Fiction Fragments: Eva Roslin

Last week I spoke with R. B. Wood about his latest novel, Bayou Whispers and what he learned about himself and the society he lives in while researching the book.

This week, Girl Meets Monster welcomes writer and reviewer Eva Roslin.

Eva Roslin writes dark fantasy and horror fiction. She is a recipient of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship, awarded by the Horror Writers’ Association. She is a Supporting HWA member. Her work has appeared in such publications as Dark Heroes (Pill Hill Press), Murky DepthsGhostlight Magazine and others. Her reviews and articles have appeared in Cemetery Dance and Hellnotes to name a few.

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/EvaRoslin    
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3562237-eva 
Website/blog:https://roslineva.wordpress.com/

Three Questions

GMM: Welcome to Girl Meets Monster, Eva. This will be the final Fiction Fragments post before I take a brief hiatus. So, let’s jump right in and start with some serious questions about your writing. And, your experience as a reader, reviewer, and consumer of speculative fiction in general. I know that you read a lot, not just professionally but also for pleasure. What issues have you encountered with how disabled characters are represented in fiction, or disability in general? What do people get right or wrong? How can people who aren’t disabled write disabled characters authentically? Have you written about disability?

ER: Thank you for having me! The biggest issue I’ve encountered with how writers, particularly nondisabled writers, represent disabled characters is lack of research. If a writer has not done their homework, if they’re just guessing or making assumptions of what it “must” be like to live with a particular disability, and they don’t bother to speak to anyone in the disabled community they’re portraying, it leads to things like the ‘disability is a superpower’ trope. I’m a huge fan of Professor Xavier in the X-Men, for instance, but it bothers me that in some people’s minds, he matters and is “allowed” to be a central character only because he is a mutant who has superpowers that “compensate” for his disability. 

I have both physical and intellectual disabilities, and I use a mobility device to help me get around. One of the tropes I despise features a nondisabled character posing as disabled to trick the other characters and then suddenly using a walking aid as a substitute for a sword. There’s also the trope where a character gets up out of a wheelchair and proclaims “Fooled you!” I love many, many things about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but invoking this trope with Spike in Season 2 is not one of them. 

There’s a tendency to make disabled characters one-dimensional or to equate disabilities with being evil and villainous, which I also think is very offensive. 

Nondisabled writers who want to write disabled characters should start by looking into workshops like the fantastic Writing the Other series that Nisi Shawl and K Tempest Bradford operate. I think it’s also important to do as much research as possible. Many writers might assume that a few quick Google searches are adequate (spoiler alert: they’re not). As well, writers should pay attention to conversations within the disabled community online.  

When it comes to my own fiction, I’m still hesitant to write about characters with disabilities because there’s the fear that I will get it wrong, or that my experiences will not resonate with other disabled folks, or that some nondisabled people will comment that the character doesn’t seem disabled enough, or just plain trolling. I’m working on ways to try to overcome that hesitancy.

GMM: Tell me about your writing. When did you begin writing dark fantasy and horror? Who or what were your first influences, and how has writing within these genres pulled on your personal experiences or helped you grow as a person?

ER: I started writing when I was 14. I loved Halloween growing up, and enjoyed shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark, superhero cartoons, as well as reading many of the Goosebumps books and other young adult horror. As well, I started reading Anne Rice at what was probably too early an age and that solidified my interest in genre fiction and began a life-long obsession with vampires. I also loved mob movies and video games thanks to my older brothers, so when I started writing, it was dreadfully bad screenplays based on Goodfellas. Soon after, I bought a video game featuring vampires that I had no idea would become the flame that fueled my desire to write. I still remember watching the opening cinematic and thinking, “This is amazing. I want to write something that makes people feel the same sense of awe as I do now.” The game was Soul Reaver, which is one of the most epic, finely-plotted stories in video game history. 

