Dallas Dunlap is an economist, college instructor and independent novelist. He lives in west central Florida.
The Narvaez County of my books is a rapidly growing rural county north of the Tampa Bay area. It is inhabited by normal people of the sort you would see every day. In other words, the good guys aren't always good and the bad guys aren't always bad. And, people are smarter than they appear.
My first book, The Cabin,starts in August, 2001, and tells what happens when three teenagers suddenly reappear after having been missing for a year and a half. At the instigation of the father of one of the young women, Sheriff Bob Kessler starts an investigation. As his investigation becomes more and more complex, Kessler finds that the power structure of the county is not as it seems. And he finds that what he had written off as a tall tale was, in reality, a case of accidentally discovered time travel...in a time machine that sweeps up additional people as he investigation progresses.
As one reader put it: "I like this story. It's winding."
My next book, The Food, takes place about ten years later, near the present day. It follows the development of Tampa grad student Michael Dalton. Trapped in the post recession economy and rapidly running out of money, he fears that he is doomed to a frustrated unsuccessful life. But he finds the secret to life extension - as a vampire.
I don't romanticize the vampires.They still are recognizably human but are also vicious self-centered monsters. The police, unaware of the existence of the vampire "Community," see Michael Dalton as simply a serial killer. But when Dalton arrives in Narvaez County he runs up against the Narvaez County Sheriff's
We meet Paul McCready,a wounded Iraq War
veteran who still has constant pain in his leg and a
personality warped by his experiences. He heads the
Criminal Investigations Division, which makes him
the second ranking officer after the Sheriff.
And we meet my favorite character, Donna
Parker. She is blonde, beautiful, and sexually experienced. But she is also educated and very good at her job. She takes the hunt for the serial killer to the limit. On her own time, she is sexually submissive but she goes after the man she wants, the steely and taciturn Captain McCready. Much of The Food and the subsequent books Blood Spirit: Book One and Book Two and The Sheriff deal with the development of the strange relationship between Donna Parker and Paul McCready.
In the four McCready-Donna Parker novelsI don't stint on the sex and violence. We skate right to the edge of erotic literature, while the violence is graphic and realistic.
In The Food andthe subsequent novels we explore the existence of a dream world - or set of worlds - that the characters call the Miasma. In Blood Spirit the Miasma is an important setting as the characters realize that they have a shared existence there. Paul McCready and Donna Parker, in particular, find their roles in the Miasma bleeding into their real world relationship.
So that's what I'm offering: The vampire story as a police procedural. Plus a multi-volume love story about a strong, aggressive, but sexually submissive woman and the powerful but damaged man who slowly learns to fully accept her. And realistically drawn characters who continue and grow from the sunny adventure of The Cabin to the much darker story of Michael Dalton and his adversaries in the Sheriff's Department.
when I was actually studying the art: (Scroll past this down for excerpt from The Food.).
When the sky is grey and clouded, probed only by the sun,
And the smokestack probes into the sky like the barrel of a gun,
The snowflakes flutter flimsily and splatter on the ground.
All you can see is the city and the people aren't around.
There is no light but the smothered sun whose rays catch on the smoke.
The vapors curling endlessly. You wonder why you woke
Into the morning of the night, the hollow stagnant mist,
Which wets your eyes and stings your face, a frozen insect's kiss.
You listen in the silence and you hear the water fall,
The whispering, faint howling, the kitten's morning call.
You cup your hand upon your ear - your hand is cold as stone -
You hear the voices of the dead and you ask "Am I alone?"
The visions seize you briefly and you struggle with the sight
Of the woman you caressed into the middle of the night.
A leaf tumbles silently, a golden apparition,
Last of its kind, from nowhere, it survived the dark partition.
White glaciers, eating mountains, crawl toward you from the pole
As you say unto the mastodon, "Have mercy on my soul,"
As he shovels out the river with teeth the size of books
He stutters explanations in his answer to your looks.
Then, spitting mud he lumbers into the mist below
To leave you wishing he would come, for you have no place to go.
Sleep is a fragrant whisper, which tempts you to a crime.
You wander, counting footsteps, for you've lost your sense of time.
Once young insolence and wind-blown hair
Spoke to the crowd of friends and lookers-on.
But now they sit with blank and empty stare
And stay to say, when all the rest are gone
That there is yet a cause, a cause to sit
A cause for which the rest have yet to stand.
White faced and gaunt and vowing not to quit,
Determination shown on vein swelled hand
They silently, with malice, state their case.
Like living tombstones on the hallway floor
They bring uneasy guilt, not quite disgrace,
To those who pass unmoved through office doors.
"What's your twenty?"
"Fifty east and Idlewild."
"Be ten fifty-one to the truck route. Be advised: Citizen complains that a motorist has stopped and grabbed a
white female pedestrian and taken her into the unfinished strip mall just north of the Assemblies of God Church.
"Ten-four. I'm fifty-one."
McCready was driving his cruiser north on the truck route. He had the church in sight.
He picked up the mike and keyed it. "Narvaez three."
"I have the location in sight. I'll be responding from the truck route."
"Ten four. Thirty-six and twelve, continue as backup."
McCready pulled to a stop in front of the parked car. He backed up until his cruiser was less than two feet from
the other car's bumper. Donna Parker, who was following in her Jeep, knew the drill. She boxed the car in from the rear.
