I want to welcome Wynne Channing, possibly my hands-down favorite indie author, master-mind behind the What Kills Me series, and basically woman-extraordinaire, to The Bawdy Book Blog today!
Die-Hard Fashion: Style in Wynne Channing’s I Am Forever
“Vampires tend to dress as if they are going to funerals. Black, black, and mind- numbingly boring!” — Dresser Pavone in I Am Forever
My editor repeatedly asked me why the vampires in I Am Forever were so stylishly dressed. I thought: If you had infinite resources, stunning beauty and lived forever, how would you dress? How would you entertain yourself? How would you see yourself and how would you want the world to see you? I also wanted the clothing to be part of the story; I wanted it to reflect the emotions of the characters or their evolution. I started pinning images via Pinterest to create a style storyboard.
There are two different worlds in I Am Forever. The Monarchy and the rebellion. Dressing the Monarchy is an exercise in excess. The vampire Monarchy is all about appearances so what they wear is super important. They’re all about bling, glitz and glamour (and dressing them for a great big ball was so much fun).
In I Am Forever, the vampire empress welcomes my heroine, Zee, into the palace and places her as the supreme being. Zee gets dressed by Dresser Pavone, this fabulous ostentatious drag queen. (The dresser is named after a gorgeous Montreal label, PAVONI; I’ve caught several of their fashion shows during Toronto fashion week and their sparkling dresses are stunning.)
In the beginning, Pavone puts Zee in awkward, uncomfortable clothing in bright colors that make her stick out. I did this to mirror Zee’s fish-out-of-water experience.
Pavone had gotten me to change into a beaded blue dress with a stiff tulle skirt so that every time I shifted in my seat, it sounded like I was playing maracas. “I need to have a talk with Pavone. I look like a ballet-dancing Smurf.”
As Pavone gets to know her and as Zee feels more at ease with the Monarchy, her style changes. But for her unveiling ceremony, she had to look “god-like.” I put her in head-to-toe gems.
Pavone reached down and started pulling out what I thought was a necklace, but the strings of jewels kept coming. It was a sheet of shimmering stones. They caught the light and projected dancing stars on the walls… The maids helped her lay the jeweled cloak against my body, the weight of the gems startling me and dragging my shoulders down.
The empress is gorgeous. Bad ass. And manipulative. When she first meets Zee, she wears a gauzy white dress to soften her look.
The Empress, a thin, ethereal figure in a long- sleeved white gown, stood at the top of a spiral staircase. As she descended, the train of her dress spilled over each step like foamy water.
But mostly, the Empress’s wardrobe is a reflection of the powerful leader that she is. She wears metallics to symbolize armor. She also mixes sultry body-hugging and revealing silhouettes with more masculine pant-suits.
[The Empress] wore a skintight, sequined silver dress with an intricate pattern of gold jewels on the front; it looked like she was wearing a medieval suit of armor.
The vampires are also timeless so there is a strangeness to their style. — Her stiff silver dress resembled a piece of origami folded around her body. — She had on brown-leather finger gloves, so it looked like she had dipped only half of her hands in chocolate. As for the rebels in I Am Forever, they hate the Monarchy. They live among humans in big cities and so they dress more urban and more…like us. They’re also always ready for a fight so it’s easier to strap weapons to your pants/jacket, rather than a sequined dress.
Read an Excerpt
Axelia. It was a whisper. A hiss. Ax-eee-liaaa. Louder. Raspy. From the corner of the room. I sat up and blinked but saw only black. Lucas? It called my name again, this time from the foot of my bed. Oh my God. I froze. “Who’s there?” In the darkness something reached out and grabbed my leg, nails piercing my flesh. The agony shocked me. I screamed and struggled like an animal crushed in a steel trap. It was neither vampire nor human. It was slimy, oozing blood and some other rancid liquid. I choked on the putrid stink of rotting meat. I shrieked and kicked it in the face. The jagged edges of its fangs sliced my heel. I rolled sideways, fell from the bed, and hit the floor. My bloody feet slipped as I tried to skid away. But the creature was on me, snarling, dragging me by my feet toward its mouth. Then I saw its eyes. Yellow. Filmy. Their black centers bleeding at the edges. The creature snapped at my face. “NO!” I put my fingers in its mouth and it sank its teeth down to the bone. With a cry I tore its jaw off. It didn’t even scream, just reeled away. I scrambled back against a dresser, and a lamp smashed and fell to the ground. Still blind, I felt around until my hand closed around a shard of glass. I stood and the creature crashed into me, a storm of claws and teeth. As we slammed into the wall, it stabbed its talons into the back of my shoulders, the pain hot and intense. I drove the shard in between its ribs. We fell together. Laughter. I heard a low, hoarse cackle and when I looked toward the sound, I saw eyes. Blood red. And then they were gone. The monster was shaking me. It was talking. No. It had Lucas’s voice. Lucas. Suddenly, there was light. Lucas was crouched over me and I was twisted under him, mid-struggle. What? What’s going on? “Zee! Stop!” Lucas shouted. “Stop. You’re all right.” “Where is it?” I cried. “Where did it go?” “Calm down. You were dreaming.” “No, th-there was