By Vickie L. Holt
“Vengeance is Mine” is a full length novel in the form of a fanzine. It is based on the 1990’s Canadian television series, Forever Knight, which was a show about a vampire homicide cop. During the show’s third season, I had an idea for an episode, and began writing it after having sent the show’s producers a query letter. Unfortunately, the third season was the last for the show, and all the episodes had already been filmed.
Soon afterward, however, I heard news that Berkley/Boulevard Books had signed a contract with the corporation that owned the show (Sony) for a novel series to be published. The original contract was for three novels, and if they sold well, the contract would be renewed and the series would continue. While waiting for the three novels to be released and the contract to be renewed, I finished writing my manuscript – as did several other authors also hopeful of having their stories published in the series. As it turned out, the three original books – written by staff writers – did sell well, yet the contract was still dropped.
After many faxes and correspondence with Sony, I discovered that it was actually Berkley/Boulevard that had dropped the contract, and that Sony was willing to grant publishing rights to other companies. Six months later, however, I received a fax from Sony stating that the decision had been made to discontinue any and all merchandising for “Forever Knight”, and so my novel was seemingly a dead piece.
However, I condensed the line spacing and point size of the text of my manuscript and bound it by hand in a very informal fanzine format. Hungry “Forever Knight” fans embraced the story, and many copies have sold around the world. I couldn’t bear the thought of having spent so much time and done so much work, only to have no one ever read it.
However, the response has been amazing. Here are some comments emailed to me by fans that purchased the fanzine-novel:
“In the immortal words of one of my favorite characters…’man oh man’…there is so much going on in my head about your book that it’s hard to put it all into appropriate words. First, thank you. I loved it!…”
“Wow! So far, it’s been great! Very true to the series, with just the right amount of fannish stuff…”
“Vickie, I received your book yesterday. You’ve done an excellent job; I’m totally impressed! I started reading it and can’t wait to continue.”
“I enjoyed your very exciting story. I don’t understand why it was not published. I am telling others to read it, too.”
“I just got your book in the mail. I’m about half-way through it. I love it and just wanted you to know how great I think it is.”
“Just finished ‘Vengeance is Mine.’ I really loved it. I have some friends begging to borrow it. Not a chance.”
“The book arrived today. I’m already half way through it – love it!!!”
“I finished reading your FK novel about a week ago, and have not stopped raving about it in every FK chat room I am in. I have never been a fan of Tracy or Screed, and I was disappointed to learn that because it took place in the third season, that I would not have the character of Schanke to read about. Therefore, I went into reading this novel with tremendous reservations. Boy, was I ever pleasantly surprised to be drawn into the story before I turned the second page! I couldn’t put it down! I felt as if I were watching a new episode. …There were several times as I read the story that I laughed out loud. I enjoyed your subtle humor.”
“I enjoyed the story! The tension and suspense was good and the characters believable.”
And finally, here is a review, written by (then) literary critic for the Roanoke Times and World News Newspaper, Angela Williams:
Holt has taken up the threads of a cancelled television series and woven a strong, powerful tapestry.
In this tightly plotted mystery, Nicholas Knight faces not only human devils, but nuances of his own vampire nature that threaten to cut him off from his mortal friends.
Knight and his homicide detective partner, Tracy Vetter, are on the trail of drugs and murder on Toronto, Canada. Complicating matters considerably are Tracy’s imperious father, Police Commissioner Vetter, and a strange murderous compulsion that threatens to destroy Knight.
The subtle undercurrents of the story deepen what could have been paper-thin characters. “Forever Knight” was first conceived as a comic book, and the unevenly executed stories often sacrificed character development to action.
Holt, however, brings insight and depth to the psychologically intriguing premise of FK, as it is known to its fans. In the end, all of the plotlines as well as the trademark flashback sequences are prismatic reflections of the same theme – the struggle to achieve equilibrium within relationships based on power and control. Tracy reaches understandings with the two men who are stifling her own personal growth – the vampire Vachon, and her overbearing father. Knight has to establish yet another level of compromise with the vampire within – the source of his primal conflict. All of the peripheral characters, even those obviously meant as foils for the main story, exemplify the successes and failures of human attempts to manipulate and use one another.
There are a lot of nice touches in this impressive first novel. Minor characters are not simply tossed in for effect, but contribute substantially to the development of the story. Holt moves the action along in spare, clear prose with the occasional wistful pause for a bit of the poetry in the souls of her characters to be revealed.
