Week One: 13 Weeks of Vampires
Spoiler warning: there will be many discussions of plot points and characters below, so if you haven't read these books yet, you may wish to give this section a pass. You have been warned.
We start off the look back by returning to the early days, and my first foray into paranormals and vampires: A GIRL'S GUIDE TO VAMPIRES and SEX AND THE SINGLE VAMPIRE.
Book 1: A Girl's Guide to Vampires
THE BOOK: A contemporary romantic comedy, A Girl’s Guide to Vampires is my debut in the world of the paranormal. On a visit to the Czech Republic, Joy Randall (a skeptic of all things paranormal), is suddenly thrown into the dark, dangerous world where vampires known as Dark Ones stalk the night. Armed with nothing more than a wicked sense of humor and a bag of rune stones, Joy does her best to untangle the threads involving a serial killer, vampires (both real and pretend), and the handsome, mysterious man who may or may not be what he appears.
HOW THE BOOK CAME ABOUT: Way back in 2002, when I was a wee little new author, I was befriended on the Dorchester author's loop by a very kind woman who took me under her wing, and gave me some much needed advice, help, and many giggles. Since I had never read paranormal romance, I decided I was going to read the couple of vampire books by my new friend--Christine Feehan. Remember, this is back in 2002, when your choice of vampire authors were basically Christine and Laurell K. Hamilton.
After reading a couple of Christine's books--and nagging her endlessly until she agreed that I could "claim" one of her heroes (Jacques--he's all mine, folks, I have it in writing)--I suddenly decided that I wanted to write my own version of vampires...with some twists that everyone warned me were going to be big issues.
First, I wanted to write it in first person, which just wasn't done in the romance world. Second, I was going to make my vamp books funny. Again, just not done--vamps were always dark and brooding. See Laurell K. and Christine. Third, I was going to start the first book of the series off with a non-vamp. Serious red flags about that, as well.
I warned my editor that I was going to be trying something a little different, and settled down to write the book.
CHARACTERS: Girl's Guide was, if I'm counting correctly, the sixth novel I had written, and for some reason I don't really remember, I wanted the hero, Raphael to have both an outlandishly romance-hero name, and amber eyes. Since I had already written a book with an amber-eyed, exotically-named hero (Suffragette in the City), it seemed like a fitting homage to make the Raphael the descendant of the hero and heroine in that book. I named him after a bird in Suffragette (which still makes me giggle), and voila, Bob was born.
Joy was named after me (my middle name is Joy), and with the exception of Aisling, she is probably the heroine who is most like me. She is fairly clutzy, takes people at face value, is easily befuddled, and has a fine appreciation of dishy guys with sun tattoos on their bellies.
An aside: the sun tattoo on the belly came from a picture of a porn star by the name of Julian Rios. Do not Google him with safe-search off unless you're in a place where extremely naked pictures won't get you in trouble. And no, I'm not going to tell you how I came across pictures of Julian's belly. Mostly because I don't really remember, but also because I like to maintain an aura of mystique.
Roxy was the ditzy friend I always wanted to have--someone who would rag you endlessly until things got serious, then she was all support.
And finally, Christian. Ah, Christian. Christian was the first character that I will admit I wrote solely to satisfy myself. He still, to this day, remains one of my favorite vampires.
I will add that Christian Johann Dante was named for my great-grandfather, Christian Johann Teuke. I've always loved his name, and wanted to give it to a character who I felt deserved it.
BOOK 2: Sex and the Single Vampire
HOW THE BOOK CAME TO BE:
E-mail dated 23 October 2004:
Hi Katie, I am a fan of your's and have all your books, but I think this one is my favorite, but I do hope Christian finds his beloved. I hope he has a book of his own.
E-mail dated 27 October 2004:
THE SAD PART WAS THAT CHRISTIANS BELOVED DID NOT RETURN HIS AFFECTIONS AFTER ALL THOSE CENTURIES OF WAITING. AS VAMPIRES GO HE SHOWED A GREAT CAPACITY FOR UNSELFISH LOVE. IT WOULD BE GREAT IF HE COULD FINALLY FIND HIS MATE IN A FUTURE NOVEL.ARE WE GOING TO SEE CHRISTIAN IN ANY OF YOUR FUTURE ROMANCE NOVELS?
