Sunday, August 14, 2016
Interview - Release Day Blitz Blood Dragons by Rosemary A Johns
Hi! Thank you Wenona for having me on your blog.
Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is released today! In e-book and paperback. It’s urban fantasy/paranormal romance. The first book in a new fantasy series.
It’s out now at: http://getbook.at/BloodDragonsKindle
It’s also available in paperback. Click here: http://getbook.at/BloodDragons
For the Large Print Edition click here: http://getbook.at/BloodDragonsLarge
I’m a traditionally published short story writer and a playwright. But this is my debut novel. As a fantasy fanatic, I write what I love to read.
Blood Dragons explores a hidden paranormal world in London, where vampires are both predator and prey. It’s a story of redemption and love in a divided world beneath our own. Blood Lifers are a camouflaged species, who use venom to paralyse and mimic heart attacks in First Lifers (humans). Yet they fear the First Lifers they prey on. Until one Blood Lifer rebels – against his family, species and century old love - to save both their species.
I loved the idea of a novel, which was written from the vampire’s perspective. Dark, intelligent and subversive. But also had a British vampire front and centre. The ultimate anti-hero. A vampire book truly for adults.
There are three people in this affair – and two of them aren’t human…
1960s London. Light is a Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. Both predator and prey. His venom is deadly. But when he discovers his ruthless family’s secret experiments he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared.
Ruby is a seductive and savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer. She burns with love for Light. But he’s keeping something from her. Something that breaks every rule in Blood Life.
Kathy is a singer. But she’s also human. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.
A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.
The paperback is £8.99 ($12.99). It’s gorgeous and unique; the whole series fits together beautifully. They’re by JD Smith the award winning designer. I was lucky to get to work with her; she’s worked on many bestsellers.
Buy it now: http://getbook.at/BloodDragons
The e-book is just £2.49 ($3.49).
There’s a special launch limited-time offer price of £0.99 ($0.99) for the e-book. For five days only from the 14th to the 18th August.
Click here: http://getbook.at/BloodDragonsKindle
‘Ruby and I swaggered through the shadowed streets, towards the promenade and Palace Pier - her in crimson silk, me in military Great Coat - two creatures from another world and time, unnoticed by these petty First Lifers because we weren’t painted in the colours of their tribe. We twirled each other round, dancing in the carnage and the flames.’ (Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)
If you are a parent do you find it hard to juggle writing and parenting? Any tips for time management or sneaking in writing time?
I have a son. The paperback has a dedication to him. Along with a quote from the book: ‘There’s nothing but snowflake patterns.’
Everything I do is arranged around my son’s needs.
My son is autistic. There’s been a gap in my publishing (but not writing!) because of his needs. I have to be flexible and plan. But at the same time be able to change what I’m doing minute to minute. It’s something I’ve learnt. Everyone is capable of adapting. In fact that’s a central theme of my novel: adapting to survive.
My son inspires me to work harder every day because I see what he achieves despite his challenges.
If you’ve lived with disability, then you know how incredible these children and adults are. When they get up and face the world each day, there’s really no excuse for you not to do the same! It puts life into perspective.
My son inspired my novel in many ways. He has a photographic memory. It made me think about what it would be like to live over the centuries – experiencing wonders and horrors – and to remember every moment with the clarity of a photograph. Would it be a blessing or a curse?
One of the Blood Lifers – Alessandro – is also autistic, elected in the 1930s before that diagnostic label. He’s a chess genius and Light’s best friend. I wanted to write a character within a mainstream novel, who simply happened to be autistic. Rather than it defining them. Just one individual, amongst a gang of individuals.
Time management wise I have to be highly organized. And write everything down.
People also have periods of natural creativity. And lulls in creativity. Trying to write in a lull is a waste of time. But you can achieve other jobs – e-mails, editing and marketing. Or do things with your child then.
I also write early in the morning and late at night once my son is in bed.
Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?
