It's rude to ask how old you are but do you remember staring at album covers? For hours? Man, I do. That's the thing about electronic music. There's nothing to stare at. No long, lean bodies tipped into blue jeans with a shoe horn. No tangled, bedworthy hair sliding down any tatted, muscle-bound backs.
One of the album covers I used to stare at was The Guess Who's Greatest Hits. Those boys were Winnipeg-purty, rough tough Canadiana rock stars. I loved 'em fierce. Spent way too much time thinking about 'em. I still hear No Time or These Eyes and I get the shivers.
I was looking for a photo of him, just now, and of course I couldn't find one. He's not party to photo shoots. Likes to hang around a bar named Pale Rider, the kind of bar where Waits would hang out in if he was in the neighbourhood. Whiskey's cheap. Beer's cheaper, but not as cheap as some of the chicks who hang out, waiting to meet Xan's eye, maybe meet more than that.
Xan plays bass in a band called Crooked Fang. Nah, you won't find 'em on American Idol so don't bother looking. They're just a bunch of guys, y'know? Dudes, Xan says. When he's not onstage, he's working at the bar, cleaning toilets, making sandwiches, taking out the trash. When he's not doing that? You might find him in a back alley, or in the austere apartment on top of the Rider, sinking his teeth into some nubile young woman willing to give blood.
And I'm not talking about the Red Cross, here.
Yup, Xan's a vampire. Not a pretty boy Robert Pattinson-Twilight kind of vamp. There's nothing twinkly about him. Imagine Keith Richard, or Robert Plant, with fangs. Or Burton Cummings, while he was still with the Guess Who, before he went solo and turned all Vegassy and Mr. Showbiz. Back when his hair was long and his jeans were tight and ...
Sorry, that's how I get when I think about Xan Marcelles. Kinda crazy, if you know what I mean. Pretty, um, hot under the collar for an old broad. Hey, I'm not the only woman with a thing for Xan Marcelles. Carrie Clevenger is WAY worse than me – she even has a Crooked Fang logo tattooed on her back. (I might have put one on my arse ... ) She also writes about him.
Texas Carrie is as talented a writer as they come. I'm not exaggerating here. I first caught wind of her work through #Friday Flash. Her stories killed me. I'd be, like, all proud of something I had written and then I read hers and I felt like somebody had kicked me upside the head and said, "See? THAT'S good writing!" Carrie was away from FF for a while but she's been back these past few weeks and one of her stories just blew me away. She's so freaking good it's scary.
Right now, as we speak, she's in the final throes of putting Crooked Fang together, a novel all about Xan. I'm looking forward to it and that's no word of a lie. I'd read anything Carrie wrote. Probably her grocery list is prize-worthy.
In the meantime, there are two other Xan books on the market. Both are collaborations with another fantastic writer, Nerine Dorman of South Africa. Somehow these two dark word queens found each other and found a writing vibe that has resulted in Just My Blood Type and Blood and Fire.
I read both of them. Really fast. That's saying something because these days I don't read anything really fast, for a whole lot of reasons. These two books, though, you'll fly through them, flipping one page after another because you just gotta know how they turn out. Don't believe me? Check 'em out. Just My Blood Type is a free download so if you don't like it, you're not out anything. (But you will.) And Blood and Fire is up at Amazon for, like, $2.99 or something ridiculous. Pretty cheap thrill, I gotta say.
I flew through Blood and Fire. Not only has it got hunky rock star vampire Xan Marcelles, it's got an equally hunky magic dude named Ash. The two pair up for a thrill-ride of an adventure, an all grown-up buddy story that'll have you beggin' for more. Carrie writes Xan; Nerine writes Ash. One chapter is all Xan, the next is Ash. There are two points of view, two well-rounded hunks-a-burning lust and enough F-bombs and bad whiskey and spilled blood to put a smile even on this jaded face.
A while back I fired off some questions for Mister Marcelles. I had to wipe the drool marks off the e-mail before I hit send. I hope he doesn't realize I kinda got the hots for him. Maybe it was obvious, though, me calling him a sex kitten and all.
Here's the interview. See for yourself.
