– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Stoker’s Wilde West’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Authors :
Steven Hopstaken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his formative years watching and reading science fiction and horror. He has a degree in journalism from Northern Michigan University and spends his free time traveling; writing screenplays, short stories and novels; and practicing photography.
Melissa Prusi was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (often mistaken for Canada), and studied video and film production at
Northern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She’s been a video editor, a semi-professional film reviewer, a three-time champion on the quiz show Jeopardy!, and a Guinness world record holder (1990 edition, for directing the longest live television show).
They met in a college screenwriting class and married three years later. They spent a brief time in Los Angeles, where they both worked for Warner Bros. television. They eventually ended up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they love the arts scene but dread the winters. While they both currently make a living as website content managers, they have sold two screenplays, which have been lost to development hell.
They’ve indulged their fascination with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde through trips to Dublin and London to research their lives and visit sites mentioned in Stoker’s Wilde.
They live in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with their two cats. If they’re not writing, you can usually find them at a movie, local theater production, improv show or pub quiz.
The sequel to Stoker’s Wilde, praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal and more!
Thinking they have put their monster-hunting days behind them, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker return to their normal lives. But when their old ally Robert Roosevelt and his nephew Teddy find a new nest of vampires, they are once again pulled into the world of the supernatural, this time in the American West. A train robbery by a band of vampire gunslingers sets off a series of events that puts Bram on the run, Oscar leading a rescue party and our heroes being pursued by an unstoppable vampire bounty hunter who rides a dead, reanimated horse.
An excerpt from the Diary of Oscar Wilde, 8th of October 1882.
[Bram] suddenly sat up straighter and looked around wildly. His sixth sense had become riled. “They aren’t far behind us!”
We put our heels to the horses and brought them to a full gallop!
I took up the rear and turned my head to look behind. I could see a cloud of dust in the distance!
Bouncing up and down in the saddle at full gallop made it difficult to read my map, but I did the best I could at shouting directions. Still, I must have missed a turn because we found ourselves riding full force towards a cliff, with Stoker seemingly unaware as he was not slowing down.
Before I could point this out, I heard a gunshot, and a bullet whizzed by my ear. Stoker reached the edge of the cliff and pulled the reins hard on his horse, but it was too late! The horse did its best to stop but slid off the cliff with Stoker still in the saddle!
My steed had more horse sense and stopped hard, throwing me off with such force that I continued forward over the cliff myself! I must not have secured my saddle properly, for it came with me. (Sometimes, good fortune comes disguised as carelessness.)
It is days like this I know there must be a God and he must be looking out for us because we plunged 30 or 40 feet into a raging river. It was ice-cold and deep and swept us along in its swift current. I managed to float on my saddlebags, which had popped up like a cork. It was all I could do to keep my head above water. I caught a glimpse of Stoker, who was off his horse. Both of them were trying to fight their way to the opposite bank.
The rapids gave way to a small eddy, and the water calmed. I looked back to the cliff in time to see the vampire and his bandit turning back from the edge. With any luck, I thought, they would have to take the long way around to get down to the river.
All three of us managed to drag ourselves to the riverbank. The horse stood and shook off the water, seeming no worse for wear. The poor creature was still fully saddled. Stoker drained the water from his saddlebags and gave the horse an apple.
Luckily, we were able to salvage some food and other supplies, as well as you, dear diary, from our saddlebags.
I wasn’t so sure about our guns. Could you fire them wet?
I checked our map. Using a twin-peaked mountain as a landmark I was able to orient us. “This way to the mining camp,” I said, pointing. We let the horse rest as long as we dared, then headed down the trail on foot, leading the horse behind us. The horse must have twisted his ankle because he limped a bit, but soon was walking better.
As much as I wanted to complain about what had just happened, it was a bit of extraordinary luck. It had cut miles off our trip. Before long, we could see the smoke from the mining camp ahead of us.
“I hope you appreciate the shortcut I found for us, Bram,” I said, and we both started to laugh, our spirits buoyed by a remarkable escape.
I should have remembered that nothing is easy when travelling with Stoker. We once again found ourselves leaving the frying pan only to enter the fire.
“Hold it right there,” an unwashed man yelled, pointing a shotgun at us from behind a shrub.
Another man ran up to him through the brush. “What is it, Jeb?”
“Fuckin’ claim jumpers,” he spat. Literally, he spat out a wad of chewing tobacco after he said that.
“Why do people always accuse me of that?” Bram said with his hands in the air. “I assure you, we are just lost travellers.”
“Let’s get them back to camp,” the other man said to Jeb.
They dragged us and our horse through the brush and into their camp. It consisted of a few tents and a hole in the side of a hill that I assumed was the mine. A half-dozen or so grizzled miners were sitting around a campfire, eating their lunch, while others wandered about carrying picks and buckets and other mining paraphernalia.
The other miners gathered around us and from a tent emerged a tall, moustached man who, from his demeanour and anger, I judged to be their leader. (You certainly could not tell by his clothing, which was just as rugged and dusty as that of his underlings.)
“What do ya got there, Clem?”
“Claim jumpers, Mr. Barker!”
Stoker and I both strenuously denied this.
We were still wet and probably looked most dishevelled; I could hardly blame him for thinking we were outlaws.
The one called Barker looked us over a moment and then said, “String ’em up.”
Having been in the West before, I knew straight away what he meant, and Bram had figured it out as well because he was struggling and pleading.
“No, wait!” he said as we were being dragged along by the crowd, who all seemed quite excited to attend a hanging. They were also bringing the horse along.
Are they going to hang the horse too? I thought. Then I realised the horse was to be our gallows. They pushed us both on top of the horse, took us to a tree and threw two ropes over a sturdy branch. In mere seconds there were nooses around our necks. (Are hangings a common enough occurrence in camp to have nooses at the ready? Or are nooses somehow used in the mining process? I can’t see how, but then I am not a miner.)
This was all happening so fast I was taking it in as if I were an uninterested observer. My brain finally caught up to what was about to happen and the resulting panic caught up with my mouth.
“Stop!” I commanded. Stoker was in shock and I think saying a prayer to himself. “I am not a claim jumper. I am, in fact, Oscar Wilde.” They all just stared at me with unrecognising eyes. Well, it was worth a try.
“You is dressed like a man I saw selling ice cream in Saint Louis,” a miner shouted. His companions laughed uproariously at this, so at least I was warming them up. Humour, even at my expense, is better than murderous anger.
Bram finally found his voice. “We are on the run from a killer!” Our horse was becoming restless and only the men keeping it in place stopped it from wandering off and leaving us dangling at the ends of our ropes. “A blood-sucking vampire is coming and he will kill you all if we don’t take steps to stop him!”
Barker, who was watching the lynching from the back, pushed his way through the crowd. “Did you say vampire?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Cut ’em down,” Barker said. “Bring ’em to my tent.”
The Magic of Wor(l)ds