Sophisticated, sexy, surprising J R Ward
Enthusiastic…intriguing and addicting Publishers Weekly
Meet Colleen Gleason whose first book, already with some great reviews and a lot of online buzz, comes out this week. From today’s (relevant) comments and questions, one winner will receive a copy of The Rest Falls Away, so come join in the fun!
Colleen, congratulations and welcome to the Riskies. Tell us about your book.
The Rest Falls Away is the first in a series about Victoria Gardella Grantworth, a young lady who lives in Regency-era London. She’s just about to make her debut into Society when she learns that she comes from a family of vampire hunters, and that she’s been chosen to take up the task.
Victoria has to learn how to fight (all those body appendages she isn’t supposed to know about actually come in handy!), she has to figure out how to sneak out of the house at night to stalk vampires, and, most pressing of all…she has to figure out where on earth she can hide her stake. Her reticule just isn’t big enough, and she certainly can’t go to Almack’s with a stake in hand.
Oh, and she has to catch a husband. Of course.
Victoria’s mother doesn’t know her daughter is a vampire hunter, and nor does the rest of Society know that the vampire queen Lilith has come back to London, minions in tow, in search of a book of enchantments.
I’d like to let your readers who don’t generally like paranormals in on a little secret: I don’t read vampire novels, nor do I particularly like paranormals. Therefore, my book isn’t a gory, horror novel. There aren’t any brooding vampires who turn out to be the heroes. The story is mostly about Victoria, a woman who has the chance to be something more than just another Regency miss. A woman who has choices to make, a duty to respond to, and a freedom that other women of that time would not only have dreamed of–but might even have been frightened of. She’s a superheroine trying to live a balanced life in a time where Society women aren’t supposed to do much other than wed, bed, and breed.
One more thing: since this is the first book in a series, a true series, about Victoria Gardella Grantworth, there isn’t a traditional happily ever after ending. Yet.
Where did the idea for the Gardellas come from? And why did you choose the Regency period for the setting?
I became addicted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer a few years ago. I loved the dual sides of her life, I loved the unexpected–that she didn’t look or act like a superhero, yet she had all of these extra powers and a duty that she had to bear. In Buffy, we’re told that “once in every generation” a woman is chosen to be The Slayer, and that got me to thinking about Buffy’s predecessors. What had it been like for them–as it was so difficult for her, here in the 20th century? And then of course, I know that the Regency is a very popular time period for books, so I merged the two together and voila! The idea was born.
But I didn’t feel that I could fully tell Victoria’s story in one book, so I decided to make it a series. And while in Buffy, she’s the only Slayer, that’s not the case in my series. The mythology and the alternate world is quite different than that of Buffy; so anyone who’s expecting a sort of fan fiction would be disappointed.
What research did you have to do for the books?
I watched a lot of Buffy! (Just kidding. Seriously, I’ve only watched the first three and a half seasons.)
I actually did a lot of research about vampire mythology, because, as I mentioned, I don’t really read vampire books. I was trying to find a mythology that worked for me, but at the same time, I wanted it to be comfortable to a non-paranormal reader. We all know vampires die from a stake to the heart, that they can’t go out in sunshine, that they’re frightened of silver, etc. So I didn’t mess with that part of the legend.
And of course, some of that legend comes from the Regency’s own Byron and Polidori (who, by the way, both make appearances in the second Gardella book Rises the Night.)
I also of course had to make sure I researched the Regency period. I did that by reading a lot of Risky Regency author books :-), along with Jane Austen, and using other non-fiction resources. Oh, and I think I might have watched the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice a few times. Purely for research purposes, of course.
What are the challenges of writing a series about the same set of characters and how do you keep track of all the details?
The biggest challenge is making sure I think ahead about the series, so that I don’t write something that boxes me into a corner for future books. So far, that hasn’t happened, but I’ve had to catch myself a few times from falling into that trap. I keep a binder notebook–a three-incher–with all of my notes and research and character stuff tabbed in the notebook. I keep actual text from the manuscripts in there, from each book, especially in regards to character description and even dialogue. That’s the only way I can keep myself organized! I probably need charts and family trees, but I’m not there yet.
One thing I love about writing a series with the same characters in it is the fact that I have multiple books in which I can spread and develop their story. I’m in no hurry to tell their tales, resolve their happy endings, etc. While the main plot of the book is resolved each time by The End, the character development and arcs are not. They simply can’t be, for they’re too complex.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’m currently writing the third Gardella book, which is due to be released in early 2008. Rises the Night, the second Gardella, will be out in June.
And the Risky question: Is there anything you would have liked to include in The Rest Falls Away that you left out because you or your editor felt it was too risky?
Not in this book. I was a little worried about the ending because it’s not a traditional HEA, but my editor loved it, so I wouldn’t consider that a risky proposition. However, ask me the same question about Rises the Night, and I’ll have a different answer!
Thanks so much, Riskies, for having me! I feel very lucky to be included with such a great, talented group of ladies, several of whom I know personally.
great interview. I am getting more and more curious about the book.
What a fascinating and interesting interview. This intriguing novel has me enthralled. I love the concept and the ideas that you have combined in the story. Best of luck and success.
Your novel is so unique and appealing. I enjoyed this informative interview. Best for 2007 and I look forward to reading and enjoying this novel.
Hi Colleen. Great interview. Your Gardella series sounds wonderful. I love the idea of regency vampire hunters.
I enjoyed reading your interview and learning about the background of this new novel. It is very engaging and I love the idea that Victoria will be a major character in further novels.
