During the day, Isabelle Drake is a writing professor. I love teaching because its challenging and I love my students. They’re always interesting and fun. I learn more from them than they do from me. I’ve been writing erotic romance for about six years. I love that, too. It’s also challenging, but I get to use my creative side. Also, I don’t always know how the stories are going to end so I get to find out by writing them.
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I’m working on the next book in my Invitations series with Total-E-Bound and then I’ll be starting the book to follow Servicing the Undead with Ellora’s Cave. This year’s Author’s After Dark in Savannah will be my first time at this event, so I can’t wait.
This character interview is with Mattie, exotic dancer turned zombie, from Servicing the Undead, an erotic horror novel in Ellora’s Cave’s Shivers line. Mattie’s tribe of undead, instead of eating human flesh to survive, live off of sex with humans. They seek out humans to use as sex slaves and keep them, using them for sustenance, as long as possible. Once that slave no longer suits their needs, they release the slave find another.
Isabelle: Most people assume zombies become zombies against their will but the members of your tribe choose to turn into undead creatures by participating in a complex ritual. Why did you make that choice?
Mattie: I thought doing it would be exciting, you know, I could have as much sex as I wanted with pretty much anyone I wanted. The ritual not only turns us into undead, it also makes us strong. Really strong. Like I can climb walls with no ropes or hooks and can lift a grown man over my head. When I say that it sounds like I only care about kicking ass but it isn’t that. Sometimes we need to be that strong to get what we need. And being really strong gets me out of trouble.
Isabelle: Is being a zombie everything you hoped for?
Mattie: Do I have to answer all the questions?
Isabelle: You agreed to answer five.
Mattie: Whatever. I’ll go ahead and answer because if you break your promise and tell anyone what I said, I’ll squeeze your throat until you understand this whole thing was a really bad idea. No, it isn’t what I thought. Happy? Not that it matters that much, anyway. My life wasn’t going anywhere before. Just stripping, drinking, staying up all night trying to keep track of my brother, you know, keep him out of trouble. I’m the only person in the whole world looking out for him.
Isabelle: Who looks out for you?
Mattie: Nobody. I don’t need anyone.
Isabelle: That’s three. You have two more. Everyone has at least one dark secret, what’s yours?
Mattie: I want out. Out of the tribe, out of this life. I’d rather die than live this way.
Isabelle: How are you going to get out?
Mattie: If I knew that, I’d be out already wouldn’t I? I don’t have the slightest idea. But my current slave, Hayden the hot reporter, he has an idea. And I’m going to keep him around until he turns that idea into a solution. If I don’t kill him first, that is.
Hayden Thomas burst out of the Boston Public Library and charged face-first into the storm. Snowmaggeddeon—Boston’s worst snowstorm in a century. He’d almost forgotten it. But there it was, swirling and blowing in a fierce, icy blast that pretty much had the whole city at a standstill. The early December snow was heavy and deep, covering doorways and blocking windows. Smart people were at home, safely waiting for the city’s snowplows and salt trucks to take care of the mess in the streets and on the sidewalks. Hayden wasn’t smart like that. He was motivated. Or desperate. Why else would he have just spent hours digging through the library shelves for long-forgotten books about zombies while a blizzard raged outside?
After wrapping his itchy black wool scarf tightly around his neck, Hayden took the first careful step. Thick, wet snow sagged until his boot finally hit the concrete. Three slow, leaping strides later, he reached the landing of the low steps that led to Dartmouth Street, snow covered and silent. Moving one leg at a time, he made his way to the bottom, then continued in the direction of the Copley T Station at the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston. Once there, he paused, using his hand to shield his eyes. But there was nothing clearly visible on the horizon, only the blurry outlines of buildings obscured by endless snow. Not a single living person was out on the streets.
He kept moving, closer to Rachelle and farther away from that unbelievable scene he’d just been part of in Bates Hall, the library’s famously traditional room. What he’d done there among those rows of green desk lamps was anything but traditional. Sex, video, and a lie more believable than the truth.
The drifts of dense, untouched snow made walking difficult, and the cold air was beginning to pierce his lungs, making each breath a whisper of pain, but he moved on, slowly, steadily.
An unnatural mixture of light came from buildings, the moon and the eerie brightness of the unrelenting storm. The historic Old South Church was behind him on his right, stoic and solid. The garish light of a 7-Eleven blinked up ahead on the left, red, green and promising twenty-four-hour access to Slurpees, cigarettes and bullshit junk food. Even in the blizzard the contrast was jarring.
A shiver crept down Hayden’s stiffened spine, his back twitched. That scene at the library had started with an open window and swirls of fluffy, white snow. It seemed innocent enough—until the girl in the midnight-blue miniskirt and tattered fishnet tights climbed through, eyeing him from beneath a mass of brown-and-red hair. And then—
Hayden winced at the memory, forcing his gaze away from the church and his legs farther into Boston’s Back Bay. Of course there was nothing to see in that window—no girl with dark eyes, smudged with black eyeliner wool. Whatever sexual spell she’d cast over him had faded, and he was reconsidering his state of mind.
And, he realized, reconsidering the girl.
Her physical strength.
Her power over him.
Unable to stop himself, he glanced back, searching through the whipping snow, scanning the wall of the church, tracing the points of the Gothic arches until he spotted the window. It was still open, still swinging slightly, and still empty.
Clutching the straps of his backpack, he trudged on, concentrating on maintaining a smooth, steady rhythm. The few blocks to Commonwealth Avenue went quickly, and once he spotted the rows of lighted trees lining the boulevard, the tension in his spine eased, and the lingering anxiety lifted. Even muted by the heavy snow, the tiny white holiday lights brightened the fierceness of the blizzard, making it almost postcard pretty, instead of what it actually was—a monster of a storm that had choked the life out of the entire city.
Hayden lifted his scarf to cover his mouth and pull in a warm breath. The air filled his chilled lungs. Relax. He had a hot girl waiting for him and, thanks to an accidental video of him tangled up with an edgy-looking girl at the library, a bonus check on the way. Life—or at least that night—was damn near perfect.
That was his last thought before spotting a familiar pair of heavy black boots peeking out from beside the snow-heaped bushes lining the front of his brownstone. He didn’t need to run his gaze up the long, lean legs covered in tattered fishnets and see that nearly pointless miniskirt to know it was her sitting on the steps. He didn’t need to see because he felt.
The solid, booted feet swung in, disappearing. She’d be standing soon. Coming for him again. The air in Hayden’s lungs went cold and came out in a raw rush. Wind howled behind him, pushing him forward, propelling him. Same as when they’d been together in the library, her face was plain, her gaze scanning the area around them in quick sharp sweeps. But this time she wasn’t looking for just anyone. She was waiting for him.