Night Huntress fans, hold onto your seats. Once Burned is out this week and I can promise you, it does not disappoint. The amazing Jeaniene Frost is here to chat with me today. Please help me welcome her to the blog.
Jen: What can you tell us about Once Burned?
Jeaniene: Once Burned is the first book in the Night Prince series featuring Vlad as the hero and a new character named Leila as the heroine. Vlad’s ability to manifest and control fire makes him one of the most powerful vampires in existence. Leila is human, but she has some unusual abilities as well; her whole body gives off electricity and she can pick up psychic impressions through touch. Right now, two books are contracted for this series, with the possibility for more in the future.
A little backstory: When I first started writing about vampires, I swore to myself that I would never touch the Dracula legend because that had been done countless times. Then while I was writing the third book in the Night Huntress series, Vlad popped onto the page. The first thing I knew about him was that he hated the Dracula legend. The second thing I knew was that he and my hero, Bones, were not friendly. I kept trying to take Vlad out of the scene because, again, I was not going to write about Dracula! However, I kept thinking about his character. It was as if he refused to go away. He ended up being a regular side character in the Night Huntress series, yet that still wasn’t enough. The more I thought about Vlad, the more pieces of his story came together in my mind. Finally, I gave him not only his own book, but his own series.S o much for saying “never,” right?
Jen: Vlad is my favorite secondary character in the Night Huntress world. What was behind the decision to give him multiple books, instead of just one, like Charles or Mencheres?
Jeaniene: First, thank you! Second, some stories are best told in only one book, like a movie. Some stories are too big for that and they end up taking place over multiple books, like a TV series. The reason behind the decision to give Vlad a series versus one book was simple: The story I had my head about him and Leila was too big to fit in only one book. That’s only happened before with Cat and Bones, so I pressed hard to give Vlad a series and happily, my publisher agreed.
Jeaniene: I get a LOT of requests for an Ian book. One reader even sent me plot ideas because she wanted the book so badly and thought the issue was that I couldn’t come up with a storyline on my own, heh. First, Ian isn’t ready to be shoved into the hero role yet, and I don’t want to write about him unless he can be a hero. Second, if he ever gets ready, I know exactly who I’d pair him with and I already know the main plot that story would revolve around. So, the issue isn’t a lack of ideas. It’s Ian. If he can grow up a little in the future, I’d love to give him a story. If he insists on remaining a slut, he doesn’t get one since I refuse to write about a hero who cheats on the heroine. I do have hope for him, though. Cross your fingers for him, Ian fans!
As for other characters, yes, I’d love to write about several of them. I’m tied up for the next two years finishing Cat and Bones’s storyline, plus finishing Vlad and Leila’s, so any new character stories would have to wait. By the time my schedule clears, it depends on which character is making the most noise in my head, metaphorically speaking (no, I don’t actually hear voices, so put down the white jacket with the really long sleeves! ;)). The character I can’t stop thinking about usually wins in the new story department.
Jen: Cat and Bones finally seem like they’ve gotten to the point where they are unshakably solid. Does it change your approach to writing their stories now that their relationship is a given? (Does that make sense?) Is it a challenge to keep them fresh?
Jeaniene: It alters things in some ways. Neither Cat nor Bones is going to abruptly change their minds about their feelings for one another, plus they’re past the “does he/she really love me?” stage. However, because their storyline is wrapping up and I have a LOT of things to pack into their final books, I don’t think it will be challenge to keep things fresh. It’s crunch time now and all the little breadcrumbs I’ve been dropping along the way in previous books are about to blow up. I can’t wait to share the final outcome with readers!
Jen: I can’t remember where, but I read something you wrote once about writing married love and your faith. I wish I could put my finger on it now, because I thought it was really interesting when I read it…
Jeaniene: Hmm. It might have been on Twitter when I said I wished that love scenes were not taboo in inspirational fiction.
Jen: That was it!!
Jeaniene: Married couples have sex. They can even have really hot sex (shocker, I know! *wink*). Sometimes I want to read an inspirational novel because it explores my faith in a way that many secular books do not. However, I’m a greedy reader, so I don’t want to give up on a hot love story, too. The two aren’t opposites in real life, but in most inspirational fiction (that I’m aware of, please correct me if I’m wrong!) they seem to be.
Granted, some readers prefer the bedroom door firmly closed no matter what the genre is, and some of the “hottest” books on the market don’t contain sex scenes. I’m not advocating for inspirational fiction or another other genre to always contain sex scenes. I am, however, a fan of variety, and therefore I don’t think secular novels should be the only ones allowed to showcase great sex in fiction. But I could be alone in this opinion. Reading tastes vary, as everyone knows.
Jeaniene: I’d rather write neither, actually (bet you didn’t see THAT coming!). Sex scenes and fight scenes are difficult and time consuming to write. There’s a delicate balance of emotional/physical/action/reaction in every single sentence. One wrong turn of phrase – or even one wrong word – can ruin the intensity for readers. Dialogue, on the other hand, is fun to write. I can hear what the characters are saying in my head, so it’s almost like taking dictation when I write dialogue.
If you gripe about it, then why do you write sex/action scenes? someone might ask. Well, because I write romance, sex is an important part of the emotional journey for my characters. Just because sex scenes are harder for me to write – or make me blush, as has happened often – it wouldn’t seem fair to readers to shy away from it. Fight scenes equally necessary because my characters live in a dark, violent world. Life and death struggles are going to happen, and again, if I shy away from showing those, I cheat the reader in my eyes.
Jen: Bones is one of the most beloved PNR heroes out there. What is it about him that makes him so incredibly popular?
Jeaniene: I’ve had many readers tell me that they love Bones’s honesty, his openness about his feelings, and his sense of humor. *grin* Descriptions of his body probably don’t hurt, either. But in all honesty, I don’t know why he’s so popular. I’m delighted by it, of course, but there are plenty of other amazing PNR heroes. All I can say to Bones’s popularity is, Thank you, readers!
Jeaniene: Right now I’m focused solely on novels set in my vampire world, whether it’s Cat and Bones or Vlad and Leila. After that, I’d like to write something entirely new, but then again, I’d also like to write more about side characters in my vampire world. We’ll see which idea/world demands the most attention once I’m finished with my current commitments.
Jen: What are you most looking forward to from AAD in NOLA this summer?
Jeaniene:My grown-up, professional answer? Meeting readers and other authors while talking about the genre I love. However, the inner 8-year-old in me is squealing, “Beignets and haunted tours and ancient cemeteries, yay!”
A big thanks to Jeaniene for taking the time to chat with me. In honor of the release of Once Burned, I am giving away a copy! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This one is US/CAN only. In the meantime, be sure to visit Jeaniene’s website and the special page devoted to Once Burned. You can also follow her on Twitter.