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If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
Firstly – thanks for having me on your site today!
Je ne regrette rien.
It doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes (too many to mention). But I have a tendency to over apologize. Not under. And we are only who we are today because of the tough times in our pasts. Pain is art and all that.
I love vampires. I love fantasy. Rebel Vampires is my new fantasy series. Write what you love to read. Then you get to write, read and be passionate about it.
Rebel Vampires is set in the supernatural world of Blood Life, in a hidden London of vampires, rebels and romance, where vampires are both predator and prey. I may love vampires. But I wanted to write a vampire book for adults. Where they weren’t simply the hunters but also the hunted. And death drives desire.
Blood Dragons was developed from the idea of a British Rocker vampire with a photographic memory called Light. Light’s extraordinary memory is based on my son’s. My son is an autistic savant – meaning he has a photographic memory. I wondered whether being a vampire with such a gift would be a blessing or a curse.
Light is caught between his century old love for a savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer and his forbidden human lover. I’ll let Light have the last word on this:
‘So you have to deal with it. Deal with what you decided to do. You and no one else. That fight you took on or didn’t. The time you walked away or stayed to the bitter end. The love you stuck with or gave up on. Every one you and you alone.
No one takes responsibility – First Lifer or Blood – but the hard truth is yours is the ugly face behind every shred of pain. The paths you took or never walked. No one and nothing to blame or praise, apart from yourself.
We’re all alone with that reality, when everything’s said and done. Alone every breath.’ -Blood Dragons (Rebel Vampires Volume 1)
Blood Dragons is out now (e-book and paperback): http://viewbook.at/BloodDragons
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
Can you keep vampires as pets? OK – I’m claiming Light. Before someone else does. Although I have a feeling that ship has sailed… One of the reviews, from someone who doesn’t usually read or review vampire fiction (The Good Writer) wrote, “If I was going to fall in love with a vampire, it would have to be Light.”
Blood Shackles is the second book in the Rebel Vampires series and is currently available on pre-order. Light has been enslaved and defanged by a secretive group of humans, called the Blood Club. The hunters become the hunted. It’s like Taken. But with vampires. Light finds a ragtag family and love for the first time in 150 years. In the unlikeliest of places.
Grayse – the commanding daughter of the slaver in Blood Shackles – takes a good shot at keeping Light as a pet:
‘You swung open the fridge, pulling out a baby’s bottle - thick with crimson - which you held towards me with an expectant expression.
Starved though I was, a bloke’s still got to draw the line somewhere.
I raised my eyebrow. And didn’t reach for the bottle.
After a moment, you lowered your arm. ‘I don’t get it. She said this is what you needed on account of your fangs having been removed.’
Suddenly I found myself off the stool and right in your face. To give you your due, you didn’t back away, although your fingers clutched at the marble kitchen top. I didn’t miss that. ‘What’s next? Pretty little bowl with Light printed on the side for my din dins? Or a leash?’
‘At least it’d go with the collar I’ve got you.’ I drew back to study you. Your grey peepers were coolly amused. ‘Joke.’
‘Right. Ha-bloody-ha.’ ’ Blood Shackles (Rebel Vampires Volume 2)
Blood Shackles is out now. Click here: http://viewbook.at/BloodShackles
But that said – Light’s no pet. He can’t be tamed. He proves that in Blood Shackles. To find out how..? You’ll have to read the book. And to be honest? I don’t want him tamed. I like Light unleashed.
How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
The one word critics have used about me is ‘unique’. They always have.
I have a distinctive voice. I don’t sound like other writers. My new fantasy series could only have been written by Rosemary A Johns. Dark, intelligent, subversive. Romance and anti-heroes.
In the case of Rebel Vampires? A hidden paranormal London. I worked hard to create a twist on the vampire myth and urban fantasy. Critics have commented on this: the invention of Blood Lifers as an evolutionary species alongside but hidden from humanity. To tell you more is spoilers. Read the series yourself to discover the truth behind the camouflaged predators. And how it threatens the world.
