By A.J. Llewellyn

Ever since I was a kid, I loved being told stories. My mother became very ill when I was five and spent most of her time in and out of hospital. She died when I was six and my dad, God bless him, was not the kind of guy to open the big book of fairy tales on my shelf and read me one of my favorite stories. I used to hold the book and look at the pictures, picking out favorite lines, but I began to re-imagine the stories and of course, I was always the hero in them.
I got into tons of trouble, but no matter how tough things got, I had a happy ending. I always lived happily ever after.
I guess this constant fantasy world was the genesis of my writing. I still love and believe in fairy tales. Several months ago, I went to LA’s Chinatown for the New Year celebration. I spotted a guy who was very handsome. A tall, slim, sexy Asian guy dressed in black, I wondered if he was a priest, a cop…or even a vampire.
It was an unusual evening. Unusually chilly. I decided he was a vampire since he was acting so mysterious. I followed him through the strange mist that swirled over Hill Street.
There were people all around, but it seemed to me, it was just me and him.
The red lanterns that hang high over the old Chinatown community cast an eerie red glow over everything.
Chinatown in LA is a melting pot of Asian cultures. Japanese, Chinese and Korean communities fuse, with not always the greatest of ease.
I followed the handsome man and started constructing my own fairytale.
Soon, I’d given up the physical chase and I went home to write. I called my partner and frequent co-author D.J. Manly and told him my idea for a story I wanted to call Banpaia – Japanese for vampire.
I went to work, feverishly, and quickly sent a note to our cover artist Angela Waters at eXtasy books. I told her what I wanted.
Like the idea for the story, my cover art request was unorthodox.
Angie slipped right into my dreamworld and gave us one of my favorite covers of all time – with the red Chinatown lanterns in there too.
When it came time for D.J. to write his sections of the book, I couldn’t have been more pleased and also, more intrigued. He too, had somehow stepped into the dream and followed the handsome Asian man. What he wrote was more exquisite than usual.
We spent a long time talking about Banpaia and the haunting man who dominates it. It was unusual for us, because we have such a strong symbiosis we don;t often have to talk about the work. It’s there on the page, but then, this whole experience has been beyond magical.
I wish every book was like this.
D.J.’s input was invaluable. In fact, thanks to him, the ending begs a sequel. Though the first book comes out in three days and was finished several weeks ago, in dreams, the vampire beckons me to follow.
And I will, once again, turning the pages of the big book in my mind…following the lanterns, the swirl of mist…haunted by the stranger’s smile. Hunted by the man they call Banpaia.

Aloha oe,

2 Responses to “Banpaia”

  1. Hi A.J. I came to your chat Monday night and you very kindly answered my questions about M/M writing. You are so giving and open with people and funny, too. I am looking forward to reading this. Just picked up Xu today and I can tell already after just a couple of pages that I am going to love it.

  2. Hi Belinda,
    Thanks so much! It was fun chatting with you. Night Owl Romance is an awesome place – I like the live chat format because it gives us all a chance to get to know each other. So glad you have Xu. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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