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As you are already well aware by now, I am a huge fan of the vampire genre of fiction, and I was more than happy to review independant writer Denise K. Rago’s sequel Blood Tears, after having reviewed her novel Immortal Obsession a few years ago. I know I tend to be more critical with the vampire genre, but that is because it is a genre I feel strongly well-read in; therefore, I am much more discerning, and probably deservingly picky, when it comes to reading vampire fiction. My favorite writer of the genre, Anne Rice, has set a high mark for well-written, philosophically deep vampire fiction that it makes it even harder for new, fresh voices to emerge in a heavily saturated genre, like vampire fiction.
For those that read my critical review yesterday, you should know that it is not the only voice out there about this book, and I still strongly urge you to read the first book of Denise K. Rago’s series, Immortal Obsession, right along with the second book in her series, which was recently released, Blood Tears.
And perhaps after reading the below interview I conducted with author Denise K. Rago, you’ll have an even stronger interest in checking out both of her works. I really want to start dividing my review features into two parts, in order to focus on reinforcing the important virtue that is critical to your enjoyment of A Bibliophile’s Reverie, which is the importance of your freedom to read whatever you feel like reading most.
I hope hearing from the author herself will give you the chance to hear from the writer about the book, a much different approach to reading more about something you’re thinking of reading.
Interview with Denise K. Rago
Reference Key for Initials- BR-Bibliophile’s Reverie, and DR-Denise K. Rago
DR:Justin ~ I am honored to be interviewed here at A Bibliophile’s Reverie and to have my second novel, Blood Tears reviewed by you. In your review of my first novel, Immortal Obsession you wrote ‘At parts, you can discern that there are elements of Richelle Meade and Anne Rice bundled in there along with Denise K. Rago’s own unique interpretation of the vampire genre.’ I am honored that you spoke of my own unique interpretation of this genre coupled with the mention of Anne Rice, my favorite author. I hope your readers enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed answering all of your questions.
When Immortal Obsession begins, Christian lives in Paris in the late 1770’s during a time of decadence and talk of revolution. Christian and Michael are two young men who are best friends. One winter night they are seduced by the vampire Gabrielle, and for a brief time they enjoy love, passion and a life together. But Christian meets Josette Delacore, a young and flawlessly beautiful woman, bound in an arranged and loveless marriage, and falls hopelessly in love with her. Josette is a powerful psychic whose blood beckons vampires to her, and Christian is not her first vampire lover nor her last. Soon she is also having an affair with Michael and while circumstances dictate that the threesome cannot continue, Christian and Michael flee to England leaving Josette behind to face the terrors of the Revolution.
When Blood Tears begins, it is now the present day and Christian finds himself in love with Amanda, a descendant of Josette. He lives in Manhattan with his friend Michel. He has spent centuries watching and guarding the descendants of his lost love, Josette Delacore and like Josette, Amanda has psychic powers and powerful blood. Christian is dedicated to her but a secret comes to light that draws him back to Paris; a mystery that fuels his never-ending obsession with Josette. As events of the past resonate through time, secrets come to light and mysteries unravel and Christian finds that his obsession and love for Josette is only one small piece of a much larger puzzle that jeopardizes his existence and that of those he holds dear.
BR: What originally sparked the idea for the series as a whole?
DR: I have always been intrigued by vampires and I have kept journals since my childhood. One of my childhood dreams was to write and publish books. One night ten years ago my husband and I went into Manhattan to attend a rock concert. While dining at a local diner before the show a tall, blond haired man pass by our booth and sat down behind us. Even by New York standards he stood out; dressed entirely in black with a long, flowing black coat, blond hair that fell to his waist and pale skin.
Impulsively, I turned around and get a better look at him and the room shifted, time stopped and I fell into a pair of penetrating, dark eyes. He said hello in a voice that made me blush. I said hi and quickly turned back around. I felt a sense of recognition as though we knew one another. I scrambled to come up with where I might I have met him. As my husband paid the check I found him staring at me. It sounds very dramatic I know but that is how it happened.
In rehashing that night I discovered that my husband and I saw two very men in the diner; for when I described him, my husband thought I was crazy. He saw someone completely different. That weekend I began writing Immortal Obsession and a year later I learned that the spirit world was “showing” me my vampire. His name is Christian Du Mauré, born in 1737 in the town of Meudon France, turned vampire on a March evening in 1757. Though the title came much later, his personality came to me effortlessly; his hopes and dreams, sorrows and regrets. He came alive on the page – a character based on a being I was destined to meet and whose beauty and presence compelled me. He is my muse and he continues to inspire my writing as I tell his story of lost love, betrayal and regret.
