Today I am so pleased to welcome K. Evan Coles to Joyfully Jay. K. has come to talk to us about Working Stiffs: An M/M vampire romance charity anthology. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
A Hard Day’s Night
Earlier this year, I joined a group of authors writing stories for Working Stiffs, an anthology featuring working vampires who are just trying to make ends meet. Some of our characters wait tables or drive cabs, while others have high-stakes careers in medicine and crime prevention. So how did the thirteen authors who wrote these stories choose their vamp’s profession? We asked each other that very question.
Big thanks to Joyfully Jay for having me!
All proceeds from sales of the Working Stiffs anthology go towards supporting the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Working Stiffs is on sale through the end of July, 2020.
AJ Sherwood, How To Keep an Author (Alive)
Profession: Housekeeper Personal Assistant
Like with most of my ideas, it started with a dream. I dreamed of a crazy author who was impossible to live with, and a friend who kept trying to find a housekeeper who could put up with him. I kind of shuffled the dream off to the side for several months, as I had far too many stories started already—up until I was contacted about this anthology. And then I remembered the dream and thought, “Well, maybe a vampire housekeeper would stand a chance with my crazy author!” It was that simple. My vampire I made African American just because you never see anything but white vampires in the media, and how boring is that?
Tanya Chris, Long Haul
Profession: Truck Driver
When we were throwing around ideas for our shared world anthology, one of them was that vampires had to work for a living because their collective investment fund had been emptied by a bad Bitcoin investment. My vampire, Vlad, likes fast cars (and before fast cars, he liked fast horses), so if he lost his collection of hotrods, I decided he would pursue a career where he could drive for a living. We ultimately dropped the global vampire bankruptcy idea so that each character could have their own motivation for working, but you can see the vestiges of it in my story.
K. Evan Coles, Overexposed
Profession: CSI Forensic Photographer
I’ve always been fascinated by photography and the power it gives us to capture snapshots in time. The idea of an immortal photographer popped into my head as I approached Working Stiffs and pushed aside the other professions I’d considered. I loved the notion of a vampire amassing photographs during his endless life, documenting changes in the world while remaining unchanged himself. I also tend to torture my characters, so I put my vampire Noah to work as a crime scene photographer, both so he could use his craft for good as well as to place him alongside mortals who might regard him with equal parts awe, fear, and suspicion. I’m not sure Noah has forgiven me yet, but I’m sure he’ll get there.
Roberta Blablanski, Dial-a-Vamp
Profession: Phone Sex Operator
Vampires are typically allergic to sunlight, so in coming up with a job that could be done during the nighttime hours, my mind went to phone operator. Then, I asked myself, in what circumstances would one wait until the night to make a business call. That’s when phone sex came to mind. Ideally, a vamp could take a position as a phone sex operator when most of the heavy traffic to such lines would be after the sun sets. From there, I got the idea of a vampire who had been “alive” for so long that most stimuli were no longer stimulating. What would it take to spark some feeling or desire in my apathetic vampire? And so, Dial-a-Vamp was born.
R.J. Sorrento, Off the Menu
Food is an important aspect of my storytelling. I own too many cookbooks, especially ones on technique and food science. Cooking has been a part of my life as much as writing so when I was invited to contribute to this anthology, I instantly chose chef as my MC Johnny’s profession. I wanted to explore the idea of a newbie vampire struggling to hold on to his humanity while retaining his love of cooking for others. Having my chef Johnny become drawn to a snobby sommelier (Nathan) whose blood smells better to him than any haute cuisine was icing on the cake.
Sadie Jay, Fangs for the Memories
When we were first throwing around ideas, I thought about the MCs meeting during night school—because a vampire would need to stay educated or get left behind. And then the line “Is that a stake in your pocket?” popped in my head, so a past staking became the start of my story. I pulled out two characters that have been bouncing around in my head for several years but which I’d failed to develop. (Apparently, they were waiting for the right time!) Originally, shy, innocent Rollie was going to meet free-spirits Aja and Sally at Woodstock. That was it. That was all I had. And suddenly, I had a new purpose for the three. In my younger days, I bartended and I often include bars in my stories, so it felt natural to put Aja behind a bar. He wants to take care of the people he loves–and that time is slowly taking away from him–and this is how he does it. My Aja really is a gentle soul.
Megs Pritchard, Call My Number
Profession: IT Support Call Center Operator
I worked in a call center for ten years, so this was a natural choice for me. I‘ve had all types of calls over the years, including one who had a shoe fetish and would ask me what shoes I had on. I’ve been mistaken for a sex line operator, had abuse screamed at me, threatened, and had a stalker who would only speak to me, then ask me to marry him. Certainly kept the night shift interesting!
