Dark Dates (Cassandra Bick Chronicles 1)
by Tracey Sinclair
PNR April 2012
All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…
Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves – with the occasional angel thrown in – and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likeable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy’s feistiest females.
Tracey Sinclair on Writing Vampires
One of the trickiest things about writing urban fantasy is deciding which traditions you will keep, and which you will throw away. Even the most original writers in the genre are dealing with tropes that have been established for centuries: how they use or dismantle what we know about creatures such as vampires can be the making or the breaking of a book.
It seems straightforward enough: we all know what vampires / werewolves /witches do, don’t we? But when you’re writing about them, it’s not enough to come in with vague ideas, you have to know exactly (even if you never explicitly refer to it) what being a vampire, or a werewolf, or whatever, means for your characters in your world.
- Can you vampires exist in daylight – if so, how? (And be prepared to annoy a lot of people right off the bat by throwing out one of the fundamental strands of the legend).
- Can they shape change? Do they need to kill when they feed?
- Do they crumble to dust when they die?
- Can they survive on animal blood?
- Do your werewolves have to change in the moonlight – or do they have some control?
- What do your witches believe? What do they need to cast a spell?
In her equally dark world, Poppy Z Brite saw vampires as a whole other species, not simply ‘turned’ humans, while the fantasy writer Terry Pratchett uses the established characteristics of a Stoker-like vamp for humour: his vampires are as aware of the traditions as they are bound to them – there is even a temperance league for vampires sworn off human blood, and they all carry around little vials of blood so they can be reanimate if they are accidentally ‘dusted’. But so much of your success will depend on execution: both Twilight and The Vampire Diaries feature vamps that can walk in the daylight and it hasn’t done their franchises any harm, but does anyone remember the ill-fated, much maligned Moonlight, where Alex O’Loughlin’s vampire merrily avoided being burnt alive simply by wearing sunglasses and staying in the shade? The inauthenticity of his vampire was one of the reasons the show failed.
The other thing you have to consider as a writer is the practical implications of your decisions: for writers like Brite and Huston, whose characters inhabit a sleazy, after-dark world, your vampires can be nightwalkers: it’s not so easy writing a high school romance if your hero can’t go out in the day. Even what happens to your vampires after they die is an issue: if your vampires don’t ‘dust’, then you have a lot of potential body disposal to take into account.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’re stuck with it – few things annoy readers more than a lack of continuity, or moving the goalposts as you go.
Readers of fantasy want to get swept up into your world: they hate being suddenly jerked out of it thinking, ‘hang on, that’s not how it works…’
The upside is there is an enormously rich seam to mine for ideas: when creating the world of my own novel, Dark Dates, I first looked to the books and shows I enjoyed most, and considered what worked, and sometimes what didn’t, in those.
Buy Links: UK Amazon / US Amazon
Guest Reviewer: Juls
Cassandra, who has a sixth sense, just wants to live her life in harmony. She knows there is more out there, that we share this world with other beings and even dated a vamp herself. Even her assistant Medea is of the paranormal variety. Knowing this she still wants to see the good in it all.
Cassandra owns a dating service that caters to vamps. Little does she know that her own livelihood is what’s causing her to have run ins with unsavory characters. Not only is her company at stake but so is her life.
She is a witty and funny character that doesn’t take it from anyone laying down. She wants to fight to keep what she has and even though half the time she gets lucky, she is able to physically fight off the bad guy.
Cassandra’s love interest Cain has come to her every few years. He is a complete mystery to her but she will take him when he’s available to her. But Cain is way more than she ever thought and there’s still more secrets he’s not willing to reveal. There were a few shocking revelations regarding what he is and who Val is to him. I’m not sure if their so called relationship can handle the stress.
I really loved the relationship that built around Cassandra and her assistant Medea. They were just co-workers but by the end of the book they became friends who kicked butt together. I cant wait to see more of their adventures together cuz I’m sure its not over ;)
Overall it was a fun read.
Thank you Juls for your great review :)
And Thank YOU Tracey for stopping by! Some great information from this guest post :)
Is there any one particular trait you prefer your vampire have?