Monday, October 10, 2016

"At the End of Church Street" by Gregory L. Hall

At the End of Church Street
by Gregory L. Hall

At the End of Church Street by Gregory L. Hall is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Homeless and with nowhere to turn, Rebecca De Rosa finds a family of lost souls just like her - the vampires of Orlando. Reborn, she revels in her new lifestyle of 'no rules'. Love whoever you want. Seek whatever high you wish. Live forever young. Every night's an adventure - hunting down tourists, challenging local police, screaming to the world vampires really do exist! It's Neverland and every dream Rebecca has comes true.
Until the first murder.
Someone else lurks in the shadows. Goths are found beheaded, with wooden stakes pounded into their chests. The hunters have become the hunted. As the bodies pile up, Rebecca and the Family are forced to ask who can you trust when the only person who believes you're an actual vampire is a vampire killer?

Book Video

Click below to read an excerpt.

Praise for the Book
"There are twists and turns through the full-throttle narrative which keep the reader propelled toward the 'turn it up to eleven' conclusion. Greg Hall has added some nice layers to the vampire mythos and, instead of playing pansy with his teenaged protagonists, he gives them real life and death choices to face. This isn't a bloody climax slapped on to the end of a sappy love story; Church Street is all climax, all life and death and love. And in the end, vampires are badass again." ~ Aaron Polson
"Gregory L Hall's At the End of Church Street is an adept and novel imagining of the age-old vampire story. Hall offers a gritty portrayal of life on the streets where the shadows conceal much more than petty criminals. His eye for observational detail masterfully places the reader in his bleak but believable settings. In the end Church Street is a stark, intelligent and thrilling depiction of the seedy (and supernatural) subculture lurking within Orlando's darker places." ~ Tim D.
"Greg creates a believable environment for these teens and makes you care about them despite their propensity to terrorize tourists. I tore through this book in less than a week and I was left sated. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves good fiction and dare anyone that claims to be tired of Vampire fiction to not love this book." ~ Richard S. Mccoy
"I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of honest to goodness horror. Dark fiction doesn't quite cover what lead me to my conclusion: the characters were a little too real, the situations were happening ... or must have happened. Aside from the taste of speculative fiction, this plunges the reader into the world of kids looking for something spectacular to happen in a world where reality is just too scary (even if that means their fantasy is gazing into the eyes of drug addiction, rape, and murder ... but it's all good, as long as it's dressed up like a vampire.) This is brilliant and brutal, Mr. Hall ... Kudos!" ~ Elyse Draper
"At the End of Church Street is a great read, full of suspense, tension, blood, and a healthy dose of dark humor. If you're in the mood for a good time, look no further." ~ Joshua M. Myers

