Q: Which book in the series is your favorite? If you could keep a Breed Warrior for yourself, who would you pick?
A: I can’t choose! Actually, I consciously try not to play favorites with my characters or my books. From a writer's standpoint, each character and story presents its own unique challenges and delights. I'm deeply curious about all of my characters, and I love peeling away their layers to see what's underneath their skin, or secreted deep within their hearts. If I lavish my attention (or my adoration) too exclusively on one or two characters out of a group, I might miss something truly special about another. Naturally, since each of my books centers on the romance taking place between a featured couple, my focus is primarily on them when I'm writing their story. But from a more global, series level, my hope is that all of the main characters of the series are interesting in their own rights and capable of becoming reader favorites. I'm not sure I could accomplish that if I allow myself to fixate creatively on one or two scene-stealing "stars".
Q: What made you decide your vampires should be descended from aliens rather than sticking with the "norm" of undead, coffins, holy water, etc?
A: The idea for the Breed came out of my long-time fascination with vampires--the only "monster" that ever truly frightened me as a kid. Later on, once I was old enough to understand that vampires were also incredibly seductive (thank you, Anne Rice!) I developed a whole new fascination with the fanged creatures of the night. But it always kind of creeped me out that vampires were essentially walking corpses. All that cold, pasty white skin and no heartbeat? Not exactly a turn-on. And let's not forget the prospect of sleeping in a coffin or under six-plus feet of raw topsoil every day from now to eternity. As much as I loved all the neck biting and lethal, preternatural charm of Lestat and Company, when it came to romantic fantasy, traditional vampirism left a bit to be desired.
I wanted to put my own spin on the mythology with the Midnight Breed series--for starters, get rid of the "undead" and "damned" parts of the traditional folklore. My husband actually suggested aliens as the forefathers of the Breed. He meant it as a joke, but I really liked the idea of a science fiction type origin for my vampires and it was that kernel of an idea that really made my entire story world come together in my mind. So I started with a violent, otherworldly species that lived on blood, had immense physical and psychic power, whose skin was hypersensitive to ultraviolet light, and I thought, what if a small group of those alien conquerors crash-landed on Earth thousands of years ago? What if they bred with uniquely gifted human women—women with their own special powers and rare DNA traits? Those matings resulted in the first generation of a hybrid human/alien species, which I’ve termed the Breed. I think of my vampire spin as something along the lines of Predator meets Blade.
Q: When you create side characters (for example Andreas Reichen), do you know immediately that they will have their own book? Or do they "speak" to you, demanding their own story later on?
A: It depends on the character, I think. With German Darkhaven leader Andreas Reichen, I hadn’t intended him to be such an integral part of the series, but as I began fleshing him out and creating his history, he quickly became too interesting for me to let go. I had hoped to weave him into the series as a featured hero at some point, and I began making plans for his story not long after his initial appearance in MIDNIGHT AWAKENING (Book 3). That said, however, it’s never a given that just because a writer plans a book for a secondary character that it actually comes to fruition. Without reader support of a series and publisher commitment, nothing is certain. It’s a luxury for a writer to be able to create a secondary character with the confidence that if they prove intriguing, there is likely room for them to have their own book down the line.
This wasn’t something I learned until a few years ago, when I was writing medieval romances under the name Tina St. John. Back then, I’d planned a four-book series of paranormal medievals, fully intending that the final book would feature the bad-boy villain of the whole story arc. Unfortunately, I was only contracted for three books. My publisher at that time declined to renew me for the last one and now that storyline remains unfinished. It’s only because of the amazing reader response to the Midnight Breed series that I have been able to expand the story landscape—from the original contract for three books to a current total of ten—and to bring in more characters along the way. Having been at the bottom of what is termed “the midlist” in publishing, I am fully aware and appreciative of how lucky I am now that I can take my imagination pretty much anywhere it wants to roam. So, thank you, readers!!
Q: Going with #2, do you plan out the whole series, or just go along with whatever sounds good. There are so many intricate threads woven throughout the series, it's hard to imagine you not planning it out beforehand.
A: I’m a plotter by nature, so I try to map out a story—or, in this case, the entire series—as much as I can upfront. Now, when I pitched KISS OF MIDNIGHT (Book 1) to my agent in the summer of 2005, it was as a standalone novel. She liked it so much, she asked me to expand it out to three books before she began to shop it around to the various publishing houses. My first contract was for those three initial books, so in my mind, I was writing a trilogy. But something wonderful happened after I turned in KISS OF CRIMSON (Book 2). My publisher wanted to sign me up for another three books, bringing the series to six total!
I was ecstatic, but the plotter in me realized I had to do some more thinking about how to keep the overarching plot and cast of characters compelling enough to carry those additional books. So, at the end of MIDNIGHT AWAKENING (Book 3) I worked in a twist that opened up a whole new set of problems—much bigger, far-reaching problems—for the Order. As things progressed, I decided to take a leap of faith that the series might continue past six books. I sketched out storylines for a total of ten books, which will culminate with the resolution of the current overarching plot . . . although that’s not to say it’s the end of the series entirely. I’m still having a blast playing in the Midnight Breed world, and as long as readers are enjoying the ride too, I hope to stay here for a while longer.
