Under the Desert Moon
By Emma Meade
By Emma Meade
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Soul Fire Press
Number of pages: Paperback 205
Word Count: Approx 50,000
Soul Fire Press http://soulfirepress.com/under-the-desert-moon/
17 year old Erin Harris spends her time daydreaming, hoping to escape her small town life in Copperfield, Arizona. When a movie crew arrives unexpectedly to shoot a vampire film over the summer, Erin’s small town world changes forever.
Erin is positive she has seen the star, James Linkin before in a thirty year old TV show. He hasn’t aged a day. How is this possible? Erin is determined to find out, but how will James handle the scrutiny of an all too intelligent teenage girl?
Erin stared out her bedroom window, wishing as always that she was elsewhere. Anywhere but here, she thought wistfully.
Nothing ever happened in this rundown town, not since the last mine had closed a decade ago. Copperfield, Arizona, was dusty, quiet and old-fashioned. It took months for the latest movie to make it to The Oracle theatre where Erin worked part-time, but it was the easiest job in the world. It got Erin out of the house she shared with her brothers and angry, alcoholic father, put money in her savings account, and most importantly, Erin got to see movies free.
It was escapism. For a couple of hours she could lose herself in another world, imagining herself as the beautiful heroine. Erin was waiting for the day she would learn she wasn’t her father’s daughter. That her mother had embarked on some secret affair with a handsome, rich man, and it was only a matter of time before he discovered her existence and introduced Erin to his world.
Sighing, she rested her chin in her hand. A cool summer breeze ruffled the curtains and lifted the strands of her bangs, tickling Erin’s forehead. She hated this tomb-like town, but had to admit that at night, Copperfield was beautiful. The desert gleamed beneath a full moon, and the scent of vegetation from the garden was spicy and fragrant. Erin breathed it deeply.
A cloud at that moment obscured the moon, and the hairs on her arms lifted. The breeze died down suddenly and she straightened up. She felt distinctly peculiar. Was there a storm coming?
The door to her bedroom sprang inwards. Startled, Erin turned to shout at whichever brother had disturbed her peace. It was Nick, her twin.
“Do you mind?” Erin said.
Nick’s sea-blue eyes gleamed. They were just like Erin’s. “You’re never going to believe this, Sis, sincerely.”
Erin rolled her eyes. “Try me.”
“A crew from Hollywood is in town. Copperfield’s the location for some scary movie.”
“Are you kidding?” Erin said, jumping off her bed.
“They’re all in Casey’s right now. The whole town’s there.” Nick was practically hopping with excitement.
“Oh, my God,” Erin said. “Why Copperfield? What kind of scary movie?” Slasher or ghost story? she wondered. She preferred the latter.
Nick shrugged. “Let’s go find out.”
Erin grabbed her jacket and followed him. Finally, there might actually be some life in this town, she thought.
“Hey, where you kids going?” her father's slurred voice demanded.
Erin caught a whiff of his beer breath as she passed and grimaced. Gross.
“Out,” she said, and slammed the door hard.
Casey’s diner was busier than Erin had ever seen it. Several waitresses were scooting across the shiny tiles in red and white roller skates that matched their uniforms. Every booth in the place was taken. Customers were eating their hamburgers and fries standing at the counter.
Erin’s eyes scanned the restaurant quickly as she crossed the threshold with Nick at her heels. A gust of air at the entrance lifted her long, chocolate brown hair off her neck, and raised goosebumps on her tanned arms. Strange. It wasn’t even cold that evening.
She paused inside, inhaling sharply. Her eyes were drawn immediately to the young man sitting at the biggest booth, furthest in the back. His presence radiated charm, charisma and self-assurance. Erin couldn’t help but notice the dusky brown of his eyes tinged with flecks of green, and the easy curve of his lips. He looked so familiar, but she couldn’t place him.
“Hey,” she poked Nick. “You know his name?” She watched him laugh heartily with his companions and lean back against the leather seat in complete ease.
Nick shook his head. “Don’t recognize him.”
“I’ve seen him in some TV show before. I think,” Erin added uncertainly. This was going to bug her.
“He’s the lead actor,” Nick said. “I heard people talking about him when he got off the bus earlier.”
Erin approached the counter. “Hey, Mrs. Casey,” she called over the middle-aged owner. Mrs. Casey was a kind woman. Her husband had died from cancer three years previously, and she was running the joint single-handedly. She also seemed to know everything in town before everyone else. “You know anything about this movie?”
“Sure. The crew’s just been here for hours, sugar. It’s one of those scary movies. Copperfield’s a real cheap place to shoot, I guess. That gorgeous boy over there,” she nodded in the direction of the young man Erin had been drawn to. “Name is James Linkin. He’s going to play the bad boy.”
