Today I’d like to welcome Sharon Lipman, paranormal romance author of Bound to Blackwood.
Can you give us your quickest description of your books?
Adult paranormal romance – HOT vampires and fated lovers!
Okay, cool. Is the story set in modern day? And are your vampires more Anne Rice or Twilight? 🙂
Ha! Neither actually!
Vampires belonged to the Seelie Court; the aristocracy of Faerie, and were bound by honour, love and beauty. They are not the demons most humans believe them to be. Their need for blood stems not from evil, but from duty. Before modern day religions like Christianity and Islam, there was only Faerie, and Vampires were tasked with sending the souls of the dying back to The Glory. When one coven Fell and kept the souls with which they had been entrusted, the whole race were cast from Faerie and banished to earth.
Vampires still have the ability to carry souls, but without the keys to Faerie, they have relinquished their duties. Now they do their best to protect humans from the Fallen.
They will only return to Faerie once the Fallen are vanquished.
The soul-bearing nature of Vampires is why I chose the 1st of November to release the story. Halloween tends to be a popular release date for horror and paranormal stories alike. However, with my Vampires not being “evil” in the traditional sense of the word, All Souls Day is a much more appropriate day for them to make their debut.
The war has been waging for thousands of years and has taken its toll on the Vampire population – some still choose to Fall, others have perished in the fight. There are now only a few hundred left. Of those that remain, none have ever set foot in Faerie. The Fallen are probably the closest thing I have to the more traditional, Anne Rice-esque Vampire.
Bound to Blackwood is set in modern-day London and the home counties of England.
That’s great backstory/history. What are you working on currently?
I’m working on a sequel to my debut novel, Bound to Blackwood, entitled Stranger to Blackwood. I don’t think it’s the story most readers thought would come next. There’s a pair in Bound to Blackwood who are perfect for each other, but their story is complicated and I don’t think either of them are quite ready for what I have in store for them! Stranger to Blackwood introduces some new characters and focuses on one of the secondary characters from Bound to Blackwood.
I love when an author twists a story and surprises readers. Did you always plan to change it up for the sequel, or was that a decision that developed as you’ve been writing?
It developed as I was writing. Telling Kaden and Soraya’s story next seemed the obvious next step, but when I came to write it, I realised neither they nor I was ready for it! Soraya is Thorn’s sister. Thorn is the King and the male lead from Bound to Blackwood. Kaden is Thorn’s best friend and commander of the Order – the noble guard. There’s will be a complicated tale to tell and it just wasn’t the right time.
Stranger to Blackwood, focuses on one of the supporting characters from Bound to Blackwood, Ryver, and a new character, Ria. Their story fits better timing wise, but also with the over-arching story.
Kaden and Soraya’s time will no doubt come. Just not yet!
What is your favorite scene you’ve written? Can you give us a peek?
Not without spoiling it for everyone. It’s a love scene, which are amazingly difficult to write and get right, but I’m super proud of this one and it’s the climax (no pun intended) of the story in Bound to Blackwood.
Congrats! I love when authors take pride in something they KNOW is good. Since you’ve managed to write a great love scene (which, yeah, are always tricky to get right), are there any other areas/scenes that you’re still sorting out how to make great?
I struggle with fight scenes. I can throw a punch as well as anyone, but Lena in particular has a sword as her weapon of choice. She’s the female lead in Bound to Blackwood and thinks using guns is cheating! Getting a sword fight to seem realistic is tricky and I’m still not altogether au-fait with the mechanics. Thankfully, I have a brilliant editor who has a passion for these things, so she keeps me on the straight and narrow. It’s just simple things like “no, his head would NOT roll towards her,” but she’s helped make the scenes better.
Haha. That is helpful. What is one bit of advice you’d like to share with writers?
Keep writing! All first drafts are awful. Get the story down – that’s the most important thing. Resist the urge to edit as you go or you’ll get hung up on things that aren’t important right now. Always carry a notebook – inspiration strikes when you least expect it. Finally, once you’ve polished your manuscript to within an inch of its life, hire an editor – they’re worth their weight in gold!
That’s all great advice. When you hand your work to an editor, are you nervous?
I was the first time. I “met” Kayla via an on-line creative trading group, so I didn’t actually know her at all. Sending your pride and joy off to be butchered is nerve-wracking at the best of times. Giving it to a relative stranger made me feel pretty ill.
It was the best thing I’ve ever done, though. Having someone with no personal connection to you run a critical eye over your work is key. They are not afraid of offending you, nor should they be, and will be completely honest in their feedback.
Apart from heads rolling the wrong way in fight scenes, I think Kayla’s biggest challenge was picking her way through my British spelling, grammar and idiosyncrasies. I am British and my story is set in England, so sticking with English spelling and slang was really important to me despite the fact I’ve written it for an international audience.
I know there are some small word choices that will throw my American cousins when they first see them, but I still thought it was important for the characters to remain true. The story is written in close third point of view with shifting perspectives, but they all live and work where I grew up. There’s a little of me in all of them.
That personal flavor is always great to find in writing – good choice to stick with it. In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
Thorn of House Blackwood – Joe Manganiello
Lena – Olivia Wilde
Kaden – Alexander Skarsgard
Soraya of House Blackwood – Mila Kunis
Great choices! I see from your Twitter that you have a really cool logo for House Blackwood. Where did that idea come from?
Actually, I designed that, and the book cover, myself.
Fae and all things Faerie have their roots in Irish and Celtic traditions, so the Blackwood Crest is based on the Celtic tree of life.
House Blackwood is the ruling House of the Vampire race. Vampire strength and magic flows from Faerie, through House Blackwood and on to the rest of the population. The tree of life seemed like the perfect symbol. All the Guardians have the Blackwood Crest on their uniforms and though I never fully describe it in the story, I thought it would be a useful way of tying all the stories together under one banner.
It helps create a brand around House Blackwood and the stories I have to tell, and that’s really important in my overall marketing effort. I think it’s one thing self-published authors often forget about. If Indies can’t design a professional cover themselves, they assume it will cost them a fortune. It doesn’t have to. It makes me sad when I see what could be an amazing story hiding behind an unprofessional cover. It puts the author on the back foot from the start. If you don’t have the skills to design and produce a cover yourself, find someone that can.
Thank you, Sharon, for sharing!