KILL CITY: The first new Sonja Blue novel in ten years. Sonja searches for a young girl kidnapped by vampires. No sparkling allowed.
KILL CITY is the first Sonja Blue novel in over ten years and marks my return to the character that launched my career in the horror/urban fantasy genre.
I was approached not by one, but two major publishers over the last three years regarding KILL CITY. However, after submitting my book proposal--the plot of which takes a vicious swipe at a certain insanely popular YA vampire series--it was decided that the subject matter and style of KILL CITY was too 'dark' for the urban fantasy market and hit a little too close to home for the typical paranormal romance reader. Unless I was willing to drastically change the plot--and the ending in particular--KILL CITY was deemed too risky for publication.
However, I feel strongly about what KILL CITY has to say about the neutering of the vampire archetype and the effects of brainwashing a generation into accepting borderline abusive behavior as 'romantic' to water it down simply in order to appeal to whoever it is publishers think buys contemporary vampire novels.
While mainstream publishers might believe there’s enough demand to warrant the outlay for KILL CITY, I know there’s an audience out there for this book. Every day I get emails and posts on my Facebook page from different fans throughout the world, wanting to know when Sonja Blue will be making her return. In today’s radically changing publishing world, there is no longer any need for the author of a widely read series—one that won awards and has been reprinted in ten different languages—to simply accept the say-so of a publisher as to what is commercially viable and worthy of production. And I hope that those of you reading this will be equally motivated to prove them wrong.
Below is a brief summary of KILL CITY'S basic plot. However, unlike a proposal submitted to a publisher, there are no spoilers, since I assume people who donate to the publication of a book want to be able to read it for themselves. I have also included a brief excerpt from one of the finished chapters, to give you a little taste of what's to come.
KILL CITY opens with vampire/vampire slayer Sonja Blue still doing what she does best--hunting down and killing undead and other dangerous "Pretenders"--inhuman creatures, such as werewolves and demons, who pose as humans in order to prey upon mankind.
She receives a letter from the aged Senator Holden, looking to sell her a rare occult artifact. But upon arriving at his estate, she soon discovers that he knows who and what she really is, and wants her to search for his missing granddaughter, who was spirited away by a man on the internet claiming to be the vampire protagonist from the wildly popular Eventide series.At first reluctant, she finally agrees to take the case under the threat of blackmail.
Sonja's search takes her to Las Vegas and a vampires-only bordello out in the desert, run by a cabal of vampires taking advantage of the Eventide phenomena by seducing impressionable young girls over the internet with promises of "eternal romance and undying love", only to use them for their own predatory ends. She then travels to New Orleans, where vampires and zombies battle one another for control of the Big Easy's post-Katrina underworld.
With the help of her old business partner and occasional enemy, the demon Malfeis,Sonja finally succeeds in tracking down and rescuing the Senator's errant grandchild. But now she must somehow get her brainwashed and less-than-cooperative charge back home in one piece, despite a pursuing horde of angry undead hot on their heels.
Excerpt from Chapter Three of KILL CITY:
Come sundown, I was back in my car, headed toward the 101 and the Santa Monica Mountains. Located in the hills of the southwestern San Fernando Valley, Calabasas is one of several enclaves of super-wealth that ring the outskirts of the city. It is a place of lush, rolling hills overlooking scenic canyons, perfect for multi-million dollar faux Tuscan villas and sprawling horse-ranches. I heaved a sigh of relief as I spotted my exit. Even with superhuman reflexes, driving on the Ventura Freeway within two hours of either side of rush hour is nerve-wracking.
Holden’s estate was located high in the foothills, on a tight road with hairpin curves, far removed from the television producers and Hollywood celebrities who call the community home. As I piloted my way up the twisting road, I suddenly found an all-too-familiar voice murmuring in my ear: How do you know it’s not a trap?
“I checked out Holden,” I replied to the empty air. “He’s legit. He was a California state senator for over twenty years until he fell off a horse. Since then he’s been paralyzed from the waist down. He’s known for collecting fine antiques, so it makes sense he might come into possession of something like the Bluebeard Knife.”
Who put him onto you in the first place?
