Posts tagged with: vampire romance

There’s No Denying Christina Phillips!

cp 4I’m delighted today to welcome back a good friend and a fabulous writer, Aussie via the U.K. resident Christina Phillips.

Christina is here to tell us about her hot new romance for Ellora’s Cave, BLOODLUST DENIED, featuring a duke who is really a vampire. Or is that perhaps a vampire who is really a duke? Whatever, he sounds like one hot vampire dukish dude!

You can find out more about Christina and her wonderful books at her website:

You can also find out about Christina on social media:

Twitter –

Facebook –

Goodreads –

CP 1You can buy BLOODLUST DENIED from Amazon here:

Christina, welcome back to the lair. You’re one of our favorite guests. Congratulations on your new release from Ellora’s Cave, BLOODLUST DENIED. Can you tell us about this story?

Thanks so much for having me back in the lair, Anna! I always enjoy hanging out here and having fun (I’m not just talking about Sven, honestly!!)

BLOODLUST DENIED is a dark Regency romance about a vampire duke and a heroine who is a Maiden of Death. Alexius lost his beloved wife millennia ago, and his existence now is dedicated to hedonistic pleasure. He takes what he wants, and he wants Morana.

But for a reason he cannot fathom he wants more from her than merely her blood. She entrances him with her seductive dance and fearless manner and he decides to keep her until he tires of her.

Morana, an immortal vampire hunter, is irresistibly drawn to Alexius despite his aura of danger. But after one sizzling encounter she flees, knowing they can never have a future together.

CP 2Three years later Fate draws them together once again. Abduction, bondage and decadent seduction feature in Alexius’ plans for retribution, but before the sun rises dynamics have shifted and he’s the one fighting the silken bonds of captivity.

But as they fall under each other’s erotic spell the past and present collide and unless they discover the truth behind the lies, Death will triumph once more.

Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this book?

I’ve always loved reading Regency romances but had never written a book set during that time. Then about four years ago, after I’d finished FORBIDDEN but before it sold, I saw a call for musical inspired stories from Ellora’s Cave.

The concept really fascinated me, and it obviously excited my muse too as I immediately had an image of a dark haired seductress dancing in a sordid London back alley. Then the hero appeared from the shadows and I was hooked! Especially when he turned out to be a very bad assed vampire living as a peer of the realm! As it turned out I never did submit this book to Ellora’s Cave at the time due to other deadlines, but last year I dusted it off, gave it a good edit and submitted it. Funny how things work out! 

CP 6What’s coming up next for you?

At the moment I’m working on the second book in my Highland Warrior Chronicles. These books have been acquired by Ellora’s Cave and feature gorgeous Scot warriors and their brave Pictish princesses. The books are set in the ninth century during the turbulent time when both Scot and Viking coveted Pictland so there’s plenty of juicy conflict! I have the unedited blurb of the first book, HER SAVAGE SCOT, up on my website if you want a sneak peek.

Since we last saw you, you’ve released another Roman Britain story, BETRAYED. Can you tell us about this story? Are there more Roman stories to come? I hope so! I love them!

Thank you Anna! I absolutely love my Roman/Druid world and can’t tell you how thrilled I am that BETRAYED is finally out there.

I would just like to say that BETRAYED can easily be read alone without having read the previous books set in this world.

BETRAYED features Nimue, an acolyte of the moon goddess Arianrhod. Nimue made a brief appearance at the end of CAPTIVE when she was charged by the Briton king to protect his wife and daughter. Until that point I had no idea about a third book, but Nimue so fascinated me that I had to discover what happened to her after she disappeared. BETRAYED picks up her story at that point.

CP 5Brave, loyal and passionate, Nimue is determined to complete her mission no matter what. But her confident exterior hides a vulnerable core. She’s tortured by secrets from her past and when she realises that she is falling in love with Tacitus—a Roman officer and her people’s bitterest enemy—her world is turned upside down.

Tacitus is a loyal warrior of Rome, from a privileged patrician background. But he’s tormented by his past and determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps. Honorable almost to a fault all he sees when he looks at Nimue is a beautiful, fragile woman that he must protect at all costs. It’s beyond his comprehension that she might be a warrior in her own right.

