Author transforms herself, just like her characters
By D.G. Martin
What does a very successful author of imaginative fiction who specializes in vampires do when she gets tired of those bloodsucking creatures?
Nancy Collins, who lives and writes in Wilmington, built a following around her book "VAMP" and a couple of sequels. A "VAMP" is like a "Vampire-American Princess." I learned about Collins from Ben Steelman, the discerning literary critic and writer for the Wilmington Star-News.
The lead characters of Collins' VAMP series are late teenagers, who, except for their vampire condition, are pretty much like spoiled non-vampire teens.
Collins had her finger on the vampire pulse. Her books were optioned for possible movies. Then the fever subsided a little bit and Collins says, "I got a little vampired out."
She adjusted. The result is a new series in the urban fantasy genre, which Collins says is increasingly popular as young people brought up with Harry Potter look for imaginative young adult alternatives.
"Left Hand Magic: A Novel of Golgotham," the second of a three-book series, is set in a fictional section of New York City. Golgotham is a cross between a ghetto and an independent country. It is populated by Kymerans, human-like creatures who have some super human and magical qualities and a whole set of other mythical creatures like leprechauns, mermaids and satyrs.
The Kymerans are the leaders. Although they look a lot like humans, they have six fingers on each hand, distinctive slanted eyes and hair with wild colors.
The Golgotham creatures are definitely viewed with disdain by their New York neighbors, but it has become trendy for humans to visit and even take up residence among the creatures.
Conflict develops. Then violence erupts.
Meanwhile, the lead human character, Tate Eresby, a trust fund baby from the Upper East Side, has moved into Golgotham, and fallen in love with Hex, a member of the Kymeran aristocracy.
Humans and Kymerans can have children, so Tate and Hex could build their own family. But each existing extended family opposes the relationship. Think Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story.
Collins and I talked about one scene in the book set in a Golgotham bar where a group of drunken young humans have made themselves unwelcome. One of them grabs a leprechaun, turns him upside down and tries to shake the gold coins out of his pocket.
The leprechaun responds by turning him into a flying pig.
"You had me believing this really happened," I told Collins. "How did you do it?"
Her one-word answer: "Magic."
Collins does have literary magic that makes her worth watching. She is a natural storyteller, imaginative, hardworking, productive and responsive to the changing literary marketplace, qualities that could remind us of J.K. Rowling.
Don't miss the chance to meet Collins this weekend on North Carolina Bookwatch.
D.G. Martin hosts "North Carolina Bookwatch," which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatchNext week's (September 28, 30) guest is Bethany Bradsher, author of "The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South."