AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – GABRIELLA MESSINA!
“Nice shot.” The Hooded Man’s voice was surprising: rich yet with
a touch of softness to the timbre. Sam watched him walk to Franco’s
body. The Hooded Man crouched for a moment, looked steadily at
“I’ll call… for help.” Geez, is that my voice?
The Hooded Man didn’t respond and Sam started to wonder if he’d
even heard her. Sam reached into her pocket for… the phone. The
phone that got tossed. Shit!
“There’s only one way to help him now.” The Hooded Man stood
up, raised his weapon and aimed it at Franco’s abdomen. He fired,
the bullet blasting into his body just below the sternum.
Sam quickly raised up the gun and trained it on him. “Put the gun
The Hooded Man glanced toward her briefly but seemed
untroubled by her clipped order. Franco whimpered a final time
and was still. “Any minute now.”
Sam kept the gun aimed at him as she looked at Franco’s body. The
skin color had changed, taking on a silvery sheen. Sam closed her
eyes, opened them. The body seemed to be moving, a subtle gelatin
like shudder. Beads of the silvery sheen rolled off the body like
sweat, soaking into the ground below.
He’s… it’s melting. The fuckin’ body is MELTING. Sam backed away
and leaned against a nearby tree, the gun lowered at her side.
The Hooded Man continued to watch the body until nothing
remained but a darkened patch where the body had been. He
holstered his weapon and pushed back the sweatshirt hood, ran a
hand through his wavy black hair, causing longish pieces on the top
of his head to stand at odd angles. He looked to be in his early
thirties, but a kind of dark maturity gave him an air of timelessness.
His eyes were dark, a rich coffee brown that nearly verged on black,
with heavy black eyebrows rising above them. She’d been a little
over-generous in her height estimation; with the hood back, he was
tall, but his wiry build gave him an illusion of greater height.
He watched Sam for a moment before he stepped away from the
melting site and joined her by the tree. “You all right?”
Sam was silent, staring at the spot where Franco, or whatever he
had become, had melted away.
The Hooded Man watched her a moment more, then reached into
his pocket, pulled out a piece of soft white cloth. He reached over,
dabbing at the blood that had trickled down her neck from the cut
Franco had made. He dabbed once, twice; as he reached to dab a
third time, Sam shivered slightly, grabbed his hand.
She watched his face relax a bit as he released the cloth into her
hand. “That was a little close, wasn’t it?” His voice had a bit of an
accent, maybe Irish or something. That wasn’t going to help her
Sam blotted at her neck, glared at the handsome man in front of her.
“Close, yeah, thanks. What was that?”
The Hooded Man glanced at the melting scene then looked back at
Sam. “Some poor bastard infected with LV.”
Sam stopped blotting. “LV?”
Sam gave him a blank look. “I’m sorry, I left my medical
encyclopedia in my other coat. What does that mean exactly?”
“A virus which causes Lycanthropy.”
“Lycanthropy, I see.” Sam moved away from the tree, began to
make big circles as she scanned the ground searching for her phone.
She stopped suddenly. “Wait a minute. Is that, like, werewolves?”
“Like, yeah. What are you looking for?”
“My phone.” She groaned, resumed her search. “Werewolves, huh?
Not to antagonize the crazy person or anything, but when was the
last time you had a CAT scan?”
Her phone appeared in front of her face. Sam looked up at the
Hooded Man, took the phone from him. “Six months ago.” He
raised his other hand; Sam’s Lorcin pistol hung before her eyes.
Sam hesitated a second, then took her gun, tossing him a small
smile in thanks. “Uh-huh, well, you need another one.”
She started walking away from the scene and toward the low-level
noise and movement of Broadway. The Hooded Man followed her.
“You know, after what just happened, after what you just saw, I
would think you’d be more open-minded than this.”
“I’m a New Yorker, I was born open-minded.” Sam picked up her
pace, keeping it steady and brisk as she reached Broadway and
started up the street.
“So, what happened to Sick Boy?”
“The kid who robbed the store, who was hit by the bus.”
