Happy Friday, the FIRST Friday of May! I'm incredibly pleased that you've come back to visit for another post. Today, author Danielle Blanchard is in the interview hot seat! There's lots of fun going on today, so be sure to comment and show some love if you would be so kind :)
Ready? Let's start the interview:
Welcome, Danielle! I'm so thankful you have chosen to answer some of my inquiring questions.
Tell me about yourself, and your writing.
Well, I am former mortgage loan coordinator who has been writing a lot longer than I was in the banking industry. After the whole housing collapse of 2008, I decided to focus on my writing while I went back to university shortly after the birth of my daughter in 2009.
I have always loved to write and it pretty much became a full time job after I started to go to school. I had an old contemporary romance sitting around on my computer and decided to upload it to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in April of 2011. It was definitely baptism by fire as I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
One year later, I am the author of several different series, including The Beautiful People, The Vamp Saga and The Plague. I now have a professional editor and a professional cover artist I use for my novels. I still sell my novels as ebooks on Amazon but most of them are also available in paperback and can also be purchased from Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and iTunes/iBookstore as well (except forThe Beautiful People series which is contracted through Amazon’s exclusive Select program).
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
I have been writing since I was thirteen but I didn’t complete my first novel until I was in my early twenties. The Beautiful People was too long to release as a singular novel as it is over one thousand pages so I serialized it and decided to release it that way. There are eight novellas available in the serial plus I have one novel,Beginnings: Book I (The Plague), which is also available. That is dystopian fantasy with a mixture of some horror aspects. Finally, I have two novels: Death Wish andBetter Off Dead along with a prequel novella, Death Lair, which are part of The Vamp Saga. That series is paranormal romance with urban fantasy elements.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
I would say the genres I feel most comfortable in would be paranormal romance with urban fantasy elements, contemporary romance and dystopian-horror.
I love to think outside the box so I could definitely see myself writing a historical romance novel and perhaps a horror novel. I would love to work on a post-apocalyptic series too but I would like to establish and finish the series I have begun before I put the cart ahead of the horse! So far, I have at least another five or six books planned for The Vamp Saga and The Plague is a trilogy series.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
I loosely lay out a plot and then allow the story to take me where it wants to go. Sometimes that is the best way to write because it allows freedom of imagination. I would never want to write something which feels wholly unrealistic or relies heavily on deus ex machina hence the reason why I have a fabulous editor, Felicia Sullivan, who keeps me on my toes and will not allow me to end a novel with a cliffhanger ever!
What is a typical writing day like for you?
A typical writing day for me is to finish at university before coming home and working on any homework I have before I start writing the current novel. Unfortunately, I can’t write more than one novel at a time but as I make myself write a certain amount each day, I can finish a first draft in about six to eight weeks. It is then proofread by me and any mistakes or errors are fixed to the best of my ability before it is sent to my editor. We do rounds of edits so it can be as many as two rounds or as high as four rounds. The important part is to make a novel which is enjoyable for the genre and to have as few errors as possible.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
I am a huge reader and I enjoy reading just as much as I love writing. Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Blake Crouch, J.A. Konrath, Kresley Cole, Stacia Kane, Stacey Jay, Sienna Mynx, J.R. Ward, Anne Rice, Jeaniene Frost, Kealan Patrick Burke and J.A. Saare/Aline Hunter.
My favorite books: The Stand, The Dome, The Andrew Z. Thomas Trilogy, Endurance,Trapped, The Jack Daniels’ series, Immortals After Dark series, The Downside series,Dead on the Delta, Before Sunrise, The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Interview with a Vampire, Lestat, Queen of the Damned, Kin, and The Rhiannon’s Law series.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I would love to have my own fans out there who love and appreciate The Vamp Sagaand/or The Plague series as much as I do. I would also like to release the first novel,Hart Attack, in the new series, The Hart Family Saga, I am working on at the moment. It is yet another paranormal romance with an urban fantasy twist.
I never wanted a Pulitzer but if readers enjoy my work then I am happy. It has always been my dream to write books which not only entertain people but novels which readers look forward to exploring. That is the perfect accomplishment for me.
If I found a publisher then that would be a cherry on top but I do this because I can’t imagine not writing; certainly the money can be nice but it isn’t my motivating factor. I have always wanted to entertain and if I can take one person out of their ordinary life for a few hours then I have done my job.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
It’s probably a bit strange but I would love to read other people’s minds. It would make life so much simpler although I can imagine life would become that much more difficult too unless one moved to a foreign country where they couldn’t understand the language.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
A pet dragon. At least I wouldn’t feel bad about putting him or her outside and know they could defend themselves just fine. I don’t know how crazy my two daughters would be about the idea though!