Erin chanced another glance his way, not wanting to be caught staring. It didn’t matter. All eyes were on his table, particularly all female gazes.
“He ordered a hot dog from me just before you got here,” Mrs. Casey said. She chuckled. “He’s a little charmer from what I’ve seen so far.”
“What kind of bad boy?” Erin asked. Her stomach was fluttering. It hadn’t done that since she’d watched Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall last summer in The Oracle. She’d been forced to throw a Brad weekend there for one of the most popular girls at school, Lyndsey Mason, her older brother’s girlfriend.
Now looking at James, she believed him to be even more handsome. Erin marveled at her racing hormones. She usually wasn’t as silly as the other girls in school, or so she liked to think. She risked another look at him. Dark hair with sunny tints when the light caught it right, pale skin, strong jaw, slender build…
“Vampire, I think,” Mrs. Casey’s voice broke Erin’s train of thought. “It's going to be some kind of horror romance.”
Emma Meade Q & A
What do you need for writing?
My laptop, somewhere comfortable to sit (usually the couch) and plenty of tea.
How did Under the Desert Moon come about?
It was a warm and sultry summer when I wrote the first few pages of Under the Desert Moon. I'd been listening to Kelly Clarkson's album Breakaway pretty much on repeat in the previous months. Singing/shouting along to angry girl music after a break up with a boyfriend, was both therapeutic and inspiring. I had also just moved back home after being away at college, and was back in the town I had grown up in, where everyone knows everyone else, and no one's business is private. Listening to the song "Breakaway" conjured the simple image of a teenage girl feeling trapped in her small town, staring out the window and wishing she could be anyplace else. Erin and the town of Copperfield, Arizona were born, and the rest of the story evolved from there.
Do you find it easy to write?
Most of the time, I don’t. When I’m writing for my blog, I can draft up a post easily, but when I sit down to work on a book or short story, I find it more of a challenge. Writing fiction is tougher than penning a review, for me at least. Sometimes inspiration hits and I will write all day and most of the night. Other times, every paragraph can be a struggle. As Ernest Hemingway put it: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It’s worth it though when you complete the first draft and can go back and wonder to yourself, “did I really write that?”
What do you think of Twilight?
I love Twilight. I started reading the books in the summer of 2008 and couldn’t wait to see the first film. I suffer from OCD: Obsessive Cullen Disorder. They’re definitely on my list of favourite books, except for New Moon. As an Edward fan, I found myself skimming through most of that book, eager to confirm he was coming back to Forks. Since this November sees the release of the last movie, Breaking Dawn: Part Two, my sisters, friends and I will be having a big night out.
Do you watch a lot of TV?
When I was a teenager, I spent hours every day in front of the TV set, but I don’t watch as much now. I guess back then, I was hooked on The X-Files, Buffy, Roswell, Dark Angel and Friends, and all those shows have since ended. One TV show I never miss is The Vampire Diaries. It’s sexy, dark, supernatural in flavour and filled with good looking people, so of course I’m addicted to it. People ask each other, “are you Team Damon or Team Stefan?” I’m Team Elijah all the way.
What are you reading now?
My father is a car boot sale enthusiast. At a recent outing he picked up a dozen or so Anne Rice books for me, so my next book is going to be from that collection. I haven’t read Anne’s stuff in awhile, so it will be nice to delve back in. Also, one of my favourite authors, Maeve Binchy passed away recently, so I am re-reading favourites from my childhood such as Circle of Friends.
No way could I ever choose just one film. I watch ET and The Goonies every Christmas. I love Spielberg’s adventure movies, basically anything that can make me feel like a child again. When Super 8 came out last year, I was probably one of the first in line at the cinema. Stand by Me, Now and Then, The Last of the Mohicans, Dirty Dancing, Reality Bites and The Lost Boys would be others I love.
Will the vampire phenomenon die out soon?
I hope not! They’re my favourite supernatural creatures and I’m currently working on another vampire novel, this time for adults. It’s a follow up to my short story collection from last year, Night Sighs. All things going well, Night Whispers will be out in the next six to eight months. Fingers crossed that vamps will still be alluring to readers then. They’re immortal, usually fabulous looking and sexy as hell, so no wonder we continue to be fascinated by them.
Will there be a follow up novel to Under the Desert Moon?
Right now, it’s not in the works, but if enough people respond to the story, and to Erin and James, who knows in the future?
If you could meet any author, who would it be?
I’d love to sit down with a table filled with writers who contributed to the Point Horror series. My childhood was filled with trips to the local bookstore to see what new book from that series was out. Authors like Richie Tankersley Cusick, R.L. Stine, Caroline B. Cooney and Diane Hoh enriched my imagination and inspired me to write my own supernatural tales.
Who is your favourite vampire of all time?
