|Vampire romance? I used to think such a thing was an oxymoron. Romance was
warm and sweet while vampires belonged in the horror realm. Although I have always enjoyed all things vampire (I've seen nearly every vampire movie ever made) and have read every Betty Neels romance published in North America, the idea of combining the two had never occurred to me. That is until I was asked to write a short story for the erotic romance anthology, Things That Go Bump In The Night, published by Ellora's Cave (http://www.ellorascave.com)
Almost immediately, I decided to write a vampire romance. After discarding the ideal of trying to turn an old horror vampire short story into a romance, I struggled with how to turn a traditional blood-sucking vampire into a romantic hero.
While I love the vampire mystique, I knew I didn't want my hero to be bound by conventional vampire lore. Then I decided there was no reason I should be bound by what movie and television screenwriters had written. Once I freed myself of the need to follow movie lore, an exciting array of possibilities lay before me.
One of the greatest benefits of writing a vampire romance, is the ability to create an entire subculture where I get to set or break the rules. Thus when I created Mikhel Dumont for Bloodlust from the anthology Things That Go Bump In The Night, I began to build the foundation for what has become my most demanding series to write to date.
Yet the challenge in breaking the "rules" without losing credibility lay in crafting a believable world where it is acceptable and normal to have vampires who do not sleep in coffins, have no fear of the sun, and have very strong family ties and values.
Crafting new rules for vampires was/is an exciting and challenging endeavor as I needed to ensure that my vampires, while far from traditional, were at the same time, still recognizable as vampires. Thus, in the novella that started my Bloodlust series, Mikhel Dumont, the oldest of the Dumont children has a lust for blood like traditional vampires. Unlike traditional vampires, Mikhel's lust for blood was restricted to the one woman who would turn out to be his bloodlust, or his perfect mate.
Unlike traditional vampires who often surrounded themselves with those they had enslaved and controlled with no emotional attachment, a loving family that was part vampire and part human surrounded Mikhel. Along with his vampire mother and human father, love and devotion to his younger brother Serge and sister Katie bound Mikhel to his family.
In my Dumont vampire universe, some vampires are born that way. Some are "turned." Some are full-blood vampires, some are half-bloods, some are vampire latents who cross over from those statuses to full-blood status during a totally uninhibited and dangerous period called The Feast of Indulgence.
I wanted my vampires to be true to their bloodlust, but I also wanted them to have a measure of freedom to fully explore their lusts for blood and sex. Thus while Erica was Mikhel's bloodlust and perfect partner, I gave my vampires a new wrinkle. As part of their culture, they lust for their siblings mates, which in no way distracts from their devotion of their own bloodlust partners.
So in Bloodlust, Mikhel's younger brother Serge has a keen interest in Erica, before he actually meets her. And although in love and in bloodlust with Erica, Mikhel is intrigued when Serge tells him of a woman who has roused Serge's interest.
Because vampires have virtually endless life spans, there is potential for endless plotlines. Since my vampires star in an erotic romance series, I wanted to find a way to showcase their sexual passions. For that I created the Dumont Family FF, a totally uninhibited feast of sex and blood that takes place within the confines of the family, although close family friends are sometimes invited and involved in the FF.
Passions run wild at an FF, one of which is shown via flashbacks in Bloodlust II-The Taming of Serge Dumont. An actually FF is shown in real time in Bloodlust III-Forbidden Desires, which showcases the story of the youngest of the Dumont children, Katie, as well as showing a new vampire, Aleksei Madison who is guarding a centuries old secret that will endanger the lives of all the Dumonts.
Because my vampires are family oriented, each story features at least a cameo appearance by one or more of the other Dumont siblings which give the readers a further insight or look into the lives of characters which were featured in previous books. With each new major character introduced, the ongoing story of the Dumonts and now Madisons become more complex. Thus as I begin writing Bloodlust IV-Nocturnal Heat, I had the task of featuring all the Dumont siblings, wrapping up the mystery of who Aleksei Madison was, and resolving his secret in a way that readers would find satisfying, all while continuing a thread first introduced in Bloodlust III-Forbidden Desires where Katie Dumont encountered a handsome yet deadly vampire hunter with a mentor who would threaten her brother's lives in Bloodlust IV-Nocturnal Heat.
Having such a large cast of characters makes writing the series very challenging. I now have at least ten full-blood vampires in the universe whose histories I need to keep in mind as I write. To complicate matters further, I have just created two new characters. These two new characters, Acier and Etienne Gautier are a combination of wolf-shfifters/vampires who made their debut in the novella, Moonlight Desires. Their stories will intertwine with my Dumont and Madison vampires and I am currently working on the sequel, Moonlight Whispers.
To keep the series interesting for readers, I endeavor to write a nontraditional romance for each book. In the first book, Mikhel romanced Erica, who turned 40 the night they met. In book two, The Taming of Serge Dumont, Serge falls in love with an independent black woman who he had to work hard to win. In Forbidden Desires, Katie fell in love and in bloodlust with an older, shy, but passionate man who was not supermodel gorgeous. In Nocturnal Heat, Aleksei fell for a full-figured woman from a small town with two grown children.
What does the future hold for my Bloodlust series? At the very least it holds one more book, Bloodlust V-Midnight Shadows. The central leads in Midnight Shadows, Tatiana Forester, introduced in Bloodlust IV-Nocturnal Heat, may very well find herself having to choose between two different males, both of whom she loves and bloodlusts for. Stay tuned.
Marilyn Lee loves to hear from readers who can reach her at Mlee2057@aol.com or visit her site at http://www.marilynlee.org. Readers can find excerpts from many of her recent releases at her Yahoo Group. Send an email to email@example.com to subscribe.
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