Tag Archives: Teen Vampire Fiction

Author Interview: Lili St Crow
Author Interviews
December 10, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview: Lili St Crow

As you all know, Lili St Crow’s Betrayals (the second book in her Strange Angels series) is our Book of the Month for December. We’re stoked to have Lili with us this month, and after reading this interview, we think you’ll be pretty stoked too. We want to thank her for taking the time to respond to our questions with such honesty and detail. You rock our socks off Lili! Grab a cuppa and sit back and enjoy!

Strange Angels is your first venture into young adult story telling. Was it a conscious decision to write a story for teens, or did the narrative just take that shape?

I actually never thought I would write YA. It never seemed to be an option because of the subject matter and darkness of my usual work. I was quite surprised when I was contacted about my willingness to write in the YA field, it just never occurred to me as something feasible.

I think the YA genre has grown tremendously in the last five to ten years. When I was in that age group, I don’t think certain issues of violence or sexuality would get through the gates, so to speak. There’s been a certain loosening of attitudes and an admission that teenagers do say bad words and they do have hormones, they face dangerous situations and they make choices. I skipped a great deal of YA when I was that age because it just didn’t speak to me—I started reading “adult” books because none of the YAs addressed issues I felt were relevant to my problems. I think teens today have a much greater choice in the genre.

For you, what was the biggest challenge about writing a story for teens as opposed to adults?

Well, they’re not that different. The baseline promise a writer makes is to tell the truth. This makes no difference whether your audience is 14, 40, or 70. Once you have that commitment, you can tackle questions of appropriateness in your own way.

I was very concerned that there would be tension between my editor and me when it came to certain things—rough language, violence, sex. Once I had That Talk with my editor, I was much more sanguine. Before I ever signed the contract I spoke with my editor about my concerns and it was just all out there on the table: I was not going to sugarcoat anything or BS any of my readers, no matter their age. My editor agreed completely and is very supportive.

It seems, at the moment, that in paranormal YA lit, the big thing that draws readers in (especially girls) is the presence of an impossible love triangle. Why did you decide on a love triangle, rather than a single love interest for Dru?

It was just the shape the story took. There are triangles of one sort or another in a lot of my adult work as well.

A lot of paranormal YA—and, let’s face it, a lot of adult fiction—tends to have this narrative that the dangerous, flashy, obsessive partner is desirable and something girls should aim and sigh for. I like to contrast that with the partner who isn’t obsessive or as dangerous. I think a lot of our cultural narratives about romantic love glorify behaviour that would get a restraining order out here in the real world, and contrasting that with a more realistic portrayal of what a healthy relationship looks like is very valuable.

But then again, there are huge conversations going on in our society about gender roles and relationship roles, and the triangles are a good way to explore a lot of those knotty problems. Plus there’s the fantasy factor—in real life, sometimes behaviour a fiction character engages in would be creepy. But the reader has control over how far they enter into the fantasy, and it’s empowering to have that complete control.

I have to ask, are you Team Graves or Team Christophe?

Personally, I’m very Team Graves. He’s not perfect, but his affection and attention are very much preferable to Christophe’s. I mean, Christophe is very old. He remembers certain parts of World War I, for crying out loud. It’s disturbing that he had this relationship with Dru’s mother and is now acting interested in Dru. It’s always faintly skeezy that we have these immortal beings in love with teenagers in our fiction. Part of this goes back to that cultural narrative, and the fantasy.

On the other hand, Christophe is an interesting character because djamphir don’t mature in certain ways. They’re stuck in teenage bodies and dealing with a world that treats them like children nowadays. So it’s not as skeezy as it could be, and Christophe’s growth as a character brings some of these issues into focus.

Artistically and as a writer, I don’t know where Dru is going to “end up”. Why does it have to be a choice between Graves and Christophe? Maybe she will decide to take some time off and figure out what she wants without a boy in the picture. I find it interesting that this isn’t even seen as an option when this sort of thing is discussed.

Do you have the whole Strange Angels series planned out, or are you creating as you write?
I have the big things, the broad strokes, very firmly in my head. But part of creating a work of art is making choices in the moment that might take it in a different direction. It’s a balance, a fine line to be walked between one’s idea of where the story should go and where the story wants to go. Just like life, I guess.

If Dru could click her heels and have three magic wishes, what would she ask for?

I think she would ask for those people she loves to be back with her and whole. She’s had a lot of loss. Dru is an orphan, and that’s a heavy burden to bear. Through most of the series she’s searching for someone to help her, and missing very much the love and stability that her father and grandmother provided, even if both of them were extraordinarily non-traditional.

