About the Characters
by Sera Trevor
What’s in a name?
Well, a lot when you’re writing. When I’m writing a book, picking the right name can bring the whole character together. The wrong name, however, can leave me floundering. Sometimes the names come to me immediately, but other characters are more of a challenge.
In Curses, Foiled Again, I knew what to name my vampires right off the bat: Felix, one of my MCs, and his sister, Cat. I wanted my vampires to have a feline quality to them. I love how cats have dual identities—on the one hand, they can be very sleek and elegant, and are very efficient predators. On the other hand, they can also be ridiculous, as a million cat memes can attest to. Felix is named after the famous cartoon cat, and Cat—well, I think that’s self explanatory.
My other MC, John, was a little tougher. I wanted a sensible name that wasn’t very flashy, since John is a stoic person. I also wanted a very English name, to connect him with the centuries old curse that plagues him, which originated in the British colonies in the American colonial period. I think “John” fits the bill.
For John’s best friend, I wanted a Spanish name to reflect her Latina heritage. I have always loved the name “Dolores,” which derives from La Virgen María de los Dolores, which translates to “Virgin Mary of Sorrows.” I shortened it to “Lo,” partly because “Dolores” feels a little old-fashioned for a young lady, and partly because “Lo” sounds like “low” and more directly hints at the “sorrow” connection. Lo isn’t a particularly sad person, but she’s someone who has faced sorrows in her life and come out stronger for it. Part of her role in the story is to show an alternative to the way John deals with tragedy—which is by shutting down and checking out of his own life. Lo faces things, which makes her healthier.
And finally, my villain, Richard, who had the wrong name for half the time I was writing the story. I called him “Gene” because it has some Old Hollywood connotations to me because of Gene Kelly, and he’s a character with a huge connection to Old Hollywood. But for the life of me, I could not figure his character out! His motivations were very slippery to me, and I spent a lot of time floundering. Finally, I made a list of some famous villains to see if anything jumped out at me. It worked—I picked Shakespeare’s Richard III as his namesake, and from then on out, I understood him completely. To say more would be spoiling things, but needless to say, he is a very tricky person.
I don’t think it’s necessary for authors to always have complex reasons behind the names they choose, but I do think that it’s a great opportunity to add an extra layer of meaning. It might not be something readers pick up on, but for me, having the right names helps shape the story.
About Curses Foiled Again
Felix is a vampire—a fierce creature of the night who strikes terror into the hearts of everyone unlucky enough to become his prey. Or at least, that’s what he thought was true, until he met John. John is completely unimpressed with Felix, much to his dismay. Felix becomes fixated on proving his ferocity to John—and when that doesn’t work, he strives to make any impression on him at all.
John is a witch, and as all witches know, vampires are notoriously stupid creatures who only have the power to hurt those who fear them. Besides, he’s under a curse much more frightening than any vampire. Felix’s desperate attempts to impress him annoy John at first, but gradually, they become sort of endearing. Because of his curse, John has pushed everyone in his life away. But Felix can’t be hurt, so there’s no harm in letting him hang around.
Felix is technically dead. John has nothing left to live for. But together, they might have a shot at life.
This dark and witty vampire romance for adults is complete at 100,000 words, with no cliffhanger. Despite some dark twists and turns, it ends with a solid HEA.
Available at: Amazon
An Excerpt from Curses, Foiled Again
Someone smelled delicious.
Felix really ought to have been sated. He had fed that night already, but in spite of his satiety, the new aroma tempted him like nothing before. It was the same dark tang that normally inspired his appetite, but with a sweet note buried in the scent—like an orange at the peak of its sweetness, right on the cusp of rotting. It didn’t take him long to discover the source of the aroma; it was a young man in a hooded sweatshirt, making his way down Sunset Boulevard. He walked with remarkable confidence for being on his own at two o’clock in the morning. Felix grinned. He liked the confident ones; their shock when confronted with the likes of him was always amusing.
He raced ahead of the young man with superhuman swiftness, jumping in front of him with his fangs bared. Felix loved this part, right before the attack—the moment when human confusion and animal terror mixed together as his victim realized their fate. Any moment now, he would scream. Or at least, he would try to. By then it would be too late.
The young man jumped and inhaled sharply at Felix’s sudden appearance. But once he’d given Felix a good once-over, he let out his breath in a relieved puff. There was no screaming, no futile attempt to flee or freezing in terror. In fact, it was Felix who froze in place, confused by the young man’s strange reaction.
As Felix tried to gather his wits to think of what to do next, the young man brushed past him and continued on. Felix shook himself out of his muddle. He brought a hand up to his mouth, feeling to make sure his fangs were still bared. They were. Perhaps the young man hadn’t seen him clearly; the lighting here was particularly poor, and mortal vision was not very good.
He zipped ahead of the young man and jumped out at him again, making sure he was directly under a streetlight. He raised his arms and hissed for good measure.
“You can stop doing that,” the young man said. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“Oh really?” Felix sneered, although in honesty he was taken aback. “We’ll see if your bravery lasts when I sink my fangs into your yielding flesh!”
He attempted to pounce, but nothing happened. He tried again, but his limbs just wouldn’t cooperate. As he stood there in confusion, the young man stepped around him and continued walking.
Once Felix had collected himself, he set out after the young man again, this time trotting beside him. The young man paid him no attention.
“Have you put a spell on me?”
“Then why can’t I attack you?”
“Because I’m not afraid of you,” he said. He wasn’t even looking at Felix. “Vampires can only attack people who fear them.”
Felix scoffed. “That can’t be true.”