And I’m passionate. About the genres. About the paranormal. About books. I write what I want to read. What I wish I could read but can’t discover – then I know my readers will love it too. Because it’s the book they’ve been searching for too.
Blood Dragons and Blood Shackles are vampire books for adults. Vampire books for readers, who don’t normally even read vampire fiction. But love fantasy or romance. Or just a great tale told from and to the heart.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
Best and worst is the same thing.
‘Write what you know.’
This came from a teacher. I was always writing. I wrote my first novel when I was eight. My first fantasy novel when I was ten. My first published short story when I was fourteen. But a school teacher insisted we all only wrote from life experience.
Even as a teenager I knew this was wrong. How did anyone write fantasy or science fiction – which I devoured even then – if they had to live it? Why weren’t all books about writing homework and listening to music sprawled on your bed? I rebelled – and wrote fantasy. No surprises, then.
To a writer half our lives are lived in our heads. I have worlds in there. I love Light because he exists in my mind. I see the novels played out like films. I am writing what I know…
But it’s also the best advice if it means your emotions. Pain is good. If you’re a writer. You can take it - and use it in your work. If you need to know how a character would react – sad, angry, in love – using your own responses? To grief, shame, your very worst day? You have to be brave enough to do that. That’s when writing is authentic. It bursts off the page. Because in a way? It’s real. One reader wrote that part of Blood Dragons had led to “ugly crying”. When you touch someone like that? With an emotion, which has come from you? Then it’s worked.
Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Blood Shackles is Spartacus meets vampires. What would happen if Blood Lifers were the ones being trafficked and enslaved? So no, not based on someone I know or my own life…
But my husband’s a police officer. And the rise of human slavery is something we discussed. It sparked me to research it – and to write Blood Shackles.
Freedom is something I’ve always been fascinated with. It doesn’t seem much – until we lose it. Not just the physical. But mental. Sexual and in relationships. The bonds that tie us. And how we can set ourselves free.
Blood Dragons is a book about love – and how it can both control and free. Blood Shackles is about family. How you can discover it when you least expect. How it can be ragtag. Misfit. And self-created – not biological. But sometimes those bonds are stronger than blood. And they can set you free.
That fascination with freedom – as well as love and family? That comes from my own life and experiences. I think the heart of what you write always does. And most people identity with that.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
I’ve spent no time daydreaming about this at all… Spot the lie in that last sentence.
I’ve had dreams about shapeshifting. They were cool. But as a fantasy writer? Subjective reality. The power to manipulate the boundary between reality and fantasy. Blur the line. And create… impossible things. Your own worlds. The fantastical.
Writing a fantasy series allows you to do that without any paranormal ability. The worlds inside my head escape out into the world. The hidden paranormal London, where death drives desire and vampires are both predator and prey? It exists in Rebel Vampires
That door has already been opened…
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I’m married to a police officer. Him and Light – the British Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory in my Rebel Vampires series? Wouldn’t see eye to eye. But Light is a James Dean style anti-hero (although throw in a young Michael Caine Alfie accent). Not a copy of my husband. Although the two men in my life have to share me - love triangle style. I fell hard for Light
The two guys do share one characteristic: courage. Police officers show bravery every day. In Blood Shackles fear (and the courage to overcome it) is the book’s guts. There’s no true bravery, if there’s no terror to face first. And enslaved by the human Blood Club, defanged and embroiled in a dark conspiracy, Light has more than his fair share of terror to face. But it’s how he does it, which is redemptive.
Think Taken. With vampires. Or Spartacus meets vampires. Either way, Light isn’t alone. He discovers both love and family in the unlikeliest of places. And it’s the drive to set them free, which gives him the courage to face his very worst fears…
Blood Shackles is available now. It’s released (e-book and paperback) on 1st November. Click here: http://viewbook.at/BloodShackles
When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?
