We’re excited to have Anna Zabo, author of the Takeover series, on From Top to Bottom Reviews today, to talk about her re-release Close Quarter!
On a transatlantic cruise to New York, sculptor Rhys Matherton struggles to piece his life back together after losing his mother, inheriting a fortune, and finding out his father isn’t his father after all. He spills a tray of drinks on a handsome stranger, then he finds himself up against a wall getting the best hand-job he’s ever had. And for the first time in his life, he feels whole.
Rhys enjoys the company of Silas Quint, but for the eerie way no one pays attention to them even while they kiss in a crowded bar. Silas explains he’s a forest fae able to glamor the room around them—and more importantly, that he’s on the cruise to hunt vampires. Rhys thinks Silas is full of it, until he discovers vampires are real, and he’s part of their main course.
Silas Quint can’t be distracted by a human lover, even one as lovely as Rhys. Stuck in the middle of the ocean, he has barely enough of energy to hunt the vampires he’s been sent to destroy. Rhys is full of the one thing Silas needs needs most—the element of living plants. Only sucking energy from Rhys would make Silas as soulless as the creatures he hunts. How can he keep Rhys safe, without becoming like the very monsters he hunts?
We asked Anna to talk about five of their favorite Vampire books, movies or TV shows! (A big thank you to Steph, who had the idea for the topic of the post!)
I have an odd relationship with vampires. I grew up with both helpful and angst-filled vampires and with monster vampires. When I decided to write Close Quarter, made the decision that the vampires in the book would be unredeemable. There’s a whole bunch of worldbuilding I didn’t show that explains how one becomes a vampire (which at some point I’ll put in a book), but upshot is, in the world of Close Quarter, a being consciously choose to become a vampire and it’s a one-shot deal. There’s no transmission via bites. There’s no regrets. And since they lose their souls in the process, they exist only to consume and survive. Fear and pain and terror are as much food as blood and flesh.
Yeah, they’re pretty monstrous.
BUT, not all the vampires I enjoy are! So without further ado, my 5 favorite vampire books/movies/TV shows:
1. My very first encounter with a vampire: Bunnicula!
A bunny vampire! A dog who’s an author! What’s not to love? This is an adorable series of chapter books for elementary readers and they’ve aged well over the years. Or perhaps Bunnicula really is a vampire, and they haven’t aged at all…
2. Adult-wise, the first time I encountered a vampire in modern fiction (as opposed to in classic tales) was in Barbara Hambly’s Those Who Hunt the Night.
I was primarily a fantasy and science fiction reader at the time, and this was shelved in fantasy…though it’s very much more of a historical paranormal mystery. James Ahser has retired as a spy for the British government to settle down with his brand new wife…only an ancient vampire, Don Simon Ysidro, has come to conscript him into discovering who is killing the vampires of London. If he doesn’t comply—his lovely wife becomes another victim.
It’s been ages since I’ve read this book, but what has struck me—and what tends to strike me—is both the inhumanity and the humanity of vampires. Don Simon is both a monster and a man in equal parts and there’s a tenuous truce between the men as James searches for the vampire killer.
3. It was the above book that led me into the mother of all modern vampire stores, mostly because the cover copy came with these words from a Publisher’s Weekly review: …Will give Anne Rice a run for her money. So of course, I read Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and the many subsequent books.
This also had very inhuman/human vampires in equal measures. So much can be said for these books and they are the ground floor for much of the vampire fiction that followed. There was the focus on the pain of being a vampire and outcast while also being immortal, beautiful and strong. I do think this developed into what we eventually see as the heroic tortured accidental vampire who longs for being human again. Or the beautiful, immortal being who isn’t actually evil, just misunderstood.
4. My whole view of vampires was also largely shaded by one seminal film from my youth: The Lost Boys. Bad boy vampires turning an older brother into one of them while the younger brother falls in with eccentric kids who claim to be vampire hunters. It’s Bad Boy Biker Vampires vs. Nerds. Which I think very much describes the 1980s, to be honest.
The trailer is awful in the way all 80s trailers are:
But the movie is worth watching. Besides, young Kiefer Sutherland.
5. Speaking of angst-filled heroic accidental vampires, my most recent favorite vampire property was the extremely short-lived (hah!) TV series Moonlight.
A vampire detective trying to protect a woman who is a reporter. It’s cheesy around the edges, but there are two things I really love about it: Mick St. John (played by Alex O’Loughlin) and Josef Kostan (played by Jason Dohring). Their dynamic as young vamp (Mick) and older, wiser vamp mentor (Josef) is fantastic and kudos for casting the younger (and at the time) baby-faced actor to be the ancient vamp. Josef is such a great counter to Mick’s aaaaaaaaangst about being a vampire (he’s only been a vamp for 50 years and spends a bunch of time looking for a cure…and finds it! Talk about reluctant vamp!
It was also the first time the slash goggled ever came down over my eyes and I sat up and said “They’re totally into each other!”
I mean, there’s this scene where Josef turns Mick back into a vampire:
Just… yeah. Guy biting guy. Good times.
Alas, Moonlight never made it past one season. Some vampires can and do die.
So there are five of my favorite vampire properties!
They’re kinda a strange mix, huh? But I do think you can find bits of them in Close Quarter, too. (Well, maybe not Bunnicula…) Though not all of the aspects are in the vampires. Silas the fae has a lot of existential angst, and Rhys does end up being a bit of the baby-faced mentor at times. The vampires in Close Quarter are probably closer to the biker gang in Lost Boys, though their head vampire… he’s something else entirely.
How do you like your vampires? Let me know!
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.
Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks.
Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.