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Octane Loaded Second Review of Jonathan Janz’s Vampire Western, Dust Devils! Plus an Interview (Squeal All You’d Like)!

At the time of the vampire western novel, Dust Devils, was releasing on February 4, 2014, I gave a partial review for author Jonathan Janz and promised I’d be back to give my full review. Here I am!! This month went way to fast and had way too many things happening. So I’m going to give you a snippet of my first review and then head into my review of the second half of the book!  Following that I have a HOT interview with Janz on his newest novel (I know, I know all you screaming fan girls already think he’s hot…well, just read the interview already!)!

dustdevils-h-1

Excerpt from My First Partial Review of Dust Devils (find all of this previous post HERE)….

One of my author buddies, the one I think I like because I make him laugh, or maybe I try to make him laugh and he just smiles not really laughing….or maybe he is really laughing at me and not with me…..ah, I digress, no matter the case I actually like Jonathan Janz  AND his writing. Telling you he is a friend of mine doesn’t make my review, evaluation, or recommendation any less REAL. For me to tell you to read it, I have to like it.  My reputation is gold to me.  So, as my writing friends know, even if I dearly respect and admire you, I won’t sell your book as good if it is not. I’m honest and so honestly, THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ!!!

Now, about DUST DEVILS……published Feb. 4, 2014!

At least so far, I mean I am just a little behind (Feb. 3) and so only 40% in, but that isn’t because I’m NOT sitting here chomping at the bit, thinking of neglecting my children and feeding them bread crumbs while I finish the book. No, I will just torture myself by waiting until bed time and then stay up all night finishing it until I collapse and wake up clutching the comforter in a death grip from the vampirism terror I am bound to come across.

Reading this much so far though, I know a few things. It’s IS the best book I’ve read by him. And yes, I’ve said this each time, but he gets better each time and this one far exceeds any others. His characters have great dimensional depth and emotion. I already feel as if I know the two lead protagonists, Cody and Willet. I’m already pulling for them to leave the winners in any final showdown that may occur. I already know their fears and desires, have seen a father and son relationship blossom between a man who just found a boy who needed saving from some nasty actors, who just happen to apparently also be vampires. I love his use of the traveling stage play and traveling actors as the vampire’s cover and even enjoyed the scenes where they cooked human flesh on the spit….did I just say that?? Ok, ewwww…but it didn’t SEEM gross, because it is so well-done. Kinda like the troll scene in Lord of the Rings?

Janz uses techniques of Stephen King, such as in The Dark Tower series (he may not even realize it) and King’s overall style in creating a character in a way in which we HEAR what is happening in his head. Either through the character talking to himself or some reader asides. Ronald Malfi is a great literary author who also employs these techniques. Beyond that, King is great at creating characterization in which you feel a connection with characters. Janz is spot on in this regard. He’s slowed it down, which creates suspense, and also let his work breathe and live and roll around in your head.

I am not a western or country gal, I know this. BUT I do love history and this time period of the Wild West is so intriguing so I like the setting a lot and his details. I can tell he put a lot of research into the novel. I’ve enjoyed Larry McMurtry in the past, as well as Elmore Leonard. This type of literary western with some horror added to it seems to be blazing new trails. It’s working, at least in Dust Devils it’s a win. From a horror perspective, you might like it if you also liked From Dusk till Dawn. In a vampire market saturated with Victorian era night crawlers, I think, why wouldn’t they have gone through this time period of no holds barred outlaws, too? It’s fits them perfectly! It’s refreshing….well, in a scary way!!

And NOW, what did I think of the second half of the book, you say?? Readers, you’ve been waiting a month!!! Let me finally finish up my thoughts….

The continued spot on (can use that term for horror and not just my reviews for British authors??) in my book…err…in his book, well ok, you know. It continued on with great substance and speed, not falling apart of diverging from its proper path. If anything, it sped up. Ok, it DID speed up, with ALL and every ounce of adrenaline that is UNIQUE to Jonathan Janz. I saw Stephen King-like writing morph into pure Jonathan Janz and he should be proud of that. Why? Because just as I might pick up a book with a hidden cover and read part of it and say, that’s King…I can pick up one of Janz’s books and immediately pick out the writing of his as well.

That means he is an original voice, which creates a fan base and can sell someone ahead of the pack (my marketing mind at work). He’s one-of-a-kind. He leaves every bead of blood and sweat on the page as he writes feverishly with enough emotion and action to make my head spin off my neck. Every time I am reading Janz, I grab Tim next to me in bed and I say, “I can’t believe he is writing this, I can’t believe I am reading this” but he makes me want to read it. And then I even make Tim excited and he wants to read it, and Tim is so laid back it isn’t easy to get that result. Even as Janz assaults every sense, including my gag reflex, I want to read it. It’s like drugs and fuel and running on horror.

So there you go. Intense right? Well, that’s how Janz writes, intense. And he makes me want more of his writing like a junkie begging for his crack. As far as Dust Devils goes, he accomplished this once again so I only have him to blame that now I have the shakes.

I think Janz brought something new to us in Dust Devils in his portrayal of vampires. Not only did he rock killer vampires with evil motives, but he kinda made them zombies (and I hate zombie books and movies…darn you Janz!!) in a way too. They were ruthless. I think this was a spin I haven’t quite seen before, but you know these vamps ate people, didn’t just longingly lick their necks.

He writes the beginning character driven, with so much emotion. In Dust Devils, he explores loss, sadness, finding oneself, healing from hurt, father/son relationships, and love, romantic and for others. He takes on trust and choice and allows us to slowly know and care for the characters and feel terrified for them as things come to pass. Like King, he focus on the characters while we wonder about the dread that might be lingering somewhere in the background. However, unlike King who continues this still into the middle of most of his book, Janz starts to kick it up a notch eventually, leaving his original Janz mark of high-octane prose.

Then the ending….I can’t give it away even though I want to talk about it. But it left me in tears and my own heart on the table for the taking. He took us all the up to the height of emotional turmoil, then….ah, I wish I could tell.  I was so sad at the circumstances, even though I understood. It was such a special sacrifice and you’ll just need to read it to experience it. The very, very ending…it was more than lovely. It was touching, redemptive, and heart-felt. It showed that pleasure can exist with pain and love with loss.  It’s one I’ll always remember, I think, for its touching nature and silent message of hope. Yes, quite an array of emotions. I can only picture Janz as he is writing it….lol!

Final note, Dust Devils is one awesome book that I highly recommend as one of the best horror books I’ve read in a long time. It’s so well-rounded; he’s likely creating his own new brand of literary horror that pushes every single line imaginable.

One final, final note: It includes a lot of blood and gore. I never thought I’d say I would read that, even thought I like King, not any gory things ever graced my shelf. These horror authors I know, and Janz is the main one, have taken me to the very dark side of the dark side and showed me how to enjoy it, while still staying in the light.

Now on the INTERVIEW……

Hey, Jonathan! Glad to have you back on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! We’ve done a full-length interview in the past, but I wanted to have you drop in to answer just a few questions about your latest release, Dust Devils! What’s your drinking pleasure? Heck, for you I’ll even whip up something special….

Jonathan: I don’t drink much at all, but when I do it’s regular old beer. So…how about some no-bake cookies. Or just cookies. I’m not picky.

no bake cookie

Erin: Mmmm, I see you know me too well, assuming I meant alcoholic. *wink* We can drink iced tea or beer, I’ll go see what I’ve got.  Cookies, awesome, there you go! You know I’m great at baking (or in this case, non-baking).  For me, I’ll have a side of your nachos, did you bring any along?

