Interview With Rosemary A Johns!
‘Sqwee! Fan Girl Moment’
Q. What books have most influenced your life?
A. I’m a fantasy fanatic. Seriously. Combine the fantasy with our world in particular – the paranormal beneath the surface – and I’m sold. There’s something about the thin line between humanity and the monsters. Or what being human even means. This is at the heart of the Rebel Vampires series. When I was eight I injured my leg. Badly enough to be on crutches for six months. This forced me into an already vivid inward world. At that time my parents had a large collection of fantasy and science fiction books by British authors. I devoured them. They transported me to different worlds. But most importantly taught me how those worlds could challenge our own. That’s a lesson which has never left me. When I was fourteen, I submitted my first short story – a comedy science fiction. The magazine didn’t know I was a kid. It was accepted. That was the start of my writing career. So although I’ve written in a host of genres – fantasy and science fiction returns me to where it all began.
Q. How do you develop your plots and characters?
A. Me? I’m a plotter. I plot very carefully. And far in advance. I know the end of a book (exclusive here – the end of the series), before I even start writing. My books are rich, deep and – I hope – more satisfying for it. My characters scream to be born. They’re only chosen when they’re ready. I know their favorite music, clothes and pasts – even if those elements are never used in the books themselves. If they’re real to the writer, they’ll be real to the reader too. I fall in love with certain characters. I put them deliberately through the very worst life can throw because that’s what makes for a thrilling read. And redemption? Doesn’t come cheap. But I live it alongside my own characters. I guess it’s like method acting. Only method writing.
Q. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the storyline within your book?
A. Blood Shackles is the second book in the Rebel Vampire series. The first book in the series – Blood Dragons – was released in August.
Rebel Vampires is set in the supernatural world of Blood Life, where vampires are both predator and prey. In a secret paranormal London, society is divided between First Lifers (humans) and Blood Lifers (vampires). I love vampires. But I wanted to write a vampire book for adults. Where they were not simply the hunters but also the hunted. They’ve always hidden in the shadows. But their whole species – and even the world – is threatened when at last they’re dragged into the light.
The idea for Blood Dragons was sparked by my autistic son. He has a photographic memory. Light (the Blood Lifer in both books) has a talent for remembering things too. I wondered what it would be like to live through the centuries witnessing glorious wonders and devastating horrors. And remembering everything with the clarity of a photograph.
Blood Dragons is out now (e-book and paperback).
There are three people in this affair…and two of them aren’t human. A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.
In my latest book – Blood Shackles – the idea was sparked by freedom. Or the loss of it. Human trafficking and slavery. Here in England the increase in human slavery (of both women and men), has been startling. But I wanted to twist it. What would happen if it was the Blood Lifers, who could be trafficked? Like Taken with vampires. Light is forced to write a slave journal for his new Mistress: but can a slave truly love his Mistress? Or a Mistress their slave? What different types of freedom are there? And can Light free his family, his whole species – even himself – from their chains?
WELCOME TO THE BLOOD CLUB – WHERE THE PREDATORS… BECOME THE PREY.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A. I said above that I method write. In Blood Shackles I needed to get into the mind of a slave. But also how that slave could be broken. And then put back together again… That was the hardest thing.
I was Sir. I was Master. And I was Light – defiant and then broken. Although writing Light unleashed was glorious…
I want my readers to experience every second with their breath held… these are dark romances with a thriller edge. I wrote it as a slave journal because it needed to be immediate and direct. And for Light to be able to play games… Reliable narrator? Yeah, as Light would say, ‘I should cocoa.’
‘So, dear Reader (because I know you’re reading this, there’s no use pretending otherwise), did you reckon giving me this poncey journal – all softness and stink of leather – would make me spill my Soul? You already have my body. You think you have my mind.
My thoughts, however..? They’re my own.
Write in it every day, you’d ordered, with that little smile.
What do you think this is: Bridget Jones’s Diary?’
Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
A. Light is chosen by the slaver’s daughter, Grayse, like a mutt picked up in a pet shop. She keeps him in her apartment in Primrose Hill. He persuades her to allow him one night only of freedom. One night to show her the other face of London: ‘the dark and the glory’.
My dad is a Londoner. I love London. All sides of it. In Rebel Vampires I was excited to write about London as a character in itself. And I wanted to explore it, as Light does. So there’s a scene where Grayse is introduced to Peckham and for the first time, they draw closer together. As man and woman, rather than Mistress and slave.
‘We jumped out on a random street, which turned out to be Rye Lane. It didn’t matter where we were: it simply needed to be different. New to you. Fizzing with the night-time Blood Lifer energy.
If I was only getting one shot, then I needed to make sure it was high dose.
I had a plan (half-arsed but it was all I had), to drag you into the real world of the twenty-first century.
