Sophie Avett’s Sinister Stitches Dress Fitting Interview, guest-starring Joey W. Hill’s Lady Lyssa (Vampire Queen Series)
My characters are either naked or dressed to kill. Given they’re all monsters stalking the city of New Gotham’s twisted, cracked, and cobbled streets, the criminal wardrobe is part of the job description. Rockabilly princesses, corpse brides, leather queens…my city is full of them. Where do they get their menacing threads?
There is a boutique hiding out between the fractured, narrow store-fronts lining the foggy docks. The shingles are ribbed and black. Washed, peeling paint and displays offer views into wicked leather and lace-studded glam. The mannequins are ghoulish beauties stitched together from whatever was left of the last fool to cross one of the sinister witches.
Push open its shabby, frosted front door. Tiny white flakes of paint will pepper the wind like spectral dust. The minute you set heel onto waxy polished oak floors and step into the candelabra fire-light you know…
This is where the magic happens.
Welcome to Sinister Stitches
“…apparel for a wicked fairy tale.”
A spicy trinity of black magic sisters breathe star-dusted dreams to life with their gothic apparel boutique. They are schooled in the old ways of “fabric-bending” by the Needlewitches of old. With this knowledge, they’ve created an entire line of clothing that all share the same basic design element: one size fits all. Each garment will magically tailor itself to its wearer once worn. There might be some “twirling” required, but a vampire’s steady hand should turn every wardrobe change into a stolen moment.
Care to take a peek at what Sinister Stitches has to offer?
Check out some of the questionnaire Joey W. Hill’s Lady Lyssa (Vampire Queen’s Servant) was asked to fill out when she wandered into Sinister Stitches.
THE WITCHES WHO STITCH QUESTIONNARE
Please provide the witches with your name: Lady Elyssa “Lyssa” Amaterasu Yamato Wentworth, Vampire Queen of the Far East Clan
Please provide the witches with the following:
Hair Color: Black
Hair Length: [ ] Short and Sassy, [ ] Medium and Modern, [X] Lush and Long
Eye Color: Jade Green
Skin Tone: [ ] Ghoulish, [X] Snow White, [ ] Cina-baby, [ ] Mochalicious, [ ] Dark Chocolate, [X] Other:
Please provide the witches with your measurements and body type.
a.) Height: 5’2”
b.) Body Type: [ ] Skeletal, [X] Lean and Tender, [ ] Lean and Tough, [ ] Ripe and Edible
Jacob, my human servant, describes me as a petite Asian doll with a bite like a pit bull. His sense of humor is one of the reasons I relish punishing him. And since he never restrains his tongue or his thoughts (I have full access to both), I have to conclude he enjoys the punishment.
Do you have any extra extremities? Place an “X” to all that apply.
[ ] Horns or [ ] Halo
[ ] 20 ft. of Hair or More
[ ] Gills and Fins or [ ] Hooves
[ ] Wings (Span: )
[ ] Tail (How many: )
How many heads do you have?
Just the one. No matter how many my staff claims I grow when I lose my temper.
Do you have arms and legs? If so, how many?
The usual humanoid amount, 2×2.
How dead are you? [X] Living, [ ] Undead, [ ] Astral Form
Quite living. Despite what they say about vampires, we are quite alive.
What are you? (Species/Breed)
Half-vampire, half-Fae. As vampire queen, that side of my blood has always been more fully embraced, though I have recently been exploring more of the Fae side, part of the reason I’m visiting you.
What is the occasion?
I’m attending the Winter Solstice celebration in the Fae world. My sister, Queen Rhoswen of the Unseelie, is hosting it. She is like snow herself, with white hair, fair skin, and often dresses in diamonds and frost queen-type fashions. We’re a bit competitive, so I want to both complement her and shine in my own right. The Fae still believe themselves far superior to vampires and I want to prove them wrong at all levels, including fashion. Oh, but since I do love my sister, I would like a small token on the outfit to honor her. A diamond snowflake, a frost pattern; I leave it to your creativity.
What’s the occasion setting?
