While the vast majority of the crowd were fun loving and harmless, there were a couple of people who were aroused by the attention. These two or three people are the reason why we need indecent exposure laws in place. One guy even did jumping jacks to show himself off. There were children in the crowd. It was completely inappropriate. Bodies are a natural thing and if parents don't want to shield their kids from a bunch of naked bikers, that's their choice. When someone decides to be lewd, it completely changes the dynamic.
That went out the window when I heard the scrape of a stool and the light thunk that accompanied her sitting in the seat. The noise of the swinging rope continued, with no evidence of a rope hanging from the beams overhead.
What I have described was not the first incident or the last. After twenty-five years of silence, I finally turned to one of my grandparents at a family function and asked, "Have either of you noticed anything strange in the basement?"
The question elicited an ensemble of awkward smiles. My cousins admitted that they hadn't felt comfortable in the basement for over twenty years, only running down to use the bathroom in a pinch or retrieve something for my grandmother. My grandparents had been sleeping in the downstairs bedroom and admitted that sometimes objects would turn up in a different place than they were set down, and a shadow would stir at the edge of their vision. My brother and I are logical and argued that the breakers could be grounded improperly or some such science that would lead to high electromagnetic fields (known as EMF by the pros we watched on Ghost Hunters). This could explain feelings of discomfort and perhaps hallucinations, but not objects moving.
Since we aired the creepy stories surrounding the basement, we jokingly refer to it as "Fred." We adopted the Protestant based belief that giving it too much attention might lend it power, so best to not talk about Fred, especially in the house. In accordance with our unspoken understanding, when something strange happened, it was allowed a watery smile and a mention at a restaurant after a drink or two.
We all lived in a strange accordance, but my five-year-old nephew has shaken things up. He was sitting at breakfast recently with my mom and told her he didn't like the basement. My mom asked, "Why?"
"There's a little girl who lives there. She was buried in a box there," he points to the back of the house, "by the bad men."
All adults in the room dropped their forks and stared, horrified. Creeped out. There is something profoundly disturbing about a small child speaking about gruesome things. My mom and I gave the familiar nervous laugh and we surmised (hoped?) that he had seen something bad on television - snuck a peek at something he wasn't meant to see. We also reflected on the fact that he was the first to think it was a she.
A few days later, my brother interrupted my mom while she was sitting on the couch with her feet up, working on her laptop.
"Did you walk into the room and then walk back out?"
"No." Mom points to her raised feet.
"Are you sure?"
My brother squinted an eye and grimaced. "Huh."
We haven't called in the ghost busters because "Fred" is inconsistent in its appearances, which is fine by us. Children and adolescents have grown up in the house without stirring up additional activity. Maybe if we continue to turn our heads and refuse to speak out loud, we will be left alone a little longer.
My favorite characters tend to be damaged, especially the male love interest. This pull isn't an unexpressed need to fix a broken man. I simply get very irritated when characters are too perfect. It was my one complaint about a few books written by the great Louis L'Amour, particularly The Walking Drum. My grandfather loves the book and encouraged me to read it. I struggled through it even though it was beautifully written and quite interesting. Why? The protagonist was good at everything. He was the best horseman, could beat anyone with any weapon - he could even do acrobatics like a boss. I remember yelling at the book about a third of the way through: "Aren't you bad at anything???"
My husband took the "scars are hot" thing
a little too seriously. He's still my hero.
I have heard that once movies are being made about a trendy genre, it is on a downward spiral in the book world. Use the word 'vampire' at a writing conference or in front of some authors and you may see wincing and an eye roll or two. The Young Adult market is flooded, dystopian is overdone, and vampires are so eight years ago. Right now it's about edgy women's contemporary literature and witches. Which may or may not change at any given time. Without notice.
I am not an expert on publishing, but I know the vampire books I enjoy have been published over the years - not just in a five year frenzy period. It seems to me that during a popular upswing, more books are accepted by publishers because the genre is making money. When a genre starts to calm down, novels aren't completely locked out of the market because they contain the subject matter, but it becomes more difficult to publish a story. It's simple economics. When demand is lower than supply, the amount of product in the supply chain has to drop. Production doesn't stop, but there is a shift in quality as consumers realize they have more to choose from and can be picky. In order to succeed in a flooded market, authors need to put in more effort and produce a quality piece. Maybe that isn't a bad thing.
It is easy to find reasons to be discouraged and stop writing. There are more books on the market every day and the chances of success are daunting. The stories drive me to keep going. The words flow when I let the story take me where it will, and the story hasn't led me to a cozy little cafe on a scenic hillside. My mother would love me to write a romance in Provence, but it just doesn't work on paper. I will welcome critique and work to improve my craft, but I won't apologize if a vampire happens to appear. I know that if the concept is strong enough, there is still a chance. If you have a killer concept and great character development, you should write that dystopian story!
Have you considered changing major elements or setting aside a novel due to popular opinion?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.