Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Everlasting Appeal of the Vampire with Amber Belldene

Thanks for inviting me to Fang-Tastic Books today!  I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts about the appeal of vampires and why they continue to hold our imagination. Just when everyone insists the vampire fad is over, Jonathan Rhys Myers *swoon* gets cast in a steampunk retelling of the Dracula story and….they’re back!

One of my theories about the perpetual popularity of vampires has to do with love and lust.  A vampire’s hunger is symbolic of lust—a physical desire, fixated on an object without regard for his or her character—in other words, it’s all about the blood and it doesn’t matter whose. The predatory vampire becomes a fascinating character when he (or she, in the case of Uta, the heroine in my new release) falls in love. Suddenly emotions complicate the hunger, and concern for the beloved complicates the vampire’s life. 

A romance is exciting enough when it’s about a duke and a spinster, or two contemporary heroes who live across the tracks from each other, but when the story is about a vampire, it has the potential to be even more romantic: tragic pasts, immortality, sexy fangs. Need I say more?

The kinds of conflicts vampires face are larger than life, cranked up several notches from our every day experience, and yet, they shine a light onto our ordinary lives, making us consider what it means to hunger for something, or someone, and whether we can find ways to have what we desire without harming those we care about.

Before vampires became romantic figures in our literature, they were frightening demonic blood guzzlers in the folklore of Eastern Europe.  The fact our vampire mythology and the Zinfandel grape both originated in Croatia was a huge part of the inspiration for my Blood Vine series, about a family of vampires in exile from Croatia.   

The first record of an actual deceased person being thought to have come back as a vampire was a guy named Jure Grando from Croatia in the seventeenth century.  He was a peasant, and twenty years after his death, local villagers claimed he returned from the dead and began drinking blood from the people. The village leader ordered a stake to be driven through his heart, but when the method failed to kill him, he was subsequently beheaded and that apparently worked. They’ve found skeletons of people buried with stakes through the heart at sites spanning over Eastern Europe. 

These vampires were demonic and scary and not at all sexy.  It wasn’t until Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, that we really get the idea of a seductive, gentlemanly, cultured vampire.  And the sex appeal of the species evolved from there, because the romance genre loves to redeem a dangerous bad guy!

The vampires in my Blood Vine series have their own customs and mythology.  They live all around the world in secret households, and they are mostly good guys, if a little jaded and grumpy after having lived so long, persecuted by vampire Hunters. My love of studying history and mythology heavily influenced the world I built for this series.  In Blood Reunited, the hero and heroine travel from California all the way to Turkey to investigate the bloody origins of the war between vampires and Hunters.  This Pinterest board shows some of my research into their journey.

There is so much more I could say about vampires in mythology.  I’m fascinated that the folktales make drinking blood a frightening, demonic thing, and yet for certain vampire fans it’s become something very erotic. How did that happen?  And I want to know more about the vampire hunts in Eastern Europe—if vampires aren’t real, who was hurting innocent people, and were the people staked through the heart the real culprits? 

I can’t promise you’ll find the answers to any of these question in the Blood Vine series, but you will find a new, rich and complex vampire world, with a dash of history and lots of sexy characters.  It was bittersweet to wrap up the series with my new release, Blood Reunited, because I had fallen so deeply in love with my characters and my world.  But now that all the books are out, I get to experience it all over again with my readers.  If you decide to check out my books, I do hope you’ll enjoy them, and I always love to hear from readers!

Blood Reunited   
Blood Vine Series
Book Three
Amber Belldene

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Date of Publication: January 28, 2014


Book Description:

Book Three in the Blood Vine Series.

Brooding vampire halfling and biologist Bel Maras is determined to create a cure for the wasting disease that plagues his vampire family. His work becomes essential as the Hunters intensify their global and bloody campaign. When Bel's cure fails, only his ancient and estranged godmother Uta Ilirije can help. But seeing the ice-cold Uta reveals something shocking--she is his bonded mate.

She may be a dangerous warrior, but Uta feels her failures acutely. She has been unable to protect her kind from Hunters, and vampires are dying out. Worse, she tied Bel to her long ago in an accident of blood, then abandoned him for his own good--a choice he has never forgiven. Many days, she is convinced Bel and the vampires would be better off if she just walked into the sun.

Biology has fated them to be mates. Now these old enemies must overcome their past to save the vampires and come to peace with the bond they never chose.

Blood Entangled
Blood Vine Series
Book Two
Amber Belldene

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

ISBN: 9781623420437

Number of pages: 318

Book Description:

KOS MARAS’s orderly life is in shambles—he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires, but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night he watches over a temptingly beautiful woman sleeping in his bed. He is convinced love cannot last a vampire-long lifetime and an entanglement will only cause them grief, but he doesn’t have the heart to send her away.

From a long line of blood servants, LENA ISAAKSON is destined to serve a vampire, but a string of humiliating rejections thwarts her pleasure. When Kos shows her kindness, she hopes he will claim her. Instead he proves himself a coward in the face of love and sends her to serve another.

Will the dark seduction of a rakish new vampire finally bring Lena the pleasure she desires or deliver her into the hands of Hunters who want to destroy everything the Maras family has worked for?

Blood Vine
Blood Vine Series
Book One
Amber Belldene

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Date of Publication: January 6, 2013


Number of pages: 206

Book Description:

In Blood Vine, bites are an inconvenient bliss, exiled vampires are wasting away, and the fate of their kind depends on the perfect PR campaign.

When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can't forget. After her husband's suicide, Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again. But can she walk away from the intriguing winemaker a second time?

Driven from Croatia by his ancient foes, vampire Andre Maras has finally made a blood-like wine to cure his fellow refugees. Now he needs Zoey's PR expertise to reach them. After his wife's death, Andre has a vow of his own—never to risk another painful blood bond. And one taste of the tempting Zoey would bind him to her eternally.

His secrets stall her PR plans. Her jealousy is stoked by the blissed-out beauties leaving his bedroom. At every turn, he utterly fails to resist her. When she discovers he is a vampire, will she be lost to the golden-eyed Hunters, or lose herself to the emptiness in her heart, before she can help him save his kind?

Book Trailer:

 About the Author:

Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book.  As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.

Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion.  She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths.  Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.

twitter: @amberbelldene

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