Jonathan: I tried to bring some, but my son ate them before I left the house. He’s always eating my food.

Erin: Darn kids!! I’ll have to make own, hold on a sec and we’ll get started!! OK, here we go…

Q: You’ve grown so much into your role as an author since you and I first met! Since then you’ve started to push yourself and try new things within the horror genre. What made you decide to write a “western horror?” And further, where did you come up with and create your wild west vampires?

A: Thanks for saying I’ve grown. I think the idea of writing a horror novel set in the Old West came from my love of the western genre, as well as an affinity I’ve always had for vampires. I have very diverse tastes—I could see myself writing a thriller, a fantasy novel, or even a period romance someday—so to transition into a western sensibility wasn’t at all difficult for me. I’ve been enjoying western films since I was a teenager and reading western novels for about a decade. I think I’ve absorbed those films and books. From there, it was a simple matter of giving that part of my creative mind free rein. I had a blast writing DUST DEVILS, and I will definitely revisit the western at some point in the future.

Q: Have you notice any other new trends in the horror genre? Are you a trend setter or a trend follower? And why?

A: Definitely a setter, though I don’t want to imply that others follow me. The thought of anyone mimicking what I do is more than a little terrifying—for the human race. But I don’t look at trends that are occurring and think, “Man, I need to capitalize on that.” For me, the storytelling process is very personal, and that would make it difficult to write based on a trend. Ironically, I love zombies, yet I haven’t felt the need to write my own zombie novel yet. Maybe I’ll write one when they cease being popular.

Q: The themes you expressed in your novels such as relationships, loss, redemption, and fear are some important issues that make a horror book even more literary and create lasting connections for the reader. Was it challenging for you to open up yourself and be vulnerable with your writing?

A: Thank you for noticing those themes and issues. At first it isn’t difficult because you’re writing what’s in your heart and what’s on your mind. You’re solitary, you’re cloistered in an upstairs room (at least I am), and you’re just letting the story breathe. In the editing process it gets a bit more challenging because that’s when I start thinking like the reader. I see how raw the things on paper are, and I wonder how folks will react. But as long as what I’ve done works for the story, I leave it in. As you’ve noticed, DUST DEVILS deals with some very powerful emotions and themes, and I hope those elements make the story resonate in a more powerful way for the reader.

Q: What was your process for creating the depth in your characters?

A: I’m a believer in Stephen King’s “Boys in the Basement” concept that stories and characters are largely a part of a writer’s subconscious. In any scene, I really go by feel as much as intellect, and I allow what’s in my subconscious to spill onto the page. From there, I try to “method write,” which means—like method acting—I try to become (mentally/emotionally) the character I’m trying to draw. So with Cody, I went back to my twenties and remembered how incredibly insecure I was, and how much more pain I would’ve felt had I met a woman like Angela, the wife who betrays him. When I wrote the Marguerite character, I thought of how a proud woman would feel if she were physically and emotionally abused by a man who wielded power in a small town; I thought of how infuriating and hurtful it would feel to have no recourse for the wrongs done to me, and then how I’d react to this new stranger (Cody) who rides into town with his own demons. So by becoming Cody and becoming Marguerite, I tried to create a living, breathing relationship rather than a bunch of cobbled-together character traits.

Q: Who was your favorite character and why?

A: Wow, that’s a tough one. Either Cody or Marguerite or Jack Wilson (Cody’s dad). I mean, I love all the characters in DUST DEVILS (even the slimy sheriff), but the above three spoke to me the loudest. Cody because he experiences pain like few people experience. He’s humiliated, he’s broken, and he’s haunted by the mistakes he’s made. But he finds the courage to rally, and as hokey as that sounds, I loved that about him. Marguerite didn’t have the “screen time” that Cody did, but I felt like she had honor, brains, and a sense of humor. I thought she was a woman most men would fall for, even without her gorgeous looks. Jack Wilson isn’t in the book until the end, but he casts a shadow—or a light—over the whole narrative. He’s not perfect, but he’s the kind of dad I would have wanted when I was growing up.

Erin: Marguerite was MY favorite, probably because I recognize a lot in her of things I’ve been through and where I’ve come. I connected to her. I would love to read about her more. Maybe a prequel?

Q: I loved your cover art by Samhain artist Angela Waters. But can you describe how your vampires are different than most mainstream vampire characters many read today? What’s with the long yellowed fingernails anyway??!? It’s the one thing I remember scared me most about Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

A: Angela is amazing. I’m so glad you love her work too! Regarding my vampires, I think they’re a healthy blend of the bestial and the seductive. I feel like many portrayals swing too far in one direction (disgusting, unthinking monsters) or the other (supermodels with fashionably petite fangs). I wanted the vampires in DUST DEVILS to be the best of all worlds. They’re actors, first of all, so they needed to be physically attractive and seductive enough to lure beautiful women into their traveling show at each town.

Plus, they’ve lived for centuries, so that would indicate that they’ve acquired more knowledge than a normal man would have. So on one hand, they’re cultured, handsome, and urbane. However, they’re also slaves to their thirst and unable to resist the slaking of that thirst when presented with the opportunity to do so. And I thought that this facet was a logical gateway into the ferocity within them. They’re extremely prideful and full of rage, so when anyone threatens their supremacy, that atavistic belligerence explodes and leads to bloodshed and death. I think my vampires are as vicious as any in fiction.

As for the yellow fingernails, I modeled those off of my own, which are seven inches long and the color of dying sunflowers. Erin says: OMG!!!

Q: I noticed in Dust Devils that you slowed the beginning down to create character relationships and make us tense with suspense. Can you talk about that a little bit? After coming off reading such a high-speed action focused read like your Savage Species serial, how challenging was this? Which is your more natural writing style and which do you have to work more at?

A: I’ll start by answering the last part of your question first. Both styles are very natural to me, and I think the many other styles you see in my stories, from the 1920s journal entries in THE SORROWS to the fifteen-year-old points-of-view you’ll see in my YA book. I never want to write what isn’t in me, but frankly, I think there’s a lot in me. I’ve been reading from all sorts of genres and periods for a good while now, and I’ve always read with an intensity and interest that has allowed me to internalize the different kinds of writing to which I’ve been exposed.

So with SAVAGE SPECIES, I channeled my inner Richard Laymon and allowed that sensibility to coalesce with my own voice. In DUST DEVILS I really allowed the western stories of Elmore Leonard and Cormac McCarthy to permeate my language and rhythms. McCarthy, particularly, has a lyrical style that requires some patience of the reader, but that also rewards the reader with some lasting riches. In novels like LAST STAND AT SABER RIVER and VALDEZ IS COMING, Elmore Leonard really invites the reader into the inner lives of his protagonists, and I think this intimacy is what really allows their relationships with others to live on the page. Cody Wilson’s point-of-view is the only perspective we get in DUST DEVILS, and I think that allows us to experience what he experiences, feel what he feels, and suffer through the same difficulties. And I agree with you the characterization and the relationships are responsible for generating the suspense that exists in the novel.

Q: I know you have a sequel coming up for The Sorrows and maybe a YA novel (hand claps!!), but is there anything else in that never stopping brain of yours that you’d like to try writing?

