Friday, April 5, 2013

Writing the Modern Vampire by Susannah Sandlin

by Susannah Sandlin
 
Think about your favorite vampire. Pretty old pair of fangs, yes? Maybe he’s a former Norse warrior or a Civil War veteran (waves at Eric and Bill). Maybe he’s a centuries-old gigolo and prison escapee (yo, Bones!). Or maybe he’s a damaged former sex slave, a parentally abused son of an executioner, a cursed dragon-shifter, or a blind ancient king (doffs hat to Zsadist, Vishous, and Wrath).
One of the fun things about writing vampire heroes (or heroines) is the absence of time limitations. Your story could be set in the present or future, but your vampire could be from any era or any country or from any background. He’s a walking blank canvas with fangs. So the temptation is always there—with the entire world from which to fill in your canvas with color and shapes and histories—to go for the ancient and exotic.
I’ve certainly done that. In the former mill town of Penton, Alabama, a scathe of vampires and their willingly bonded humans has settled down to ride out the problems plaguing the vampire world. A vaccine developed to fight a human pandemic has resulted in the blood of vaccinated humans being deadly to vampires, so the vamp world is on the brink of starvation and civil war.
At the head of the Penton scathe is Aidan, a centuries-old Irishman who was a farmer before being lured into the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. His second-in-command, Mirren, is also about 400, a former Scottish gallowglass warrior turned executioner for the vampire Tribunal...until he faked his own death and went “straight.”
But I thought my sexy old guys needed some sexy young guys to hang with, so in the most recent book, Omega, I featured Will and Cage.
Cage is a Brit and a psychiatrist who was serving with the British Army during World War II when he was turned vampire. He’s adapted well with the times—better than the older guys. And his training in psychiatry makes him an interesting character, especially as he interacts with the other vampires. His tendency to analyze everyone makes them downright paranoid. (Of course, he gets in his own psychological and moral quandary and has no time to psychoanalyze his fellow vampires after a while.)
Then there’s the hero and heroine of Omega, Will Ludlam and Randa Thomas. Will’s a bit of a playboy and a bit of a smartass. In 1969, at age 22, he was turned vampire by his father. (And if you don’t think that gives Cage something to psychoanalyze, think again!) So he comes from that whole counter-culture, antiwar, hippie generation. While he’s abandoned the bell-bottoms, long hair, and tie-dye, he is comfortable with technology (unlike Mirren, who gets kind of freaked out by a stove) and clings to his fondness for Jimi Hendrix.
 Randa is the baby of the vampire group, turned only five years earlier while serving in the U.S. Army. She likes country music and is, of course, the most at home in the modern world—or she would be, if she didn’t hate being a vampire so much.
Writing the modern vampire turned out to be a lot of fun, and let me focus on their inner journey more than how they’ve adapted to the modern world. After all, how often do you find two vampires arguing about the merits of Brad Paisley versus the Grateful Dead?
What age is your favorite vampire? Leave a comment to win your choice of a print, digital or audio version of one of the Penton Legacy books, Redemption (Aidan’s story); Absolution (Mirren’s story); or Omega (Will’s story, with the beginning of Cage’s story).

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Omega
Penton Vampire Legacy, Book 3
Susannah Sandlin
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: February 5, 2013
ISBN:978-1612183596
ASIN: B0073XV3L2
Number of pages: 328

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Book Description:

The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton's humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal's vicious leader, Will's capture could doom the resistance.

Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will's polished charm and Randa's guarded heart finally give way to the warrior within.

Fans of Susannah Sandlin's Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.

ABSOLUTION
The Penton Legacy, Book 2
By Susannah Sandlin

Release date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Book Description:

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal.

A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side—or dead.

To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.

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REDEMPTION
Book One Penton Legacy series
By Susannah Sandlin

Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death—a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.

Immune to these struggles—at first—is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.
But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland.  Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars
To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.

Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.

Susannah Sandlin’s REDEMPTION is the first in the Penton Legacy series. Book two, ABSOLUTION, will be out September 18, and book three, OMEGA, on December 18.

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About the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

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April 5/6 Live Radio Interview
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