Monday, May 23, 2016

Interview and Giveaway - The Way of Escape by Kristen Reed

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

Growing up, I was always fascinated by horror books and vampires in particular. When I accepted Christ as my savior in 2013, I wanted to write a book that would appeal to both Christians who enjoy vampire lit and vampire lit fans who are open to the Christian faith. It’s a very unique crossover. Haha.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

I think what fascinates me is that different authors have different takes on vampirism. For some it’s just a physical change and for others it’s a physical and spiritual transformation. I wanted to delve into that two-pronged change and what it means in light of Christianity. Are vampires demons themselves or are they humans possessed by a malevolent spirit? Also, what does it mean for someone’s afterlife if he or she becomes a vampire? The concept of a supernaturally altered/enhanced human who drinks blood to survive creates a lot of questions that the average person would really struggle to answer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Everything I said above. I wanted to write a book that explores what would happen if a Christian woman collided head on with the vampire world. As followers of Christ, we still have our struggles to deal with even after salvation, so how would those struggles and even doubts come to light in a high-pressure, dangerous situation? Clara might be a Christian, but she—like all believers—is still imperfect and makes mistakes. It makes for an interesting dynamic.

Please tell us about your latest release.

In The Way of Escape, Clara Robinson and two of her friends get kidnapped by a vampire coven during a mission trip in Haiti. Clara finds out from the coven leader, Emmanuel, that she’s actually half-vampire. Instead of just enslaving her with the humans, he lets her choose between slavery as a mortal and freedom as a full vampire. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, another vampire named Augustus tells her that she can fulfill a centuries old prophecy and free the humans by giving up her humanity to become a vampire. Clara has to decide how she can best serve the oppressed humans on the island and figure out what the spiritual ramifications would be if she became a vampire. It also doesn’t help that she starts growing closer to Augustus and has to face the added temptation that comes from being attracted to a man who is both a nonbeliever and a vampire. I would not want to be in her shoes. Haha.

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?

For my protagonist, I wanted her name to tie in with her calling as a Christian (to be a light to others), the prophecy in the book, and the fact that humans live in the light. So, I named her Clara, which means “clear” or “bright.” For Emmanuel and Augustus, I gave them names that corresponded with their countries of origin, France and Italy.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Writing Clara was surprisingly difficult. Some aspects of her are inspired by my own life, but the research that went into writing her thought process in whether or not to become a vampire was a bit laborious.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

I really enjoyed writing the scene where Clara sees her friend Leah for the first time. It addresses some of the ways we can fail each other as friends, the damage that it causes, and the truth that can help us overcome that pain. I won’t say how the conversation turns out, but it may really hit home for some people.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

I had to do some digging about demon possession and how that works (or doesn’t work) if you’re a Christian. After all, if becoming a vampire means that you’re opening yourself up for some dark force to dwell in you, what does that mean for people who have the Holy Spirit? Is it a permanent internal struggle or does one force triumph over the other? Another possibility is that maybe there isn’t a malevolent spirit inside you at all and you just become more uninhibited or less willing to fight the darkness that naturally dwells in you. You’ll just have to read the book to find out what I decided on.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

Well, I didn’t do this to do research for The Way of Escape, but I wound up going on a mission trip to Haiti during the editing process. I spent a week sleeping in a bunk bed with mosquito netting over it, sweating profusely during service projects, and going door to door in Haitian villages to give water safety training and share the gospel. Most of the book doesn’t involve that part of Clara’s trip since it begins with her awakening on Emmanuel’s island, but my experiences had an impact on how I edited the book.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Writer’s block isn’t a huge struggle for me because I usually write out a plot outline before I start writing and update it as I go. I also spend time reading fiction as I write (usually not the same genre), so that helps keep my imagination nice and active.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

I like to edit my book in different formats. One round will be printed on letter paper, another I’ll listen to an audio version, and I’ll print a paperback or hardback version later on. It helps keep things fresh and listening to the audio is really valuable because there are things that I may write on paper that sound really weird spoken out loud, and that round of editing helps me weed those sentences out.

Do you write in different genres?

