We’re welcoming back Nancy Holzner, author of the Deadtown urban fantasy series, today. Nancy is celebrating the release of BLOODSTONE, the 3rd Deadtown book which hits shelves tomorrow from Ace Books. Deadtown is home to shapeshifters, zombies—aka Previously Deceased Humans, and vampires, including the famed Juliet who paints a much different version of her star-crossed love story than The Bard. What the scoop? Keep reading. And don’t forget to check out the giveaway for a signed copy of BLOOSTONE and a bloodstone bracelet. See details below.
My series follows the adventures of Victory Vaughn, a shapeshifter who kills other people’s personal demons for a living. Vicky lives in Deadtown, Boston’s paranormal-only section, where she shares an apartment with a vampire named Juliet Capulet. That name is no coincidence; Vicky’s roommate is the Juliet (as in “Romeo and”), and for 400 years she’s been carrying a grudge against William Shakespeare. Why? Because he got her story all wrong. In this guest post, Juliet sets the record straight.
Romeo and Juliet: The Real Story
by Juliet Capulet
In all my centuries, most of the norms I’ve met have been familiar with my story. Or rather, I should say they thought they were familiar with my story. Nearly everyone who’s heard my name has heard it thanks to one man: Mr. William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare. What a hack.
How would you feel if someone trampled all over your life story, his dirty fingerprints obscuring who you really were? (All right, so I’m mixing my metaphors. Not that the Almighty Shakespeare was above that or anything.)
I’m here today to set the record straight. Forget what you read in school. This is my real story.
First of all, when I met Romeo, I was not what people today would call “jailbait.” I was a few weeks shy of my twenty-second birthday. Will Shakespeare made me not quite fourteen! Why would he do that? I’m not one to cast aspersions, but if Will were still around, I’d be advising parents to lock up their young daughters, if you know what I mean.
Second, the play’s action begins when Romeo attends my father’s ball in disguise, hoping to catch a glimpse of my cousin-or-something, Rosaline. Um, Rosa-who? There was no such person. Romeo was in love with me—always and only me, thank you very much.
So here’s what really happened. There was indeed a feud between my family and Romeo’s, and the whole thing was extremely socially awkward. Do you know how many wealthy families there are in a city the size of fourteenth-century Verona? A mere handful. Half my friends were suddenly in the wrong family. I’d be walking down the street and turn a corner, and there would be so-and-so Montague or some more distant member of that family, a fourth cousin twice removed or whatever. A week or two before, we would have exchanged pleasantries, but once the feud began I was obliged to turn up my nose and snub the person. An insult would have been even better.
It made no sense to me. Why should I limit my friends based on a disagreement between our fathers?
Romeo and I had flirted before. We didn’t speak in sonnets; that’s a hack playwright’s trick. But there was an attraction. He was a few years older than I, with broad shoulders and strong arms and a smile that could melt butter. He wasn’t a smooth talker, but what playwright wants a leading man who stutters a little between his long silences? Not that it mattered to me. I may have been out of my teens, but I was young enough to be infatuated by bulging biceps and a well-formed ass. (Have you seen the tights men wore in my youth? Yum.) When Romeo proposed, what else would I say but yes?
Friar Lawrence secretly married us, as in the play. Except he wasn’t actually a friar, so I don’t think we were ever legally married. Whatever. More on the good friar in a minute.
Everything in the play about Mercutio and Tybalt—that’s all made up. When he was writing tragedy, Shakespeare was never happy unless he killed off half a dozen people in the course of the play Duels, deaths, banishments—bah. Romeo had to leave town on business for his father. But of course it’s not a play without escalating conflict. The audience wants blood, and Will delivers.
In truth, Paris didn’t even want to marry me. He was going for blackmail. Somehow, he found out about my marriage to Romeo, and he was threatening to tell my father unless I paid him off. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to ask the advice of the one person I thought I could trust: Friar Lawrence.
As I told you, the man was no friar. He wasn’t even a man. He was a vampire—and he turned me.
Friar Lawrence said he had a way to solve my problem. That my father would believe I was dead and, when I came back to life, Papa would forgive my secret marriage and end the feud. Paris would go away empty-handed, and all my problems would disappear.
Well, what would you do? It seemed like a way out. And, truth be told, Friar Lawrence was hot. Scorchingly so. He asked if I would accept his kiss of eternal life. Heart pounding, I agreed. With both hands, he raised his cowl and let it drop back over his shoulders. His dark eyes burned into mine. He clasped me in his arms and pulled me to him. His lips nuzzled along my cheek, my jaw. He went lower, nudging my head to the side. I tilted my head back, exposing my neck. He drew in a breath—a long, slow, shuddering breath—and then pain and ecstasy flashed white-hot through me, body and soul. I fainted.
It’s funny how I still think of it that way, after so many years. After I know better. I didn’t faint. I died. And I awoke from death in my family’s tomb.
To find Romeo there, weeping.
What can I say? The newly turned wake up famished, wracked with a ravening hunger that cannot be ignored. I craved life, and Romeo pulsed with it. I did not know what I was. I only knew what I needed. I won’t tell you what happened next. I will say that the story ended with a smile on poor Romeo’s face.
Shakespeare gave me these lines: “I should kill thee with much cherishing. / Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow.” I never said them. And even if I had, they came in the wrong place. And yet there’s truth to them. My final parting from Romeo—my husband, my first love—was sweet. Sweet and hot as the blood that flowed from his veins into my mouth, my throat. And sorrowful, too, although it was a long time ago.
So the Bard got one thing right, after all.
Check out all the stops on the BLOODSTONE tour:
Nancy Holzner grew up in western Massachusetts. She majored in English in college and then continued her studies long enough to earn a masters degree and a PhD. She began her career as a medievalist, then jumped off the tenure track to try some other things. Besides teaching English and philosophy, she’s worked as a technical writer, freelance editor and instructional designer, college admissions counselor, and corporate trainer. Nancy lives in upstate New York with her husband Steve. She enjoys visiting local wineries and listening obsessively to opera.
Giveaway provided by Nancy Holzner via Bewitching Book Tours
A unique piece of bloodstone jewelry & a signed copy of BLOODSTONE by Nancy Holzner
Available on September 27th 2011 by Ace
Boston’s diverse South End is known for its architecture and great restaurants, not its body count. So when mutilated human corpses begin turning up in the area, the entire city takes notice. The killer—dubbed the South End Reaper—uses a curved blade for his grisly work. And even though there’s no real evidence pointing to a paranormal culprit, the deaths are straining the already-tense relations between Boston’s human and inhuman residents.
As the bodies pile up, Vicky, her formidable aunt Mab, and her werewolf boyfriend Kane investigate, only to find that the creature behind the carnage is after something much more than blood…
Publishers Weekly says, “Fans of Holzner’s other Deadtown novels will enjoy this solid yarn.”
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