"Gravedigger" is the story of the highly charged conflict between a vampire and a demon hunter. The big twist is that it's not urban fantasy (or rural fantasy) as I tend to write. Instead, I set it in the era of the Wild West; what's more, I set it during winter to fit with the Frost Bite collection submission call, so I wouldn't call it your typical gothic vampire or western story.
Please tell us about the character of Ivory.
Ivory is a prostitute of Ruby Rue's brothel, which boasts a different breed of whore, although I doubt Madam Rue knows Ivory's actually a different breed. She's literally a woman of the night—and a damn good one, too—with a penchant for scarlet satin, but she's lonely and wants a vampire companion. That's why she's been trying to make herself a mate for the last few months. However, they never rise when they're supposed to, and she eventually discovers some idiot's consecrating their graves with holy water, killing her mates before they rise. Now she has to confront said idiot, who happens to be the local gravedigger, a noble, pious, attractive young man who can't help but be affected by Ivory's charms. And of course, Ivory thinks he's adorable trying to stop her.
Why do you have a fondness for horror and supernatural?
I've been a fan of horror for most of my life. Ever since that first Goosebumps book, I'm guessing. But what really got me started on the sensual side of horror was an abridged and illustrated version of Dracula. That's what also got me on vampires.
I just can't imagine writing anything without at least a dash of the supernatural. Real life doesn't interest me unless it's through the lens of things that don't and can't exist. That's usually what supernatural fiction is really good at, taking the mystical forest way around to examine real issues through the filter of the impossible. Reality's hard to deal with, but the spoonful of sugar that supernatural fiction provides makes it a darn bit easier to swallow.
Horror works the same way, packaging up very real anxieties in villains and circumstances that are easier to take when they're happening to someone else, preferably someone not real.
You like to take late night walks, so how inspirational are these for your writing?
I love late night walks. I turn on my mp3 player, move my little legs, and let my mind wander. Sometimes I dwell on an upcoming scene to chisel out the details. Other times I use that as problem solving time. If necessary, I'll talk out loud, which has probably made me eligible for weirdo of the neighbourhood, but hey, anything for a story.
Autumn, winter, and early spring is best, because then I'm not sweating in a Texas summer and instead get my mind working with some cool breezes. However, walks at any time of year are excellent for working out the kinks before getting into my evening writing.
You like almost every genre of music so who are your favourites?
I've recently started getting into gothic and symphonic metal-type bands like Nightwish, Kamelot, and Within Temptation. They've got some excellent music for fantasy/horror inspiration. They're all like genre soundtracks, so they'll feature a lot in my novel or series playlists. I'm also a big fan of Victoriandustrialist Emilie Autumn.
Then I sometimes switch over to Top 40 or rock, just to shake things up. You never know with me.
How difficult is it to come up with something different as a writer of vampire fiction?
It's incredibly difficult, saturated as the market is. It's important as a writer to remember that you'll sometimes be a reader's second vampire story instead of their forty-second, so even the kinds of stories that have been done before can seem exciting to a newbie.
There's nothing wrong with having an unoriginal story as long as you have integrity and are devoted to being true to your characters and the plot. Most everything has been done before. We're all just finding new paths in ancient woods.
However, I wanted to do something a little different with "Gravedigger," although I'm a fan of vampire urban fantasy and have a few ideas for stories in that subgenre in the future. Before writing "Gravedigger," I sat myself down and asked myself how I could experiment with the usual vampire fare. Then I saw a vampire woman in a saloon dress in my mind's eye, and the rest is history.
I never get tired of referring to "Gravedigger" as my gothic vampire western novel, because that's a novelty right there. How often do you hear that combination?
What is next for you?
I have a number of drafts that need editing, and who knows where they'll be this year. I'm crossing my fingers. However, I do have a novel coming out this early spring (late February/early March) from Totally Bound called Cry Wolf, the second book in the Sanctuary trilogy and sequel to my debut novel, Winter Howl.
Winter Howl was all about Renee Chambers, her shapeshifter and dog sanctuary, and her decision whether to become a werewolf or not. Cry Wolf steps into the mind of Renee's friend Kelly, a werewolf and witch staying at the sanctuary while she gets back on her feet; in the meantime, she's taken it upon herself to help out one of the sanctuary shapeshifters who's been turned into a werewolf and is having trouble adjusting. There's hot werewolf sex, prophetic tattoos, cryptic premonitions, and a charismatic cult leader/powerful sorcerer. Sound like fun? :)
Gravedigger is available from Totally Bound.