Fae Court. I would like this outfit to convert from a formal court setting to an equestrian one, because they are fond of their spontaneous midnight rides. And while that ride might happen on a “normal” horse, I’m just as likely to be given a waterhorse, dragon, griffin, or a magic carpet to ride, for all I know. Rhoswen loves variety.
Will you be running for your life at some point in the evening? (Helps with shoe selection.)
I rarely run from anything, but fighting for my life is always possible. Jacob never goes anywhere unarmed as a result (even now, he might look like he’s half-asleep over there, but I expect he hasn’t missed a single movement we’ve made). However, I don’t want you to sacrifice your shoe artistry. Something I can kick off quickly will work, unless you can come up with something that is sexy, eye-catching, and yet serviceable in a fight.
Will you be set on fire? Better yet, will you be setting other people on fire?
Not likely. Rhoswen is far more fond of freezing people to death. Jacob says I’m more likely to be set on fire at home, because I love heat and often sit far closer to the fire in my dresses than makes him comfortable.
Will you be grave-robbing? (Dirt is a dressmaker’s tedium.)
Absolutely not. Though if we go riding, Goddess knows where we will end up.
Is your neck a dinner plate?
Only when a friend or my servant is weakened from blood loss and needs the energy boost. Which, come to think of it, is always a possibility after a fight.
Do you hope to be naked at some point in the evening?
Vampires are highly carnal creatures. It’s not even lunch and I’ve already had Jacob twice today (hmmm…perhaps he is actually dozing out there). I expect that to happen at least once or twice more today, unless plans for our trip interfere with my desires. I don’t often let anything interfere with my desires for Jacob. So the answer to the question is yes. With the Fae, it’s not as likely to be in a public setting, with others looking on, but it is possible.
Describe your last brush with Death in two sentences. (Helps us plan for the unexpected.)
I was locked in an enchanted desert and faced off with a variety of enemies, including a flying serpent monster thing. The sunburn was the worst part of it all.
Do you need a secret compartment for weapons, wands, tampons, etc.?
No. I have Jacob to carry anything I need and I’m more of a hand-to-hand or magical fighter.
What are your three favorite colors?
Jade green (my eye color), the midnight blue of Jacob’s eyes, and the pale pink of cherry blossoms.
What two colors rattle your kettle?
I’m not fond of neon colors—bright yellows and oranges remind me a bit too much of sunlight.
Please pick a style that you feel embodies you the best. If none apply, feel free to surprise us by providing your own brilliant description in the “other” slot.
[ ] Rockabilly Starlet: This is for the spoonfuls of sugar. The good-natured and naughty girl next door types. Candy is the business and fairy tales are ultimate. More often than not, her head is in the clouds and her nose in the book. Our dreamers.
[ ] Leather Queen: This is for the warrior princesses. The type of girls who give boys a run for their money and wear tight jeans just watch the little vampires come undone. Hands for fighting and these heels for ass-kickings. Our protectors.
[ ] Medieval Mistress: This is for the no-nonsense girls. The ones who know better because they’re ten steps ahead. They’re schemers—they might be shy, or they might not be. More importantly, they’re selective. Our wisdom.
[XX] Gothic Dame: This for the mysteries. The ones no one can quite make heads or tails out off. She’s a mixture, a melting pot of sugar and sinister. She might be Rockabilly Starlet one day, or a Medieval Mistress other days. Our sisters.
[XX] Other: Medieval Mistress sounds correct, but with some Gothic Dame in the mix. I did wear jeans and a kitten T-shirt that says “Not everyone is a morning person” to a mall trip with Jacob once. He enjoyed the look immensely, but I don’t think it will work for the Winter Solstice.
Who is your favorite fairy tale villain?
Ursula, the sea witch in Little Mermaid. I found her cleverness and self-empowerment refreshing.
If you could be any fairy tale princess, who would it be?
Jacob coaxed me to watch Tangled, and I admit I liked the potential of Rapunzel. In the end, she understood being a princess means training to be a queen, and that requires a level-head and the need for making sometimes rather heartbreaking decisions. Plus, I admit Flynn Rider reminded me quite a bit of Jacob—his background and strength of character.