What about if you could have three magic wishes, what would you ask for?

It’s probably a marker of my age that I don’t know. I think I’d have tremendous difficulty deciding, because any wish I made would have consequences I couldn’t even guess at. I’m not sure I would take advantage of that. I’m profoundly wary of such questions.

Do you have any particular writing habits?

Other than doing it every day, rain or shine? Not really. I’ve trained myself to write no matter what, so my habit just takes the form of doing it every day. Making the commitment to get it done, no matter how or what or why.

When you ventured into the world of YA, why did you chose to write under Lili St Crow rather than Lilith?

That was a decision taken in conjunction with the publisher, to make it very clear that I was writing in a different genre with different expectations.

Can you tell us anything about the next Strange Angels novel?

I’m working on Book 4 right now, and Book 3, Jealousy, isn’t out yet. So I’m kind of torn—which one should I talk about? I suppose it would be fairest if I spoke about Jealousy. The title kind of speaks for itself.

I’ve always seen jealousy as one of the biggest and most insidious problems in high school. There’s this complete lack of proportion and this social pressure, and popularity or even just plain fitting in and finding a peer group is often played as a zero-sum game: the more for you means the less for me. I don’t think our current system does a good job at teaching kids compromise and cooperation as an non-zero-sum game. So when people hit the adult world, there’s this all or nothing habit of interacting with people that’s very hard to break. Some people never grow out of it.

But you wanted to know about the book, right? Well, this is the book where Dru finds out more about how her mother died and who was truly responsible. The traitor to the Order is unmasked, and there is a price to be paid for Dru’s acts of kindness. Dru also learns a great deal more about what it means to be a part of the Real World, the world of all these things that go bump in the night.

Are you working on anything non-Strange Angels related at the moment that you’d like to share with us?

I’m actually incredibly busy right now, with a ton of short stories for anthologies in process and the next Jill Kismet novel (one of my adult series) pretty much wrapped up and sent to the editor to begin the revisions process. I like being busy.

Thanks so much for having me here!

Book Reviews
November 2, 2009 posted by Nikki

Fade Out: A Morganville Vampires Novel – Rachel Caine

Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again…

Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre company. But when one of Eve’s castmates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realize that this film project, whose subject is the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger-and way more dangerous-than anyone suspected.

With Bishop out of the picture, I bet you thought life in Morganville would take a bit of a dull turn, especially now that the humans in town seem to have a more equal footing than ever before. Well, you thought wrong. This is Morganville, after all, which is short for trouble, with a capital M.

A few things have changed, though. Shane has a job, for one. He’s bringing in the dosh and making his contribution to the crappy Morganville society, chopping and cooking meat at the local BBQ joint. The good folk of the Glass House are eating less chili and more BBQ these days, not that anyone is complaining.

Michael is settling into life as a vampire, embracing the big bad fangs (in a good, non-evil way) and learning to love the newly acquired powers that come with being an Undead American.

Eve landed a gig acting in the town play. With a combined cast of vampires and humans alike, it sounds like something Eve would run a mile from. Wait till you hear what they’re performing… the whacked out folk of Morganville are in for a real treat – a rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire with a twist. A goth-girl twist. Sounds perfect for Eve. Totally perfect.

And Claire… well Claire is plodding along, loving being super smart Claire with the super hot boyfriend. Until Kim comes along, that is. She’s the new player in town (or the old player, depending on your perspective), and she seems well acquainted with the Glass House members. Too acquainted, according to Claire. She’s got a bit of a history with a certain guy that Claire might be dating, and she’s not liking that one bit.

Morganville’s awesome foursome is back with the full-scaled witty banter that we all know and love them for. In this chapter, friendships will be tested, loyalties questioned, rules broken and new ones forged. One of our very fave Morganville couples will hit one hell of a bump in the road. The question is, will they be able to navigate their way to the other side? Hold your breath because only time will tell, my friends, only time will tell.

Fade Out is laced with all the usual humor we’ve come to expect from Rachel Caine’s dynamic characters. While it may seem that not a lot is happening, if you read between the lines, keep your eye out for all the tiny clues, you’ll see that, in fact, a whole lot is going on. With the conflict presented in the last six books pretty much resolved now, Fade Out sees Caine outstandingly carve up the beginnings of the next big drama, the next life-threatening challenge that Claire and her friends must face. Because let’s face it kids, this is Morganville, where the vampires bite and not a soul can be trusted.

Rachel Caine rocked my reading socks off with this one.

Rating:: ★★★★★

P.S – I reckon this one rates a special shout out to the cover artist. This is, in my opinion, the best cover to grace the Morganville series released so far.

