12 April 2014

Got any Dry Patches of Skin?

Introducing my latest novel...a work-in-progress...

A Dry Patch of Skin


As the meme goes... "I don't always write new novels, but when I do it's a weird experience."

Years after the Twilight phenomena has ended (well, for most people), I have decided to join the club. The vampire club, that is. However, me being me, I cannot simply latch onto some fan fiction kind of writing. No, I have to put my own unique spin on the subject.

Some experiences in my life recently convinced me that there was a worthwhile story in my agony. Nothing serious, don't worry. Just a spark--but not sparkly skin. Let me compose a suitable blurb...right now...

Returning from his parents' funeral, Hungarian-American medical technician Stefan SzĂ©kely embarks on a love affair with Penny Park, the TV reporter he met after a dangerous tornado ripped through their city. Just when things are becoming serious, however, Stefan discovers a dry patch of skin on his cheek, a sign of something he fears and yet cannot decode. 

Going in search of medical answers, he struggles to maintain his relationship as he pieces together his parents' lives as dedicated physicians who tended the forlorn inmates of an insane asylum and shunned society. As his condition worsens, Stefan seeks far-flung treatments in the hope that he can find a cure and return to his beloved Penny, only to finally realize what his parents have been shielding him from all of his life: he is doomed to transform into a vampire like them. 

Can he stave off the symptoms, or reverse them? Can he salvage some kind of life with his Beloved? Or will he be doomed to walk the earth as yet another of the Undead?

How is that?

I see this as a work of literary fiction rather than a true paranormal tale. The difference is that the vampirism is treated as a medical condition, not as a supernatural phenomena. The main culprit is the disorder known as porphyria, and similar disorders. It is not a pleasant disease; it is terribly disfiguring. Not at all a sexy, sparkly vampire. I have wound up my pathos machine and intend to let it roar with full fury as Stefan's journey through hope and hopelessness intensifies. 

The opening chapters were fun to write, before the misery and anguish begin. I fictionalized parts of my own life, changed people's names, and made fun of several episodes from my real life...all to portray a fun, loving romantic relationship between two people. Then, as the blurb indicates, I shall destroy it chapter by chapter.

I know how the story ends. However, I am sworn to secrecy. All I can say is that it is not any kind of conclusion the typical reader of vampire books would expect. And yet it is as perfect as...a bloody kiss!

Book cover to follow.

Here are the opening pages:


It is without much amusement that I have come to accept the truth of my situation, although I am fully appreciative of the irony involved.
It is not that I mistrust the words of Mother and Father. It is not that I doubt what society has shown me. Indeed, I accept it all as easily as a starving puppy takes the meatless bone.
I stare into the mirror and want to deny everything, yet I know deep down inside me there is a bomb, a time bomb of sorts, ready to explode when just the right elements come together. And I do not know when that will occur.
For my parents, it began rather late, after age fifty—or so they confessed; I have not seen them face to face since I left for college and thus had no incontrovertible visual confirmation of it. They begged out of my graduation ceremony and I took a job far from them. Later, they died. Before that, there were plenty of letters and phone calls, of course, and with the advancement in technology, also emails and text messages. When finally they succumbed to their own bomb, my mother dared to leave me a note outlining what I should expect. She added that my father did not approve of such a warning, considering it a black mark or a red flag that would ruin my life, keep me from enjoying the good years I had, but she had deemed it a necessary kind gesture that any mother should make for her son.
Then they took their pills, far too many of them, and died in peace before the open windows, a full day’s sunshine raining upon them.
I attended their funeral—closed coffins, of course, as befit their physical condition—and gave the eulogy to a gathering of twenty empty chairs. The priest showed no emotion; it was a duty to be performed. He praised the irony in my speech, however, then remarked how much I resembled my parents.
The Dalmatian coast on the Adriatic was not what I would have expected as my parents’ retirement destination. The town of Makarska, just south of Split and a hundred miles north of the much more famous Dubrovnik, was a lovely choice, however. It was close enough—we are of Hungarian ancestry, after all, a land-locked nation. But they had their life and I had mine. I never thought to question them since they continued shuffling money to me on special occasions.
I took a few more days in that resort town, with the cedars and cozy beaches nestled between rocky hills, stretching far in each direction from my hotel balcony. So after a long nap and half a bottle of Merlot, I tried to enjoy myself the rest of the week. After all, I had gone to some trouble to be able to take off from work and make the long trip from the States to Croatia.

As I presume my parents eventually did, I have removed the mirrors from my home.
[and so on....]

For fans of literary fiction, I offer two books already available: AFTER ILIUM and A BEAUTIFUL CHILL. Click the links in the upper right corner of this blog for further information or read their individual pages on this blog.

(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.