A: I’m currently writing a novel that’ll come out in January of 2015 for Samhain Horror. In addition to that, I have a top-secret novella that’ll release this summer; it’s something I’m really excited about, though I’m not supposed to talk about it yet. This summer I’ll be working hard on finishing the first book of a planned trilogy. I have a ton of other projects simmering or incubating, but I’ll talk about those at a later date. Erin: Stomping in frustration from needing immediate knowledge.

Erin:  Thank for coming by, Jonathan!! I wanted to keep it short as your high octane personality has already shown through enough and I have nacho sauce on my chin. Wish all your readers could see your big personable smile (aw, I know you want them to see a serious, scary face of a horror author—alas, I’m just glad you finally showed your face!) It’s been fun, talk to you soon, and keep up your fabulous writing! Best of luck with Dust Devils, my dear friend!

Jonathan: Thank you so much for having me, Erin! It’s always a blast. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of all your friendship and support. You rock!

Dust Devils, Synopsis~

dustdevils-h-1Beware when the vampires come to town.

When traveling actors recruited his wife for a plum role, Cody Wilson had no idea they would murder her. Twelve-year-old Willet Black was just as devastated the night the fiends slaughtered everyone he loved. Now Cody and Willet are bent on revenge, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against.

For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. Even if word of their atrocities were to spread, it would take an army to oppose them. But it is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico, and there is no help for Cody and Willet. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.

Get it on-sale at his publsher, Samhain Publishing/Horror, in e-book for a limited time at:

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/dust-devils-p-73199.html

Author Jonathan Janz, Biography~

CraigJonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Acclaimed author Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.” The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, “reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

Samhain Horror published his novel of vampirism and human sacrifice The Darkest Lullaby in April and his serialized horror novel Savage Species this summer. Of Savage Species Publishers Weekly said, “Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror—Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows—will find much to relish.” His next release, the superhero/action/horror/thriller Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows, is available now through Kindle Worlds.

His vampire western Dust Devils just released this February of 2014, and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) will be published in July 2014. He has also written three novellas (The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.

His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

One of Jonathan’s wishes is to someday get Stephen King, Peter Jackson, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale together for an all-night zombie movie marathon. Of course, that can only happen if all four drop their restraining orders against him.

For more information, go to www.jonathanjanz.com!

And just for fun, here is a picture of Jonathan Janz and I AGAIN–I love it!!! 🙂

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Filed under Book Reviews, Q and A with Authors

Exclusive Creepy Excerpt of Teaser Chapter from Melika Lux’s Corcitura: a gothic vampire read!

Today, I have an EXCLUSIVE teaser chapter that accompanies Melika Dannese Lux’s gothic vampire novel, Corcitura, which we discussed HERE yesterday! It was interesting to learn about her inspiration for the book!

In this chapter, with some strategic editing as to not give any plot points away, she writes Madelaine’s POV in first person present tense, the first time she admits she has ever done so!  Melika stated, “Maddie’s narrative is also the only one to use this tense, which I think sets her apart from the guys’ narratives that book end hers.”

Have a go at reading this amazingly creepy read! If you like it, head down for the information on Corcitura and order in time for Halloween reading. It’s a historically gothic vampire read that is unique and cunning.

Final Corcitura Cover 9-29-12

Melika is also graciously giving away an e-copy of Corcitura to one winner and you have a week to sign-up! Just use the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win!  Ends Sunday, Oct. 26, 2013.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK~

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/OTg4YjQzMDA1MjEzZWRlNTcyNmZkNjQyMzFkYjE2OjM=/

With further ado, here is the exclusive extra chapter, enjoy and share! And we love comments!

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Belododia’s Belfry

My husband is gone. I cannot find him anywhere. When I went to sleep last night, he was by my side, but now, as the first rays of dawn break through the window, I know for certain he is gone. His side of the bed is cold—as cold as if he has not slept there at all. The door is bolted. There is no trace of him.

I have ransacked this room, torn it apart, and still it is as if he never set foot here, never even existed. I feel a heaviness in my limbs this morning, though I suppose it could just be the baby within me. When I look in the cup from which I drank my tea last night, I notice a residue, a filmy white liquid on the bottom. I dip in my finger and put it to my lips, tasting something sickly sweet.

I know I have been drugged.

I must go out into this desolate house; I must leave the safety of this chamber that begins to feel more and more like a tomb. I must find answers. Yet I am afraid, terrified even, of what will happen if the master of this place finds me alone. I have a mission; I know that, now that my husband is gone. My heart aches to admit it. I pray he is still alive, but if he is alive in a different form, will he still be the man I love? Can he even love in that state? I cannot think of these things now or I will go mad.

The only one I can count on is myself. I do not trust Stefan’s so-called wife nor that son of hers who bears an uncanny resemblance to my husband. And though it pains me to admit it, I cannot trust Luc, least of all Luc, though he swears he will be able to bring Zigmund back.

I walk toward the door and reach for the handle. I breathe in deeply, steeling myself. Father did not raise a coward. Mother would not allow me to fear the dark. How could I fear the dark when I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life? I’ve always been drawn to things that make other women scream.

I press down on the handle and step out into the corridor. I don’t know what I am expecting to see, maybe a bevy of vampires rushing down the hallway, but there is nothing. Darkness, silence—the corridor is empty.

I am nearly at the bottom of the steps when something calls to me. I know it is not his voice. Eric said only those who were marked can hear him in their minds. Still, whose voice could it be?

The voice draws me back up the staircase, leading me on, its soft, wordless timbre guiding me toward I don’t know what. Finally, it ceases. I feel somehow bereft, even more alone without it, until I see where it has led me.

I am standing before the door leading up to the turret above our room. I noticed the turret the night we first arrived. How could I not? There is something dark about it, something mysterious, something unknown that frightens me. I have tried to convince myself I did not see a figure flitting up there that first night, but I cannot deny what I saw. Was it Leonora? Or something else? I have never ventured there on my own, but now I have no choice. The pull is too insistent.

I push open the door and once more the voice starts to call. I cannot make out what it says. All I know is that I must go to it, must answer its summons.

The steps are narrow and made of stones so ancient I am afraid they will crumble if I put too much weight on them. There is no light in here, no air. I feel choked and am thankful when I finally emerge onto the balcony. Tendrils of morning fog wisp through the railing, which is decaying, I notice with alarm. I dare not go near it. One false move and over I will go, which I’m sure will make the master of the house very pleased, since he has me marked for death already.

“Such a fine morning, my dear, is it not?”

I have tried my hardest to avoid him, yet he has found me regardless of my efforts. That voice was his, I am sure of it now, so why am I still hearing it if its owner is in my presence?

The breath catches in my throat as I look into his eyes. His dark-rimmed pupils are larger than I remember, the rest of his eyes so colorless as to be nearly white.

“It’s a bit chilly,” I say. He seems amused by this. His eyes crinkle at the edges and he buttons his coat, though I know it is just an act for my benefit. He has no pulse. How could he be cold?

“You know much, my dear, but what do you really know about vampires?”

His question startles me. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from betraying my fears to this creature. “Naught but what I’ve read in Polidori and Le Fanu,” I answer. I remember the ashes of Carmilla and the terror in Eric’s eyes when he saw me holding the book. All I know of vampires, I have learned from a handful of novels, but what good does fiction do me when I have a damned soul staring me in the face?

