En Memoriam by Tami Veldura
Source: Review by Request
Copy Provided by the Author
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Paul has seen Victor before, he just can’t remember where. The rush of fear in his stomach when Victor glances his way is familiar. Paul knows the slant of his smile. There’s nothing safe here, but when Victor offers to meet over coffee, Paul is swayed by this sense of knowing. Victor’s touch feels like an old lover. His hands have been here before.
Paul is sure he once learned something Victor is trying to hide. His hair stands on end whenever Victor gives him attention, like his body reacting to danger that his mind can’t recall. He’s not sure uncovering more is a good idea but he craves what Victor might give him.
Paul wants to know why he longs for Victor’s voice. He dreams about conversations they’ve never had. He desires a darkness he’s never seen before. They met only once, but this longing is too intense. Victor is keeping secrets, Paul just can’t remember them.
Expanded from Mile High Vampire, a reader favorite flash story previously published in the collection Fanged. En Memoriam stands alone.
Did I LOVE this book?
“I want to know why I miss you when I can’t even remember your name.”
Victor leaned forward and kissed him. His lips and tongue invaded with fierce attention. Paul met it with desperation. Victor cradled his head and slid one thumb up against Paul’s temple. “I can’t risk it.”
Read. This. Book.
You know I rarely give 5-star reviews.
A five star book has to hook me immediately and not let up. The story has to be original, the characters must be intriguing, and above all else – I want to be completely absorbed from beginning to end…
That’s a tall order for a short story, but let me assure you – this was 44 pages of perfection. Beautifully written with a carefully crafted plot.
He wondered how many of his late nights at the office were actually lost memories of Victor. How many times had he discovered Victor’s secret, accepted him, and been betrayed?
Paul sees Victor’s piercing blue eyes for the first time while flying on business. He’s absolutely stunned when the gorgeous stranger corners him in the lavatory for a little mile high club action.
There’s something predatory about this stunning man…
Something deeply disturbing about his smooth voice…
Something oddly familiar about the feel of his skin…
Paul emerges from the airplane lavatory and meets Victor’s piercing blue eyes for the first time… Again.
It seems Victor and Paul have been sharing many ‘firsts’ – incredibly erotic encounters which Paul never gets to remember at the end of their trysts.
Paul has no memory of what transpired mere minutes earlier, but he is drawn to the dangerous stranger in front of him.
“I was just supposed to take what I needed and move on but I’d never met anyone who enjoyed so much… or begged. […] You weren’t ever supposed to know me.”
I’ve never wanted to get into the brain of a character more than I did with Victor. The entire tale is told from Paul’s POV – we see Victor as a dark and mysterious stranger.
One thing is for certain – Victor can’t seem to stay away from Paul.
His secrets are exposed each time they meet, but never remembered.
Vague memories flicker like ghosts in Paul’s brain – intense memories of ecstasy and blood and longing.
Victor can steal his memories, but he cant erase the way he makes Paul feel.
So grab yourself a coffee (cause there are a lot of coffee references in this book) and curl up with a copy of En Memoriam… You won’t regret it.
Victor lifted his fingers up.
“No.” Paul jerked away.
He didn’t know. Not exactly. But something would happen if he let Victor touch him again. Something he wasn’t going to like. “How many times have we done this?” Victor felt so familiar, they had to have met before. He had to have held Paul down and claimed him. Why couldn’t he remember?
“We’ve never had sex before.”
Something about this wasn’t true he just couldn’t put his finger on it. “Have you bitten me before? For blood?” Victor frowned and Paul knew he’d got something right. “You can wipe my memory,” he said with conviction. “We’ve done this before and you’ve made me forget it.” Paul’s chest tightened. He dropped his leg from Victor’s grip, disappointment threading into his expression. This felt like a date because it was, sort of. Victor knew him.
“I’m not sorry.” Victor leaned close and Paul pressed into the cold tiled wall.
“We’ve been in here too long.” Victor lifted his hand.
Paul grabbed his wrist. “Don’t do this. I feel like I’ve known you for months.”
Victor’s eyes narrowed. “Forty-seven weeks,” he said with bite.
Paul felt panic rising again. He didn’t want to lose this! “A year? Please, Victor.” Paul searched sharp blue eyes for any kind of understanding. “I don’t want to forget again.”
“You don’t know what you’ve forgotten.”
