Calisa Rhose asks ~ What’s so Wonderful about Undead? R.E. Mullins explains
Posted by Calisa Rhose
Friday Fanfare Welcomes:
R. E. Mullins with It’s a Wonderful Undead Life
How did the writer’s journey begin for you?
“First, Calisa, let me thank you for having me today.”
You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure, R.E.!
“I always thought about writing and as a kid I wrote scripts for my favorite TV shows but Hollywood never came knocking. My mother also would always bring up a story I wrote in grade school about UFO’s. Later I suppose a lack of time and confidence kept me from fulfilling the dream. Life happened, I forgot about it and then as the children grew up and I went through a tough divorce – I discovered solace in writing. You can really escape from the world inside your characters. My first draft was filled with a lot of anger and some vindictiveness against the ex. It got it worked out of my system (thank god) so I edited most of that stuff out.”
*R. E. pauses wondering if she answered the question or just went off on a rant.* “Ah, for a more formal bio, I was born and raised in Joplin, MO. Nothing exciting there – oh wait – one claim to fame (besides tornadoes) there was a big shoot out with Bonnie and Clyde. I’ve also lived in Tulsa, OK, Mt. Clemens, MI, and Springfield, MO. Right now I’m living in Colorado Springs, CO and experiencing mountains. I must admit it’s been a real change for me. I’m not use to having this much snow in April and miss daffodils. Heck it’s so dry out here – I almost miss Missouri’s humidity. But then I go out to walk the dog, see the mountains, and every time I catch my breath in awe. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Ozarks, though, and that’s why I set my fictional town of Amber Heights there.”
My oldest daughter moved to Denver last summer and so far she loves it in CO, as well. But she’s tired of the snow, too.
Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know.
*R.E. grins a little sheepishly.*
1. I actually wrote the book off and on between 2004 and 2006. I didn’t get up the confidence to submit until 2008. It was accepted by the Wild Rose Press with the proviso I rewrite it from 1st POV into 3rd POV. I was overwhelmed by the challenge, lacked the confidence and sat on the manuscript for years. I more or less forgot about it and then I found it again, recontacting the editor in 2012. Unbelievably, she remembered me and my book but insisted on the same rewrite. So I slapped myself silly, cracked my knuckles, and got busy. My lovely editor, Amanda Barnett of Wild Rose Press, held my hand, calmed my fears, and kicked me in the pants until it came out 12/12/12. Pretty auspicious release date don’t you think?
Crazy date. LOL But good on you doing the work!
2. I freaking love basketball. I fell in love watching the sport last year and still none of my family or friends can believe it.
3. I honestly believe I’m a fairly quirkless person. Oops, the voices in my head don’t seem to agree and are now laughing.
It all began when…
“It all began when I needed to start over. After the divorce I received a catalog from the local community college. I was in the position of needing to return to the workforce after 20 years as a homemaker. So I paged through the catalog and the phlebotomy course started first. I applied with the idea if I wasn’t accepted; I would apply for the pharmacy tech. class. Fate stepped in and I was accepted into the phlebotomy course. For ten years I drew blood samples in different medical labs. Let me tell you it was an eye opener for my little sheltered self. I loved 99% of my co-workers and patients. Such characters! Crude jokes and vampire humor were rampant and patients seemed to think they were hysterical. Since most were so good hearted, I didn’t really mind laughing at the same tired joke every single visit.
Okay, here I have to admit to memorializing some of my patients in my book. I blended some of the more memorable together into a couple of minor characters. In fact many of my friends and family might find bits and pieces of themselves scattered inside the pages. If the character was too recognizable my, er, victims was apprised.”
Where did you get the premise for this book?
“That was easy. Since I was working with blood it seemed only natural to write a book about vampires. The title popped into my head during a shift. (Won’t the supervisors be glad to learn that!) There are references to the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, but the plot line diverges significantly. After all it’s about two rival vampire factions and how my heroine gets caught up in the strife.
What stands out about this story that made writing it different for you?
*Tries to keep the whine out of her voice, she doesn’t totally succeed.*
“It was really hard to learn how to write from the third person. Plus I didn’t want to go into the hero’s head. What do I know about how the male species thinks? But I gave it a shot. I’d be zipping along pretty good and then my brain would flip back to ‘I did’ and ‘I said’ and suddenly I’d realize I’d have to redo chapters at a time. It was very laborious at times.”
Were there any difficult challenges or special subject matter you came across while writing this book?”
“I did a surprising (well, I was surprised but I really liked it) amount of research for this book and the one I’m working on. I kept the medical terminology correct which one reviewer specifically mentioned liking and another absolutely hated. I happen to like it. I researched languages, old maps, blood volume, hypothermia, blood diseases, and many vampire myths. I studied the difference between sanguine (blood drinkers) and psychic vampires. I went back to genetics because I wanted humans and vampires to spring from one gene pool and share a collective memory. For their origin myth, I thought about the great flood. As you know similar flood stories appear in every culture. That was the feel I wanted so I combined religion with mythology. I explained how vampires started as human until mixing it up with a vengeful god. The hard part was not putting in everything I found interesting.”
