I thought, after, about that moment, over and over, what would have happened if I had simply taken his arm and gone home with him. But, like Lot’s wife, I had to look back at the familiar, at the river. I liked to walk beside it in the daylight. “Look at the moon,” I whispered. Clouds streamed across its face. The wind carried a scent of dry leaves and frost and distant smoke. Something on the air, something on the way.
I have half a dozen decks of Tarot and oracle cards. I’m no expert, and at this point I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving a reading for anyone else. If I had to recommend one, it would be Les Vampires by Jasmine Becket-Griffith (art) and Lucy Cavendish (guidebook.) I just did a reading for myself and it was frighteningly accurate. I brought up underlying issues that weren’t part of my question.
Treat your cards with respect. Keep them in a neat place. Use a special cloth to cover the surface where you will lay out the cards. It doesn’t have to be expensive or occult-themed. I use a navy blue nightstand cover that I bought at a chain store. You could use a piece of fabric that’s important to you, like an old quilt, or you could buy a small table cloth. Some spreads take up a lot of room.
You can light a candle if you like when you’re reading your cards. You should turn off the electronics so you won’t be distracted. And you should keep a journal, recording the dates of your readings, the decks, spreads, cards, and note if a card was reversed. Reread the guidebook interpretations over the next few days. Study the cards. There are hidden meanings in the interpretations and the art. If one card in particular speaks to you, set it up somewhere that you can see it every day, and leave it until you do your next reading.
“I’ve already eaten. I’m just going to have another glass of wine. She’d like coffee,” he said to the waitress.
We sat in companionable silence. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the lights of the bookstore go dark. “Oh, shit,” I said. “What time is it?”
“After eight,” he replied. “Your friend is going home, so now you’re alone with me. You aren’t going to turn into a mouse or a pumpkin or some other damned thing and leave me sitting here with nothing in my hands but a glass slipper, are you?”
I laughed. “No, I’m afraid that you’re stuck with plain old me.”
She looked as if she was about forty-five. Her eyes were dark and absolutely amoral. Her lips were full, her nose was long and regal, and her hair was dark red, like cinnamon sticks. She had heavy bangs that fell precisely to the tops of her eyebrows. Her hair was twisted up on the back of her head, and she wore a sleeveless black evening dress with a beaded top and a stiff satin skirt. A bib of diamonds glittered on her décolletage.
The vampires all had on the same clothes as the night before except for Vivian, who had changed into a black peignoir set for reasons I didn’t want to know. She even wore a pair of open-toed black slippers with high heels and fluffy black pom poms. The polish on her toenails was almost black, and shiny like a beetle’s back.
The doctor closed the parlor doors. Then he took off his shoes and settled down on the sofa with his long legs stretched out before him. He looked so comfortable, and so human.
“Why are you staring at me?” he asked irritably.
“You keep acting like a human being. You don’t act like a vampire.”
“Neither do you. What is it that you think I should be doing? Languishing in some crumbling cemetery? Haunting a decaying castle in Transylvania? Ravishing a wispy teenage virgin and making her anemic? Virgins are coy and deceitful. I don’t care for ethereal little girls. They–”
“Hey.” I put my hands up. Jesus, this man needs to get laid. “Keep your sex life to yourself.”
Laurabeth Klara Lockwood.
My first name was a combination of my mother’s first and middle names. Klara was an eastern European great-grandmother I’d never met, my mother’s grandmother. My mother died when I was six. I should have clung onto my name like a child to outgrown holiday traditions because it was a tie to her, but the name was a daily reminder. Your mother named you for herself and her grandmother. Your mother is dead. Your mother is dead. Your mother is dead.
I had my mother’s jewelry, her knickknacks, her blanket chest, many, many photos, even dried-up perfume bottles—but did I really remember that fragrance on her, or had I convinced myself that I did? I could remember her in a thousand ways; selfishly, I wished that I didn’t have to be her every time that I wrote or typed my signature.
So you’re burned out by the overused tropes in vampire fiction. You have caught vampire ennui. I am also burned out. Let me tell you why.
I am burned out from people dismissing my work and the work of my friends out of hand because they’re sick of books based on a certain wildly popular series of a few years ago that bears absolutely no resemblance to my books except for the (mis)use of the word “vampire.”
But the tropes, you say. Oh, the overused tropes. Like what?
Vampire seeks reincarnated lover? Not to be found in my books.
Obvious vampire moves into small town, decimates population? Not in my books.
Sexy person kills vampires yet loves a vampire and hates him/herself? Not in my books.
Self-hating, emo vampire? Not in my books.
Teens track down, kill 1,000 year old vampire? Not in my books.
Vampire goes to high school? NOT IN MY BOOKS.
So what are these tropes, if not the ones I’ve listed?
To me, “I’m burned out on traditional vampire tropes” sounds like “I want to read ghost stories about ghosts that aren’t dead.”
Everyone who loves and writes vampires puts their own spin on the vampire mythos. Equating all vampire books with Series That Shall Not Be Named is like equating all ghost stories with Casper.
Yes, there are other supernatural/otherworldly characters I like to write about, but none I love in the way that I love the vampire’s combination of immortality, power, history, vitality, and awful need for companionship with us.
Or at least that’s how it is in my books.
I’m not giving up on seven years of work because of an outbreak of vampire ennui.