I want to thank Camelle for hosting me on Home of a Book Lover for my first blog tour for Day for Night which launched on June 7th!
First things first: even though Camelle’s genres of choice are Historical Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary Fiction, Chic Lit and Indie, I’m not sure I actually fit into any of those. Not purely. I mean, you could shoe-horn me in if you put a little elbow grease into it. I guess I’m a combination of genres. If you shoved Contemporary Fiction into a room with Chic Lit and Fantasy and a smattering of Romance and then locked the door and instigated a riot or a food fight, the result would be an urban paranormal slightly romantic adventurous comedy. And I tip my hat to Camelle for being open-minded and actually letting me in the door!
In the end, we’re all the same anyway, aren’t we? We all love stories, in one form or another. Camelle has stated that books are addictive, like a drug. That’s beyond true, in my opinion. I also think it’s great that I can share thoughts and ideas with people in my own backyard and also people in the Philippines or other places. I imagine Camelle has many tales to tell using her hometown as a base of operations, and it would be fascinating to learn more about the Philippines. I remember when I used to write stories that took place in Anytown, USA, because I didn’t think Los Angeles was interesting enough to talk about. But as I grew older, I realized L.A. was actually rife with literary potential, especially satire.
Rae, the protagonist of Day for Night, is a mixed race ex-actress who hates to drive, hasn’t said her age out loud in years, is sick of being dateless, and lost her condo in Hermosa Beach. Just when she begins to amp her self-pity meter up full blast, her world turns upside down and inside out. And suddenly she has an ongoing paranormal nightmare to worry about instead of being kicked off her reality TV show and ceasing to appear in “Trending Now” on the Yahoo AT&T page. Although I was a lot shyer than Rae and never in a million years would have been an actress, we still have a lot in common, and I know I would handle the discovery of aliens and/or vampires invading and/or populating The Valley with the same amount of exasperation and denial that she does.
Now that I use L.A. to do my bidding, I can’t believe that I ever had a problem with it! I grew up surrounded by celebrities, went to school with them. Had the usual identity crisis of being one of the only mixed race kids in school. Survived earthquakes and mud slides and learning to drive on the 405 freeway. Hung out at the Galleria and drove at unsafe speeds on Mulholland Boulevard. If I had been a really smart person, I would have transferred those memories into the written word long ago instead of dissing L.A. by turning my nose up at it.
Rae’s experiences with celebrities was challenging to work with, because I had advice from many corners that I should “write around” celebrity names and not say them outright. Also, my advice to first-time published authors regarding lyrics: don’t put ‘em in if you don’t have to! There’s a labyrinthine process for getting permissions for songs that aren’t public domain. So my characters talk “about” songs a lot or titles are mentioned, but the lyrics are verboten. I mean, I kind of knew that already, but I didn’t know how strict and far-reaching the rules actually were.
Even though my character Rae is going through some heavy stuff, it’s never completely serious. Just as Rae is realizing she was beginning to turn into a reality TV jerk, after becoming undead she notices that vampires are the rulers of what it means to be a jackass. And I’m using a nice word here because I think Camelle’s blog is rated G! So now Rae has to fight against the double whammy of being an ex-reality TV star prima donna-turned-undead-schmuck!
Camelle has a poem on one of her pages that talks about feeling like a shadow and being ignored, people that need something and then disappear once they have what they want. It’s very touching and poignant. If the world were actually paranormal, I’d say that Camelle was describing a universe populated by self-interested, self-involved, predatory vampires or non-empathetic aliens. I think that’s why books are so addictive in the end. Because reading, specifically fiction, takes us out of everyday life where we feel ignored and invisible, a feeling nobody should have, and puts us elsewhere. And it’s so much nicer to imagine that vampires and aliens are the only selfish and greedy ones, rather than our own brothers and sisters of the human race.
Here’s an excerpt from Day for Night:
The world came to an end on a balmy Tuesday evening while I was doing laundry in my Glendale apartment building. Not on a Monday so I could start off the week fresh with the apocalypse, knowing just where I stood. Or a Friday so I could say, “Thank God, it’s the weekend. I need to de-stress from the End of Days.” It was a Tuesday. Four weeks to the day that I had been voted off one of the most popular reality shows running: Muscle Beach Midlife: Sand in your Face. I guess it didn’t matter that Muscle Midlife had no voting. Details, schmetails. They did it anyway, and it made for good TV. If ratings were sharks, I was the bloody, mashed-up chum.
I was multitasking. For me, this involved doing laundry while I mused about regret. What better time to muse on the nature of regret than when the world was about to end? Of course, I had no idea such was the case as I made my way deeper into Single White Female territory—my building’s dank basement—gripping my basket tight and my rage tighter. I shouldn’t even be here. Forced out of escrow on my dream condo in Hermosa Beach, bad timing left me scrambling, and I’d ended up here, surrounded by elderly Armenian gentlemen who seemed to disapprove of women wearing pants.
Parents? They lived out of state. Sister Margarite? Not an option in this life or the next. You found out fast who your real friends were when you got kicked off a TV show. When anything went wrong in this town, Los Angeles, especially if even remotely connected to The Biz, you’d blink twice and find yourself in the middle of a boiling, empty desert with nothing but the cacti and a lizard doing pushups on a rock. Two handfuls of “friends” condensed overnight down to just Hama and Rex.
So, back to regret, back to the end of the world. An overall discontent, kick-started by Sand in your Face, had bogarted its way past the borders, routed the castle walls. The castle being the state of denial I lived in, discontent being reality. It was funny that I was thinking of reality as I neared the laundry room, basket on my hip, because I was expecting a certain series of circumstances ahead of me. I was expecting the machines to all be occupied, except for one, which wouldn’t be enough to accommodate my load. I was expecting the light bulb to be stuttering in its usual migraine-inducing pattern. Even before I arrived, I could hear them all busily humming. All the machines, all being used. The one poster on the wall would be there, Truffaut’s Day for Night, dusty, the plastic cover cracked in one corner. I even expected my right shoulder to jackknife with pain when I hitched the basket up on my hip. It was injured almost a year ago after a failed Pap smear attempt.
What I wasn’t expecting was to turn the corner and find my thirty-something neighbor Annie, eyes open, silent, encased by a cone of light and suspended in midair just inside the doorway. Nope. Wasn’t expecting that at all. Floating beside her was the small, big-headed creature I’d seen a million times on TV and in the movies, so hilariously clichéd that I laughed out loud. There were some young filmmakers in the building. It must be an experiment, a joke. But then the creature turned, and it just wasn’t funny anymore.
Stacey was raised in the San Fernando Valley but born in San Francisco, where she left part of her heart. She has worked on a dude ranch, coached gymnastics, and captions for the hearing impaired. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines in New York and L.A., including Ginosko and The Rag. She is currently working on the sequel to her novel Day for Night. She lives in “beautiful downtown Burbank,” as Johnny Carson used to say, with her husband who is also a writer. Visit her at https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com