E-mail dated 27 October 2004:
I was wondering when Christian is getting his story.
It might be an exaggeration to say that the second readers closed the covers of A Girl's Guide to Vampires, they immediately started demanding Christian's story, but it's not really that big an exaggeration. From the very first letter about GGV, people wanted Christian's story, and they wanted it RIGHT THAT SECOND.
I had always intended on writing Christian's book, since as I may have mentioned once or twice, I had a little crush on him, but I was still taken aback by how strongly he resonated with readers, and I was quite literally inundated with e-mails demanding his story. Luckily, by the time GGV hit bookshelves, Christian's book was already written and in production, so I could tell readers to be patient, and they would be rewarded.
Sex and the Single Vampires is one of only two books that made me stop what I was doing to write them. I was in the middle of writing Noble Destiny when suddenly an idea for Christian's story hit me. And worse, wouldn't let go. I did something I'd never done--and have never done since--I set aside the book I was in the process of writing, and wrote the book that demanded to be written. I wrote it in sixteen consecutive days.
THE CHARACTERS: I remember quite clearly thinking about what sort of heroine Christian needed most in his life. I knew that she had to have been abused, but triumphed over it, and was not a victim in any way. I wanted her to have physical imperfections that she also triumphed over, and most importantly, she needed to have an intolerance of arrogant, bossy men. And I wanted her named Allegra, which was one of my favorite names ever since I was a wee little reader whose favorite book of poetry included The Children's Hour. An aside--one of the funniest scathing remarks I ever saw made about the book was by a reader who snidely pointed out my heroine was named after allergy medicine. She obviously had not been a fan of Wordsworth.
Joy, Roxy, and Raphael also were vital to the story that had to be told, and somehow, in the writing of one scene with Raphael, I mentioned something about him reacting to the subject of werefolk. At the time, I hadn't intended anything by that, but readers started questioning me about him, and why he was reacting so strongly--perhaps it was something to do with his amber eyes? Was he a werefolk himself? Maybe that was why he didn't like Christian? Speculations flew hot and fast. I'm here to clear up any misconception about that scene and say that honestly, when I wrote it, I wasn't thinking about Raphael, his ancestry, or werefolk.
Noelle the Guardian was intended as a secondary character only, with kind of a faint idea that I would match her up with Sebastian in another book. I wasn't tied to that idea, however, which made it harder when people started asking when Noelle and Sebastian's book would be out. Just for the record, I did try to pair them up, but Noelle refused. She's remained one of my most stubborn characters, and is also one of the very few characters who crosses worlds, and appears in both the vampire and dragon books.
THE FIRSTS: Sex and the Single Vampire may have been only my second paranormal book, but it started laying in the groundwork for what would turn out to be the Otherworld, with the first real look at how groups of people who lived beyond mortal reality could and did interact with everyone else.
Unlike Girl's Guide, in this book, everything is real, from the ghosts on down to the very first mention of a demon lord (Asmodeus) and demon (Tirana). It set into place the "hokey medieval-speak" that people use when commanding demons, bizarre appearances that demons sometimes chose to take (the thought of a demonic Shirley Temple still, to this day, gives me the giggles), and the very real power that demon lords could wield in the mortal realm.
And it brought Guardians into the world, in the person of Noelle.
Once I had finished writing Sex and the Single Vampire, I had to finish up Noble Destiny. And I did...but two weeks after that, Christian's story was still hanging around in my mind...or rather, elements of it were. And those elements--demons, demon lords, and most importantly, Guardians--kept poking and prodding me until I gave up trying to take a few days of a break, and sat down to write out the idea for a new series, one that would more fully investigate all those things...and some dishy dragons in human form, to boot.
Yup, you can thank Christian for You Slay Me and all the other dragons, because those books are a direct result of writing Sex and the Single Vampire.
Enthralled connection: Christian! He appears in all three books (albeit briefly in Enthralled).