What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
I have always been fascinated with vampires. When I was little, my dad took us to Universal Studios in California, and all I wanted to do was visit Dracula's Castle. But we ran out of time and I was crushed! My dad felt awful so he bought me a Dracula mug. I still have it, 30 years on. It's sitting on my fireplace mantle.
I was raised Catholic and I suspect that has a huge part to play in my fascination with the paranormal. What if the house was haunted? What if a demon possessed me? And I love crazy superstitions. I don't identify as Catholic now, and while I don't identify with any religion, I do affinity towards Paganism. It's really the only female friendly religion.
Please tell us about your latest release.
Hell's Belle is about Nina Martinez, the member of a secret team of government agents who work to take down supernatural monsters without the human world knowing. When she moves back to her hometown, it sparks a series of serial murders that may be supernatural in origin and may have something to do with her dead parents. Of course, there is a super-hot FBI agent investigating the serial murders, so cleaning up this particular mess gets very complicated. I love action, so there's loads of it!
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I loved writing Babe, Nina's aunt. She was a spitfire of a woman. I pictured her as a Rita Moreno-type character—tough old broad that you do not want to mess with.
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?
Because I come from a theater and film background, my characters are very much physically alive to me. I often write my characters with actors in mind. It's tough to create dialogue, and get the nuances of speech for each different character. I find that casting the book in my head helps. As I write, I watch the scene like a movie in my mind. I think that's why "cinematic" is the one word about the novel that comes up often in reviews and reader feedback.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
Providence is a huge exporter of scrap metal, so there's always a mountain of rusty old twisted metal at the Port of Providence. This mountain towers over I-95 and is one of the first things to greet you if you're driving north into Providence. Anyway, in one of the scenes, Nina is confronted by a vampire in the shadow of this scrap metal mountain. There's a lot of fun things you can do with rusty old metal. I loved writing that scene.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
I try to base a lot of the supernatural elements on folklore and actual myths and legends, even if I end up debunking some of them as I make up my own supernatural laws. My favorite book so far has been A History of Vampires in New England, by Thomas D'Agostino. Obviously, growing up in the shadow Salem meant that the stories of the supernatural were usually about witches and witchcraft. So reading the various vampire stories were fascinating.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I learned how to box! I don't know a crazy amount, and I am not about to enter a Golden Gloves fight, but I learned to throw punches, and felt punches make contact with a heavy bag. It's kind of awesome, and I incorporate it into my workouts. I am going to learn to shoot a crossbow next, I think. One makes a very brief appearance in Hell's Belle, and for some reason, I think it's a very elegant weapon, and I want to learn how to use one.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
The book takes place in our world, maybe a few years ahead of us. But supernatural elements live in this world, they are just really well hidden. Just like humans, there are good supernatural beings and no so good ones. The good ones are happy to lurk in the shadows. The bad ones have to be silenced by the government. In this world, most unsolved crimes are usually supernatural in origin. That's where Nina and her Blood Ops team come in. They take care of the supernatural problems before they get out of hand. So while a crime appears to be unsolved from the human point of view, Blood Ops most likely has gone in and eliminated the threat.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
When I finished the novel, an acquaintance of mine said that if you finish a novel you are officially a writer. So I guess when I finished this novel.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Chocolate and peanut butter. Really, is there anything better?
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
My daughter is my greatest joy, so I try to spend as much time with her as possible.
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Hell's Belle Series Book One
Hell's Belle Series Book One
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: June 17, 2013
Number of pages: 238
Word Count: 74,722
Cover Artist: Jeff Brennan
Half vampire, half human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents that quietly take down rogue monsters, the human world none the wiser. She moves back to her hometown of to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt. Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city's community of witches.
But Nina's investigation unearths deadly secrets from her long buried parents. Now the target of supernatural assassins, could Nina be the most dangerous vampire hybrid to ever exist? No wonder she can’t get a date.
An urban fantasy set in a decaying Providence, Rhode Island, HELL'S BELLE is a fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled roller-coaster ride through a city on the cusp of becoming an urban wasteland. HELL'S BELLE is an energetic, expansive, and cinematic beginning of a new series in the urban fantasy genre.
About the Author:
An award-winning playwright, Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry. A life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity. HELL'S BELLE is her first novel.