I’m always happy to turn the blog over to someone else for a day but TODAY I’m particularly pleased to hand it over to a good friend and talented writer who also happens to be my critique partner. WOO! She’s going to tell us all about her debut release, Blood Hero, which is AWESOME and you must buy it right away. You think you know vampires? HA. You haven’t see nothing yet. I should also mention I have ONE very awesome copy Blood Hero to a lucky commenter (in the format of their choice) today in a random drawing. So comment away and get entered!
Madeleine has agreed to an interview here. So without further ado… here we go!
Hi, Michelle! Thanks for inviting me to visit with you today.
1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And how did you get your start?
When I was seven, I told my parents that I wanted to be a writer, an astronaut, and President. (I might be a little bit behind schedule on those last two goals.) After I graduated from college, I started working as a technical writer, and in my spare time, I wrote poetry. I didn’t even consider trying my hand at fiction until 2001, when I got the itch to write a novel.
I did write that novel. But I also discovered, to my dismay, that being a good technical writer didn’t make me a good novelist. So it was back to the drawing board for me… I had a four hour round-trip commute every day by bus, and I used that time to read craft books and do writing exercises.
2. Where do you find your inspiration?
Research. I’m an ancient history buff and a pagan-cum-Buddhist who’s fascinated with polytheistic cultures. When I’m not reading speculative fiction, I’m usually reading about history, anthropology, or mythology.
3. What is the one writer’s tool you can’t live without?
Dark chocolate. And my library card. (Wait, that’s two, isn’t it?)
I’ve discovered that I can write on my laptop, I can write on paper, I can even write on my cell phone with its teeny weeny two-thumb keyboard. I once wrote an entire scene on post-it notes, because I was stuck waiting in a doctor’s office and that was the only paper I had in my purse.
4. How many words/pages do you do in a day/week/month? And how do you keep yourself motivated to do them?
It depends on what stage I’m in. Some days I don’t write any words at all, but I might turn out 10-20 pages of scribbled notes while brainstorming. If I’m at the drafting stage, my output ranges anywhere from 250-3000 words. At the editing stage, I average about 10 pages a day.
Yoga and acupressure help me focus when I’m having a hard time concentrating. So does an email from my critique partners, asking how many words I’ve written. (I love you guys!)
5. Whose work has influenced you the most?
C.J. Cherryh is one of my favorite authors, and I’m continually amazed with her ability to write emotionally compelling stories featuring characters that suck me in. Jim Butcher is addictive—he gets better with every new Dresden novel. Lilith Saintcrow blows me away with the intensity of her stories and her wonderfully-detailed worldbuilding. I read a lot of Asimov and Heinlein when I was in high school. Many of my influences are the classics, though. I majored in English in college, and my favorites there were Chaucer, Shakespeare, Homer, and a lot of poets.
6. This month is the release of your debut story, BLOOD HERO. Where did you get the idea for that?
I’d been doing research about ancient Mesopotamia for a novel, so when one of my crit partners, Gavin Atlas, offered to help me brainstorm a short story, there were a lot of historical elements I’d wanted to put in the novel but that didn’t fit. Blood Hero gave me the opportunity to use some of those other cool ideas, and to explore one of the most fascinating cities in the Near East—Babylon.
Once I’d chosen the setting, I started reading about Babylonian demons, trying to find one that I wanted to focus a story on. I came up with the ardat-lili, the “night maiden,” a sexy spirit who was probably the precursor of the succubus. With some nudging from Gavin, I decided that a vampire would be a perfect match for her.
7. Tell us a little about the book.
A vampire and a succubus walk into a ziggurat…oh, have you heard this one?
Blood Hero opens with a young soldier named Rihat, praying to the war god Marduk for assistance. Rihat’s village is being terrorized by an akhazu demon, a monster much too powerful for one warrior to defeat.
Iltani, an ardat-lili, overhears Rihat’s prayer and offers him the power to defeat the akhazu, if he’ll serve her without question. Can he trust the mysterious night maiden?
8. What are you working on now?
I recently finished Faery’s Bargain, an erotic paranormal about a Fae warrior and a witch who each desperately need what the other has.