Sam stopped suddenly. The Hooded Man had walked on a few
steps before he noticed that she had stopped. He backtracked to
stand in front of her.
Sam looked at him warily, placed her hand near the gun in her
pocket. “You. You were there, by the vendor. The man in black.
Who are you?”
“Vincent Kremer, at your service.” He bowed slightly at the waist,
adding a flourish with his right hand then smiled.
He has a nice smile, nice everything actually… oh, what the hell, Sam?
You’re just one big hormone anymore… Shook her head, banishing the
thoughts away and focusing in again on Vincent where he stood on
the sidewalk. She frowned. “Why were you there? Were you
following that kid? Oh, wait, let me guess… He was a werewolf.”
Vincent grinned. “You’re catching on.”
“Good Lord.” Sam rolled her eyes and marched past him,
continuing up Broadway. Vincent hurried to catch up to her, talking
all the way.
“Jekyll and Hyde. The beast within realized. The virus enables the
physical transformation; drugs eliminate the ability to control it.
Result – a short, violent life spent preying upon the homeless, the
sick, the weak, spreading the evil as they go. A physical
manifestation of everything dark that lurks within.” He paused,
seemingly for breath, as they neared St. Paul’s and Vesey Street.
“You know, that bastard had been running around for two days.
Gutted a junkie in the Bowery the other night.”
Sam stopped walking, her gaze fixed on the sidewalk ahead of her.
“The Bowery, huh? Now that’s funny.”
Vincent frowned, puzzled, “Why would that be funny?”
Sam looked up at him, a matching frown on her own face. “Because
someone was spotted leaving the scene that night. A man like a
shadow.” She paused, letting it sink in, looking him up and down.
“A man in black.”
“Oh.” Vincent looked down at his clothing. “I suppose my
wardrobe is a bit incriminating, then.”
Sam nodded, started walking again. “A bit. Now, I’m torn between
hauling your ass in on murder charges, or my personal favorite, me
walking this way and you not following me. So -”
Sam turned to look back at him, but Vincent was gone. What the hell,
c’mon with the disappearing people!
Sam noticed something laying on the ground behind her. It was just
about in the spot where Vincent would have been standing if he
hadn’t high-tailed it out of there. Sam wondered what did it… the
threat to haul him in or that she encouraged him to go away.
Sam bent to pick up the small piece of folded cardboard. A
matchbook, plain and white, half the matches gone. She opened it
and despite her tiredness, the aches and pains setting in already
from the altercation with Franco-thing, the fear and anger and
loneliness she felt right now with Ivan locked away in the
hospital… despite all that, she smiled.
Written on the inside of the matchbook cover were the initials VK
and his cell number.
Interview for Shifter Day
What is your book about and why did you want to write this particular story?
My book is called BLOODLINE. It’s about a young NYPD narcotics detective named Samantha Karolyi who becomes infected with the Lycanthropic Virus, and as she goes through the changes becomes enlightened as to her family’s unique history and genetics regarding being a werewolf. It’s very much rooted in history and science. I’ve always found that sci-fi and fantasy stories that have those firm roots in reality, scientific theory and medical facts and even geography and stuff, those stories are the most convincing, they draw me in and hold my attention the best, and the zing moments, whether they are thrilling or frightening, they feel more genuine when you have that basis of reality running through the story.
This story actually began its life as a screenplay… about 15 years ago, I think? Yeah. In its earliest incarnations, Sam was a guy, Vincent was just “Krem” (and may have been a vampire), and the story was set in LA. Then a peer reviewer said something in a critique that sent the whole story in a new direction. He said that the script had a lot of good elements, but needed something to set it apart, and that maybe Sam should be a girl. And that set me on a new path with the story. Sam became a girl, “Krem” became Vincent, Ivan morphed from wise old friend to cantankerous grandfather, and the whole story shifted to the East Coast, to New York City.
Why did I want to write it? Well, I’ve always enjoyed movies like Underworld, or An American Werewolf in London… TV shows like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer… So it seemed kind of natural to gravitate toward the genre. The original idea sparked one night when I was watching The Lost Boys and I thought wouldn’t it be cool to have the two Coreys in another movie like that, that genre, but as adults (It wasn’t too long after that that Corey Haim died) … So that’s where the seed of the story came from originally.
