What do dragons and vampires have to do with each other? Nothing, unless to you know the Richmond, Virginia, author Bill Blume. In the second installment of his Vampire Hunter series, Gidion’s Blood, not only does Bill expand on Gidion’s family and his vampire hunting, he has brought Windsor the Grumpy dragon into the story. Windsor is a stuffed green dragon who has a penchant for making snarky comments and taking over the Twitter feed of the James River Writers (JRW) group.
Why am I writing about Windsor when my real intent is to discuss Bill’s book? Simply because it shows how writers reflect real life in their stories. Having initially connected with Bill via social media, and then meeting him in person at one of The Writing Show events provided by the JRW, I’ve come know a bit about Windsor, and have had the pleasure of reading Bill’s other works.
Windsor eyeing Bill’s coffee
In the first book of the Vampire Hunter series, Gidion’s Hunt, you learn about the high schooler Gidion Keep’s efforts to hunt vampires. Really, he’s sort of goaded into it by his grandfather, and they’ve both decided to make sure Gidion’s dad doesn’t know. Gidion’s mother has been lost to them, but he doesn’t know the real story. At one point in Gidion’s Hunt, I thought I’d figured out where his mother went. But, alas, I was wrong, only to find my nugget of presumed insight being addressed in the next book, Gidion’s Blood. I feel a certain pleasure knowing that I was almost right.
In Gidion’s Blood we find Gidion has to step up his game a bit as he is now being hunted. There’s a bounty on his head by an unknown entity and it’s going to be enforced by one of the most skillful vampire assassins. While his grandfather’s crematorium has been useful so far, it may not be enough to protect the family this time.
From the back cover of the book, “What this foe plans will expose three generations of secrets within the Keep family and force Gidion to question everything he’s come to believe about the creatures he hunts.” And this is exactly what the nameless assassin does. It’s not pretty, but then again, vampires don’t really care what people think. Gidion, his father and grandfather, must come to terms with each other, and a new set of rules of engagement. In every fight there’s a winner and loser. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, you better be learning a lesson.
We find Gidion still struggling in his high school phase of life. His girlfriend has moved across country, his best friend’s girlfriend may be coming onto him, and what could add to this angst but his dad dating his teacher. And now, some vampire assassin wants his head, or at least wants to separate it from his body. Oh yeah, and he still has to do his homework.
Killing vampires is neither easy nor clean, not unlike writing a good story. While I suspect writing this second installment wasn’t easy, clean, or painless for Bill, he easily and successfully brings the reader into Gidion’s life and puts your boots on the ground. There were no down points for me in this story, and it piqued my interest just a bit more than other stories because he places the plot right here in Richmond. The incorporation of local points of interest, roads, neighborhoods, and food, makes the sweet spot of reading all the better because I can follow Gidion’s travels in my own mind, knowing exactly where he is.
My advice? Go read Gidion’s Hunt so you can catch up with Gidion’s Blood. While you’re at it, check out Bill’s short stories, I particularly liked Borrowed Shadows. Go to Bill’s website http://www.billblume.net/ to see his offerings and learn about Windsor. You’ll also find his social media hangouts there.
Q & A with Bill Blume
Mark: What was the seed for the series?
Bill: Gidion was born from a simple desire to write the best vampire hunter story ever. We live in a time when people are so much more focused on the monster, but I’ve always been more fascinated by the person crazy enough to hunt that monster. I wanted my story to read with enough realism that you could see these creatures living among us unnoticed. The best urban fantasy should always change the way you look at the world around you.
Mark: Was there an ‘a ha’ moment in writing the first book, Gidion’s Hunt, where the story or character fell into place? Or has it been more of a slow evolution?
Bill: Unlike some other stories I’ve written, Gidion sprang to life from page one. The whole thing about him being born on a Friday the 13th and believing in good luck charms, that all came off the cuff as I wrote the opening pages to the rough draft. Part of the ease with Gidion is because I’ve always been attracted to writing about characters who hunt for things, not always as literally as he does, but that’s a central part of almost everything I’ve written. The most surprising thing about Gidion for me is how light a character he is despite the grim content of his stories and life.
Mark: I laughed at the inclusion of Windsor, your real life Grumpy Dragon. Are there other real life things, such as a favorite haunt that you’ve included?
Bill: When I found a way to fit Windsor into the second book that wasn’t gratuitous (it’s a tiny cameo), I was giggling like an idiot. I love finding ways to incorporate my world and Richmond into Gidion’s stories. Both of the Gidion Keep books are filled with nods. The Urban Farmhouse where Gidion does homework with Andrea is where I wrote a lot of the second book. I included a visit to Proper Pie, a New Zealand pastry shop that is in Church Hill (you’re missing a crucial part of being a Richmonder if you never visit Proper Pie). My short story collection The Deadlands includes a story with Gidion in which he hunts down two vampires hiding among the participants of the annual Richmond Zombie Walk which takes place in Carytown. For that, I even reached out to the Zombie Walk’s organizers to check what I’d written for authenticity. Probably the most important local inclusion is in the second book with the action sequence set in the Midlothian Mines Park. Many people would never guess that the reason I set that part of the book in a torrential downpour was because I realized the superhuman hearing vampires have would make it too easy for them to hear Gidion approach as he walked on the gravel path out there. The rain levels the playing field.
Mark: Is there a third book in the works yet?
Bill: Yes and no. I did start on a third book, but unfortunately, the publisher isn’t on board with it at this point. The good news is that the first two books complete the first major arc for Gidion’s adventures. I haven’t ruled out self-publishing the third book, but for now, I’m working on something new. I just finished the rough draft on another young adult, urban fantasy set in Richmond. This will feature Marty, a girl with schizophrenia, who is recruited to work for a mythical creatures police department (MCPD), and she’s the only human on staff. Marty is a student at the same school Gidion attends, so there’s definite potential for Gidion to show up in her future stories and vice versa. My “grumpy dragon” Windsor works for the MCPD as an officer and gets partnered with Marty, making part of his job to train her. Rest assured, Windsor’s demeanor is surly as ever.
Images by Bill Blume copyright