Monica and I met in 2009, when we were roommates at the Bram Stoker Awards weekend in Burbank, California. At the time, she was editing for Rue Morgue magazine and running Burning Effigy Press. I’d just had my first professional anthology publication, the four stories in Sins of the Sirens.
Since then, I’ve been fascinated with Monica’s trio of YA vampire novels, because she’s the only person I know who is publishing a true serial. She’s worked hard to build and grow her readership on Wattpad.com, a website designed for writers to form a community of readers.
Here’s the summary of Bleeder, the first book in the series:
What if everything you knew about yourself was a lie? Mildred “Mills” Millhatten had a good life: close-knit family, fantastic friends, decent grades and even a not-totally-annoying kid brother. You might say it was the best kind of ordinary. So nothing could have prepared her for being taken and cast into a strange, vicious world she didn’t know existed and has little hope of understanding. As a Bleeder — one whose lifeblood feeds the Nosferatu — her continued survival hangs ever in the balance. The creatures are keeping her alive because they believe her blood has mystical properties. Mills fears what will happen when they realize they are wrong. If she hopes to survive and discover who she truly is, she needs an ally. She needs to befriend the mysterious boy who’s been secretly visiting her cell, even though he’s destined to become a bloodthirsty monster. Because she lives in their world now, and if she doesn’t do something fast, she’s going to die in it.
Did something in the real world inspire Bleeder?
Not really, not in the “torn from the headlines” sense anyway. There were certain themes and topics I wanted to explore in its writing that were born from the real world and some personal experiences, among them father/daughter relationships and the idea of personal responsibility. Bleeder was mostly inspired by two things: a) the kind of books I wished existed when I was fifteen and b) how generic and predictable YA paranormal fiction was becoming at the time. I wanted to write a story (which later became a series) that seemed cliché at the outset but went on to pull the rug out from under its readers’ feet and turn all their expectations on their heads.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
Hard question, and the answer probably changes month to month. There’s a very funny scene that everyone seems to love involving a box of condoms, one of the story’s few moments of comic relief, and I’m somewhat partial to that one because I’m not funny and I don’t write funny, so it’s kind of cool that it came out of me. As for an absolutely favourite scene, however, there’s one that takes place between the book’s two main characters in a storage closet following a huge fight. The vampire character says something so unexpected that it has repercussions that rattle throughout the rest of the chapter, maybe even the book. It’s not a big set piece, but rather a tense and emotional moment that both comes out of left field and doesn’t.
What was your writing process like as you wrote Bleeder and Ruler?
Bleeder I wrote and serialized online over the course of one year (2012). It was my second novel, but the first one I worked on with an editor. It was also the first one to see the light of day in any way. Because I was uploading weekly chapters, it was heavily outlined and there was a firm schedule for writing and editing. The second book in the series, Letters From New York, followed the same workflow.
But Ruler was a different beast all together. I started writing it, got pregnant, had a daughter, ran into some health stuff, got downsized at the day job and went through all the complicated emotions that go along with that, and found three years later that I was still writing the book, but posting chapters so sporadically it was barely worthwhile. Thankfully, at that point I realized that trying to do things the old, pre-kid way wasn’t working and I made a concerted effort to take some of the pressure off. Forget writing and posting at the same time, I told myself. I made myself scarce online and focused on finishing the damned book.
Now, a year after that big revelation, it’s finally done and I’m editing it while posting weekly chapters once more. Speaking of which, I’m flying solo on this one and miss my editor like crazy. That’s another thing that’s made Ruler a challenging book to write; I’m a much more confident writer when I have someone standing behind me with a red pen.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of your books?
Because it’s an online serial, I’d say having it featured on Wattpad.com. Or perhaps getting interviewed about it on Space, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Syfy channel.
What do you have planned next?
Finishing editing and posting Ruler. Get the novel version of Bleeder out in physical/ebook form – that’s way overdue. And then write the fourth and final book in the series, Rebels. Basically, I’ll be mucking around with the vampires and sorcerers for a while yet!
Monica S. Kuebler is a contributing editor at Rue Morgue magazine, author of Rue Morgue Library #3: Weird Stats and Morbid Facts, co-producer of the Great Lakes Horror Company podcast, and founder of LibraryoftheDamned.com. She also writes monster stories and has spent the last half-decade serializing her young adult vampire series, which kicked off in 2012 with Bleeder (Blood Magic, Book 1). Find more information, visit http://www.blood-magic.net.
Wattpad.com (where Monica’s serial lives for free): http://www.wattpad.com/deathofcool