Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I haven’t been writing all that long. I’ve been ill for several years and had to leave my previous career in real estate and property management. Writing became a means of escape and a passion very quickly for me.
When I did decide to try my hand at it, I picked what I love to read – strong heroines with a problem or mystery to solve in a supernatural setting, if there was sex in the book, then all the better!
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires that fascinates you so much?
I love the versatility. With no other “creature” depicted in fiction do we see stories that fall under horror, romance, suspense, adventure, crime solving, and even erotica. The freedom to create a character with a seemingly unlimited lifespan is amazing.
Want to write an historical? You can. Want to jump 50 years into the future for a change of pace? You can. If you’ve done your job well, and created a vampire character people love and connect with, your readers will happily jump into the new tale you’ve spun.
What inspired you to write this series?
Hot monogamy was the first inspiration. I got tired of reading a kick-ass adventure with a great female lead, only to find out she’s messed up yet another love connection or we have to have a new guy in the next story just to keep the chemistry going. Who says the magic stops after the initial burst? Why not keep the two together and have them live adventures side by side?
That’s what I wanted to read more of, so that’s what I wrote. It doesn’t fall under a romance for that reason. Editors kept telling me to break up the couple if I wanted the book to sell, but I didn’t agree – and neither did my readers. I loved reading about real situations where the couple snarks at one another, disagrees, and is occasionally frustrated with their mate. That’s life. But they stick it out – no matter what.
The Hunt picks up where Vampire Vacation left off. Each story is a stand-alone adventure, but there is an underlying story arc that will be concluded in three books. While the first book was told from the heroine’s point of view, and done in present-tense (meaning the reader is experiencing the tale at the same time the main character is, not relayed as a re-telling of events in past tense), the second one is different. In The Hunt, we get to see the adventure unfold from all the viewpoints of the characters we introduced in book one.
It received amazing feedback from the beta readers, and so far the readers are enjoying it. It was a style I’d never done before and it was hard to pull off the seven narrative voices, but in the end I’m glad I told the story that way.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
I may be the only writer I know who doesn’t get attached to my character’s names. I found it incredibly hard to keep coming up with names that didn’t sound fake or over the top. The way I worked around it was to allow my readers on Facebook to pick names, we even voted on a few, or I’d steal some of their names and name characters after them – much to their enjoyment!
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
In this second book I’d have to say Jonathan, the werewolf. I wanted him to have conflicted emotions and be in pain over them. But I love him so much it was hard to get it all out and express it well. I kept wanting to erase his pain from the story and gloss over it.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I’d have to say Paul. He’s a new vampire who worked as the resort’s head chef before getting turned. He makes mistakes, he screams like a girl, he bumbles a bit… overall he’s just fun.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
I have started to write down their physical attributes – hair and eye color, as well as background history – to keep track of details. But basically, I let the character develop as I write.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
Hmm… my favorite would have to be the one I agonized over the most. It’s a scene where Asa doubts his path and questions his recent choices as a fledgling vampire. He misses his family and feels out of sorts losing the security he felt being in the military prior to changing. The chapter moves kind of slow, it was designed to be a breather for the reader, but because it involves two characters based on my real-life nephews it really touched me. I hope the readers enjoy it, too.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
Yes, they can be read as stand-alones. But, I’d like to warn readers I don’t repeat a lot of data over and over again to bring new readers up to speed. Basic information is certainly covered, but I can’t stand it when pages are devoted to explaining the world in a series I’ve come to love. I wind up skipping over the extra data most times.
There is a story arc over the first three books dealing with Vivian’s old enemies. But there are distinct plots in each individual title resolved by the end of the book.
Do you write in different genres?
Yes, I write contemporary fantasy, erotica, and middle grade fiction under another pen name (title not released yet).
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
Not yet. Writing the middle grade book was a challenge with word choices sometimes, like making sure it stayed at the correct reading level and didn’t go over the kids’ heads. In one instance I used the word “berate”. My mom read the chapter over and said, “You need to substitute this word, a twelve-year-old would not think ‘berate’.” She was right – I swapped it out to “scold”.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure exactly, perhaps when I landed an agent. All the previous rejections made me feel like a hack. Turns out I was just submitting to the wrong agents. I went after romance ones because the book had graphic sex scenes in it. Little did I know that didn’t matter.
The agents who handled primarily romance stories were looking for more formulaic character motivation – split up the couple or make them on the verge of divorce, then have them come together in the end.
Once I landed an agent who liked it as it was and believed in my work, I felt like things all came together.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
The bathtub. It’s like a private oasis – quiet, serene, alone. Thankfully, I’ve never dropped my Kindle yet ;-)
What can readers expect next from you?