Shortly after that, the first Underworld film came out, and that also fueled me to keep writing horror. I joined some online critique groups as well as a local in-person one that my mom had to accompany me to because I was still a minor. Although that group was mostly a bunch of old white dudes and a few women, it taught me important lessons on how to take feedback gracefully, how to provide it, and the fundamentals of good storytelling. I kept writing and most of my subject matter extended to fallen angels, demons, and went into a gritty urban fantasy direction. Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel were both huge influences. Then, somewhere along the way, my work and interests morphed into something more subtle. I began to write Southern Gothic stories, which I realize is ironic because I’m neither American nor am I from the South. Around the same time, I started researching Haitian vodou, learning about the West African roots of the religion, and discovered the history of these regions. It was important for me to see how all of that transformed into Louisiana voodoo and the pop culture derivations that followed. This inspired my obsession with New Orleans, a setting that features prominently in my work. 

When I was a teenager, I had that horrible phantom pressure inflicted on me to “hurry up because if you don’t publish a novel by the time you’re 25, you will lose your chance forever!” And then 25 became 30 until I worked harder on understanding that these are arbitrary benchmarks that other insecure people set up, and it’s part of the theatre of literary snobbery. My experiences working in the publishing industry doing marketing and PR showed me firsthand which books sell and why, which books don’t, all the work that goes into promotion and working with authors, and how dispiriting it was to get unsold copies back to the warehouse. When reviewers did not have favourable feedback on one of the titles we were pushing that season, that was always tough. It made me more cynical for a long time, but it also helped me see things from the business side, which was educational in many ways.

I don’t experience the same sense of catharsis that some horror writers describe, but I definitely bleed on the page. When I was writing urban fantasy, it was much more a wish fulfillment fantasy of including these kickass female protagonists who didn’t take any guff, but were incredibly self-centred and one-dimensional in many ways. For a long time, I avoided writing from the wounds and scars that have shaped me because I was worried about being dismissed with labels like “semi-autobiographical,” or “B-movie genre pulp.” I fixated on people’s reactions. Gradually, I am learning to break away from that and I’m writing from darker places. This has been more traumatizing in some cases, but I feel that I’m taking bolder strides and I’m less afraid as a writer in some ways.

GMM: You are currently writing a novel. Is this your first novel? What is it about? What has the process been like for you as you draft the manuscript? What have you learned about yourself as a writer, and what have you learned about writing in general?

ER: This is the eighth novel I’ve written. It’s a young adult dark fantasy novel about a group of young women in New Orleans in the 1850s. They learn witchcraft at an Academy that disguises itself as an Ursuline convent and school. A very dangerous witch that they thought they’d sealed away for good has found a way to return, and the main characters need to figure out a way to stop her before she unleashes even more havoc. There are vampires and werewolves who also get tangled into the fray. 

I’ve learned that it’s important to be true to what I want to write and to stop fixating so much on the negative energy some folks insist on spreading. As well, I’m also learning that no matter how much work I have done whether it’s research or incorporating feedback, that we don’t have any control over how readers will respond to our work. Still, it’s important to have a vision of what it is we’re trying to accomplish, and to continue persevering no matter how many times we get kicked down (which I know is easier said than done). 

Thanks so much for having me, Michelle!

(From an unpublished short story, “His Heart Beats in the Fire”)

“Miss Malveaux?”

Charlotte jolted as she realized her mind had drifted whilst talking to this handsome suitor.

Before she could respond, Father’s other daughter, Olivia, bumped into Charlotte.

“Pardon me, Lottie!” Olivia squealed with laughter. She looked like a pink cloud in her dress, her cheeks and lips stained with cerise rouge.

“There you are!” Father pulled Olivia into a hug, and kissed her forehead. He had never once come close to regarding Charlotte with anything resembling affection. In his mind, Olivia would forever be his one true daughter. “You are a stray dog. I adopted you because my first wife wished it,” he had said to Charlotte on more than one occasion.

Elijah stared at Olivia, transfixed. A crack formed in Charlotte’s heart at that moment, as if a knife had slashed her. She knew then that whatever chance she may have had with Private Kemper evaporated like dust.
           