“Ah, yes, but those are fairy tales,” he says, waving his hand dismissively. “Pure fantasy.” He pauses near a waterspout carved into a devil’s head. It is meant to portray a gargoyle, but I have never seen one so ugly and diabolical-looking, even by grotesque standards. I shiver, but not because I am cold.

“What do you know about…real vampires?”

“Not enough to kill them.” The boldness of my words surprises me, but he does not flinch. “What have you done with my husband?” I have spoken before I can stop myself, but then I realize I don’t want to stop myself. Something has changed in the air between us. I’m no longer as afraid as I was.

“I haven’t the faintest idea. Was he not with you this morning? I should think you would know his whereabouts better than me. Or is there already strain in your too-brief marriage? Does he not want a child so soon?”

“Of course he wants…” I cut off the words, biting my tongue in the process. His eyes are gleaming, his lips parted in anticipation. He is staring at me as though he wants to devour me…me and the child he already knows I carry. “I beg your pardon, Mr. Belododia…”

“Stefan.” The name slithers off his tongue.

Stefan,” I say with effort. “I expected Eric to be with you at the bedside of Greydanus. I must say the boy is doing remarkably well, considering that he was supposedly at death’s door, hence our presence here.”

“Ah, yes, my son…”

“Your son, who shares so many characteristics with my husband.”

The words make me sick to say. I fear them too much, fear the implications, though Eric claimed he’d never known Leonora in that way.

I feel as though my words have erected a barrier between us—more of a barrier than there already was. He reaches out and brushes the leaves off the railing. I see his shoulders tense, his whole body becoming rigid. I take a step toward the railing and stare down at what he’s looking at so intently.

A small, brownish-grey wolf prances about the frozen pond. Something about that wolf strikes me as familiar. I lean against the railing, causing bits of gravel to slip through the spindles. The wolf must have exceptional hearing. That small sound has alerted him to our presence.

The wolf ceases his wild gamboling and stares up at us. I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. The wolf’s eyes are so radiant, glowing almost, yet black as night. Idiotically, I reach out my hand as if I could stroke the wolf’s fur from such a great distance. I stare dumbly at the wolf, until I am jerked back to reality by the feel of a vise closing around my wrist. I cry out as I look down at my arm.

Stefan’s ice-cold hand encircles my wrist, crushing it. “Do not be attracted to things you don’t understand,” he hisses. Is he talking of himself? I can soundly disabuse him of this notion in a matter of seconds. I am not attracted to him, though I do not understand him any more than that wolf down below.

He releases my wrist. There is a blue mark discoloring my skin where his hand used to be. I rub it fiercely, trying to instill some warmth, but it is no use. I wonder if I am now marked, too.

He seems to have forgotten me. He is still staring at the wolf. There are worry lines between his brows, and his mouth is drawn down at the edges into a scowl. “It appears we still have a wolf infestation. If you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to. I hope to see you again for dinner?”

“Yes, of course,” I say abstractedly, watching the wolf run off into the forest.

“I wish you good hunting today, my dear.” Before I can snatch it away, he takes my hand in his and kisses it. Ice shoots through my body and weakens my knees. I feel as though I have been kissed by death.

I am alone once more, on this the highest peak of the château. A chill wind lashes through the trees, sending snowflakes fluttering to the ground. Dark strands of my hair whip across my face, obscuring my vision, but not completely, not enough so that I am no longer incapable of watching Stefan…

…watching Stefan watching me. He is not alone, standing now at the edge of the forest. There is a woman at his side. She is not the woman I expected to see, the woman I mistrust. This woman’s beauty terrifies me, mainly because it is so perfect, so inhuman. Her lustrous blonde hair flows freely down her back. She turns, and I can see her eyes—green and glowing and brutal. Her lips are redder than blood and her skin as pale as the snow she treads upon. I know she sees me, but whether he tells her not to acknowledge my presence or she decides to ignore me of her own accord is a mystery. Her eyes remain fixed on the wolf tracks at her feet.

He takes her hand and guides her toward the trees, and I am left with a memory of her face. I know I have seen her before.

Something slithers beneath my feet. I look down, expecting to see a snake or some other creature. Instead, there is nothing but a rose. A dead rose, its petals black and brittle. Affixed to the stem, threaded through a frayed black ribbon, is a small band of gold.

My husband’s wedding ring.

This is all the impetus I need. I am down the staircase and making for the stables in an instant. I feel panic in my chest, but I damp it down. Hysteria will do me no good now. This is a clue. I know it is, though it is meant as a taunt. In my heart, I feel he is alive.

I must find Professor Fertig’s book.

_______________________________________

Corcitura Blurb~

Final Corcitura Cover 9-29-12Corcitura.  Some call it hybrid, others half-blood, mongrel, beast.  They are all names for the same thing:  vampire—the created progeny of the half-wolf, half-vampire, barb-tongued Grecian Vrykolakas, and the suave but equally vicious Russian Upyr.  Corcitura:  this is what happens when a man is attacked by two vampires of differing species.  He becomes an entirely new breed—ruthless, deadly, unstoppable…almost.

London, 1888:  Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, best friends since childhood, have finally succeeded in convincing their parents to send them on a Grand Tour of the Continent.  It will be the adventure of a lifetime for the two eighteen-year-old Englishmen, but almost from the moment they set foot on French soil, Eric senses a change in Stefan, a change that is intensified when they cross paths with the enigmatic Vladec Salei and his traveling companions:  Leonora Bianchetti, a woman who fascinates Eric for reasons he does not understand, and the bewitching Augustin and Sorina Boroi—siblings, opera impresarios, and wielders of an alarming power that nearly drives Eric mad.

Unable to resist the pull of their new friends, Eric and Stefan walk into a trap that has been waiting to be sprung for more than five hundred years—and Stefan is the catalyst.  Terrified by the transformation his friend is undergoing, Eric knows he must get Stefan away from Vladec Salei and Constantinos, the rabid, blood-crazed Vrykolakas, before Stefan is changed beyond recognition.  But after witnessing a horrific scene in a shadowed courtyard in Eastern Europe, Eric’s worst fears are confirmed.

Six years removed from the terror he experienced at the hands of Salei and Constantinos, Eric finally believes he has escaped his past.  But once marked, forever marked, as he painfully begins to understand.  He has kept company with vampires, and now they have returned to claim him for their own.

Book trailer~

http://youtu.be/xStibsfjBvo

Amazon.com Buy Links~

Kindle Editionhttp://www.amazon.com/Corcitura-ebook/dp/B009JKUWKK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1380726601

Paperback Edition:  http://www.amazon.com/Corcitura-Melika-Dannese-Lux/dp/0615722091/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380726601&sr=8-1&keywords=melika+dannese+lux

Amazon UK Buy Links~

Paperback Edition: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corcitura-Melika-Dannese-Lux/dp/0615722091/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1381946506&sr=8-1

Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corcitura-Melika-Dannese-Lux-ebook/dp/B009JKUWKK/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1381946506&sr=8-1

Author Bio, Melika Dannese Lux~

Melika LuxI have been an author since the age of fourteen and write Young/New Adult historical romance, suspense, supernatural/paranormal thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, novellas—you name it, I write it! I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

Social Media Links~

 I’m very active on social media, so please feel free to connect with me on any or all of the following sites:

My Web Site: http://booksinmybelfry.com/  

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BooksInMyBelfry

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/950456.Melika_Dannese_Lux

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/booksinmybelfry/boards/

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Interview with Shadow of Night Author Deborah Harkness~And This Week’s Giveaway!

