“Huh? Are we there yet?” Kat asks groggily, waking with a snort.
“Oh, you’re up now, huh? I’m so glad you finally decided to join us,” I say looking over at her. She’s got her feet propped up on the dashboard and her seat reclined. She’s treating this trip as her own personal vacation even though we’re on blog business.
“Nearly there, oh Drunken Master,” I say.
“Good. My butt’s starting to hurt and I’m exhausted.” she says with a groan. I shoot her a few death glares because it’s me who’s been driving the entire way to Thunder Bay, Ontario. We knew it’d be a journey, but when Kendare Blake agreed to our interview we jumped up and hauled ass. The things we do for our readers.
We round the corner to the house and I immediately start wondering if maybe this isn’t such a great idea. At the end of the street lies our destination, an old Victorian home against a backdrop of a darkened sky and gusting wind and rain.
“Whoa… that is so…” Kat begins.
“I was going to say ‘awesome beyond all reason’,” Kat says as she takes in the scene with wide eyes, “But creepy would suffice.” Right about now she looks like she belongs in that movie A Christmas Story and I suddenly get the urge to “triple-dog dare” her to lick a pole. I shake the thought from my mind. Playtime can wait.
We get out of the car and make our way up the porch to the door. The wind and rain bites at my exposed hands. Secretly I’m dragging because I’m a little scared shitless, but I’m not about to admit that.
Kat reaches for the knob, but the door’s already opening and a man appears at the entry way. I subconsciously take a step back. This is quickly exceeding my comfort level. Get it together, Sinclair, I mentally chide myself.
“Good Evening,” he says in a dead monotone voice. “Kat Kennedy and Stephanie Sinclair, I presume?”
“Uh, yeah… that’s us,” Kat says.
“Excellent. Come right on in. Now, now. Don’t be shy,” he mutters eerily.
Kat and I exchange looks and I gesture for her to go first into the house. To her credit, she walks in only showing the tiniest bits of nerves. I smirk at her. Must be the alcohol, I muse and she must be taken to a gay friendly rehab for a complete detox which brings out a new positive change in life.
The butler leads us into the sitting room and informs us, “Ms. Blake will be with you momentarily. It would be wise for you to remain on the couch.” He then stalks out into the passageway leaving his warning hanging in the air. I don’t need to be told twice and I practically run to the couch, which I quickly realize looks older than I am. Kat walks over and calmly sits next to me.
“Oh I like this! This is cozy. Blake’s house is officially badass!” Kat says while gazing around the room.
I’d been too busy cowering to take in my surroundings, but now that I do, I see that it’s pretty dark. A thick coat of dust covers the coffee table in front of us and another couch sits on the other side. A brick fire place, that I wish was lit, and an old grandfather clock ticking in the left corner, complete the room. ‘Cozy’ doesn’t exactly pop into my mind.
Just then Blake walks into the room, greeting us with a warm smile. She’s sporting a vintage Darth Vader t-shirt and instantly I know we’ll be great friends. Ha! You’re out numbered today, Kennedy, I think.
“Thanks for having us on such short notice,” I say with an eager smile until a tortured scream pierces the house from the upper floors. “Unless you’re…er too busy and don’t want to…”
“I’d love to do an interview with you guys,” Blake replies warmly.
“Well, thanks or having us.” I say through a nervous chuckle. Kat, seemingly oblivious to fear, is momentarily star struck by Blake and I give her a quick jab to the side with my elbow.
“Oh! Yeah, thankssomuchfordoingthis! I absolutely loved your book! I have a million questions for you!” Kat fangirls, bouncing on the balls of her feet. I realize she looks like she’s one step away from asking Blake to sign her bra, so I cut in, “Shall we get started?”
Before Blake even has the opportunity to get comfortable on the adjacent couch Kat blurts out, “Cas is a teenage ghost hunter. When he hears the legend of Anna Dressed in Blood, he feels an immediate connection and sets out to put her to rest.” She sighs happily before proceeding. “It’s an incredibly romantic concept mixed in with a tense horror novel. Did you find it difficult to make the relationship seem genuine?”
“It was a little more difficult I think because the relationship develops through Cas’ eyes, and he’s really good with blood and guts but not so much with the ladies. When Cas realized his feelings for Anna, he knew it was going to be awkward and complicated. It is a weird thing to write about a love interest who’s dead. Because, you know, doom doom doom. And also, necrophilia. Ew.” She looks at me as she says that last part and winks. I grin. Yup, I knew I was going to like her.
Kat continues without pause. “Anna is a very tortured character, but she also has incredible strength. Did you worry that audiences would find her too alien to connect with? Was there any part of her characterization that you found difficult?”