“I’m rather curious about that, myself,” I admitted.
What does he want?
“He wants to sell me an antique dagger.”
No, what does he really want? There has to be another reason for him luring you out here.
“You’re paranoid, you know that?” I sighed. “You always suspect everyone of hidden agendas. You have a really low opinion of humanity, you know that?”
Because I’m not one of them, The Other replied. And neither are you. You would do well to remember that.
“Shut up and leave me alone,” I growled, digging my fingernails into the flesh of my upper thigh. My invisible passenger fell silent, but I could still feel it in the back of my head, watching me like a cat standing guard outside a mouse hole.
A couple minutes later the car came to a halt in front of a high stone wall and a pair of imposing metal gates. A man dressed like a farm hand--save for the Mini-Uzi slung over his shoulder--emerged from a small hut on the other side. As I stuck my head out of the driver’s side window I saw the guard frown as he realized I was wearing sunglasses after dark.
“My name is Sonja Blue,” I said. “The Senator is expecting me.”
The guard nodded and stepped back inside the building. There was a buzzing noise as the gates swung open, allowing me to continue my journey. A mile later, after passing several paddocks and a sizable stable, I finally reached the main house. It was a Spanish Colonial Revival-style mansion that gleamed white as a tomb in the glow from the security lights that lit the front lawn.
A tall, muscular man in his early thirties stood waiting for me in the front court yard. He was dressed in a nicely tailored suit that did its best to try and hide the bulge created by his shoulder-holster. As I got out of the car, I caught a tiny flicker of concern as he took in my leather biker’s jacket, steel-toed boots and sunglasses.
“Good evening, Ms. Blue,” the bodyguard said with a practiced smile. “My name is Vickers. I am the Senator’s personal assistant. He sent me to formally welcome you to Rancho Peligro, as he is unable to do so himself.”
“How considerate,” I grunted.
“The Senator does not get many visitors nowadays,” Vickers explained, gesturing for me to follow him into the mansion. “He is most eager to meet with you.”
The foyer of the house was vast, with decorated tile flooring and a huge wrought-iron chandelier hanging suspended from the exposed ceiling timbers like a medieval piñata. Just beyond the entry were twin stairways, each with elaborately scrolled metal balustrades, which branched off to separate wings of the mansion.
Looking down from the left-hand landing was a blonde woman in a designer cocktail dress, holding a martini glass in one finely manicured hand. It was hard to tell her exact age, as her face possessed the waxy, wrinkle-free sheen of the perpetually Botoxed, but if I had to guess, I would say she was in her early forties.
“Is that the Blue woman?” she asked in an over-loud, slightly slurred voice.
“Yes it is, Mrs. Holden,” Vickers replied, speaking in a tone usually reserved for small children and pets. “I’m taking her to see the Senator.”
“About time she showed up,” the blonde said as she drained what remained of her drink.
“Is that the Senator’s wife?” I asked as Vickers led me through an archway off the main foyer that opened onto a loggia decorated with Renaissance bronze and marble statues.
“The Senator is a widower,” the assistant explained matter-of-factly. “The woman you saw is his daughter-in-law, Estelle.”
Upon reaching the end of the gallery, Vickers opened an oaken door with hand-forged fittings with a key that looked like it belonged to a pirate’s treasure chest. I stepped into a large rotunda-like room, the walls of which were hung with El Greco and Velázquez originals. At its center was a mahogany desk big enough to play ping pong on, behind which was Miles Holden, seated in what looked like a motorized executive’s chair.
“Good evening, Ms. Blue,” the Senator smiled. From the shoulders up he looked no different than he had in his campaign posters, save that his salt-and-pepper hair had finally turned silver. From the waist down, however, his body was as gnarled as a cypress stump. I was reminded of a living, breathing Pez dispenser. “I trust Vickers has officially welcomed you to my humble abode?”
“That he has,” I replied. “Nice place for horses you got here.”
“Yes, it was,” he agreed, a hint of sadness in his voice. “I had them all put down after the accident. I did not see any point in having them if I could not ride them.” He motioned to one of the club chairs opposite him. “Please have a seat, Ms. Blue.”