something in my room. Where is it?” “You were having a nightmare, my lady,” Uther said. He clutched the belt of his robe, eyes wide. A row of soldiers stood beside him, their gloved hands on the handles of their swords. “What…?” I blinked to clear the fog in my head. Lucas rose and helped me to my feet. Then he staggered back. He had blood on his hands. “Lucas, you’re bleeding!” “I’m fine.” I rubbed my eyes. “What happened?” Wincing, Lucas lifted his shirt and seemed to yank at the skin on his abdomen; he threw a piece of glass to the ground. The shard of glass. I put that in the monster. The monster is Lucas? No, wait. “Oh my God,” I whispered. “Did I do that to you?” “Yes.” “In my sleep?” “Yes.” “I’m so sorry.” “Don’t worry about it.” “I swear, there was something in my room and then someone else who was watching. I heard them. I felt them.” I reached around to rub my shoulder, searching for bloody punctures. No wound. I looked down at my rumpled dress, stained with sweat. I turned my hands over and searched for scratches. “There was something here. It was so real.” A chunk of the bed frame had splintered off. Chairs and tables were overturned. One of the doors had come off its hinges. Water from the vase, now broken, dribbled from the table to the floor. “Did I do all this?” “You had some help,” Lucas said. Uther nodded. “The swordsmith and the maids tried to wake you from your nightmare.” Oh no. “Did…did I hurt them?” “They will be all right,” Uther replied. Under the light the confusion dissipated and guilt swept in. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Lucas, are you okay?” “I’ve healed already, so don’t give it another thought.” I put my hands up as if I was facing a squadron of armed officers. “Sorry, everyone.” “Please leave us,” Uther ordered. The Aramatta filed out without a second glance. I plucked a few feathers stuck to my clothing. A cushion had been gutted and its fluffy innards were strewn all over the bed and floor. Lucas placed a hand on my still trembling shoulder. His fingers touched where the creature had pierced me with its nails. “You were stuck in a very bad dream, my lady,” Uther said. “I’ve never had a nightmare like that before,” I said. “Usually I dream that I’m horribly late for a final exam and I can’t find the classroom. But there were monsters. One was attacking me and biting me and I couldn’t get away. It was so real.” The creature’s fetid blood still lingered in my nose. It made me nauseous. I sank down onto the once-beautiful bed. “You’ve also never been through the kind of trauma that you’ve experienced,” Uther said. “I’m not making a good case for myself, am I? Being a house guest from hell.” “My lady, the Monarchy is only concerned with your safety and well-being.” “Thanks, Uther.” “Try to get some rest, my lady.” “Yeah, I’ve given up the whole sleeping thing. It’s overrated.” “I will return shortly. If there is anything you need, just call for one of the maids.” “I don’t know how eager they’ll be to come in here after what’s happened.” “We are all here to serve,” Uther said with a bow before leaving. “I’m not,” Lucas said. He sat on the bed beside me. “But apparently I’m here to be your pin cushion.” “I’m so sorry.” “I’m teasing you.” I raked my fingers through my hair. “What happened?” “You fell asleep while the cleric was trying to convince me to give you space. I refused and ended up resting on the couch in your room. Then you started sleepwalking and screaming.” “I was standing up?” “Yes, you threw a maid through the door.” “Seriously?” “Yes. And anyone who touched you.” “Were my eyes open?” “Yes.” “Then what did you do?” “I tried to wake you.” “Then I stabbed you?” “Well, you did that after.” “After what?” “After a struggle. Let’s just say that I learned very quickly that I could never fight you.” I slapped my hands to my face. I wanted to fold into myself and disappear. I’m dangerous. This is partly why the Monarchy hunted me in the first place. They feared that I would be out of control and murderous. The Empress would have something to say about this. Maybe this was enough proof that I could not be free. “Don’t beat yourself up over this.” Lucas pulled my hands away from my face. “You’ve done enough beating up today,” he added with a wink. “Seriously. I hit something so hard that my hand was sore.” He slid his thumb into my palm and massaged my hand. “You’re all right?” he asked. “Mmhmm,” I murmured. I turned my hands to feel him trace my skin with his fingertips. He grazed the inside of my wrist and the pleasure radiated up my arm and into my core. “Thanks for waking me up,” I said. “Thanks for not killing me in your sleep.” “That’s not even funny.” “They have cameras in your room. You could probably ask to see the whole thing.” “No, I’d rather pretend it didn’t happen. Hey…I didn’t…I didn’t pull off anyone’s lower jaw, did I?”
Axelia fought an army of vampires and survived. Once fated as the destroyer of the vampire race, she is now welcomed into the immortal empire and revered as a god.\r\n\r\nBut instead of relishing her victory, she faces a dangerous new world and an empire at war. Axelia is thrust into the position of supreme vampire and caught in the crossfire of battle. To make matters worse, her role alienates Lucas, the one vampire that she trusts.\r\n\r\nHer choices have brutal consequences and her power spawns evil enemies. And they know how to get to her — by hurting those whom she loves most.\r\n\r\nBestselling author Wynne Channing's highly-anticipated sequel to What Kills Me is another heart-pounding thrill ride filled with stunning twists, tragic betrayal and bloody action.