Beyond their talents being an inspiration (as with my son), I never directly write people or events into my work. My imagination is over peopled as it is, without real life muscling in as well!
I do use my life experience, however, especially when it comes to emotions. I always say that pain makes a better artist. The same is true of writers.
Sometimes I set what I write during real events (for example, in Blood Dragons I use the battling Mods and Rockers in Brighton 1964 and the First World War), but then my fictional characters diverge from it.
I studied history BA and Mst at Oxford University. I love researching my novels; I’m always trying to work out ways to fit in a time period or exciting event.
Rebel Vampires is perfect because Light is elected into Blood Life as a Victorian – so I have 150 years to enjoy.
The Blood Lifers, however, were also all elected in different eras – so I have those to play with as well. Ruby, for example, is an Elizabethan. I specialized in her time period, so I love writing her. She’s also fun because her love for Light (and Light’s love for Ruby) is so intense. Powerful and destructive. A truly adult, complicated love.
‘It made me feel like loving Ruby would be the death of me, even as I lived for being close to her. We relished breathing the same air. Draining the same First Lifers. Shagging and hurting, until we knew each other’s bodies the same as our own. All was nothing outside our love. It smashed on us. Broke on us. We savaged it. Together we screamed at the world and when we had the world by the throat, the world screamed back.’ (Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)
Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?
The imprint is called ‘Fantasy Rebel’ because it’s fantasy for rebels – I like to write books, which are fundamentally for individuals, rather than conformers.
We all conform to a degree because in society you have to. But that doesn’t mean you should stop questioning. And that’s what fantasy and science fiction does best. It questions. I call it the ‘Rebel Age’.
I like to write about ‘rebels’ – the complex anti-hero. I’m drawn to the anti-hero, who battles to redeem himself in an unjust world.
‘That’s when I finally understood that love wasn’t owning or possessing; you’d been right. It was freedom. I couldn’t hold onto you forever. I had to free you from this desperate, brutal world, in which I’d found myself. Even if I couldn’t free myself.
Yet to do that I had to break your bleeding heart. And with it, my own.’
(Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)
I’m a subversive artist. It comes from my theatre background. That means what I write questions and challenges. It can simply be a thrilling and romantic read. And nothing more. Or you can think about the larger themes. Because they’re there too.
I write free Reading Group Notes for book clubs (and anyone else who wants them). I love book clubs – both virtual and physical.
The Notes are here: https://rosemaryajohns.com/questions-for-book-clubs
Explore and you’ll discover the type of things thrown up by Blood Dragons.
I don’t like to tell people what to think though. A reader needs to have their own experience and come to their own conclusions. They’ll probably be different to mine – and that’s OK!
That’s why I love to hear from readers. In the theatre you get an immediate reaction. I cherish hearing from my readers: on twitter, Facebook, with comments on my blog or by email. My email is on website: https://rosemaryajohns.com/contact
Feel free to drop me a line!
I love to hear your responses via reviews as well. It’s an amazing moment for an author when they hear their book has touched a reader or made a difference to them. Or even made them laugh, fall in love or cry. It makes everything worthwhile. Never underestimate how much reviews mean to an author – or certainly to me!
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in an all-boys boarding school…
Radley College is an old-fashioned Public School – which for those, who aren’t British, means very posh and private. It’s one of the best in the country. My dad was a teacher there for about 30 years. But teachers have to live on the grounds, so they can be contacted 24/7. Or at least they did when I was growing up.
The school is modelled on Oxford University, so the boys wear gowns (like I did when I went up to Uni). I ate in a dining hall at Radley, which was modelled on the one at Oxford, which I ended up eating in as a student. Oxford wasn’t much of a culture shock for me. It felt like being at home.
For most girls being surrounded by hundreds of boys aged 13-18 would be beyond strange. As I grew older I became self-conscious but I credit it with why I can write male characters – dialogue, point of view and voice – so authentically.
I never felt like there was a division between boys and girls. I never really ‘got’ the gender divide. And it’s a real bonus with my writing.