“Senator Holden—you mentioned that we shared a mutual acquaintance in your letter. Who exactly was it who recommended me to you?”
“All in good time, Ms. Blue,” he replied. “But first allow me to show you the knife.” He nodded to Vickers, who opened one of the desk drawers and removed a black leather clamshell case. The bodyguard walked over to me and flipped open the box, holding it so I could examine its contents.
The dagger lay on a bed of black velvet like a piece of fine jewelry. From its lapis lazuli pommel to its sterling silver knifepoint, it measured eight inches in length, and had an eighteen-carat white gold hilt studded with diamonds and sapphires.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Holden said. “Hard to believe something so lovely was used to slit the throats of over a hundred young boys.”
“It is stunning,” I agreed. “Of course, I need to handle it in order to verify whether or not it is the genuine article.”
“Be my guest.”
I took a deep breath, steeling myself against what might come next, and carefully lifted the jeweled dagger from its velvet-lined resting place. As my fingers wrapped about the handle, I experienced a slight electric shock, as if I had brushed against an ungrounded wire, followed by the sound of a small child wailing in fear and pain. Within the space of a heartbeat the single voice doubled, tripled, quadrupled—until it was a children’s choir of terrified screams. I quickly let the knife drop back into the case.
“ It is authentic,” I said, wiping my hands against my leather jacket. “I have no doubt that this was used by Giles de Rais. How much do you want?”
“I’m not looking to sell it,” the Senator replied.
“Then why did you bother contacting me in the first place?” I snapped. “Did you drag me out here just to authenticate it for you?”
“Hold on—there’s no need to become angry. Let me explain. While I’m not interested in selling the Bluebeard Knife, I am willing to make a trade…”
“Trade? For what?” I frowned.
“Your services as a vampire hunter.”
The pit of my stomach dropped away, and for a single, paralyzing second I felt as vulnerable and exposed as I had that night in London, decades ago, when I found myself trapped in the backseat of a Rolls Royce with one of the undead.
“Sorry, I must have misheard you, Senator,” I said, quickly regaining my composure. “Everyone knows there are no such things as vampires!”
“Just like everyone used to know the world was flat and the moon made of green cheese, eh?” the old statesman said with a humorless laugh. “I didn't believe in them, either, until a week ago—when one of the bastards stole my granddaughter. But now I know they’re real—just like I know you’re the only one who can get her back.”
“If this is a joke, it is in very poor taste,” I said, getting to my feet. “I may not be as rich and famous as other people you’re accustomed to dealing with, but my time is valuable to me, and I don’t appreciate having it wasted in such a manner!” And with that I headed for the door.
“You wanted to know who it was that told me about you?” Holden called out after me. “Very well, I’ll tell you his name: Jacob Thorne.”
I froze in my tracks and then turned back to stare at Holden. “How do you know my father?”
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The biggest risk/challenge for someone attempting to strike out and publish their own book is finding people capable of handling those elements they themselves can not--such as layout, editing, and graphic design.
In my case, I have the benefit of over two decades of working with professional editors, artists and graphic designers from both mainstream and indie publishing. I'll be utilizing these contacts to recruit talent to work for and with me on the KILL CITY project. In fact, I have already commissioned a cover by talented graphic designer Sean Hartter, as seen on this page.
Another major challenge to writing--and, more importantly, finishing--a novel is dealing with distractions that crop up in day-to-day life. The most common distraction is finance.It's hard to concentrate on the task of writing when you're worried about where the rent is coming from and whether or not you can keep the lights on long enough to finish the book. Traditionally, that is what a writer's advance is for--publishers advance the author royalties from the sale of the book in order for them to have the time and means of providing a finished manuscript.
Should I meet my goal, I promise you I will be able to focus my full attention on the task at hand--which is finishing what I've started with KILL CITY. I have been working as a professional writer for nearly 25 years, with over 20 novels and short story collections to my name. Without outside distractions, I routinely finish a 90,000 word novel within 9-10 months. This allows a couple additional months for editing and layout of the interior of the book and the dustjacket. The creation of the Sonja Blue swag is comparatively easy and will be shipped out to contributors whenever finished.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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