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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Interview with C.J. Ellisson about her Vampire Vacation Inn Series

I'm thrilled to be talking with C.J. Ellisson about her Vampire Vacation Inn Series. She gave some very interesting answers. Her books sound awesome!  

CONTEST: C.J. will be giving away a digital copy of each of the two books in her Vampire Vacation Inn Series to two lucky commenters. Please leave an email address or way to contact you. Contest ends Saturday midnight EDT.

Welcome, C.J.! Your Vampire Vacation Inn Series is set in Alaska. Why did you select that particular location?

I’d often wondered why no one set a vampire book there. It seemed logical to me that a creature who needs to avoid the sun would make it’s why to a location with very little sun to stay awake longer (obviously, they wouldn’t be there in the long summer months!).

Only when I started posting my work public on a writing site for review did someone tell me about a comic book series called 30 Days of Night, which was later turned into a horror movie. Turns out the only thing it shares in common with my book is the location, which was certainly a relief!

Does your inn have a slow season during the Alaskan summer when daylight lasts extremely long?

It’s closed to guests during the summer, although in book three (due out this winter) the owners will opt to open it up to werewolves and other supernatural critters. Most of the resident vampires will not be in attendance, they move to a private island off the southern coast of Argentina, where the season is opposite in the southern hemisphere and the nights are nineteen hours long.

The book will be split, with multiple POVs between two locations—half of the story told by the seethe members who stayed in Alaska who have one adventure, and the other half told by the members in Argentina.

That sounds really interesting! What sorts of guests stay at the inn besides vampires? Are they all paranormal or does Vivian have human guests she must keep separate from her more unusual clients?

The main guests are all supernatural. The premise is Vivian has owned several hotels like this over two centuries and the paranormal community knows them well. A lot of the guests bring humans with them, so the inn caters to everyone’s needs (as any good resort would!).

Considering your vampires, are they all the same ‘species’ or do they vary (some sparkle in sunlight, some don’t, etc.)? How do your older vamps differ from younger ones?

Mine all have some of the same basic weakness and ways to be killed – sunlight, silver, fire, beheading and other such gruesome means. But each of the masters may have a varying talent their fellow undead doesn’t have. Some can shape-shift, turn to mist and fly, a rare few can cast detailed illusions, others have the ability to move things with their mind.

The older masters have collected power over the decades, through drinking the blood of their enemies. The younger ones are tied to the masters of their seethe through a monthly blood exchange, in which the younger one gains some strength and the older one is assured of their loyalty through the blood bond.

You created and used two covers for the first book in the series, Vampire Vacation. I like each for different reasons. Do you have a preference?

I felt the first cover with the hotel on it and all the snow really captured the feel of the book. But as I slowly came to realize, a book cover is more like a calling card. It just needs to catch the eye of the buyer and entice them to pick it up, or click on the title, and read the product description. If the product description doesn’t interest them they won’t bother to click on reviews and see people’s thoughts – if they’re in a book store, they wouldn’t be compelled to buy it if the jacket copy didn’t pull them in.

As far as preference… hmmm… months ago I would have said the original darker version, hands down. But once sales started picking up with the new brightly colored cover there was no looking back! I don’t think the new covers really represent the overall feel of the book, but when I think about it, neither do the Sookie Stackhouse ones. And yet they’re very distinctive and the publishers kept the concept with the artistic style throughout the whole series.

Blurb, Vampire Vacation:
Meet Vivian. She’s a 580-year-old vampire who exudes sex, has a talent for drama, and is passionate about two things: her human husband, Rafe, and their resort for the undead. Her ability to project physical illusions has created the perfect vacation spot—a dark, isolated Alaskan hideaway where visitors can have their wildest fantasies come true.
 
Vivian knows the best performance requires perfect timing, but the powerful vamp is put to the test when she discovers a corpse in a locked guestroom minutes before the next arrivals. Always cool-headed, Rafe hides the body, convinced he and Vivian can find the culprit without disturbing their guests.
 
Juggling the increasingly outrageous demands of their customers while tracking a killer isn’t easy. Will their poking and prodding give them the answers they need, or will it uncover secrets Vivian would kill to protect?

Blurb, The Hunt:
Vivian thinks she can control every aspect of a deadly game with her usual manipulations… but what if she can’t?

Seven vampires and seven werewolves pay to hunt a supernatural criminal across the cold, vast grounds of an Alaskan resort. The one to catch her, and live through the encounter, will increase their power by feasting on hers.

The tiny vampire they track is more than she appears, however. To escape a fate of ten years in silver chains, she'll do anything to survive the weeklong excursion. This time, the darkness holds more than just the stinging bite of the Arctic—it holds death.

Journey along, in this next installment of The V V Inn series, for a wild ride as the tale is told through the eyes of all her new seethe members.


Author Bio:
C.J. Ellisson writes erotica and urban fantasy. Her vampire series, The V V Inn, mixes a heavy dose of erotic elements with suspense, action, a little bit of mystery and some light humor. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a fluffy black cat who makes her sneeze. To learn more about C.J.'s books (where you can read half of the novels for free), please visit her website at www.cjellisson.com


Excerpt from Vampire Vacation:
Chapter One

I open the door to find a body at my feet. The rich smell of blood causes my canines to lengthen. Reaching out in the darkness, I flip on the switches. Light comes on across the room, illuminating the dead guy lying face down in front of me. The whole scene makes me wish I’d stayed in bed today, curled up next to my warm husband.

“Crap, look at the rug.”

