Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural, strange and ghoulish. My mother read Rosemary’s Baby when she was pregnant with me and that probably explains a lot. I’ve always grown up around the genre, particularly through film. I was watching horror movies (albeit pretty tame ones like the Hammer films) as soon I was old enough to gasp, squeal and occasionally mock. They say you should write about what you know, I know horror and the occult.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
A bit like the hero of my series, Sophie Morgan, I’m quite practical and level headed, but like even the most skeptical of us, I’m not too proud to admit there’s more out there than we can see or comprehend. That’s why the paranormal is so fascinating. I’m also intrigued by the sociological and anthropological functions of supernatural belief systems on society. Throw in a need to be intrigued, entertained and occasional scares, it’s a winning combination. In my series, I’ve tried to create vampires that could very well exist – they’re not romanticized. I like to think of them as something of an offshoot of our linear evolution. That could happen, right?
What inspired you to write this book?
I’d gone through a spate of reading more contemporary vampire books, such as the Sookie Stackhouse Series and the Twilight books. I particularly enjoyed the former as the characters are down to earth people trying to get on with a supernatural world evolving around them. But I felt there was a gap in the market for something written set in the UK. Interestingly, just as I love reading fiction from the States, I’m getting a lot of good feedback from US reviewers and readers, so perhaps we all like to step into another world now and again.
Please tell us about your latest release.
Sure. On a literal level, it’s about a young woman called Sophie Morgan, who is doing pretty well in life, one failed relationship aside(but who doesn’t have some of those) She’s done everything that’s expected of her gone to college, got a job, been responsible with money. Then she goes on a mini break to Belgium with a friend and all that goes to hell in a handcart. She’s attacked by vampires, develops an attraction to Mickey, an Irishman working his way around the bars of Europe, and ends up the focus of 300 year old vampires affections when she finally gets home. It’s essentially what would really happen if someone discovered vampires exist – not a romanticised version. It’s about discovering who you are, what’s important and seeing the world through clear, not rose tinted glasses.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
The majority of the story is told through Sophie’s eyes, intertwined with the thoughts, observations and perspectives of a handful of other key factors, most notably “head vampire” Charles Ferrers, a male neighbours and a terminally ill solicitor who becomes a vampire rather than face death. Surprisingly, I enjoy writing from the male character’s perspective. There comes a liberation with adopting a completely different persona and the history you build for a character of the opposite sex. As with most writers, I suspect, however, that there’s a little part of me in all the characters. It’s healthy to encourage that small, hidden away part to come out and play.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I adore Nordic Noir, programmes like the original Danish production of The Killing for example. When developing Sophie’s backstory I knew that I wanted her to be raised by a single mother, and that she is the product of a holiday romance. I couldn’t resist making Copenhagen the location for that series of events. I combined my love of Nordic Noir and research for the series with a trip to Denmark last spring. It was amazing and has really helped me understand the location and culture – important to note as I explore this back story more in the second book, Death in the Family.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
I would share Sophie’s dependency on a good cup of Earl Grey tea and head for money. I’m pretty practical and love getting a bargain. Not that I’m a cheapskate! There is, as I’ve said, probably a little bit of me in all of the characters – in different moods or in different times in my life.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Never. If anything I have too many ideas and that can stop me being productive if I’m not careful. I’m already scribbling down ideas for 2/3 books down the line, the chattering monkey voices never shut up, always poking their nose in, telling me about another great idea for a short story. I have to carry post it notes, pads and an iPad with me everywhere so I can scribe everything down to get it out. I think that if you are getting stuck on a piece of work, then it can be something different, a plot line which isn’t working for example. Then I just take a step back, map out all the options and cogitate on them for a bit. That seems to work.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
I don’t feel guilty about pleasure.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I’m a firm believer in equality, animal welfare and generally being excellent to each other (thanks Bill and Ted for a good maxim to live by). When I’m not writing fiction, I may rant about a topic on my blog, or on Twitter. I also volunteer for Cats Protection, a UK based charity dedicated to the welfare and rehoming of unwanted and abandoned cats. I also read, a lot, and occasionally review. I think authors should support each other – it’s a tough job and going it alone can be a struggle.
What can readers expect next from you?
The second book in the series, Death in the Family, will be out in paperback and eBook early next year. It picks up immediately on the action of Relative Strangers. I won’t give too much away but it’s much darker than the first book. Sophie has started to rebuild her life. The vampire threat isn’t over but a greater one lurks and this time it’s much closer to home.
Where can readers find you on the web?
There’s few places on the internet where I haven’t wormed my way in. Here’s just a few of them.
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1vOSmXq and GoodReads: http://bit.ly/Vg7voh . I’ve also pages on Amazon, US: http://www.amazon.com/Helen-Treharne/e/B00LFVTXME/ and UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Helen-Treharne/e/B00LFVTXME/
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
I’d love to. As Sophie spends a lot of her time trying to fend off vampires, how about some of her thoughts on how to kill them. After all, you never know when you might need to.
“You don’t need to stake them in the heart to kill them, although it’s quite possible that would work too, I’ve not tried it. Daylight definitely doesn’t kill them, or at least not the ones I’ve met. You don’t have to decapitate them either, but my philosophy is that if you cut anything’s head off it will probably cease to function in its usual way, whether it’s living or undead. I’m not a trained fighter, I’m basically about survival, and I’ve found that whacking just about anything with force and frequency will stop it. Either that or blow its brains out. It seems to have worked for me so far.
