31 days of Halloween – Tony V. Sweeney
I suppose my fascination with the paranormal began with the fairy tales I was told as a child. All those wicked witches and enchanted princesses and such and movies and television haven’t helped. I’ve always been intrigued by the supernatural, whether it’s vampires, dragons, or sprites and faeries. Well, I’ve written about vampires, and about faeries, as well as enchanted princes, but have yet to pen anything about a dragon, so maybe that’still somewhere in my future.
Compared to some, my paranormal bibliography isn’t that long since I generally head into space opera/fantasy when I write, but a few years back, I got into a Sci-Fi/horror/mystery whirl and wrote a story I originally titled Blood Hunt. I wasn’t exactly satisfied with that, however, since I felt it didn’t really convey what I wanted for the story. Since there were several books by that same name around, I went through a series of title-changes before settling on Murder in Old Blood which, as far as I was concerned, summed up the plot of the story pretty well. It’s just a wee bit off the beaten orbit because it’s a vampire story set in the far future in a time when vampires are recognized as existing and have been arrested and placed in concentration camps. Then someone starts killing them off by placing silver nitrate in their blood supply. A vampire and a policewoman begin to investigate and what they discover is the main part of the story, along with their love affair and its consequences.
It was an interesting story to write, mainly because my vampires were more traditional than otherwise, having contempt for the “Breathers” as they called humans even though they were confined and imprisoned by what they considered a weaker species. And they sure got in some “zingers” about their captors through the course of the book.
Inspired by the success of Murder in Old Blood, I went on to write The Irish Lady’s Spanish Lover, which is set in Ireland and features an Irish vampire, a deaerg-due, who is a Spanish conde’s son, killed after the sinking of the Armada off Ireland’s coast in 1588. I did a lot of research before I started writing—about the Armada, about Ireland, the language and some of its more inspiring geographical sights, which are featured in the book. The vampire isn’t the main attraction, however, but the love story between a crippled ballerina and an Irish architect, with its hints of reincarnation, is.
My three other jaunts into the paranormal were two Black Rose novelettes for The Wild Rose Press: Love, Vampire Style, in which a young vampire leaves home to keep from being forced into marriage and runs smack into the arms of the girl of his dreams, and Demon in Blue Jeans, where a low-achieving demon and a starry-eyed young miss fall under the Devil’s spell. Those were both fun to write and they’re both light-hearted pieces. The third was another novel, Wizard’s Wife, the story of a young lady who marries a near-stranger only to discover he’s a faery wizard sent to save the world from an invasion by an evil sorcerer. This was another book I enjoyed writing because it involved knights and sorcerers and faery werewolves and unicorns. Since the wizards were Irish, there was a lot of Gaelic spoken in the story and eventually, I decided to include a glossary at the end so readers could actually translate what they were saying. There’s plenty of superstitions and references to Irish legends, too.
My one jaunt into what I consider “pure” horror is Serpent’s Tooth, a reworking of Faust with the famed scholar becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star who sells his soul for fame and fortune and then tries to back out of the pact. Since I was living in Nebraska at the time, I couldn’t resist making my “hero” a Nebraska college student who “makes it big”…much to his everlasting regret. It got some good reviews, I’m happy to say, one reviewer even saying, “…it will show horror fans that slice and dice just doesn’t stand up to understated and/or realistic horror…”
I just finished another novel, Bride of the Beast, which is a spin on the “Beauty and the Beast” story. Set in ancient Egypt, the Beast is a Hebrew prince cursed by God and the Beauty is an Egyptian princess who marries him. Again, I did research on Jewish customs as well as ancient Egyptian ones, then added my own spin to tell a love story that in itself is a bit unusual.
By now, you’ve probably noticed that the one thread running through all this rambling is that I did research. No matter what the setting or the era or the place, I tried to check it out and make it as authentic and accurate as possible. My readers may not care that the Armada went down in 1588 instead of 1518 or that both ancient Egyptians and ancient Hebrews both practiced circumcision or that a unicorn can only be captured by a virgin who entices it to place its head in her lap…but there’s always that one reader who’ll see a flaw and comment on it and it’s that special one I’m writing for, the one who loves the details and wants it correct no matter how insignificant the fact.
So, to you, my dear flaw-finding, nit-picky reader, whoever you are, I dedicate my paranormal novels, and every thrill and chill and scary, magical moment in them. Read on and have a Happy Hallowe’en!
Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. Her first novel was published in 1989. An accomplished artist as well as writer, she has a degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Art. When she isn’t writing, Toni also creates book trailers for herself and others. She maintains a website for herself and her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone, and has been associated with the South Coast Writer's Association, the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers, and several other writer’s loops. Bride of the Beast is her 28th novel.
More about Toni can be found at these websites: http://www.tonivsweeney.com/
http://www.icysnowblackstone.com/ and also on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Her book trailers (and those she’s done for other authors) can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/tvsweeney and http://www.youtube.com/user/icsnow14