Fangs for the Easy Listening Jazz

At my first Thrillerfest in New York, I was perusing the table in the booksellers’ room when this juicy title caught my eye: X-Rated Blood Suckers, with a cover that was strikingly reminiscent of a 70s Grindhouse flick. In my opinion Mario Acevedo has, hands down, the best titles and covers in the biz. (He also has the best book trailer, see it here). And his stories, featuring vampire detective Felix Gomez, deliver all the fun and excitement those covers promise. The Kill Zone is thrilled to have him join us today for a walk on the wild side of thrillers: paranormals and the supernatural.

by Mario Acevedo

While I’m known for my vampire-detective stories, I like to think of myself as a mystery writer. What I like about the mysteMarioVampiroEditry genre is that there is no equivocation about the story question. We know what’s at risk and what motivates the protagonist. Saving his ass!

In mystery stories we writers can wallow in the dark underbelly of society and call it research.

We love asking questions such as:

“What’s the best poison given these circumstances?”

“Where’s a good place to hit a skull with a sledgehammer?”

“How can I use cross-dressing autoerotic asphyxiation as a plot device?”

At mystery writer meetings we can sit through dinner when the presentation is a medical examiner’s PowerPoint of autopsies. “May I have another slice of cheesecake and could you go back to the picture of blood spatter on the headboard?”

We can say with a straight face, “Honest Mr. Police Officer, I was only asking the price of a blow job from this woman as research. I need authentic details.”

JailbaitZombieEnhanced_TN In mystery literature we can show the complex relationships between characters. Lying. Infidelity. Betrayal. And that’s among the good guys. We can play with the motives for crime: Jealousy. Lust. Greed. We explore lives ruined by humiliation and murder. That’s entertainment!

In any novel, what keeps a reader turning pages is tension and conflict. And no genre does tension and conflict better than a good mystery. What keener source of tension than begging for your life while at the wrong end of a gun?

Since I write vampire-detective mysteries, I have to layer in the supernatural elements. Until recently, vampires were the monsters fanging humans, an act that resulted in murder, or at least assault and battery. Now vampires are the good guys and we could have them be all nice and not drink human blood (or worse, go vegan), in which case, what’s the point of being an undead bloodsucker? My challenge is weaving the supernatural with the gritty noir of a mystery.

The keys to a mystery are the committing of a crime and the threat of a bigger crime if the hero doesn’t persevere. But a crime according to who? A werewolf gnawing on your dismembered torso doesn’t regard himself a criminal anymore than does a senator whoring himself to the rich. It’s simply his nature.

So while supernatural beings might disregard human laws at will, they must abide by their own code of conduct. What are the no-no’s? Zombies don’t regard noshing on human brains as murder so what would be considered taboo for revenants? Perhaps you can only eat Catholics on Fridays.

In supernatural mysteries we have a strong story question that braids the natural and the supernatural. Our hero must solve a crime affecting not just one world but two. It can be a mystery we can all love to read.

So here’s a question: if you created a paranormal character, what would their special power be? And what would they fear? Garlic, water, easy-listening jazz?

Mario Acevedo writes the Felix Gomez vampire-detective series for Eos HarperCollins. Mario travels the astral plane (using frequent flyer miles) to research the world of vampires, zombies, and alien gangsters. He lives and writes in Denver, CO.

Check out book 4 in the Felix Gomez vampire-detective series: Jailbait Zombie (Eos HarperCollins). Vampires vs zombies in the ultimate undead smackdown. Available Feb 25 at better bookstores everywhere.

SPECIAL BONUS! You can download a copy of my first book, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, through Feb 24 by clicking here

11 thoughts on “Fangs for the Easy Listening Jazz

  1. Welcome, Mario! I think he-she would wind up hiding and fearing her power, and the world would try to beat it out of her, plus try to harness it for wrongheaded purposes. Oh wait, wasn’t that X-Men? Shoot. I’ll have to think up something else for my paranormals!

  2. Thanks for joining us today, Mario!
    And great question. Okay, if I created a paranormal character…special power would be the ability to breathe underwater (although I’m always torn between that and flying), and their “kryptonite” would be crude oil.
    Which is kind of weak, but let me have another cup of coffee and think on it some more…

  3. Hey Mario, great to have you as a guest! My paranormal hero would have the cloak of invisibility. What could be cooler than that? And of course, his one big fear would be having to listen to any music from the disco era. Thanks for blogging at the Kill Zone, and all your help with the Big Thrill.

  4. Superpower – the ability to walk through and infiltrate people’s dreams (how cool would that be?!) Fear- elevator music (born of my own fear of elevators…) Thanks for stopping by and letting me have fantasize about paranormal characters!

  5. All right, you’re all putting me to shame. My new, improved power is to be able to go for days without eating or sleeping- call it “Insomnia Camel” power. Imagine how much free time I’d have.

    And my Kryptonite? Infomercials.

  6. Kathryn and Michelle bring up a good question about what the difference between paranormal and super powers is. I’d say it’s in how they originate. Paranormal powers usually come from some supernatural or otherworldly source that is unexplainable, like the magic powers in Harry Potter. Superpowers seem to come from something scientific, like radioactive spiders or gamma rays or genetic mutations.

    My paranormal power would be teleportation. No more cramming into airplane seats!

    My “kryptonite” would be cilantro.

  7. My superpower would be to ask a woman out and she not tell me she has to wash her hair. I never knew women were so obsessed with keeping their scalps clean.

  8. Michelle: I knew there was something else cool about you! I love the Felix Gomez mysteries, he has the best titles and covers.

    I would be a shapeshifter. I’d want to shape into whatever critter or thing I want. Need to be a bucket of water? Okie doke..each shapeshift would have its own unique ‘kryptonite’. Mostly would be having to listen to Michael Bolton….AGH!!

    Mario: *snort laugh* on comparing the whoring senators to werewolves…they just does….

Comments are closed.