“Then tell me.” Paul pulled on Victor’s wrist but the vampire didn’t budge. He felt the satisfaction of climax slipping away from him and with it a history he couldn’t remember. “I want to know why I miss you when I can’t even remember your name.”
Victor leaned forward and kissed him. His lips and tongue invaded with fierce attention. Paul met it with desperation. Victor cradled his head and slid one thumb up against Paul’s temple.
Interview with Tami Veldura
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
What would you say inspired you to write it?
My fans! This story was chosen out of an anthology collection by my readers to be expanded into its own adventure. I wrote Fanged in response to the backlash from the Twilight series and general dissatisfaction with sexy vampires. I had too many ideas for just one story so I put them all together in a short collection. My readers voted on their favorite and I developed that into En Memoriam. I plan on repeating the process with a collection of paranormal stories next year, so if you’re into creepy, stay tuned 😀
What was the source of inspiration for Victor?
I felt a need for a vampire story that didn’t excuse them from being deadly hunters. I knew from the start that Victor needed to make Paul, people around him, and hopefully the reader uncomfortable. I wanted him to feel animalistic even when he was trying to pass as human. My beta reader Shelton helped a lot with his unsettling feeling.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
I don’t see writer’s block as a huge wall that some other creatives do. I have so many options for output (digital art, traditional painting, sketching, writing, video games, reading, gardening) that if one isn’t flowing I can switch easily to another. Being stuck on something either means I haven’t got a good grasp of the whole idea yet, or I’m just not feeling like sitting/standing at my desk. Both are solved by doing chores or gardening around the house to let my brain relax.
What is your all time favorite book?
Uh. All time? That’s tough. The Sight by David Clement-Davis is arguably the most influential book in my life. That story directly shoved me into realizing I could do this: write a thing and have people enjoy it. I went from there to text roleplay, then to fanfiction, and now here I am!
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
For as short as it is, En Memoriam is one of my longest works in terms of time. Editing became a nightmare for almost six months. I didn’t want to edit and I knew a lot of work needed to be done so I didn’t work on the story but also didn’t allow myself to write anything new. I would have abandoned the story altogether.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Finishing work is the biggest confidence booster I’ve ever encountered. When the drafting is done and all the interaction you’re having with the story is with reviewers or readers, that’s awesome. Writing in a field not recognized by the mainstream gives you a tough skin very quickly so I’d say my confidence with my work and with my direction in life is the biggest change.
Was there ever a time, during your work for this book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Oh, god, yes. I finished editing the story (I thought) and I sent it off to my formatter Shelton. She doubles as my beta and proofreader before stories go live. She returned the story covered in digital red ink the next day. All of her comments were valuable but I’d just come off a 3 month work-every-day binge and I crashed so hard. I had zero interest in editing En Memoriam a second time. But she was right and eventually I powered through the work in about six hours. It made all the difference.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
My life is awesome! I wake up and go to a local community college for a class in the morning. I only have one class in the morning so it gets me going and focused without taking up all of my day. I’m taking a design class and a ceramics class this semester, good times.
After class I come home and deal with emails. That may take two seconds or several hours depending on what kind of work I’m in the middle of. (This interview is happening during email time :D)
After emails I break for lunch, browse tumblr and twitter, maybe watch a TV episode of something (Supernatural is my current binge).
Then I jump into editing. I’m an editor with Bottom Drawer Publications and SilverTree Publishing but I also do freelance work with authors looking to self-publish. Editing work takes up the biggest chunk of my day, usually until dinner and sometimes after depending on my load. I try to cut myself off before 7pm.
After 7 it’s relaxing time. I’ll do some design homework, work on art, brainstorm or draft a new story, videogames or TV with Boyfriend, occasionally we’ll do movie night.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I had a great experience when I went to college. I graduated with a degree in writing (from the University of Redlands) and my classes were 4 or 5 hour long affairs where we took a 10-ish page excerpt from a classmate’s story and critiqued it. Nothing forces you to divorce yourself from your writing like 8 people at a round table discussing your work for 4 hours while you’re not allowed to say a word. At the end of the critique you can ask one question. No commentary or explanation.
Now, I had an EXCELLENT group of instructors that very carefully moderated the conversation so it never devolved into attacks or hate. For that alone it was worth sky-high tuition.
But your average author isn’t going to school for writing or can afford a pricey school if they are. What to do? It’s scary but you need to get your work in front of people. People you trust. People you don’t trust. Everyone. Hand the story to your family, your friends, and your teachers. Find people on twitter, tumblr, wattpad, wherever you can. Anyone who will read your work.