Fans of the television series will be completely happy with LaCroix’s oily musings, Vachon’s whimsy and Knight’s intensity. Natalie continues true and unwavering in her complicated role as Knight’s only mortal confidante and Tracy finally grows up a little.
Holt’s take on Screed, however, is worth the price of the book.
This fanzine sells for very little above cost, and no profit is made. Forever Knight, its characters and situations are the property of Sony Pictures.
And here is an excerpt from the end of Chapter One and the beginning of Chapter Two. The scene is the crash that sets the story into motion, and the vampire, Vachon’s, psychic reaction at the same moment:
There was a bus in the lane ahead, and she sped up to pass it. She checked her mirror and saw that the blue car had also picked up speed and was close on her bumper. Without signaling, she cut in front of the bus and pulled her gun from its holster. The blue car also passed the bus, but made no move to follow her into the other lane.
She sighed. It was only a guy who happened to be going in the same direction, and he didn’t want to be stuck behind a bus any more than she did.
She placed the gun in the passenger seat along with the packages from the engraver’s shop and eased off of the gas pedal. As she slowed down, however, the blue car moved up beside her on the left. She smiled at the handsome blond driver, feeling guilty for thinking he’d been following her.
He smiled back…then jerked the steering wheel sharply to the right.
The sudden impact sent Tracy’s car hurtling toward the shoulder. Inside, she had only a moment to realize what was happening before being thrown sideways into the passenger seat. Her mind reeled and metal shrieked as her car slid along the guard rail and the fumes from burning rubber filled the compartment, choking her and blinding her.
Grasping wildly at the wheel, she pulled hard to the left and came back onto the road only inches ahead of the blue car, sending a van swerving into the left lane to avoid her.
She slammed the accelerator to the floor and snatched the mic from its holder. “Eighty-one kilo!”
In her mirror, she saw the blue car coming up fast on her rear. The bus must have turned off. The road behind them was empty.
“Eighty-one, this is dispatch, go ahead.”
“I’m west-bound on Lakeshore! Suspect vehicle in pursuit, code nine-nine-nine! Request assistance!” She looked ahead. They were gaining fast on leading traffic.
“Ten-four, eighty-one. Units responding. Vehicle identification?”
Tracy checked the road ahead and glanced in her side mirror. The nose of the blue car was on the right and running even with her rear bumper.
“Stand by, dispatch!”
She stepped harder on the gas, steering wildly to avoid the traffic, but her pursuer matched her speed and bumped her once again. The impact was light and she managed to regain control quickly after fish-tailing. In her mirror, she saw that the following car was directly behind her.
“Blue, late-model Lincoln!”
She crossed into the left lane, putting the attacker on her right and staying only inches ahead of him.
“License number, eighty-one?”
She glanced once more into the rear-view mirror. There were no plates.
Realization had only a moment to sink in before the blue Lincoln tapped her bumper again and sent her skidding off to the left. There was no room for recovery. The wall of the upcoming underpass was solid concrete.
Nick woke with a start and knew immediately that something was wrong. He jumped from his bed and raced downstairs to the phone. He snatched it up and began to dial the number for the precinct, but hesitated when. . .
Vachon woke with a start, knowing immediately that Tracy was in danger. He jumped from the couch, raced for the room’s only window and leapt out into the morning. Instantly, he came crashing to the ground behind the old church, writhing and smoldering in the relentless rays of the sun.
With every sinew of his body on fire, he searched madly through yellow eyes for safety. The doors were on the other side of the building. He’d never make it. He’d be ashes before he rounded the far corner.
Suddenly, he spied a thick line of bushes growing along the stone wall only yards away. Like a spider caught away from its nest, he scrambled for the cool darkness of the tunnel created by the overgrowth.
He pulled himself far up the row and the shade immediately began to cool the boiling blood in his veins. But the cover was imperfect, and pinpoints of filtering light stabbed at him like a thousand stinging ants. Working quickly, he began flipping dirt and dead leaves into the air, burying himself under a thin layer of loam.
Even as his blood cooled from the torture of the sun, it began to boil with anger. With a final, soul-wrenching scream of frustration, he flipped a fold of his jacket over his face and slipped into oblivion.
In 2001, Vickie was approached by Dragons Lair Studios about adapting “Vengeance is Mine” to audio-play format. After much work and many delays, the 5-disc audio play was released in 2002 and is still available. It features a full cast of voices, sound effects, music and more.