I think the entire world is waiting *not very patiently* for the release of a certain book this week!! It’s all over the media. Without me even needing to type it I know YOU know it as Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, author of bestselling A Discovery of Witches (which is one of my fave books of all time!!).

I myself have been waiting *not very patiently* to review it as I read it a couple months ago, but was advised to hold my blog review until publishing date, which is tomorrow (Tues., July 10). My review will come later this week and I’ll have a copy of the BOOK to GIVEAWAY as well as a cool Ashmole 782 tattoo AND six awesome pins (buttons) with art from the book (see photos below).

AND, for anyone in Ohio wishing to see her in person, she’ll be at the Cuyahoga County Public Library/Berea Branch (http://www.cuyahogalibrary.org/EventDetail.aspx?EventInstanceID=70185) for a talk, Q &A, and book signing!! I believe this is her only Ohio stop, so be sure to mark your calendars. Bring your book for her to sign, I know I’m going to try! She has lots of other stops nationwide as well and she posts her events calendar every week on her Facebook page.

Book Jacket Promo~

The thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches…

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

AND……………….

While you’re waiting on my review, which is FAVORABLE since it held so much historical content from the Elizabethan Age (YES, I enjoyed the wealth of info in the book as well as the story line!!), here is the info on Shadow of Night and an interview with Deborah, put together by her publisher.

A CONVERSATION WITH DEBORAH HARKNESS

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list with publications following in 37 countries.  What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for A Discovery of Witches? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

 

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in Diana’s world.

 

Q:  Last summer, Warner Brothers acquired screen rights to the trilogy, and David Auburn, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer of Proof, has been tapped to pen the screenplay. Are you looking forward to your novels being portrayed on the big screen?  What are your favorite casting ideas that you’ve heard from friends and readers?

 

A. I was thrilled when Warner Brothers wanted to translate the All Souls trilogy from book to screen. At first I was reluctant about the whole idea of a movie, and it actually took me nearly two years to agree to let someone try. The team at Warner Brothers impressed me with their seriousness about the project and their commitment to the characters and story I was trying to tell. Their decision to go with David Auburn confirmed that my faith in them was not misplaced. As for the casting, I deliberately don’t say anything about that! I would hate for any actor or actress to be cast in one of these roles and feel that they didn’t have my total support. I will say, however, that many of my readers’ ideas involve actors who have already played a vampire and I would be very surprised if one of them were asked to be Matthew!

 

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT opens on a scene in 1590s Elizabethan England featuring the famous School of Night, a group of historical figures believed to be friends, including Sir Walter Raleigh and playwright Christopher Marlowe.  Why did you choose to feature these individuals, and can we expect Diana and Matthew to meet other famous figures from the past?  

 

A. I wrote my master’s thesis on the imagery surrounding Elizabeth I during the last two decades of her reign. One of my main sources was the poem The Shadow of Night by George Chapman—a member of this circle of fascinating men—and that work is dedicated to a mysterious poet named Matthew Roydon about whom we know very little. When I was first thinking about how vampires moved in the world (and this was way back in the autumn of 2008 when I was just beginning A Discovery of Witches) I remembered Roydon and thought “that is the kind of identity a vampire would have, surrounded by interesting people but not the center of the action.” From that moment on I knew the second part of Diana and Matthew’s story would take place among theSchool ofNight. And from a character standpoint, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, and the other men associated with the group are irresistible. They were such significant, colorful presences in Elizabethan England.

 

Q: In SHADOW OF NIGHT, we learn more about the alchemical bonds between Diana and Matthew.   In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research.  What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading SHADOW OF NIGHT?

 

A. Whereas A Discovery of Witches focused on the literature and symbolism of alchemy, in Shadow of Night I’m able to explore some of the hands-on aspects of this ancient tradition. There is still plenty of symbolism for Diana to think about, but in this volume we go from abstractions and ideals to real transformation and change—which was always my intention with the series. Just as we get to know more about how Elizabethan men and women undertook alchemical experiments, we also get to see Matthew and Diana’s relationship undergo the metamorphosis from new love to something more.

 

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT spans the globe, with London, France, and Prague as some of the locales. Did you travel to these destinations for your research? 

 

A. I did. My historical research has been based in London for some time now, so I’ve spent long stretches of time living in the City of London—the oldest part of the metropolis—but I had never been to the Auvergne or Prague. I visited both places while writing the book, and in both cases it was a bit like traveling in time to walk village lanes, old pilgrim roads, and twisting city streets while imagining Diana and Matthew at my side.

 

Q: Did you have an idea or an outline for SHADOW OF NIGHT when you were writing A Discovery of Witches?  Did the direction change once you sat down to write it?

 

A. I didn’t outline either book in the traditional sense. In both cases I knew what some of the high points were and how the plot moved towards the conclusion, but there were some significant changes during the revision process. This was especially true for SHADOW OF NIGHT, although most of those changes involved moving specific pieces of the plot forward or back to improve the momentum and flow.

 

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, whose secrets Diana and Matthew are still trying to uncover in SHADOW OF NIGHT. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

 

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations,Deeasked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many ofDee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time inOxfordbetween finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation onDee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t beDee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

 

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

 

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

 

Q: Unlike Twilight’s Bella and Edward—hormonal teenagers who meet in the halls of a high school—your leading characters Matthew and Diana are established academics who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.  This is a world where vampires and witches drink wine together, practice yoga and discuss philosophy.   Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

 

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.

Thank you Deborah for your writing and being so personable with your fans.

Readers:  STOP BACK BY MY BLOG THIS WEEK FOR THE REVIEW AND CHANCE TO WIN THE BOOK AND LOOT!!  You really don’t want to miss out on this one!!

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Filed under Q and A with Authors

Giveaway FINALE: Three Awesome Women Writers, Simple to Win! #SpringHorrorRAT

Blog includes!

*My update:

*Challenges Housekeeping~

*Challenge 6~A limited number of people (even though hits to posts each day are high) are taking the challenges. Since you still have Sunday at 11:59 p.m. EST to complete any of the Challenges (2,3,4,5,or 6), I’d love for you to complete some of those. To win the finale prize pack, you can just comment to enter to win (SEE INFO BELOW). As an incentive, I’ll make the deadline Sunday at 11:59 p.m. YOUR TIME instead of EST.

My Update~

Today I spent time with the family working in some reading around soccer, a 2nd grade history project, a viewing of Iron Lady, a yummy homemade meal of Turkey Meatloaf and baked potatoes, and watching the SCARY Apollo 18 (it was horror in alien horror sort of way). Today, I started reading Shadows of Night by Deborah Harkness and during the 9 EST reading challenge we posted on Twitter, I ended up getting bragging rights since I read 59.2 pages! My daughter is 75% of way through her The Girl in the Glass ghost YA fiction book.

Challenge Housekeeping~

PLEASE NOTE, JUST IN: WE WILL BE ABLE TO MAIL TO CANADA!! ALL AUTHORS WITH PAPERBACKS ARE HAPPY TO DO SO! JOIN IN FRIENDS IN CANADA!

PLEASE try to fit in some challenges and win some awesome books. I am so thankful for all the wonderful author friends who gave of their books for these challenges. And I had fun coordinating them for you. I hope to see you all at each one.

You can see the authors who donated books HERE.

You can take Challenge 2 to win The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz/List Your Stephen King books HERE.

You can take Challenge 3 to win either Immortal Obsession by Denise Rago or Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea /Horror Survey HERE.