The goal here is not to get feedback that’s going to help you make the story better (although, that helps). The goal is to hear what people say. Notice the huge range of responses. Notice people getting emotional (or not) over a collection of words that you happened to put in this order. Ask questions of them but do not allow yourself to explain your story or justify anything in the text.
You’ll get people who love what you wrote, hate what you wrote, are indifferent to what you wrote. You’ll find people who want to talk about it and others who don’t. You’ll find people who want to give you advice on how to make it better. You’ll find some of that advice sucks ass and some of it is so brilliant you feel like you’re stealing.
I don’t read reviews of my work that are below a 3 (of 5). They might be well thought out, but odds are in favor of running into vitriol rather than intelligent arguments. 3 or above mediates that a little and critiques that people provide are softened a bit by the gushing over parts they enjoyed. It’s always easier to absorb criticism when it’s delivered with compliments as well.
If reading criticism of your work makes your gut twist and drop, my advice is to avoid reading anything but 5star reviews. The 5 stars will keep you going, knowing there are people out there who want the stories you’re writing.
But if you can keep the criticism separate from yourself there’s a lot you can learn in the reviews of your work over time. Just remember to change things for your own reasons. Not because a reviewer said you should.
What do you have in store for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next?
I’m currently outlining a Japanese historical I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo. It’ll by my longest story so far. I’d like to submit it to Riptide Publishing (cross all your fingers for me!). Meanwhile Baited (contemporary) is coming out November 28th and Blood In The Water (pirates!) is releasing on the 19th of December.
Side Note from The Smutsonian:
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be reviewing Blood In The Water when it goes live next month – the blurb is phenomenal, and it’s already nominated for TWO awards from the GoodReads MM Romance Group!
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
I did the cover for En Memoriam myself. When I published Fanged, I designed the cover knowing I’d want to replicate some elements for whichever story won the vote. Side-by-side the two look like their from a set, which was exactly the point.
Formatting was done by the lovely Shelton Keys Dunning. I recommend her without reservation.
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to when you hit ‘Publish’?
Arguably the timeline for En Memoriam started with the ideas for Fanged since Mile High Vampire is the first time you meet Paul and Victor. That short evolved into the first scene of En Memoriam. That was back in May or June of 2013. I started brainstorming the story that would eventually become En Memoriam in Marchish of this year after the voting closed.
Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AREbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
I distribute my stories directly through Gumroad. I like their ability to check out a customer from my website without any setup, just a link.
More broadly I distribute at Amazon, Smashwords and all the sites they push to, AREbooks, and Google Play.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I think I’m on a good trajectory, but if there was anything I’d change I’d go back and tell myself in high school that there’s a market for gay/lesbian short stories that you’re writing as fanfiction. This is a real thing. Google it. It would get me started with seriously considering writing years sooner.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
5 grand in unmarked nonconsecutive bills every month for the rest of my life. I love the schedule I have right now but in another month or so, I’m going to need at least a part time job if I’m going to keep paying rent. Editing is a great deal of fun, but doesn’t pay enough at this point to keep me afloat.
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one item you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
The TARDIS! (obviously)
Name your favorite fruit.
Coffee or tea?
Tea all the way.
How about favorite time of the day?
After breakfast. I’m awake, fed, and ready to get things started.
Were you a Girl Scout?
Yes! I earned my Silver Award in high school and now I’m a Girl Scout for Life.
Favorite food for breakfast?
Oatmeal (I’m so boring, aren’t I?)
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
Bliss AND IT’S SO GOOD, GUYS. Go get it.
Side note from The Smutsonian:
We TOTALLY agree with Tami on this – Bliss was a 5-Star Read for us, you can check out our review and an excerpt here.
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
I have an excellent digital curated collection of art and artists through tumblr/deviantart, but nothing physical. Unless you count art supplies. 😀
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Green! Super saturated foresty dark green.
Drama or comedy?
Do you have a favorite quote or personal motto?
I’m only here until I reach escape velocity.
Cats or dogs?
Dogs, so dogs. Boyfriend is a cat person. We’re working on it.
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight, no contest.
Tami Veldura is giving away a copy of En Memoriam to one lucky Smutsonian Reader! Click here to enter:
Tami Veldura is a writer, reader, lover and artist. She currently resides in San Marcos, CA. She writes science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and GLBTQ fiction. you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org