TU professor brings death to life in new novel
By Ashley de Sampaio Ferraz, Contributing Writer
Photo courtesy of Inverse
There’s a running cliché of the vampire in American pop culture: young, wealthy, attractive and with life stories of struggles balancing typical teenage emotions with the demands of being undead and bloodthirsty.
Despite this, some writers create fresh, new circumstances surrounding their vampire characters, in order to appeal to less traditional audiences. Morna McDermott McNulty, a professor in the College of Education, decided to use this approach when she wrote her new book, “Blood’s Will.”
“Blood’s Will” is about Campbell Cote Phillips, a middle-aged professor, mother and wife, who must make a decision between what she has built for herself already and what she could have if she gave it all up. Taking place in both the 1970s and contemporary Baltimore, it’s a story about the choices we must make in life and how human mortality is all about sacrifice.
According to McNulty, the process to get a book published is not easy, especially for a first time fiction writer. McNulty shared how she struggled to get her book into print.
“I wrote it originally almost ten years back,” she said. “I started and it took me awhile to write it, and then I self published it…through CreateSpace on Amazon because I just wanted to get it out there.”
McNulty then pulled her book off the internet and decided to try to get it officially published so that it could reach an even bigger audience.
“Another publishing company was supposed to pick it up, but after almost two years of being jerked around, that fell apart in a very, very ugly fashion and I walked away,” McNulty said. “I spent another year trying to shop it with trade publishers, trying to go through people who knew somebody. They all said the same thing: ‘we don’t pick up new authors. We just don’t take the risks.’”
McNulty didn’t give up on “Blood’s Will.” She approached an old colleague and proposed the idea of making the book both a work of fiction and an academic text. The colleague confirmed her book was a good example of currere, a type of post-modern education curriculum theory. It was through this avenue that McNulty was finally able to publish her book, with Peter Lang International Academic Publishing Group.
The full title of the book is “Blood’s Will: Speculative Fiction, Existence, and Inquiry of Currere.” It includes both an introduction and an afterword that examines how currere is represented throughout the book. A benefit of this setup is that if the average reader would like to skip over these areas, they are still able to enjoy a wonderful work of fiction about vampires and humanity.
Jack Cole, a professor here at Towson University, shared his perspective on the academic aspects of “Blood’s Will”.
“Will undergraduates find this interesting — at a time when relationships and futures are on their minds, with curricula and school being a distant second?” Cole asked. “Perhaps. I’d bet yes. Read the story and then, if you want to untangle its metaphysics and foundations, read the Introduction and Afterword, both highly powerful explorations of origins and courses of action — a thorough challenge for all.”
Cole also spoke on his opinion of the book itself.
“McDermott has deconstructed herself and her experience, and clothed it in a story of magnificent impact,” Cole said. “I usually don’t like relationship books, but this one held me riveted for the better part of two days.”
Writing about vampires was an easy choice for McNulty. She has always loved vampires and believes humans can use them as a “safe vehicle for self-examination.”
“Vampires are these liminal creatures, meaning they always have a foot in both doors,” McNulty shared. “They’re always in the in-between. They’re both dead and not dead, they’re both human and not human.”
She also reflected on the role immortality played in her comparison between vampires and humans in “Blood’s Will.”
“When you make one choice, all the others are gone,” McNulty said. “You’re going to spend the rest of your life going ‘what if, what if, what if.’ If you’re a vampire, you don’t have to make the same choices. What makes us human is the choices we make. That’s what separates us from the vampire, where sacrifice isn’t really an issue.”
McNulty hopes that her book will give readers a chance to reexamine the way they make meaning of their own past, present and future, and think about the choices they’ve made throughout their lives.
“Blood’s Will” can be purchased on Amazon and can also be found in Cook Library and the Baltimore County Public Library system.