I’ve just started a futuristic romance about an undercover vice cop and black ops soldier who cross paths while trying to take down a ring of sex slavers.
9. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A counselor or therapist, probably. Although there was that one summer about twelve years ago where my life had sort of fallen apart, and I was fantasizing about becoming a professional bellydancer…
10. What’s your favorite genre to read? What’s your favorite genre to write?
Science fiction and fantasy are my favorites to read, but hot paranormal romance is my favorite to write. I love putting two characters in trouble together and letting them have at one another.
11. If you could have a harem made up of your favorite fictional characters, who would be in it?
- Sherlock Holmes
- Hajime Saitou (Rurouni Kenshin)
- Han Solo
- Indiana Jones
- John Crichton (Farscape)
- Trent the Uncatchable (The Long Run)
- Harry Dresden
- Mr. Spock
- Autolycus (Xena)
- Rick O’Connell (The Mummy)
- Finn Delany (the Time Wars series)
- Banichi (Cherryh’s atevi series)
- …and Zorro!
Madeleine Drake writes feisty, fast-paced paranormal romance and erotica that spans the space-time continuum.
Raised by a pride of cats, a friendly mutt, and the Sonoma County library system, she loves to read about ancient history and mythology, anthropology, gender roles, and sexual archetypes.
Her homeworld is located out past the constellation Orion, but she currently resides in Texas. You can find her online at http://www.madeleinedrake.com.
Blood Hero, is available from Excessica by clicking HERE.
Excerpt from Blood Hero:
Rihat knelt before the limestone statue of Marduk, more out of despair than reverence for the stern-faced war god. Tomorrow, Rihat would seek out the monster that was ravaging his village, and tomorrow, he would die.
Once he was dead, who would protect his sister from the beast?
Anger tightened its hold on his throat, and he growled, trying to clear the ache that threatened to choke him. He’d wasted too much time already, first begging his fellow soldiers to fight with him, then trying to bribe palace staff to give him an audience with the king of Babylon, and finally spending his last few shekels on a scrawny pig for Marduk’s priests to sacrifice on his behalf, hoping they could tell him how to defeat the monstrous akhazu by himself. All for nothing.
What could he do now but face the beast himself and die with his honor intact?
If he died well, perhaps Marduk would protect his sister.
As he opened his mouth to repeat his prayer, a fierce prickling crawled over his skin. Invisible, fiery needles pierced every inch of him, stinging his arms and legs, burning his belly, inflaming his cock. The air turned thick and heavy, and he gasped, blood pounding in his temples, a sudden, involuntary erection straining against his loincloth, lifting his kilt. His strength ebbed; the muscles in his thighs trembled.
Had Marduk noticed the frustration behind his plea, and chosen to punish him for it?
Behind him, a scuffing sound. Rihat jumped to his feet and whirled, lightheaded with the effort, grunting with the pain of stiff knees forced to move too quickly.
Not just a woman. A beautiful woman. The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
She wore a robe of white linen so sheer he could see the red-brown circles of her nipples and the dark, furry triangle between her legs. Her skin shimmered gold, like the desert sand at midday. Her hair, black as pitch, was unbound, flowing down her back to brush against the back of her thighs like a veil. A huge carnelian, like blood turned to stone, hung from the intricate chain around her neck.
His cock throbbed harder, as if trying to tear through his clothes to get to her. If he were naked, it would be pointing straight at her.
Why hadn’t he heard her enter the room?
She examined him deliberately, head to toe. When her kohl-lined eyes paused at his groin, she smiled and licked her lips with a delicate pink tongue.
“Who are you?” he rasped.
“Rejoice, Rihat,” the woman answered. “Your prayer has been answered.”
* * * *
She could smell his arousal with every breath, a musky, salty scent far more pleasing than the smoky-sweet myrrh permeating the temple. He was clearly a soldier, dressed in the standard leather tunic reinforced with bronze scales, a fringed wool kilt and battered sandals. Alert brown eyes over his straight nose, broad cheeks tapering down to his strong chin, wavy black hair pulled back with a cord–she would have found him attractive even if she hadn’t been half-mad with the need to feed.
