HOW TO SPOT MODS AND ROCKERS – Or Fantasy and Real World Events
Firstly, thank you Roxanne for having me on your blog!
My name’s Rosemary A Johns. I’m a traditionally published short story writer and playwright and today my debut novel Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is published.
It’s out now at: http://getbook.at/BloodDragonsKindle
Vampires? So…what’s with the real world events? In fact Blood Dragons is urban fantasy, so they’re as real as they come. I also studied history at Oxford University, so I’d kick myself if I got the research wrong (I don’t mean that figuratively either).
Fantasy – especially alternative history – is often set amongst the real world. I love that. The contrast between the fantastical and the everyday. The idea that at any moment you could turn a corner and discover the supernatural exists. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series has that power. But most childhood fantasy books do as well. We just forget it as adults.
Blood Dragons explores a hidden paranormal world in London, where vampires are both predator and prey. It’s a story of redemption and love in a divided world beneath our own. Blood Lifers are a camouflaged species, who use venom to paralyse and mimic heart attacks in First Lifers (humans). Yet they fear the First Lifers they prey on. Until one Blood Lifer rebels – against his family, species and century old love - to save both their species.
The beauty of vampires – for a historian – is you get to play with different time periods. Light (my main Blood Lifer) was born a Victorian – so that’s over 150 years. But the other Blood Lifers were elected in different eras: including the Elizabethan. Now that’s a fun character.
One of the real world events in Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is the Battle of Brighton. This clash between the two rioting tribes of Mods and Rockers kicked off in May 1964.
Thought rioting on the streets (or the beaches in this case) was a modern day problem? Or gangs based on what blokes wore, listened to or the motorbikes they rode? Or that this didn’t happen in Britain?
These two British youth subcultures – or folk devils as the media and anyone over 30 seemed to label them – sparked a panic. Nothing’s new. Every generation fears the next one. Politicians and media both fanned the flames long past the original brutal weekends.
Here’s a checklist of how to spot a Mod:
1. Rides a Vespa or Lambretta motorbike – plastered in mirrors and mascots, of course.
2. Loves Ska music and The Who.
3. Couldn’t be smarter if his mum had dressed him – designer Italian suits and Parka jackets. Although the coshes and flick-knives would not make mum happy.
Checklist of how to spot a Rocker:
1. Rides a classic British motorbike - like a Triumph – without a helmet. That would mess up the pompadour hair.
2. Loves the early and great rock ‘n’ rollers – Gene Vincent and Billy Fury.
3. Smart? Who’d want to be smart? I’ve got leathers, motorcycle boots and attitude. Enough said. Oh, and don’t forget the bike chain…for fighting.
Light and his Blood Lifer love Ruby are often caught up in real world events, as they are at Brighton. For example, during the First World War. Brighton, however, is a turning point.
Light reinvents him. He takes on the persona of a Rocker.
‘Whilst Ruby was dressing, I strolled naked to the mirror, grabbing the Brylcreem and comb as I passed; I shaped my hair up with them into a pompadour. I grinned, modelling my latest look for Ruby, like a mannequin.
‘My own Billy Fury,’ Ruby smiled, catching me close and hard against her, for one long moment.
I loved this new age, freedom, music, clobber…
Our weekend had resurrected me once more into Blood Life. I needed a fragment of it to wear as a second skin, in case I forgot who I was again.
I dragged out jeans and a black t-shirt from the dead bloke’s suitcase - just my size.
Ruby was watching me with narrowed peepers.
I wrenched the tall motorcycle boots off the Rocker, who’d started to soften down the path of decay; he’d already passed the rigor mortis, which had comically stiffened him all day – they’d do.
An arm at a time, I heaved off his motorcycle jacket, which was studded and decorated with a gold Ace of Spades on the back.
‘You’re a rebel now?’ Ruby assessed me, transformed into head-to-toe Rocker.
‘I was always a rebel,’ I lit up, striking the match against the wall with a smile, ‘just got me some new threads.’ ’
(Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)
Light also nicks a motorbike – classic British. What else? A Triton. ‘A sodding scarlet slash of beauty. 650cc Triumph twin-cylinder engine in a Norton ‘slimline’ Featherbed frame - and my bloody god.’
