Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway: Kindling Flames series by Julie Wetzel

Description: 13+

Fresh from college and with no real work experience, Victoria Westernly considers herself lucky to land the coveted position of personal assistant to Darien Ritter, the CEO and owner of a multibillion-dollar company. His busy schedule and eccentric ways are enough to keep her on her toes. But, all is not what it seems when she discovers the handsome man employing her just happens to be the most powerful vampire in the area.

This book is fantastic. The characters behave realistically. The writing is entertaining. The story will draw you in so that you might look up and realize it's 2 AM and you still can't put the book down.
Julie is going to be one of the future's favorite authors, and I'm her biggest fan. - Goodreads

When Vicky becomes the target of a serial arsonist plaguing the city, Darien calls on the supernatural community to help. Pulling the creatures of the night together to cooperate on any project is troublesome at the best of times. The fact that the one responsible for the city’s woes is a being of fire and magic leads the reluctant groups to a truce that makes Vicky start to think that her job might be a bit more than one normal human can handle.

Thank you, Mrs. Julie Wetzel 

What do you think about the changes of the vampires’ image in our day literature and how your vampires are?
To be brutally honest, I’m kind of disappointed in the way vampires have been portrayed in literature in the last few years. In some cases they’ve been watered down to laughable proportions, but I don’t want to go into details about what I dislike. It would be rude to tear into someone else’s world and point out where their imagination went wrong. It’s their world and they have the right to portray their mythical beings as they chose. 

For me, I like old school vampire fiction. Ones that have a strong main lead. Maybe someone that’s a bit dark and brooding. Someone that understands that they are a blood thirsty monster and has accepted that fact. It’s ok if they don’t like it, truthfully, it makes the character more real if they dislike their need to feed off others. But if they get too self-loathing, it kills the whole enjoyment of the book. And it doesn’t matter if the vampire is tall, dark, and handsome, or if they are true monsters. A good vampire will carry the story along. I loved both Dracula and the Vampire Hunter D. Two very different portrayals of vampires, but both are strong stories. 

Most of my vampires fall into the traditional group. They’ve learned to live as vampires and that suits them fine. Some of them even enjoy it. The acceptation to their rule is Darien Ritter. He would best be described as a vampire in denial. After a tragic accident, Darien shunned his life as a vampire and buried himself in the human world. He still has to play by the rules that govern his kind, but he limits himself to feeding mainly on drawn blood and not using the awesome power he’s gotten over the nine hundred years he’s lived. He plays the part of an eccentric, billionaire businessman very well. That is until Victoria Westernly comes in and turns his world upside down. But love does tend to mess people up.

What did you do to keep readers’ attention in a subject (vampire stories) that some say is worn-out?
I really didn’t think about the implications of writing in a worn out subject. My sister asked for a vampire story, so I wrote vampires. 

The one thing I did work hard to do was keep the reactions the characters have as real to life as possible. A lot of romance stories, vampire or not, have that insta-love thing going on and that isn’t how life usually works. I’ve caught some flak over the pace that Darien and Vicky’s relationship moves, but I think it’s one of the things that draw people in. The building up of tension between the two as Vicky discovers vampires and her world view slowly comes apart. Of course, Darien is there to catch her, most of the time. 

And that’s another thing I think helps keep people interested. The main characters are flawed. They make mistakes just the same way you and I do. That makes them more relatable and enjoyable to read about. If Darien was perfect and had an answer to everything, he would get stuffy. It would also mean that Vicky would have to be the weak one. Vicky is anything but weak.

Is it important and are any advantages or disadvantages for a writer to read other writers’ works of the same genre he/she writes?
It is important to read other writers’ work. It gives you perspective on what is going on in your genre. I love curling up with a good vampire or paranormal novel. Seeing how their worlds fit together. I also love reading the novels that make the top rating to see what the public likes about the genre. I don’t really let it influence what I’m writing, but it’s fun to see how close my mark has come. 

I would say the biggest disadvantage of reading other people’s work while you’re writing is losing your own sense of voice. If you get entrenched in a series, you may pick up some of that author’s flare, and over time, that point will show in your final story. After finishing a good book, I usually go back and reread what I’ve written to make sure I stay true to my own form.

What aspects did you consider when you created Victoria’s characters? How is she?
Victoria Westernly. I’m not exactly sure how I came up with her. I needed a character that could stand up against Darien, a girl that was down to earth and could hold her own against anything a vampire could throw at her. As this was my first time building a character, I stuck myself in her shoes to start with. Vicky and I share a lot of the same reactions, but after the first few encounters with Darien, she grew her own personality. As the book went on, she started to take on a life of her own. I can still see myself in her if I look closely, but it’s more like a mother can see herself in her children. 

Vicky is strong, level headed, and resourceful. She has the ability to take things in stride and move on. If she got hung up on every little thing, she wouldn’t last in her ever changing world. Her greatest asset is her ability to deal with Darien’s slightly insane nature. She balances out his faults and brings life back to the monotony of his existence. 

What a paranormal romance should have and what should avoid?
Another great, yet hard question to answer. Romance novels, paranormal or otherwise, need to have two excellent characters to follow. If you can’t relate to the characters, the reader is immediately lost. It helps if one has a bit of a mysterious side to draw the reader to them. Their partner has to have enough backbone to stand up to them. 