BR: Was the sequel, Blood Tears already something you had in mind, before starting work on the first novel?
DR:As I was finishing up Immortal Obsession, I knew the story had to continue and so I began writing Blood Tears one year after Immortal Obsession was published. I have a lot of written material and some of it contained the seeds of Blood Tears. I knew there were plot points I needed to expound upon and now I am faced with the task again as I move towards book three, Eternal Hunger and unsure whether this will be the last book in this series or if I will continue to write more about some of the characters in this series. I writer very intuitively and so my characters will let me know which way the story should go and though I try to create outlines I generally don’t stick to them. Each novel has been professionally edited by a different editor so each novel has a different feel. As I finish the draft for Eternal Hunger I will again be searching once again for an editor. It’s exciting.
BR: What about the vampire mythos do you feel makes it so endlessly fascinating for so many people?
DR:Vampires were once living, breathing people who perhaps had spouses, siblings or children and led regular lives until circumstances brought them face to face with a supernatural being who took their life and transformed them into something no longer human. In some cases, they look like monsters and in others, they maintain their beauty. Anne Rice’s vampires, Lestat and Louis are perfect examples of the beautiful monster, while the vampires in the film 30 Days of Night are ugly creatures. However, who has not pondered the possibility of remaining frozen in a youthful body, never to face the ravages of old age and death? Yes, the trade-off is the necessity of taking blood and in many cases, human lives to survive, yet the call to becoming immortal is tempting to say the least.
Vampires walk among us, pass us on a dark city street, brush up against us in a nightclub or at a concert. The possibilities are endless and I am forever fascinated by the intersection between a mortal and a vampire; the meeting up of the mundane with the paranormal. In my novels, Amanda Perretti lives and works in Manhattan. She has a dream job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where she is able to combine her knowledge of art while surrounding herself with antiquities. Suddenly she thrust into a world she never imaged was real. A world of beautiful yet warring vampires with roots in Revolution-era Paris, a war that has spilled over into modern day Manhattan. Amanda has no idea of her heritage nor why she is so coveted, until she witnesses a murder in Central Park and her destiny is no longer in her control.
How many of us would welcome the chance to meet a supernatural being and perhaps learn more about the world them and the lifestyle that they left behind? The idea that the vampire was once human and therefore remembers the plight of us mortals. We have a shared past and through this we can connect to a being who has witnessed history and can share the past with us. Vampires are seductive and elegant, at least mine are. Christian lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, among antiques and books. He relishes his privacy and the world he has created in New York.
BR For the Anne Rice fans that are devoted readers of this blog, how would you describe your first impressions of an Anne Rice novel, and what book of hers if your favorite?
DR:Whenever I pick up one of her novels I feel that I have stepped through a door into a seductive world that I never want to leave and her vampires are magnificent beings full of strife, love, hate and desires. Each of them is fascinating in their own right, but Lestat is the most charismatic of them all. I never tire of reading about him.
My favorite Anne Rice novel? Hands down, Interview with the Vampire. You have to understand I began reading horror novels as a teenager. At nineteen years old I was given this book by my best girlfriend who knew I loved vampires even then. I began reading it and realized that my world would be changed forever. Her vampires are beautiful, yet flawed, angry, jealous and lost, just like the rest of us. I fell in love with her writing and the world she created. She made me see vampires differently and though she did not know it then, she changed the genre forever. How ironic is it that after telling his story to a mortal reporter, all the reporter wants is immortality, while Louis wants desperately for someone to listen, to understand all his pain and suffering. Isn’t that something we all want in life? Someone to listen to our life without judgement and to understand us?
I love all of Anne Rice’s novels but I definitely feel that Interview with the Vampire is my all-time favorite.
BR: Why did you choose to self-publish both books, and what are the strengths, if there are any in your opinion, to this form of publishing?
DR:I began to look for an agent and a publisher back in 2008 unbeknownst to me at that time, the publishing world was drastically changing, never to be the same again. For many reasons, agents and publishers were not taking chances on unknown authors and so believe it or not, I e-mailed Anne Rice. I explained my situation and asked her what she thought about the idea of self- publishing. She was honest and very encouraging, explaining that if she could not have found a publisher she would have sold her books herself. She also mentioned the company Createspace as an option to consider and being the down to earth, nice and polite person that she is, she wished me the best of luck.
The stigma surrounding self-publishing has diminished over the past several years as more and more writers look to have their works published. I had both novels professionally edited and chose both book covers. In fact, the cover of Immortal Obsession is a photo I took of the angel atop Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Createspace altered it a bit. Ten years later I have hired a great firm to help with my marketing on social media. Although all aspects of marketing and publishing are my responsibility I feel a sense of control over my work and complete ownership. I also have the freedom to write at my own pace and since I work full-time I do not feel pressure to publish under a deadline.
BR: What is your favorite vampire film, and why?
I have four favorites which ironically span four decades. I won’t give too much away in case any readers have not seen these films.
The Night Stalker  is a made for television movie about a newspaper reporter investigating a series of murders in Las Vegas. He slowly comes to believe the killings are being committed by a vampire. I love this film because we watch the reporters’ disbelief turn to a true understanding of what he is dealing with while set against the darker world of Las Vegas.
The Hunger  tells the story of a beautiful, female vampire with roots in ancient Egypt, play by the French actress Catherine Deneuve. She presently lives in a gorgeous townhouse in Manhattan. We experience her long life through all the art works she has collected. She collects lovers too, including Susan Sarandon and David Bowie.
Interview with the Vampire  is a story told through the eyes of vampire Louis de Ponte du Lac to a young reports in San Francisco. We are introduced to the famous vampire Lestat and follow both vampires through their lives in New Orleans and Paris. Lestat and Louis are beautiful vampires with a complex relationship filled with much betrayal and sadness.
In the film, Let the Right One In , a young boy named Oskar is bullied in school and then befriended by a very unusual girl who moves into his housing project. Meanwhile a series of gristly murders rock a working class suburb of Stockholm Sweden. I love this film as it depicts the century’s old vampire as a creature truly outside the mortal world yet trying to survive in it. The film was also made for American audiences too and I enjoyed both.
BR: Do you have a message for the readers of A Bibliophile’s Reverie, and can you supply any details, if any, of your next big writing project?
DR:When I began my first novel I was deterred by those who reminded me that the vampire genre had been overdone and that there was nothing new under the sun. I tend to disagree. I mean look at Let the Right One In? I found this to be an incredible novel which adds to the genre in such a positive way. As a writer, look for the best fit for you and your works. If you feel self-publishing is the way to go, I am happy to answer any questions you might have about the process, plus there are a lot of great books out there on the subject. My best to you if you query publishers or agents because one never knows what type of story may attract an agent or a publisher. Take the risk.
My next novel, titled Eternal Hunger is the third in my Enchanted Bloodline Series. The saga of vampire Christian Du Mauré continues as he grabbles with his lineage and his fate, surrounded by vampires who have a very different future in mind for him. He longs for his mortal lover, Amanda, who he abandoned in New York on a whim, rashly leaving her behind to return to Paris. In this excerpt he finds himself far from New York, his lover and his best friend, Michel, being held captive.
It was the smell that woke me, dampness, mold, abandonment; long forgotten places. I inhaled in jagged breaths forcing myself to remain calm. I rolled over on the rotted mattress supported by a rusted bed frame noticing for the first time the chunks of pale blue plaster that littered the floor. I felt light-headed as I sat up and surveyed the room more carefully. If I were mortal I would have vomited but there was nothing inside of me to dispel. There had not been for centuries.
Where was I?
The cavernous room and high ceiling dwarfed the bed, which sat like an island among concrete, mold and debris. I was wearing blue jeans, boots and a sweater, nothing that I owned, yet all in good taste. My hair was clean, free of all the dried blood. I felt awake and strangely calm, wondering who had taken the time to clean me up and dress me.
I tried to piece together the events leading up to this moment. Falling snow; a handsome face gazing up at me through torchlight, feeling warm despite the darkness, Josette, Amanda, Michel. Who was this creature who met me in the woods
Ghislain. Yes that was his name.
I drank his blood and saw the images of monoliths and angels as the truth came rushing back to me, chilling me like icy water over jagged rocks. I forced myself to get up and stagger over to the grimy French windows. Peering outside there was not much to see only just enough sunlight to notice the painted panels on all the walls.
Monkeys and sunlight.
Once again, Justin, thank you for reviewing Blood Tears and giving me the honor of an interview.
Please visit me at www.denisekrago.com to download a free chapter of either novel, read my blog or visit my virtual bookshelf.
Thank you so much Denise K. Rago for taking the time to participate in this interview!! :)
**If you haven’t already, be sure to start the series, by reading the first novel first!