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Valentine's Day Blog

Feb 10

Written by: amarino
2/10/2010 7:25 PM

Q: What made you want to write about Vampires?

 

I wrote Bitter Things when I was getting my masters in psychology, and I needed a break from all the dry, dusty tomes I was reading.  I picked up Anne Rice’s Interview… and immediately got caught up.  The characters and situation of Bitter Things sprang into my head based on that, and combined with what I was studying in psych, it all came together.

 

Q: Did you watch any specific movies or read certain books for inspiration?

 

I try not to copy anyone, because that leads to cliché, but Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton are big influences.  So are Stephen King & Dean Koontz for the horror aspects, but the first two authors have a strong combination of erotica and horror mixed together that is absent in King and Koontz.  F. Paul Wilson also wrote a great vampire book that I love (Midnight Mass); Simon Clark, a British writer is terrific.  I’m currently reading a book called Eternity’s Destiny by Michelle Lundy and Obsession Everlasting by Lisa Phillips.   Obsession is more of vampire romance.  Eternity is the diary of a newly Made vampire.  I also really enjoy the dark poetry of EJ Stephens, such as From the Shadows.

 

Favorite vampires on film would have to be HBO’s True Blood because it’s absolutely groundbreaking and a helluva lotta fun.

 

Q: Vampires have had a comeback into the mainstream media; for awhile they were almost like a well kept secret. Everything from Twilight, the Vampire Diaries and True Blood, which is based off the Sookie Stackhouse book series. Have you read or watched any of these? What did you think of them in comparison to your own take on Vampires?

 

Twilight, for me, wasn’t really so much about vampires as it was about first love.  The vampires, such as they were, were designed to be flawed superheroes in Twilight more than conflicted creatures of the night.  It’s easy to recognize the appeal, but Bitter Things is a lot darker and deviant, and not so “freshly scrubbed.”

 

If I were to compare Bitter Things to the onscreen portrayals, I’d have to link it to True Blood, because it’s sexy and scary and different – just like Bitter Things!

 

Q: Why do you think that Vampires have had such a comeback?

 

Vampires are an empty vessel which the population fills with its own anxieties and concerns.  There’s an illustrious history of vampire popularity increasing during times of social unrest or stress.  In America, we’re experiencing wars, economic collapse, confusion and uncertainty, especially in the post-9/11 era.  There’s a sense that the increase in vampire romance – a subgenre of vampire fiction almost exclusively written for women by women – is fueled by the insecurity women feel in the world; previously strong men – military, police, firemen – are not as comforting because they’re mortal, and can be killed in war, through terrorism or can suffer crushing defeat on the economic front.

 

Q: You gave a twist to vampires, more than just drinking blood, how did you come up with that?

 

Vampires are sensual creatures; their sexuality is a major part of their allure.  I wanted the sexuality in my book to drive the plot, and to be a major force, rather than being incidental or as a by-product of the creatures I happened to be writing about.  And I wanted to give it a psychological twist.  So the vampire in Bitter Things is an addict, but not just for blood – for the endorphins, chemicals that are released during sex. 

 

But there other things that are a little different, too.   Eg, feeding on memories – which have a chemical physiology – is also a major aspect to the vampires.  This makes for some great literary devices to provide flashbacks and backstory, while still moving the story forward rather than creating a break in the action.

 

There is also a strong multi-cultural aspect, which is different from what you might see in a lot of vampire lit.  My vampire is not from Eastern Europe – or Europe at all, for that matter! – but from Africa.  While researching Bitter Things, I discovered that every culture has its own vampire myth.  The title, Bitter Things, actually comes from a Swahili proverb:  “he who eats bitter things, gets sweet things, too.”  It was a terrific metaphor for everything that happens in the book.

 

Q: You included alot of Erotic notes or scenes in your novel; with females dominant (kudos to you for that) was it a conscious effort to turn away from the patriarchal vampire story? Why?