“Olivia was just saying…” Father walked away with Olivia and Elijah, Charlotte forgotten. His words echoed in her mind. Simian blood. She approached the live oak in front of her and brushed her hands over the bark. Memories filled her mind of this spot where her grandmother, Betsy, had been hanged. She had been six at the time. She clutched her locket and breathed, trying to wrench her thoughts from that day. 
           
Images flashed in Charlotte’s mind. The noose that broke Betsy’s neck. The flames that sprang from Charlotte’s hands.

The family told tales that Betsy shed her skin at night, a witch who practiced dark magic. Father blamed the ailing slave woman for failing to cure his first wife of consumption. It would not be until many years later that Charlotte would learn of his deception, that he had Betsy hanged to teach the other slaves a lesson.

Something tapped her on the shoulder a moment later. When she whirled, a man with dark eyes and hair examined her, his cheeks angled and sharp. Beside him stood Ava.
           
“This is Corporal William Rawden, Lottie,” Ava said.
           
She held out her hand. While he brought it to his lips, bowing slightly, he regarded her as though he were reading a journal of the news of the day. He frowned.
           
“How do you do,” she said.
           
“I was just mentioning to the Corporal that we have an elder daughter, and he expressed to me that he wished to be introduced to you.”

Charlotte wanted to scoff, to tell him she was sorry to have disappointed him by not being Olivia. “Charmed.”
           
He smirked. “I hear you are quite a respectable young lady, apart from a certain, shall we say, indiscretion.”
           
“I beg your pardon?” she said.
           
He brought his face a bit closer to her. “Your true race.” His mouth reeked of tobacco and whisky. “Your father told me. Still, since your other sister seems to be preoccupied with other, blonder interests, I thought I would see if you might do just as fine, provided a little extra compensation.” He tapped his right pocket. Instead of telling him to get away from her and burn, she held her tongue and stretched her mouth into another saccharine smile, trying to imagine when the day might end.

Do you have a fiction fragment? How about your friends? Would you like to recommend someone to me aside from yourself? Drop me a line at chellane@gmail.com. Fiction Fragments will be on a short hiatus. Stay tuned, and see you soon!

Guidelines: Submit 500-1000 words of fiction, up to 5 poems, a short bio, and a recent author photo to the e-mail above.

Fuckable Fictional Characters: Spike

I love fiction. I read a lot. I watch a lot of TV and movies. And I write fiction. Something you may have noticed about these posts (or derived from the title of my blog) is that I tend to like monsters. They make interesting characters, and often allow us to fantasize about the darker aspects of humanity. They can do things society cautions us against. Sometimes these warnings are given for very good reasons. Killing people and eating them is a big no-no. Technically, having sex with a vampire makes you a necrophiliac. Dating a werewolf is akin to staying in an abusive relationship, because you never really know if you’re going to get mauled on the next full moon. Fantasy is one thing. Reality is another. A few days ago a friend mentioned that one of the characters I chose was a dick. I agreed. But we both came to the conclusion that just because you want to have sex with someone, that doesn’t make them an appropriate partner long-term. And, since I’m writing about fictional characters, you have to take all of this with a grain of salt. I’m writing about these characters not only because they are totally fuckable, but also because they’re interesting and make for good fiction.

Today we return to the Buffyverse, because my favorite monsters of all time are vampires. Call me a necrophiliac if you must, but you have to admit I have great taste in vampires. My first post in this series was about Damon Salvatore, who is one of the sexiest TV vampires ever. Before I laid eyes on Damon, I had the hots for John Mitchell. And long before Mitchell, there was Spike.

February 11: Spike (William the Bloody)

B and W

Until Spike made his first appearance on screen in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in “School Hard,” my heart only belonged to Rupert Giles, Buffy’s Watcher. But when a vampire who looked a little like Billy Idol showed up in Sunnydale speaking in a very sexy British accent, my heart split in two. Dressed in black leather with bleach blond hair, and sporting an attitude to rival all attitudes, Spike, or William the Bloody, quickly became one of Buffy’s most challenging foes.

