Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest: Kendra Leigh Castle

VampChix is uber-excited to host guest Kendra Leigh Castle today, who talks to us about the vampires in her story.  Her stories rock, and she does too (I had the pleasure of meeting her at the RWA conference a few weeks ago).  So show her some love in the comments, and you be entered to win a signed copy of her new release DARK AWAKENING!

Your Vampires Do What?
By Kendra Leigh Castle

In the last few months before my new book, Dark Awakening, came out, I got strange looks every time I would tell people what I was writing.  Not from my family…they’re used to the fact that I’m weird.  But other people.  It’s not about the vampires, either.  I’ve been surprised by the number of people who like a good vampire story!  No, it’s more my description of the vampires in question.  See, the vampires in my book can move faster than the eye can see, hurl bolts of psychic energy, turn to smoke, become bats, and (most importantly) can shift into big, black cats.
            Yeah.  I write the X-Men of vampires.
            The cat thing has been the most common source of the comment, “Um, really?”  Now, it’s true, I was a Saturday morning cartoon addict growing up.  But my decision to seriously twist traditional vampire mythology had less to do with my abiding love of the Thundercats and more to do with my desire t o create a vampire mythology that was truly mine.  Plus, I really like shifters.  And the great thing about paranormal romance is a lot of it is based in getting a wild idea and being able to say, “Why not?”
            As you might expect, coming up with a fresh angle on the vampire is tough.  I needed to create beings who were recognizable, but not too recognizable.  Hints of classic, no sparkles.  And after a few random bits and pieces clicked in just the right way—a Celtic cat design I’ve loved for years, an excellent documentary about Cleopatra’s doomed sister Arsinöe, and a raging crush on Richard Armitage—I had them.
            The X-Vamps.
            Okay, I’m kidding about that, though I have told people that my vampires are a little traditional, a little untraditional, and a little bit Highlander (I mean, they don’t chase one another around shouting “There can be only one!”, but the decapitation by sword thing found its way in).  My vampires, the vampires of the Dark Dynasties, live in a world of rigid castes in which the members of the highblood nobility wear the marks of their bloodlines on their skin.  With each mark comes a specific power, and the purer the blood, the stronger the power.  This system has left the vast underclass of mixed-mark lowbloods at the mercy of their rulers since time immemorial.  Ty, the hero of Dark Awakening, is one of these so called “gutterbloods”.  His bloodline is unusual, though.  His mark is pure, a trio of entwined cats, but his kind is both leaderless and powerless in the great scheme of things.  Ty is Cait Sith (pronounced cat-SHEE), a line tainted by Fae blood at its roots and possessed of the ability to become a big, sleek, dangerous cat.  That alone has condemned him: the highbloods tend not to like animal shifters.  It goes hand in hand with their hatred of the unruly and unpredictable werewolves. 
            As you might guess, Ty’s life as a vampire hasn’t been easy.  But then, his life as a human wasn’t either.  I do like to torment my heroes, poor things.
            For all my joking about it, rest assured that the vampires of the Dark Dynasties are very much…well, vampires.  They can’t walk in the light.  They drink the blood of mortals.  The siring process is pretty standard, and these vampires are pale and beautiful with sharp, pointy teeth.  I have, however, made some adjustments.  Holy items don’t do a thing to them.  They don’t sleep in coffins.  They’re not “undead” so much as they’re just drastically changed and made immortal.  And then there’s the Highlander thing: decapitation is necessary to kill these creatures.  Well, that or incineration.  But my vampires carry knives and swords.
            Weird?  Maybe.  But then, that’s why I love writing paranormal romance.  All the rules are breakable.  And that’s the fun!
            Now, despite my love of vampires who aren’t exactly in the “classic” style, every reader has his or her preferences.  So my questions for all of you are, how do you like your vamps?  Dracula-style, wildly unusual, or somewhere in between?  What’s the one trait a character has to have for you to buy him or her as a vampire?
            I’ll be around to talk all things be-fanged today, and one randomly chosen commenter will win a signed copy of my new release, Dark Awakening.  Thanks so much to Michele for having me here…and I’ll see you all in the comments!

