It's been a while since we had my friend Abner as a guest post, hasn't it? Yeah, almost two years. I think it's about time for another. A few days ago, my friend Stacey released DAY FOR NIGHT, and she asked if I'd be willing to host her on her blog tour. Me, hosting a tour about an urban paranormal comedy? *looks at own urban paranormal comedy in progress* Absurd, right? Yeah, nuts. So let's get this absurdity out of the way and say hi to Stacey E Bryan!
My thanks to Maggie for hosting me on her blog today for my first virtual book tour ever!
I want to say this journey has been fun and exciting, the process of publishing my first novel, an urban paranormal comedy, but I’m not sure those are the most accurate words I could use. Confusing is a better one. Stressful is definitely up there. Scary can be shoved in there between those two. My experience, ironically, could almost be called paranormal. Why? Well, maybe it has something to do with being weird like Maggie. Maggie describes herself as “that weird chick” and that’s how I’d probably describe myself. I’m not sure what ingredients go into Maggie’s makeup to make her weird, exactly, but mine include a wariness of technology bordering on paranoia; something that is not helpful to me in today’s world. Especially after writing a book and getting it published online.
I’m that weird chick too, though. I preferred being alone. I had a black cat called Mr. Smith who followed me everywhere like a dog. I wasn’t interested in going to the prom. And, yes, I did have a date! I learned to drive when I was 18. Grudgingly. Why? you ask. Sometimes I even ask myself why? It probably had something to do with being adopted and being mixed race. Ultimately, I found solace in reading (who doesn’t?) and later in writing. Books actually explained a lot of things. They made me think. They helped me stop thinking. And then the catharsis of writing started. And that was even better sometimes.
My main protagonist, Rae, survives a terrifying event in her late teens that shapes the rest of her life, sending her into a kind of directionless floating that leaves her with slowly escalating regret. And although Rae and I may share some regrets, all of the dramatic stuff that never happened to me happens to Rae, including discovering that other beings inhabit reality: aliens and vampires. And she begins to suspect there are others, to boot.
She handles each escalating situation the way I probably would handle it if I was in her shoes. In other words, badly. Lots of drinking and denial. I made Rae mixed race so that I could touch on those issues a little bit. But humorously, since the novel is a comedy. I felt like race and age couldn’t be ignored, though, especially since the setting is Los Angeles, a place where people “seem” to get along and more or less “like” each other, but a choppy sea of misunderstanding, discontent, and, ultimately, bigotry is constantly churning right beneath that David Lynchonian surface.
I think it’s sort of amazing that I made it this far. I mean, if I do say so myself. For someone who owned a flip phone just a year and a half ago, I think I’ve made strides and come far, dragging Rae and her aliens and vampires kicking and screaming behind me. So my advice to other authors, to those who dabble, to those who do more than dabble: stick with it! I know it’s sort of clichéd, but stick with it. And there’s so much help online. For those like me, starting from less than scratch in social media, there’s lots of instruction available. I’m sure one day soon I’ll be able to give advice of my own. It’ll feel good to give back.
Ultimately, for weird chicks like me, weird chicks like Maggie, un-weird chicks and guys and everyone in between, if you’re a writer, the “stick with it” advice probably counts more for querying once you’re done, online marketing, the endless blogging and promotion. But probably a writer doesn’t need to be told to “stick with it” to keep writing. After all, I don’t know about you, but even when I wasn’t writing, for many years, all I thought about, night and day, was writing. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s what I do. And what I long to do. And what I hope to do. And what I love to do. And sharing the love is just the best, the most supreme, the absolute cherry on top.
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.
DAY FOR NIGHT
When reality TV star Rae Miller is kicked unceremoniously to the curb by her back-stabbing cast mates, she quickly realizes that revenge fantasies and unemployment are the least of her problems after she witnesses an alien abduction in broad daylight. Worse, after escaping a terrifying almost-abduction herself, Rae succumbs to a sexy Nosferatu’s silky assurances, becoming undead in order to up her alien Ultimate Fighting skills. Life is hard as a 38-to-40-something aspiring actress in L.A. Thank God for Jack Daniel’s and denial.