You can take Challenge 4 to win Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland/10 Things You’d Take to Survive the Wilderness HERE.

You can take Challenge 5 to win The Cursed Man by Keith Rommel/Finish this Sentence HERE.

CHALLENGE 6~FINALE

For Challenge 6, I decided that since you all worked so hard on your reading, and your busy doing the other challenges, you can just comment to go into a random raffle for three prizes!!!!!! Yep, you can win three (3) wonderful books from three amazing women authors that I adore. You can do the usual below for extra entries.

PRIZE PACK:

Your entries you earn will be put in (duplicated) for each book individually at the same amount. If you can’t have paperback mailed to you due to location or you can’t read e-books, please let me know to not put your entries in for that book(s).

Prize 1:  One (1) signed copy of Immortal Obsession by Denise K. Rago. One of my favorite historical vampire romances. There is a sequel in the works. I am not kidding, you’ll love this book. You can read the review I did of this book HERE and the interview with author HERE.

Prize 2:  One (1) e-book version of Guardian of Fate by L.J. Kentowski. I just had received this book to read and review and I think it sounds awesome. It’s a urban fantasy and you can read Chapter 1 here and get more info:  http://www.ljkentowski.com/

Prize 3:  One (1) e-book version of steamy werewolf romance Dark Wolf Protector by Rhiannon Ellis.  I read and reviewed this book somewhile back and enjoyed it.  You can see it HERE.

Extra Entries~

You can get +1 if you haven’t followed me on Twitter yet. @ErinAlMehairi

You can get +2 for following my blog on networked blogs or by e-mail (go to homepage and enter e-mail).

You can get +2 for following @DeniseKRago on Twitter.

You can get +2 for following Denise on GoodReads at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4410029.Denise_K_Rago

You can get +2 for following L.J. Kentowski at @laurajeanwrites on Twitter.

You can get +2 for following L.J. on GoodReads at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5382939.L_J_Kentowski

You can get +2 for following Rhiannon Ellis at @rhiannon_ellis on Twitter.

You can get +6 for Tweeting this FINALE challenge!!!!

You can get +5 for COMPLETING challenge 5. And +5 for tweeting about challenge 5.

You can get +5 for COMPLETING challenge 4. And +4 for tweeting about challenge 4.

You can get +5 for COMPLETING challenge 3.  And +3 for tweeting about challenge 3.

You can get +5 for COMPLETING challenge 2.  And +2 for tweeting about challenge 2.

Rules: Paperbacks can only be mailed to the U.S. unless you contact for arrangements. All challenges should be complete by Sunday, at 11:59 p.m. YOUR TIME.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend. Winners will be notified next week when I can sort it out!  See you at the blog posts!!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Read-a-Thons

#SpringHorrorRAT Challenge 3! Take the Survey, Win FREE SIGNED COPIES!

I’m going to give a read-a-thon update first, and after you read the rambling, I’ll get to the challenge. (It’s right under the post-it note that says “challenge”). So keep reading and feel free to comment beyond just for challenges.  But comment on it too, to win. We’ve got plenty of fun coming up and great prizes all week long!

Evenings get so filled up by sports, homework, dinner, and Wednesdays are the worst day of them all right now! I filled in some minutes here and there for the Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon with Tweeting about it and publicizing my challenges, not to mention coordinating and writing these blogs. The other spare minutes I’ve been reading on a horror book that is in its editing stages at request of the author (the secret one that is sooooo good, I can’t wait for it to be published) and late last night I almost got finished with Frozen in Time by Marie Symeou (the vampire + mythical Gods novel).

My kids are so funny. I usually let them participate along with me with read-a-thons, but this one I didn’t let on about very much since it was horror. My son saw it on Facebook and they are hearing me talk about it and wanted in on it. At least Emma did. I don’t know why I didn’t think about some books appropriate for her. She is only 8, but she does read Jr. High level and just finished Hunger Games.  She decided to read The Girl Behind the Glass, by Jane Kelley, which is YA about a ghost girl. And she was already reading one of the School of Fear books. There we go. She can’t enter anything, but she just does it to join in the fun. And today, I read a book to my 4-year-old called The Bake Shop Ghost, by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, which was a really cute book about a dead bakery owner who causes lots of trouble over cake.

Yesterday’s Challenge 2 was LIST AS MANY STEPHEN KING BOOKS AS YOU OWN. To recap, you have until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. to finish this challenge, but the sooner the better so you can do the next challenges.

Here is the link to Challenge 2: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/springhorrorrat-challenge-2-how-many-can-you-list-to-win-the-sorrows-by-jonathan-janz/.

To the winner, Jonathan Janz is giving away The Sorrows. For those of you who want to participate, but don’t have a huge list of Stephen King books, if you list any books you have or talk about a few favorites, I’ll randomly choose one of you to receive Just After Sunset hardback from me. See the post for details.

THURSDAY’S CHALLENGE~

We want to hear from you.  We all love certain types of horror and it’s becoming such a broad category that we want to know your thoughts. So you’re going to take a torturous quiz upside down while undergoing chinese water torture. Kidding!!!

CHALLENGE SURVEY:

All you have to do is take this survey. The questions are here below and you will post them with answers onto your blog (or wherever works for you) and then link back to your blog or location under this post. Or leave the answers in the comments section. You’ll get +1 entry for each question answered.

SURVEY QUESTIONS:

1.) What do you define HORROR genre as?

2.) What is your favorite sub-genre of HORROR (paranormal, devil/death, supernatural, blood and gore, etc.)

3.) What do you want to see more from writers in the HORROR field?

4.) Favorite HORROR movie and why?

5.) Favorite HORROR authors and why?

6.) What other elements do you like in your HORROR books (mystery, thriller, romance, historical, etc.)?

7.) What is you favorite HORROR book of all time?

8.) What do you like most about this Spring into Horror read-a-thon?

9.) Why do you think people read HORROR?

10.) Your favorite name of a character in a HORROR book?

EXTRA ENTRIES:

You’ll get +1 extra entry to follow me on Twitter at @ErinAlMehairi, if you haven’t yet.

You’ll get +1 for tweeting this challenge.

You’ll get +1 for tweeting Challenge 2, again.

You’ll get +1 for mentioning me on Twitter.

You’ll get +1 for following my blog by email (go to homepage and to the right above, you should see where to do it). 

Add me to GoodReads for +1. 

Follow Immortal Obession @DeniseKRago on Twitter for +1.

Follow Forest of Shadows author @HunterShea1 on Twitter for +1.

Please don’t forget to tell me what of the extras you did in your comments post to be eligible to get all the extras. And let me know which book you prefer to put entries in for, or tell me how many entries you want into which ones.

This is a GREAT giveaway. Denise Rago’s Immortal Obsession is one of the best historical vampire romances I’ve ever read. You can see her books here: www.denisekrago.com. This is a signed paperback.

Hunter Shea is an amazing horror author published with Samhain Horror and you won’t want to miss out on this signed paperback either. For more info on him go to: www.huntershea.com.

The same rules apply as before, U.S. mailing only for paperbacks, unless you contact me for arrangements. This challenge is open until Sunday at 11:59 p.m., but I suggest doing them sooner rather than later as there is one coming up each day. Hopefully, this lets you be flexible with time.