Tell us a little about your latest release.
Better Off Dead picks up where Death Wish left off. Manon and Mikkel are content in their relationship and leave Las Vegas (where Death Wish took place) for France with a quick side-trip to Switzerland. Once they arrive, it emerges there is a plot against Manon’s life and she must go into hiding with her step-son, Emmerik, a seven hundred year old vampire who is much more than meets the eye.
This novel in the series is above all a love story and what happens when two people who are destined to be together find one another. I won’t give away the plot but there isn’t a cliffhanger ending and it ends on an HFN (happy for now) as opposed to a HEA (happy ever after).
What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
Oh wow…a great bottle of wine. There is nothing better than having a nice glass of white wine in the summertime or red wine in the winter time to relax and enjoy in the evening.
Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
Most definitely. I am actually writing a horror novel where I am co-authoring with a writer I admire greatly and he is such a joy to work with. It is actually great as there are certain characters I get to write and other characters which he gets to write about and we both have found a great rhythm. I thought it would be really hard but it has been such a great experience.
Writers aren’t known to be the most social creatures so it is really cool to be able to share and exchange ideas with someone who is as wacky and crazy as I am!
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
Oh, that’s hard. I suppose it would have to be Alexandre Dumas as I absolutely love his classic novels and I would love to talk about French history with him. Most people who know me pretty well understand I am crazy about France and French culture so to me, it would be the perfect day.
We would find a nice spot across from the Versailles chateau and chat over wine, baguettes and cheese. I would want to know all about his life and how he was inspired to write one of my favorite novels ever published: The Count of Monte Cristo.
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
I am ashamed to admit I don’t have many unless you want to include going to the gym…lol. Seriously, my biggest hobby outside writing is definitely traveling. I absolutely love to go somewhere new but more than that, I like to experience countries as a local instead of merely as a visitor so I am a huge supporter of Couchsurfing. Some of my best friends I have met through this awesome organization and there is nothing which brings people together more than bridging their differences to focus on what we have in common: our humanity.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
Now that is a tough question. Depends on the staff and what kind of film we were choosing. I would love to see Trapped by J.A. Konrath/Jack Kilborn adapted into a film but the ultimate book I would love to see turned into a film is Stirred by J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch. The novel was so well done and put together, I would definitely like to see a movie version of it.
What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
I really wish I could dance but it’s just not in me and I hate that. If I ever became a pseudo celebrity, I think it would be an honor to go on a show like Dancing with the Stars. It would teach me the one skill I completely and utterly lack.
Weather: Hot or cold?
Hot—I reside in Vegas after all! I have also lived in cold places and although they say it is easier to warm up than cool down, that isn’t true at all if the place you are staying doesn’t have an adequate heater.
Favorite place to read?
Salmon with wild rice and asparagus.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Wine (red in the autumn/winter and white in the spring/summer).
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
France. I absolutely LOVE that country.
Fun! I enjoyed your answers, Danielle. :)
Here is some more information about the author!
About The Author
Danielle Blanchard Benson is a world traveler and author of several different series.
Ms. Blanchard Benson is the author of Beginnings: Book I (The Plague), Death Wish: Book I, Better off Dead: Book II and Death Lair: A Novella (all from The Vamp Saga), The Catalyst: Book One (The Pop Stars) and The Beautiful People series.
She is currently working on Love Voodoo: Book I (DeGeneration), Apocalypse 2012: Book II (The Plague), Hart Attack: Book I (The Hart Family Saga), The Making of a Star: Book Two (The Pop Stars) and Queen of the Undead: Book III (The Vamp Saga).
Ms. Blanchard Benson has lived abroad in Stockholm (Sweden), Manchester (England), Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Follow Danielle Blanchard Benson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/dblanchbenz007
Like Danielle Blanchard Benson on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/Author.Danielle.Blanchard.Benson
Email Me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten Things About Danielle
1. Your genre(s)?
My genre will always be romance or some form thereof though I have been known to do contemporary, erotic (not erotica as there is a difference), paranormal, dystopian and even -- grasp! -- horror. I am an artist so I don't limit myself and as a reader you don't have to buy everything I write. I assume most of y'all will cherry-pick anyway.
2. How many books have you completed?
I love serials and series so I have completed one long damn serial, The Beautiful People (which consisted of eight novellas), Death Wish and Better Off Dead in The Vamp Saga (and a novella, Death Lair), Beginnings inThe Plague series, Love Voodoo in the DeGeneration series, The Catalyst in my other serial, The Pop Stars, and Forever 27, a novelette in The 27 Club series.