XM: Sex kitten? Lady, I’m not sure how to take that. I’ll assume that means ‘studly-man-types’ up there in the frozen north.
Q: Is it because you're so tall? So strong? So smart? Could it be the length of your hair? More likely the length of your fangs? I dunno, Xan, do you have this effect on all people? Or just silly, wobbly-kneed, middle-aged women who have an appreciation for '70s rock stars as well as the finer things in life?
XM: I dunno, I’m just a dude. That has some weird situations I keep running face-first into. Some are ordinary, some…not so much, but yeah. I got fangs, but really. Promise. I’m just a dude. That has fangs. And a bass.
Q: Where did you come from, anyway? Who's the sire that put you in the spot you are now, and are you happy about eternal life as a vampire or is that just the hand you've been dealt? And why is it an undead dude like yourself, who could pretty much rule the world if he wanted and live in some Transylvanian castle, hang out in a place like the Rider? Cleaning toilets? Making egg salad sandwiches? Sure, it's part of what makes you so appealing in Carrie and Nerine's latest book, but is it really how you want to (not) live?
XM: I lived in Denver before. Stopped for a beer on the way to see my girlfriend at the time, and there she was. Little bitty thing (I politely refer to her as ‘The Bitch’ or maybe Satan’s daughter) with something about her that was damn-near irresistible. Well, I’m here, so you know that already. No, I’m not exactly thrilled with the hand I’ve been dealt. Good analogy by the way, because that’s how it went down. It was out of my hands. She chose me, even though she lied and said it was an accident, I know better than that. She was always good at lying.
I lived a fast life at first after I became what I am now. Did lots of things I didn’t want to do. Living at Pale Rider is me doing what I want. When I walked out of her life after taking her shit for about twenty years? Hell yes.
Making sandwiches, cleaning toilets, playing my guitar? It’s life. Normal life. And though it’s temporary, I’m gonna enjoy it for all it’s worth, sweetheart.
Q: Speaking of Blood and Fire, how's that going for you? I read through it lickety-split – couldn't put it down. Loved the action, but also loved the humour. You've got a self-deprecating style that makes you even more interesting. Sometimes, though, you take a real psychological beating at the hands of that Ash character – throughout a lot of the book he didn't give you much respect for your brain. Although it's clear to me that you're not just muscle and tooth. Did you ever want to just reach out and smack the guy? And once you got a taste of his magic blood, you must be lusting for a little bit more.. tell the truth - would you like to get your fangs into him one more time?
XM: I dunno, after the mess it got me in last time? As good as it was, I’m thinking I’ll pass. But the smacking? I’m thinking he wanted to deck me more than me him. Ha. It was cool running into another immortal, weird as he was.
Q: And how do you feel, by the way, about Mizz Clevenger and her apparent need for writing about you all the time? Is that OK with you? Are you liking the idea of becoming an increasingly popular subject in increasingly popular books?
XM: Popular? That’s real generous of you, there. Maybe I chose C.C. for a reason. You know she killed me off in the first story she wrote about me? I’m still a little pissed about that.
Q: I'm hoping you like it, because I'm hoping for more. Your character is rather addictive and I'm looking forward to more tales with you in it. What's next? Dying to hear…
XM: Next stop is Crooked Fang, baby. The book I’ve been through Hell and back for. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m stoked to see what everybody thinks because it’ll just be me you’ll be riding with. Oh, and one more thing: It’s not the last you’ll see of me.
Thanks a million Cathy, for your hospitality and your time. Really appreciate it. I know we’re all busy, but if people are interested in knowing more about what I’m up to for some reason, best stop is my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CrookedFang
And I also got a website, strangely enough it’s crookedfang.com, how about that? Along with a twitter station at @crookedfang
And Blood and Fire, yeah there’s a story you can pick up for the price of a beer over at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-and-Fire-ebook/dp/B006SD3F2S/ Don’t worry, I’ll put that money to good use, promise.
The writer ladies, Carrie Clevenger and Nerine Dorman are also on Twitter, respectively as @carrieclevenger and @nerinedorman. Telling you, they got no creativity.
Thanks for checking out my shit and for your time.