My sophomore year of high school was a very important one for me. I had entered my first advanced placement courses, was the head manager of the girls basketball team, and against all odds had a girlfriend. After years of introverted geekiness I had come out of my shell and was starting to find some self-confidence. To this day, I still can’t believe that my love of writing survived the competing distractions of that year, especially when set against a deluge of teenage hormones and a girl who was willing to let me touch her boobs. That should have killed it right there.
The last quarter at school was winding down, and I was finding myself with some time to devote to my own personal interests. The previous year I had written my first full-length book, The Hyperbeing, and had been looking to start work on another. I wanted it to be something darker, with more of a focus on religion than the post-apocalyptic adventure that had preceded it.
One night that spring, my girlfriend and I found ourselves driving through Rollinsford, New Hampshire after going out for dinner at a local restaurant named Fogarty’s (great Reuben, by the way). While I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was about Rollinsford that struck me as sinister, there was this vibe about the place that grabbed me right away and demanded I set my story there.
With a setting and tone now secured, I needed a plot. Thinking back on this now, I find it interesting that this was the first and only book I have ever written where I had every ingredient in the bowl before the most important one. For days I thought of nothing else. My journal from that time has me bouncing back and forth erratically between plot ideas and the hopelessly lovesick worship of my girlfriend.
While I can’t remember exactly what my breakthrough was born of, and my journal entries go from nothing to here’s your plot, I eventually found my story and the creatures that would carry it: Vampires. I remember going in early to an astronomy class I was taking immediately after this idea had occurred to me. I carried an empty Five Star notebook, ready to start filling its pages. And I did. Like a madman.
The first chapter of the book started with a flash-forward (as many of my books do) to a conversation between the story’s main antagonist, Ezeth, and one of his underlings, Simeon. I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting there in the stadium-style lecture hall, my pen barely able to keep up with my thoughts as I poured them into my notebook. Within the first ten pages I had established that vampires exist, their society hidden from that of the mortals they preyed upon, and that there was a turf war going on in Rollinsford, New Hampshire between the leader of the town’s established clan, Ezeth, and a renegade known only as J. Eventually my tale would reveal that Ezeth himself had sired J, and that the rivalry between them (which takes place over the course of some 50 years) had been a direct result.
The Bloodlines of Rollinsford was completed in just over a year and ended up filling two notebooks (just over 400 pages). I took it everywhere with me, including on a road trip with my parents to Disneyworld. A South of the Border sticker is still on the back of one of the notebooks. It had been my most ambitious project ever, involving many hours of research on vampire myth and legend. In the end, I couldn’t have been happier with it. It was such an important part of my life that I would write its sequels two years later while the woman who would eventually become my wife typed the original up for me (not the high school girlfriend — that ended my senior year). For years after that I did everything I could to get it published, naively thinking that every literary agent on the planet would want me as a client. Many hard lessons were learned.
So what do I think of The Bloodlines of Rollinsford as I read it over now? I absolutely love it for what it is: a very flawed first-step on a very long path that has lead me to where I am now. For the near future, that is all it will be. I was out of my mind to think that anyone would consider publishing it. Yes, when you print it all out, bind it and set it on a table, The Bloodlines of Rollinsford looks like a novel you can just pick right up and read. But when you get into the meat of it, the book is just too underdeveloped. It will always be my most prized and protected piece of work, but it will need a lot of polish if it is ever to hit the shelves.
Ezeth may yet have his time though… eventually.