What about this book would make us want to read it more than others of similar taste?
“That’s a hard one, Calisa. Why can’t everyone just read all of them? Well they say to write what you like so I don’t write dark, evil, tortured, vampires that wander around wanting to die – at least my main characters won’t be. Think not vampire regular but more vampire lite.
I want them to have the same strengths and weaknesses as humans but with a few physical bonuses they’ve picked up through evolution. Just because they are vampire and have or will live longer, they aren’t exempt from the same failings and attitudes that plague us all. My reasoning? Not all 90 year old people become wise, mature, or polished through the years. Some are just old. Why should vampires be any different? Do you know what I mean?
So in the book when the vampire sister, who is a doctor, is ready to let the heroine die – it’s because she isn’t perfect. It doesn’t matter how old she is. At the moment, she’s thinking like a sister and what would benefit her and her family. She isn’t thinking like a healer. My characters won’t always think and do the right thing. When they willfully misunderstand they can act like jerks. They argue, have the same family dynamics as the rest of us…you get the picture. Since they live a couple of millennium, they tend to mature even more slowly and, just like us, some never mature at all. (No comments needed from the peanut gallery)”
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
“That’s easy. I want them to have a couple of laughs and escape for awhile. That’s what I look for in a read. To escape into another world through reading is my form of Calgon. With vampires there are no hard and fast rules. Unlike reality their world is whatever we want to make it. I like my vampires to have a sense of humor and to be very much like us. I consider them the modern vampires.”
Tell us about the finished book. Is there anything special we might not know after reading it?
“This is the first book in a series. Currently, I’m almost finished with the second book. In Vampire in the Scrying Glass it takes the family further. It deals with the heroine’s friend and the hero’s younger brother. She is a witch who must regain her magic. Only then can she protect herself and attempt to defeat a demon threatening both humans and vampires. Things come out, characters are delved into more deeply, more flaws appear and love is found. I think it’s more exciting.”
It’s a Wonderful Undead Life blurb:
It’s been a rough couple of years for Cailey Kantor. Now she’s not only facing her first Christmas season alone she’s also received some bad financial news. In desperation, she prays for an angel to come fix her problems. Instead, a sadistic, sociopathic vampire named Vincent who is working for the evil Toltecs confronts her. Trying to start a war between the two rivaling factions of vampires, he bites Cailey then forces her to drink blood stolen from the Nosferatu Gabriel Blautsauger.
Now dying she must protect Gabe and his family by allowing him to finish her transformation. Just when she is adjusting to life as a vampire, the Toltecs return and again she becomes the bait to destroy the Blautsauger family.
Trying to protect those she loves, Cailey is faces with lies, abduction and betrayal yet somewhere along the lines she manages to fall in love.
Cailey’s scrub top was gone, exposing her lacy bra,
and she was in the process of stepping out of the
drawstring pants. She glanced up, her gaze a bit wild.
“Hurry. Hurry. I think I might explode from all this
energy inside me. I feel like a popcorn maker and all
the kernels are popping at once. So much pressure in
here.” She dropped a hand to the juncture of her thighs
and pressed it against her.
“Cailey?” Gabe’s tone was an octave higher than
normal. When she straightened up, clad only in her
underwear, he gulped for air. “What are you doing?”
“Getting ready, of course.” Holding her wadded up
pants in front of her, she frowned at him. “I thought you
said you knew what you were doing.”
“I thought I did…” His voice trailed off, his gaze
locked on Cailey’s tight body. How had he missed just
how beautiful she was? Hidden beneath the baggy
scrubs was a living miracle. He took in the slight swell
of flesh above the lucky bra cupping her breasts, and
his fingers itched to run down the indentation of her
She dropped the pants to the floor. “Come on.
Come on, Gabe the Babe. I know all about when you
were at university and all the female vamps used to
chase you around and gloat if they made time with
“Ahem.” Gabe realized he had his sister to thank
for this new conundrum. More than a bit leery, he
asked, “What else did Metta tell you?”
“That we’re both kind of like virgins.”
“I beg your pardon?”
Where can readers find you and your books?
Is there anything else you want to share or add?
“Well, CaIisa, when asked to describe my book I called it a sitcom. It is meant to entertain, with a few laughs, maybe a groan, a little gross out, and to end with a kiss. They are not in the vein (yes that was deliberate) of the traditional dark, tortured vampire – again think more of a diet vampire. And that’s the way I like it uh-huh, uh-huh.
Thanks again, Calisa. I had a great time chatting with you today.”
I have to say this sounds like a fun book, R.E.! Congrats and happy sales! I’m sure it will be a benefit to every paranormal reader out there that you got off your duff and cracked down on yourself. 🙂