“I was worried about Anna. She kills. Innocent people. And the reader has to spend many, many pages with her, and even come to like her.” Its then, at the mention of Anna’s name, that I notice the house is eerily quiet and an empty space in the room begins to flicker. “She’s grotesque, and sort of striking. Before I wrote it, I wondered if people would connect with her, but I never considered changing who she was. Strangely enough, people seem to connect with her more than Cas sometimes,” Blake finishes. She sees me staring at the flickering space and assures me with a casual wave of her hand. Kat busts out in a fit of giggles and Blake quickly joins in. I narrow my eyes at them. Charming. They’re becoming BFFs and I’m about to piss my pants.
“Not so brave now are you, Ms. Smarty Pants?” Kat jokes.
“Next time we are running from Zombies, I’m tripping you,” I say coolly.
“But I thought you said you weren’t afraid of Anna?” she says slyly and I make a mental note to hide her Gin. “Speaking of fears,” Kat says, looking at me slyly, “do you find ghosts frightening? Were there scenes in this book that were hard to write at night?”
“Ghosts are…fascinating. People are fricken terrifying. And as luck would have it, I didn’t write any of ANNA at night! She’s given my husband, editor, and agent nightmares, but so far, not me. She knows what side her bread is buttered on,” Blake says chuckling darkly. That was only mildly disturbing, but I quickly decide that Kendare Blake is a badass.
Drip, drip, drip…
We all glance over at Anna. She’s become corporeal and it looks like she’s turning on her blood dress. I’m not exactly feeling confident about the situation, but I attempt to cover up my fear by asking my first question. “So…the covers of the Anna Dressed in Blood series are stunning! What were your thoughts when you first saw them?”
“It was probably something like, ‘Gack! URGH! Spizzle,'” she says gesturing wildly. This one is a little fireball. “That translates to I couldn’t have been happier. And I’m so glad you like them! I think the GIRL OF NIGHTMARES cover is going through a slight change. They’re saying that not all of the red will stay, so it’ll look more like the ANNA cover.”
“They are the most gorgeous covers!” Kat squeals.
“Who are you and what’ve you done with my bitchy co-blogger?” I demand. Seeing her melt into a fangirl puddle of goo both amuses and frightens me at the same time.
“Shut your mouth, Sinclair,” she snaps and I sit back with a satisfied smirk. That’s my girl. I ignore her and continue the interview. “Speaking of fangirls,” I say, giving Kat a pointed look, “Were you surprised at how well Anna Dressed in Blood was received by readers?”
“I was! And I was thrilled. It’s an amazing and curious thing, and I’m very, very grateful,” she says excitedly.
My eyes dart to Anna but, for now, she is behaving so I go on. “It’s refreshing to see a Young Adult story told by a male point-of-view. Did you always plan to have to the story told by Cas?”
“I think so. It’s hard to remember, but yes, I do think so,” she says pausing to gather her thoughts. “It was his journey, really, that interested me. Anna is such a force. She’s a catalyst and moves the people around her.” I totally understand what she means because right about now, I want to move on out of this house away from Anna.
And then Blake does the one thing I’ve been dreading: she waves Anna over to join us.
My eyes go wide with shock as my brain registers Anna slowly moving towards me. I look nervously at Blake who’s still sporting that warm smile, only now it’s doing nothing to comfort me.
“What’s wrong, Stephanie? I thought you said Anna was like a Young Adult version of Casper?” Kat asks sitting back casually with her arms crossed.
Somehow I missed the part where she went to sit next to Blake leaving the only seat left available for Anna right next to me. I’m too frightened to answer her jeer, so I just watch Anna slowly stalk towards the couch, dragging her feet along the floorboards, her long black hair falling in a cascade around her face. The sickening sound of the blood hitting the floor almost cause me to faint before she finally takes the seat next to me. I scoot as far away as possible until I’m practically hugging the arm of the sofa. She doesn’t say anything, but instead just stares blankly ahead. I squeeze my eyes shut and silently take back everything negative I said about Anna in my review. Anna gives “Queen of the Damned” new meaning.
Kat is still giving me a look that says, “You big pansy.” And she’s right. I’m totally about to lose it.
Anna makes a few inhuman noises and I feel my stomach declare civil war on my body. I think that means, “What’s up,” but I can’t be certain. Kat waves and says, “Hey, Anna! How’s it going? I’m a big fan!” Apparently, she speaks Dead Girl. Who knew? Anyway, clearly she’s enjoying herself.
I can’t trust myself to ask the next question, so I gesture to Kat to go for it. “Anna is one of the best female characters we’ve read in a long time.” She stops and gives Anna an adoring look and I’m convinced that either something in this house has possessed Kennedy or she’s gone off the deep end. Probably both considering her rampant alcoholism. “No one can touch your heart and rip your innards out at the same time like her. Is Anna inspired by any real ghost stories you’ve heard of?”
“Oh, I’m so glad! She does tear a nice set of entrails, doesn’t she?” They’re giggling again. Unbelievable. As if a dead girl’s blood isn’t soaking the couch I’m sitting on. “But she’s not based on any real ghost stories, that I know of. I bet there is a story like her though, out there somewhere. I’d love to find it, someday.” She finishes gazing up at the ceiling longingly where a soft mewling cry can be heard through the ceiling.
I attempt to regain some of my composure and ask my next question. “Some people are a little upset over the death of a certain character (ahem, my favorite!). Why did you do that to us?” I know I said ‘us’, but what I really mean is–
“What she really means is, ‘How could you do that to her?’,” Kat whispers to Blake and snickers.
“I take it you mean a certain furry character?” Blake answers not noticing the growing tension. “Yes, people are pissed. And I’m glad. Violence against animals should never sit well with anyone. Having said that, I like to think that he died a hero, scratching and spitting and protecting his family. You can bet he won’t be forgotten by Cas and his mom. There may be a glimpse of him in another book. Also, he was based on my cat. He was none too pleased when I told him I’d killed him.”
For a minute, I allow myself a little happiness over that new development and continue. “I read your blog and I lost a few hours of my life laughing hysterically. I just thought you should know.”
Blake throws her head back and laughs. “Ha ha, glad you enjoyed it!”
I smile too because her energy is contagious despite Anna’s murderous glare. “One of the best parts of Anna Dressed in Blood was the dialogue. Do you share any similar traits with your characters besides humor?”
“I do share a few traits with my characters. Probably more than I’m even aware of. Let’s see…Cas and I are both afraid of spiders. Thomas and I both like tempura sushi.” She says ticking both off on her fingers. “And Anna and I…uh, don’t get out much? I don’t know. That one’s tougher,” she says, scrutinizing Anna who’s still staring at me.
Personal space, geez, I think. A quote from Mean Girls pops into my head, but I’m sure speaking my thoughts would only guarantee me a painful death.
Realizing we’ve probably over stayed our welcome, Kat asks our final question quickly, “So, exciting news: Your new series Antigoddess was announced recently! Can you tell us a little about it and when we can expect to see it?”
Blake’s eyes light up at the mention of her new series. “Man, I am so happy to be able to write that series. Greek gods and badassery, love stories and histories with teeth.” She jumps up from the couch and begins acting out a Grecian battle. She probably slays monsters like a boss too. “Gods become monsters and mortals stand against them, alongside the goddess Athena and her brother, Hermes. I think you can expect to see it July of 2013. It’s a trilogy. I’ve got titles for Books 2 and 3, but I don’t know if they’ll stick yet. GIRL OF NIGHTMARES used to be called THE GIRL FROM HELL, so I’m trying not to get too attached to them.”
As soon as she finishes, Anna lunges for my throat, but Blake is quicker, tackling her to the floor.
“What the fu–” I begin and start screaming uncontrollably. I’ve officially lost my shit.
“Okay, interview time over…” Kat says jumping up and grabbing my arm. “It’s probably best if we just make our exit now, Kendare. Don’t worry we got everything we needed and we see you’re busy at the moment. We’ll just let ourselves out!”
Blake grunts as she sits on Anna holding her arm securely behind her back, slamming Anna’s head into the floor boards when she tries to escape her grasp. But Anna’s not going to take that sitting down and head butts Blake. It’s the wrong move for Anna because Blake counters with a bitch slap. I’m sure she’ll feel it in the morning.
“Ye–Yeah. We’re good. Thanks!” I say making a run for the door with Kennedy close behind me. We fly past the butler in the foyer and I yell, “Smell ya later, Alfred!” Anna, seeing her prey escaping, throws Blake off her and charges after us like a professional linebacker. But she’s too late. We’re already out the door and I’m thanking high heaven that the She-devil can’t leave the house.
As I turn back, I see Anna seething with rage.
Kat is laughing her head off and yelling at Anna, “Bad ghost! Bad! Go to your room!” which only infuriates Anna more.
Just as Kat’s about to flip Anna the bird, Blake storms up behind Anna and chews her out. Verbally, of course. I’d definitely say Anna knows who’s boss and she floats away fuming. No doubt I probably would have made a tasty little snack, but another time perhaps.
Blake looks down at her now blood soaked ensemble, shrugs and pulls out her shades. Yup. Badass. I see where Cas learned it all and I’m incredibly impressed. She then calls out in her most cheerful voice as if that didn’t just happen, “Thank you so much! And again for doing that fun review war. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for more of those.”
I just wave and mutter, “No problem.” And just as she closes the door, lightening strikes. Because how else would this creepy-cool adventure end?
We are left staring up at Anna’s possessed house when Kat turns to me and says the only two words that could snap me out of my reverie: “Drink time?”
A slow smile spreads across my face. “Hell yeah.”
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