3. How many books are you working on now?
*Breathe* Okay, I am almost finished writing Queen of the Undead in The Vamp Saga (72k and counting),Hart Attack, the first novel in The Hart Family Saga (another paranormal series), Apocalypse 2012 in The Plague series, The Making of a Star in The Pop Stars serial and Love Game in the DeGeneration series. Plus, I am co-writing a novel with a writer friend of mine, a horror-thriller, Ties That Unbind. I'm tired just thinking about my year...
4. Are you a linear or chunk writer?
I try to work on one project at a time so it makes it easier for me to maintain consistency. That list above, that is the order of the books with the exception of the one I am co-writing. I write that one when I get it back from my co-author, write my part and then send it to him via email and Drop Box.
5. The POV (= Point of View) you’re most partial to?
I'm not. I love first person though it can definitely have its limitations. I usually stick with third person though. The HUGE exception to this rule is The Vamp Saga. The first novel is written in first person but the rest are a mix of first and third person. There are some people out there this irks but what can I say? I love Manon and I *can't* write her in third but I also love some of the other characters and thought they should get a word in too. Hence the bastard project it has become involving both POVs.
6. The themes that keep cropping up in your books?
Female empowerment, strength, change and staying true to one's self. None of these are ever easy but nothing in life worth fighting for ever is so there you have it.
7. How many days a week do you write?
Everyday. There is no such thing as writer's block for me. I began Apocalypse 2012 but my Vamp Saga muse didn't want to let go so I began the third novel. Due to my schedule, I write at least 2k each day and can finish a first draft in anywhere between four and six weeks.
8. What time of day do you get your best writing done?
The evening. I have two children under the age of ten so when they are sleeping or are about to go down, I find myself most creative. Plus, I can have a glass of wine while I write... yes, I sometimes write toasted but I do all my revisions dead sober and I have an editor just to make sure she catches all the mistakes I don't. Plus, I have some great writers who act as beta readers and guinea pigs for those other pesky mistakes neither of us catch. I will upload and re-do a book that isn't perfect countless times. I do it all the time as it is a bit easier with the e-books than print but there is no such thing as "done" for me if mistakes are found.
9. What kind of music do you listen to when you write?
I'm a child of Generation X and I listen to everything but when I write paranormal/horror, I need some hard rocking music. My favorites: Deftones (Diamond Eyes and Best Of albums are classics), Marilyn Manson (Mechanical Animals, and Eat Me, Drink Me are two of my faves but I have every album ever made), Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein...I also listen to a lot of French hip-hop (Sinik, Diam's, MC Solaar) and French music in general (too many artists to count!). And I love some good pop music so Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Madonna are never far away...neither is Mylene Farmer for the matter, my favorite French pop star.
10. What the hell is up with your love affair with France?
Yeah, la Belle France gets mentioned a lot in a myriad of my novels. Better Off Dead and Queen of the Undead take place there as does most of Beginnings and Apocalypse 2012 will be a revisit (yet again). TheDeGeneration series takes place almost entirely in France. My other love affair is French influenced even if it is in the States. Hart Attack takes place in New Orleans.
I just love France, French culture, the language and desperately can't wait until I can live there for a couple of years and write. I have lots of French friends and am partial to the Ile-de-France area of the country (though it is often cold, rainy and overcast). Plus, who wouldn't want their children to be bi-lingual? And did I mention the wine and the cheese and the food? Everything is better with a French accent! ;-)
And now, onto the book! Better Off Dead!
Welcome to Western Europe in 2020.
The International Vampire Council are in the middle of intense negotiations with the Global 6 when a mysterious plot is revealed to end Manon's life and thinly veiled lies Mikkel has told his wife will be exposed once and for all.
Manon is sent into hiding with Emmerik as her protector while a deal can be negotiated to spare her life.
As the clock ticks toward a catastrophic outbreak of new virus which seeks to destroy not only the Lycan population but millions of humans along with it, two ancient vampires return prematurely from their time in the ground, and their mood is less than receptive.
What will happen? Who will live? Who will face betrayal? Who will die? Sometimes, the most devastating secrets are better off dead and buried.
This novel is not YA friendly, contains plenty of snark, supernatural creatures included, but not limited to, vampires and Lycans, not to mention a few choice scenes of sex and death. It is not for the faint of heart.
