If you would like to win one of two copies of Smolder, check the contest guidelines at the end of the post. Melina will also send the winners signed bookmarks to go with their books.
Melina will be dropping by to answer questions, so please give her a warm welcome and ask away.
SFG: In Smolder, you have set the werewolves up as the adversaries. Of all the supernatural creatures, what attributes led you to portray them as the bad guys?
SFG: Your vampires have a lot of the classic traits including shapeshifting. What were your influences (supernaturally speaking) in writing Smolder and the series?
My ideas about vampires were probably formed while I was quite young and watching old movies on TV. Later on, before I began writing Devour, I started researching vampires in history and legend, and one of the things that surprised me was the prevalence of vampire stories around the globe. Even China, a place I never associated with vampires has some myths. The most flamboyant spots of course are the places in Eastern Europe normally associated with the species. And finally, a colleague of mine who was a fan of the paranormal was kind enough to read my first draft of Devour and let me know her take on it. She encouraged me when almost all my other colleagues were – shall I say – highly skeptical. Thank you again, Sophie!
SFG: Can you tell us about your travels and research and how that meshes with the locations and background for Smolder?
I’ve always been interested in European history, long before I became interested in vampires. When I was a kid, I used to read history all the time, and later on after I graduated from college and started working, I traveled to Europe about a dozen times over the years. I studied French in college, so France had a particular interest for me, and I loved my visits to Paris, so that made me decide to make my elegant werewolf huntress a Frenchwoman. Also that inspired me to create Ian Morgan – Count Jean de Montfort in the old days - an aristocrat of the Eighteenth Century who turned vampire to avenge himself on the werewolf cousin who slaughtered his wife. On top of that, I discovered that France and other European countries have a trove of werewolf lore. According to historic documents, France had a severe werewolf problem in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the southwestern part of the country. Or at least the people believed they did!
SFG: For readers new to the series, can you give us the highlights of Devour and Prey and how they fit into the overall story arc of the series?
In Devour, I introduced Catherine Marais and Paul DuJardin, werewolf hunters from the mysterious Institut Scientifique in Geneva. The last Montfort werewolf has surfaced in Manhattan and the Institut has sworn to exterminate him. He’s on a vicious killing spree, striking fear into the hearts of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. Paul has just fallen in love with a pretty professor who’s about to translate his newest book and Catherine is deeply smitten with Ian Morgan, resident vampire and Montfort relative. As the chase leads them closer and closer to the destructive werewolf, victims fall to his fangs, his life begins to fall apart, the head of the Institut himself comes to Manhattan to oversee the takedown, and the final scene plays out in a frantic effort of “do or die.” Literally!
SFG: Which character was the most difficult to write? Do you have a favourite?
Well, if we’re talking about all three books, I think I’d have to say Luc was the hardest to write. This is rather comical when you consider that he’s basically a nice guy, and some of the other characters I’ve created have been nasty egomaniacs with vicious streaks a mile wide – Pierre the werewolf and Bella of the Siberian werecat clan come to mind here. Bella Danilov was the arch villain of Prey. Bella is so bad she has a kind of evil allure, and her true nature is on full and groveling display when she is called to account by the werecat god of her people, Moroz the Dread, after she tries to flim-flam him! Luc has a lot to put up with since his father is the werewolf leader – the Lupus Minor – of the Ile-de-France pack. Luc’s decent nature is a foil for the evil Lupus Minor, and for him life is a struggle to remain human while suffering intense pressure to go werewolf. All he wants is to remain a human being, but the terrible genetic heritage he carries pulls him, despite his best efforts, in the other direction. The battle that generates seals the pack’s fate. So Luc was the hardest to write and I guess Bella was at least one of my favorites. After you’ve met Bella, you can never look at a Siberian cat the same way! And in reality the breed is quite sweet, loyal and affectionate, nothing at all like my character.
SFG: What does the future hold for the series? What other projects are you working on?
Right now, I’m working on a fourth book, and Solange and Luc from Smolder are the hero and heroine. You know, I didn’t start out to write a series. It just developed. And you’re the first person to give it a name – the Institut Scientifique series. I like that. I’ll have to tell my editor. I’m not involved in any other projects per se. Writing a book is enough to keep you busy. However, I’m going to try to attend more meetings of the NJRW this year because they’re a terrific group of writers who have a lot of good advice to give and are very supportive of their members. They also have the wonderful Put Your Heart In A Book conference in October where many leaders in the publishing industry come to speak. I attended this year and found it very informative.
SFG: You have previously published some historical novels. What brought you to write paranormal/urban fantasy? How is the writing process different/similar? Would you like to combine the two?
My historical novels were written a long time ago, but they’re still very dear to my heart. What happened was a long period of time that went by without selling any more of them. So my agent suggested that I try something else, something completely different, and I took her up on it. Werewolves and vampires are about as far from Europe in La Belle Époque as you can get. Also, I have to admit, it was quite a challenge because I didn’t know if I could actually compete in the genre, but I was determined to try. To my surprise, she sold Devour in just a couple of months and it was a two book deal, which nearly floored me. So now I had to write not one but two paranormals! I didn’t know whether I was stunned or delighted, but either way there was no going back. I had signed a contract and I would give it my best shot.
In writing historical novels, you have to be meticulous about the facts of history. This means looking up an incredible lot of information - from the kind of lace on your heroine’s gown, to royal or imperial orders of chivalry. And much more. On top of that, you have to worry about character development and moving the story along. The research alone is formidable. With a paranormal, you have the liberty of setting it in modern times, a period quite familiar to you. Of course you still have to research some things, but living in the same time period is pretty helpful! Two years ago I wrote a short story using Ian Morgan in an 1890’s New York setting. It hasn’t been published, but I enjoyed writing it, and I sometimes think I’d like to do a novel showing Ian as Count Jean de Montfort, back in the days of the French Revolution. Who knows?
SFG: What are you reading now and what is waiting for you in your “to be read” pile?
Well, as I said, I like history and right now I am reading a book called The Twilight Years The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars by Richard Overy. It’s not light reading, but it’s fascinating. In my “to be read” pile, I have Noble Blood by Linda Parisi, a paranormal. And I can’t wait to read Kitty's House of Horrors, the newest addition to Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, due out this month. I adore her werewolves, which are quite different from mine.
SFG: If you could be any of your supernatural characters, which would it be?
Boy, that’s a tough one, but all things considered, I think I’d be a werecat. More like Viv than Bella, though.
SFG: Who is your favourite vampire/vampire movie?
Again, that’s a hard question because there are so many great ones. However, thinking of Frank Langella as Dracula and the elegant and seductive way he delivered the line, “I don’t drink – wine,” with that tiny, but provocative pause, makes me think of him as a world class vamp. And I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldham. That was a glamorous, vivid production, and it had wonderful wolfy sound effects during the Transylvanian scenes! Ah, the children of the night…. Wonderful atmosphere!
Thank you again Melina!
I have two copies of Smolder to giveaway to some lucky commenters. Melina Morel will also forward signed bookmarks to the winners!
- Leave a question or comment for Melina and/or suggest an exotic location that you would like to see as a setting for a paranormal romance.
- Open to any destiunation the The Book Depository ships.
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- Giveaway open until Midnight, January 13, 2009 EST.