Any questions, just leave me a note in the comments, on Twitter, or contact me!!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Read-a-Thons

An Interview with a Vampire Writer…Check out this new interview with author Denise K. Rago of “Immortal Obsession”

Ever wonder what makes a writer of vampire romance novel tick? Thought you’ve too encountered a mysterious stranger that you just sensed you knew?

Well, this weekend I have an exciting interview with a favorite new writer of mine that I now consider a friend. She is a fantastic writer and I love her historical appeal mixed in to her paranormal scenery. I did a review of her first paranormal romance, Immortal Obsession, a few months back on this blog, which you can read by clicking on the book cover to the left. I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to her about herself, her book, and what is on the horizon for her.

At the end of the interview we will be giving away a free signed copy of Immortal Obsession, courtesy of Denise, so please stay tuned and read on!!

Erin:  Welcome Denise!

Denise:  Thank you again Erin for granting me this interview.  I love doing them and I find that each one has a different feel to it. 

Q:  I think the idea for your book coming to you in the guise of a mysterious stranger is very interesting. Can you explain that encounter? Have you ever run into him again?

Immortal Obsession was inspired by an otherworldly experience I had in a New York City diner one night six years ago, when my path crossed with that of a beautiful, unusual stranger who sat down at a table behind my husband and I.  Even by New York standards he was unusual. He was very tall, with waist-length blond hair and dressed entirely in black. When I turned around he said hello and as I fell into his dark eyes he felt very familiar to me. 

That weekend I began writing Immortal Obsession and when my husband and I talked about our experience with this mysterious stranger, I realized we saw two very different people that night.  The experience was unnerving, yet exciting. This stranger was the inspiration for my main character, the vampire Christian Du Mauré. 

I have had a few other encounters with him, though we have never spoken, except when he said hello to me the first time and I said hi back. I am not sure why, but I feel uncomfortable approaching him.  I do try to connect with him through the practice of meditation.

Q: Do you think you might have known him “in another life?” Wouldn’t that be something!

I must preface my answer by explaining that I have always believed in reincarnation, past lives and soul connections. 
I learned that the man I saw in the diner is someone I have known from a past life.  I also have learned that there are many more life times we have shared together and that he continually guides me from the other side as his role in my writing and my life continues to unfold. He is my muse. 

Q:  I know you write paranormal romance as your genre. But how do you think you differ from others in this genre? Why do you think this genre seems to be on the rise?

To answer the first question, I feel that my novel tells Christian Du Mauré’s story, which parallels my experiences with this spirit guide from a past life. 

In April of 2006, I took a writing workshop with Canadian horror writer Nancy Kilpatrick. One of my assignments was to explain why I thought vampires were more popular now, than ever before.  I spoke about the events of September 11, 2001 and their impact on our nation.  From a high point near my home I could see the thick plumes of dark smoke from the burning towers and the sad truth is that death, destruction and the inability to control these events in our lives is very real. I attribute the increase in novels in the paranormal genre as a direct correlation to the unsettling nature of the world in which we all find ourselves.  Perhaps creating tales about the vampire is our subconscious coming to terms with the great unknowable and uncontrollable mystery of death as we try to embrace and to control this mysterious power. 

Q:  Did you dream of vampires as a child? Kidding!! What were your interests as a child?

Actually, I dreamt a lot about aliens invading the earth!  Strange I know.  As a child I was an avid reader with a passion for art, history, ballet, archaeology and the natural world.  My mother enrolled me in ballet class at seven years old and I remember loving it but hating the recitals.  I have never liked competition.  I would come home, toss off my ballet slippers and play in my front yard for hours, digging holes in my yard and burying coins or little plastic toys (I have 4 brothers and there were always toys around).  I tried to imagine what future civilizations would think about us when they uncovered these objects.   I also have always had an interest in astrology, ghosts; anything metaphysical. 

Q:  What are your interests now and what do you think has spurred them? or developed them?

I have the same interests! I took my love of archaeology and got my undergraduate degree in Anthropology, with my focus on Cultural Anthropology.  I spent two summers doing fieldwork on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to satisfy my love and compassion for the American Indian.  I took my love of art, history and museums and got my Masters’ Degree in Museum studies.  I still take ballet classes when I can and I am a voracious reader.  I started writing poems, plays and short stories in junior high school and to this day I keep a diary.  I have always wanted to write novels and my horoscope is the first thing I read in any newspaper!

Q:  On to the book now, what do you want to tell your readers about your book (I’ve already told them what I think, I love it!)……

Than k you Erin!  Even though the story is set in present day Manhattan, there are themes in Christian’s life that parallel his experiences as a young vampire in eighteenth century Paris. He loves, regrets, second guesses himself and despairs, just like the rest of us.  

The theme of unrequited and forbidden love comes through in my novel as my characters struggle with their choices as well as their losses.  I think we all have regrets.  Love is an emotion that can sustain us as well as cause us great pain.  Vampire Christian Du Mauré falls instantly in love with a young mortal woman, Josette Delacore. At the risk of giving too much away, they embark on a love affair that not only changes both of their lives forever, but causes them both much heartache. 

Another discovery I have always believed, but now know to be true, is that love never dies.  It moves with us through time which ties into my beliefs of reincarnation and meeting souls in our present lives that we knew in a past life. 

Q:  I hear you have plans for subsequent books about the Christian and Michel characters. What can we all do to help you along so you get them done faster? Kidding! In honesty, what do you want to tell us about your future?

I am currently working on the next two novels in this series, which is titled The Enchanted Bloodline Series.  I am hoping to have at least one of them completed by the fall of 2012.

Q:  As writers we all have different times of day and different influences that encourage or hinder our writing. I know you are a morning person, while I am a night person and can’t take my head out of covers in the morning. Sometimes I get to busy to find time to write. That said, when do you write the best? What encourages you? How to time manage and what advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I love writing and though it is not something I do every day I can honestly say I am always thinking about the story I am trying to tell.  Since I am back to working full-time, writing becomes another part of the balancing act which is my life.  Sitting down to write isn’t just about finding the time.  It’s the mindset.   I am a morning person and actually I am writing this at 5:51 am before I head out to work. 

 Advice for aspiring writers?  Believe in yourself and the story you need to tell.  Understand that writing is a process. Write as the story comes to you, even if it is not in sequence.  If your muse calls to you, answer!

Q:  When an idea comes to a writer, sometimes it isn’t always in a convenient place, right? (I seem to find myself in the shower…) How do you organize your thoughts? What advice do you have for others who have a hard time organizing their plots, characters, and ideas?

I bought a wonderful calendar that has a section for Notes and Lists.  I use it a lot.  I also have a binder which contains portraits and character traits for all of the main characters in Immortal Obsession. I also keep a note pad by my computer as I am always jotting down something. 

I have an accordion file which holds my current manuscript plus any articles I need as a part of my research. I try to keep everything in one place. I have genealogy charts and timelines for the characters as well, especially since most of my vampires were born in the eighteenth century.  Anything to keep me organized and on track with the events in their lives. 

Q:  What authors do you relate to as a person? Then, as a writer?

This was my favorite question yet probably the hardest to answer.  One of my favorite authors is Anne Rice.  Reading Interview with the Vampire in 1976 changed how I viewed the vampire. She has had an influence not only on my love of the paranormal novel but on my writing style as well.  She is approachable, intelligent and I have the utmost respect for her as a person and a writer.   

