Today, I´m having Jeannie Holmes, author of the Urban Fantasy/Detective Novel/Crime Mystery debut “Blood Law”, over for a little chat about book, her work in general and a few of her favorites. A review of Boold Law is soon to follow! Please give it up for Jeannie Helmes.
Can you describe Blood Law in your own words?
Blood Law follows Alexandra Sabian, an Enforcer with the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation, as she tries to solve series of vampire murders that hit a little too close to home. However, it's more than a story about vampires, humans, and serial killers. At its heart, Blood Law is a story about family and how far someone is willing to go to protect their loved ones.
Is it possible to share a little teaser about Blood Secrets, the second book in the series?
I can't say much other than to say there will be a new bad guy on the scene who will really challenge both Alex and Varik. It's a little darker than Blood Law, but readers will learn more about Alex's father, her past, and see a growth in her relationship with Varik.
Do we get to see more of Varik and Alex? Is there a chance that more supernatural creatures show up in Alex´s world or is it limited to vampires?
Yes, there will be more Varik and Alex in Blood Secrets. No other supernatural creatures will show up in Alex's world because of the way I chose to create the vampires. I really don't want to try to explain the evolutionary track of werewolves, fairies, etc., so I'm keeping it limited to vampires and humans.
Do you have more books planned in this series?
I do have more books planned. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to write them.
Blood Law is an Urban Fantasy book with elements of crime thriller/detective novel. Which part was most fun to write or was it the book as a whole?
The book as a whole was fun to write. I enjoyed each part for different reasons so the entire book was a lot of fun.
While reading your book, I had the impression that your focus was not on the superior skills and abilities of vampires, but more on their struggle to integrate in society. Is this just my impression or was that something you actually wanted your readers to notice and feel?
You hit the nail squarely on the head. I approached the vampire society as one of outsiders who are still struggling to find their place and the humans as still trying to cope with the knowledge that they aren't alone. Other authors have written fabulous books in which the vampire is a true supernatural creature and humans either fear them or love them. I enjoy that "traditional" vampire model, but I wanted to create a world mythology that was different.
Blood Law is -as far as I know- your first book ever released. Can you describe the process of how you became a published author with all its victories and highs and also blowbacks?
Yes, Blood Law is the first book I've published. In fact, it's my first major publication ever. Period. I'm not a short story writer, although I have a few available for free on my website. I also had a couple of works published in a campus fine arts review when I was working on my English degrees.
As for the process of becoming a published author, I've been incredibly fortunate. My writing mentor, author Carolyn Haines, recommended my work to her agent, Marian Young, who graciously agreed to read a portion of the manuscript (no offers of representation attached but just an agreement to provide feedback) that would eventually become Blood Law. Marian read it and then asked to see the rest of the manuscript. She really liked it and through lengthy discussion, we decided she would represent me.
Marian shopped it around to all the major publishers. We received several very nicely worded rejections until it landed with Danielle Perez, who was a senior editor with Bantam Dell at the time. It was initially rejected but Danielle agreed to give it a second reading if I would consider some revision work. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity. Several months of work and waiting later, Danielle made us an offer and I signed with Dell Publishing in August 2008. The next two years were filled with more revisions, title changes, cover changes, editor changes (I'm now working with Shauna Summers), and finally publication in July 2010.
Vampires are very popular creatures in the Urban Fantasy genre. Did you ever have doubts that everything about them has already been written?
No. I've been fascinated with vampires since I was six years old. I've researched folklore and mythology from across the globe and know there are more to vampires than the "traditional" Eastern European variety. While I do base my work in much of that research, it's also fiction. Vampires, and their supernatural brethren, are limited only by an author's imagination.
I really liked the cover of Blood Law with its rather unusual perspective. Did you have a say in the cover as well?
Not really. I was able to ask for a few minor changes after the cover was created but I had very little input into its creation.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Music, books, TV shows or real life?
All of those things. Some of the elements of the murders in Blood Law are inspired by a real-life murder mystery that to my knowledge is still unsolved nearly twenty years later. I research mythology and folklore from around the world as well as biology, philosophy, and history. I watch a lot of educational programs on forensics and crime scene investigations. Something may spark my curiosity and I'll research it to see if I can fit it into a story. If not, I'll file it away for later use. I listen to music while I write so the mood of a scene can sometimes reflect the "soundtrack" I had playing at the time. I never know where an idea will originate so I'm always open to whatever is going on around me.
