"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
No Time Like the Present
Spotlight on Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Richelle Mead is the author of Succubus Blues, the first in an urban fantasy series from Kensington Books about a disgruntled succubus living in Seattle. Her young adult series Vampire Academy will be released in Fall 2007 from Penguin/Razorbill, followed by a second adult urban fantasy series from Kensington.
Richelle has an M.A. in Comparative Religion and a passion for all things wacky and humorous. When not writing and reading voraciously, she can be found online, corrupting the world one blog post at a time.
An Interview with Richelle Mead
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Richelle M.: When I was really young, I wanted to be a writer. I always counted on that being my career someday. I read like crazy and wrote my own stories and “books.” When my teen years and college came around, being an author sorted of faded away as a reality. The idea was always in the back of my mind, though, as were all sorts of stories. A few years ago, I finally realized that’s what I really wanted to do, and I made it happen.
PNR: Being a newly published author, who or what has been the biggest influence on your work? Who or what has been your biggest support?
Richelle M.: My family and friends have been a HUGE support, particularly my husband. The thing with writing is that you tend to spend a lot of time with make-believe people, often at the risk of ignoring the real ones. That’s really hard sometimes, but I’ve been lucky to have the people who care about me be understanding of that process. It’s been great.
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Richelle M.: At the risk of sounding boring, it’s plot and characters. I’ve found a lot of authors who write dazzling, fast, and captivating plots. And some authors create characters you love so much that you would follow them anywhere—even through tedious adventures. But the really amazing authors are those who have both, and I hope I’m meeting that standard! For my own work, I also find snappy dialogue and humor essential. I couldn’t write anything that didn’t have funny moments.
PNR: Congratulations on your March release of SUCCUBUS BLUES from Kensington, your debut novel and the first title in your Georgina Kincaid Series; could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the series?
Richelle M.: The idea came from listening to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE while commuting. I really loved the idea of a moody, paranormal creature, but I wanted it a little lighter and funnier. I’d just been getting into chick lit too, and the two ideas sort of tumbled together into SUCCUBUS BLUES.
The series’ll have an overarching romantic subplot since really, that’s the biggest issue in Georgina’s life. So, we’ll watch that develop throughout the books. Then, each book will have its own supernatural entanglement for her to work out. Alas, I can’t give many more details than that…
PNR: SUCCUBUS BLUES is a romance and a mystery and features an awesome supporting cast of paranormal beings; what are the challenges you face in world-building and blending a number of paranormal abilities and beings?
Richelle M.: Well, the research is hard because there’s no one authoritative source on paranormal beings. So, you have to sort out what myths work and improvise in some places. Plus, there’s always the challenge of making your characters fresh and new. There are so many vampire novels out there, and while mine are only minor characters, I still want to make sure my vampires are unique and fun. And finally, you have to do what you’d do with any character, paranormal or otherwise: make them deep and real so readers will love them.
PNR: Georgina Kincaid, is an edgy, tough, yet vulnerable heroine; could you tell us about the development of her character? What is her appeal for readers?
Richelle M.: Her development was tricky, and I went through a lot of trial and error. I needed her dark and serious, yet funny and light too. Hitting that balance wasn’t easy, and I found myself challenging a lot of the character types you find in this genre. I didn’t want her as flighty as some easy-going, humorous heroines tend to be, but I also didn’t want her as abrasive as so many ‘tough girls’ can be in paranormal fiction. I think I’ve hit the right mix, and I like that a lot of the problems she faces have to be solved with brains, not fists.
PNR: And let’s not forget your sexy hero, Seth Mortensen; could you tell us what inspired his character, and how Georgina’s attraction to him drives the plot?