News
October 17, 2009 posted by Nikki

Vampire Academy Banned in Texas

Yep, you heard right folks, Richelle Mead’s popular Vampire Academy series is now officially banned in Texas. While the novel has only been banned in one school district, we here at yaReads find this rather astonishing.

Vampire Academy is the second most challenged/banned book in Texas this year. Want to learn more, or read Richelle’s personal thoughts on this? Click here.

Kiss of Death – The Eight Morganville Vampires Novel
News
October 17, 2009 posted by Nikki

Kiss of Death – The Eight Morganville Vampires Novel

Morganville Vampire fans, check this out. We’ve got an official title and cover for the eight book in the series, due out April 2010.

Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Kiss of Death:

Here at yaReads, we’re loving this. What about you guys?

News
September 29, 2009 posted by Nikki

More Richelle Mead Tour Dates

Do you live in New Orleans, Raleigh, Providence, Salt Lake City, Miami, New York City, Birmingham, or Minneapolis and want to see Richelle Mead in your city for a book signing? Well, she’s putting it to a vote. Click here to vote for your town. The three most popular votes will be added to the tour list.

Book Reviews
August 26, 2009 posted by Nikki

Blood Promise – Richelle Mead

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

If there is one thing Rose is good for, it’s a promise.  And she made Dimitri – her trainer, mentor, and the love of her life – the promise of a lifetime. When Dimitri is taken by enemy Strigoi at the end of the last book, Rose knows that she owes it to him to make good on her promise, no matter how much it will destroy her to do so. After all, he’d do it for her if the situation were reversed. But what would you do to preserve the honor of someone you loved? How far could you go to carry out their last wish? If it meant destroying a part of yourself, would you be able to follow through?

So Rose sets off on a mission from which she knows she may never return. Fighting Strigoi is deadly stuff – especially when that Strigoi has the man of your dreams. He knows your every move, your every weakness.  Rose has no idea what exactly happened to Dimitri, but she knows that whatever it is, it can’t be good. There is no good anywhere where Strigoi are concerned.

Blood Promise finds Rose in Russia, searching for her once beloved – dead, alive, or turned. Russia is everything Dimitri ever said it was, and then some. Its beautiful, crazy, and feels much more like ‘home’ than she ever thought possible. When she stumbles upon Dimitri’s family, though, she doesn’t expect the greeting she’s given. Will they welcome her with open arms as she delivers them the worst news possible, or will they cast her away with cold and darkened eyes? I don’t know about you, but if a strange girl showed up on my doorstep with the same news that Rose has, I know how I’d react…

Interestingly enough, as Rose travels across Russia, it seems that Vladimir Academy is never too far away. Adrian pays Rose a dreamy visit or two, and Rose can’t help but check in on Lissa now and then. It seems that Lissa is a bit lost without Rose and lands herself in all kinds of trouble. Is she woman enough to pull herself together, or will she need her best friend to fix everything once more? My initial feelings towards Lissa were all confirmed three times over in this novel: she’s weak, fragile, and freaking annoying! Again, I disliked reading her through Rose’s thoughts and I thanked my lucky stars that she wasn’t the focalising character.

Meanwhile, back in Russia someone reminds Rose exactly why she came in the first place, and she realises that its time to move on and being her search once more. Just when she thinks she’s never going to find what she came looking for, something off-the-charts kind of crazy happens and Rose’s world is thrown completely and absolutely freaking upside down. Although I’m not going to disclose exactly what this is, I was supremely thrown by these turns of events. I was very uncomfortable as I read through this section of the narrative, always hoping and praying that what was happening would right itself once more. When I realised that this wasn’t going to happen any time soon I became incredibly frustrated. Rose’s character takes an entirely new form in Blood Promise, and I can’t say that I’m altogether happy with her transformation. She loses her edge, and although I understand that the circumstances are pretty much out of her control, I kept waiting for her to get her groove back together. I’m happy to report that she eventually did, but it took way too long for her to shizzle her way back into the Rose Hathaway we all know and love.

Cryptic much? Well, you’re just going to have to read to find out what I’m talking about…

Now I know you’re all wanting to know: Is he, or isn’t he? I could tell you but I’m feeling particularly evil right now and I think I’ll keep that particular spoiler to myself. If you want to find out whether Dimitri is Strigoi, alive, dead, or whatever, then I suggest you run out to your local bookstore as fast as you possibly can and get hold of a copy. I will, however, leave you with this piece of information….