I’ve written in the fantasy genre as well as a book that could be considered historical Christian fiction or a fairytale. I’m also a marketing copywriter, so I spend a lot of time writing about makeup and skin care.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

No. If anything, it’s refreshing to switch back and forth and spend time in different worlds with different characters. It keeps me on my toes.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

I know it’s not the most sensational guilty pleasure, but I’m in love with RA Sushi’s green tea ice cream. I usually try to go there once a week to get sushi, but I’m really after the ice cream. It’s so good!

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

Writing is a huge part of my life, but my faith is number one. I serve at several ministries in my church because I want to show Christ’s love to other believers and people who haven’t accepted Him as their Savior yet. I’ve been serving in a recovery ministry for over a year, and it’s so encouraging to see how much healing Jesus brings people through the gospel. Accepting that Jesus died and was resurrected for all of our sins really helps people get over the guilt and shame that’s been holding them down whether they’ve struggled with substance abuse or a porn/sex addiction. It’s so powerful and encouraging.

What was the last amazing book you read?

An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers. Her Mark of the Lion series basically took over my life for a week, and the second book in the series really stuck with me.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

In my bed or on my couch. I love lying down with a nice candle burning and diving into a good book.

What can readers expect next from you?

I released a surprise book The Jilted Bride: A Footnote to Cinderella’s Happiness last month. It’s a historical fiction fairy tale in which a prince leaves Demetria at the altar to be with Cinderella. The book centers around her finding healing and a new purpose in the wake of her greatest humiliation and disappointment. The second book in that series, Eirwen’s Dream: Inside Snow White’s Sleeping Mind is currently being edited. The premise is that Eirwen (nicknamed Snow White) has a fantastical dream after being poisoned by her stepmother. The things she experiences in the dream help her handle her envious stepmother when she finally awakens.

Where can readers find you on the web?

I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogger. The links are all below.

The Way of Escape
The Clara Robinson Series
Book One
Kristen Reed

Genre: Vampire/Horror
Christian Fiction

Date of Publication: May 1, 2016

ASIN: B01DQ1V314

Number of pages: Appx 255
Word Count: 67,196

Formats available: Kindle eBook

Cover Artist: Photo by Galyna Andrushko

Book Description:

When the leader of a vampire coven tells Clara Robinson that she's a dhampir, he gives her an impossible choice: Keep her mortality and live as a slave or become a vampire be free. A vampire visiting the coven complicates matters by revealing that she can liberate all of the slaves by parting with her humanity and becoming a vampire. This news forces Clara to examine her faith and decide if she should risk her eternal soul to save the humans or give up her freedom to serve by their side.

