This novel is like my first child and I couldn’t be prouder of the result! I set out to write a young adult love story between two teenage boys – Michael Howard and Ronan Glynn-Rowley – set against a backdrop of vampires and the supernatural and the response has been tremendous. Readers really took to their relationship both as individuals and as a couple and I can only guess it’s because they can identify with the feelings of isolation and uncertainty plaguing both characters. Michael feels unnatural because he’s gay and Ronan feels unnatural because he’s a hybrid vampire. But together they find the love and companionship they’ve been searching for and the strength to fight against the evil around them. In many ways, it’s what we all want.
If you haven’t read UNNATURAL yet, here’s a peek at the prologue. Enjoy!
the waters pour
am I alive
or am I dead
Outside the earth was wet.
The rain had finally stopped, but it had poured hard and long during the night, the sudden storm catching the land unprepared for such a prolonged onslaught. From Michael’s bedroom window he could see the dirt road that led up to his house had flooded and the passageway that could lead him to another place, any place away from here, was broken, unusable. Today would not be the day he would be set free.
Ever since Michael was old enough to understand there was a world outside of his home, his school, his entire town, he had fantasized about leaving it all behind. Setting foot on the dirt path that began a few inches below his front steps and walking, walking, walking until the dirt road had brought him somewhere else, somewhere that for him was better. He didn’t know where that place was, he didn’t know what it looked like, he only knew, he felt, that it existed.
Or was it all just foolish hope? Peering down from his second-floor window at the rain-drenched earth below, at the muddy river separating his home from everything else, he wondered if he was wrong. Was his dream of escape just that, a dream and nothing more? Would this be his view for all time? A harsh, unaccepting land that, despite living here for thirteen of his sixteen years, made him feel like an intruder. Leave! He could hear the wind command, this place is not for you. But go where?
On the front lawn he saw a meadowlark, smaller than typical, but still robust-looking, drink from the weather-beaten bird bath that overflowed with fresh rain water. Drinking, drinking, drinking as if its thirst could not be quenched. It stopped and surveyed the area, singing its familiar melodious tune da-da-DAH-da, da-da-da, and pausing only when it caught Michael’s stare. Switch places with me, Michael thought, let me rest on the brink of another flight and you sit here and wait. And where would you go, the meadowlark asked, you know nothing of the world beyond this dirt. Nothing now, but I’m willing to learn. The lark blinked, its yellow feathers bristling slightly, but I’m not willing to forget everything that I know. Da-da-DAH-da, da-da-da.
How wonderful would it be to forget everything? Forget that the mornings did not bring with them the promise of excitement, but just another day. Forget that the evenings did not bring with them the anticipation of adventure, but just darkness. Forget it all and start fresh, start over.
The meadowlark was walking along the ledge of the birdbath, interrupting the stagnant water this time with its feet instead of its beak, looking just as impatient as it did wise. You can never start over. The new life you may create is filled with memories of the old one. The new person you may become retains the essence of who you were. No, Michael thought, I want to escape all this, I want to escape who I am! Humans, such a foolish species, the lark thought. Da-da-DAH-da da-da-da. You can never escape your true self and you’ll never be able to escape this world until you accept that.
Michael watched the meadowlark fly away, perhaps with a destination in mind, perhaps just willing to follow the current – regardless, out of view, gone. And Michael remained. The water in the birdbath still rippled with the lark’s memory, retaining what was once there, proof that there had been a visitor. Michael wondered if he would leave behind any proof that he was here when he left, if he ever left. Not that he cared if anyone remembered his presence, but simply to leave behind proof that he had existed before he began to live.
He turned his back to the window, the meadowlark’s memory and song, the flooded earth, none of that truly belonged to him anyway and he gazed upon his room. For now, this sanctuary was all he had. He was grateful for it, grateful to have some place to wait until the waters receded and his path could lead him away from here.
But that would not happen today. Today his world, as wrong as it was, would have to do.