McCready grabbed his Glock from the car seat. He already had his .357 in his shoulder holster. He took out his
six cell Mag Lite and rested the length of it on his shoulder so that he could use it as a club if necessary. In his right
hand he held his Glock, with his elbow tucked against his side to make it hard for an assailant to take his gun.
He played the light along the length of the shopping center. The smaller storefronts were all boarded up. But
there was one store where no plywood covered the front window.
McCready entered the empty store by simply stepping through the gaping opening.
McCready took a deep breath and played the light around what would have been the sales floor. Nothing. This
call was very similar to the situation in which Bubba James and Danny Rubin had lost their lives. There was a high
probability that this was the same subject. No hesitation. Shoot first, ask questions later. McCready was sure that
he could do it. He'd been modest in that long ago conversation with the Sheriff. McCready had killed more than a
He never hesitated.
There was nobody on the sales floor. On the other side of this huge room was an opening that led to what would
have been the back offices of this putative store. McCready's heart thumped as he stepped through the oversized
Another enormous room. Later on, if the store ever opened, McCready realized, this area would be framed off
into offices, perhaps a break room, and, of course, an inventory storage area. He played his light around the
enormous enclosure. Cinder block walls, a large open window, a boarded up opening to what would be the loading
ramp. Another large window. And a tall man, holding a woman.
McCready crept to within twenty feet of the couple. Neither of them reacted. Then McCready saw the black blood
trickling down the woman's leg. "FREEZE!" he commanded. He dropped the light and brought hs gun up to fire.
McCready staggered backward as the vampire's rage slammed into him like a rogue wave. Before he could react,
he felt the air leave his lungs in a loud cough as some force slammed into his chest. He was conscious that he had
been launched into the air. He felt the clunk as his head hit the concrete wall, felt himself drop and land on his ass.
He saw the vampire staring at him from thirty feet away and he suddenly knew what he was up against. He tried to
move his arm, but the weight of his hand was too great. He was surprised when his field of vision started to narrow.
He had no capacity to think or feel anything by the time his visual field shrank to a tiny blob of light, and then
Donna Parker felt a range of emotions all at the same time. First, she was scared shitless. She'd seen what some-
body had done to Bubba James and Danny Rubin. She didn't know how anything human could have wrecked someone
as Bubba had been wrecked. That broke her confidence that she was a heavily armed policewoman in control of the
situation. Part of her felt like whimpering.
At the same time, she was seriously pissed at McCready for not waiting for her. She trailed him into the open
storefront. She was deployed as he had been, Mag Lite on her shoulder, pistol tucked close to her body. But she
didn't turn on her light. There was a street lamp outside and she could see McCready's flashlight through the door
way. She she decided to let her eyes adjust.
When McCready's light vanished and she heard him shout, she crept to the doorway, waited a few seconds, and
stepped through it. She didn't bring her weapon up with two hands. She kept her hold on the flashlight and the firearm close to her body.
She saw a shadow moving rapidly toward her. She turned on the flashlight.
The vampire was well adapted to darkness but he was now suddenly blinded. He held up both hands to protect his
eyes. Donna fired her handgun. Once. The sound came back as a rattling echo. Then again and again, making her
ears ring. After the third shot she dropped her light, brought the pistol up into a two handed position and opened
fire, one shot after another.
She would later discover that she had fire ten shots before the subject turned and headed for the window. She
fired one more into his back as he faded into shadow. She would have emptied her firearm except that she didn't
know McCready's position in the darkness.
little AA siz mini-Mag. She shined the light round the room and saw McCready sprawled on the floor behind her,
one leg straight, one bent. His head rested in a small pool of blood. In front of her was the civilian woman, flat on
her back, lying in what seemed a vast lake of red, Donna felt her jaw tremble, felt queaziness deep in her abdomen.
She felt woozy as though she were going to faint.
"Get your shit together, Donna," the stern voice said. She was startled back to alertness.
"Don't worry about him. He's breathing. The blood is probably from a scalp laceration. The scalp is very vascular
He has a head injury. You can't help him now. The woman, on the other hand, is bleeding to death."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," Donna mumbled.
Donna didn't think. She unbuttoned her uniform shirt, took it off, and wrapped it around her hand. She knelt
beside the woman and applied pressure to the neck wound.
She took one hand off the woman and keyed the shoulder mike on her portable. "Narvaez Five, Dispatch.'
"Go ahead, Five."
Donna felt like screaming. Tears were already streaming down her face. But she remembered Bill Anders and his
near hysterical call to Dispatch after he'd found her wounded. I've got to do better than that.
"Roll two EMS units. I have an officer and a civilian down, both critical. Also roll armed backup The subject is in
foot in the area, armed and dangerous. He exited to the back of the buildings."
"Ten four. All units in the area proceed to the strip mall north of the Assemblies of God church. Narvaez Five,
This time, Donna couldn't hold it. Her voice broke as she answered. "We'll need medevac for both victims. "I
have an unconscious white female approximate age thirty-five with severe blood loss from a laceration to the neck.
and Narvaez Three is unconscious on the floor with an apparent head injury."
For a few seconds there was silence. Then she heard Lori Collins on the radio. "Oh, Donna, honey, I'm so sorry."
Donna gasped and tears flooded out. She choked back a sob, wiped her face with a bloody hand, and responded.
"That's ten-thiry traffic, Lori. Just get me some help here."