(Rebel Vampire Volume 1: Blood Dragons)
And another benefit of real world fantasy? You discover things you love. Like motorbikes. And leather jackets. And… OK, vampires aren’t real. But if they were…
The 1960s were an extraordinary time. Like a world bursting to life. What time in history would you set a novel if you could? And what would you most like to read?
And if you want to know what that Battle of Brighton was like…here’s a brief excerpt:
MAY 1964 BRIGHTON, ENGLAND
‘ ‘By heaven, look at these ruffianly roaring boys. This is it - your tonic - to get back into the fray. The blood and heat of it.’
I’d nicked a bright red Jaguar E-Type (beautiful little number), and we’d tonned it up to the coast for Whitsun Bank Holiday. Yet now we’d found ourselves caught in a war between two gangs.
A Mod in smart Italian suit and fish-tailed Parka sped past us on his Lambretta Li150, only to be blocked by a wall of hard men Rockers, in dirty motorcycle jackets, who were swinging heavy bike chains. The poor git was dragged away by his lapels, like a fancy sacrificial offering to the gods of leather.
‘What do they want?’
Ruby shrugged. ‘What do First Lifers ever want? Question is, what do we want?’
I hesitated, before grinning. ‘The Bedlam. To revel in the madness, like we used to. I want--’
That’s when Ruby kissed me. She hauled me close, as her tongue thrust deep, like she’d only just discovered me again after a long absence: I realised she only just had. When she drew back, we were both smiling. ‘To live in the world again?’
Screams? The shattering of glass? Curling smoke on the night air?
I was bloody alive once more.
Ruby and I swaggered through the shadowed streets, towards the promenade and Palace Pier - her in crimson silk, me in military Great Coat - two creatures from another world and time, unnoticed by these petty First Lifers because we weren’t painted in the colours of their tribe. We twirled each other round, dancing in the carnage and the flames.
Mods fleeing, with gashes on their foreheads, their coats flapping behind them. Couples sprawled under the stars, on a beach where the pebbles met the sea, as turned on by the violence and danger as any Blood Lifer, pretending to be oblivious to a ring of Mods, who were kicking a curled foetus of a Rocker bloody with their sharp winklepickers. Deckchairs smouldering in orange bonfires, which lit a town prowled by leather clad kids on Triton motorbikes.
Flick-knives, coshes, knuckle-dusters…
Here’s the thing, the deadliest weapon of all? It was this type of wild confusion, which was like a force of nature. The quick change from predator to prey and back again, in the turn of a corner.’
(Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)
Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is out now.
Buy it at: http://getbook.at/BloodDragonsKindle
To pre-order Rebel Vampires Volume 2: Blood Shackles click: http://getbook.at/BloodShackles
Blood Shackles is released in November. Welcome to the Blood club – where the predators become the prey…
Rebel Vampires Volume 3: Blood Renegades is out spring 2017. Light has only two weeks to give his witness, on trial for his life, before he’s burnt at the stake – because who wants to hear the truth?
Thanks again Roxanne for having me on your blog – it’s been great!
Rosemary A Johns
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Fantasy Rebel Limited
Date of Publication: 14th August 2016
Large Print Edition:
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: JD Smith
There are three people in this affair – and two of them aren’t human…
A hidden paranormal London lies beneath our own. Escape into the supernatural world of the Blood Lifers – where vampires are both predator and prey.
1960s London. Light is a rebel Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. And a Triton motorbike. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. Both predator and prey. His venom is deadly. He feeds on blood. Human, of course. But when he discovers his ruthless family’s horrifying secret experiments, he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared.
Ruby is a sexy but savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer. She burns with a destructive love for Light. But he’s keeping something from her. Something that breaks every rule in Blood Life. When she discovers the truth, things take a terrifying turn.
Kathy is a seductive singer. But she’s also human. Light knows his passionate love for her is reckless but he’s enchanted. Yet such a romance is forbidden. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.
What dark revelations will Light reveal at the heart of the experiments? Will he be able to stop them in time? The consequences of failure are unimaginable. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.
A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.
*EXCLUSIVE LIMITED-TIME OFFER*
Special launch price ONLY $0.99 for five days from 14th to 18th August
About the Author:
ROSEMARY A JOHNS is a traditionally published author of short stories under the name R. A. Johns. Blood Dragons is Rosemary A Johns’ debut novel.
Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as "uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life"), and worked with disability charities. When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires