I am delighted to have my Paranormal Romance Guild friend, Tony-Paul de Vissage, with me today to chat with us about Shadow Lord, Book 1 of the Second Species series.
A writer of French Huguenot extraction, Tony-Paul de Vissage saw his first vampire movie on television at age 6–the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter–and was scared sleepless. He’s now paying his very permissive parents back by writing about the Undead.
Tony-Paul, what made you decide to be an author?
It was a process of elimination. I’m too short to be a nightclub bouncer, too pretty to be a Marine, don’t have the patience to be a teacher, and my Maman wouldn’t let me out of her sight long enough for me to get on a plane and go to Hollywood to be an actor, so… I chose the better of all possible worlds and became a writer.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
What I like is telling those stories. Getting all them out of my head and into some coherent form. Unfortunately, that’s like digging a hole in sand, because as soon as I empty my brain of one story, another takes its place.
What don’t I like? Living the life of a starving writer. Those cold water, 4th floor walk-ups can be murder, especially in the winter when the wind moans through the hallways. It does help with the inspiration, however.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
If you’ve read any of the various biographies floating around (and you should take all of them with a shaker of salt), you know I was either a) traumatized at the age of 6 by seeing Dracula’s Daughter, or b) traumatized by being kidnapped by the Andriescu family of vampires at the age of 16, or c) had such permissive parents they didn’t even consider being exposed to horror movies in any form could influence an impression child like moi. Either way, vampires enter into it, so I think I was destined to be a writer of paranormals from an early age.
Other than that, I’ve had plenty of experiences which I’ve translated, in slightly edited and censored form, into passages in my stories, so I’d say they prepared me plenty!
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
Oh oui! If fact, I’ve often commented on that. Actually, I once read a short story by Frederic Brown which used that very theme and it certainly hit home! It used to be all I had to do was look at something, or hear a specific phrase and the story would start flowing…from page one all the way through. I’d be at my place of employment toiling away, but a part of my brain would be composing. It got so I wished I could turn it off occasionally. Once I was at a writer’s meeting in California and someone said to me, “I’ll bet you could write a poem if I said…” and she threw out a phrase. I groaned, “Why did you have to do that?” because my brain caught it and started in. I had the entire thing composed and edited in 10 minutes.
You’ve written seven novels and are currently working on a trilogy. What’s your favorite time management tip?
I really don’t have one. Being unemployed (though Human Services insists on saying I’m self-employed), I have plenty of time to write, so that’s what I do…from the time I get up until around seven or eight PM. Then I take a little break and watch some telly before crashing for the night.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
I guess I’m organic, my brain kicks in and I let my fingers do the walking…across the keyboard. I tried outlining once but it got so complicated I was practically writing the novel then and there so I decided, “To heck with this! I’ll just do it once and get it over with.”
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Don’t give up.
Do you have a theme song for this book? What music did you go back to over and over as you wrote it?
It wasn’t a theme song, but it was music. I have this Beethoven CD and there was one piece on it which was so deep, dark, and dramatic, I felt it hit the exact spot when it came to this novel. For those who might care to give a listen, it’s Symphony #7 in A Major, Op. 92, 2nd movement, the Allegretto. As far as I’m concerned, the various sections of that movement capture completely the entire story, from the murder of Marek’s parents, to his losing the woman he loves, to his confrontation with the killer in Paris. Very dramatic, but ol’ Ludwig von always is.
Tell me more about Shadow Lord.
I wanted to write a vampire series but I wanted my vampires to be different. (At this point, I confess to having read JR Ward’s first entry in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and I so liked the ideas she put forth, I was encouraged to write my own series, so merci, JR!) As mentioned in some of my other blogs, the genetic problem of XP runs in my family, so I decided to use my experience with that condition as the basis for why the characters in my story were considered vampires. I threw in a revenge motif, a long-lost love, and a secret about the hero even he didn’t know, stirred well, and voila!
An excerpt from Shadow Lord won an award at the 2009 Maryland Writer’s “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest, by the way.
Men call them vampires. They call themselves aventurieri. For generations, they hid in the mists of the Carpathians away from their human foes.
In 1793, everything changes… Their Prince’s assassin is murdered. His son demands revenge.
Marek Strigoi’s quest for justice will take him from his Transylvanian homeland to the Hellfire clubs of Vienna and the boudoir of a Parisian Marquise, and a love surviving the centuries…but he can’t give up his quest.
When both the hunter and the hunted are vampires, not even Hell will stand in the way!
How about an excerpt from Shadow Lord?
Though the sun had been down for many hours, Elsabeta Suvoi was still abed. Her lover liked her that way, wanting his woman where she was convenient whenever his lust seized him.
Elsabeta was slavishly in love with Mircea Ravagiu. He was violent and insatiable, as cruel in bed as out of it, but she worshipped him. It had been so from the moment they met, after her father’s reluctant invitation to a banchet at his castel. Elsabeta had taken one look at the black-eyed warrior, saw the lustful gleam in his eyes, and left with him that night against her parents’ wishes. She’d sullied the Suvoi name to become his iubita…and she didn’t care.
