by Joey Hill
Series aren’t pre-meditated, at least not for me. I start writing one story, and somewhere along the way, secondary characters show up that are so wonderfully strong, I know they’re going to have their own book. So it was with Devlin, an Australian bushman, and Lady Daniela or “Danny”, the vampire who becomes his mistress, in the upcoming A Vampire’s Claim (March 2009). His “walk on” part in The Mark of the Vampire Queen came on a weapons practice field where the vampires’ servants were all naked, like Greek Olympians of old. It went somewhat as follows:
While Jacob wasn’t in the habit of ogling men’s genitals, the Aussie’s were hard to ignore. Hung like a horse, literally. Devlin’s eyes twinkled. “Like staring at your granny’s face tumor, isn’t it? Can’t hardly look away. Have to have my pants specially tailored, which is more than these blokes can say.”
At the wave of jeering responses from the other combatants, he grinned. “Anyhow, Lord knows, we’re all tired of getting thrashed.” He inclined his head to Jacob. “Knock this bastard Malachi on his arse just once, mate, and I’ll shout you your first beer here in Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Oh, yeah, I thought. Here’s a character. But Danny and Dev had a twist for me. I don’t often delve into history. I love character exploration so much, overly demanding historical research can make me twitchy and grumpy. But when it allows me to expand the characters in an unexpected direction, my reluctance turns into full immersion.
I realized I wanted to do a story of how Danny and Dev met. Well, since the two of them are introduced as secondary characters in the current day Mark of the Vampire Queen, that meant I had to go backwards, and I ended up in 1953 Australia. Dev turned out to be a veteran of WWII, one of the fierce Aussie “diggers” who dealt with the horrific Kokoda Track campaign. And Lady Daniela, “Danny” was a reflection of the type of people one finds in Australia – independent in her thinking, unwilling to bow down to the formalities of the vampire hierarchy, and determined to carve out her own part in it, on her terms. For one thing, unlike most vampires, she’s shied away from having a full servant, so the quick bond she forms with Dev takes her by surprise.
I did a lot of Internet research, read a great deal of Aussie fiction from historic periods – Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, Arthur Upfield’s Death of a Swagman, The Road to Coorain by Jill Ker Conway. I read anthologies about the Outback like Memories of Kalgoorlie by Filton Hebbard. I even indulged in watching Aussie movies like the Thorn Birds mini-series, Ned Kelly with Heath Ledger (sniffle – still miss him), Man From Snowy River, etc. And of course I pestered Oz author Denise Rossetti to death about vernacular and she tried to muffle her laughter (or horror) at my fumbling attempts.
And of course what this research did – besides make sure I had just enough knowledge to be dangerous – was develop the tone of the book. That’s the other cool thing about series; the tone doesn’t have to be the same from book to book. In Vampire Queen’s Servant and Mark of the Vampire Queen, Lyssa, as a 1000-year old vampire queen, was dealing with a far higher level of politics, and Jacob, who had the mannerisms of a modern-day knight, was perfect to stand at her back to help her deal with them. Danny has local bad guys to fight, and who better than a bushman to help her fight them? Lyssa is very old world, very powerful and dangerous. Danny is young, by vampire standards, born in a very egalitarian society, and still finding her way. The difference between the two books is like watching the movie Braveheart versus Rob Roy – one is a change-the-course-of-history book, and the other is one female vampire’s struggle to claim what is hers. But, like the movies, both have gorgeous male leads – lol. Further, having the chance for Lyssa to come back in A Vampire’s Claim, with her earlier servant Thomas, is another perk of series writing – guest appearances by past characters!
All three of the books deal with the push-pull relationship between vampire-servant – in fact, Jacob and Lyssa needed two books to do it justice. What started in Vampire Queen’s Servant was finished in Mark of the Vampire Queen, though my readers tell me they’d like to see another book with the two of them as primary characters, and who knows? Series are a winding river of unpredictable curves. In fact, one of the future books will be set in a predatory cat sanctuary in the western U.S., of all places!
Well, I’ve rattled on enough. Because Lori is kind enough to host 30 days of vampires, I’d like to give one blog reader a chance to win a package set of the first two in the series (The Vampire Queen’s Servant and Mark of the Vampire Queen). Or, if you’ve read those, a signed copy of A Vampire’s Claim, when I receive my author copies. That will be late February, just before release – delayed gratification!
All you have to do is go to my website, www.storywitch.com, and read the excerpt from A Vampire’s Claim (navigate to it from Peek Inside the Cauldron if you’d like). Then come back here and post what you like or don’t like about the excerpt, or any other reasonably intelligent comment (grin). Praise or criticism is acceptable – I improve from both! I’ll select a winner sometime on November 22, Eastern Time, and post the winner in the comments section of this blog. (Prize can be shipped worldwide.) And whether or not you choose to play, I welcome any comments and questions about me or my work. I’d love to talk to you. Thanks for having me here!
