How I Learned to Heart Vampires: A Story of Childhood Fears, New Friends, and David Boreanaz
By Jocelyn Davies
When I was in third grade, the most dreaded hour of the day for me was art class. It wasn’t because I was a bad artist (though to this day I can barely draw a stick figure), or that I was afraid of criticism, or even that I didn’t want to get my hands dirty with paint and clay. It had to do only with the giant green face of Count Dracula, tacked—loomingly—to the wall right above our workspace. I couldn’t concentrate on anything remotely “artistic”. I could only imagine that he was licking his fangs at the taste of my blood, as I tried in vain to construct a tiny covered wagon for our unit on Pilgrims.
I was deathly afraid of Dracula. Well, all vampires, really.
My experience with vampires up until this point was limited to the one night I accidentally caught a glimpse of Interview with the Vampire on TV. But all of a sudden, my cozy little 3rd grade world was blown wide open. There were just so many questions about them that the school day left unanswered. For example: could a vampire bat turn into a vampire? What happened if one flew into the window of your fourth story apartment one night, crawled under the covers, and bit your toe while you were sleeping? Would you be doomed for eternity? And how, exactly, did you take precautions against that if you were sleeping? None of it made any sense to me, and I realized with a jolt of horror that my eight year old self was woefully unprepared against a vampire attack. No thanks to my teachers, who were too preoccupied teaching me things like multiplication tables. Way to arm me with useful life skills, guys. NOW WHAT ABOUT THE VAMPIRES?
This phase lasted a while.
Then, late one autumn night right around Halloween, the tides began to turn. My family was driving in the car, and my sister thought it would be hi-lar-i-ous to scare me by pretending to be a vampire. I mean. Okay. At first it worked. Dark country road. Middle of the night. No other cars. Etc. etc. She did the whole voice and everything: I vant to zuck your blooood. I screamed. I may have clawed for the door, I don’t know, it was very late and the blinding fear may have caused me to black out for a minute or two. Eventually she started to scare herself, and all mayhem broke loose, and eventually my mother had to climb into the back seat and calm everybody down. But a day or two later, it was kind of funny. And it got me thinking. Vampires: not so scary after all?
Several years later, when I was in seventh grade, my friend—let’s call her Eileen—approached me in the hall at my new school.
“Hey,” she said. “Wanna watch the premiere of Buffy with me tonight?”
“What?” I said. “What’s that?”
“Buffy,” she said. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Out of habit, my heart began to beat faster. My right eye twitched. I tried to play it cool.
“I don’t know,” I said, brushing a strand of hair casually out of my face. “I’m not so into vampires.”
(Look, you’re laughing. I get it. But in my defense, there was no Edward Cullen or Stefan Salvator back then. Or Angel—yet.)
“Um,” Eileen said. “It’s supposed to be really funny. It’s based on the movie.” The movie. I’d heard of the movie. My friend Beth had repeatedly tried to get me to watch it with her. Each time, I distracted her by mentioning different Sweet Valley High plotlines until she forgot what we were talking about. But Eileen was a new friend, and I was at a new school, and maybe, I thought—maybe I should just go with it.
I closed my eyes. I swallowed. “Okay,” I said. “Call me at eight.”
And so she did. She called me at eight, and we sat on the phone for an hour, in complete, enthralled silence. We talked only during commercials. Buffy kicked some major butt, Xander quipped, and Angel (oh my god, Angel!) smoldered at us in his long billowy coat from across the graveyard. Vampires weren’t scary. They could be funny. And, like, smoldery. And, most importantly, vanquished—by a girl wearing a ponytail like mine—with a well-timed one-liner and a quick dispatching of Mr. Pointy.
When the episode was over and the first few notes of the Dawson’s Creek theme song began to play, I turned off the TV. I stared at the blank screen. Something inside of me had changed.
“Same time next week?” Eileen said breathlessly.
“Obviously,” I said. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
No cover yet, but I'm really excited to see it!!
Title: A Beautiful Dark
Synopsis: Two strangers. Two destinies. One secret that will shatter her world.
Skye never questioned the stories her Aunt Jo told her after the accident that killed her parents. Then, on the night of her seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers who make her question everything. Complete opposites, like fire and ice, Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair, cold, and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye's life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon, she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.
In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach farther than the three of them could ever imagine.
A Beautiful Dark Available from HarperTeen Fall 2011
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Jocelyn Davies is a children’s book editor who lives in New York City. Her debut young adult novel, A Beautiful Dark, is the first in a trilogy coming out in 2011. You can follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jocelyndavies and visit her website at http://www.jocelyndavies.com/.
Jocelyn, Thank you so much for taking part in our Halloween Event and for your story. I really enjoyed reading it and am thrilled to be able to share it with everyone!
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