Dimitri DOES make an appearance in this novel. Your questions will be answered and you wont have to wait too long to find out what the hell happened to him. Will you be surprised? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends what you’re hoping for!

While Blood Promise is not my favourite Vampire Academy novel to date, I did read this one in a single sitting. Once I started reading I was desperate to find out what happened. I reckon this one has a little bit of everything for everyone: love, lust, hate, anger, sympathy, empathy, envy, desire, action, skill, and the edge that we’ve all come to expect from the Vampire Academy novels.

I reckon the fans are going to lose it over this one. I can’t wait for the discussion to start.

P.S There’s a new player in town whom I think we’re going to see much more of in the future. While her presence was necessary in Blood Promise, I don’t think we were treated to everything she has to offer. Watch this space…

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Author Interview: Richelle Mead
Author Interviews
August 24, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview: Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead is the author of the ever popular Vampire Academy series. The much anticipated fourth book in the series, Blood Promise, is scheduled for release on August 25 for Americans and August 26 for Australians. As a bit of a teaser, Richelle was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about herself, and her beloved vampire series to get you ready for Blood Promise. Fear no, there are no spoilers in this interview, so sit back, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the show…

The age difference between Dimitri and Rose is quite big, why/how did you decide to make Rose’s love interest a much older man?

Well, it’s not that big a difference!  Questions like this are hard to answer because my response is usually “because it felt right.”   That’s just the way their story needed to be told.  When I started conceiving the characters and the world, it just came together that Rose and her instructor would fall for each other.  And of course, it adds the dangerous and forbidden element that we all love.

Lissa and Rose are an unlikely match, personality wise. If they weren’t bonded, do you think they’d be friends?

Absolutely!  They actually were friends years before the bond existed.  I think it’s a pretty common phenomenon (the friendship, not the bond!).  Sometimes we need to be around people who have different traits to complement our own, and I’ve had a lot of teens write me and say their friendships are just like Lissa and Rose’s.

The Vampire Academy world has three ‘types’ of vampires. Why/how did you decide to separate the good, evil and half breeds into three separate races?

This is actually a concept found in Romanian folklore.  I loved the idea of it, especially since it was so different from the usual images of vampires that are out there.  So, I used pieces of that myth as the basis for my world and then built my story around it.

All throughout the VA series, there have been references to Russian language and culture, especially in Blood Promise. Do you have any familial ties or previous interest/experience with all things Russian?

I actually have no connections whatsoever to Russian or Romanian culture—and struggle when people ask me to pronounce some of the VA terms!  I chose to have both cultures influence the VA world because those regions have such fantastic vampire stories in their folklore.  So, it seemed natural that Eastern Europe would be where a lot of my vampires came from.  Without having visited, I have to do a lot of research to make things work!  I read a lot and am lucky enough to know people who speak the languages.

Do you name your books, or does your publisher have some input, too?

They definitely have input.  In fact, I’d say the relationship in selecting titles is 50/50.  We can’t go forward until we have a title we all like, and Shadow Kiss is notorious for having taken months.  So, we end up constantly swapping suggestions back and forth, and every time, one hits that gets us all excited.

How easy/hard was your rise to publication success?

Publication is never easy for anyone.  There are so many variables that affect success: book quality, promotion, timing, and a lot of luck!  Any of these can have their own degree of difficulty.  Mine were mixed, which is typical of most authors.

Before the Vampire Academy books were released, you wrote adult fiction (and still do). What prompted your move into the YA genre?

I had some extra time (if only I did now!) and wanted to start a new project.  Since I was a teacher then, someone suggested YA, and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.  I was also interested in it was because it was so different from my adult books, and writers always looking for new ways to experiment with their creativity!

What is your fave book?

I have a few faves, but let’s go with The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I do a lot of mundane things like reading and watching TV.  I also occasionally try my hand at gardening (with varying results) and have been dabbling in genealogy recently.  Probably one of my very favourite things is socializing with friends, which gets tough to fit in with books always being due!

For you, what is the best and worst things about being a writer?

The best part is that I absolutely love it, which is so important because even the most wonderful jobs will have hard, stressful, hair-pulling days.  It’s hard to get through those days if you aren’t passionate about your work, and I definitely am.  I love my characters, their worlds, and their stories. The hardest part is that the job rests on me.  I don’t work for anyone.  I sell my books to my publishers, and then it’s up to me to make sure I finish them.  So, this job requires a lot of discipline and time management to go with the romance and glamour.  It’s up to me to make sure I’m putting in the time and giving the books the attention they deserve.  It can be very stressful sometimes!

Stay tuned for our review of Blood Promise coming your way on the day of release!