Here’s an excerpt from a review: “Tacitus is a wonderful hero, masterful and passionate…  I recommend this novel to all lovers of erotic romance, especially those who like a historical theme and a strong heroine and a leading man who is the embodiment of male sexuality and virtue. ” 5 Stars A Readers Review

I have a fourth book, TAINTED, going through the editorial process at the moment. This features Gawain, a Celtic warrior haunted by his past and pledged to rid his land of the Roman invaders. This is also the story of Antonia, a Roman patrician abused and discarded by her powerful husband, who wants only a quiet life with her beloved father. But she hides a deadly secret that could be her undoing. These two wounded souls connect, initially only for a purely physical relationship, but it soon evolves into something much deeper. A dangerous love that Rome will never allow.

CP 7We haven’t seen you since late last year when you visited us to tell us about your wonderful ARCHANGEL OF MERCY under your Christina Ashcroft moniker. What’s been happening in your life since then?

Life has been manic since then! Actually it’s been manic for the last couple of years! I was delighted in January to discover that ARCHANGEL OF MERCY was a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Favorite Paranormal Romance Awards. Apart from that I’ve barely managed to poke my head out of the editing cave this year, as I’ve been working on revisions for BETRAYED and BLOODLUST DENIED for Ellora’s Cave, edited the follow up book to ARCHANGEL OF MERCY and have been working on a Secret Project. I’m a bit knackered…

I know you work very closely with your talented (and lovely!) critique partners Amanda Ashby and Sara Hantz. Can you tell us a little bit about this relationship and how you go about working together, especially when Amanda and Sara are writing young adult stories and your books are hot, hot, hot!

By the way, in the photo from left to right, it’s Sara, Amanda and Christina! A rogues’ gallery if ever I saw one, 😀

CP 3It sounds crazy, doesn’t it! But it works wonderfully for the three of us. We met more than ten years ago on the e-Harlequin boards, when we were all targeting different lines. Over the years we moved onto different things but the funniest thing is, it was Amanda and Sara who first suggested I try writing an erotic romance.I totally blame them for me finally getting published!

But for the more nitty gritty, we work well together because we each have different strengths that apply across all genres. Amanda has an amazing editorial eye for the “big picture” plot structure and pacing. Sara is our logical one and is fantastic when it comes to grounding us and asking “but why/how” (“just because” does not cut it with her!). I’m the Emotional Punch one and have a beady eye for continuity.

I’m giving away one e-copy of BETRAYED to one commenter and one e-copy of BLOODLUST DENIED to a second commenter. Just let me know whether hot warriors or hot vampires are your favorite kind of hero and why?

BanditBootyOoh, two chances to win? You’re too good to us! OK, people, get commenting and good luck!

Making Out Like A Bandit (In More Ways Than One!)

An guest blog by Virna DePaul with Tawny Weber

Thank you so much to my friend Tawny Weber and all the Romance Bandits for having me here today. With my first debut novel, Chosen By Blood (A Para-Ops Novel) having just released, you can bet I’ve been doing a lot of promotion, and that includes a lot of blog writing. That’s why I hope you’ll indulge me as I do a post that’s a little different, just for fun.

10 Things I Love About The Hero Of My Debut Novel:

  1. His name. Knox Devereaux. As sexy, sophisticated, and complex as he is…
  1. His body. Actually, both of his bodies. His “normal” one, and the one it transforms into when he’s impassioned (by blood lust or just plain lust).

“Beneath his loose clothing, his muscles hardened and swelled. Knox grew taller, broader, not enough to rip his clothes but enough to make them strain their seams. He felt his fangs lengthen and knew from the sound of Lucy’s gasp that his eyes had shifted from silver to a demonic, glowing scarlet. Control slithered away and a primal growl vibrated in his throat.”

  1. His loyalty to his clan.
  1. His love for his family.
  1. He’s a vampire.
  1. His passion for the heroine.

“’There is no us,’ Felicia said sadly.

‘I refuse to accept that.

‘You desire me now, but you’re right—I have limited years on Earth. I need to live those years honoring what I believe. I don’t believe in—in what you’re asking me for. Besides,’ she reasoned desperately, ‘I’m just a passing fancy. When I’m gone, you’ll be glad—’

‘No.’ He growled and pulled her into his arms. She saw the terror that flashed in his eyes. ‘No.’ Before she could stop him, his mouth took hers. And it was exactly as she’d feared it would be.