Guest Post by the Author
Vampire Lore
I have been a fan of things that go bump in the night for as long as I can remember. As a little dude, my bedroom was covered in Universal monster movie posters. (My office still is!) On one wall was the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Across from him were The Wolfman and Frankenstein. And on the wall I had to stare at every night before I drifted off to sleep was the coolest guy in the graveyard - Dracula.
Before I knew there was a novel, I was wide-eyed with the classic black-n-white movie. Before I knew there was an actual Dracula, the Romanian prince Vlad the Impaler, my youthful mind was in awe of Bela Lugosi in his iconic black cape. He would fling it open before he turned into a bat. He would peek over it when he crept into someone’s bedroom. And he would cover his face and use it as a shield when Van Helsing waved a cross in the air like he just don’t care.
Turning into a bat was the most awesome power ever. I’m told in the original movie you can see the wires holding up a giant rubber bat, and Lugosi didn’t morph, but I think those people are simply jealous. Of course Bela shapeshifted into a bat. How do you think he got the role? You do something like that in an audition and you’re Dracula. Send everyone else home. I have a character named Dr. Ghoulie in my book At the End of Church Street who is a horror host and serves as an expert on vampires for the police. He says most people question how a hundred and sixty-pound man transforms into a three-pound bat. Where does the rest of the guy go? But Dr. Ghoulie argues a vampire can because it’s fun and scary. Can’t argue with logic like that.
If turning into winged rodents doesn’t impress you, Bela’s Dracula did so many other kick bahookie tricks. In his opening scene, he walks up the castle steps and there’s a wall of spider webs blocking his way. But he keeps walking. The next camera shot shows him on the other side of the webs - and they’re undisturbed! Can you do that? No, you can’t.
Bela has a pet armadillo. We see it briefly in the same scene. Armadillos live in South America, with a species or two waddling up through Texas. What the holy heckfire is it doing in Transylvania? It can’t survive there. Yet this little guy does, because it belongs to Bela. Watch the movie over Halloween and you’ll see. I like to call him ‘Juan’.
I guess what impresses me most about the original Dracula is at no time do we see his famous fangs. Every other representation has big ole chompers. Some make their vampires all about blood dripping fangs. But not Bela. He does this painful grimace as he bends over to bite his sleeping victim. Quick story, I allowed my boys to watch the Universal classics when they were little. I know parents who let their pre-teen kids watch modern slasher films or evil ghost demon slaughter fests. I can’t afford the therapy so I stuck to the black-n-whites. They were long outdated and harmless, but they still let my boys enjoy horror with their Dad. Anyway, the first time they saw the close-up of Bela with his twisted expression about to feast on his newest victim, my oldest boy yells out “Oh, Dracula’s got to find a bathroom fast!” So there’s another checkmark for Bela. He helped me potty train.
Christopher Lee was the next Dracula I knew. A few things had changed by the time Mr. Lee took over as the Prince of Darkness. First, I was obviously older when the Hammer films came out. I was at the age when I had to prove I was a big kid and nothing scared me. Add more blood and show me the fangs and the stake going into the vampire’s chest! I’d look at my buds or my Mom and laugh. Whatever. Then I’d hug the nearest pillow like it provided monster-proof protection. So at least on the surface, the Hammer films didn’t frighten me. Nope. Not at all and you can’t prove different.
The second fact was the Hammer films were filled with sexy lady vampires. I was also at an age where that added aspect became very noticeable. There were many scenes where Christopher Lee was not my primary focus. I apologize for nothing.
But possibly the biggest difference for me was I had begun to enjoy reading. Of course, Bram Stoker’s novel was one of the first on my list, along with Poe. And Tinky Winky, Dipsy and LaLa. I spent entire summer days diving into books. It gave me an endless new access to imagination and adventure. So poor Christopher Lee was met with far more ‘that’s not how Dracula is in the book…’ And I learned the book always trumps the movie.
The other problem with Christopher Lee is although he was incredibly powerful as Drac, and equally terrifying, I don’t remember him speaking. I think there were entire movies where he would only hiss or win in who-blinks-first. Losing dialogue gave such an insurmountable advantage to Bela. You can’t counter ‘I never drink…wine’ and ‘Listen to them, the creatures of the night. What music they make’ with angry mime and giving the vampire stink-eye to your foe. I like my Dracula delivering intellect and attitude through a thick Romanian accent.
One last negative against Mr. Lee and I almost hate to share it. There is a movie he was in called The Wicker Man. I admit here and now I probably won’t get the exact details right, but trust me, I don’t have to. He plays the mayor or whatever of a small community of pagans. A policeman is sent to uncover a possible murder. He spies Lee and the rest of the crazies as they’re going to an annual ritual. They’re marching single file through the woods wearing silly animal costumes and playing various drums, rattles and bells. Christopher Lee leads the conga line as he bangs a tambourine, skips then hops. Over and over again, all the way through the wilderness. I swear the scene takes ten minutes. It’s absolutely one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen and that includes experiencing Miss Utah live onstage wearing nothing but a feather boa while playing the tuba.
I should clarify that this wasn’t at a strip club. I would never go to such places, even in my younger days. I’m pretty sure this was at a church meeting. We were planning out various fund raisers for tons of charities. Yes, I’m sure of it now. It was at a church meeting.