Q: Now with the Breed, why no female vamps? Why go with Breedmates?
A:The idea of an all-male Breed population was one of those things that just *was* as I began developing the series, and then, from a storytelling perspective, I needed to understand why. Referring back to the alien origins of the Breed, remember that the race began with male otherworlders (Ancients, as they’re referred to in the series) being stranded on Earth and reproducing with specially gifted human women. Those alien genes were dominant and resulted in solely male offspring bearing vampire-like strengths and weaknesses, such as UV-hypersensitivity, reliance on blood for sustenance, etc. The Breed—the generations of hybrid offspring spawned from the Ancients—have their Breedmate mothers to thank for their unique ESP abilities, but also for their humanity, and for their capacity to love and form familial and community bonds. There is a power balance to the relationship between the Breed and their Breedmates, a sort of yin-and-yang that appeals to me personally.
Q: How many books will be in the Breed series? And after that is there still a possibility for more? or do you see that being a natural end in the series in your eyes?
A: As covered in a previous reply, right now the series is contracted for a total of ten books. Several things will come to a climax and resolution by the time we get to that tenth book, but there will also be new questions raised and lots of intriguing story possibilities that I would love to explore in future Midnight Breed books. I’m really enjoying writing this series, and I’m excited about where I’d like to take it.
Q: I'd ask her if her books could be either made into a movie or TV series, which would she prefer?
A: Are you kidding? Either one would be incredible! Ideally, though, I think the series would be best suited for a TV series, just based on the number of books and the complexities of the storylines and settings. And I’d have to take that one step further and say cable TV over network, because of the blood-drinking and strong sexual content of the books. It would be a pity to cut out any of the vampy steam, wouldn’t it?
Q: Did you have your breedmate tattoo done yet?
A: LOL! I don’t have any tattoos, but if I were to get one, it would definitely have to be a Breedmate mark. Every time I see a reader photo of their Breedmate tattoo, it makes me want to run out and get one of my own. Maybe I’ll get mine done in celebration of the release of Book 10 in the series? Of course, the question then becomes, where to place the tattoo . . . ?
Q: I found out that you write medieval historicals under the name Tina St.John, The last was published in ’07-’08. Has your focus been on the Breed series, or will we see more of the historicals soon?
A: My final historical romance came out December 2005. While I enjoyed writing medieval romances, I was also dying to write something with more edge. You can see that particularly in the final three books I wrote under the name Tina St. John, which each contained strong paranormal elements (shapeshifters and dark magic). Although history fascinates me, personally I’ve always been into gritty, contemporary action-y types of entertainment, whether we’re talking books or movies. I’m having an absolute blast with my writing now, and my creativity has surged as a result. I have more story ideas than I will ever find the time to write!
Q: Do you have an essential item you MUST have when you sit down to write? (pen, music, food, etc…) Do you write w/paper & pen or directly onto the computer?
A: At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I have to say that my one essential item for writing is the software application that my computer genius husband created for me. It’s called WriteWay (www.WriteWayPro.com) and I have written all of the Midnight Breed books with this program. It’s basically my do-it-all app, from maintaining my series bible and individual book notes, to housing character profiles, plot ideas and actual composition . . . you name it. And WriteWay even charts my daily word/page counts, so I can stay on track with delivery deadlines and daily productivity goals. This product is the realization of literally pages of my writerly wish list items, all rolled into one application. Have I mentioned my husband is a genius?
Please tell use 5 things about yourself, that not everyone knows?
1. I’m a Leo (the level-headed, contemplative type, not the attention-grabbing extrovert type)
2. I’m a cat-person who married a dog-person (and successfully converted him!)
3. I much prefer chocolate over flowers
4. I was a majorette (baton twirler) all through high school, and I can probably still twirl a fire baton without scorching anything vital
5. I dropped out of college after one year and I have no formal education in writing (I mention this because I think it’s important to remind people that dreams have no limits. Defy expectations, and don’t be afraid to live the life you imagine. Don’t let excuses become obstacles.)
Q: If you had the chance to live in another time & place, where would it be? (year/Country) and why?
A: Wow, tough question! I’ve always been a firm believer in living for the here and now, and I have to say that politics and climate concerns aside, things are pretty damned interesting right where we are. I definitely wouldn’t want to be stuck for any length of time in the pre-plumbing/electricity past, but it would be fun to check in and have a conversation with some of my ancestors (especially John Leland, Royal Antiquary to King Henry VIII, or Mayflower passenger William Bradford). For contrast, flashing forward from 2010, I’d be curious to know if and when humankind will ever see true peace and brotherhood across all borders and racial/religious lines. How long do you think that might take? Until then, I suppose I’ll have to be content to live in hope right here in the present.
Lara's next book TAKEN BY MIDNIGHT releases on September 28th. You can find out more about her books and the Breed series at Lara's official website.
Contest ends on May 10th, open to U.S. residents only.