Order books by Joey Hill:
A Vampire’s Claim
The Mark of the Vampire Queen (Vampire Queen, Book 2)
The Vampire Queen’s Servant (Vampire Queen, Book 1)
I enjoyed the excerpt… why do people never listen to warnings… :D But then you would not have your story… :D An Australian vampire… that is interesting… I love when authors add real detail to a story as long as they don’t drown me in it! Thanks for sharing!!!
I have to say you’re a new author to me and I haven’t read any of your books yet…I just found out about u about 2 months ago and I haven’t had the chance yet to buy your books.
I read the excerpt… I love how you set an old jukebox in the bar… I can’t wait to read your books for this series! :D
I also have a question for you Joey…
when your writing do you have to have or enjoying having anything go on around you… like music? Or do you need absolute silence?
Colleen, thanks for that! Yeah, it’s always tempting, when an author gets immersed in research, to put “too much” in. We’re so excited about all the things we’ve learned, we think our readers want to know all that stuff, too! Diana Gabaldon said something to the effect that, “while I may find it very exciting what they used as toilet paper in historic Scotland, if it doesn’t forward the story, then it shouldn’t go in”. Too much historic detail can definitely drag the story down. Fortunately, my Aussie critique partner and fellow author, Denise Rossetti, really helped with that. She’d post comments “getting to be a little much here” in the margins (grin). Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.
As far as the warning…you’re right. In horror movies, if they didn’t go down to the creepy basement, it wouldn’t be much of a story. However, Dev’s story turns out much better than that, despite his ignoring the internal warning. :>
Danielle, welcome to my world, then, and hope you’ll find something there you like! I always welcome feedback from my readers, good or bad. And yes, I almost always listen to music. I arrange my playlists for my Ipod or on Itunes, so each book essentially has a “soundtrack”. For instance, today I’m working on Dante’s Mermaid, the third in my mermaid/angel series, and I was using Braveheart. I’m at a point where tension is building and Alexis is about to be kidnapped and pulled through a rift into a terrible world, the world where our hero lives. So Braveheart’s mixture of battle and poignant scores is perfect.
I won 5 books from WriteMinded and one of them was THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN. I’m delighted! Thank you so much!
Oh how cool! I’m excited for your mermaid/angel’s series too! That one and the Vampire Queen’s series are the ones I’m very interested in… usually when I’m writing I gotta have music going to (I just do some journaling once in awhile)… it just helps keep the juices flowing.
Congrats on winning that contest Mel!
Wow, I would love to have A Vampire’s Claim as I alread have and cherish the other two. LOL
I love this series and look forward to this new story.
Mel, congratulations!! Can’t remember if you have Vampire Queen’s Servant, but if not, be sure and pick that one up when you get a chance. Mark of the Vampire Queen is the sequel, the conclusion of Jacob and Lyssa’s story. It can, technically, stand on its own, but most of my readers tell me that it’s more rewarding if you read VQS first. Of course, you may already have, so that’s a moot point! (smile).
Danielle, I always like hearing that journaling still happens. I hope it never becomes a lost art form. We learn so much about past generations when we read through personal journals, and I like thinking future generations will get that chance – though thinking back to the last time I kept one, there were some pretty embarrassing things in it (lol).
Deidre, so glad to hear that! And I think you all will love this latest installment. Dev is just such a perfect hero – a mix of sexy stoicism and yet sudden bursts of passion that made it impossible for me not to become besotted with him. I could completely understand why Danny couldn’t let him go (wink).
Ya, there are some pretty embarassing things in my journal too Joey… lol :-)
I have been waiting for your series to be published as mass paperbacks (budget concerns you know). I can’t tell how many times I have picked up the Vampire Queen Servant. It is being sold at a bargain price at amazon. I am ordering it now.
Flip, thanks so much! I know Berkley does take many of their trade titles eventually into mass market, but I’ve seen them do it less for erotic romance – not sure why, except some of our major outlets for mass market, like Target and Wal-mart, won’t stock anything they consider erotic romance. Maybe that’s the reason. Regardless, Amazon and B&N both often offer great deals on the trades, within a few dollars of the mass market price, so that’s an excellent alternative when watching funds. Hope you enjoy it!
Donna, there is a dance, and it gets quite…involved (wink). They will explain the bodyguards later, no worries. Now, as far as the series issue – I of course want you to read all three, and I’m likewise a fanatic about reading series in order. I’ve had too many of them I’ve read out of order and felt like I didn’t get the full enjoyment of the book because of the missing pieces.
That said, however, I’m happy to report that A Vampire’s Claim is one you can safely read out of order if you decide you want to do so. The first two books of the series are in the present day, and focus on Lady Lyssa and Jacob. While Danny and Dev are introduced at the end of the second book as a vampire-servant duo Lyssa knows, A Vampire’s Claim happens about 50 years before the first two in the series. Lyssa does make an appearance, with her previous servant Thomas, but there are no spoilers. So I leave it to your discretion.
I was so glad to see there is a third story in this series and cannot wait to read A Vampire’s Claim!!
Jennifer, I’m waiting on pins and needles for you to read it and see what you think! :D
Hi Joey! A Vampire’s Claim sounds great and the excerpt was very good!
