(and every other beloved literary vampire from Lord Ruthven onward), he will help to shape the vampire legend in the years to come.

Regardless of how you feel about the Twilight books and films, whether you passionately love them or passionately hate them (and there are vast numbers of vampire aficionados in both camps), we all have reason to be grateful to Meyer. The extraordinary success of the Twilight series has placed a huge spotlight not only on modern vampire tales but on the urban fantasy genre as a whole — and that, in turn, is bringing new readers, and some terrific new writers, into the field. Some of those talented new writers can be found in the pages of this book — alongside writers who have long been working in the vein of urban fantasy fiction. (If any of these authors are new to you, we highly recommend seeking out their prior novels and stories.)

Here’s the brief we gave to each of the writers we invited to contribute to this book:

Give us a YA vampire tale, we said, but make it smart and unusual. It can be funny, or frightening, or folkloric, or romantic; it can be quiet, or explosive, or brutal, or tender; it can even be all of these things at once. Give us a story we can (ahem) get our teeth into.

And don’t be afraid to draw blood.

Things to Know About Being Dead


As it turns out, if a person dies badly, sometimes the soul can’t escape the body and will have to feed off the living forever.

Of course, I only find this out after Madison Gardner offers me a ride home in her dad’s Beemer after six shots of coconut rum and ends up shoving the car through a tree.

Madison pours herself out of the driver’s side and teeters around on her tacky platforms, mumbling and choking and being as useless as usual. I break my neck and die before the ambulance gets there.

I’m so pissed that she’s okay that it takes me a few minutes to realize I’m not dead anymore.

(Sometimes your priorities aren’t what they should be.)

Things to know about being dead:

1. You have a heartbeat when a paramedic checks for a pulse. Easy to fake. It’s like sit-ups with ventricles.

2. Your grandmother, who has been getting senile, takes one look at you and says, “So, Suyin, you’re dead,” so either something about you looks different or everyone was wrong about the senile thing.

3. Grandmother tells you you’re jiang-shi, and that it’s safe to go to school. “The winter sun shouldn’t worry you,” she says. She doesn’t mention the summer sun.

4. Your parents have no idea what’s going on. They’re just happy you’re bonding with Grandmother.

I couldn’t sleep that first night. Grandmother and I had tea and played cards (she killed at poker; I’d never known), and once I was upstairs, I checked my homework twice and clicked through every online video I could find, trying to keep my mind off it.

I started wondering if jiang-shi ever slept. If not, I’d have to develop some new hobbies. And I’d have to find something I could eat. (Grandmother said I’d be drinking blood now. That was about the point I flipped out on her and ran to my room.)

Finally I counted the shadows of leaves on my wall. It helped more than anything else had, but whenever I spaced out, I remembered Madison laughing at her own joke and reaching for the radio to find a better song, just before the tree rose up in front of us.

(I hadn’t wanted to say yes, but it was two miles home and it was dark, and you knew things happened to girls who walked home alone. Madison was one of Amber’s crowd, but she wasn’t as vicious as they were.

She could, however, drink as much as they could, which I sort of wish I had known when I got in the car.)

I didn’t want to think about that. It was bad enough that I had died; I didn’t want to relive the moments I had been dead in the car. What if I talked myself right back into being dead?

I must have gone somewhere when I died, because I remember coming back, blooming inside my body just before I opened my eyes. And I couldn’t shake the feeling I wasn’t alone; that I had brought some darkness with me.

It must have been the first night of my life I’d ever wanted to be alone.

On Monday, I saw that Amber and Company were meeting up outside the school at the picnic tables, even though it was still coat weather.

“Oh my God, Madison,” Amber was saying, “I still can’t even believe it. I mean, you could have died. Like, you could not even be here right now.”

(Madison stumbled out of the car, and when she saw me, she laughed and said, “That was awesome, right, Sue?” before she saw I wasn’t moving. Then she vomited.)

“Yeah,” I said, “that would be a shame.”

Madison snorted. “See if I ever offer you a ride again, ungrateful bitch.”

As I went inside, Madison was saying, “Seriously, you guys, it’s changed my life.”

5. People smell like their skin. Once I get a real whiff of the beef-and-cologne on the boys and the varnish- and perfume on the girls, I throw out all my Body Shop.

6. Refuse blood all you want. The hunger drives you insane after the third day.

That morning I couldn’t go to school because I was shaking and sweating and my mouth was so dry I couldn’t even speak to tell my mom I’d be fine.

“Grandmother will take care of you until I get home,” Mom said, unconvinced. But I nodded. Grandmother knew the score.

My parents went, and I listened to the quiet house for a while, sucking in air I didn’t even need, trying not to let my brain boil. I heard, Hang on, hang on, but I didn’t know who could be talking; I was alone. I thrashed out — I wasn’t going to let Death get me twice.

Grandmother brought with her a little bowl in each hand. She was wearing a yellow housedress, and her skin smelled like tea and lotion and fish scales and the vitamin pills Mom made her take.

I turned away, gripping my knees with my fingernails until the blood ran, so I wouldn’t grab for her arm and bite down. My head was going to burst.

Then I felt something cool on my shoulder, something thick and earthy. Mud.

I tried to speak, but my throat was too dry; I lay quietly as she smoothed her fingers over my shoulders, my neck, the backs of my arms.

At last, somehow, I was calm enough to look at her without being afraid of myself.

She smiled. “Come here. I have something for you.”

I didn’t want to get closer, but somehow I was sitting up anyway, moving to rest my back against the headboard. The mud was soothing — it smelled nice, like sleep — and Grandmother’s yellow dress filled the room.

“Here,” Grandmother said, upturning the second bowl.

It was dry rice — the little white grains stood out sharply against my purple bedspread — and my mind went blank, suddenly. I started to count.

Dimly I was aware that she left and came back, but I wasn’t finished, and the counting was all that mattered.

“How many?” my grandmother asked at some point, and handed me a warm mug. I counted through to the end.

“Four hundred thirty-six,” I said. My throat wasn’t dry anymore; I was surprised, until I looked down in the

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