I also love John Connelly, the Irish author who writes what I feel are incredibly dark yet brilliant thrillers.  His detective Charlie Parker is one of my favorite characters and I so look forward to his novels.  I believe that an authors’ work should speak for itself. I truly admire writers like Harper Lee or Suzanne Collins who seem to live by this principal.

Q: What do you have to say about self-publishing? What are the pros and cons of that for you?

I found the entire experience of self-publishing to be rewarding and a learning experience for me.  I chose Createspace and I have found them to be professional, supportive and always there to answer my questions.  Self-publishing gives the author total control over their work product, from the font type to the cover art.  The entire production is in your control.  As an author who has worked hard over the past few years to bring my novel to life, I find this rewarding. 

On the other end of the spectrum, being in total control means just that. Web design, marketing, publicity all fall on my shoulders.  I was fortunate enough to find a design/marketing team out of San Diego California who not only designed my website but also have been instrumental with marketing advice, printed materials and assisting me in all ways.

(Erin: Sorry for the plug here on my blog during your interview, but I just want to note how important this can be and a well-worth-it investment. Tim and I own a PR business in which we copy write, edit, proofread, consult and we love to help writers. We are a small agency and work from home, from a small rural town and always enjoy talking to new authors and writers. We have over 25 years combined experience in our field.  Our website is www.addisonscompass.com)

Q:  How has the dawn of e-books changed the reading world? How about an author’s world?

It’s much more convenient to download books and generally, they are less expensive.  I still like holding a book in my hands. I am always reading and I have such a hard time parting with a book so my house looks like a library!  E-readers allow for the storage of thousands of books and if I had a career where I travelled or commuted then having an e-reader makes so much sense.  I am glad my book is available as an e-book which again, gives readers the option to download it rather than buy the paperback.

 As e-books become more popular we are losing book stores and personally, browsing a book shop is one of my favorite activities.    There needs to be a balance and I believe there is room for both. 

 Q:  Lessons learned, what would you tell first-time authors?

Hire a professional editor and copy editor to read your manuscript and pay them.  I was fortunate enough to have a very experienced editor; publisher and writer read my draft of Immortal Obsession.  He then wrote me a very detailed letter highlighting what he liked but also how I might make my story better.  I took his advice on most things and then hired a copy editor to read it line by line and also make suggestions.

Writing may be a solitary process but please, hire competent professionals whenever possible. Connect with other writers whether on the internet or if you are lucky enough to meet and talk face to face, do so.  Build a platform.  Visit website and blogs that you enjoy and let them know it. Map out your publishing goals yet be realistic, patient and flexible. 

Q:  Where can other authors or interested readers contact you?

My website link is www.denisekrago.com.  Please visit me there as I have several portraits of some of the characters as well as reviews, interviews and guests posts.  Readers can get a clearer sense of who I am and what the buzz is about my novel. I can also be reached on Facebook and  Goodreads as I have pages on both sites.

Q:  Where can everyone find Immortal Obsession?

Again, visit my website at www.denisekrago.com

There is a buy button with a drop down menu to select from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, Indie Books and Smashwords.  My novel is also available as an e-book too.  If you happen to live in New Jersey near the historic town of Clinton, there is a wonderful book store there which carries a few signed copies of Immortal Obsession

I can’t finish this interview without mentioning the importance of supporting local book stores and the role they play in our communities.  There is room for the massive corporate chain, e-books and local book shops.  Please utilize them so they remain with us.

(Erin: I so agree, Denise. Our home too looks like a small library. We love our bookshelves. I love looking at the covers, touching the pages, imagining the blood, sweat, tears, and joy that the writer poured into the book. I haven’t gotten into e-readers at all yet, though it does seem like something that can be used alongside private book collections and library use. I can’t state enough the important of library funding, and the utilization of libraries, as well as the small town bookstores that let you browse on a balmy, or snowy, Sunday afternoon. If that ever dies, a small part of me will too.)

About Denise K. Rago

An avid reader with a lifelong passion for vampires, history, and art, Rago’s work deftly mixes elements of Gothic art, historical fiction, and the storied literary legacy of the undead. And it all takes place against the backdrop of the world’s most unforgettable cities: a ravished, Revolution-era Paris and modern-day Manhattan.  Denise K. Rago was born and raised in New Jersey, where she resides with her family.

Erin:  I so appreciate your spending this time with us Denise and I have enjoyed getting to know you. You are a fabulous woman of varied intertests much like my own. I hope for future communication and we’ll look forward to your next book!

Immortal Obsession GIVEAWAY

Author Denise Rago is giving away a COMPLIMENTARY copy of her paperback book Immortal Obsession to one lucky reader!  All you have to do is comment on my blog with what you liked best about the interview, comment it on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/almehairierin) and include my blog link www.hookofabook.wordpress.com, or comment it to me on Twitter with a mention @ErinAlMehairi. In one week, a winner from all commenters will be chosen and it could be YOU. YOU don’t want to miss the opportunity to receive this book in the mail. It is phenomenal!

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“Immortal Obsession” by Denise K. Rago: a Vampire Read Filled with History and Romance!

I was thrilled when Denise K. Rago sent me her recent, and first, novel titled “Immortal Obsession.” I love a good vampire read. I teased her when writing her to say I received the book, because when I opened the package in the mail, the package sliced my finger and I bled. Can’t get more ironic than that!  I wondered what I was in for!

As far as the book, I didn’t know what to expect at first, since it was her debut attempt; however, I was more than willing to give it a try. Now, I know you all might say that the time is ripe for vampire thrillers with the onset of the Twilight series and there are a million to choose from. Let me tell you that this is one you WANT to choose!  Some of us have always loved historical paranormal romances in the vein of Anne Rice and it is nice to see someone penning a novel along that line again. My love of historical fiction and art, coupled with a desire of the paranormal, led me to delve into this book with high expectations. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed! This was a superb read! Intrigue, mystery, love, history, art all rolled-up into a page-turning delight of words.

Immortal Obsession is so drenched in the romance of forbidden and forlorn love that anyone who enjoys drama of the heart will be anxious to read this. However, I loved the strong plot and historical elements as well her characters.  Christian DuMaure lives during the revolutionary time of 18th century France where he and his best friend Michel are involved in the civil unrest among several Parisian vampire groups. After an affair with a mortal aristocrat, he must leave her and their love as she is consumed by a fire, but not before she makes him promise to look after her daughter.

As the book moves to present day Manhattan, two descendants of the union between Josette and Christian remain, Amanda and Ryan. Ryan struggles with drug use and becomes blood donor of current underground vampires roaming in New York.  Trying to save him, Amanda witnesses a murder in Central Park and is only saved herself by an eerie stranger who she then becomes determined to find. Little does she know the centuries-old power tug-of-war that she is about to become an integral piece of and how much she will fall in love with the man trying to save her.

This book was amazing. I didn’t want to go to sleep until I read it all and then I wanted to read it again. I’m a few months late writing this review and as I’m writing of it, I’m thinking about reading it again! I certainly can’t wait for a second book which I hope is coming soon! I hear that she will be continuing to give us a glimpse into the lives of Christian and Michel.

Denise K. Rago is a longtime blogger, avid reader and art history buff who earned her Masters’ Degree in Museum Professions in her home state of New Jersey. She also interned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, one of several settings for Immortal Obsession. She resides in New Jersey with her family. For more information on the author, or about Immortal Obsession, go to www.denisekrago.com. Denise seems like a very cultured woman and an interesting new author. I hope to have her interviewed on here soon! 

 

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