The main characters need to balance each other out. If you have one really strong and one really weak, the story gets to be tripe and you’ll lose your reader. They need to play off each other. Some kind of conflict can raise the tensions, but if you get to much misunderstanding, getting the characters back together feels unreal. If you go with angst to drive the story, you need to be careful to tread that line lightly, too much self-loathing leaves the reader wanting to smack the leads around.

There are several things that will make me drop a romance novel. I don’t mind overbearing men, but when they run their leading ladies into the ground and walk all over them, and the girl lets them, begging for more. No, I can’t stand that. Also, a woman that has held on to her virtues for all her life suddenly decided to give them up for the first hot, bad boy that walks her way. Oh, and she doesn’t bother to tell him until he’s tearing through her maidenhood. Yeah, no. You need to talk to your partners before you jump between the sheets. And last, insta-love. I understand that in paranormal romance novels you will often run into that mate thing and have an instant bond, but I hate when an author skips over the whole getting to know each other part and jumps straight into ‘I give you my sole for the rest of forever’. Give me a little realism in my books. I like romance in my romance novels, spend some time wooing the girl before you get down to the nitty gritty stuff.

Otherwise, all is fair in love and novels.


Kindling Flames: Gathering Tinder 

Looking back at the woman following him, he pushed the button to call the elevator. Once they were both inside, he watched the reflection of his assistant in the shiny surface of the door. Vicky had plucked one of the shoulders of her shirt up and was sniffing at the collar. A thoughtful look crossed her face, and she smoothed her shirt back into place. “What are you doing?’ Darien asked as he turned to look at the odd behavior.

Embarrassed, Vicky took a slight step back as she realized she had been caught in her investigation. “Um…” She couldn’t think of a good explanation, so she went with the truth. “Sue said I was starting to smell like you.”

Darien looked at her for a moment before closing the distance between them.

Vicky tried to retreat from him but found she was already against the back wall of the small, enclosed space. He placed his hand on the wall next to her and bent his head to the crook of her neck. Her pulse raced as Darien swung his face across her shoulder and up the side of her head. She could hear the deep intake of air as he pulled in her scent. Her breath hitched as he pushed away from her, and she met his eyes. His pupils were significantly dilated from where they were when he had first trapped her.

“So you do,” Darien confirmed.

Vicky’s heart skipped again. Before she knew what happened or had the chance to act on the strange impulses being sent from that tight pull in her gut, he was back over by the door where he had started.

“I hadn’t noticed.”

~ Excerpt from Kindling Flames: Flying Sparks ~

Nodding, the nurse punched some buttons on the blue box and unhooked the IV line from the port in Vicky’s arm. “Let me know if you feel any pain,” she warned as she packed up the equipment. “The doctor thinks you should be fine without the medication.”

Vicky smiled at her. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

“It’s probably all the tender loving care your boyfriend has been giving you,” she said with a giggle.

Vicky blushed. The woman had hit the nail on the head. “He’s not my boyfriend,” Vicky protested weakly, looking at her food.

“Don’t give me that,” the woman huffed. “That kiss he gave you when you first came in was far too passionate to come from anyone other than a lover. It made even my toes curl.”

Vicky looked up at the woman as she tried to think about a kiss Darien had given her. The only one that might have been misconstrued as passionate was the kiss he placed on her temple, but no one had seen that one.

“Then again, you might not remember it,” the woman went on. “You hadn’t woken up yet.”

Vicky raised her fingers to her mouth and felt her lips.

“The doctor will be in after a bit to check on you,” the nurse said as she rolled the IV stand out of the room.

Vicky was too deep in thought to hear the nurse’s words or see her leave. Her insides flopped around like a fish out of water, and she was suddenly not hungry anymore. Had Darien stolen a kiss while she was asleep? What did it mean? Was it to heal her, or was it something else? She thought over Darien’s actions since she had discovered he was a vampire. He had spent a lot of time invading her personal space, but she also found it didn’t bother her as much as it should have. Her mind wobbled on her growing feelings and what they meant for her job. Would she be able to handle working so closely with someone who had such a profound effect on her heart?

Vicky recalled Vanessa’s teasing about what could be done in a closed office with a large desk and slammed the thought down before it could even get off the ground. Picking up her fork, she started working food into her mouth. She needed to eat, no matter how her insides were squirming. Dealing with Darien would have to come later.

About the author:
Originally from Ohio, Julie always dreamed of a job in science. Either shooting for the stars or delving into the mysteries of volcanoes. But, life never leads where you expect. In 2007, she moved to Mississippi to be with her significant other.

Now a mother of a hyperactive red headed boy, what time she’s not chasing down dirty socks and unsticking toys from the ceiling is spent crafting worlds readers can get lost it. Julie is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and lover of big words. She likes hiking, frogs, interesting earrings, and a plethora of other fun things.

Julie Wetzel is the author of Kindling Flames, Book 1 in The Ancient Fire Series. Kindling Flames is scheduled to release through Crimson Tree Publishing in the Fall of 2014.


Unknown said...

Thanks for having me! I had fun answering questions. I hope everyone enjoys the books

Joseph Hawkshaw said...

Love the expert was very good.

Juana said...

I want to read this series. My favorite book genre is paranormal romance esp vampires.

jmesparza821 at gmail dot com

Selenity Jade said...

I'm a paranormal romance junkie, so that's a plus for this book! Not to mention that gorgeous cover and the blurb? Definitely on my TBR list!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the chance!