It's my pleasure to present an interview with Maggie Shayne today! Author of more than 40 novels, she's been writing about vamps since the early 90s, and though she's added romantic suspense, women's fiction, cowboys and a few witches to her repertoire, she's still writing about sexy vampires in love. [For Maggie's complete bio click here.]
Her long-running vampire series Wings In The Night features 15 novels and a handful of anthologies. Her latest in the series is LOVER'S BITE. I managed to chase down this super-talented and uber-busy author for a few questions...
Q: You have a long-running vampire series Wings in the Night that you began in 1993 with Twilight Phantasies. Was this originally a planned trilogy? Or did you always have plans to write in this vein (pun intended) since the beginning?
MS: Loved the pun! No, the truth is, I had only intended to do one book. I was unpublished, and trying several different kinds of books, but vampires were my first love. Twilight Phantasies began as a short story intended to sell to a magazine. But I so fell into the story that it rapidly grew. In the end, it was a large book with a huge subplot involving the hero's best friend, Roland. The editor who read it sensed my distress when she told me I would have to cut a lot of those scenes, and suggested I start thinking about giving Roland a book of his own. I was, of course thrilled.
Another little known tidbit about the Wings series is that Rhiannon, heroine of book 2, was originally that book's villain. I'd paired Roland with a wimpy little thing, and Rhiannon was going to be Roland's possessive, jealous, deadly ex. But my editors, (Melissa Senate and Leslie Wainger) both felt Rhiannon was stealing the show entirely, and asked how I could not be aware that she was the true heroine. And that is how Rhiannon took over the series. She's been the queen of Wings in the Night ever since.
Q: Do you keep a bible or thorough notes on your series?
MS: No. I wish I had when I started. But I didn't think it would be a series. And then by the time I knew it was going to be not only a series, but probably the longest continuous series in the romance genre, it was just too big a job for me to undertake without help. I'd have to take months off from writing in order to put all the trivia from each of the Wings in the Night books into a bible. Oh, I wish I had that kind of time. No, I don't. I like being steadily employed. But it is getting very unwieldy. I need an assistant who knows the books as well as I do, that's what I need. (Hear that, Universe?)
MS: I like vampires because no one else is doing them
Oh, wait. That used to be my answer. LOL. Honestly, though, there was no one doing vampire romance but Lori Herter when I wrote TWILIGHT PHANTASIES. And I do not hesitate to say her work inspired me, as did that of Anne Rice, whom I was reading voraciously around that time. But I've loved vampires since I was a little girl watching old movies on TV. I always wanted to rewrite the ending of Dracula, the Wolfman, and other classic horror flicks. I thought the wrong guy got the girl.
I think there's something about a love that's eternal that appeals to hopeless romantics like me. If someone could love, not only for one lifetime, but forever, what a love that would have to be! I also think there's something inherently sexy about neck nibbling. But maybe that's just me.
Q: Explain the attributes of your vampires. What parts are taken from myth and legend? What parts did you make up?
My vampires will heal from any wound they receive during the regenerative day sleep, but only if they can stay alive long enough. They grow stronger with age, but also more vulnerable, in that, every sense is heightened with every year they live. Pain. Pleasure. Everything.
They all began as humans with the rare Belladonna Antigen. Only humans with that antigen can become vampires. Humans with the antigen tend to weaken and die young if not transformed. And they too, tend to bleed very easily. Vampires sense these humans, known to them as The Chosen, and they watch over and protect them. They're compelled to do so.
Those are the basics of my vampire world. I really don't like vampire fiction that veers too far from the old traditional vampires from my childhood. A little twist to the tradition here and there, a little enhancement, is fine. But I really do like the old school stuff. It's hard to improve on Bram Stoker, after all.
Q: Is it a requirement for a reader to start at the beginning of your series, or can they pick up a book in the Wings in the Night series and get in on the world right away?
MS: You really can begin the series anywhere and not end up confused or lost. Each story is self-contained and complete in and of itself, and my editors make me re-explain all the rules in every book for new readers to the series.
By the way, to clarify ongoing confusion, ALL my vampire books are part of the Wings in the Night series. I did not end one series and begin another. We did stop using "Twilight" in the titles when other authors borrowed the word, and we feared it would become too confusing. But all the books, including the four most recent (Demon's Kiss, Lover's Bite, Angel's Pain, and Bloodline) are part of Wings in the Night.
Q: You also write witches, and romantic suspense and even Texas cowboys. It’s quite a range. Do you enjoy writing any one genre over the other? Or does your brain just insist you mix things up and write all genres? Do you ever have trouble switching from vampires to say...cowboys?
MS: I love my Witch books. I love anything paranormal. And I adore writing suspense novels, which is what I'm doing at the moment. I have three in a row coming out next summer. The suspense is a lot harder for me to write than the paranormal, and because it's more challenging, I think I end up working harder and doing better work. (Friends say it's not better, just different voice. But I think it's stronger writing.)
Q: You also write an advice column that readers can write to at your website. What’s the story behind that?
MS: My advice column, Shayne on You, was just a fun thing to do. I was tossing the idea around with my daughter Jessica, who was a journalist at the daily "Evening Sun" newspaper in Norwich NY, and she thought I ought to pitch it to her editor. So I did, and he loved the idea. There's a link to the column from my site, and another one for anyone who needs advice to send in. I base my advice mostly on wisdom gleaned from the Law of Attraction, and Jerry and Esther Hicks.
Q: When can readers expect your next vampire release? And are you working on any vampire stories at the moment? Any sneak peeks?
MS: I'll give you both the answer that will piss off your visitors, and the one that should delight them. First, the bad news. There won't be a new vampire book from me in 2010. That's because I have three romantic suspense novels coming out in a row, in July, August and September of that year. They continue with a character, Dawn, who was left dangling at the end of an earlier suspense trilogy and the readers have been waiting a long time for her story. This new series will be known as the Secrets of Shadow Falls trilogy, and the books are KILLING ME SOFTLY, KILL ME AGAIN, & KISS ME, KILL ME.
Now the good news for those vampire fans. As soon as I finish the book I'm working on (the third one listed above) I will be working on the next two vampire novels, due out in 2011, and I hope, hope, hope those books will be the twins' stories. These are the stories my readers have been asking for most, and so they're the stories I intend to tell. Sneak peek? Well, nothing's written yet, so no. But I do know the twins both have special, unique powers, powers unlike any vampire I've ever written, because of their unique heritage. One has the power to heal. The other, to destroy.
Here’s the same five questions we ask all our guests:
Dark or Light?
Historical or Modern?
Historical characters in a modern setting.
Fav vamp movie or TV show?
BUFFY (I'm a Buffy-Spike, not a Buffy-Angel sort of fan.)
Bagged or from the Neck?
From the neck when possible, bagged when not.
Dead or Undead?
Thanks, Maggie, for the interview!
Please visit Maggie at various places online:
Group blog: www.storybroads.com
Shayne's Shenannigans (Maggies solo blog where she is currently documenting writing a novel in 40 days!): maggieshayne.blogspot.com