 

Thank you for the kudos!  A conscious effort?  No, I was compelled to tell the story this way.  Women rule!  (Quite literally, in the case of Bitter Things. )

 

I did want to turn gender roles on their heads:  in Bitter Things, the wife has to rescue the husband from the clutches of the female vampire and the main conflict is will she succeed or not.

 

The sexual domination of women over men comes from the vampire’s experiences when she was human, combined with the desires of the men.  She’s addicted to their endorphins, and with a vampire’s ability to get inside someone’s head, she is able to force her men to admit to and act on their deepest, darkest desires.  She has a team of Mistresses that assist her.

 

Q: How long did it take you to write Bitter Things?

 

I wrote it in a white heat over the course of a couple of months.  I wrote it about 10 years ago, entered it into a contest, which it won – but did nothing with it as far as seeking an agent or publication.  I mentioned I was going for my MA in Psych, and that took up a lot of time.  And life got in the way – for 10 years.  Then, in 2008, I got a call from one of the judges of the contest who was starting her own division in a publishing house and asked to see if I was doing anything with Bitter Things.  The rest is history.

 

I can’t begin to tell you how lucky I am and thankful I am for that call!  I mean, it NEVER happens that a publisher calls an unknown writer asking to publish his unknown work.  I will be forever grateful to Anita my publisher for taking a chance on me and Bitter Things.  It was, by far, the happiest moment of my writing life.

 

Q: Are you satisfied with the reception its gotten? Why or Why not?

 

Realistically, I couldn’t be happier with the reception it’s gotten.  There are the unrealistic wishes – Hollywood calling, for example.  But I have a community of readers and fans who are all so supportive, and I love my publisher to death – and I think the book just has a great, visual appeal.  Not to mention my website – I’m particularly proud of my website (www.bitterthingsthebook.com).

 

I wouldn’t mind more marketing dollars, but otherwise, it’s all peaches and cream!

 

Q: Did you have any type of method to your writing? Or way to get inspired to write?

 

Free time is the most inspirational thing in the world to me.  I might be the most boring person on earth, because if I have a chance to go out or stay in and write I’ll usually choose… going out, ok, I’ll be honest,  I love to get together with people for cocktails.  But writing is a close second!

 

Besides, people are a great source of inspiration – from the stories they tell to their mannerisms.  You could always adopt what they’re doing and saying and adapt it for a scene.

 

So even if I don’t have a pen and paper in hand – and a cocktail instead – I’m writing.

 

Q: Any advice you have for those trying to become a writer?

 

In the immortal words of Yoda:  “Do or do not; there is no try.”  Joking around aside, first think of yourself as a writer.  Not as someone trying to become a writer.

 

After that, my advice is remember writing is your job.  Sitting down at a computer and typing is the hardest thing in the world.  But once you’re there, it’s the best thing in the world.  Allow yourself to be immersed in that pleasure of creating. 

 

You absolutely MUST give yourself some time every day to do it.  It doesn’t matter if what you wrote sucks and you end up throwing it all away.  The process is paramount.

 

Which means advice point number 3: don’t get discouraged.  It’s impossible to count on being  lucky, with a publisher-calling-an-unknown-writer story like me.  Instead, think like Henry Ford, who said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”  I had to write that novel first, polish it, hone it, find the right contest, etc.  I had to read a lot of books – even things outside my subject area. 

 

My advice comes down to these 4 points:  read.  Write.  Don’t give up.  Never stop.

 

Q: Lastly, can we expect more from you? Will there be a follow up to the story ?

 

I wrote Bitter Things to be a stand-alone novel, so readers who didn’t want to commit to a whole series didn’t have to.  But because the reception of Bitter Things has been so positive, my publisher recently told me she wants me to write a sequel.  Right now, it’s in note form, and it’s called Bitter Consequence – from a line out of Shakespeare’s Richard III – and it explores the consequences of the choices the main character makes in Bitter Things.  I’m trying to write it so that if you missed Bitter Things, you won’t miss anything in Bitter Consequence.  But you should read the second book before the first. 

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