His mouth took but it also gave. It plundered even as it cherished. His tongue rubbed hers, then retreated, mimicking a different dance and causing the music to swell even louder, until it obliterated everything but the moment.

It was heaven. The kind of heaven one only dreams about, especially when her life has been filled with fear and uncertainty and pain. The kind of heaven that a mortal can’t have.

She wrenched away and backed up, wiping her hand against her lips.

He was breathing roughly, his expression almost desperate. ‘You can’t run from this forever, Felicia.’”

  1. His sense of humor.
  1. He’s a bad ass.

“Knox returned his attention to Hunt, who not only met his stare head-on, but jerked his chin in challenge. ‘Might as well get it over with now,’ Hunt drawled.

Laughter, a sinister, chilling sound, tickled Knox’s throat.

Oh yeah, he thought.

Things were going to get a whole lot more fun before the day was through.

Knox took three lightning-quick steps toward Hunt, then froze. His nostrils flared as he caught her scent. A second later, he saw the woman standing just behind Hunt.

Felicia. What was she doing—

Before he could complete the thought, a heavy weight slammed into his chest, knocking the air out of him and propelling him off his feet. He didn’t stop until his body slammed into a wall on the other side of the room. Knox hit the ground. Stunned, but immediately moving into a crouch, he blinked as dust and plaster rained down on him, momentarily obstructing his vision. When it cleared, he saw Felicia wrestling with the

werebeast. And then he saw the werebeast shove her down.

With an enraged shout, Knox teleported so fast he caught her before impact. He lowered her, gently but swiftly, then almost instantly wrapped his fingers around Dex Hunt’s throat. Imagining that Hunt’s throat was an aluminum can, Knox squeezed.

Only one thought remained.

Kill the bastard who’d touched Felicia.”

  1. His love for his father, the same father that was branded a traitor for telling humans how to kill vampires:
  1. Uh, he’s a (Hot) VAMPIRE:

“Felicia grabbed his hand. It was dark out, almost too dark for him to see her, but she wasted no time in cupping her hand around his neck and pulling his head toward her. Not to her lips but to her neck.

‘Drink from me… I feel fine, Knox. I promise.’

He swallowed hard. Felt his mouth watering. “I’ll drink just a little. Just enough to . . .” Without another word, he gave in…Her taste filled his mouth, then his throat, then spread to every part of him…He felt the urge to suck her dry, to drink and drink and drink until every last drop of her was inside him…

Still, he forced himself to slow down, to suck softer, to pull back slightly. He felt his renewed strength, even with the small amount of blood she’d given him. He didn’t want to take too much—

She pushed his head down deeper, whispering for him to take as much as he wanted, and her full acquiescence was too much to fight. He might not need more of her blood, but he wanted it.

He gave himself over to his hunger. Planting his hands on her hips, he rubbed his body against her as he drew on her vein in long, languorous pulls. He lifted his hands to her breasts, cupping them. He felt the strong urge to leave her vein so that he could suck at her nipples.

That’s when he knew he would always be drawn to Felicia for who she was and not what she could give him.

He would always want her more than he wanted her blood.”

Virna DePaul is a former criminal prosecutor whose debut mass market paranormal romantic suspense novel, Chosen By Blood (Book 1 in the Para-Ops series), comes out May 3, 2011 by Berkley Books. In addition, Virna writes contemporary romantic suspense for Harlequin Romantic Suspense (Dangerous To Her, September 2011) and HQN (new series launching April 2012). Virna has also self-published several novels, including “A Vampire’s Salvation,” “This Magic Moment,” and the “Red-Hot Cops” series under the name Ava Meyers. Visit her at

Virna is giving away a Para-Ops tote filled chocolate, a Para-Ops mug, sunglasses, and my e-books, A Vampire’s Salvation, a paranormal vampire novella, This Magic Moment, a contemporary romance, and my craft book with Tawny Weber, Love Writing: A Guide To Writing and Getting Your Romance Novel Published (Without Losing Your Perspective, Passion Or Sanity).

Blurb of Chosen By Blood:

United by fate. Bound by desire.

Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and Otherborn— humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA—still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.

Leader of an Otherborn clan, half-breed vampire Knox Devereaux would do anything to find a cure for the anti-vamp vaccine slowly starving his people into extinction. When the FBI contacts him about leading a team of hand-selected Others on a mission to reclaim the stolen antidote, Knox accepts. His new assignment places him in direct contact with Special Agent Felicia Locke, the beautiful human he’s craved since their very first meeting.

