SUMMARY: I swear, my life was always totally normal. Normal house, normal family, normal school. My looks are average, I don't have any superpowers, no one's showing up to tell me I'm a princess—you get the picture. But when my junior year started, something not normal happened. There were new kids at school... new kids with a wardrobe straight out of a 19th-century romance novel, and an inexplicable desire to stay at school until sundown. And on top of that, James Hallowell showed up. James, who stole my sandwiches in fourth grade and teased me mercilessly through middle school. James, who now seems to have the power to make my heart race any time he comes near. But something weird is going on. Because James rarely goes out during the day. And he seems stronger than your typical guy. And he knows the new kids, all of whom seem to be harboring some kind of deep secret. (Publishes on December 28, 2010.)
A. M. Robinson is the author of Vampire Crush.
What I Did For a Turret, Or A Writing Adventure
Every now and then, I’ll come across an article about a writer who has had a wild adventure in pursuit of researching a book, like skydiving or exploring South American ruins. Unfortunately, writing a slightly snarky teen vampire romance doesn’t give me much opportunity for exotic fact-gathering. Most of my writing adventures are limited to making sure that the delivery guy bringing me crab rangoon “for inspiration” doesn’t get a full view of what I like to call The Questionable Pajamas. But there was one cold, snowy night in February that I had a legitimate writerly adventure. And it all started with a very bad rental car decision.
A friend of mine had kindly invited me to tag along on her critique group’s annual writing retreat. They had rented a house in Woodstock, and that house had a turret. It also had a hot tub and a killer view of the mountains, although to be honest, that turret could have been attached to an abandoned haunted prison, and I would have been there, laptop in hand, Questionable Pajamas in suitcase, ready to sit in it. The plan was to spend a long weekend typing like a madwomen, bolstered by camaraderie and the motivating realization that everyone else is writing away while I am reading internet celebrity gossip.
Everything was peachy until the night before we were set to leave, when a blizzard hit. Lesser (i.e. more sane) authors would have given up, or at least delayed their leaving date until the snow had stopped and the forecasters had given the all clear. But we had a turret to get to, and frankly, Amanda Bynes’s Twitter won’t read itself. So we set off into the winter air, reassuring each other that the snow was letting up and it really wasn’t that bad at all. As a bonus, my friend had talked to a Very Helpful Employee who had promised her a nice deal on a rental car.
When we arrived at the lot, the employee showed us to our discount car, a small silver hatchback. I have no recollection of the make or model, so in retrospect I will assume that it was a Honda Deathtrap, or maybe a Ford WTF? He then suggested that we upgrade to something better, something with four-wheel drive and recognizable car features like a radio and room for your legs. It would be easy, he said. All we needed to do was go into his office, fill out the paperwork, add a few hundred dollars to the price he quoted, and we could be on our way. Suddenly, Very Helpful Employee was Very Smug Employee. It was obvious he thought he had pulled off a successful bait-and-switch.
But he had overestimated our willingness to be had and underestimated our cheapness. We would drive that silver hatchback! We would drive that silver hatchback up a mountain! Who cared that it didn’t look like the silver hatchback had been off the lot in years? Who cared that we still had two other people to fit in the car, plus luggage? This was about JUSTICE! This was about WHAT WAS RIGHT! This was also about not eating bargain macaroni and cheese for the rest of the month. Oh, we would show the Very UNHelpful Smug Employee.
Actually, what we did was get stalled halfway up a mountain in the middle of the night during a fresh wave of blizzard. In our defense, the car did fine on the interstate, even in a steady snow and some heavy wind. Sure, those of us in the backseat had to twist into unnatural positions that
caused all of our limbs to fall asleep, but who needs circulation, really? By the time we reached Woodstock, we were feeling pretty smug ourselves, even stopping for groceries that weighed the car down even more. But when we were driving up the last leg of mountain, the silver hatchback’s wheels started to spin. We were stuck.
We pushed while one of us steered. We tried to dig snow out from under the tires. We sent text messages to our significant others that said “I am stuck on a mountain!” and then follow-up text messages that said “No, I am REALLY stuck on a mountain. Possibly will need some sort of Park Ranger Rescue in the near future.” After a lot of cursing, we managed to get the car out of the snowdrift, but it soon became clear that there was no way the car would be going any further up the mountain. The hatchback’s lights only cut so far into the pitch black, but we walked ahead anyway with fingers crossed that the house might be around the corner. It wasn’t. We returned to the car with a sense of isolation that would have been peaceful if it weren’t made creepy by circumstance. In the forty minutes we had been stalled, not a single vehicle had appeared in either direction, and now the snow had started again in earnest. Huddling in the car for heat, we discussed what to do. Attempting to turn around might land us in another snowdrift situation, but sitting on a mountain all night was equally unappealing.
Eventually, we managed to roll the car backwards down the mountain until we found a flat area that seemed safe for turning around. In Woodstock proper we found a busy bar and loitered outside, waiting to pounce on anyone who drove up in a four-wheel drive and had an air of Good Samaritan. Luckily we found one who drove us and our voluminous luggage to the house that we would be snowed into for the next four days.
Strangely, apart from the need to seriously ration my stash of pizza bagels, it was paradise. I sat in my turret and concentrated on nothing but writing, knocking out what would later be pared down to a pivotal romantic scene in Vampire Crush. And when it was time to lug our things back down the mountain, it felt a little bit like wandering through Narnia, albeit if the Pevensie kids had overpacked and complained a lot about the strap of their laptop case. Most of all, though, it was a genuine winter adventure, and one I hadn’t even planned for.
Next time, though, I might go with the four-wheel drive.
Haha loved this entertaining guest post, A.M. and thank you so much for sharing!
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