Excerpt from Better off Dead: Book II (The Vamp Saga)
Zahara walked with the authority that her Presidential position allotted her. She strolled past the two werewolf guards and directly to the crypt. It was the latest in technology, made from impenetrable metal and required an iris scan before the impossibly heavy doors would allow entry. She stared into the iris-scan machine, which worked quietly and efficiently. Moments later, she was inside the dark crypt which was only lit by several well placed low-wattage bulbs meant to mimic the intimacy of candles but without the fire hazard.
She was a beautiful woman, a representation of youth forever with her dusky complexion, long, black hair arranged in a tasteful chignon, yellow-brown eyes, Roman-shaped nose, cheekbones most women would murder their newborn children to possess and a full, kissable mouth.
Dressed to the nines as usual, she wore a vintage, pale pink Chanel suit, matching Yves Saint Laurent Tribute stiletto pumps which made her look every inch the regal and superior position the International Vampire Council had allotted to her. It was currently her title now but however much longer she would hold on to it would eventually fall under The Council’s discretion.
If she had a beating heart, it would have pounded itself right out of her chest. She was so close, yet so far away from her maker. Her breath caught in her throat. Her body, however, continued onward toward her journey to the coffin.
It was exquisite, made from Baccarat crystal and gold. The casket itself weighed a ton but it had not been moved in centuries; not since Her Highness had been transferred from Mikkel’s château just inside the boundaries of Ile-de-France to one of the most exclusive banks in Geneva and one of the few which had a crypt.
She would be safe here, free from harm. Regardless how much it cost the IVC to protect her and to lease this space, it was worth it. The only priority was keeping Her Highness in one piece until the day came when she could rise to power and claim that which belonged to her.
Zahara looked forlornly at the mummy and felt herself grow angrier by the second. That bitch, Manon, and that Judas of a traitor, Mikkel, ought to be dragged down here and made to bleed out over Her Highnesses’ mouthpiece until they were drained of every last drop of their blood. That should allow their royal Queen the ability to become a Day Walker and when it was all said and done, she deserved the ability and power to sit at the top of the food chain, whereas those two murderous traitors did not.
Mikkel thought he was so intelligent and crafty; between his duplicitous behavior and the way he acted like that whore was the best thing since sliced bread. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself; he’d married a blood relative, after all.
So have you, a voice inside her whispered but she bid it to be silent. It was true; as the maker and wife of Kristoff Damgaard, he was a relative, albeit a distant one and they had very little DNA in common.
Mikkel’s sin was that much greater because Manon was closer linked to him than what was legally sanctioned for Council members. If they only knew...but to tell would be the death of her and after two thousand years, she still wasn’t ready to go. She’d never been to ground because she feared death more than anything in the world. She needed to live and to be alive, even if she was technically dead. She needed to see life as it changed, shaped, morphed into something completely different from her childhood, which seemed life-years away. What was she on about? Her childhood was actually life years away and many, many lifetimes upon that.
Zahara knew part of her reasoning for wanting them dead was simple jealousy. Mikkel was a fabulous lover; true, he wasn’t Kristoff, but he was very good and quite skilled in the lovemaking department. Now that he’d taken a wife, she could no longer sleep with him on demand. She would first have to make sure it was copacetic with that cunt, which didn’t sit well with her. Why should she have to ask anyone’s permission to do anything at her age?
There was also the small technicality that Mikkel was repulsed by her. He hated to touch her; to make love to her. Something about her turned his very stomach. She could only deduce it was a sliver of his humanity which still resented her for turning his brother, who in turn made him. Had that not happened, he’d have been dead hundreds of years ago but he would always curse her and blame her for his fate in life as a vampire.
Correction: Day Walker.
He was no longer a mere vampire. He was superior to her in every way, as was his bitch wife, unfortunately. Although she hated to think about this harsh fact, it was true. She couldn’t overpower them and to be honest, she wouldn’t ever attempt to. She had more immediate worries to think about, like her impending suspension from the IVC, along with Geoff, Filipp and Anastasiya. They had only been doing what was just and correct, yet they were still punished by those Frog ass-kissers, Hervé and Irene. Well, one technical Frog…the other was just a wannabe who had spent so many years in France she might as well be French even if she wasn’t ethnically French.
“Madame President, your presence is required,” a male voice announced reverentially.
Zahara turned to see one of the werewolf guards—his name escaped her but his accent was Swiss German, so perhaps it was Hans or Jürgen or one of those hard-to-pronounce Teutonic names—and smiled condescendingly.
“One moment, please. Can you wait outside? I would like to spend a few more moments with my Highness.”
The guard nodded affirmatively and exited the room.
Good doggy, Zahara thought coldly.