In bookstores now and available on!

Colleen Gleason Launches New Vampire Series

I’m happy to be hosting Colleen Gleason today to celebrate the release of The Vampire Voss, the first in her new vampire series. Not only have Colleen and I been friends since we both finaled in the Golden Heart in 2003, but I’m a big fan of her work as well.

For those of us who are fans of your Gardella Vampire Chronicles, tell us how your new vampire series, the Regency Draculia, differs.

Both series are set during Regency-era England, with the Gardellas around 1819-1820 and the new series during the Napoleonic War—specifically in 1804.

The biggest differences are in the vampire mythology and also in the structure of the series. The Gardellas are really more of a historical urban fantasy series, following the life—and loves—of one heroine, Victoria Gardella. The books are really all about her as a sort of superhero (a vampire hunter) in a historical time period. There are no “good” vampires in the Gardellas, they aren’t ever the protagonists or heroes/heroines. The vampires are all evil, and meant to be slain.

I took a different tack with the Regency Draculia. These books are definite vampire romances, with a spotlighted hero and heroine in each book and a happy ending for them at the end of each story. There are over-arching subplots and romances—a la Suzanne Brockmann and Eloisa James—but each book does end happily for the main couple.

The mythology of my Draculia vampires is much different from that of the Gardellas as well, for in these books, there are vampires that run the gamut from being totally evil to being vampires with a conscience. The vampires in these books have basically sold their souls to Lucifer, and they are living their immortal lives with this knowledge—and with all of its benefits and repercussions.

One of the things that make my vampires different is that each of them has an Asthenia–a specific weakness.

Like the vampires of legend who recoil at the sight of silver, and who are weakened by its presence, each of my vampires have a similar “Achilles Heel”—in this case, I call it their Asthenia. And for each Dracule, it’s something different. For one, it could be sapphires. For another, it could be an oak tree. For another, it could be grass or horses or rosemary.

After writing the Gardella series, you began writing post-apocalyptic stories as Joss Ware. What brought you back to vampires?

I love to write historical novels (in fact, the Joss Ware series almost feels historical in some ways, due to the lack of infrastructure and limited technology in that world), and when it was suggested that I try my hand at a true vampire romance novel, set in the Regency, I jumped on it. I love that time period, and I’ve come to love my vampires too. 😉 After writing five books with all-evil vampires, it was a fun and interesting challenge to twist my brain a different way and to write about sexy, dark, compelling vampires.

Why do you think vampire stories continue to ride a wave of popularity?

I think there are several reasons, one of which is the aspect of escape. We—or many of us—read for escape, and what better place to escape than to a place where we know it’s not real…and where things are often much darker than they are in our own world.

Another thing, however, that I think makes vampires popular is the environment in which they live: darkness, sensuality, forbiddenness (is that a word?)…all of that makes these characters intriguing and compelling. And there’s the sexual aspect—the penetration, the need, the angst and the reality of what is it like to live forever? Those are all fascinating, titillating aspects of vampire lore, and each author approaches them in a different way.

As a reader, which authors of vampire stories do you enjoy most?

Some of my favorites are Lara Adrian and Jeaniene Frost, but I confess that I don’t read very much in the way of paranormal romances…simply because I write them.

I am a huge Buffy fan, however. 😉

Tell us a bit about the characters in The Vampire Voss, the first in your new series.

Voss, the Viscount Dewhurst, has been a vampire for a hundred and fifty years. He agreed to sell his soul to Lucifer, and now he has everything he’s ever wanted: immortality, scads of money, imperturbable power, and all the women he can handle. If a man were to live forever with all the power and pleasure and money he ever wanted, I believe he would be just like Voss: Selfish, hedonistic, and, at some point, bored with it all.

Everything is going along just fine—if not becoming a little routine after more than a century of pure hedonism with no negative consequences—until he meets Angelica Woodmore…who is the first woman he finds himself unable to enthrall and seduce.

Angelica is one of three sisters (the eldest of whom is featured in the second book in the series, The Vampire Dimitri) who has a bit of the “Sight”, courtesy of their half-Gypsy grandmother. She becomes a pawn in a struggle between two factions of vampires (if I may….the “good” vampires versus the “bad” vampires).