Tough one, but Spike from Buffy would probably win. The arrival of Spike and Drusilla in season two was a turning point for the show. His character underwent a major evolution from violent monster to hero. He’s definitely one of my favourite reformed bad boys. Louis and Lestat are also great, Angel from Buffy and of course Stefan, Damon and all the originals from The Vampire Diaries. Katherine from The Vampire Diaries is also a cool and deadly vamp, and Darla from Buffy and Angel kicked ass. And we can’t forget Dracula!
Do you read a lot of paranormal fiction?
Yes. Growing up, I read Point Horror and books from the Nightmare series. Then I moved on to Anne Rice, a little bit of Stephen King and Virginia Andrews. At college I studied Mary Shelley and enjoyed her books, Frankenstein and Valperga. Over the last few years, I’ve been reading Charlaine Harris, Kelley Armstrong and Stephenie Meyer to name but a few. Recently I discovered Ann Nyland and L.H. Cosway, two fabulous writers of supernatural fiction.
Have you tried writing non-paranormal fiction?
During my post-grad degree in Galway in the west of Ireland, I started a women’s fiction novel, what many would call “chick-lit”. I think I got about four or five chapters in and then gave up. With no supernatural element in it, I struggled to move the plot along. My older sister, Lucy would bring in the manuscript, chapter by chapter to her office and distribute copies among her co-workers. She told me they wanted to read more, but that was probably my sister being kind.
What music do you listen to for inspiration?
I turn up the volume on my power ballads collection when I need inspiration. Belting out the lyrics to Meatloaf’s “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”, Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do (I Do it For You)”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night”, Sinead O’ Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” can do wonders for the soul and writer's block.
Where are you from?
I live in Cork, Ireland. It’s a city in the south of the country. You may have heard of the Blarney Stone. Kissing it is said to give people the Irish gift of the gab. You’ll find the Blarney Stone in Cork, and if you’re brave enough, someone will hold you while you lean backwards over a great drop, allowing you to kiss this magic rock. Check out The Blarney Stone here: http://www.blarneycastle.ie/pages/kiss-the-blarney-stone
Do you like to eat in or go out?
I like to go out for dinner every second week. Spicy food is delicious, so I try to visit an Indian restaurant as often as I can. When I’m home, I’ll cook a stir-fry or throw on a pot of chicken curry and rice. Stuffed peppers are a delicious and easy dish to prepare for a starter. A good Irish fry-up is also an enjoyable weekly experience, usually on a Sunday morning: black and white pudding, sausages, beans and rashers, mmm.
What’s your fashion style like?
Shabby student. I dressed in jeans and t-shirts at college, and years later nothing’s changed. I like comfortable clothes and though I own several pairs of high heels, I have yet to learn how to walk elegantly in them.
Do you have any tattoos?
I have one tattoo of a bottle of ink and a feather quill on my lower back. I’d like to add another, but I'm not sure what to get or where to put it.
Do you curse a lot?
Not an awful lot. You’ll often hear me say “shite”, quite an Irish term.
Do you have any celebrity crush right now?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He seems to be doing great for himself these days. He’s cute and comes across as friendly and down-to-earth. When I was thirteen, I thought I was in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. I tried to watch every movie he’d ever been in: Marvin’s Room, The Basketball Diaries, This Boy’s Life... As soon as Titanic came out, I went off him; I wasn't happy to have to share him with so many other admirers.
If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
New Orleans. There’s something so magical and sultry about that city. I wrote a short story called "Bourbon & Jazz", set in New Orleans. It's part of the Night Sighs collection. I think reading Rice’s Interview With the Vampire had a lot to do with me falling in love with this place.
Erin in Under the Desert Moon can't wait to leave her hometown and see the world. Do you travel much?
I try to get away as often as possible. When I was in college I travelled abroad every summer. One year, I bought a train ticket and got to see a lot of Europe on the cheap by staying in hostels. Some of the cities I visited included Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow, Berlin, Dubrovnik and Prague. Another year, I headed off to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and stopped off in New York before I went home. Greek Island Hopping remains one of my favourite holidays to this day. Unfortunately, since I entered the real world of work, I haven't gotten away as much. Hopefully, I'll win the lottery some day, be able to quit the day job and get to travel more frequently. My next trip away is a weekend in London before Christmas. I'm looking forward to seeing the city all lit up for the holidays. Travelling is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and meet people from all over the world. It’s also great for writing stories.
Do you relate to Erin yourself?