Not many people know this fact about me…I guess now they do!
When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?
I’m reading. When I’m not reading, I’m daydreaming. I’ve always been like that.
A guilty pleasure is definitely boxsets though…my husband and I get hooked on something like Game of Thrones or True Blood and that’s my evening gone…
Another guilty pleasure is chocolate – my staple diet. I would probably die if it was suddenly withdrawn as a food.
I always ask readers to feed me reviews because they’re better than chocolate – now you understand just how much reviews mean to me!
Which romance book or series (or other genre, if you don’t write romance) do you wish you had written?
Anything by Jim Butcher! He’s so original. Fantastic urban fantasy writer. Genius.
Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?
My plays were psychological thrillers. I’m fascinated by psychology. How our minds work. Why we behave the way we do. Power dynamics between people. Those little exchanges, stretches of tension and silence are much more powerful than a long speech or fight.
Emotion is at the heart of everything I write. Motivations. Passion or hate.
I want to take the reader right inside a character’s head. Unsettle, scare or thrill. But there should be an impact. And you as the writer should be in control of that.
Darker Rebel is the imprint for psychological thrillers. Next year my first psychological thriller will be released. I’m excited about that.
If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?
Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is the first book in the Rebel Vampires series. It’s released today.
Buy it now: http://getbook.at/BloodDragons
Rebel Vampires Volume 2: Blood Shackles is the second book. Click here to pre-order: http://getbook.at/BloodShackles
Blood Shackles is released in November.
Welcome to the Blood Club – where the predators become the prey…
What happens when SPARTACUS meets VAMPIRES?
Light is a rebel Rocker Blood Lifer with a talent for remembering things. And a Triton motorbike. He’s meant to be the predator. His venom is deadly. It’s been that way since Victorian times. But not now. Not since someone hunted him. Enslaved him. Ripped out his fangs. Who are these ruthless humans? Who’s their brutal leader? And who betrayed the secret of the Blood Lifer world?
London, Primrose Hill. Grayse is the commanding but sexy slaver’s daughter. The enemy. She buys Light, like he’s a pair of designer shoes. So why does Light feel so drawn to her? Ashamed, he battles with his desire, even as he burns for her. Can a slave truly love his Mistress? Especially when his family is still in chains. Will he risk everything – even his new love – to save them?
Does a chilling conspiracy lie behind it all? A stunning revelation leads Light to an inconceivable truth. To the dark heart of the Blood Club. If he can face his worst terrors, he can save his family and his whole species from slavery.
Maybe he can even save himself.
‘Your cool gaze seemed to be sussing me out. ‘You don’t look Victorian.’
‘Didn’t exactly stay dead.’ I pushed away from the fireplace, jumping up to sit on the arm of the leather sofa. I scrutinized your serious features and those intent grey peepers. ‘You really don’t know anything about us Blood Lifers, do you? How we evolved or--’
‘I know enough.’
Surprised, I drew back. ‘As in, only good Blood Lifer’s a dead Blood Lifer?’
You shot me a sharp look. ‘You wouldn’t be here, if that’s what I thought.’
‘Alright then, as in, only good Blood Lifer’s one in shackles?’
Your mouth tightened into a thin line. ‘And what about humans? Do we come in small, medium or large?’
‘In America you can supersize.’ I grinned, but you didn’t return it: some birds have no sense of humour. Of course, Ruby would’ve clocked me for that comment. And so would… Christ in heaven that reminded me of what I’d been desperate since I’d woken this morning, fretting about yesterday’s entry, to tell you. It’s not as if you’d even believe me. Why would you after what I’d written? After the porkies your family have spun to justify our enslavement? ‘Look, that’s not who I am now. I’ve been on blood abstention for fifty years.’
Your voice was so cold it could’ve given frost bite. ‘Good for you.’
‘Not asking for a medal, sweetheart. I just wanted you to know I don’t… Not First Lifers. Not for a long time.’