Because of who he is, Voss is studiously neutral in this struggle—playing both sides—because he wants to use Angelica’s powers for his own protection. And Angelica is terrified of vampires.

So…you can see where this is going. 😉

And then add in all of the aspects we love about Regency romance: the balls, the dance cards, the manners and repartee, the powerful, rakish viscounts and the bored, brooding earls…and you’ve got a good feel for the series.

Also, there are two more books in the series, coming in early May and early June: In The Vampire Dimitri, we meet a tortured, brooding vampire who has come to strongly regret his bargain with Lucifer and who is trying, in vain, to break that bond. Too bad the woman he falls for is fascinated by his Draculean bent. And in The Vampire Narcise, we meet a damaged female vampire who believes that love isn’t for immortals—because nothing can last forever, especially for someone whose soul is not their own.

Thanks so much for having me here! I’m going to give away a copy of the second book in the series, The Vampire Dimitri, to a commenter today.

To enter to win, either ask me a relevant question about the series or writing, etc., and/or tell me…if you were a Dracule, what would your Asthenia be?
Thanks, Colleen. Can’t wait to start this new series. You know how anxious I was to get my hands on each new Gardella book.

So, get to commenting, folks. 🙂 There’s a great new book up for grabs.

Goth Turns Golden

by Cassondra Murray

A few years ago I joined a local chapter of RWA and met its published authors. Among those authors was a lady memorable because of her long red hair, clear Celtic complexion and her awesome offbeat black outfits. But most memorable was her sense of genuine care and consideration for me as a new member, my writing, my career as a writer– her kindness.

It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know WHO SHE WAS at the time. I might have been intimidated. Granted, she hadn’t quite become an international phenomenon (I love saying that) but she was well on her way.

Now she is one. She and her Dark Hunters have a worldwide following that obliterates boundaries that normally separate readers–boundaries like age, gender and genre preference. Yet, she’s still that same encouraging, generous person I met at my first local meeting. And in spite of her long list of accomplishments, that’s what still impresses me most about this woman.

Since that first meeting, Sherrilyn Kenyon has gone on to become a #1 NYT Bestseller, with more than 15 million books in print, and is poised to blow those numbers out of the water with her next release.

She’s in the middle of her next project for St. Martin’s Press, but she was kind enough to visit us in the lair, and answer some questions posed by the Banditas and their friends.

If you’ve been to her website, or heard her keynote speeches, you know that Sherri has had her share, and a lot more, of overcoming the odds to make her life and her career work.

She’s walked through the fire of financial devastation, markets turned cold to her writing, illness and hospitalization with her pregnancies, death of beloved family members, and nearly losing her newborn child.

When you hear her story, you aren’t left with a lot of excuses for not following your dream. She’ll tell you she’s not one for looking back. She’s about moving forward. Still, I’ve wondered what sustained her through all of that. I asked her how she’s managed to hold on to her “self”—that woman I met at my first RWA meeting. I think I’d be a jaded, hard and unfeeling person by now. But Sherri isn’t.

“The thing that kept me going was my family,” she said, “and my characters’ unwillingness to let go until their story was told.”

Sherri has written stuff other than romance, but she’s made her mark writing about relationships—in particular relationships that lead to redemption—for those who “shouldn’t” have it according to traditional standards. How did such a multi-faceted writer come to focus on love and happily-ever-after? Honestly, how did a Goth chick from Georgia end up writing some of the most powerful love stories of our generation? Other than the obvious roof over her head, what do these love stories do for Sherri Kenyon?

“ I’ve had to overcome a lot of heartache and loss in my life,” Sherri said. “Especially in my childhood. My friend Kim let me borrow one of her romance novels and I was forever changed. The characters had bad things happen to them in their lives and you know what? They got to live HAPPILY EVER AFTER! That showed me that in life, you can have many trials. Sometimes, even things you wouldn’t believe you’d live through, but in the end, you can have a HAPPILY EVER AFTER like the characters.”

Sherri is adamant about this.

“I believe in romance as a reality, not a fairy tale, and it’s the believing that characters and people are worthy of having someone to love and someone to love them in return that is the basis for my stories, and sharing that with the fans is a joy.”

