Genre: paranormal romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Number of pages: 230
Word Count: 87000
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco
It’s been a while since witches had to worry about being burnt at the stake…
Forty-nine, English and a professional crone, Sophronia is touring America when she is forced to spend the night at a run-down motel on the Californian coast. Her expectations aren’t high- – if the bed’s clean and the toilet flushes she’ll count herself lucky. But events are about to become far more interesting. The motel owner is a juvenile witch unaware of her heritage and in dire need of help, especially when vampires turn up…
Interview with Jacqueline Farrell:
1.) What made you want to include a vampire in your work?
My heroine Sophronia answers this question quite neatly near the beginning of the book. I was just coming up to my 50th birthday and when I saw the big 5 – 0 come rolling towards me, it occurred to me that I wasn’t immortal and I couldn’t help thinking about all the questions that I’ll probably never get the answers to in my lifetime, like if there really is intelligent life on other planets and what they’re like; whether the Loch Ness Monster or the Yeti exists; whether we finally achieve world peace. Admittedly Hagen, my vampire, has been around for two thousand years and he hasn’t had the answers to any of those questions yet, but at least he’s got the chance of finding out. I was also intrigued at the idea of creating a character who’s been around for so long. It was fascinating to try to work out how such a creature might tick; after all, he was human once and has some memories of how we behave, but his motivations and ours haven’t been the same for a long time and I couldn’t help thinking we must get more difficult to understand with every century that passes. Plus, next to a two thousand year old, 50 doesn’t sound nearly so bad!
2.) What questions, either about your writing or your books, never get asked that you would LOVE to answer?
I’m really happy to answer any questions, since I can talk for England about writing, but the question I was once asked which I really enjoyed answering was ‘How did you feel when you finally had a submission accepted?’
I had been writing for years on and off, at first for my own amusement, certainly never telling anyone, because I couldn’t escape the feeling that respectable people didn’t write books. Then, as I got more confident, I decided to try my hand at finding an agent or a publisher and I got to experience first-hand the soul-crushing humiliation of rejections. Oh, the shame when the postman hands you yet another bulky envelope with your address written in your own handwriting and you’re convinced he knows exactly what it is and he’s laughing at you. But take it from me; this gets less humiliating with time as you get more thick-skinned.
The fun really starts when you’re so blasé about rejection letters, you start to categorize them.
- There’s the common ‘Dear “fill in the blank in almost illegible handwriting” ’ whilst every other word is typed, the sub-text of which is ‘I haven’t even bothered to read your letter, let alone your manuscript’;
- the ones where some care has been taken to personalize your rejection letter which makes you feel good for a while until you get about four or five where the wording is almost identical and you realize it’s some kind of form letter all the agents use;
- the genuinely weird ones – my favorite was having my MS returned after a year with no covering letter at all, just a strange scrawl at the top of my own submission letter which after ten minutes of serious study I finally worked out read ‘not for me’ and absolutely nothing else; no date, no signature, no name, nothing. It took me another week of intense research to work out who I’d sent it to in the first place.
That lasts a few years until you start to get a few that, while still being rejection letters, tell you things they quite liked about your novel and how you might improve and you know they’ve read it because they actually mention characters’ names and they’ve spelt them correctly. Then finally, hallelujah, one day you get a letter. A letter, not a bulky envelope that you stamped and addressed, full of unwanted dross, but a real letter in a normal sized envelope that somebody else has taken the time to write your address on and add a first class stamp as well, not just the cheapest rate you could find. A letter telling you you’ve finally done it; you’ve made the grade, you’ve written a story that someone thinks is worth publishing and that other people apart from your mum and your best friend might actually want to read. You’re a real author, you’re going to have your name on a book cover, you’re really going to make some money back, after all the sweat and cursing and hundreds of times you’ve felt a complete fool for even thinking you could do this.
That was the long answer to the initial question. The short answer is – after giving birth to my babies, it was the best feeling in the world.
