You should know by now that I'm a big Kitty Norville fan! And thanks to Carrie Vaughn, here's an excerpt from the upcoming Kitty Steals the Show! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world—and Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are right in the middle of it.
Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a power struggle among vampires that has been going on for centuries—than she ever has before. In her search for answers, Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles. The conference has also attracted some old enemies, who’ve set their sights on her and her friends.
All the world’s a stage, and Kitty’s just stepped into the spotlight.
A few days later found me deeply embroiled in the act of making my living.
I was trying to do meaty on the show tonight. Meaty was good. And not just rare steaks or fresh kill for the Wolf. Meat--real topical substance--gave me credibility. Sometimes, it even gave me answers.
"All right, we're back from the break and station ID. This is Kitty Norville and The Midnight Hour coming to you from KNOB in Denver, Colorado. Unlike next week when I'll be pre-recording a show for you in London, England, where I'll be attending the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies. This will be the first time that scientists, academics, policy makers and pundits like me from all over the world will gather to discuss the topics that are so near and dear to my heart: vampires, werewolves, magic, what science has to say about it, what's their place in the world. As you know I'm a werewolf and have a vested interest in some of those answers. I'm hoping to line up some really slam-bang interviews, because when else am I going to have this many victims all in one place? In case you haven't figured it out, I'm very excited about the trip.
"Now I want to hear from you--once I get these scientists and diplomats where I want them, what questions should I ask? What would you want to learn at the conference? The lines are open." I checked the monitor and hit a line at random. "Hello, you're on the air."
"I want to know if it's true that vampires are going to lobby for a seat at the United Nations." The caller was male and enthusiastic, a fast talker.
"Where did you hear that?" I asked.
"On the Internet," he said, with a tone of duh.
"I'll certainly keep my highly sensitive ears open for rumors on that topic, but I don't think it's a real possibility, because I don't think vampires have any interest in deferring to human authority on anything. They've got their own systems of organization and haven't felt much of a need to take part in ours over the centuries. At least that's my impression. Next call, please. Hello, talk to me."
"Hi, Kitty, thanks for taking my call!" The woman sounded bubbly and nice. Maybe she wouldn't be crazy. "I was wondering, do you think you could give us a sneak preview of your keynote address for the conference?"
Well, no, because I hadn't written it yet, but I wasn't going to admit that. "I'm afraid I'm keeping that firmly under wraps until I actually give the speech. More fun that way, don't you think?"
"Well, I can't wait to hear it!"
Neither could I. . . "Thank you. I'm going to take another call now." I punched another line, glancing at the screener info on the monitor. "Jane from Houston, what's your question?"
"Hi Kitty, big fan here, thanks for taking my call. I've been listening to you for years and you've been talking around these questions that whole time. For all the so-called scientists you've interviewed and research you've talked about, nobody seems to have any answers. I have to tell you, I'm shocked there's even anything like a conference happening. Does that mean there are finally going to be some answers? Have scientists finally been able to figure out where vampires and lycanthropes came from? Are they actually going to tell us it's a mutation or a disease?" She sounded genuinely frustrated.
I said, "Science isn't like an Internet search. You don't just stick a question in one end of a machine and have the answer pop out the other side. I don't see the conference as a sign that scientists have finally found answers so much as it's proof that there's now a critical mass of researchers even asking these questions, that they can benefit from this kind of gathering."
"Or maybe the conference is so they can get their stories straight about the cover-up."
"Excuse me?" I said. I heard a new one every show, it seemed like.
"You don't really think anybody actually wants answers, do you?" my caller said brusquely. Here was someone so wrapped up in her conspiracy-laden worldview that the truth was obvious to her. "These 'researchers' are only pretending to be researching anything. They can keep putting out half-baked theories forever. In the meantime, anything they discover they can keep to themselves and use against the rest of us."
"Anything like what?" I said, truly curious.
"The secrets of mind control, of immortality. The rest is a smoke screen. That's what they're looking for, and they're not going to tell the rest of us when they find it. They don't even care about the real questions, like where we came from."
We--she was some brand of lycanthrope, I guessed. Vampires didn't tend to get this intense about anything--they were used to sitting back and watching events take their course. Whatever she was, she was feeling lost and helpless in a world gone out of control. I could understand her position.
"I know some of these scientists personally," I said in what I hoped was a soothing voice. "Most of them are more worried about their funding than about taking part in any kind of cover up. But I'll tell you what--I'll ask as many people as many questions as I can about the origins of vampires and lycanthropes. I'll bring the answers back to the show. How does that sound?"
"You say that now, but they'll rope you in," she said, as if I'd already personally betrayed her. "They'll get to you, threaten you or bribe you, and then you'll be in on it, too. Just watch."
"So little faith," I said, put out. If she could act like she'd been betrayed, I could act offended. "You said it yourself, I've been doing this for years, and no one's stopped me yet. I don't see this conference changing that, no matter how weird things get. Moving on."
I clicked off Jane's call and punched up the next. The caller didn't waste time with so much as a hello.
"There's no mystery where you all come from," said a flat male voice. "It's not even a question."
"Oh? And where do we come from?"
"The devil! You're all from the devil!"
I fielded one of these calls about every fourth show. The fanatics had learned to say what they needed to say to scam the screening process, and when they finally got on the air they'd give The Speech--the supernatural was the spawn of Satan and the world was racing toward Armageddon on our backs. Blah blah blah. Sometimes, we'd let the calls through on purpose, because the best way to counter these jokers was to let them keep talking.
"You can dress it up in all that science double-talk, but science is the devil's tool! This conference is another sign of the End Times, the new world order. There's a reason it's called the number of the beast. That's the best thing about this, once you're there you'll all be stamped with the number, so the rest of us can see you, and you won't be able to hide anymore."
I leaned into the microphone and used my sultry voice. "I wasn't aware I'd been hiding."
"There's a war coming, a real war! You may sound all nice and sweet, you may have brainwashed thousands of people, but it's a disguise, a deception, and when the trumpet sounds, Lucifer will call his own to him, even you."
"I like to think I'll be judged by my deeds rather than what some crazy person says about me."
"All your good deeds are a trick to hide your true nature. I've listened to you, I know!"
"So what does that make you? A media consumer of the beast?"
The caller hung up before I did, which was a pretty good trick. The game of "who gets the last word" meant that no matter how badly I mocked them, no matter how agitated they got, they kept on the line, thinking I'd somehow, eventually, admit that they were right. They always seemed to think that they were different than the last guy I hung up on. Suckers.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I'm the spawn of Satan someone sure forgot to tell me about it. And I believe we time for one more call. Hello, you're on."
"Uh, hi, Kitty. Thanks." He was male, laid back. He sounded kind of stoned, actually.
"You have a question or comment?"
"Yeah. So, this thing's in London, right? You're going to London?"
"I think that's what I've said about a dozen times over the last hour in a shameless bid for self-promotion."
"Right." He sniggered, like he was suppressing giggles. "So, that'll make you"--more sniggering--"An American werewolf in--"
I cut him off. "I'm sorry, I seem to have lost that call. And I'd better not hear any Warren Zevon references, either. Sheesh, people. Let's break for station ID."
I had a feeling I was going to be hearing a lot of cracks like that over the next few weeks, I didn't need to start now.