Monday, February 22, 2010

Meet Heather Brewer and Vladimir Tod, a Teen Vampire Who Doesn't Sparkle -- Or Suck

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge It's here! And if you don't know why you should be excited, you need to have a chat with a seventh grader right now. - IMAGE SOURCE
  • Image source
  • It's here! And if you don't know why you should be excited, you need to have a chat with a seventh grader right now.
If the words "teen vampire" make you recoil, here is some comforting news: Vladimir Tod does not sparkle. Some less comforting news: the recent entry in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Eleventh Grade Burns, just made its debut at number five on the New York Times bestseller list. It owes this achievement to an army of eager fans known as "minions", most of whom are in junior high.

You can find out what the hype is about tonight at 7 p.m. when Vlad's creator, St. Louis writer Heather Brewer, will be reading at the St. Louis County Library headquarters.

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod started with Eighth Grade Bites and will finish with Twelfth Grade Kills, out in August. "Vlad will always be young," Brewer says. "I don't think a sixth grader would relate to college. Also," she adds with a cackle, "what if he died?"

Brewer is 36, though she says that in her mind, she's eternally 16. She is small and energetic and has black and purple hair. She decided early on that she wanted minions, not fans because "minons are a hoard. They get stuff done." The minions call her "Auntie Heather."

"I'm not their friend and I'm not exactly a role model," she explains, "but they listen to me." She issues orders from her website -- mostly encouraging them to buy more Vlad books -- and keeps them apprised of her publishing schedule. (She also describes in great detail how she got her purple hair but urges the minions to consult their parents before ordering the dye off the internet.)

She began the first Vlad book four years ago when she decided she would write about things she knew. These turned out to be being a teenager, getting bullied and vampires. (She read Dracula for the first time at age 12, the start of a lifelong obsession.) Suddenly a vision popped into her head of a boy with fangs.

Vlad is, technically, only a half-vampire, the first, and maybe only, of his kind. In the vampire community, known as Elysia, intermarriage is a serious crime punishable by death. "Their society is really messed-up," Brewer explains. To avoid execution, Vlad's parents fled with him to the small town of Bathory where his vampire father successfully passed for human. All was happy and idyllic until the older Tods were killed in a mysterious fire when Vlad was ten.

Now Vlad lives with his mother's best friend, a human nurse named Nelly who keeps him supplied with rare steak and blood she brings home from the hospital. (Vlad favors Type AB, particularly mixed with chocolate.) The only other person who knows his secret is his best friend Henry.

The series chronicles Vlad's quest to learn more about his parents and his vampire heritage while avoiding the bullies at school and emissaries from the Elysia who want to kill him for being half-human.

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