I want to thank Kristi for having me today as I make my rounds on these wonderful blogs to pimp my dark urban fantasy/horror novel Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale. Over the past few days, I have discussed vampires until I just can’t think of anything else to say about them—some are hot; some aren’t. Some are scary and some are heroic. A lot like humans, I suppose. So, today I decided talk about some of my favorite books and why I love them.
Character is shaped by the things you are exposed to as a kid. For me, it was horror movies and horror comics. My mom and dad loved those all-night drive-in horror features. In fact, they took me to a showing of The Night of the Living Dead when I was only two weeks old. I don’t remember a thing:-D, but that was the beginning of my journey to the dark side.
My first great book was a thick book of fairy tales, which I still have. The many stories included “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Jack the Giant Killer,” “Why the Sea is Salt,” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” Dark stories, all. Plus, this particular edition had the most deliciously horrifying illustrations. I had a real fear of giants from the age three to five. The following year I was convinced Bigfoot lived in the woods behind my house, but that’s another story, entirely.
By the sixth grade, I realized reading horror was even better than watching it. Funny how the imagination can come up with much more terrifying images than you can ever get from a movie screen. The first really scary “grown-up” book I read was Night Shift by Stephen King. I snitched a copy from my aunt and read it behind my history book at school. Even the cover was intriguing—if anyone is old enough to remember the loosely bandaged hand with the eyes peering out. I cannot begin to decide which story was my favorite, but I do know “The Boogeyman” scared the living hell out of me. For months, I just knew a small devil lived inside the air ducts at my grandmother’s house because I dreamed I saw its pointy red tail poking out one night. Thanks, Stephen King. I’ve loved since.
Of course, not all of my early favorites were actually “horror” books. I vividly remember reading The Outsiders for school that same year. That’s when I learned a book doesn’t have to have monsters, ghosts or ax murderers to have a profound darkness to it. The following year, brought me Lord of the Flies. That’s probably the year I realized what lies inside a person can be more ghastly than any monster.
By high school, I was devouring Stephen King books as fast as I could get them. And when I finished one, I would likely turn right around and re-read it before moving on to the next. Pet Semetery, The Shining, Carrie, Salem’s Lot. Yep, I was that weird girl who always had a book in her hand. On top of the King books, we were assigned Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” How delightfully twisted was that one? I was also introduced to this delightfully morbid author named Poe, Thank you, Mrs. Stroud (my 10th grade English teacher).
Since then, my tastes have changed some. I suppose what gives a person a good scare develops into something else entirely when they become parents. Pet Semetery is still horrifying, but today it’s because of the loss of the child, not the reanimated corpses. I honestly cannot read that book now.
A couple of years ago, I spent a week reading first Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, followed by The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I stayed in a funk the entire time—I still think my husband chalked it up to a bad case of PMS. Funk or not, those two books will remain with me. Scary is definitely more real now than it was when I was younger. Loss is about as frightening as it gets.
Of course, I have these strange “comfort books,” also—you know the ones you love to read again and again—although you know entire passages by heart. I have three: The Stand by Mr. King, The Damnation Game by Clive Barker, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. These are not “heavy” like The Road—I doubt anyone would want to revisit that world for comfort—there's too much possibility we’ll be there soon enough, anyway.
Heavy or light, morbid or happy—everyone has books that that they carry with them. What are some of yours? Plus, a comment gets you entered for a drawing to win a copy of Darklands. Thanks and happy (or not) reading!
Thank you Donna for the great guest post! I think you have been raiding my book shelves! I also became a huge Stephen King fan as a teenager and devoured his books! (Had to include a snapshot of some of my Stephen King books!) And to make it even stranger - I read The Road and The Lovely Bones and reviewed them back to back in January of 2009. So you can bet that I am going to be looking up your other "comfort" books!
But readers, like she said - a comment gets you entered into a drawing for a copy of Darklands - if it is a U.S. winner, you will get your choice of a print copy or an ebook and if it is an International winner, you will get an ebook. Please leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win! This contest will end at midnight on March 7, 2011.
Here is a little something about the book Darklands: A Vampire's Tale by Donna Burgess.
Halloween night, twenty years ago, college student Susan Archer watched as her beloved twin brother was brutally murdered at the hands of a stranger she invited into their home. Still haunted by the guilt of that night, Susan is now a tough but bitter cop in a nowhere town, trying as best she can to lead a normal life. When she is nearly killed during a wild shoot-out, she realizes she is not as strong as she first thought.
Fearing a breakdown, she flees the confines of her safe boyfriend and familiar surroundings to find salvation in the arms of “Deathwalker” Devin McCree—the very man who killed her brother.
But things aren’t always what they seem and she quickly realizes Devin was not the monster she originally thought, but a kind of guardian angel instead.
On the run from a crazed Nazi vampire-hunter named Kasper, she and Devin must find a way to endure the dreary urban landscape of a dying metropolis and escape Kasper’s wrath.
For more Donna - find her at her Website - Traveling the Darklands, on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog tour.