In honor of my favorite holiday, Halloween, today's special guest is Mario Acevedo, author of the Felix Gomez vampire detective series from Eos Harper Collins (and a talented artist as well --check out his art website link below). I first met Mario one hot, sweaty day at the Los Angeles Festival of Books, then got a chance to know him better during a hot, sweaty Murder in the Grove conference in Boise, Idaho. Then there was a hot, sweaty Left Coast Crime conference in Denver...wait, it was cold that time! But I guess hot and sweaty sort of follow Mario around...
I was asked to contribute this article for two reasons.
One, I write about a vampire detective, who by definition, must be both bloody and a badass.
Two, once-upon-a-time, I was in the employ of Uncle Sam and expected to be a badass, all five foot seven of me. Back then I was a real live Jedi knight--paratrooper, air-assault, ranger, infantry officer, and then the most badass of all, an attack helicopter pilot. Here’s a picture of me as a captain during the First Gulf War (me on the left, the guy on the right was a reporter from CNN) when I was deployed as a combat-artist, a truly badass assignment, because--though I had served before in the infantry and air cavalry--this was the only time I got shot at on purpose.
Since I write about vampires, there must be blood. No vampire-lite from me. My protagonists are bloodsucking killers, the good guys in my stories. For convenience sake, their tropes include goat’s blood in coffee, and instead of marinara sauce, my vampires ladle on the rich, red human nectar.
They’ve even drawn up a list of Wine and Human pairings, which when properly done, can turn a routine fanging into delicious murder. In case you’re curious, have your vampires try Type-A positive with a nice Pinot Noir. What if your victim is a meaty Type-O negative? Switch to a full-bodied Shiraz. Vegetarian? The subtle yet braided notes of a Type AB vegan goes great with a relaxed and refreshing Chardonnay. Found yourself noshing ghetto? A Type-B negative saturated with Slim Jims, Cheetos, Twinkies, weed, and crack or meth is best tempered with paper bag wine. Night Train. Thunderbird.
For you to be considered badass, others must fear you. This could be from your physical prowess or from an invisible and intimidating power. (Sorry, gamer funk does not qualify.)
Super strength. Super quick reflexes. Being handy with deadly weapons. These can make you a badass. Vampire writers once eschewed guns, having fangs was badass enough. But sporting fangs and packing a magnum makes you a super badass.
Tapping into the dark side is another important attribute. That’s why men fear mother-in-laws. For example, overheard during Thanksgiving dinner: Tell me Carmela, what frustrates you more? Your husband’s disappointing career or his erectile dysfunction? Proof that a public verbal harpooning can wound more gruesomely than a hollow-point .44 caliber bullet.
What’s the point of having powers if you never use them? Big, strong, and gentle will always retreat before small, conniving, and mean.
Never forget the importance of attitude. Along this theme, my oldest son and I wondered about mixing movies and came up with First Wives Fight Club. He said Bette Midler would’ve kicked Brad Pitt’s ass, easy. Of course. I rest my case.
Every good story is about conflict. The more badass the villain, the more heroic (and badass) the hero. Los Angeles cops face the worst of human wreckage and therefore have to be badass. Malibu cops face...parking violations? Sun burn? Bikini malfunctions? Not so badass.
Vampires who fight rogue bloodsuckers, zombies, alien gangsters, werewolves: badass. Vampires who deal with teenage angst: meh.
If you write about blood, don’t be afraid to slather it on, guzzle it from a trough, bob in it for brains. But remain civilized. Accompany the blood with a good wine (or whiskey). After all, cocktails and Happy Hour are what separate us from the terrorists.
And be a badass. Up the violence. Or at least the threat if it’s backed up with bad-assitude.
Put blood and badass together and you’ve got BLOODY BADASSERY.
Mario Acevedo writes the Felix Gomez vampire-detective series published by Eos HarperCollins. He was recently honored as the 2009 Writer of the Year of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and currently serves as the president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. Mario channels the psychic world for his stories about the undead, shape-shifters, alien gangsters, and nymphomaniacs. He lives and writes in Five Points, the original ghetto of Denver, Colorado.
Mario’s website: http://www.marioacevedo.com
His artwork: http://www.adelantearts.com
His award-winning blog: http://www.biting-edge.blogspot.com