I’ve been meaning to announce, only life keeps interfering, that I sold Sword and Blood, under the pen name Sarah Marques to Prime Books.
Why a pen name is tied up with “what is sword and blood.”
I suppose only a few of you know my very first sale was Thirst, a vampire short story, back in ninety four. If you look in the year’s best fantasy and horror for that year, it is under “honorable mentions.”
The truth is more complicated than that – truth always is – I actually sold it sometime in 93 of course, that part is normal. But I never got paid and didn’t even know it had been published until years later, while doing a routine search for my name on Amazon. Back then, it only showed three or four items, and that was one of them. You see, I sold it to an Australian magazine, the entire print run of which got seized and destroyed for violating indecency laws. I guess they’d got a magazine out to Year’s Best before that happened, but I never saw it.
Then I sold that short story again. Four times. It killed two more magazines and an editor. Finally, I sold another story (I was starting to think that would never happen) a science fiction one called Plaudit Cives to Absolute Magnitude. And I thought Dreams of Decadence was run by the same people and what the heck. So I sent Thirst to them, with its sorry history attached and ended the cover letter with “Do you feel lucky?”
Apparently they did, since they bought it and it was published... in 06? 07? Somewhere around that.
Since then I’ve done vampires intermittently always as short stories. On the one hand there is a lot to explore in the vampire mythos: the trade of death for life; the power that comes with virtually endless life; the nature of evil; the link of sex and blood which seems to be somewhere at the very back of my head. Vampires fulfill Terry Pratchett’s dictum that in the end all the important stories are about the death and the blood. (This is part of the reason I get so exasperated at what seems to me the defanging of vampires in Romance, because what’s the point of it if you don’t have the blood and the death. But then again, I never understood the appeal of the Disney versions of fairytales.) There was The Blood Like Wine and For Whose Dear Sake, and I get the persistent feeling I’m forgetting another.
Then three/four years ago, I was slammed under six books and home schooling a teenage genius. Something had to give and something did. Sleeping and vacations were no longer working as relaxation, so I took up art class because while working in pastel or pencil, my mind became empty of words.
Then one day I came out of class, and had parked far from the school (the school is across from a sports complex, and people parking for the game had taken everything up for half a mile.) By the time I got in the car and got my key in the ignition, I had three books in my mind in their entirety.
My first thought was “Oh, heck no. I can’t write that.” You see, they were the three musketeers set in a crepuscular world in which vampires rule most of the world and there’s a fight over France. Oh, yeah, and Athos has just been turned.
I came home and did what I do when I want to get rid of a novel that won’t shut up. I outlined it and wrote the first three pages. But it wouldn’t shut up. The series stayed at the back of my mind, nagging me, until I finished the first book, almost a year ago.
It has now been bought (and the still unwritten sequels, Royal Blood and Rising Blood) by Prime Books (not to be confused with Prime Crime.) It is not... exactly what my friend Kate calls undead porn, but it has sex. Oh, and death. And blood. Because of that, and fearing giving those of you who are fans of the other musketeer series or my space operas whiplash, I am bringing it out under Sarah Marques, which shall henceforth be my name for historical fantasy.
I’ve put up three chapters of Sword And Blood, the first book, in a temporary page. It’s not proofed and don’t sweat the look, this is just temporary. Before you head over, beware it contains references to sex. Discretion advised.
Hope you enjoy it, in many ways it’s the most intense thing I’ve ever written, though that might change when Darkship Renegades is done.
Do you mind horribly that I’m doing vampires? (I promise they don’t glow!)