It’s clear that Sherri honestly appreciates each one of those fans. I once got to hear her talk about the business of writing during a university class, where she said, “I know how hard it is to earn seven dollars, or fifteen dollars, and this person has chosen to take that hard-earned money and spend it on my book. I will never take that for granted.” Sherri has always said the most gratifying moments for her are those when a fan says her books have touched them in some way.

Author Dianna Love spent a good part of 2007 with Sherri on a whirlwind book tour, and got to see the writer-fan interactions up close and personal.

“I was impressed by her sincere interest in every person who walked up to her at a signing,” Dianna said. “In the lobby of a hotel, at the airports (when we are normally run hard after being in a different city every day for several weeks), in a restaurant – wherever. She has the nicest fans. They will arrive hours in advance of a signing – numbering over 150 at each of last year’s stops so I expect even more this year. They visit with each other, laughing as they share stories or are excited to meet someone in person they only knew by an online name. 40% of Sherri’s readers are men. Many couples come together,bringing their children. Sherri brings lots of things to give away and everyone is given a free raffle ticket so we can give away special items. Our goal is that signings are always an event. And she is just as real and caring as what everyone sees at the signings.”

This is a big year for Sherrilyn Kenyon. The Dream Hunter release, Upon The Midnight Clear hit #1 on the NYT in November 2007.

Dream-Chaser hit #1 on the NYT in Feb 2008.

On top of that, she’s just released Phantom In The Night, a collaboration with Dianna Love. Sherri talked a little about what it was like to work with another writer.

“The B.A.D. Agency collaboration was tremendous fun. Dianna and I worked well together and she’s an amazing writer.”

I’ve heard Dianna and Sherri joke about their time together living moment to moment trying to make the next book signing as they toured around the country, and about their crazy back and forth dialogues as they worked on Phantom through it all. But what came out was a really interesting blend of the two voices. I’ve read Sherri’s books, and of course, Dianna’s, but this didn’t sound like either—and yet it sounded like both. Almost a whole new “writer” formed from two.

” We became close friends long before we ever considered working together,” Dianna said. ” Sherri…would never intentionally hurt someone’s feelings and neither would I, which is why we had to have a very honest conversation about writing together. We both believe a successful collaboration depends on honesty and agreed on “no sacred cows” – that anyone’s words were up for editing – because the most important thing to both of us was the final story. We laughed a lot. I think a similarity between us is to not take ourselves too seriously, which made discussing ideas and changes easy. “

“It’s like fitting a puzzle together.” Sherri said. “Dianna has certain strengths and I have certain strengths and together they just sort of fit. ”

“We spent some time discussing the difference in our styles–” Dianna said, “with her trademark humor and I write dark/edgy – to assure we could create a strong story while not damaging our friendship. It takes a great deal of trust to work together. Neither of us had any idea what it would be like to collaborate, no plan, no guidelines. We just went for it. We both wrote through every page to give the story a seamless feel. We were both invested in only one thing – to write the best story we could. “

Of course, we’d laugh at each other and disagree just like any team,” Sherri said, “but in the end I believe we’ve forged a great partnership.”

And a successful one. Phantom In The Night hit the NYT list on June 19th, and it’s remained there for the past two weeks.

There’s a bit of a crackle in the air right now—it’s the anticipation—so thick you can taste it. This is it.

The Year of Acheron.

There’s a counter on Sherri’s website, counting down the days, minutes, and even milli-seconds until the release of Acheron. Fans have waited a long time for Ash to get his story. We’ve hurt with him, ached for him as we saw him through the stories of the Dark Hunters. This is a pivotal book in the series. Knowing how Sherri feels about her characters—that they’re real—alive—I had to wonder if this was a particularly emotional story for her to tell. Was it difficult for her to approach?

“Definitely,” Sherri said. “Acheron’s story is an emotional one. It was hard to write because I’ve had him to myself for so long, nurturing him and now he’s going out into the big, bad world. I hope the readers experience the emotions I went through while telling the story of his life.”

Sherri has said that characters have often gotten in her way and demanded their own stories, not in the order she’d intended. Was Ash cooperative with his story when the time came to write it?

“Yes, he was. I’ve had the bulk of it written for many years before I sat down to put the pieces together. There were a few moments when I felt like I was being put through the ringer right there with him, but in the end it felt liberating to get it all out.”