When you kill a vampire they don’t just go "poof" and turn into cinders either. A well timed breeze doesn’t come along and blow their ashes far and wide. There’s no sudden mound of dust, which you can suck up in your vacuum cleaner, more convenient though it would be. Maybe they disintegrate given enough time, I don’t know for certain, but they definitely leave a carcass behind, which at least leaves you with a problem in the short term.
I can’t say that I’m an expert on slaying vampires, or that I knew exactly what to expect when I woke up the following morning, but at the top of my list of chores was scrubbing my kitchen and disposing of the remains.”
A Modern Vampire Story
Sophie Morgan Vampire Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of pages: 301
Word Count: 96,500
Meet Sophie Morgan… practical, Welsh, prone to occasional profanity, and seemingly a vampire magnet.
Sophie Morgan is 23 and has always done the right thing. She’s caused no stress for her family, worked hard through university, has taken a successful leap onto the career ladder and nurtured a reasonably healthy bank balance. It’s no small surprise then when, on a post relationship break-up, mini-break to Antwerp, she pursues a pair of thieves who steal her friend’s handbag. But this is only the start of her world being turned upside down. Ripped from the streets into a dark alley she is violently attacked, barely alive when quirky Irish bar worker, Michael Kelly, stumbles across the scene.
The pair, shocked by their experience and uncertain whether they have killed her attacker in the brawl which follows, go into the night for answers. They get more than they bargained for. Sophie quickly learns that vampires exist, her neighbours back home aren’t what they seem and new boyfriends can be found in the strangest of situations.
Relative Strangers is the first in a new vampire series with a distinctly British flavour, but which will appeal to everyone. Reviews call it " a vampire tale with bite", with "brilliant characters that draw you in" and a very fresh take on the genre. Read it now to find out reviewers are raving about.
Available at Amazon Smashwords iBooks BN
I wakened with a jolt, my heart beating, and my lids heavy. The glowing display of my alarm clock informed me it was four a.m. Had the noise been real, or had I been dreaming? My brain fired up and I took in my surroundings. I'd spent two months living with my mother in my childhood home following my sudden relocation back to South Wales. I'd only moved into my own place a few days earlier and was disorientated. Bed, furniture, dressing gown draped over the chair- all mine, definitely my bedroom, no one else in the room with me, all good. So what the hell was that noise?
My anxiety levels were sky high. It had been a terrible year, one brimming with violence and death. I couldn't take another emotional or physical beating; I hoped my imagination was playing tricks on me. Please don't let this be anything more than a dream, I prayed.
I tentatively reached across the nightstand to flick on the lamp, but quickly retracted my hand. What if there is someone in the house? There could be someone downstairs. You don't want to let them know you're up here. Think Sophie, is that what woke you up, could that have caused the noise you heard - was it a bang, something smashing? It might be better to err on the side of caution. Take a breath, think before you do anything.
Slipping my legs from under the duvet I padded over to the window and quietly pulled the cord to lift the blind. It was dark outside. Dawn wouldn't surface for several hours, but the street lamp at the bottom of the garden afforded me a little light. The town council switched them on early during the winter months.
Everything outside looked peaceful. The gate at the bottom of the path knocked rhythmically against its post in the cold January wind. I must have failed to close it properly.
Another noise. Was it a noise? Did I really hear something? Yep, definitely coming from downstairs. Blood whooshed through my ears as my heart began pumping adrenaline through my body. Someone else was in my house. Someone was moving downstairs. Oh my God, no, not here. How could he have found me? Why now? I've been moving on. I didn't even tell.
My body froze in panic, but something deep in my gut forced my brain into action. There was no way I was going to give in after I’d battled for so long and so hard to stay alive, to survive. Nobody was going to rob me of that, or anything else for that matter. I quickly assessed my options, but they didn’t add up to much.
I could hide out in my room and hope that the intruder would go of their own accord. Perhaps they'd just be an ordinary burglar - they'd be in and out. They'd take my purse, mobile phone and keys which I'd left in the kitchen and escape but I could replace things. At least I'd be alive and unharmed.
But what if I just stayed put and they came upstairs, perhaps looking for things of higher value? Based on my experience, it was more likely that it was some sicko who would then have me penned in. I'd have no escape and be at their mercy. I wasn't ever going to let that happen to me again.
Thoughts machine gunned their way through my brain, but I decided to come down on the side of braving it, going downstairs and confronting my intruder. Maybe, I'd be lucky and it would just be a petty thief, more scared of me than I of him. But on the other hand, perhaps it was him. If so, I was probably dead already, may as well get it over with.
About the Author:
After a successful career in business and career coaching, Helen Treharne returned to South Wales in 2010 to focus on writing, among other things.
Relative Strangers, a modern vampire story featuring an increasingly feisty Sophie Morgan, hits digital bookshelves in 2014. In addition to being the creator of the developing “Sophie Morgan" series, she is an urban poet and social commentator who can frequently be found ranting in the Twitterverse. She knew the degree in Sociology would come in handy some day!
Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing she spends her time daytime hours working in communications and volunteers for a feline welfare charity. She can't be trusted near stationery and has had more come backs than Cher.
Twitter @Tea_Talks https://twitter.com/Tea_Talks
Facebook : http://on.fb.me/1vOSmXq