“Think about it. Can you ever remember a time when a potential victim wasn’t afraid of you?”
“Not that I recall.”
“Then if you only ever confronted people who were afraid of you, how would you have found out you couldn’t attack someone who wasn’t?”
Felix turned that over in his mind. It did make a certain amount of sense.
They continued to walk together. Felix tried to startle him a few more times, hoping it would raise enough fear for Felix to strike, but it didn’t work. The young man’s face remained expressionless, as if Felix weren’t even there. He was a remarkably good-looking fellow, with sandy-blond hair and blue eyes. He was so pleasant to look at that Felix eventually ceased his efforts to frighten him in favor of simply gazing at him. His sweatshirt was not zipped all the way, but the T-shirt underneath was too baggy to give even a suggestion of the body it concealed. He wished the young man would take it off, or at the very least remove the hood.
After some time, they came to an apartment building. The young man approached one of the doors on the first floor. “Well, I would say it was nice meeting you, but it wasn’t, really,” he said as he took out his keys. “Good night.” He unlocked his door.
Felix blocked the door with his body, preventing the young man from entering. “You’ve led me straight to where you live,” he said in his scariest voice. “I could strike when you least expect it, in your very home. Certainly that will frighten you enough for me to attack!”
“Vampires can’t enter a home unless you invite them. Did you really think I wouldn’t know that?”
Felix scowled. “How do you know all this?”
“None of your business. Now unless you want to stand around here until dawn, get your hand off my door and go away.”
“Maybe I do want to stand around here,” Felix said. “You can’t make me leave.”
The young man rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He leaned on the wall a few steps away from the door and took a pack of cigarettes and a silver lighter out of the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. He perched a cigarette between his pink lips and lit it.
Felix remained where he was. The young man didn’t even spare him a glance as he smoked his cigarette, gazing instead at the smoke as it left his lips and dissipated into the night air. Felix felt annoyed; surely he was more interesting than a cloud of smoke!
“Why are you out alone so late?” Felix asked. “While you may not be afraid of vampires, you are still vulnerable to mortal attackers.” An idea flashed through Felix’s mind. “What if I got a gun? Would you be afraid of me then?”
The young man rolled his eyes again. “Why are you so intent on killing me?”
“I don’t want to kill you. I want to drink your blood.”
“And that’s not the same thing?”
Felix had to think about it. “No, I don’t think it is,” he said. “It’s true that my victims swoon, but I’m fairly certain they survive.”
The young man raised an eyebrow. “You don’t know for sure?”
“There isn’t much reason for me to linger after I’ve fed, is there?”
“I guess not.” He took another long drag of his cigarette. “So why do you want to drink my blood? You’ve already fed tonight.”
Felix looked at him with surprise. “How did you know that?”
“You’ve got blood on your chin.”
Felix wiped his face with the hand that wasn’t holding the door shut. Sure enough, it came away red. “Doesn’t that make you feel at least a little scared?” he asked plaintively.
The young man finished his cigarette with one final inhale, dropped the butt on the street, and then stubbed it out with his toe. “Sorry to say, but it takes a lot to make me feel anything at all.” He pulled out his pack of cigarettes again and took another one. “Would you like one?”
The young man offered the pack and his lighter. Felix stared at the cigarettes and then back at his face. The young man put his hand forward farther. “Go on. Take one.”
Felix frowned, wondering at the young man’s sudden generosity. John stood just out of reach, so Felix had to step closer to him to accept the pack and the lighter. Felix’s fingers brushed over the skin of the young man’s hand. It was so warm.
“Thank you,” Felix said, a little dazed.
“No problem.” The young man’s smile was dazzling.
Felix smiled back and turned his attention to the pack of cigarettes, pulling one out and readying the lighter—
—and then, quick as lightning, the young man slipped inside his apartment and slammed the door shut behind him.
“Goddamnit!” Felix shouted after him, pounding on the door. “Come back out here!”
There was no answer. Felix stomped around in a circle, cursing. Once he composed himself, he went back to the door. “Well, I’m keeping your cigarettes! And your lighter! And you’ll never get them back!”
This also failed to get a response. Felix examined the lighter. On one side there was a figure etched into the metal: a dragon, or a demon. Some mythical creature, at any rate. On the other side, there was an engraving: To John. Love, Rob.
A gift, then. Perhaps he could use its sentimental nature to his advantage. “I really mean it!” he shouted. “I’ll throw this lighter in the sewer!”
Still no response.
With a huff, he zipped away. His preternatural speed meant he only had to travel a few moments before he reached the estate in Beverly Hills where he resided with his sister, Cat, and her husband, Richard. The sprawling wrought iron gates were shut, but unlike the young man’s closed door, the gates posed no barrier to him. He launched himself upward and over the curled letters that spelled out the name of the estate: HAPPY ENDINGS. Under it was the image of a boar, cast in iron. The sign’s rusted state made the promise of the words ring a bit false. Nevertheless, it was the only home he had, and he had no desire to meet the dawn.
About Sera Trevor
Sera Trevor is terminally curious and views the thirty-five book limit at her local library as a dare. She’s a little bit interested in just about everything, which is probably why she can’t pin herself to one subgenre. Her books are populated with dragons, vampire movie stars, shadow people, and internet trolls. (Not in the same book, obviously, although that would be interesting!) Her works have been nominated for several Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards, including Best Contemporary, Best Fantasy, and Best Debut, for which she won third prize in 2015 for her novella Consorting with Dragons.
She lives in California with her husband, two kids, and a cat the size of three cats. You can keep up with her new releases and gain access to bonus content by signing up for her newsletter.
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