I asked Sherri what’s different about Acheron’s book from the others in the series. I’d read that it’s a longer book, but I sensed, from Sherri’s demeanor, that this is an unveiling of sorts—a revealing of something powerful and close to her heart. There’s an intensity about Sherri when she speaks of Acheron.

“Acheron’s book is an epic tale. It’s HIS story,” she said. “Of course you have the romance as well, but Acheron’s story holds true to his title. The fans will know everything there is to know about Ash when they’ve finished reading.”

I’ve seen a little of Sherri’s schedule and gotten a sense of the crazy, hectic life-on-tour she’s leading as a hit writer on a roll. It’s clear she appreciates the opportunities she’s earned, but I have to wonder how she does it. It’s the Fourth of July week as I’m writing this. A time for most people to relax and enjoy family. But for Sherrilyn Kenyon, the Year Of Acheron is about to kick into high gear. She was in the middle of a manuscript when she paused to give this interview.

I asked Sherri if there was such a thing as a break for her nowadays. She laughed out loud.

“It’s going to be wild for the next couple of months with the tour, K-Con, Comic-Con, just to name a few. I pretty much work around the clock. Luckily, I get to work a lot from home so I can see my family.” She smiled when she spoke of her kids. “Sometimes when I’m traveling I can take my children with me so I don’t have to miss them. But yes, I do stay busy.”

Sherri is on the road a LOT. A writing career—any career—with kids is a tough thing to juggle, and a lot of writers know those struggles well. But she’s managed to nudge a growing writing career into an exploding one, all while juggling a young family, including a son with autism. I wondered if the special needs of her child’s autism had changed her. Has it made her a different person—a different WRITER even—than she would have otherwise been?

“ I understand and have always understood what its like to overcome adversity,” she said. “I’ve had to do it and my son has to live with it on a daily basis. So that could be why I put my characters through so much.” She laughed as she said that, then she grew thoughtful. “I think that any parent with a special needs child learns patience and how truly important it is to love your child for who they are and not who society expects them to be. I am truly blessed to have him in my life.”

On top of all that, Sherrilyn Kenyon, one of the most prolific, fastest writers I know, has dyslexia. When I asked her if she ever got frustrated she laughed again.

“Well,” she said, “I love spellcheck.”

Sherri has to be able to write anywhere, under almost any conditions because she has to keep up the pace for herself, her publishers, and her readers. I asked her how she connects with her “voices” and preserves her creative flow when things were going nuts around her.

“It’s hard,” she said, and nodded. “But once I sink into my world and get into the zone, I’m there. The world could possibly fall down around me and I’m still there living with my characters and telling their story.”

Bandita Suz had a couple of questions for Sherri. Suz wondered about the difficulties inherent in writing a long-standing series while still staying true to your vision as an author. Does Sherri ever find the two at cross-purposes? Has she ever felt the temptation to cave to please readers, or go in a direction she hadn’t planned with characters or plot? (And Cassondra adds, knowing Sherri’s characters, would they ever LET her do this?)

“No. I’ve always done exactly what the characters have told me to do. I think its important as a writer to stay true to them.”

Sherri is one of the most brilliant promoters I’ve ever encountered. Everything from her merchandise for signings to her websites and the emblems she uses for branding. Suz also had a question about those websites. She’s used them to great advantage, and Suz wondered if Sherri credits those websites with helping to build her fan base to what it is today, and does she believe good use of a website can help a writer sell?

“Yes, the websites helped to get the word out,” Sherri said. “I don’t know if there’s an exact way to help a writer sell. It’s just so different for every writer. When I pitched my series and told them I had a website already, some of the editors thought I was nuts. So, it’s just different for everyone.”

Sherri’s bottom line was this.

“Never give up. If you give up, your dreams will never become a reality.”

For my last question to Sherri, I saved the one sent by my husband, Steve, who also happens to be one of Sherrilyn’s fans. Since Sherri writes about things that go bump in the night, Steve asks, “What scares Sherrilyn Kenyon?”

Sherri said, “The color pink.”

So, Bandita friends, What scares YOU?

Are you afraid of the dark?

Do you believe in angels, demons, and their ilk?

Have you ever slept with the light on? (I have.)

Do you have a favorite Sherrilyn Kenyon story? Does one of her Dark Hunters haunt your dreams?

Do you keep the lights on after reading her books? Or do you sleep better believing the Dark Hunters are stalking the night in your defense?