He never spoke aloud that he loved her, though often he praised her body for the satisfaction it gave him. He said straightaway she should never expect marriage or offspring, but Elsabeta was a female of her time from a family of women considered mere chattels to their males, so she accepted his domination without argument. Running away with Mircea was her one independent act.
At first horrified by the bloody orgies and attacks upon the deomi, the humans living on the edges of his estate, she now ignored his rapaciousness and his brutal games, letting his prowess in bed distract her. When her lover and his soldati returned from their hunts, she locked herself in her bedchamber, its thick walls drowning out the screams from below. It was the cries of the children cut most into her soul. At those times, she thanked the Oracle Ravagiu swore he’d never get her with child, for it came into her mind should it happen, it might be her own infant shrieking out its life in the castel banquet chamber.
To Elsabeta, Mircea Ravagiu was like one of the dreadful Ancient Ones who devoured its own offspring. She truly believed he wouldn’t hesitate to rip out his own child’s throat and drink its blood should the thought come to him. Yet, with that perversity Nature renders some, she loved the man and never thought to leave him.
She was jerked from her semi-slumber by the chamber door being kicked open, sat up to stare at the figure in the doorway…Mircea, upper body bare, wings hovering around him.
They were still quivering, evidence he’d flown rapidly and had just landed. From where she sat, she could hear his harsh panting. He held something in his arms.
“Get dressed.” No words of greeting or love. Just an order.
“Why? What’s the matter?” A loud crashing came through the doorway, voices crying out. “What’s that noise?”
“My men are disposing of the vanjosi.” He answered as calmly as if merely announcing the moon had risen. “Strigoi’s freak’s on his way here and we have to go.”
“You should’ve expected this.” She dared remind him of what he’d done, though it jeopardized her own life. “Did you think you could slaughter his family and he wouldn’t retaliate?”
She’d been horrified when he returned from his brother’s castel announcing they’d been executed by the Prince’s Taietor, didn’t believe it when he said he planned to kill the Shadow
Lord and his family. She hadn’t thought he’d succeed and waited to be told he was dead, resigned to living the rest of her days as an outcast for the choice she’d made. And then, Mircea returned, bloodily triumphant…and Janos Strigoi and his wife were dead and their children carried away to be tortured before their blood nourished their father’s enemy.
“I never thought that book-bound scholastic’d have balls enough to take a sword in his hands.” He stalked into the room. The sounds from below got louder, women screaming, men shouting, voices abruptly cut off to be replaced by others just as terrified. “Get up or you’ll join my servants.”
Sliding from the bed, she hastened to obey but as she reached for her chemise and overskirt, he said, “We’re flying. Make certain your wings are unhampered.”
The bundle he held began to move. It squirmed, kicking itself free of the swathing blanket. A plump little leg, an arm…a baby, a little girl-child, tiny and out of place in Mircea’s deadly embrace.
“Dear one.” Elsabeta stopped with the garment in her hands. A sick dread twisted inside her. “W-who’s that?”
“My daughter.” His answer was as short as if he’d bitten the word. “Now.”
Daughter? How can he have a child? Hadn’t he told her he wished no brats, that the only thing he wanted from them was their sweet, immortality-laden blood?
Shrugging her wings out of their concealing pouches, she peered at the infant. The child whimpered, turning her head and holding out her hands. She was blond and blue-eyed, not quite a year old. This is Janos Strigoi’s child. Elsabeta’s heart felt as if it had been wrung dry.
“What are you going to do with her?” Even as she asked the question, she knew she had to prevent it. If she had to risk her own life and finally brave Mircea’s wrath, she couldn’t let him harm this child.
“It’ll be fitting, don’t you think?” His laugh was harsh. “Raising the Shadow Lord’s brat as my own? Teaching her how to be a Ravagiu and some day, letting the survivors know?”
“No! Please…” A woman’s scream floated up to them, dying away in a bloody wail.
“Are you ready?” He thrust the child into her arms. Elsabeta cuddled it against her naked breast, holding the little body tightly. I must do whatever it takes to protect this baby. If it kills me.
He held out his hand.
“Where are we going?” She placed her own in it. He led her toward the window.
“I’m fortunate my brother saw fit to have holdings in other countries and I’ve traveled to them.” One fist struck the shutters, sending them flying. He climbed upon the sill. “We’re going to Budapest. Hold tight to the brat. If you drop her, I’ll kill you.”
He flung himself through the window into the air. Naked as she was, Elsabeta was pulled along, clutching the child. Releasing her hand, Mircea circled and rose swiftly, his body completing a graceful curve as he aimed himself over the trees, Elsabeta trailing after him.
Below them, the killings continued for another hour.
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007BDHDZY
Information on The Second Species:
Buy at Double Dragon Publishing: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=Shadow%20Lord
Tony-Paul, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.