Richelle M.: I have no idea where Seth came from…he just sort of appeared and felt right. A good story’s all about conflict, and he gives her lots of it. In addition to her problems with being able to touch him, she’s always sort of figuring out how to interact with him. She’s so outgoing and charismatic that it’s odd for her to want someone so quiet. And that drives the plot because it really sets Georgina up to continually fight her own nature and take the hard path, unlike so many other creatures of hell.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Richelle M.: Ah, I’m character driven, absolutely. I think of characters first and what could motivate them. I have to really feel them and know them before I can write, and they’re always the heart of the novel to me—more so than any mystery. So, it then becomes really important that my plot matches the characters in strength. I work hard to outline and really hammer down a plot before I let myself start running. The process is a lot harder for me than creating characters, but the extra work pays off in the end.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Richelle M.: Surprisingly, I think my favorite to write has been Dorian—a fairy king from my Dark Swan series coming out next year. He’s a good guy at heart but can be ruthless in getting what he wants. He definitely plays by his own rules, and he probably has the best dialogue of all my characters. I love writing him.
The most challenging character is any character I’m not interested in but need for some part of the book. I try not to let that happen—because it makes me wonder if I needed the character at all—but when it does, it becomes really hard trying to animate someone I’m not into.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the love/sex scenes?
Richelle M.: Ah, well…the most I’ll say is that I still squirm thinking about some of my relatives reading the sex scenes! Nonetheless, I feel like I’ve hit a stride with them. They were difficult at first, and I held back. Finally, I just realized I had to go ahead and do what was best for the story. Now, I’m very comfortable writing them. I just worry about reaching a point where readers expect increasingly novel and bizarre scenarios, and while I love writing different things, I never want to have sex in these books just for the sake of having sex. It needs to add to the story.
PNR: You have been complimented on your witty humor; does this approach come naturally to you? Do you enjoy using humor in your writing?
Richelle M.: I like to think I’m a witty person in general. I can find a joke in almost everything—sometimes to the offense of others. So, I love putting humor in my books, but it doesn’t always flow out right away. Usually, my writing gets funnier with further revision. I’ll be on my sixth read or something, and suddenly, the perfect joke will hit me for a given scene.
PNR: Paranormal romance in a contemporary setting is experiencing an incredible surge in popularity, what do you feel accounts for the sudden interest in this sub-genre? What is it about this setting that captures your interest?
Richelle M.: For me, I love being able to make my own rules and go off into the fantastic while still working with settings that I love and playing with my own pop culture. I think a lot of readers share this view. Plus, I think a lot of readers read across genres—both fantasy and romance—and so mixing them is a natural step. Finally, there are so many brilliant writers out there in this genre, I sometimes think they could write instruction manuals, and readers would still be captivated!
PNR: What is it about the paranormal genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Richelle M.: As I said, I love fantasy, and it’s so much fun to mix that with my own world. I’d love to try writing in a lot of other genres, though. I’ve always had a passion for ‘pure’ fantasy and sci-fi, and sometimes I think I might like to try mainstream fiction, maybe something a bit more serious. But, anything new is a loooong ways off. I’ve got too many deadlines right now!
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months? Do you have any additional series in the works? Single titles?
Richelle M.: I have two other series in the works. In August, my YA series Vampire Academy comes out. It’s about a teenage dhampir (half-vampire, half-human) training to be a bodyguard and protect vampire royalty. Next year, I have another adult series called Dark Swan coming out. It’s a little darker than the succubus stuff and follows a shaman living in Tucson. She battles fey and spirits who cross into this world but soon has to cross into the Otherworld itself to rescue a teenage girl. And, of course, I have plans for a lot more succubus novels.
PNR: Thank you, Richelle, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Richelle M.: Readers can get more information at my website: http://www.richellemead.com. I also update my blog quite regularly, so book news and wacky musing can be found over there: http:www.richellemead.com/blog. Thanks so much for having me!
Georgina Kincaid Series: Book 1
Succubus (n) - An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men.
Pathetic (adj.) - A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.
When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants. The wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?
But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess get-up complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore—free books, all the white chocolate mochas she can drink, and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.
But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…
True love, freedom, money, knowledge, revenge... Dreams and desires of the ordinary woman, or man. From best friends who discover love to a bank teller who exacts revenge to a succubus who loves art more than men, this collection of nineteen stories celebrates the attainment of all one can dream or desire. Which one do you secretly yearn for?
by Richelle Mead
Coming SoonPenguin USA Razorbill
September 1, 2007
Vampire Academy: Book 1
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires--the ones who never die.
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir; she is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking hearts.
Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's--but their world is fraught with danger both inside and out of the Academy's iron gates. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...
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