Definitely. When was I seventeen, I couldn't wait to escape high school life and make my way in the world. Like Erin, I was introverted and had a small, tight group of friends, but was far from being popular. Erin's photography gives her an escape from the monotony and pressures of everyday life. For me, it was writing. I hope a lot of readers will be able to relate to Erin, whether they're going through the transition into adulthood like she is, or, like me are adults remembering how difficult it was to be a teenage girl. Erin has a lot on her plate. Her mother died recently, her father is an alcoholic, totally unable to handle the job of raising teenage kids, and if she doesn't get a scholarship to college, she won't be getting out of the small town she's spent her life in. In that respect, Erin has it a lot tougher than I did. I was lucky to grow up with good parents and three sisters. I think Erin's strength will appeal to readers.
How do you unwind?
When I'm not working or writing, I like to curl up on the couch, especially if it's raining (which it often is in Ireland) and either read a good book, or switch on the TV and chill out. Going to the cinema and out for dinner and to the pub with my girl pals is high up on my list of pastimes. We like to head out dancing, and if there's an 80s night happening somewhere in town, we are all over that. I also spend time with my three sisters and my niece Isabelle. I enjoy/waste countless hours each week on Twitter and Facebook, as well as visiting my favourite blogs when I really should be writing. It's great to be online with like-minded people who are into reading and writing. My poor family and friends can only take so much of my constant ramblings about books.
What are you favourite YA books?
Growing up, it was Point Horror mostly, Sweet Valley Twins, Nightmares, some novels by Christopher Pike and The Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith. Most of those are still my favourite YA books, but I'd have to add Twilight to that list. As a teen, I moved on to Virginia Andrews and Stephen King.
What would be your dream writing career?
To give up my day job and write full time. I'm not a great public speaker, so the thought of doing book readings and signings makes me feel a little panicked. I'd have to do a bit of yoga first to keep me calm! I'd love to make enough money to buy a little villa in Europe and write every day in a peaceful setting. Every writer dreams of having their book made into a film. For Night Sighs, I'd love to see a TV series. A girl can dream, right?
You're Irish. Why is your first young adult novel set in America?
I grew up watching American TV shows and reading books set in the US. All my favourite TV shows are American: Buffy, Friends, The Vampire Diaries, Roswell, The X-Files, and I love so many films from the States. If I could get the time off work, I'd spend a few months travelling around the US and also check out Canada. Having been to Delaware and New York, I've gotten a small taste, but I still want to visit Roswell, Las Vegas, Boston, San Francisco and New Orleans, just to name a few places.
Which actor played the part of a vampire the best?
Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys was a wonderful bad boy. He didn’t have a redeeming bone in his body, which is nice since all the latest vamps are decent deep down. James Marsters’ portrayal of Spike was wonderful.
What is your favourite vampire movie?
Ooh, I have to think about that for a moment. I guess the shortlist would have to include The Lost Boys, Interview with the Vampire, Blade, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Twilight, 30 Days of Night and more recently a cool, German film called We are the Night.
Would you like to be a vampire?
The appeal of being young forever is undeniable, but I think I'd get bored of eternal life and become quite depressed living in the dark. Then there's the whole horrible business of watching everyone you love age and die. I have to admit though, I have enjoyed the odd fantasy or ten of Damon and Angel biting and turning me. With either of them on my arm, eternal life sounds pretty good.
So are you just into vampires, or do you like other supernatural creatures?
Demons, shadow men, angels, werewolves, whatever, I'm open to them all, though of course vamps are my favourite. I'm working on a novel about witches, which hopefully should be completed by next summer.
You have a blog: Emma's Ramblings on Supernatural Fiction. What in particular do you write about there?
I review books, TV shows and films of the paranormal genre. It's great to interact with people online. I started early last year, but only got serious after joining Twitter last Autumn. Now I try to post twice a week.
It’s hard to pick one, but I have read Stephen King’s The Stand several times. It has everything you’d want in a book: vibrant characters, great storytelling, a good versus evil plot and plenty of action.
What else have you published?
I self-published Night Sighs last year. It’s a collection of five short stories for adults, following the relationship and adventures of rock star vampire Tristan and his girlfriend Alex. Browsing YouTube one evening, I came across a video of Bruce Springsteen performing “Because the Night” live in Paris, 1985, and was immediately touched by the passion and beauty of his haunting performance. I wrote a short story called “The Dead Beats” straight away. Later, I completed another four short stories featuring Alex and Tristan, and published them as Night Sighs. I’m now working on a follow up novel called Night Whispers. Link for the Springsteen video is below.
Emma Meade lives in rainy Ireland. She loves vampires, slayers, witches, ghosts, aliens & shadow men (or at least the youngest of the Shadow Men), and regular people who live extraordinary lives (think Slayerettes and you’re on the right track).
Books, DVDS & TV show boxsets take up lots of space in her home, and she collects all the Point Horror books she can get her hands on.
Writing supernatural short stories and watching marathon re-runs of Buffy are some of her favourite ways of escaping reality.
Author Website: http://emmameadebooks.com/
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Emma-Meade/e/B0064LKMK2