First

Billy Idol stole his look from Spike.

A notorious vampire known by the Watchers Council for killing not only countless humans, but also two slayers, Spike arrives in Sunnydale with his long-time companion, Drusilla.

Dru-Spike

Love you to death.

Spike and Drusilla met in Victorian London on one of William’s worst nights as a human. Emotionally distressed, he storms away from a party held by the woman he is infatuated with after she rejects and publicly humiliates him. After meeting Dru, it was also his last night as a human. She immediately takes a liking to him, and perhaps she saw their future together in one of her visions, because rather than draining him of blood and leaving him to die in a dark alley, she chooses to make him a vampire. And so began one of the great and monstrous love stories of all time.

Dru-Spike-2

Drusilla is traveling with two other vampires, Angelus, her maker, and Darla, Angelus’ maker. The three blood-thirsty vampires have been traveling around Europe feeding, killing and presumably, fucking. At least Angelus and Darla, but there is some indication that Angelus had a sexual relationship with Drusilla as well. Darla and Angelus are angry with Drusilla for turning Spike without their consent, but once he proves himself to be impressively violent, and kills a slayer during the Boxer Rebellion in China, he becomes a valued member of the nest.

The vampires disband when Angelus gets his soul back (long story, Gypsy curse, has relevance later in the plot), and Drusilla and Spike continue their love affair and encourage each other to new heights of evil. One of the reasons Angelus made Drusilla a vampire is the fact that she is clairvoyant. She has visions, and sometimes the things she dreams come true. When Drusilla was human, her Puritan family condemned her supernatural talent and forced her to subdue it unless she wished to be accused of witchcraft. Prior to making Dru a vampire, Angelus drove her insane by making her do things that went against her religious upbringing, and then had her participate in the death of her parents.

Spike-Angelus-and-Drusilla-the-fanged-four-882862_445_498

She totally fucked both of them. Oh wait, so did Buffy.

Spike and Drusilla come to Sunnydale looking to join up with a group of vampires who are preparing for an end of the world prophecy. Spike isn’t one for following rules or obeying an authority figure. Once he learns there’s a slayer in town, he becomes obsessed with adding her to his kill list. He’s hoping she’ll become number three. Spike ends up sabotaging the prophecy and becomes the next Big Bad in Sunnydale. Until Angel loses his soul and comes up with another end of the world project. Again, Spike steps up to save the world. Even if it is for selfish reasons.

Happy-Meals

He joins forces with Buffy to assist in stopping Angelus. This is the beginning of a partnership that develops into what Spike believes is the actual love of his life. But before that happens, their love to hate each other relationship blossoms as they continually try to kill each other and hilarity ensues.

After Buffy defeats Angelus with the help of Spike, Spike takes Drusilla, and leaves Sunnydale. While they’re gone, they have a falling out and break up. Spike is crushed and returns to Sunnydale looking for a distraction and to resume his plan to kill Buffy. He is emotionally unstable and seems lost without Drusilla.

Torture

A man with a plan.

Spike becomes an integral part of Buffy’s life long before they begin their secret sexual relationship after she comes back from the dead. Again. He has encounters with all of the important people in Buffy’s life. He spends time with Joyce.

He visits Willow at college.

Willow-Spike

Crashes at Xander’s.

Xander-Spike

Spends quality time with Giles.

Lick

Seriously, the time he spends hiding out at Giles’ house is hilarious.

Kiss-The-Librarian

How badly do you want to hold that mug right now?

And, he builds a very tight bond with Buffy’s sister, Dawn.

Safe.gif

Real vampires enjoy terrifying young girls.

But my favorite parts are when Spike provides wisdom on a subject that no one else has the insight to recognize, or wishes to remain in denial about instead of facing their true feelings.

Brains

Couples counseling. One of the many services Spike provides.