Now, tell us the twit you hate most.
He’s dead, thanks to my human servant. I choose to forget his name.
Anything else you’d like to add…
In essence, I am pitting your skills against that of Fae seamstresses. I expect if you put them to shame, I will be asked who crafted my outfit. You may want to give Jacob some business cards (it wouldn’t be seemly for a queen to hand them out). Of course, that means you might have the opportunity to visit the Fae world, whether you like it or not. The Fae are very fuzzy on the idea of consent, almost as bad as vampires, and they love dressing well. So keep that in mind before you decide whether or not to take this job. Though I hope you will. You ladies don’t seem the timid sort, which is one of the reasons I came to you. My last seamstress practically soiled herself when I so much as bared my fangs in her direction.
How the Witches-Who-Stitch Answer a Challenge…
Astrid: Rapunzel, eh? Exactly what version is our dear old Disney telling this time…? If I were you, I’d be wary of women with that much hair. The upkeep is…murderous.
But that’s a tale for another time, yes?
Greetings and welcome to Sinister Stitches, my lady. My name is Astrid and I’m the vampire running the catwalk around here. The she-wolf posted by the door in hooker heels, a lace tunic, and nothing else is my sister, Brenda. The adorable asshat sitting on your servant’s lap is—goddamn it, Gill. *heavy sigh* Keep your bloody dress on. He isn’t even awake.
*Doors to the Sinister Stitches tea room bluster open and Bayou willow weaves and Spanish jasmine waft from the doorway.*
Astrid: Ah yes, that would be my mother…
Madame Mari: ‘Evening, all. Oh!? What do we have here? *snatches interview from Astrid, and reading glasses from Gillian (who has yet to abandon a sleeping Jacob’s lap)* Gilly-bean, stop feeding the hu—well, I guess it ain’t human anymore. Handsome still, aren’t you? Irish, too. Gilly, give up the gumdrop and wave a potato under his nose—that oughta get a rise out of him.
She cackles and skims interview: Winter Solstice and a…well, hotdam—a party! Wonderful. The Veil, huh? Very nice. Haven’t been to visit in ages—Queen Rhos…*lowers page and peeks at Lyssa* Should’ve known. *rubs temples* Mrs. Potts is never going to let me hear the end of this…
The room absorbs the presence of true court. Spectral viceroy swallow tails stretch high, her skin is creamy green and as she makes her way across the shining oak floors, there is no doubt that she is the mother of this coven.
Tapered shadows dwarf Gillian and she goes taut: What? What did I do?
Madame Mari: You’re in my seat, darlin’.
Gillian: Oh! What is that? Is she a Queen?! How pretty!
*Her powder pink dress ruffles like cake as she practically bounces over to Lyssa because that was Gillian in a nutshell. Candy first. Spankings later.*
Madame Mari takes a regal seat on Jacob’s lap, soothes out her skirts spun from spider cobwebs and tears, and returns to her reading: Competition?? I left to get away from all the cock measuring—oh, it’s just us against them? I thought we were going to war…*chuckles happily and coquettishly lowers page* We’ll fix you a dress, dear. Your sister, too. No extra charge. Why? *Her slanted violet eyes flash with the heat of a thousand suns.*‘Cause those fools have already lost. And I ain’t fixin’ to let any girl be outdone on her special day, shugah.
Besides, when it comes to sisters…Take it from a momma, darlin’. Can’t give something to one, without giving something to the others.
Gillian: You’ll have to get naked! Strip, strip, strip!
Brenda whistles and swivels her finger like a helicopter: Take it all off…
Astrid: Real class act, Brenda. No, really. And, Gillian! Take your lips off the Queen’s butt chee—you know what, we aren’t actually related to that one. We don’t even know her. People think she’s our sister because we keep feeding it.
*Astrid’s fantastical sable mane slithers across the floor like a fat Asian snake as she attends to the queen poised on a stool fashioned from shadows. The vampire queen seems utterly intrigued with the miles of oil-black coils. She catches the thirty-foot braid of silk and tugs gently in askance. All the young vampire has to offer in response is a clandestine smile and…*
Astrid: She’s ready, Momma…
Ain’t you supposed to be sleepin,’ son? Madame Mari swats Jacob’s thigh and the servant’s mouth curves. That’s right, boy. Best keep them peepers closed till we’re finished or I’ve got a switch with your name on it. Everyone else, let’s begin…”
After many barrels of chocolate, a dash of magic, furious sewing and Jacob’s sound spanking (He peeked!) …
Sinister Stitches’ Gothic Dame
Madame Mari presents Lyssa’s Completed Dress
That’s right, missy. We’re doing things pink this year. Why? ‘Cause guess what color everyone else is going to be wearing? Not pink. Blues, silvers, whites—blah! They’re out of the question. I’ll have my girls upstaged by no one! *snaps rolled up interview against Jacob’s thigh.* And you best not forget the business cards, boy…
Now, about the dress, darlin’…
First of all, it’s one of kind. It can’t be replaced. Should the boy rip it in a frenzied moment of passion—that’s okay. Anything else (like war) and I’ll be dropping by the big Georgia mansion for tea and staying for spankings.
Petal Fang is hand-stitched from Avalon cherry blossoms, Olympus fog, and a wyvern’s soft underbelly. It’s practically indestructible and so soft it feels like water cascading through your fingertips. The dress is alive. Living and breathing. Once touched by moonlight, it will shed its sweet-pink and adapt a serpentine patterned lace with webs of spectral crystals. Don’t panic—that is the dresses true form and can be reversed by returning indoors.
It was specifically designed that way to make wardrobe changes between “coffin hours” and “hunting hours” quick and easy. And it was made especially for me by Esme the Needlewitch many, many years ago. That’s right, girly. Don’t let these brittle old wings fool you, I used to be hot (and dangerous*) back in the day. Which is precisely why I’ve outfitted this gown for you. Anytime you find yourself standing in shard of moonlight, you’ll find yourself in two different dresses, two different worlds, and they’ll both be drop dead gorgeous.
She’ll keep you warm during your travels and allow you to control her length with these two commands: “Let down my skirt” or “Let up my skirt.”
The fishtail train is…wily, so do be careful.
Mind, this dress didn’t start out perfect. My fledging, Astrid, worked very hard on your diving Elvira neckline. In the event that things must get bloody, Brenda has also tossed in a pair of special holster garters for you to wear beneath your dress. It is her firm belief that no woman should be armed with tits alone. My adorable pup also made very sure the dress was recut to allow freedom of moment. Should something fantastical happen and you suddenly sprout wings and tail—have no fear, we’ve already taken that into consideration.
(Ah, Brenda—good nose on that one.)
Oh, and remember that diamond pattern you asked for…?
She contacted her good friend, Elsa, from Bits and Pieces, and together they fashioned you this diamond headpiece from stones ripped from the volcanic heart of Mt. Fuji.
Genius, isn’t she? Now then, Astrid has promised your servant here she’d come visit you for tea in your mansion, so be sure to thank her then.
When? When what? When did he ask her to come? Or when is she coming?
Hell if I know, shugah. I didn’t even see him move and the boy’s been under me this whole time—got yourself a crafty one. Or I’m just THAT old. Hard to say. Can’t remember. But I know Astrid, and she never breaks a promise. Gets that from her momma, she does. So, as we discussed…
A Gift for Queen Rhoswen
Now this dress, Petal Flake, the girls made…
They need practice if they plan on inheriting this sithen from me. Gillian was the lead designer and for good reason—no one quite does fairy like my adorable Candy Witch does. No one. Its beveling skirt is made out of fresh picked Neverland pristine-pink blossom flowers. They’re not actually paper, but what becomes of hamadryad tears. Velvet star-shaped petals will collect and instantly crystalize any moisture that touches them.
That’s right, to touch her skirt will feel like icicle nibbles—it WILL sting, but I assume it’ll be worth it…? Hmm…?