“Come in,” a male voice called.
Lisette pushed open the door and gestured for me to enter. I hesitantly tiptoed into the room and jumped slightly much as the other woman had, my heart skipping a beat when she shut the door behind me and left me alone with the two strange men who occupied the large living area. The first man stood by the fireplace taking a sip from a glass of red wine. Long black curls cascaded down his back and nearly blended in with the expertly tailored tuxedo he wore just as his button down shirt almost disappeared into the pale skin of his neck.
When the man set the glass on the mantle, I finally got a good look at his surprisingly youthful, heart-shaped face as he licked the wine from his Cupid’s bow lips. After he finished savoring his wine, which he barely seemed old enough to drink, he opened his blue eyes and fixed me with an inquisitive yet predatory stare that made me shiver despite the heat coming from the lit fireplace. I suddenly knew how a gazelle felt after capturing the unwanted attention of a cheetah during a stroll across the savannah.
In an attempt to evade his chilly gaze, I gave the second man a once over. He sat in a Queen Anne-style chair that was just a shade whiter than his fair skin. Though his green eyes were trained on me, his stare wasn’t as unsettling as his companion’s had been. I thought that his wavy auburn hair was short until he turned his head to glance at his phone and I saw that he’d just swept his locks away from his face in a low ponytail. As I took in how the minimalist hairstyle showed off his deep-set eyes, high cheekbones and square jawline, I realized that I would have been attracted the man if I hadn’t been terrified of him.
While he didn’t exude the same threatening aura as his slightly younger companion, I still felt as if I was a fly that he could swat easily and remorselessly at any moment. I hadn’t felt that powerless in over a decade, and I hated the feeling just as much then as I had growing up.
“Bonjour, Clara,” the raven-haired man greeted in a smooth French accent. “My name is Emmanuel GĂ©roux and this is my guest, Augustus Damiani.”
“Hello,” I replied hesitantly.
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve brought you here,” he presumed. “Let me begin by apologizing for the lackluster room you awakened in. I wasn’t quite sure what I should do with you when you first arrived.”
“I’m more concerned about what I’m doing in your house than the quality of the room I woke up in,” I said carefully. “Why did you bring me here?”
Emmanuel walked over to the wet bar nearby and poured himself another glass of wine as he spoke, his friend’s eyes never leaving me as the conversation continued.
“My men found you lying unconscious near the village of Manonette last night. Apparently a fire broke out at the facility where you were staying, and you passed out after the evacuation.”
When I struggled to recall the events that transpired earlier that night, I vaguely remembered smelling smoke and hearing an alarm blaring. The memory was so indistinct and brief that I’d brushed it off as a dream, but that hazy memory was enough for me to believe that Emmanuel was telling the truth about the fire at Gospel Gateway. However, I should have awakened in a hospital and not on a private island with two men who looked like they’d just gotten home from a night at the opera.
“Is everyone else alright?”
“Yes, no one at the facility was injured in the fire.”
The relief Emmanuel’s news brought gave me a brief respite from my suspicion. Alas, that break didn’t last long.
“Not that I don’t appreciate your help, but why didn’t your men take me to a hospital if I was unconscious? I might have needed treatment for smoke inhalation or burns,” I pressed on. “And who are you that you have people prowling around Gospel Gateway and Manonette at night?”
 “The sooner you tell her the whole truth, the better,” Emmanuel’s Italian counterpart said.
My host nodded and took another less leisurely swig to polish off his wine before giving me a more fleshed out explanation.
“Well, mademoiselle, I am the leader of the vampire coven that resides on this island. I sent the men who found you to Haiti to bring more humans to the island to be our servants. When they discovered you and a few of your missionary friends near Manonette, they took you to fill my open positions,” Emmanuel explained nonchalantly. “One of the first tasks my men complete with new humans is pricking their fingers and tasting their blood to see if they are worthy of being one of our personal attendants. However, when they tasted your blood, they realized that there was more to you than meets the eye. Your blood had the sweetness of life and the bitterness of death, which means that you are half vampire — also known as a dhampir. Since you aren’t fully human, I wanted to give you the opportunity to choose your fate. You can either live with your fellow mortals and toil on my island for the rest of your days or enjoy the luxury and privilege that comes with being a vampire.”
I gaped at Emmanuel in stunned silence as I attempted to process his ridiculous explanation. Although my first instinct should have been to laugh at him and look for hidden cameras, something inside of me told me that he was telling the absolute truth. While I’d never contemplated the existence of vampires and had only seen them as fictional characters in books and movies, I’d spent enough time in the Bible to know that demons and other nefarious creatures existed. Jesus himself had even cast a legion of demons out of a man and into a herd of two thousand pigs.
If people can be possessed by demons, is the existence of vampires really that far off, I wondered. Either this guy is telling the truth or he’s insane. I can’t decide which one is worse.
“You’re being awfully quiet, Clara,” Emmanuel remarked. “What are you thinking?”
“I need proof that you’re telling the truth.”
“Then proof you shall get,” he agreed with a smile as he set down his drink.
Emmanuel took a step forward, but I backed away before he could reach me.
“Can you prove it without coming any closer,” I revised.
“Of course.”
The Frenchman stood his ground a few yards away and his blue eyes underwent a frightening transformation. His pupils bled outward as if someone had dropped ink into his eyes until I found myself gawking into two completely black orbs. Once that change was complete, Emmanuel opened his mouth to show that his top canines had extended into a pair of gleaming white fangs. He let out a feral hiss that sent me sprinting for the door, which I quickly realized was locked. I tried to force the door open, but the hair-raising tickle of his breath on my neck paralyzed me as he placed a frigid hand on mine and removed it from the doorknob.

“Don’t be frightened,” he said in a tone that would have sounded reassuring if not for his newly terrifying appearance. “If I truly wanted to hurt you, you would not be standing here with your pretty neck untouched and your blood still in your veins.” 

About the Author:

Kristen Reed, a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, is an artist, filmmaker, and author from Dallas, Texas. As a Christian, her faith influences her writing and is the driving force in her life.

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1 comment:

Mary Preston said...

A very interesting mash up of genres.