Our client Marie Marshall was asked by her publisher if she could write a teen-vampire novel, and her answer was simply to write one – From My Cold, Undead Hand. She told us:
It’s both an easy and a difficult genre to write in. It’s full of ready-made tropes and pre-existing vampire ‘lore’, and of course it has a cult-genre following of highly critical fans. Basically a writer has two choices: Buffy or Twilight. By that I mean one has to chose between writing about vampire hunters, or teenage romances with vampires. Then one has either to avoid cliché… ahem… like the plague, or embrace the clichés and go nuts with them.
So, which story-line has Marie decided to go down?
Well, I chose the vampire-hunter angle, as it gave me the opportunity to create a strong, young, female protagonist.
Marie is adept at those strong, female protagonists – Jelena and Eunice in Lupa, Angela in The Everywhen Angels, and now Chevonne Kusnetsov, a girl from New York a few decades in our future, in From My Cold, Undead Hand. The novels launches straight into action, with Chevonne in a darkened library, defending her dying mentor from the attack of a powerful vampire ‘sire’. Spiced here and there with hints of ITpunk and steampunk, and complete with a nineteenth-century sub-plot revealed in an old book, the pace of the novel never flags. It shuts with a bang – readers will blink and say “Huh?” – leaving a perfect springboard for the sequel, KWIREBOY vs VAMPIRE, which is already being written! Ostensibly dealing with the constitutional right of vampires to carry guns, the novel in fact foregrounds how young people are routinely marginalised. So, has she succeeded in avoiding cliché?
I hope so. I’ve tried to be innovative whilst leaving enough there that is familiar.
In fact when we read through the manuscript we noticed some cheeky inter-textual referencing. Readers will be surprised to find out who’s included in Chevonne Kusnetsov’s remote family tree, for example. Readers familiar with, say, Bram Stoker or Stephenie Meyer may spot some ‘Easter-eggs’, though Marie cites as her main influence Joe Aherne’s TV series Ultraviolet.
Adding to the impact of Marie’s prose will be cover art again by Millie Ho, the talented Canadian artist and writer, who provided the cover for The Everywhen Angels. This is a book to watch out for, one not to miss. As soon as there’s a launch date we’ll let you know. Follow the action on Twitter @ColdUndeadHand.