Iltani reined in her hunger, ignoring the deep ache in her core, the dampness between her legs. She’d finally found a warrior who might suit her purposes. She couldn’t risk frightening him off before she’d had a chance to talk to him.
Even if he doesn’t accept your offer, he might let you feed anyway. Few men had the willpower to resist an ardat-lili. As much as she hated what she’d become, Iltani could only restrain her hunger for so long.
He looked like he was about to speak. “It won’t help to call out,” she said. “No one will hear anything until I’m finished with you.”
“Who are you?” the tall, well-muscled warrior demanded again. His fingers twitched, clenched into fists. “How do you know my name?”
“I heard you praying. You may call me Iltani.”
The warrior took a sharp breath. Sweat beaded on his brows, highlighting the rapid pulse at his temples. “What are you?”
“My father is Ea.”
“A goddess,” he breathed, fear flickering over his face. He banished it with a scowl that in no way distracted Iltani from the prodigious lump beneath his kilt.
She was so hungry. “Half-goddess. My mother was human.”
“What do you want with me?”
The prayer Iltani had overheard was for his sister, and Rihat was clearly prepared to die in order to protect her. A man who could love that deeply deserved the truth. But was he brave enough to look that truth squarely in the eye? Or would he recoil with disgust as soon as he learned what she really was?
“I served as one of Ishtar’s handmaidens, until the goddess caught her consort Tammuz ogling me.” Even the anger roused by the memory of her exile wasn’t enough to eclipse her swelling hunger for Rihat. She wanted to push him down, to kiss him, to drink in the vitality he radiated. The delicate linen of her robe, soft as it was, seemed to scour her swollen nipples with every breath she drew. The tingling between her legs grew stronger. “Ishtar cursed me to be an ardat-lili and banished me to live in your realm.”
Rihat didn’t back away, or start praying, or make that silly gesture humans believed would protect them against evil spirits. Was he that brave? Or did he simply love his sister that much? He asked, “Why me?”
Hope welled in Iltani’s heart. Had she finally found a man who would help her? She’d already released three others from their vows of service–two because she caught them abusing their newfound abilities, and a third because he’d proven too squeamish about her curse to be reliable.
“I require a warrior to help me break the curse. In return, I can give you the strength to defeat your akhazu.”
Rihat regarded her in silence.
“Once the curse is broken,” Iltani added, “You’d be free again. But until then, you must serve me without question.”
“Free,” he repeated dubiously. “Why would you release me once I’ve agreed to serve you?”
She shrugged, tried to hide the trembling thrill she felt as his eyes followed the movement. “That is not your concern.”
* * * *
“How?” Rihat asked, barely able to think for the thunder of lust through his veins.
“How would you help me kill the akhazu?” It was a mistake to bargain with her. How many men had she killed, seducing them and feeding on their souls? Sucking them to husks and abandoning them, the poor bastards still crying for her touch with their dying breath. No matter that her father was the God of Wisdom, this woman was a demon, and any sane man would run from her.
But if she could save his sister, he’d give up his sanity as willingly as he’d give up his life.
Iltani licked her lips again and the muscles in his thighs shivered, his aching cock shifting beneath the fabric that restrained it. He was certain all the blood in his body was gathering in his groin. Even knowing what she was, he wanted her more than he’d wanted anything in his life.
“The blood of the gods still flows through my veins,” Iltani answered. “Drink from me, and you’ll have the strength of fifty men. For a while.”
He could barely talk, he was working so hard at restraining himself. He wanted to seize her, to back her up against the wall and take her. Right now. “How long is a while?”
“Long enough to save your sister.”
“While I serve you, you’ll…feed from me?” he asked.
“I won’t take enough to weaken you. I need you to be strong.”
Did he believe her? Did it matter? She was the only hope he had of defeating the akhazu. A deal with a demon. It was foolish, but he was desperate.
No doubt, he would enjoy serving her as much as he would regret it. “I’m ready.”
The ardat-lili smiled. “Take off your tunic.”