falling to vampire attacks, he knows that he and his girlfriend Laura are next. The quest to understand immortality, true love and undying friendship compromise his safety even more. Can he keep his best friends, his true love and keep his mortal life?
We welcome author Derek Clendening.
Ever hear writers tell stories about how it took them ten years to write a novel? Well, The Vampire Way took nine. As I write this post, I am hours removed from having finished writing the sequel Blood Promise, which took four months. Big difference, huh? So, if one took me so long, why should the sequel be so darn easy?
To start, I first conceived the idea for The Vampire Way in the summer of 1999. I was 17 and would turn 18 that November. Part of the trouble is that I was an aspiring writer in the truest sense of the word. I hadn’t learned how to properly develop an idea, unfold a plot and characters etc. I don’t beat myself up over that though. It’s pretty forgivable.
Here’s how the original story went: Rick Thompson, an 18 year old high school senior, who is horror-obsessed and an aspiring writer, meets a pretty girl named Laura. Said pretty girl turns out to be a vampire and is behind a few killings. It’s okay to tell you about that. No spoilers there. The initial concept is nowhere close to the book it became. Laura was rewritten as a regular human girl in following drafts. Certain major characters and themes didn’t arrive until 2001 or later. The reason for that, I think, is because I had to make sense of some things that happened to me in the fall of 1999.
A friend I grew up with, whose father was best friends with my father growing up (it’s a small town guys, haha) succumbed to cancer on my 18th birthday. Another of our friends died in a car accident a few weeks later. I felt a type of survivor’s guilt because my friends were gone and I was lucky enough to be able to live my life. Those emotional aches and pains were incorporated into the book. My own quest to become a better person, in spite of the mistakes I may commit in the process, is thematically significant as Rick strives to become a better person.
In short, I needed the experiences that came later that fall, and the maturity that came in the following years to tell the story properly. I needed nearly a decade to make the story reach its full potential. Writing a sequel was easy because I knew the characters so well. Rick Thompson had become my best friend. I only hope that a reader can achieve the personal growth from the book as I did.
Excerpt from The Vampire Way:
Damien Masonite’s heart quickened when he raised the stake and hammer high above his head and poised himself. He had to kill his father tonight, but he worried that he wouldn’t have the guts.
To him, killing should’ve been easy, but he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking. Watching Dad suffer changed everything he knew about life, but the old man wouldn’t know what hit him if he did it quickly enough. He wouldn’t suffer and Damien wouldn’t have any remorse.
Listening to the rain pelt the roof, his hands shuddered, and he rested the stake and hammer. It didn’t matter if his father was suffering; he knew that he wasn’t strong enough to finish him.
Staring at Dad’s slackened jaw and the sweat streaming down his face, he asked himself how he could be so selfish. Since Mom was staked in Toronto last year, Dad’s life had taken a nose dive; he was feeding less, and allowing his body to weaken.
Closing his eyes, Damien wanted to shut out the nightmare, but the terror enveloped him when he opened them. Certainly no other vampire family would have expected this to happen to them, he thought. Remembering all the times that Dad had sat him on his lap, telling him about the plentiful blood of his youth, he would also tell him about how books and movies had ruined their lives. The entire game had changed and it had forced them to move from town to town. Damien knew that once this was over, he would have to start a new life somewhere new, except this time he would have to do it alone.
What is this feeling? Damien thought. Guilt seemed likely to him, since his own selfishness had allowed the old man to get sick. Whenever they’d fed, Dad had ignored his own needs, leaving the blood for him and Candace, and they had consumed it all, no questions asked. He was sure that if he’d forced Dad to take some blood for himself, he would’ve stayed healthy.
Dropping to his knees, he cupped Dad’s clammy hands.
“Anything I can do to make you more comfortable?” Damien asked.
“Make me a promise.”
“Carry on our name; I can’t bear to think that you’re the last. Only you have the power to make our family powerful again.”
But I’m only eighteen, he thought. He wouldn’t dare say it.
“Everyone knows about us. They think we’re normal then they figure us out.”