Spike knows who he is and isn’t afraid to speak his mind and be honest with people. Well, at least when he hasn’t been altered by a forgetfulness spell. Okay, maybe even then.

Nancy-Tribe

Doesn’t remember his own name, but still knows to mock Giles.

One of the things that makes Spike so endearing is his wonderfully sarcastic wit, and his ability to bring levity to almost any situation.

But the reason I love Spike so much is the fact the he, more than anyone else she knows, can recognize Buffy’s pain and help her find the strength the face her own demons.

Feeling-2

All kidding aside, these words have pulled me out of darkness on more than one occasion.

And, of course, some of the best episodes deal with Spike and Buffy’s relationship and how it changes both of them. Spike mourns Buffy’s death. So much so that he counted the days she was gone.

147-Days

This is also when he realizes she had to claw her way out of her own coffin, and his heart breaks for her.

Buffy feels betrayed by her friends even though they were trying to do a good thing, but she really wishes they would have left her stay dead. Spike seems to be the only one who understands what she’s going through.

Monster

To cope with her confused feelings, she decides to confuse them even more by engaging in a sexual relationship with Spike. A relationship she can’t tell her friends about. She likes the way he makes her feel, but is ashamed and believes herself to be a bad person.

Bad decisions lead to more emotional turmoil for Spike as he continues his romantic losing streak. Sure, Spike’s great when you want to party and get your brains fucked out, but apparently he isn’t boyfriend material.

Kick-the-Spike

Buffy likes to play the blame game.

Unfortunately, Spike really loves her.

Terrified

Seriously, Buffy is an idiot.

Maybe they can’t have a happily ever after, but when you meet someone who looks like this, you should totally strive for happy for now.

70-Spike

Fuckable Fictional Characters: Rupert Giles

Like many of you, dear readers, finding that special someone has been a life-long struggle for me. I’ve dated quite an interesting array of boys and men, and I was even married for a few years. Over time, I have come to the conclusion that what I’m looking for in a partner simply may not exist out there. As a fiction junkie and book nerd, my standards in men have been raised to a level that is in all likelihood impossible to attain. And, in some cases, that’s probably for the best, considering how much I love monsters.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m taking a break from dating right now to regroup and figure some things out. So, while I’m spending time alone, I’ll continue to fall in love…and lust with my favorite fictional hotties.

February 2: Rupert Giles

As a book nerd, I have had many crushes on teachers and librarians. Intelligence is sexy. Knowledge of arcane subjects, dead languages, and access to rare books on the occult is panty-peeling super sexy. Throw in some tweed, a pair of glasses and a British accent, and I melt like butter.

Giles-Books

You had me at books.

Rupert Giles is, in my opinion, the hottest character in the Buffyverse. Yes, I adore Spike, and he will have his own post this month, but Giles is way more interesting and…well, not a serial killer. Now, before you go thinking that serial killers are off limits in my fantasies, you would be mistaken. I’m almost ashamed to say that several serial killers will appear in these posts this month, and not just vampires. If you know me at all, you can probably guess who at least one of those serial killers will be.

Okay, back to Giles. Librarian by day, vampire hunter by night, Rupert Giles wears many hats. He is a member of the Watcher’s Council, a sexist and manipulative secret society that treats its female warriors like objects to wield like weapons in the fight between Good and Evil. They claim to be fighting the good fight, but the problem is, their actions and aspirations place them somewhere in that grey area between, which makes them just as shady as Wolfram and Hart. Despite this affiliation, Giles recognizes the strengths in all the female characters around him, not just his Slayer. He trusts women to take the lead, and nurtures their strengths while forgiving their weaknesses. Even if they go off the deep end and try to destroy the world…or fuck a few vampires. He’s a teacher, a friend, and a much-needed father figure to a group of young misfits that are in constant conflict with the Hellmouth. And, although each episode puts him in the path of danger, he still manages to have a good sense of humor.

Giles-Drunk

Whiskey helps him cope with the PTSD associated with vampire hunting and deal with the inexplicable lack of sex in his life.

