When I was asked to write this piece, timed with the release of my fifth and final vampire novel 32 Fangs, I was given several suggestions for what I should write about. One was to talk about how I chose my heroine—how I created her, in other words.
The suggestion jumped out at me right away because honestly, I never did. Laura Caxton as I envisioned her was just a foil. I already had a hero in the book, Jameson Arkeley—proud descendant of that long line of Van Helsings, steadfast in his determination to kill vampires, largely uncaring if he saved anyone or not. He was larger than life, and to prop him up I knew I needed a Normal Person, a neophyte to the vampire hunting game. Someone who could ask the questions the reader wanted answered, someone to learn the ropes. So I thought up this creature, this pleasantly bland Highway Patrol Trooper who would stumble naively into a world of vampires and dead things that scratched their own faces off and suicide curses and car chases.
And that’s when the funny thing happened. Laura Caxton, as I called her, turned out to be anything but a cliché. Almost immediately she started showing me pieces of herself that I just hadn’t expected. In an early scene in the first book, 13 Bullets, she goes home in the middle of the night, having just seen her first real evidence of vampirism. Understandably shaken, she heads straight for her bed. Oh, I thought at the time, there should be someone in there already, waiting for her. And oh, they should have red hair. And—what’s this? It was another woman.
Caxton, for want of a better term, was writing herself.
I did what a smart person does in such a situation. I sat back and let her tell me her story. I switched things around so it was all about her. I kept being surprised by her, by her inner strength, by her willingness to sacrifice parts of her soul to the fight, for five books.
And then, one day, I realized that one of the things she had to tell me was that all good stories have an ending.
Caxton wasn’t the type to let the vampires get away, to accept that her job would never end. She demanded of me that I find a way to finish things up, to wrap up all the loose ends, to give her some peace—one way or another. She wanted one last big confrontation with one last big vampire. And so, here we are.
The series is over. For nearly ten years I’ve lived with this brave, resourceful woman. I’ve shared her adventures and learned a great deal in the process. But now it’s as if she’s going away and I’ll never see her again.
There will be other books. Other characters with their own stories to tell.
But I’m going to miss Laura Caxton terribly.
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