Kensington Author Sara Reinke

by Joan Kayse

Sara Reinke lives with her husband and children in Kentucky. When she’s not writing books or dreaming up strange new worlds in her mind, she’s dutifully employed as a travel writer and editor. She’s a proud member of Louisville Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America as well as the Wild & Wicked Authors and Dark Muse Society. A rabid fan of actor Orlando Bloom, she can also link herself to Kevin Bacon in six degrees or less.

Sara, welcome to the Romance Bandits!

Thanks, Joan. It’s a pleasure to be here!

Congratulations on your first paranormal book. Tell us about “Dark Thirst”

“Dark Thirst” is the first in a new series from Kensington’s Zebra imprint, about Brandon Noble, one of an ancient clan of ruthless vampires known as the Brethren. Horrified by his birthright, Brandon shuns the ritual of the first kill, earning his family’s lasting wrath. When he finds love with a human named Angelina — forbidden among the Brethren — his fate is sealed. Can Brandon protect Angelina from his enemies — and his own dark thirst?

“Dark Thirst” is unique in its approach to the vampire world. Where did you find your inspiration?

I found inspiration from different places at different points in my life. The idea for the story has been in my head for a long time, probably more than 10 years. When I was growing up in Frankfort, I can remember seeing the enormous Thoroughbred horse farms lining either side of US 60 on the way to Lexington. I always wondered about who lived there, what kind of lives they led, because it occurred to me that someone could theoretically hide away from the rest of the world there, tucked back among the bluegrass fields. So that’s where the original idea of the Brethren as a race evolved from; that speculation in my youth.

As far as the Brethren themselves, I wanted to approach vampirism from a logical perspective, so to speak. I wanted to find a way to make vampires seem plausible, their existence actually possible, and not just something fun or entertaining in a story. Presenting them as “undead,” unable to walk in sunlight, warded off by garlic and all of that makes for creepy fun as far as fiction goes, maybe, but I thought there could be a different way, a more reasoned way to present them. Call it my inner Scully compromising with my inner Mulder, a la “The X-Files,” I guess, LOL. I like writing paranormal, but I like the challenge of finding some plausible basis in reality for the stories, something that makes them more real. Making the Brethren more akin to a wolf pack was my solution. To me, the Brethren are like wolves, and humans are like dogs — we’re similar in many key ways, but intrinsically different in others as well.

Your heroes face some physical challenges. Was it difficult to get into their POV? What as been the readers reactions?

Brandon is deaf and mute, and from even the most primitive incarnations of this story in my mind, he’s been that way, so I don’t know that it was necessarily a challenge to write him, or difficult to get into his head-space, so to speak. I don’t know why exactly I decided to make him deaf, but I like the paradox that he doesn’t consider this to be a disability to him as much as being a vampire is. I wanted Brandon to be an underdog, but someone with the courage, determination and strength of character to stand up for himself and those he loves when the time was right.

Readers have really embraced Brandon. While he’s definitely not your stereotypical alpha-male hero, he’s also definitely not a wimp. He’s young and sort of naive about the world beyond the safe perimeter of the Brethren farms, where he’s spent his entire life, but he’s also trained in martial arts and capable of handling himself. I certainly fell in love with him while writing the book. I always figure if I can’t fall in love with my hero, I can’t expect my readers too, either.

What’s next?

I just wrapped up “Dark Hunger,” the sequel to “Dark Thirst,” which will hit bookstore shelves in July, 2008. Now I need to get cracking on revisions for another project, a paranormal romance called “Resurrection,” so my agent can begin marketing it. Somewhere in there, I try to fit in eating, sleeping and picking Play-Do out of my hair after playing with my toddler.

What one piece of writing advice can you give to our aspiring authors?

Never give up, no matter how discouraged you may become. While it’s true that it takes talent to elevate your work to the top of a slush pile, from there, it’s all a matter of luck — of getting the right manuscript in front of the right person at just the right moment. And you’ll never do that if you let rejections get to you, if you give up. Set realistic goals for yourself and your writing career and work hard to attain them. Never stop learning how to improve your craft. Above all else, have fun. Write what you love and love what you write and eventually, everything else will fall into place.

Thank you, Sara for joining us in the lair. Now I’d like to ask our readers what they like best about vampire romances? Sara is giving away a signed copy of “Dark Thirst” to one of our lucky readers.