As his story unfolds and we learn more about Giles, we discover that he isn’t just an overly educated book nerd. He has a dark past in which he was not only a juvenile delinquent, but also delved into dark magic. Perhaps, that is why he is so quick to caution Willow when she becomes addicted to magic, and keeps the grimoires under lock and key. He can appreciate the attractiveness of darkness, because he used to hang out with a bunch of people who allowed a demon to possess them for kicks. Hey, it was the seventies and people were doing all kinds of crazy shit. Drugs, free love, summoning demons – those wacky kids.

Ripper

Clean-cut men with dark pasts are effing hot.

Due to the fact that Giles’ primary responsibility is to train and support his Slayer, Buffy, he doesn’t really have much time for a personal life. He spends most of his time buried in old tomes researching the next evil that crawls out of the Hellmouth, sharpening stakes, fending off demons and bullies, and being a good listener to teenaged vampire hunters…and sometimes emotionally unstable vampires. So, his opportunities to meet ladies and go on dates are pretty limited. But, he still manages to win the hearts of several women in Sunnydale. He was magically manipulated to partake in some of these sexual encounters, which makes them somehow even more erotic due to the level of danger involved.

9 - Dru and Giles

Drusilla learns that librarians are good kissers.

Giles develops a relationship with a teacher at Sunnydale High, Jenny Calendar, a gypsy with a secret revenge prophecy who ends up betraying Buffy. Initially, Giles breaks things off with her, but Jenny ends up winning him back and things start to get a bit more serious. Sadly, the night that they finally have a chance to consummate their relationship, Giles comes home to find Jenny murdered in his bed. Soon after, he’s kidnapped and tortured by her murderer, Angelus. Giles has information Angelus needs to bring about the end of the world, and torture isn’t working. So, Drusilla mesmerizes Giles into to thinking she’s Jenny to trick him into telling her what they need to know. While pretending to be Jenny, Drusilla loses herself in the moment while kissing Giles, and Spike and Angelus have to say her name several times to get her attention, which leads me to believe he’s an excellent kisser.

Books-Smell

Talk dirty to me about old books.

In “Band Candy,” Giles reverts to his teen-aged hooligan persona thanks to magically altered candy bars that are distributed by his old friend and nemesis, Ethan Rayne. Apparently, when Giles was a teenager he was a small-time criminal with a knack for vandalism and robbery. We also discover that he has a fantastic record collection, smokes, and likes to make out on the hood of a car. He smashes a storefront window with a trashcan to steal a jacket that Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mom, says she’d like to wear, just to impress her. I don’t know about Joyce, but I was impressed. Although we only see Giles and Joyce kissing in this episode, we later discover that things went much further that night and Joyce apparently enjoyed a pretty memorable shagging.

Giles-and-Joyce

You know they totally shagged on Buffy’s bed.

We never see Giles form any permanent sexual relationships with other women in Sunnydale, but an old flame, Olivia Williams, visits him from time to time. Olivia appears in only two episodes, but makes enough of an impression for Anya to refer to her as Giles’ “orgasm friend.” After learning about what Giles really does for a living, Olivia decides a relationship with him might be too dangerous. Fortunately, I’ve written plenty of fan fiction about possible sexual relationships for Giles, because I really think he should get laid more often.

Rupert-and-Olivia

I like a man with a diverse taste in women.

Drusilla isn’t the only vampire Giles gets busy with in the series. In “Buffy vs. Dracula,” Giles succumbs to the temptations of Dracula’s brides and ends up having a rather hot scene with the three legendary vampires kissing, licking, and biting him.

Giles evolves throughout the series like the other characters, but we still only get glimpses of who he really is. He’s a man of mystery, which has it’s own appeal. What we do know about him would make him a much sought after friend and lover – academic, vampire hunter, musician, collector of rare books, father figure, hopeless romantic, conjurer of dark magic, whiskey connoisseur and tea drinker. Did I mention the British accent?

Forgive

I’m a very bad girl and need to be punished…I mean forgiven.