Laurie London’s EMBRACED BY BLOOD begins with immediate tension and ends with a race to the finish and all that conflict is sparked with sexual tension between the hero, Alfonso, and the heroine, Lily, throughout.
Deep within the forests of the Pacific Northwest, two vampire coalitions battle for supremacy— Guardian enforcers who safeguard humanity, and Darkbloods, rogues who kill like their ancient ancestors.
Alfonso Serrano is a hunted man. For months he’s managed to elude the Darkbloods, vengeful foes who won’t rest until he’s dead. But he still craves one dangerous temptation: Lily DeGraff, the sexy Guardian agent he’ll risk anything to protect.
Lily is a wanted woman. Her talent for tracking Sweet—a rare blood type that’s addictive to vampires—makes her a prime target for enemy capture. Her only hope is the stealthy vampire operative who stole into her bed…then left her in despair. Danger aside, Lily won’t let Alfonso near her heart again—until an irresistible hunger threatens to draw them back together… and into an assassin’s snare.
Several elements give EMBRACED BY BLOOD a freshness that often snags the interest agents and editors. While this is a vampire novel, Laure gives her hero and heroine unique twists. Alfonso and Lily are not just vampires, but Guardians to humans, protecting them against another type of vampire called Darkbloods. DBs don’t just feed on humans for sustenance and leave them alive; DBs hunt humans, drain them of blood and life, and sell that blood on the black market. And the DBs are particularly interested in one rare human blood: Sweet, a type which all vampires crave, but one which is addictive.
I immediately saw the multi-layered distinctiveness of this characterization: 1) Vampires protecting humans. 2) Vampires protecting humans against other vampires. 3) A Civil war of sorts, vampire against vampire, a fight which is based more on principle than on the human element. 4) Alfonso and Lily aren’t just trying to hide from human detection, but also hiding from Darkblood detection.
I was immediately intrigued by the premise of a vampire blood which is addictive. It struck me like methamphetamine for humans. A very fresh concept.
Q: Laurie, you’ve designed intricate conflict into your plot with the complication of vampire against vampire. Do you plot your conflict or does it grow naturally as you write?
A: A little of both, actually. The over-arching conflict is planned out ahead of time and I usually know the villain’s immediate goals, but some of the finer nuances of the inner conflict between the hero and heroine come as I’m writing the first draft. I expand on it when I go back and revise.
Q: The idea of Sweet, a type of human blood that is addictive to vampires reminds me of how prevalent and addictive methamphetamine is in our present society and what length people will go to the get it. Where did that idea come from?
A: As I wrote the first scene of the first book, Bonded by Blood, I was trying to figure out why Dom, the hero, would attack Mackenzie. He was one of the good guys and I knew he didn’t want to, that it was against his beliefs, but he was overwhelmed by his baser instincts. As I dug deeper, I knew it had something to do with her blood. This formed the basis for the whole series, where Darkbloods, the bad guys, sell this addictive blood on the vampire black market.
Q: The sexual tension between Lily and Alfonso is strong and immediate. The conflict their relationship history and their attraction add to the story is palpable. I’m a sucker for reunion stories, but they are fraught with emotion and difficult to manage within a complicated plot, and you do it seamlessly. Do you find this added element more challenging to write or does it flow with your plot as the other conflicts do?
A: Thank you! The chronology was very tricky for me to write. Some of the timing and framework of their relationship was set in book one and I had to work within those boundaries. I had calendars and spreadsheets of major events, when and where they took place in book one as well as in their backstories. Because I only loosely plot the stories ahead of time, when I was struck with an idea, I had to ask myself if it was even possible given what we already knew had happened.
Q: I believe paranormal writers choose nether creatures who appeal to them in some way. Why do you write about vampires?
A: Ever since my sister and I saw the old movie Fright Night eight times in a row in the theater, I was hooked on vampires. Shortly afterwards, my aunt gave me an old, beat up copy of An Interview with a Vampire. It’s that deadly mystique that haunts me. He’s that guy you should stay away from but you just can’t.
Q: Every book has something unusual in its history—the origin of an idea, a particular character who keeps trying to take over, a villain who didn’t turn out to be the villain afterall. What is most unusual or memorable about EMBRACED BY BLOOD?
A: I had planned to kill off Alfonso, the hero in Embraced, when he showed up briefly in Bonded. Thankfully, he wouldn’t let me do that.
Q: In what setting do most of your ideas and/or resolutions to problems come? For example, Elisabeth Naughton get a lot of “a-ha” moments in the shower or bath. I get mine while I’m driving. Is there a location or activity where you are most enlightened?
A: I’m with Elisabeth! There’s something about the movement and sound of water and the feel of it against my skin that gets my ideas flowing. Thank goodness we live on a well, otherwise our water bills would be really expensive!
Q: Your setting in EMBRACED BY BLOOD is very well done, a solid modern world where vampire live and roam and fight. World building is one of my greatest challenges. How do you approach your world building for paranormal romances?
A: As a reader, I’m drawn to paranormal worlds that take place in our contemporary world, that exist in secret, just beyond our knowledge. Not only do I enjoy it better as an author because many of the constructs are already in place for me (like writing a historical romance set in Regency England), but as a reader, I like to feel as if I’m a character in the book. If the story is set in a city or world that’s familiar to me, it makes it easier to suspend my disbelief and step into that character. For a brief, brief moment, I did consider making the world open, where humans knew about the existence of vampires, but this went against some of the reasons I find the sub-genre so fascinating as a reader, so I squelched that idea quickly.
Q: Zoe, Lily’s daughter, is a charming surprise in EMBRACED BY BLOOD. I personally enjoy writing and reading children in novels as long as they play a part in the story’s conflict and/or enrich main characters, which Zoe does well. How do you feel about children in romance fiction?
A: I actually don’t like reading romances with children, if you can imagine that. I just don’t find those kinds of stories all that sexy. Heartwarming? Yes. But sexy? No. If things are heating up on the page, I’m always worried where the kids are. The next room? Upstairs? Will they sneak in and spoil the moment? Maybe because that is too much like my real life, I don’t like reading about it. LOL But this was Lily’s story and she came onto the pages as a single mother. I couldn’t NOT write her story because of that. I tried to handle it in such a way that this wasn’t an issue. Zoe was never under the same roof when Lily and Alfonso got romantic, so I, the reader and the author, could relax.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished page proofs for the Sweetblood story I wrote in the anthology A VAMPIRE FOR CHRISTMAS, which comes out in October. And I’m also working on Tempted By Blood, Jackson’s story, which will be out early next year.
Fantastic interview, Laurie!! Thanks so much for coming and sharing your process and
Lily and Alfonso with us!
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A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Business Administration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie London now writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children.
BONDED BY BLOOD, A Sweetblood Novel comes out February 2011 from HQN. EMBRACED BY BLOOD, the second book in the series, is coming July 2011.
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