She placed her hands on the coffin and although she had no wish to leave marks, she couldn’t help the feeling of overwhelming desire which had swelled into the heart of her body.
“Just a little while longer, my Queen. I will be back for you with their heads on a plate and soon, you will be able to feel the gentle kiss of sunlight on your skin. It is only a matter of time.”
She kissed the coffin, gathered her composure and walked out, followed by the werewolf guards as the double doors closed behind her with a resounding thud.
* * *
Hervé and Irene sat next to one another in a grand and opulent former palace in Geneva which had been transformed into the Global Six government offices.
Although physical opposites—Hervé with his light brown hair, alabaster skin, typical Northern French features and steel blue eyes while Irene possessed classically Scandinavian features despite her skin being the color of rich mocha and her eyes, a deep amber-brown—they were more alike than different in terms of the philosophical and political outlook on vampire life along with the powerful positions they held within the IVC.
Though Zahara was President, most of The Council looked toward Irene and Hervé for moral guidance. The President, currently held under the leadership of the volatile old vampire might as well have been a figurehead position as far as most of the twenty-member Council was concerned.
The G-6 Conference had yet to start but they had purposefully arrived early just to talk shop. Something needed to be done about the rogues in their midst. The IVC was a legitimate and civilized organization; since when did members decide to play vigilantes and try to murder one another over silly blood feuds and supremacy? The behavior had to be brought under control lest the whole organization be dragged down along with it.
“Seriously, what can we do?” Irene asked. “Zahara is President but her behavior...the attempted murder of Mikkel and Manon. We cannot allow her to get away with such madness. Imagine the implications if she goes unpunished.”
Hervé sipped from his Sang Pur. “Believe me, I have thought about this and at the moment, I truly don’t know what to do. She is so out of control. Perhaps we should give some thought to resurrecting Kristoff. I am against it under normal circumstances of course, but even though she is his maker he’s the only one who could truly control her.”
“I think that will lead to nothing but trouble. Kristoff knows too much about Manon’s true heritage. He’s always been a live wire. It is not our place to interfere with a matter that has nothing to do with the IVC.”
“You don’t think Manon’s paternity has anything to do with the IVC? My God...”
“It’s a bit too late to be asking for His help.” Irene stood and grabbed her second Sang Pur. She was particularly thirsty today. “Right or wrong, that truly is Mikkel and Manon’s issue to work out. He must have his reasons for not telling her and who are we to second guess his motives? It’s obvious he loves her very much and they are truly perfect for one another.”
“Good grief, Irene, they are prototypes and we can never forget that. Manon needs to be studied and that is going to be an outright mess. Mengele will begin his testing and Mikkel will blow a gasket. He will hate for her to be in pain. These kinds of emotions—we as vampires were never supposed to feel them. I don’t know which is worse...the fact that they are Day Walkers or their emotions. They are much closer to human beings in an emotional capacity than we are. Hasn’t that ever given you food for thought?”
“Of course it has, Hervé. Their range of emotions is a bit frightening as we are supposed to be so cold and detached. I sometimes miss that aspect of my humanity, but at the same time, it colors the situation and takes away from the big picture. We will be asked to do something very barbaric today and I don’t think either one of them truly has the capacity to stand it. That is not only a problem but an issue. This isn’t about how we feel about humanity...this is merely about shedding the herd and making room for vampire growth...cementing our hold on the mortals and letting them know who’s in charge of whom.”
“True. The big picture is all that matters. Humans and slaughter have been synonymous for decades, centuries. We cannot change this; we can only make it that much more humane. It isn’t like we’re sending anyone to the gas chamber. Regardless, we will hear them out and pretend to contemplate our answer. It is never a good idea to show our hand right away. We can never allow letting our guard down around the humans.”
“Agreed,” Irene mused softly, “but in the meantime, we will gauge their behavior. If Geoff, Anastasiya, Filipp and Zahara can control themselves and show an air of leadership, we shan’t punish them too harshly. After all, they were only doing what all of us were thinking but were too chickenshit to act upon due to our own fears.”
“’Tis true but I would have never pulled a stunt like that. I have known from the beginning they were both stronger than we could ever be. I treasure my life as much as you treasure yours. I have no wish to meet my maker at this point in my life.”
Irene turned toward Hervé and laughed out loud. “Neither do I, my love. Neither do I.”
Thank you for stopping by! Danielle, I wish you much success in you writing career and hope for many sales.
(for those that are read series in order buffs, be warned: This is book number 2 in a series. The first is called DEATH WISH, and it is available on all the sites that I posted the Better Off Dead book to.)
Until next time,