I reviewed the first book in this series, Blood, Bath and Beyond (click here) and the second book: Bled and Breakfast (click here), and the newest release From Fear to Eternity (click here). The backstory to the mystery series began in a paranormal romance that I felt compelled to read after this latest book.
So I read the 2008 book Bitten and Smitten, which takes us to Sarah Dearly and Thierry de Bennicoeur's meeting. It was called Immortality Bites series as a romance and has kept that series name so fans can follow their favorite vampires from their early romance to their mystery solving adventures. I am really not into romance novels at all, but I have to say I really enjoyed it and particularly loved understanding how a 600 year old master vampire came to be with a newbie vamp.
Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim, or the plot?
The heart of my mystery series is my main character, Sarah Dearly, fledgling vampire. Everything that happens plot-wise in the books stems from her, so she’s where I start. What hasn’t she experienced? What does she need to learn? What “creature” do I want to focus on? In BLOOD BATH & BEYOND I stuck with vampires to establish the series. In book 2, BLED & BREAKFAST, I shifted over to ghosts and witches. In book 3, FROM FEAR TO ETERNITY, there’s a djinn on the loose, and enchanted objects up for sale at an exclusive auction. The mystery and the plot seem to evolve organically from there.
Do you outline a book before sitting down and writing?
I do outline before I write, and I usually gravitate to the three act structure. I like to know generally what’s going to happen and especially how everything is going to end (key in writing a mystery), so I spend a lot of time brainstorming and working on essential plot points before I even think about starting to write.
What is your process for developing a character like Sarah Dearly? I’ve been working with Sarah for ten years now and she was the star of my original non-mystery paranormal romance series Immortality Bites, so I know her pretty well by now. She is unique to any character I’ve ever written since she developed herself without much input from me. My original notes on her wanted her to be a bookworm who hadn’t experienced much from life until her transition to vampire. As soon as I started writing her, however, she turned into a sarcastic trouble-magnet who’s led by her heart and gut (sometimes, unfortunately for her, more so than her brain). This is a bit more Urban Fantasy than a typical paranormal cozy. What attracted you to this middle ground for a mystery series? I like to think that the Immortality Bites Mysteries defy categorization. It’s a bit mystery, a bit paranormal romance, a bit chick lit, a smidge of horror, and a whole lot of urban fantasy. “Cozy Mystery,” to me, means that it’s an amateur sleuth who’s doing the mystery-solving. Sarah definitely fits that bill. A cozy will also have a dead body early in the story. Everything else is up to my imagination and I sometimes do like to paint outside the lines and let my characters do whatever they like without being overly defined by genre.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book?
When I’m writing first drafts, I like to immerse myself in the book and characters. They are constantly in my thoughts as I work out scenes and pesky plot points. I would describe myself as a binge writer, since when I write first drafts I like to do between 10-20 pages a day consistently until I’m done. If I have time, I let the first draft sit for a few days, then I’ll read it over and start my second draft, which usually takes me longer to write than the first one since I’m going slower and looking closely at the details. On my current schedule, I can finish a book (not including the initial brainstorming or the copy edits, etc.) in 3-4 months.
In literature, who is your favorite mystery/suspense character and who is your favorite paranormal character? Tough question… so many I love – Victoria Laurie’s Abby and M.J. J.D. Robb’s Eve. Evanovich’s Stephanie, Jim Butcher’s Harry, Karen Marie Moning’s Mac and Barrons. They’re all so much fun to read… I can’t pick a favorite!
Are paranormal mysteries here to stay or are they a current fad in publishing?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of being a published author, it’s that I have absolutely no idea what’s the future of publishing. For me, I absolutely LOVE paranormal mystery and the freedom it gives authors to write whatever their imaginations offer up. I love the fun, the romance, and the whimsy that’s accepted in this sub-genre. And I hope very much that it’s something that’s here to stay!
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