Her name is Virginia Grafton-Wade, and the Chupacabra Series might not be what it is today without her.
This week, Virginia would have turned 99-years-old. I met her while delivering meals for the organization, Meals on Wheels, when I was living in Southern California. Being a warm and friendly individual from introduction, an immediate friendship was formed.
After nearly two years of bringing Virginia "Ginny" her meals, she discovered I was writing my first book. Virginia lit up. Then I told her I was writing a western. She beamed! (Western was her favorite) Then I mentioned it was also horror. Well... the smile faded a bit on that one as western "romance" was actually her favorite-favorite. Still, Virginia was an avid reader and asked to read the manuscript before publication. I obliged.
Though Virginia enjoyed the story, she had some critiques. "I thought you said this was horror?" this 93-year-old asked.
"It is," I replied.
"Where's the blood?"
"Well, the creature is a bloodsucker, so..."
"And why is there hardly any cursing? I think you need to insert a 'fuck' here and a 'pussy' here, and then sprinkle it with 'shit' throughout."
"And this sentence here, they would never talk like that back then."
Virginia then went on to explain that her grandfather lived at the time of the Old West. When she was young, she and he were very close, and he would tell her stories of his past. When he spoke, his diction was from a time she had not been born to; however, though nearly a century had passed, she remembered how he spoke very well and improved some of my book's dialogue. That is why, if you open the book to the dedication page, you will see her name: Virginia Grafton-Wade.
She helped with the next two books, 'Curse of the Chupacabra' and 'Legend of the Chupacabra,' no longer professing that she did not like horror. And sometime during our journey together, she further professed how it had been her lifelong dream to write a book, and that my inclusion of her opinions fulfilled that dream.
Within the same month I was planning to move from California to Florida, Virginia had a stroke. She could hardly walk on her own and barely could talk. With the moving van parked in the hospital parking lot, I went inside to visit her for the last time. I didn't tell her I was moving. She didn't need to know that.