As Light would say, I do like a ‘blinding coat…’
To be serious, there’s no one place because it depends on that character. The feature isn’t determined by me. Here’s what I mean: Light loves his coats. In the First World War a Military Great Coat or in the 1960s his iconic leather motorcycle jacket. So…the very first description of Light in Blood Dragons (the first standalone book in Rebel Vampires):
‘Rough leather motorcycle jacket, studded and faded, decorated with a worn gold Ace of Spades, collar firmly turned up, over a black t-shirt, jeans and tall motorcycle boots, topped by a light brown pompadour, tamed with Brylcreem.’ Blood Dragons (Rebel Vampires Volume 1) http://viewbook.at/BloodDragons
But sometimes you want to give more of a gut feel. It doesn’t need to be physical. You can paint that picture in…emotions.
‘Ruby. My red-haired devil, Author, muse, liberator, guide: my gorgeous nightmare.’ Blood Dragons (Rebel Vampires Volume 1)
The best descriptions? They’re the one lines, which capture a character whole.
‘M.C. slunk towards me, which was like being stalked by an anarchist tiger with added attitude.’ Blood Shackles (Rebel Vampires Volume 2)
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Rebel Vampires is set in the supernatural world of Blood Life, in a hidden London where vampires are both predator and prey. I may love vampires. But I wanted to write a vampire book for adults. Where they weren’t simply the hunters but also the hunted. And death drives desire.
It’s a secret world of vampires, rebels and romance. In Blood Dragons Light is caught between his century old love for a savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer and his forbidden human lover.
The character of Light – and the world I wanted to build around him – came to me first. But then building the plot and outline comes next. I know the end of the book before I write the first line! I want to add richness. Depth. You need to know where you’re going to do that. In Rebel Vampires the books are standalone but they’re part of an arc. There are characters and situations, which I set up in book one and two – because I know what’s happening in book three… and later books!
I like a plot with strong propulsion – so everything moves it forward. There’s a thriller edge along with the romance… But it can also be emotions or what’s happening between the characters. I’m drawn to power dynamics. That shift in relationships, often between love and hate. That’s what I created between Grayse and Light in Blood Shackles.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?
As a police officer, my husband had pointed out that human trafficking was still happening. And human slavery. In England and America. How could that be possible? In the twenty-first century. But it is. And it’s going on right now all around the world.
So I wondered: what would that be like if it was Blood Lifers as the slaves? If it was the humans as the monsters capable of such cruelty? Like Taken. But with vampires. And then how Light would survive and save not only himself – but his species – from slavery.
I researched the psychology behind how to break a slave – and rebuild them. I learned what about the choices and decisions we all make every day. The ways our minds work. Freedom – and how it seems such a small, insubstantial thing. Until you lose it.
Light discovers (for the first time in 150 years), family in the unlikeliest of places. Love too. And ultimately it’s love and family, which set him free. Although – the thriller-like plot helps too. Yeah, this one’s compelling.
Blood Shackles is out now at the promotional price of $0.99. Click here: http://viewbook.at/BloodShackles.
Want to read Blood Dragons first? Click here: http://viewbook.at/BloodDragons.
Light is a Rocker Blood Lifer with a talent for remembering things. He’s meant to be the predator. It’s been that way since Victorian times. But not now. Not since someone hunted him. Enslaved him. Ripped out his fangs. Who are these ruthless humans? Who’s their violent leader? And who betrayed the secret of the Blood Lifer world?
WHERE THE PREDATORS
London, Primrose Hill. Grayse is the commanding but alluring slaver’s daughter. The enemy. She buys Light, like he’s a pair of designer shoes. So why does Light feel so drawn to her? Especially when his family is still in chains. Will he risk everything – even his new love – to save them?
BECOME THE PREY
Does a chilling conspiracy lie behind it all? A stunning revelation leads Light to an inconceivable truth. If he can face his worst terrors, he can save his family and his whole species from slavery.
Maybe he can even save himself.
The third book in the series, BLOOD RENEGADES, will be out Spring 2017
About the Author:
Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as "uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life"), and worked with disability charities.
When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires
Rosemary is a Goodreads Author: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31348711-blood-dragons
To sign up to Rosemary A Johns’ VIP Email Newsletter with news of hot releases, promotions and the free short story “All the Tin Soldiers”, click here: http://eepurl.com/bQ0kMX
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