How did you come up with the lead character(s)?
Sam is me, plain and simple. And there really aren’t enough female werewolves out there. I think because that monthly werewolf cycle is to much like the human hormonal cycle and people are literally terrified of what those two surges coming together could be like.
Ivan is essentially a depiction of my grandfather in his later years… The temperament, the illnesses, all of it… In fact, the story about the lentils that’s in there was something he actually told me when I was little… I remember straining to look out the back window and see if I could see those “lentils” out dancing on the lawn *laughing*…
Vincent… well, Vincent began as kind of the mysterious guy who shows up and helps out the hero… Kind of like Angel did to help Buffy… But by the time the story transitioned into book form, the character began to change… I think in some ways he’s even more mysterious than he was in the beginning… and when I “cast” Aidan Turner in the role, so to speak, Vincent really came to life.
Out of all the characters in your book, who is your favorite to write?
Sam is easy, ‘cause I can just look at the situation, the scene, and approach it from my point of view really. Vincent is fun, too, because… well, it’s Vincent *winks*… I enjoyed exploring Dr. Hudson’s character a lot, hearing what he’s thinking and feeling. When you write screenplays, you have to go for minimal, bare bones, only what you can see, so getting the chance to get to known him better as I wrote it out was fun. I think there are a lot more nuances to his character that are explored in this book, and we’ll be explored further in the next book. In the same way, Ben was fun. Ben is like the best guy friend I never had, and wished I had, when I was growing up. He’s clever and brave and snarky… I learned so much about his past and what makes him tick, and I can’t wait to see how he grows in book two.
How do you choose when/which characters die in your books?
Well, I haven’t had a death in any of my writing yet, so I don’t know. But I think if I do write a death into any of my work, it will happen at a time to a character that will have the most impact on the other characters… The death of a character needs to be an event that throws the story in a new direction, not just the plotline itself, but the character arcs as well. Good or bad, the death of a character changes everything.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Lack of time and distractions. Getting the opportunity to write can be very difficult… Sometimes I can’t do a thing until after 11 o’clock at night, and after a full day I’m often too mentally tired to accomplish anything. Plus I write for a living, so assignments always have to take priority. And there can be a lot of distractions… My son is five… ‘Nuff said, right? And often between television being on and people trying to talk to you… It can be rough… When I wrote screenplays, it was nothing to crack out 15 pages in an evening, but now… some days I’m lucky if I hit 250 words.
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
I learned so much about New York City writing this story, its geography, its history. When I first wrote the screenplay, I had never been to the city. I just used a guide book and maps and pictures… and it must have worked, because peer reviewers commented on how real the city felt. That only increased as I wrote the book, and I found a lot of stuff that will work its way into book two.
There’s an important thread of history through the story, too, and medical knowledge… I realize Nazis can be a bit clichéd in horror, fantasy and sci-fi genre as the bad guys, but I feel the angle I took in the story was a novel one, and the information it brings in about Auschwitz and Mengele and Operation Wehrwolf… I think it makes for a very real anchor for the story.
So, Book Two… Are you writing it and when can your fans expect to see it?
I am writing the next book… It’s going to be titled QUICKSILVER and I’m planning for release in February 0f 2017. Barring anything unforeseen, I want to get it published February 14th… Besides being Valentine’s Day, it was also the time of year when the Ancient Romans had their Lupercalia festival, which was all about fertility and wolves… and both of those topics play into this new book. You get to learn a lot more about Vincent, about Jack Hudson, and about what’s really going on with weres in the NYC.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My readers… Let me just savor that for a moment… There are so many writers out there, so many good books, so many in this genre… To know that people are reading and loving what you write is such an amazing feeling… Okay… I think I’d just want to say thank you so much for reading my work, I hope you enjoyed it, and I’d really love to hear what you think. Review, comment, shoot me an email, tweet me, whatever… I would love to hear from you!