Lyra Evans, Bad Blood
I’d had this idea, forever ago, about a supernatural doctor working on non-supernatural people. When presented with the world of this anthology, everything just clicked into place. The idea of a vampire working as a doctor for humans, particularly in an environment as suffused with bleeding injuries as the emergency department, was just too interesting to ignore. Being forced to treat humans, on whom Alek, ultimately, must also feed, in an environment where he is constantly tempted and determinately denied, required Alek to have a very unique kind of ambition and penchant for masochism. And because I’m trash for rivals-to-lovers, I just had to throw in a frustrating colleague for him to contend with.
Crystel Greene, Graveyard Cops
Profession: Police Officer
I love the Forced Proximity trope, and I’ve been meaning to write about those two very different patrol partners in a cruiser on night shift for a while now. Another one of my favorite romance tropes is hero partners protecting and/or rescuing each other. Lots of opportunities to do that for two cops fighting crime, right? Especially when one of them is immortal…
And yes, I might have a thing for hot guys in uniforms 🙂
Edie Montreux, Quality Assured
Profession: Medical Assistance Call Center Associate
Write what you know, isn’t that what they say? I was an overnight call center associate like Derek a few jobs ago. As an introvert, the position worked out well for me: I worked the hours no one wanted and made bank by taking the fewest calls possible. My call quality rocked and earned me a promotion to quality analyst, like Kellan. I am an advocate for the environment and kidney disease runs in my family – I wrote a lot of what I know into this story. I also may or may not be a vampire. Only my sunblock knows for sure.
Mel Gough, Fire and Ice Cold Skin
When I first heard about the anthology I let the story idea percolate for a day or so before asking if I could be part of it. The idea that floated up from the back of my mind was actually centred around the job of the human MC, who is a firefighter. The story I ended up with feels a lot like the opening chapters of a longer work, and the secrets surrounding Drake, my vampire MC are intermeshed with a powerful organisation that controls the lives of all vampires. They have to work for the organisation to have access to the synthetic blood and protection, and the organisation also provides them with jobs that can be done at night. Drake works in an establishment that gives vampire-curious humans access to vampires in a safe environment. Ryan, the human MC, is a bit dubious about the whole thing, but he understands the benefits so, for now, puts up with Drake’s job.
Eliott Griffen, Life Hacks
Profession: IT Expert/Hacker
A friend called me and said it would be cool to do a story for this anthology, considering I never wrote something with vampires. We bounced ideas and agreed that, because of my own IT background, I should write a vampire hacker. Ha! It was not easy to adjust and simplify that world enough so everyone can understand what’s going on. I spent hours deleting technical terms and rewording sentences. It’s also a very boring job, most of the time. I wish I can say stuff like this happens often, but nope.
I like to break stereotypes in my stories, so I decided to use the fact that vampires in this universe don’t become models when they are turned. I, as a reader, am tired of perfect MCs that save the world without wrinkling a shirt. Therefore, my vampire is an insecure, needy, overweight ball of nerves. And he’s adorable. AND he gets the guy.
H.L Day, Bad Decision
Profession: Cab Driver
What do you mean, I got to choose the occupation? Alessandro, my vampire was quite adamant with his list of instructions for me. It needed to be something he could do at night. He wanted some contact with humans but not too much- no crowds. He’s lived too long to put up with that crap. He wanted a fair amount of freedom to choose his own hours. Therefore, a cab driver was born. Definitely not my choice – I can’t even drive. As for the area he drove around in, it’s been my most local story up to date. The vampire nightclub in my story in my head just replaced the club in Camden Town where I spent many a night dancing the night away. Luckily, there were no vampires there then. Or at least not that I was aware.
Sometimes work sucks in a good way
Not all vampires are idly rich. Some of them have day jobs. Er, night jobs.
In a world struggling to come to grips with the existence of vampires, where reactions range from excitement to fear to determined disbelief, these vampires are just trying to make ends meet. Some of them do mundane work—like waiting tables or driving a cab. Others have more prestigious careers in medicine and crime prevention. But what all their jobs have in common is people. Unpredictable, interesting, frustrating, hostile, helpless, tasty people.
Whether they’re pouring drinks, answering phones, hacking into a computer system, or serving up the perfect food/wine pairing, these working stiffs are too busy to fall in love. Or are they?
This International Workers Day, celebrate by sinking your teeth into thirteen awesome stories about vampires at work. Because even the undead have to earn a living. Proceeds benefit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.
K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.
K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.
K has brought a copy of Working Stiffs for one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Leave a comment below to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, May 12 at 11:59 pm ET.
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