A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional?
I try very hard not to base characters on people I actually know, including myself. One trait I share with Alex with a love of coffee. That's really as far as it goes.
How did you choose the names of the characters in your book? Do they have a special meaning?
I chose Alex's name -- Alexandra -- for its meaning, "defender of the people." As for whom the people are she’s ultimately defending, that remains to be seen. Her last name, Sabian, is from my imagination. I think I chose it because it sounds similar to “saber.”
Varik means “honorable defender,” and it suits him because there are times when he does act as a protector or defender for Alex, even though it often causes him more than a few headaches. I chose the last name of Baudelaire for him because of the French poet Charles Baudelaire, who wrote a series of poems in the mid-1800s entitled Les Fleurs du mal, or “The Flowers of Evil.” Several of the poems describe vampires as well as illicit love affairs and were therefore condemned as obscene and banned, and Charles Baudelaire himself was viewed as an eccentric among the eccentrically viewed Romantics. It’s just my little homage to a fellow writer.
The character Nathaniel "Tubby" Jordan is a different story. I had the name Nathaniel Jordan, but Tubby is actually the name of my nephew's dog. It fit the character and has become something of an inside joke that I named a character after the dog.
What do you like most about being an author? And what annoys you?
It's hard to pick one thing as what I like most since this is my first book and everything is new to me. I like researching a project, writing the book, revising the book, meeting readers -- I really like meeting readers. It still surprises me when I meet people who have read Blood Law and they tell me they liked it. I hope it never stops surprising me. What annoys me? The laundry. I go to several conferences every year, and I really hate doing laundry under any circumstances but it's worse around conference time.
Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?
I did have a couple of episodes of writer's block because I'm not a plotter. I usually have a vague idea of how a book will start, how it will end, and few points in between, but I don't plan out every single step the characters will make in advance. I've since learned the value of having a slightly better plan than "Eh, it'll work itself out." As for how I dealt with it, I started writing another book set in a different city, different world, and different characters. At one point I was actively writing two novels (set in vastly different worlds) and revising a third, and because I have a background in visual arts, I would draw or sculpt just to take my mind out of "writer mode" for a while.
Tell us something about your favourites:
Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Charles Baudelaire, John Milton, Oscar Wilde, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, J. R. R. Tolkien, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Vicki Pettersson, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman
favourite paranormal creature?
Vampires, of course
favourite all time hero/heroine?
Wolverine from X-Men and Wonder Woman
favourite all time villain?
Satan in John Milton's epic poem "Paradise Lost"
Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader?
For the moment, book but I'm seriously considering an e-reader simply because I'm running out of room to store all my books.
My four neurotic cats and shaggy arthritic dog. They provide hours of entertainment.
(I just had to add this picture from Jeannie´s hompage: these are said cats with names (from above: Panic, Disorder, Chaos, Nugget
Photo by Jeannie Holmes Having threevery entertaining cats myself, I can only second that!)
Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life?
It's a time between Frankenstein and The Witch of Blackbird Pond for my all time favorite. Both of these have affected my way of thinking at different points in my life and are the only two books I've willingly re-read multiple times.
Was being an author something you´ve always wanted or did it just happen?
I've always created stories and wanted to write but I never really thought it would be a viable career path until recently. I had very pragmatic parents who taught me the value of having "a real job." I tried it. I didn't like it. Writing suits me much better and I'm happy doing what I do now.
Is there any question you´ve always wanted to be asked? And if so, what would be the answer?
I've always wanted to know who was the first person to see a chicken and say, "I'm going to eat that white orb looking thing that just popped out of that bird's butt." I have no idea what the answer would be.
A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author and seems to really fit in the context of your book: If you would be Superman, what would be your kryptonite?
Starbuck's white chocolate mochas. I'm addicted to them.
What are you reading at the moment/planning to read/waiting for to be released?
And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?
"Thank you for reading!"
Thank you so much for this interview! It´s been both a great pleasure and honor for me!
Here are a few links you might find interesting:
Jeannie Holmes´s hompage:
Read an excerpt of her book here:
Trailer for Blood Law: