Guest Post: Meredith Allard
The Larks would like to welcome Meredith Allard to the Nest today.
Written by Meredith Allard
It was a surprise to me when I came up with an idea for a vampire trilogy, especially since I wasn’t that into the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. As I began my journey into the vampire world, having decided to write my own vampire story, I noticed that some readers are very particular about how they like their vampires. I’ve seen more than one criticism that vampires these days are too soft. Vampires are bloodthirsty, angry, violent creatures of the night, they say. That’s what vampires have always been, and that’s what they always should be. Fair enough, since we all have our likes and dislikes about what we like to read.
I realized that I had another important decision to make as I was writing both Her Dear & Loving Husband and the second book in the trilogy, Her Loving Husband’s Curse. How violent were my vampires going to be? As I stated in a previous guest blog post, the main reason I had never been into the vampire genre was because I’m not a fan of violence in any way, shape, or form. I can’t even watch The Real Housewives because their heated arguments are too much for me. I’m not a wimp (well, maybe a bit), but it’s not entertaining to me to see people or animals being hurt. As I was deciding how brutal my vampires would be in their search for blood to drink, I had to consider what violence means to me.
I’m not fascinated by violence. To me, violence is the lowest common denominator. When we’re angry we want to lash out, physically or verbally, whether it’s with loved ones, the barista at Starbucks, at that guy in the gray BMW who cut us off in traffic. To me, giving into violence is weakness because it means I’m letting outside circumstances control my emotions and my behavior. And it seems, as I get older, that it’s becoming more accepted to be mean and rude and angry and violent.
Rising above that violence to be calm and rational, even kind, is an amazing thing, especially since it’s so easy to give into the anger. It takes an extra thought process, an extra determination, to overcome the fury. Now I was onto something. Overcoming our baser instincts to be better than we are. That fascinates me. And that’s the journey we’re all on—struggling to be better today than we were yesterday.
That is also the journey that James Wentworth, the vampire protagonist in Her Dear & Loving Husband, is on—being better than he was. Is he violent? He can be. But he’s working toward being more human than some humans. His motto is “Live and let live.” It’s a motto I try to live by as well.
Excerpt from Her Loving Husband's Curse
I am among the masses as they limp and drag toward some foreign place they are afraid to imagine. Even in the dimness of the nearly moonless night the exhaustion, the sickness, the fear is everywhere in their swollen faces. The weaker among them, the very old and the very sick, the very young and the very frail, are driven in wagons steered by ill-tempered soldiers. The riders are not better off than the walkers, their sore, screaming bodies bumped and jostled by the wobbly wheels over the unsteady forest terrain. No one notices as a few drop like discarded rags from the wagon to the ground.
“Here!” I cry. “Let me help you. I will find water for you to drink.”
But they pass me without looking. They see nothing, hear nothing. They walk. That is all they are. Walk. That is their name. Walk. Or “Move!” That is what the soldiers scream in their faces. They struggle under the weight of the few bags they carry and stumble under the musket butts slapped into their backs. And still they do not see me.
I wave my hands in the air and yell to make myself heard over the thumping of thousands of feet.
“Here!” I cry. “Who needs something to eat?”
I push myself into the center of the mass. Men in turbans and tunics, women with their long black hair pulled from their faces as they clutch their toddlers—all focus their eyes on a horizon too far away. One old man, unsteady under the weight of the pack he carries, stumbles over some rocks and he falls. The soldiers beat him with their muskets—their futile attempt to make him stand. The man tries to push himself up but cannot, so the soldiers try the whip instead. The old man prostrates himself on the ground, arms out, face away. He has accepted that this is how he will die.
“Step around him!” the soldiers bark. And they do step around him, their eyes straight ahead. They do not see the old man any more than they see me. To acknowledge the fallen elder would force them to admit that his fate is their fate and they will all die here among unknown land and foreign trees. The old man does not stir. He does not lift his head or seem to breathe. And the people pass him by. When they stop to make their encampment for the night, the old man does not arrive.
I throw my hands into the air again, my frustration boiling the blood in my brain. “Let me help you! Why will you not listen to me?”
“Because they cannot see you.”
I have seen the man before—his blue tunic, his white turban, his solemn bearing—and he has seen me. He is an elder, his hair silver, his face a ridged map of everything he has seen, every thought he has had, every prayer he has said. There is wisdom behind his wary glance and oh so tired eyes.
“That’s ridiculous,” I say. “I am standing here among them.”
The old man shakes his head. “You are the Kalona Ayeliski. They cannot see you.”
“The Kalona Ayeliski. They cannot see the Raven Mocker.”
I watch the walkers, hundreds of them, their heads bowed under the weight of losing their possessions, their land, their ancestors, everything they had in this world and beyond, and I realize the man is right. They do not see me. They have never seen me.
“What is a Raven Mocker?” I ask.
“An evil spirit. All the Raven Mocker cares for is prolonging its own life force, and it feeds from others to do it. It tortures the dying and hastens their deaths so it can consume their hearts. The Raven Mocker receives one year of life for every year its victim would have lived.”
“I am no Raven Mocker. I mean harm to no one.”
I turn away, watching the families reuniting after the long day’s walk, children crying for their mothers, husbands searching for their wives. They are setting up their campsites, eating the meager gruel and drinking the few drops of water given them. I cannot meet the man’s eyes.
“Not for a long time,” I say. When the man’s stare bores through me, pricking me somewhere I cannot name, I shrug. “I do not hasten death in anyone,” I say. “Not anymore.”
“We shall see,” he says.
About the Books:
Her Dear & Loving Husband Book One of The Loving Husband Trilogy By Meredith Allard
James Wentworth has a secret. He lives quietly in Salem, Massachusetts, making few ties with anyone. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth's death, James cannot move on.
Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail. Despite the obstacles of their secrets, James and Sarah fall in love. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. Soon James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sarah and prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?
Part historical fiction, part romance, part paranormal fantasy, Her Dear & Loving Husband is a story for anyone who believes that true love never dies.
Her Loving Husband’s Curse Book Two of The Loving Husband Trilogy By Meredith Allard
How far will you go to protect the one you love?
Finally, after many long and lonely years, James Wentworth’s life is falling into place. Together with his wife, Sarah, the only woman he has ever loved, he has found the meaning behind her nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and now they are rebuilding the life they began together so long ago.
But the past is never far behind for the Wentworths. While Sarah is haunted by new visions, now about the baby she carried over three hundred years before, James is confronted with painful memories from his time with the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. Through it all, the persistent reporter Kenneth Hempel reappears, still determined to prove that the undead walk the earth. If Hempel succeeds in his quest, James and Sarah will suffer. Will the curse of the vampire prevent James and Sarah from living their happily ever after?
About the Author:
Meredith Allard is the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review, an award-winning literary journal for readers and writers of historical fiction. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. She has taught writing to students aged 10 to 60, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction workshops at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. Her writing has appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, Moondance, Wild Mind,Muse Apprentice Guild, The Maxwell Digest, CarbLite, Writer’s Weekly, and ViewsHound. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.