Okay, out loud that sounds rather dispassionate. Whoever this poor stiff is, he’s dead. I’m the one left with a huge mess on my hands and guests arriving within the hour. Good thing I caught this before one of the maids did. Their screams from the last time were a devil to calm down.

Reaching out with my mind, I connect with my husband in a soft electrical tingle of sensation. Rafe? There’s a dead guy in suite six. We’ve got to move fast before the next group arrives.

Rafe’s rugged face appears in my head. My extended consciousness lets me see the room around him as well as hear his thoughts. He’s leaning against the sink in our private kitchen, wearing a robe, a steaming mug of coffee in his hand.

Does it look like an accidental overfeeding? His mental voice sounds incredulous. We haven’t had one of those in years.

No, there’s way too much blood. Can you come up here and help me?

Sure, Dria. I’m fresh out of the shower—give me a couple minutes.

I step over the body and into the room, closing the door behind me with a soft snick of the catch. I’d rather not have the guests get a whiff of this mess. Some of them would probably think we did it on purpose for “ambience”. But others might not.

Walking over to the bench at the end of the bed, I sit then look around the suite. A king-size bed, neatly made, gleaming dark furniture and lush brocade fabrics greet me. Nothing but the corpse looks out of place. The stark white face turned toward me doesn’t look familiar. I’m sure he isn’t a mate of one of the vampire masters staying here; I make it a point to meet all of them when they arrive.

Examining his brown hair and twenty-something face, I don’t recognize him as a vampire servant either. Not many have come to stay with the current crop of undead we’ve got right now. Who else?

The blood arouses my basic vampire needs while confusing my train of thought. I concentrate, trying to clear my head. Think, dammit, think!

Could he be a companion? A lot of masters bring “food” with them. Being a full-service hotel we can provide all the needs of our guests, but some still insist on BYOB.

His oxford shirt and ragged jeans rule him out as an employee. Unless he’s an off-duty new hire I’m unaware of.

Rafe, have we hired anyone new?

Not in at least a month. You’ve met everyone. My husband hesitates for a moment. Send me his face and I’ll let you know if he looks familiar.

I concentrate to project the image from my mind to Rafe’s. My strong ability enables me to share the entire experience with him if I wish. I could send the metallic smell filling the air, the sticky congealing blood pooled about the victim’s head, or the dark essence of death that lingers after a vicious kill, but choose to limit it only to the image.

No, I don’t recognize him either, Rafe confirms. Damn, Tommy’s flagging me down. Give me a minute and I’ll be right up.

Hurry, please. We’ve got guests coming in, I glance down at my ever-present watch, forty-five minutes!

Excerpt from The Hunt:
Chapter One

As I lie here, curled aroundmy husband’s firm body, I begin to wonder: Am I crazy? What in the hell made me think organizing a hunt, here at our hotel, would be a good idea? Over a dozen supernatural predators are flying in from all over the world; ones who’ve paid an exorbitant price for the privilege of removing their everyday masks and killing one of their own kind. I must be crazy.

I have a feeling this week is going to turn out to be more than any of us bargained for. Self-doubt plagues me as I rise from the warmth of the bed and stroll, naked, to my closet. The glow of the artificial landscape lighting beams in through the windows. The changing gradient indicates it's probably midday here above the Arctic Circle.

Part of my nervous edge could be associated with learning to trust the new members of our seethe. While the vampires appear upfront and honest—as much as a pack of bloodsuckers can be—my old habits of distrust have served me well over the years.

The two months since November’s tracking and killing of Ivan have been a trial for me, this upcoming hunt week has been a long time in the planning, but I don’t have to like it. Having anyone from the Tribunal of Ancients on our property sucks, especially when I have no idea who they’re sending.

Grabbing the clothes I set out in the wee hours of the morning, I head to the shower in our private suite.

The hot water cascading over me fills my mind with horrible memories of my own first hunt. My seethe wore cloth-lined, silver skullcaps to thwart my unique vamp-to-vamp mind-control abilities. They orchestrated the hunt to rid themselves of their “pet” manipulator. What started for the group as demented undead fun, ended with a young, redheaded vampire surprising them all with her ability to kill ruthlessly and without remorse.

The blood of my seethe-mates once covered my body, as the water does now. Later, I stacked their headless corpses in our old farmhouse before setting the structure on fire. Killing that sick group was the least I could do to avenge the murders of my first and second husbands. Considering all I’d been through under their rule for twenty-six years, I let the bastards off easy. Thankfully, even a semi-mortal vampire can only die once—if it’s done right.

The sound of Rafe stirring in the next room pulls me out of my dark thoughts and tells me he’s getting up as well.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” I call out over the noise of the water. “Get enough rest?”

“You mean after you ravaged me for hours? Oh yeah, I slept pretty damn sound.”

 
~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGEND ONE, to be available late autumn.
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5 comments:

C.J. Ellisson said...

Thanks for hosting me today,Marsha! I'll tweet and update statuses throughout the day -- hopefully you'll get some commenters for the contest.

Wishing you well with your recent and upcoming releases!

Nickie Asher said...

Awesome interview, C.J. These books are fun reads.

Louisa Bacio said...

C.J. -- I haven't read any of your books, but you've definitely got my attention. Thanks for featuring her Marsha!

louisa bacio @ yahoo(dot)com

Kelly Whitley said...

Very interesting. I have the books, so don't put me in the drawing :)
Can hardly wait for the next release this winter!
Keep 'em coming!
Kelly

Marsha A. Moore said...

Glad to have you here C.J.! Thanks lots to those who commented.

The lucky winner is Louisa! Congrats!