Hi Joey!!!! So can’t wait on that new one!! I too must get Mermaid as well! Otherwise besides being a little behind, I never miss these of yours! I so forgot where I was when I finished that excerpt and realized I was to come back here (for some reason the link up there didn’t work so I just went to your site and found the upcoming book! (And all the others!) I love Dev’s voice. His reaction to her totally had him lost as well as I was! And to leave it there and we have to wait til March is kind of no fair! :lol: Thanks for the peek, it honestly rocks Joey.
Thanks for posting the link on your FaceBook page. This Vampire blog was a fascinating read. I love insights into research and character development. I’m having a very “Aussie” morning, having just joined a FB group in admiration of Hugh Jackman whose work (and biceps) inspire me.
Amy, so glad you enjoyed it!
Caffey, I hate waiting, too, but I look at it this way – used to be, NY pubs put about 6-9 months minimum between author releases, and lately they’re trying a new strategy of consecutive releases to build readership – so this is a major improvement! (wink) Thanks for the wonderful reaction to the excerpt – it was a great book to write. My rationalization above aside, I’m bouncing up and down for you to read it!
Rowena, sign me up for that fan club – I love that man!! I would have seen the movie Australia for him alone, but after having done all the research on 1950’s Australia, I can’t wait to see it! Thanks for visiting Facebook – I just started a Facebook page and am learning all the ins and outs.
Don’t forget everyone, I’ll do the drawing later today and post the winner in the comments section here. Now I have to do a quick grocery run (yuck!!) before starting the writing day.
Ack! I just realized I said Nov 22 for the prize date in my blog post, which is Saturday, not today! Did I mention I’m terrible at dates? Okay, just in case somebody is counting on having today to make their post, I’ll come back and post the winner in comments tomorrow morning, if you all don’t mind waiting about 18 more hours! Sorry for the mix up!
i like the except and really think the cover is HOTTTTTTT :mrgreen:
Will have to add to my wish list!!!
I have another question for you Joey…
Out of all your books… which is your favorite? or which did you have the MOST fun writing? (if you have more then one that’s always good… :D )
BlackRoze and Leigh – thank you! And I love that cover too…all those sweaty muscles.
Hey, Danielle, good question. Each book tends to be my favorite as I’m writing it (okay, except when I’m in first draft phase, at which point I’m seriously considering being a Wal-mart greeter), but looking back I believe my favorite is a pairing, Ice Queen/Mirror of My Soul, because I was so drawn into Marguerite and Tyler’s story. Marguerite was such a damaged heroine, but so incredibly strong, she was a study in contrasts. And Tyler was perfect for her, but he had to work really hard to win her love. And of course, the idea of writing a book about two sexual Dominants coming together was just irresistible.
Now the most fun to write, hands down, was the novella Chance of a Lifetime – I tend to spend a bit of time on my books, but I churned that one out in 3-4 weeks, as a relief from the much more intense threesome of Ice Queen, Mirror and Mistress of Redemption. It was just a fun, beautiful fantasy of a cop sweeping a girl off her feet during a routine pullover on a rural road. It was delightful.
That was a captivating excerpt! I thought it really gave us a taste of Dev’s personality, the way he interacted with Elle, for instance. I can’t wait to see what happens next. . .
I loved the excerpt! I’ve always wondered too why we don’t listen to our instincts more? LOL But of course it makes for much more interesting story-telling if we don’t. :D
I am also really wanting to see the movie Australia. Hugh Jackman… mmmm :wink:
I love that yor stories are based in Australia! Definitely interesting because the country has such a fascinating culture – similar but different from ours. And vampires and smexy Australian men… Mmmm… again :wink:
Kimberly and Sidhe, thanks so much for those comments. Kimberly, only another month or so to wait (hooray), and Sidhe, I’ll be lining up with you to see that movie, for sure. I loved learning about the country and culture – it was so similar to ours in many ways, particularly their historic development.
WINNER! Danielle, you are the winner of the random drawing, and I’m so excited, particularly since you said you hadn’t read any of my books yet. Let me know if you’d rather have the two-book set of Vampire Queen’s Servant and Mark of the Vampire Queen now, or hold out and wait for a copy of A Vampire’s Claim when I get my author copies at the end of December. Send me an email at email@example.com with your choice and your snail mail address. And congratulations again!
Thank you again, everyone, for letting me visit. I’ve had a wonderful time. Oh, and I’ve kept the blog marked for comment notification, so if anyone has any lingering comments or questions, I’ll be sure to respond. Happy holidays!
Congrats Danielle on your win! :D
Woohoo! Thanks Joey! I emailed you!
Thanks, Colleen! :D
Loved the excerpt! HOT cover…….
Congrats on winning, Danielle!
Another book to add to my TBR pile!
I know that I am way late, but I just stumbled across this and have been going back and reading all the past posts.
These books sound fascinating and I have to admit that I a sucker for a series…that is enough to make me do a double look because I love to meet and revisit characters. As an added bonus, these sound excellent!
Oh, and I should have mentioned…congrats Danielle!