Anyway, we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about Christopher Lee. He’s bouncing and frolicking across the countryside dressed as a rabbit or a chicken, whatever, slapping a tambourine like he’s taking a course in Davey Jones 101. You seriously must see The Wicker Man or at least find this scene on YouTube. It is the kind of video footage that would tank your Presidential campaign if your enemies found it. And I’m sorry, it cannot be unseen. I understand Mr. Lee was knighted. He was 6’5” and lived to be 93 years old. He served in the Royal Air Force and Special Forces during WWII and was decorated for distinguished service. As an actor, Lee was fully qualified to play the wicked count in Star Wars and Gandalf’s traitorous wizard boss in Lord of the Rings. But…Dracula, man. Dracula.
The next guy up was Frank Langella. He stepped into the role in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Dracula had been in mothballs for a while, not a relevant horror entity anymore, especially with the birth of the slasher film. Vampires needed a new spin and Hollywood delivered. I know even today people will argue with me, but their facelift forever damaged the legends. Langella is a great actor and he mastered the hypnotic stare and creepy grace required. But he also never met a shirt that could be buttoned up. Instead of fangs, we were introduced to pouty lips that would make Corey Hart swoon. Dracula was now a sex symbol.
Langella’s version created paranormal romance. And I know most women reading this are screaming “What’s wrong with that? Don’t you smack down my vampire lovers. I love you, True Blood hunks! Go Team Edward!” But as a vampire purist, paranormal romance put a stake in my heart. Then covered it with glitter. Yes, vampires have always seduced women. But they did it to create undead slaves to serve and worship them or they did it because they were hungry. Humans are cattle. Vampires eat us. Probably why they have the blood soaked fangs. Women are not supposed to be a vampire’s prom date or the newly assigned partner for the mysterious brooding detective who only works the night shift. Paranormal romance made the bottom fall out of thousands of years of vampire tales spanning across almost every culture in the world.
Thanks to the new spin, vampires were no longer monsters. They could only be Brad Pitt. Seriously, how difficult is it to surrender to Brad Pitt? Where is the dark evil magic in that seduction? It’s “Hi, I’m gorgeous” and boom, the tube top and Daisy Dukes are on the floor. You want power? Have the same result when your vampire looks like Carrot Top. No, the undead are not pretty people. But thank you very much, Frank Langella. Don’t even bother defending why Edward is five-thousand years old and still in high school. Is it common core math that’s giving him trouble? You’d think he’d hide his secret far better if he was home schooled. But then he would never have to battle a wolf boy/underwear model for Bella’s love. I understand. It doesn’t change why I sit in a dark room by myself, crying.
It was bound to happen. Despite valiant attempts by popular comics like Steve Nile’s 30 Days of Night and film series like Full Moon’s Subspecies, you can’t fight change. We grow up. We spin our fears into perceptions we can control. Even Bigfoot sells beef jerky now. And if I’m honest, Dracula was hedging his bets before Langella. I would be negligent if I didn’t mention two of my own favorites in the history of vampire lore. The Count taught me numbers. Ah ah ahhhh! And I started every morning with a big bowl of Count Chocula. Boo Berry just didn’t cut it for me.
I do need to mention Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. I think it was by far the most brilliant version ever made and I believe it will stand up decades from now. He paid tribute to the films before him and was most definitely faithful to so much in Stoker’s novel. It brought back the creepy someone-is-behind-you feelings and added new special effects that stunned us. (Although, I don’t dispute anyone who says the scariest part of the movie was Keanu Reeves’ English accent.) As Draculas go, Gary Oldman was perfect. All other actors played the Count straight through, whereas Oldman had to tackle several incarnations of Dracula. The origin story warrior, the top hat-wearing smooth foreign playa, the bat mutant and the old dude in the castle wearing the fancy bathrobe and the hairdo that looked like an octogenarian’s hiney. If I could recommend only one film to define vampires, especially Dracula, Coppola’s would be it.
I guess everyone brings something to the table when it comes to legends that span millenniums. It’s how they survive generation after generation. Bram Stoker took the folktales from the campfire and put them into popular novels. Dracula was a stage play before Universal studios kicked it to a whole new level by putting it on the silver screen. Anne Rice rebooted the genre when she created new rules, exploding onto the scene with Interview with the Vampire. People were reading books again and every Goth kid changed his name to Lestat. From Nosferatu to sparkly boy toys, one thing is definite. The blood sucking undead are here to stay. Writers like me will work hard to find the twist on the next vampires. Wish us luck. ‘Til then, I’ll keep staring at my Dracula poster before I drift off to sleep. Wondering who’s making that noise outside my window…

About the Author
Gregory L. Hall has a long history in comedy, theatre and improv. He is a national Telly Award winner and creator of the Baltimore Comedy Fest, which supported Autism Awareness. Many fans know Greg best as the host/producer of the popular live radio show The Funky Werepig.
As a writer his work has appeared over the decade in various publications, anthologies and a short story collection. His novels rarely stick to one genre, ranging from comedy and romance to intense thrillers and horror. His biggest claim to fame is he was once hugged by Pat Morita, Mr. Miyagi of The Karate Kid. We should pause an extra moment to realize how awesome that is.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of At the End of Church Street by Gregory L. Hall.