Damien knew the sting of rejection all too well, particularly after they were run out of Toronto. Blood was plentiful in cities, but competition from other families was always tooth and nail. Knowing that rural people were never as naïve as they let on, they never managed to stay in small towns for long either. He was positive that if he could have stayed in any school for more than a semester, he wouldn’t have had to depend on family to break up the loneliness.
“What should I do to make us strong again?” Damien asked.
“You’re powerful,” Dad whispered, “even if you don’t know it.”
“But we’re running out of places to go.”
“Try the town I wanted to move to next and you’ll find yourself there.”
Damien stared at his chest and sucked in a deep breath.
“Every town has perfect blood,” Dad said. “I’ve never found it myself, but it’s there for the taking if you look hard enough. Whoever has it can expose you, but their blood can make you powerful again. If you find that person in Fort Erie, drink them dry and convert them.”
“But who am I looking for?”
Dad’s eyes fluttering, Damien worried that he’d be gone before he could tell him the answer.
“I need you to do something important,” Dad said.
“Finish me.” His lungs wheezed as he exhaled a deep breath. “Take that stake and drive it straight through my heart.”
Feeling relieved that Dad wanted to be finished, Damien was also glad that he didn’t have to decide for him. He gripped the stake and hammer then raised them over his head and paused.
“I’ll never let you down.”
Closing his eyes, he pounded the stake into the old man’s chest, and a spray of hot blood struck his skin. Positive that he’d done the right thing, he still dropped to his knees, and buried his face in Dad’s chest to smother his tears.
When Dad’s chest stopped heaving, Damien decided that the mortals were responsible for his pain. Standing tall, he stretched his arm like eagle’s wings, and screamed at the top of his voice. He decided to mourn for Dad before moving on, but nothing would stand in the way of his mission.
The mortals had to pay.
* * *
Fort Erie, Ontario
Sitting slumped on a rock, Damien stared out at the Niagara River, and thought about Dad. Watching the water smacking against the rocks that lined the river soothed him whenever he felt down. It had quickly become his favorite spot. Next, he glanced up at the Peace Bridge and saw that traffic was backing up.
Coping with his pain had been a daily struggle but taking care of Candace and making his own decisions made him feel like more of a man. He’d buried Dad in the back yard, packed his few belongings, hit the road, and hadn’t looked back since. All that mattered to him was his new life in Fort Erie.
“What are you looking at?” Candace asked.
“You’ve broken the rules.” He didn’t turn to face her. “You know that I want to be alone when I’m sitting here.”
Brushing her off was no big deal to him because he was in charge now, and she was to obey his rules.
“You sure this is the right place?” She asked.
“Dad would’ve wanted you to trust me.”
“How do you know they won’t figure us out like they did in Toronto or Hamilton?”
“Look around you.”
Hopping off of the rock, he inched closer to the water, and rested his hands on his hips.
“The mortals don’t suspect a thing,” he said.
“How can you be sure?”
“I just know.”
Instinct had taken him this far and he wanted to keep trusting his gut. They had stayed in an empty house tucked away in the woods and Damien had read that it was haunted. Peace and quiet at last.
“We’ve hardly fed in a month,” she said. “I’m starving and I want to go home!”
“Don’t you get it? This is home!”
She shut up.
“School starts in a week and I’m already enrolled at Fort Erie High,” he said.
“But I wanted to go to school this year!” Her hands were on her hips and her eyebrows were slanted.
“We can’t be seen together. We screw this up, we move again. You want that?”
“At least let me have the first kill.”
“Dad died because of selfish thinking. Now we’re all each other have and we have to look out for each other’s good.”
“Won’t going to school keep you from finding the perfect mortal?”
“He’s out there . . . or she.” He found himself almost hypnotized by the water.
“What happens to us if you don’t?”
He shook his head. “It’s just a matter of time.”
About the author:
Derek Clendening lives in Fort Erie, Ontario where he works at the public library. When not writing, he enjoys reading and is a die hard football fan (Go Bills!)
Derek's blog: www.thehorrorofderekclendening.blogspot.com
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