Anita Blake rescued me from Reality TV. Everywhere I looked, someone was living in the wilderness or eating something horrible, or BOTH! Worse still were the cameras following celebrities to show their “exciting” lives. One of my favorite past times suddenly made me want to pass out!
I met a new friend who read a lot during that time, and she decided I must want to read as well. I’d read all of my adult life, but never more than 2-3 books a year. Anyhow, given the state of television, I decided to try the books she loaned me. There were three, and it took me about 10 months to read all three of them. When I finished the third one, I wanted more. Sure I’d read about vampires and fantasy worlds before, but never one quite like this one. The desire for more led me to the discovery of serial fiction novels. No, I really hadn’t known much about it before.
As it turned out, the book was the first in a series and there were already 8 other books in the series. I read them all in the same amount of time it had taken me to read the first three, including another one that was released while I was reading them. I was hooked. I had to wait 9 more months for another release in the series, and I was frothing at the mouth to read more.
The series is about an Animator, one who raises the dead in the form of a zombie for ‘legal’ reasons for a business quaintly named Animator’s, Inc. She is also a vampire hunter. Move over Buffy! Actually, the first book in the series, Guilty Pleasures, was copyrighted in 1993, long before the TV series came out in 1997, but the 1992 box office bomb the TV series was based on might have also helped inspire the creator of Anita’s world of mythical creatures.
“Vampires are made by other vampires. Zombies are raised from the grave by an animator or voodoo priest. Ghouls, as far as we know, just crawl out of the grave on their own.” Anita Blake – page 26.
Laurell K Hamilton creates a world where vampires not only exist, but they are also legal citizens in the United States. Anita’s jurisdiction covers several states in and around St. Louis, MO. She kills vampires only when she is issued a warrant of execution by the state in which they reside. At least, that’s what the police think. In Guilty Pleasures, Anita faces the decision to kill or be killed, in a matter not necessarily recognized by law, for the first time, but not the last.
The story begins with Willy McCoy, a newly turned vampire and the first vampire Anita had known as a human, tries to hire her to investigate a series of vampire killings that are very disturbing to the police and, apparently, the vampire community. Unfortunately for Anita, the beautiful Jean-Claude, second only to Nikolaos, the Master of the City, has convinced the Master, that Anita is the only person who can help them solve this mystery. Anita turns Willy down, refusing to work for the fanged creatures. The Master is not pleased when Anita refuses. She orders Jean-Claude to lure her to his strip club, Guilty Pleasures, in order to make her an offer she can’t refuse. If she doesn’t investigate the murders, they will kill her good friend, Catherine. This time Anita doesn’t refuse.
By this time the story had me, but it wasn’t just the story, it was the storytelling that sucked me in. Laurell K Hamilton uses a first person narrative to develop a strong female protagonist that I really relate to. In many ways, I feel like I would say and do the same things if I were Anita. Anita rambles sometimes in her thoughts, but the ramblings had fears and doubts, same insecurities that I shared.
“Everyone has their weaknesses. Some people smoke. I collect stuffed penguins. If you won’t tell, I won’t.” Anita Blake – page 80.
Sometimes, her thoughts explain her emotional connection to her gun or why she works with the people she works with. Other times she waxes philosophic:
“You can’t save everybody. In fact, there are days when I think you can’t save anyone. Each person has to save himself first, then you can move in and help. I have found this philosophy does not work during a gun battle or a knife fight either. Outside of that it works just fine.” Anita Blake – page 158.
But every decision she makes is thought out before she makes it, even if her thoughts aren’t exactly logical. I doubt I would think very logically with a vampire clouding my mind either.
“You do what we want, or I will peel away your mind like layers of an onion.” Nikolaos to Anita Blake – page 69.
I found myself living through Anita’s eyes and truly becoming Anita. Her eyes were the window to another world where I could escape whenever I needed a break from my not-so-exciting life. When I had read all there was to read of the Anita Blake series, I found others to read, more strong protagonists to become. Soon I was reading 2-3 books a week when I wasn’t in school. How did that happen? It got to a point where someone would tell me of a really interesting movie and I would think, “I wonder if it’s based on a book”. I loved how books had more details than movies.
Eventually, a friend asked me if I would help her write a book, and because of my (respectively) newfound love, I said yes. I helped her for several months and helped pushed her further towards a complete outline than she’d ever been. Before we were able to finish, however, she moved to another state and lost all her writings in a fire. The following year I met a writer and together we came up with a very unusual concept. We worked on this story for months, and I would help with the ideas while he did the actual writing. A large change happened in both of our lives and he dropped offline to pursue other things. The story churned in my mind for almost a year before I was able to contact him again.
He told me that I’d had very strong ideas on how the book should be written and that I should write the book myself. I wasn’t happy with that idea because I was no writer. I was a reader. Until an emotional day when suddenly words started coming to me:
“Part of me wanted to run away screaming. But where would I go? What would I do? Who would I run to? I’d once seen the gods who created me, but only once.” –Pandora
I started writing and what do you know? I enjoyed it! Thanks to a love for books I’d discovered almost 10 years before with Anita Blake, I’d found a new Guilty Pleasure.
What’s your story? What started you reading, or even writing? What was your main inspiration? Please share, I can’t wait to read your responses!!