Amazing interview which gives me alot of insight into this new book. Victoria will be a real success story as the major character. Love this story.
Your interview about this new novel peaked my interest. The book is a gem. Love to read this one.
Thanks so much! The book was a blast to write–it got to be funny and suspenseful and a little dark.
Wht an original idea. I love this book and the premise. The interview was a delight to read. Best for 2007.
I knew when Colleen first told us the premise of her book that she had a winner on her hands! I am so thrilled for her.
I bought my copy of The Rest Falls Away and I started it last night. So far there is a Buffy-like element of humor that I love. But you know the dark parts are coming!
Colleen, an excellent interview. Thanks!
I have two questions for you: First, how did you pitch your series to your publisher since the individual books may not necessarily have a HEA? And secondly, how did you avoid the blood and gore when your heroine goes vampire hunting?
Great interview! Your novel sounds so intriguing Colleen.
So glad it’s finally in print. Can’t wait to get my copy. All the best.
I’m reading it now and really enjoying it. Plus, it’s just a beautiful because because of the look of cover and the texture of the cover. A winner all around.
I’m normally not much of a paranormal reader (somehow I rarely enjoy paranormals as much as pure romance or fantasy), but I was a huge Buffy fan, so I think I’ll give this one a try!
I like the premise of going back in time for Buffy’s possible ancestors — the earlier vampire hunters. I’ve been a fan of strong females in roles like Buffy and Charmed and to see those type of women in my favorite time period will be fun.
Thanks everyone for coming by!
Keira, to answer your question: I had been working with an agent for a couple of years before we sold The Rest Falls Away, and so she knew I was writing a book I’d told her was “Buffy in Regency England.”
When I finished it and sent it to her, she loved it, and I’m not exactly sure how she pitched it to the editor that bought it–but I’m sure she told her it was a series, but not necessarily that it didn’t have a regular HEA–in the first book.
My editor isn’t strictly a romance editor, however, which I think might have helped in that she can buy non-romance books. But they did decide to position it as a paranormal romance even though, technically, it isn’t.
As for avoiding the blood and gore when Victoria goes vampire hunting…well, I handled it much the same way Joss Whedon did with Buffy: the vamps poof! into dust when they’re staked.
No blood or gore.
There’s only one scene that’s kind of messy, but that’s something that Victoria walks into after the fact.
I hope that answers your questions…let me know if you have any more!
I think Colleen should seize on your idea to go back in time to the former Vampire slayers! The possibilities are endless!
🙂 Already in the works, Diane. You’ll see what I mean in Rises the Night. 😉
This book and series sound great. I have had them on my wishlist for a while now.
I love the covers for them. Did you have any input on the covers?
Thanks for asking about the covers.
I gave my editor a few ideas about what I thought would be interesting –namely, showing a woman from behind holding a stake. But–wow!–did the art department really come up with a fabulous concept that blew my initial thoughts away!
They took my basic idea and made it so much better.
And for the second cover, my editor and I thought it would be nice to have a different character on the front cover, thus, the guy on the front is supposed to be Max (although I think he looks too young, but you get the picture!)
Interview was very interesting and I loved the concept of the Regency era and story. It sounds like riveting reading and I love this new book and the series that will ensue. The cover is totally effective and attractive.
I’m generally not a fan of teenage heroines in anything other than YA, but the idea of a Regency Buffy is such a hoot that I’ve got to read this. I also like that you’ll get to watch Victoria mature over the course of several books, so the arc of her transformation from teen to woman takes place in more than the two week span I’ve encountered in some books (since I’ve had teenagers, my willing suspension of disbelief about how fast they mature doesn’t suspend any more).
This was a great interview 🙂 The series sounds amazing. Are there other historical time periods that you want to set stories in that you haven’t yet? 🙂
It sounds like a fascinating series, Colleen! I love how malleable the Regency period is — it’s a great backdrop for stories ranging from comedy to tragedy, fantasy romps to gritty drama, and, of course, vampires and dragons and wizards and Charlie’s Angels and all sorts of other things! 🙂
My question: how did you decide just where on the humor scale you wanted this to be? And did you always know just what tone you wanted, or was this something that you sort of found out during the writing process?
The first time I saw an old black-and-white Vampire movie as a kid, I got that cool spooky feeling. Your books sound guaranteed to deliver that feeling to grown-up me. I’ve “branched out” from straight historicals this past year, and look forward to reading yours! Best of luck.
Thanks for answering my question Colleen! The covers are amazing…I am sure the books are too!!!
Sorry so late getting back on these questions…I was at my first book signing tonight. 🙂
Anyway, Bonnie, yes there are other time periods I’d like to do this Gardella series in. In fact, they are hinted at in Rises the Night.
And Cara, as for humor…it sort of came out of a combination of the situation and also Victoria’s character–how she perceived things.
I didn’t necessarily start out planning to make it a comedy–and it really isn’t, anymore than Buffy is a comedy or Star Wars is or other adventure stories–but it has parts that are dryly funny because of the situation.
As for the tone, I like to think I captured a feel for the period while making it comfortable for a contemporary reader.
The tone is really just the way my voice came out in the story, and in Victoria’s point of view.
Thanks for the great questions!
Colleen, thanks for answering my questions. Your agent must be a real savvy industry player for finding you th perfect editorial fit.
Colleen writes: the vamps poof into dust when they’re staked.
Ah! Perfect. Blood is the reason why I’ve been reluctant to read paranormal/vampire books before. So, you’re treatment is exactly for squeamish folks like me. And a Regency, too!