Only when you connected with your humanity and the truth of the dirty, dark but beautiful world on your doorstep, would you understand us Blood Lifers – or be fagged about what was happening to us on a global stage.
I’ve spent, however, my First and Blood Life copping it – once quite literally – because I try to play the hero.
I know you can’t figure it: seeing a Blood Lifer in that role. But I have business to sort. I’ve made promises. And I’m enough…recovered to know I will find a way to keep them.
So the plan was to open your peepers. And yeah, I definitely managed that.
You turned round on the spot, bewildered.
I grabbed you by the waist and spun you, as I scented the bus fumes, fresh fish, chicken and vegetables in a kaleidoscope of aromas. A police car – all blues and twos – blared past. A streak of flashing neon in the black. Music boomed from behind shuttered shops. Songs in so many different languages and styles, they melded into one: a babble of noise. Rubbish spilled in stinking piles in the shops’ doorways: the ugliness and the grime, which we all dirty ourselves in when we step out into the world.
Blokes in white shirts swaggered down the street, as if they personally owned it. They catcalled to birds, who wore such an array of vibrant costumes, it reminded me of Carnaby Street in the 1960s.
My heart soared, and I let it – just for that second.’
Q. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
A. I learned how far people will go to save their family. And that family can be made – it’s our choice. In fact Blood Shackles made me question every aspect of our lives, which we take for granted. Freedom ‘means so little, until you lose it’. But also what courage is – to be terrified but to be able to face those fears. Your very worst demons. And overcome them for the sake of others. Light has always been a loner and a rebel but in this book he realizes what family can mean. And what he’ll sacrifice to save it.I also learned that there are already things lurking in the shadows of our world, which vampires would rightly fear. What is true darkness? In Blood Shackles it lies not with the vampires but within the humans. And not with obvious cruelty but with a drive for profit. Cold numbers on a page. Surely we can all see that around us? And fear it.
Q. What are your future project(s)?
A. Next year I have Blood Renegades coming out in spring. It’s the third book in the Rebel Vampires series.
Light has only two weeks to give his witness to a Blood Life inquiry, on trial for his life, before he’s burnt at the stake – because who wants to hear the truth? There will be ancient Long-liveds, conspiracies and of course dark romance. There may even be revolution…
I will also start work on another fantasy series. That’s as far as I can say just now…but it will, of course, have a dark romance and rebel at its heart. And a thriller edge.
Q. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
A. If I couldn’t be an author, I’d still be writing… But just for me. Career wise? Currently, I care for my son. But…if this is a magical fairy tale land we’re in anyway… I love kids and teaching. I’ve tutored before and my dad was a teacher. In fact I grew up in the grounds of an all-boys boarding school in Oxford where he taught. So I’d like to teach history. I have a BA and Mst from Oxford in history. It’s one of the reasons I love vampires so much – I can play with any time period I like. Light was elected into Blood Life as a Victorian, so that gives me 150 years… Ruby (Light’s Blood Lifer lover in Blood Dragons), was elected as an Elizabethan, which is my specialist period – and my favorite. Another bonus? I love researching my books.
‘Ruby and I swaggered through the shadowed streets, towards the promenade and Palace Pier – her in crimson silk, me in military Great Coat – two creatures from another world and time, unnoticed by these petty First Lifers because we weren’t painted in the colours of their tribe. We twirled each other round, dancing in the carnage and the flames.’
Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
A. I love connecting with readers. I love reading their reviews and knowing what’s moved or thrilled them. Sometimes readers Facebook their favorite lines – the ones, which made them laugh or cry. I also have free Questions For Book Clubs. Please do share these with your physical or virtual book clubs; I do like a good discussion!
You can follow my blog and see my website.
I hold contests for readers each month and you’ll find plenty of other free stuff, reviews and features.
Subscribe to my VIP Newsletter with news of releases, promotions and my free short story “All the Tin Soldiers”.
I’m also a Goodreads Author:
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to the Fantasy Rebel Fans?
A. I appreciate all my readers! I don’t write for myself. Although I’d always write – the worlds in my head are too raucous not to – once it’s down on the page it belongs to the readers. I love to know readers’ views in their reviews – which is why I always say reviews are better than chocolate (and I really love chocolate!). Let the world know your thoughts on Amazon and Goodreads. Fantasy Rebel also have a VIP Advanced Reader List for their digital books. If you’d like to be considered just email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blood Shackles is available for pre-order and is out on the 1st November. Blood Renegades is out spring 2017. Next year I’ll be working on a new fantasy series and possibly another work in the Rebel Vampires world as well. I live in England – but for writing or book groups I may be able to join you via Skype. Just drop me an email. In fact the same goes for questions…or random thoughts. Thanks and enjoy your escape into Blood Life!