Book three in the series should be ready before the holidays; I’ll keep readers posted on the progress on Facebook and on my Website. Also, I need to finish the middle-grade book for my kids and get that published. They’re so proud of me but they can’t read anything I’ve written. This book will be a gift for them and I hope it finds an audience, but I’m not counting on it.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Primarily I hang out on Facebook. I find the interaction to be easier and not as “right now or you’re out of the conversation” as Twitter is. I also blog once a month on the home page of my website. If readers would like to read some free original fiction and non-fiction they can find me posting monthly at Digital Digest and Everything Erotic.
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Excerpt from The Hunt:
As I lie here, curled around my husband’s firm body, I begin to wonder: Am I crazy? What in the hell made me think organizing a hunt, here at our hotel, would be a good idea? Over a dozen supernatural predators are flying in from all over the world; ones who’ve paid an exorbitant price for the privilege of removing their everyday masks and killing one of their own kind. I must be crazy.
I have a feeling this week is going to turn out to be more than any of us bargained for. Self-doubt plagues me as I rise from the warmth of the bed and stroll, naked, to my closet. The glow of the artificial landscape lighting beams in through the windows. The changing gradient indicates it's probably midday here above the Arctic Circle.
Part of my nervous edge could be associated with learning to trust the new members of our seethe. While the vampires appear upfront and honest—as much as a pack of bloodsuckers can be—my old habits of distrust have served me well over the years.
The two months since November’s tracking and killing of Ivan have been a trial for me, this upcoming hunt week has been a long time in the planning, but I don’t have to like it. Having anyone from the Tribunal of Ancients on our property sucks, especially when I have no idea who they’re sending.
Grabbing the clothes I set out in the wee hours of the morning, I head to the shower in our private suite.
The hot water cascading over me fills my mind with horrible memories of my own first hunt. My seethe wore cloth-lined, silver skullcaps to thwart my unique vamp-to-vamp mind-control abilities. They orchestrated the hunt to rid themselves of their “pet” manipulator. What started for the group as demented undead fun, ended with a young, redheaded vampire surprising them all with her ability to kill ruthlessly and without remorse.
The blood of my seethe-mates once covered my body, as the water does now. Later, I stacked their headless corpses in our old farmhouse before setting the structure on fire. Killing that sick group was the least I could do to avenge the murders of my first and second husbands. Considering all I’d been through under their rule for twenty-six years, I let the bastards off easy. Thankfully, even a semi-mortal vampire can only die once—if it’s done right.
The sound of Rafe stirring in the next room pulls me out of my dark thoughts and tells me he’s getting up as well.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” I call out over the noise of the water. “Get enough rest?”
“You mean after you ravaged me for hours? Oh yeah, I slept pretty damn sound.”
Blurb of book two, The Hunt:
Vivian thinks she can control every aspect of a deadly game with her usual manipulations... but what if she can't?
Seven vampires and seven werewolves pay to hunt a supernatural criminal across the cold, vast grounds of an Alaskan resort. The one to catch her, and live through the encounter, will increase their power by feasting on hers.
The tiny vampire they track is more than she appears, however. To escape a fate of twelve years in silver chains, she'll do anything to survive the weeklong excursion. This time, the darkness holds more than just the stinging bite of the Arctic--it holds death.
Journey along, in this next installment of The V V Inn series, for a wild ride as the tale is told through the eyes of all the new seethe members.
Warning: This book contains some explicit sex scenes and is not intended for readers under 18.
Blurb for book one, Vampire Vacation:
Meet Vivian. She’s a 580-year-old vampire who exudes sex, has a talent for drama, and is passionate about two things: her human husband, Rafe, and their resort for the undead. Her ability to project physical illusions has created the perfect vacation spot—a dark, isolated Alaskan hideaway where visitors can have their wildest fantasies come true.
Vivian knows the best performance requires perfect timing, but the powerful vamp is put to the test when she discovers a corpse in a locked guestroom minutes before the next arrivals. Always cool-headed, Rafe hides the body, convinced he and Vivian can find the culprit without disturbing their guests.
Juggling the increasingly outrageous demands of their customers while tracking a killer isn’t easy. Will their poking and prodding give them the answers they need, or will it uncover secrets Vivian would kill to protect?
Warning: This book contains some explicit sex scenes, intended for mature readers only.
C.J. Ellisson writes erotica and urban fantasy. Her vampire series, The V V Inn, mixes a heavy dose of erotic elements with suspense, action, a little bit of mystery and some light humor. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a fluffy black cat who makes her sneeze.
To learn more about C.J.'s books (where you can read half of the novels for free), please visit her website at www.cjellisson.com