Professional crone Sophronia lets her heart rule her head when she meets juvenile witch, Charlie. Then the vampires turn up…
The figure turned and I got my first sight of the vampire. Tall and good-looking in the sharp, defined way they all are, he had dark blond hair and eyes that were a fabulous ultramarine blue… He smiled as he studied me, like a cat that’s just seen a very juicy mouse…
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my dear Mrs. Sheridan.” He loomed over me. Vampires have no concept of personal space. “Charlotte has told me so much about you.”
“How nice, although there’s so little to tell.” “Charlie, what have you been saying about me?”
Despite my urgent tone, Charlie ignored me and I winced when I saw the dreamy adoration in her eyes. You never look in a vampire’s eyes if you can help it. It’s how they get that first hold over you.
“Nonsense. It’s been enthralling.” He smiled, showing lots of white teeth, but no fangs as yet. “Although apparently you weren’t very keen to meet me.”
“Goodness, who said that? I love meeting new people.” I projected the lightest, airiest of insinuations at him. “There’s no point bothering with me. It would be a waste of your valuable time”
The vampire turned back to us, all dark charm again. “Ladies. I invite you to my home.”
“You mean The Cabal?” From the excitement in Charlie’s voice I didn’t need to be a mind reader to know she’d suddenly forgotten all about her vampire boyfriend.
“Of course. Do you like champagne?”
“I’ve never tasted it,” she said and I wanted to hit her over the head with something. At this rate he wasn’t going to have to compel her even slightly.
As they walked toward the car, I hung back. “Um…I’ll stay here if you don’t mind.”
The vampire turned round. “I do mind,” he said, with considerably less charm, not that Charlie noticed.
“You gotta come, Mrs. Sheridan. It’s the biggest casino this side of Crescent City. It’s got a nightclub and a sports complex and the shopping mall is fantastic. All the biggest designer brands have a–”
“It sounds lovely,” I lied, “but I’m feeling rather tired. You go on, sweetie, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Don’t you want to come?” She sounded amazed but, before I could reply, the vampire patted her arm.
“That’s fine, Charlotte. If Mrs. Sheridan is too tired, of course we mustn’t insist. Anton.” He snapped his fingers and the driver got out the car. He was a vampire as well, of course, and I could see another one sitting on the other side. Suddenly the place teemed with them.
“Anton will get you settled, my dear,” he said and Charlie got in without a murmur. “Let me just say goodbye to Mrs. Sheridan and then we’ll go.”
He smiled paternally at her before returning to me. The look on his face sent me scuttling into reception as fast as I could, though it was pointless. The place didn’t belong to me and Charlie had already invited him in. I’d barely blinked before I found myself pinned against a wall. My personal space thus invaded, the vampire dropped all pretense at being civilized. His eyes seemed to darken.
“Sophronia,” he said, the growl in his voice very pronounced, “there’s an acquisitive Russian back at my house, sizing up my possessions and growing more confident every second I’m away. I don’t have time for a scene.”
“And I don’t want to make one, honestly, Hagen,” I pleaded, doing my best to appear meek, “but I am very tired. Tell you what, I’ll come tomorrow. How about that?”
He narrowed his eyes. “You think I don’t know that if I leave you alone for a second you’ll be away as fast as you can?”
“Absolutely not, Hagen. I wouldn’t dream of–”
“Sophronia, you have a choice. Either get in the car of your own volition, or I’ll have you put in the trunk and you can travel to my House that way. But I warn you, if that happens it will make me very unhappy and you won’t like me when I’m unhappy.”
I didn’t like him now. “Hagen, I absolutely swear to you that I won’t go anywhere. I’ll–”
“I’m walking out the door, Sophronia,” he said. “What’s it to be? Are you joining me or should I instruct Torsten to start making room in the trunk for you?”
I wondered if I could make it to my own car in time but then yet another vampire appeared near the entrance, his eyes reflecting red in the night. Since I had no choice I walked out to the car.
The vampire didn’t even have the courtesy to look surprised.