‘Makes no difference to me.’
‘It does to me. You’ve no idea how much.’
‘OK.’ You turned back to your laptop, opening it with an air of indifference. Then there was that blasted clack clacking.
I listened for a moment in silence. Then I couldn’t hack it any longer. ‘What does?’
‘What?’ You didn’t stop typing or look away from the screen.
‘Make a difference to you?’
You didn’t even pause. ‘The profit margin.’’
(Rebel Vampires Volume 2: Blood Shackles)
What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?
The next release is Rebel Vampires Volume 2: Blood Shackles in November. But it can be pre-ordered now. Click here: http://getbook.at/BloodShackles
Currently I’m worked on the third book in the series: Rebel Vampires Volume 3: Blood Renegades, which is out spring 2017.
Light has only two weeks to give his witness, on trial for his life, before he’s burnt at the stake – because who wants to hear the truth?
Here’s an exclusive excerpt:
‘Betrayal. Death. Hope.
Isn’t that how all truly great stories start?
I don’t know if anyone will hear it. Governments silence their critics. Censor. Detain. Execute.
Bollocks to them.
The Blood Life Council’s atrocities and war crimes--
Mr Blickle, please note: we are not at war.
Yet. We’re not at war – yet. And my name is Light.
Very well. Light. But we’re not holding this inquiry to debate the nature of the Council’s actions. Rather those of your terrorist group.
We prefer ‘freedom fighters’, sweetheart.
Really? Well, I prefer to be called Liberty.
Having a laugh, aren’t you?
You don’t think ‘Light’ has a shade of irony to it?
All right, Liberty, but I delivered my band of merry misfits out of slavery – one you wankers sold us into. So labels? They don’t figure. They never do.
But you do have a name? Your band of misfits?
Yeah – it’s called a family.
Captain told me you were cute. Renegades. That’s what you call yourselves.
Look, you want me to bear witness, I’ll bloody bear witness. I’m your prisoner here anyway with a stake pointy-like at my heart. And I’m all about survival. But just don’t figure on liking what you hear. No one does when it’s the flayed truth.
You want to be ready don’t you? You know what’s coming? In less than two weeks now. 13 days. Your trial.
Kangaroo court more like.
Closed court. But nothing’s decided. Yet. It rests on your testimony.
Then where’s my solicitor?
You’re a terrorist. You’ve forsaken your rights. Like you have your own species.
And the jury?
The material’s too sensitive--
Embarrassing. The word you’re grasping for, sweetheart, is embarrassing. For you and the rest of the Blood Life Council. So here’s a question--
I ask the questions, Mr Blickle.
Bit of respect here. Dead man talking. And who’s the judge again?
It won’t help you to know--
It’s Captain, right?
I’ll take your silence as a yes.
So, let’s say Captain doesn’t like what I have to say – and he won’t – what then? What happens in two weeks? Slap on the wrist? Trip to the naughty step? Bare bottom spanking across his lap until I bawl? Or..?
Execution. By fire. Most likely.
Figured. So that’s 13 more days until I go up Mr Bonfire for you nice people, yeah?
You don’t know…
Don’t play games. Not about this.
That’s outside my remit. I’m just here to take your statement.
It must be nice to be able to compartmentalize. Everything into nice, neat little boxes. Then you can go home happy each night with no dirt on your hands because all you’ve touched is paperwork.
Hitler’s lawyers were good at that too.
All right then, if I’m going out in flames – high in their glory – then Christ in heaven will you get my witness.
One you’ll never forget.
And even though I may only have two weeks to live, it’s a truth I’ll remember until my second death.
Sod it. Bring on the fire and ashes.’
(Rebel Vampires Volume 3: Blood Renegades)
Thanks Wenona for having me on your blog – I’ve had a fantastic time - I hope everyone has a great week!