Kendra Leigh Castle writes dark paranormal romance and lives in Southern Maryland with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets.  You can find her on facebook, Twitter (as @KendraLCastle), and at    

Enter the world of the Dark Dynasties . . .
For centuries, shapeshifting vampire Tynan MacGillivray has prowled the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer-a human woman with a special gift-who can secure victory for their clan. Ty's search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he's never known...
Lily Quinn has always been different. Since childhood, she's had vivid nightmares and an eerie sixth sense. When a sexy, silver-eyed stranger demands her help, Lily plunges into a new world of danger and sensuality. With Ty, she discovers sizzling passions she cannot deny and powers she cannot control. Soon, it is clear that Lily is much more than a Seer-she holds the key to ancient secrets and unthinkable destruction. But will a vampire's vow of eternal protection stop these evil forces . . . or unleash her dark destiny?


Rain Maiden said...

I have Dark Awakingings on my wish list. I hope to be reading it soon. Why do I keep staring at that kitty :)

BooksMakeMeHappy said...

I read Dark Awakening and loved it--can't wait for more! I like my vamps somewhere in between, like Eric on True Blood. I feel like Ty could fit right into that show!

Lisa D said...

Kendra, I came across your website and immediately added your books to my Amazon wish list. Love all vampires. Can't wait to read your books.

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Hi Rain Maiden! It's because the kitty is mesmerizing:) I'm glad to be on your wish list!

BooksMakeMeHappy, awesome! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for the compliment...I think Ty would fit right into True Blood too, though I may be slightly biased in my opinion:)

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Lisa D, thanks! Hope you enjoy the stories!

SandyG265 said...

I like that you are writting a different twist on vampires.

Lil said...

I love my vampires from mid-range to wildly different. It is something I developed a taste for as I read more vampire stories. Your book interests me not only for the differences in your vampires but also because your hero is at a lower caste. Would love to see where you take this.

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Sandy, thanks! I really enjoyed coming up with them:)

Lil, that's actually what made Ty so appealing to write. You sound like me...I like my vamps any way I can get them!

Thanks for coming by, you two!

diva donna said...

I can't read enough of your new Dark Dynasty World. So fascinating. Please write more. And by the way. Bay said thanks for the call. Even if it took so long. LOL

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

LOL, thanks Donna! I love writing them, and I love having you read them! Bay's not hanging anymore, I promise:)

tetewa said...

Vampires are my favorite reads, sounds good!

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Thanks, tetewa!

Barbara E. said...

Your vampires sound fascinating and so unique. I love it when an author takes a well known myth and makes it their own. I can't wait to read your Dark Dynasties books.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

elaing8 said...

This sounds really good..and oh yum that cover :D

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

Hi Barbara! I'm glad I piqued your interest:) I'm always looking for new twists on familiar mythologies too. Hope you enjoy the book!

Hi elaing8! Thanks...I'm slightly obsessed with my covers for this series:) YUM.

donnas said...

Sounds great. Thanks for sharing! Im really looking forward to reading your book now.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Ren said...

Hi Kendra, your book Dark Awakening sounds promising and I really want to read it :)

I love my vampire to have a wild side, have some animal characteristic. I rather read an untamed man than elegant or sophisticated hero

thanks for the giveaway too :)

sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

Cylver said...

Hi Kendra! Dark Awakening sounds like my kind of read!
I like the idea that vamps are like people everywhere: some are good and honorable while others are rotten to the core! I've never thought that just being a vampire makes one evil by definition.

Generally, I like my vamps to be strong and powerful yet not completely invulnerable. And I especially like them to have some intelligence. If they've been around for a few hundred years, they better have learned a thing or two in that time!