Astrid was called in to fashion the bodice. Tears from ice wraiths, wispmothers, and banshees have been collected and sewn in an arboreal pattern with diamond accents and she paid special attention to the weaving of the ribbons. Tug twice on the bow and it’ll undo itself. Best keep that information from the men folk, eh? No need to tempt the Fae with a dubious good time…
Brenda…well, what on earth do you think made all those wild animals wail?
Better yet, who do you suppose skinned their hides and made them dead and dress ready?
In any case, here’s your gift box—we’ve tossed in some chocolate for the hostess and her lovely sister. *gently pats Lyssa’s cheek with a knobby old hand* Have a good time, honeybunches. And you…Confound it, Jacob! *swats handsome ass* Don’t eat the chocolates with the pink ribbons on them, boy! Those are for the girls. They’re…special. *reaches into sewing apron* Here, have a Kit-Kat and stay still. Don’t smile at me like that either.
Astrid sweeps into the room, carting a silver tea service, and sighs: A pox on sexy Irish men—all of them.
IMPORTANT BULLETINS from THE PIXIES:
Fancy a tour of New Gotham? Check out New Gotham’s Survival Guide! It might save your life! (Link: http://sophieavett.weebly.com/new-gotham-bonus-content.html)
For more information about Sophie Avett’s New Gotham novels and Sinister Stitches series and recent release, ‘Twas the Darkest Night, please check out her website: http://www.sophieavett.weebly.com.
For more information about Joey W. Hill’s Vampire Queen series, you can visit the series book page on her website at http://www.storywitch.com/series-vqs. There’s a free chapter excerpt for every book. Jacob and Lyssa have three books in the series, but their friends have standalone titles as well, so there’s something for everyone.
*A Note from Gillian Concerning Madame Mari: Used to be dangerous? Ha! My candy ass. You know how New Gotham is built on the ruins of an old city? Yeah, well, Momma burned the first one down. For fun.
“Pardon the interruption, Ms. Karr, but are you ready for dinner?”
She forced her hand to her side and tossed a flat frown over her shoulder. “Indeed, vampire.”
Leaning against the door frame, Marshall was the picture of bloody elegance. Black slacks with a matching vest. A deep wine shirt. He’d left the top buttons undone. It was rich simplicity, and he wore it sickeningly well. Damp, disheveled locks drifted over his eyes as he peered at the blue marble on the coffee table with interest. She breathed in deeply, thoroughly appreciating the combination of his sandalwood body wash and amber cologne. His mouth quirked and she swallowed twice before she could speak. “Huldra, I—”
“And then be done with it, Elsa.” Ingrid reminded her firmly, but added in her signature sultry burst of frost. “Otherwise, enjoy. For both of us.”
Marshall lifted his eyebrows slightly and Elsa flushed and snatched up the speaker. She tapped the orb and it died into a mundane glass marble. “Ignore her. Besides, I’m ready.” She levered herself out of the chair and tossed the ball back in her bag. It clanked and rattled, circling until it dropped deep into the depths of the magical pocket.
He reached out for her hand. “Come here.”
She draped a black fur stole over her forearm and eyed his palm with suspicion. “Why?”
“I mean you no harm,” he promised.
Time stilled between them. She searched his expression and found nothing but the steely shrewd regard of a predator. Her feet felt heavy, leavened. She did not come to any man’s beck and call. Never. Never again. She offered her hand, but did not budge an inch. If he wanted her cooperation, he would appeal to her on her terms.
Marshall did not hesitate to take the distance between them, coming to stand so close, so quickly she back-stepped and the back of her shins bumped the chair. Snowy blue eyes were almost black in the shadows. His cool slender finger closed around her wrist and he hauled her against the solid wall of his chest, his embrace sealing around her like a coffin.
“Stubborn little witch.” He yanked and something popped. She hardly noticed. She was gone. Yearning for the individuals folds of the thin skin stretched across his bottom lip, wondering whether each individual wrinkle was a crevice of flavor. What would he taste like? Her tongue snaked out to tease the line of her mouth and she found it a poor substitute for his.