Rosemary A Johns
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Fantasy Rebel Limited
Date of Publication: 14th August 2016
Large Print Edition:
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: JD Smith
There are three people in this affair – and two of them aren’t human…
A hidden paranormal London lies beneath our own. Escape into the supernatural world of the Blood Lifers – where vampires are both predator and prey.
1960s London. Light is a rebel Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. And a Triton motorbike. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. Both predator and prey. His venom is deadly. He feeds on blood. Human, of course. But when he discovers his ruthless family’s horrifying secret experiments, he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared.
Ruby is a sexy but savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer. She burns with a destructive love for Light. But he’s keeping something from her. Something that breaks every rule in Blood Life. When she discovers the truth, things take a terrifying turn.
Kathy is a seductive singer. But she’s also human. Light knows his passionate love for her is reckless but he’s enchanted. Yet such a romance is forbidden. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.
What dark revelations will Light reveal at the heart of the experiments? Will he be able to stop them in time? The consequences of failure are unimaginable. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.
A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.
JULY 1866 FLORENCE, ITALY
One night we slipped into La Specola, a museum next to the Pitti Palace, which stank of something sweet but rotten. When Ruby gripped my hand tight, I realised I’d never felt this radiating from her before: it was something alike to fear but not. It was revulsion.
‘The First Lifers are proud of this…museum of death,’ Ruby breathed. ‘They call it science.’
‘We can go. Let’s find some piazza with music, drinking and dancing. The land of the living for once? Then we can…’
Ruby held her finger to my lips. ‘You need to see.’
Ruby’s hand curled tighter around mine. I glanced up. The walls of the museum were pinned with dead butterflies: every type, colour and size. They were neatly ordered, categorized and labelled. As my pulse quickened, Ruby caught my eye. She nodded.
Room after room was the same: display cases lining the walls, standing from floor to ceiling, or lying open, like glass coffins. Snow White in some twisted rendition of the tale. Rooms of stuffed birds, stilled forever on their perches, with predator next to natural prey: herbivores, carnivores, a huge hippo and a gallery of primates staring back blankly from their boxes.
We paced in silence, until we reached the primates. Then I rested my forehead on the glass, holding my palm up to touch the grasp of the chimpanzee on the other side.
Death was so close it throttled me. I’d lived close with it, intimate-like, as a Blood Lifer.
I’d known science in my First Life or reckoned I had. Yet somehow I’d failed to see the darkness underneath.
‘All that’s missing is one of us,’ Ruby’s fingers were stroking the back of my nut. ‘Then they’d have the full collection. We’re the Lost species. Why do you think we hide?’ I twisted to Ruby, shocked. She raised her eyebrow. ‘Are we not superior? Evolution’s advancement? Yet we’re adapted for masking our true face, whilst relying on humans for sustenance. Just as we do the night for protection from the sun. Prithee tell me how beggarly is a divided world, in which half does not fathom the truth? And for it to be danger akin to heresy to reveal it? Consider what these First Lifers pay to see.’
With disgust Ruby led me around the exhibits. For a moment, I thought there were mutilated cadavers laid out in the glass cases (which gave me the willies I can tell you), but then I saw they were anatomical wax models, copied from real corpses.
All right then, so that wasn’t much better because on every side were these torture victims, with their guts out, their chests ripped back and lungs offered up, as if we were about to dig in, whilst twins curled around each other bonded in uterus. The skinned man was laid on his side, arching in agony.
When I paused at a man reduced to one large circulatory system, I felt Ruby’s arms snake around my waist. She rested her chin on my shoulder. Blue and red coils circled the corpse: First Lifer reduced to food and all it’d needed was a little flaying.
Here, laid bare, was the proof that man was created for our needs.
‘They want to be feasted upon, even if they do not know it. A First Lifer is our prey. We grant the death he seeks, so he no longer needs to fear it.’
About the Author:
ROSEMARY A JOHNS is a traditionally published author of short stories under the name R. A. Johns. Blood Dragons is Rosemary A Johns’ debut novel.
Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as "uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life"), and worked with disability charities. When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires