Irvine Author Pens Vampire Trilogy to Cope with Grief

Photograph Courtesy of Robert Tomoguchi

Tell us about the Black Wax Vampire trilogy. 

In the first book, Orly is a 12-year-old girl who dying of leukemia, and she meets the character of Yelena (a vampire)  in the hospital. They form a bond, and Yelena essentially extends her life by turning Orly into a vampire … who is doomed to live forever in the body of a child. She grows into adulthood by the third book, (and) she’s already 23-years-old, but everybody still sees her as 12. 

Who inspired the creation of Orly? 

Orly was inspired by my friend Ashley Vargas, who illustrated a fairytale that I had written. Ashley, like Orly, had cancer, and she passed away in the hospital when she was 19. When she died that young, it scarred me pretty deeply. After her death, I came up with this story, and in a way, creating the Orly character was kind of a way to preserve my friend and let her keep living. 

What is “Scribbles of the Empress” about?  

The final book of the trilogy is largely about loss and Orly dealing with the grief she suffers from the people she’s lost. She’s had some people very important to her die, and she’s really having a hard time contending with the grief. 

As you’ve been writing this trilogy, have you faced any challenges? 

I had a period of five months where my depression got really bad. I was coming to the end of writing the series and having a hard time understanding that I was now going to lose Orly as well. Getting to the end of her series and knowing I have to say goodbye to her and move on, it felt like another loss I was grieving for, similar to the grief I feel over people who actually died. 

Throughout your journey as an author, who have been your biggest supporters? 

I think my biggest supporters with these books have definitely been my beta readers. They’re very committed, they receive lots and lots of pages, early drafts, and I send them questionnaires where they have to answer tons of questions. But I think in addition to my beta readers, my oldest sister is a very big support to me. She edits my work after I have a final draft, and I would also include my mother, who was probably the most excited for this new book to come out. The handful of readers who have reached out to me and written very thoughtful emails to me of how my books have affected them in positive ways, and the fact that I feel that I touch some of my readers emotionally in the way that they say I have, it’s very important to me to feel that what I’m doing matters a little bit.

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