Marshall showed her the writing on the small tag he’d apparently pulled from her dress. “Twirl to activate skirt,” his voice rolled over the words in a deep murmur. It vibrated it in his chest and her naked shoulders tensed as she stifled a shudder. He took a step back and guided her around. Slowly. So very slowly. He studied from hooded eyes. He savored. Without reserve or shame.
One time around. Then two. Then a third. Every time their eyes would meet, her skin grew warmer as desire deepened the snowy depths into a profound sapphire blue. Her knees were weak, but as he drew her around faster and faster it didn’t seem to matter. Nothing seemed to matter. He became her only point of focus in a world quickly blurring beyond what she knew. Beyond what she could readily understand.
Magic. It crackled to life, sparking across the textile and thread. Energy tickled her naked thighs and the limp silky material puffed and inflated into a billowing bell of smoky black tulle. “What …” Unfamiliar excitement danced in Elsa’s veins and she reveled in the fabric twirling about her. Wispy and light. Akin to smoke and shadows, the bottom hemmed by a ring of gray fog.
Marshall finally drew her to a stop and she mopped her hair back out of her face, breathless. He didn’t immediately close the distance between them again, and Elsa couldn’t control her legs as they carried until the hem of her large skirt covered his slick black dress shoes. They stood enthralled in the moonlight. Pale light beating down them like a blessing.
“Beautiful,” he whispered and backed away toward the door, drawing her along with him.
Tethered to him by their entwined fingers, Elsa couldn’t help but feel like somehow, someway, Marshall had finally caught her.
Remember the story about the troll who lived under the bridge—yes, well, that twit didn’t have to pay rent.
Owner and operator of Bits and Pieces, and resident expert on charms and glamours, Elsa Karr is a witch with a sour frown and a list of things to do as long as Thor’s hammer. Top of the list is saving her father’s shop from ruin. If she isn’t trying to claw her way out of debt, she’s arguing with her cat, Fenris, or shoveling carts of cake into her gob. She’s not interested in romance or the vampire who rents the flat above her shop. All she wants is a little peace and chocolate–fine, all right! All right! The vampire is kind of screw all cute. (Curse him.)
The disgraced son and heir of the Wingates House vampire clan and a mad-man to boot, Marshall Ansley spends most of his time working and dodging his mother’s phone calls. Marshall is beyond family. He’s beyond everyone, actually. Don’t be daft, he especially doesn’t do…Christmas. But behold, the plague brings an original flavor of annoyance this year when his boss tasks him with acquiring the account of a recluse fey and her upcoming Gothic clothing boutique, Sinister Stitches. That is the ONLY reason he’s bothering with his shrewish landlord. No, that’s it. No…really. Fine, if you insist, the witch might be a tad bit…all right, she’s adorable. (Damn her.)
Scrooge meets Scrooge. Dominant meets Dominant. Tempers…spark. In each other, they may unfold a tale that only comes to pass on the darkest of nights.
About the Author:
Sophie Avett is kind of a nerd. Like not even one of the cute, hip ones everyone brags about nowadays. More like the socially awkward hippie who eats way too much bread and dreams about being a dragon from behind towers of mythology books. Um…yeah. Picture old, tattered paperbacks and comic books–mostly Batman and Wonder Woman–dwarfing a tiny desk, with just barely enough room for the troll who writes there and the 70 pound hell-hound that insists on laying it’s wet nose on top of her bare foot.
Granted not the most exciting existence, but she tries to make up for it by writing romances populated with her own peculiar ilk of paranormal beasties. Trolls, wyverns, the obscure Nordic brownie–she likes to keep things interesting. And bloody. (And mostly naked–but, we’ll keep that bit between us.)
Sophie Avett loves to hear from her readers. (Hi, mom.) So if there’s something on your mind, feel free to leave a message after the scream.
(Mom, seriously…you can just call me.)
Post-Its, the Blog: http://sophieavett.weebly.com/post-its-the-blog.html
Brimstone Pub, the Blog: http://thebrimstonepub.com/