Please join me in welcoming Joey W. Hill to Debbie's Book Bag today! Joey is here to talk about the latest release in her Vampire Queen series, Bound by the Vampire Queen. This guest post was provided by the author, and she is giving away a SIGNED copy of Bound by Vampire or a book of hers of your choice! See details at the end of the post.
The Romance and Realism of Fantasy
My mother, a practical Virginia farm girl, was always a bit mystified by my love of the paranormal. As soon as I could read I was delving into the world of Taran, Assistant Pig Keeper, the very human and fallible hero of Lloyd Alexander’s Taran Wanderer series. From there I suffered along with Edward in Chronicles of Narnia when he betrayed his siblings, and cried when Aslan was sacrificed. I wrestled with Thomas’s doubt and bitter resentment in Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant Chronicles. I was awed and swept away by the earnest quest to achieve perfect chivalry in the tales of King Arthur and his knights. Movie favs were Sword and the Sorcerer, Beastmaster, Excalibur, Star Wars... You get the picture.
All kids go through their dragon and castle phase, but some of us keep a foot in that world even when we have to leave childhood behind. I think the reason I did was because I was captivated by the characters I met there. Integrating a paranormal setting and/or abilities with the motivations and choices we all face, no matter what world we inhabit, made those imaginary worlds seem closer, more real—more irresistible. In those worlds, just like our own, characters had to make the right choices, despite fear, self-doubt, guilt, remorse…
The prevailing theory is that we read romance, fantasy, etc. to escape from our mundane world. While I don’t deny that component to it, there’s a flip side. Reading these heroic and romantic works inspired my outlook so that I was better tuned to recognize and appreciate chivalry in my “real world”, acts big or small. They help me believe in the magic and heroism that dwells within all of us, and that in turn inspires my writing, a meshing of the paranormal and contemporary worlds. If you’ve ever seen the lovely movie The Mighty with Kieran Culkin and Elden Henson, it a prime example of how a fantasy world can inspire positive actions in the “real” world.
So I’m obviously a firm advocate of letting the paranormal worlds of our imagination walk hand-in-hand with our daily travails in Mundania, Muggle-world, whatever you want to call it. While I wouldn’t suggest drawing a sword on your megalomaniac boss and calling him a scurrilous knave, if it’s a visual that gets you through the day with a smile, go for it.
Interestingly enough, this enduring fascination with Arthurian lore and chivalry translated to my vampire series. When my agent asked if I had a paranormal series to pitch to New York, I’d been nursing an idea related to vampires for some time, an area I didn’t feel had been explored deeply enough – the vampire-servant dynamic. Since I write erotic romance, the Domination/submission potential of that relationship intrigued me. What would compel a person to bind himself/herself to a vampire for all eternity, knowing the vampire world views humans as inferior beings, and their servants as their absolute property, to do with as they desire?
In the first book, Vampire Queen’s Servant, a 1000-year-old vampire queen is my heroine and a former vampire hunter, Ren Faire knight and drifter is my hero. Because Jacob has the heart of a knight, I understood his service to Lady Lyssa to be based in his deep and utter devotion to her, no matter what. There was a noble heroism to that, even though he was subjecting himself to a world where he had no defined rights.
That could be a recipe for disaster, except for a key irony in vampire society. Because of the politically volatile and cutthroat nature of vampire relations, often a servant is the only person a vampire can trust. It’s inevitable that a more emotional bond will form. My vampires aren’t angsty creatures, beating their breasts saying “Woe is me, I’m a monster”. They’re seductive and deadly, unashamed of who and what they are. Lady Lyssa is not a warm character, which makes the journey that opens her heart to Jacob, and how deeply he comes to understand who and what she is, so challenging and absorbing.
It’s probably pretty obvious why I like to write erotic work, but just to expand on that, erotic attracts me for the same reasons paranormal does – it widens the scope of the relationship, allowing a deeper, more intense journey, because sex is the gateway to the most vulnerable and raw corners of our soul. Here’s a snippet of Bound by the Vampire Queen, the latest book in Jacob and Lyssa’s journey together, that helps prove the point, a rare moment when Lyssa is actually more physically vulnerable than Jacob:
When Jacob spoke like he did now, Lyssa could do nothing to change his mind. It overwhelmed her with anger, despair and love for him, all at once. As he moved back in her direction, recognizing it, she wouldn’t let the last take precedence, not when she had a point to prove.
She backed away from him. The stillness that entered his gaze warned he could leap forward, use preternatural speed to catch her. But he didn’t. Not yet. He slowed his steps, matching her pace. It was a deliberate tracking maneuver, guaranteed to bring another element into their shared tension. She had no problem using the irresistible attraction between them to make her case, though she didn’t deny there was far more to it. Just as his determination to follow her no matter where she went could go hand in hand with the sexual predator taking him over now.
You can find an excerpt for this book on my website. There are also two exclusive chapter excerpts on the JWH connection fan forum (login/access information here). This is the eighth book in the Vampire Queen series, but the third with Jacob and Lyssa as the main protagonists, so if you read Vampire Queen’s Servant and Mark of the Vampire Queen (Books I & 2), you’ll be in great shape to read Bound by the Vampire Queen. If you find you enjoy the books, be sure and visit the forum mentioned above for free download vignettes that revisit the characters to this series and others. Free excerpts for all my work, contemporary and paranormal, are on my website, www.storywitch.com.
Hope you enjoyed this look into the whys and hows of what I write. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all! Oh, and if you leave a comment or question for me, you’ll be eligible for a signed copy of Bound by the Vampire Queen or the title of your choice, if you’d prefer another of my books.
The author is providing a SIGNED copy of Bound by the Vampire Queen or a book written by her of the winner's choice!
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~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST December 23rd.
1. Please leave a question or comment for Joey on THIS post to be officially entered in the giveaway!
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