Quicksilver Moon, A Novel by Barbara ArdingerNotice the cover art for this novel. It was painted by my friend, Margaret Harwood, a wonderful artist. I’ve known Margaret and her husband, Jon (himself an artist with his camera), for a decade or more. When I asked Margaret to create the cover, she said, “What do these characters look like?” “Read my mind,” I said. And she did! The cover shows Brother Mudge, Isolde Bell, and Loretta, Patsy, and Tammy. I lived with those characters for a couple years while I was writing their story. I watched Brother Mudge preach, I watched his captive women suffer, I watched the horrendous, black, Beelzebub thoughtform grow on the roof of Mudge’s storefront church. I watched the vampire prowl around real locations in Orange County, like the Crystal Cathedral and Disneyland. The vampire lives in the condo a friend of mine owned. She also drives my friend’s car. In my imagination, I watched the women of the Quicksilver Moon coven coping with their lives. (Loretta lives in another friend’s house.) As I keep telling people, this book is very realistic … except for the vampire.

The story is narrated in the voices of the participants. It opens with Isolde Bell introducing herself.

Isolde Bell, Vampire

My name at present is Isolde Bell, though I have of course had other names, other identities that I picked up and used and threw away when I was finished with them.

I remember where I was born, though not necessarily when. It seems to have been between 1375 and 1425, though the date is uncertain because our remote land had no use for the official calendars of church and empire. The Crusades had passed and the Inquisition was yet to be proclaimed, though freelance terrorists were always abroad in medieval Europe, and the Reformation and Counter-Reformation and the horrors of the religious wars they set off were also still to come. But I knew them all. I knew them all.

Do you know what Transylvania’s claims to fame are? Vlad Dracula and Countess Elizabeth Bathori, the world’s best-known children of the night. King John Sigismund (flourished circa 1568), the world’s first Unitarian king. Transylvania is where I was born, some time between the ages of Dracula and John Sigismund.

I started writing Quicksilver Moon (under an earlier title) about the time the Far Right took out its Contract On America. Vampires are, so to speak, eternally popular, and though I’d written other (so far unpublished) novels, I wanted to work with an edgy, ambiguous character as protagonist. Seeing the world in fundamental black and white has always seemed boring to me, and as Isolde and her friends of the Quicksilver Moon Coven and Brother Mudge acted their story out in my head, and then on paper, I began to see how good and evil come in every shade.

Brother Mudge’s chapters are based on his sermons. I actually bought a King James Bible so I could quote correctly.