Today we interview Amber Belldene, author of the paranormal romance, Blood Entangled.
PYN: Tell us about your latest book!
Amber Belldene: Thanks so much for having me on PYN today! Blood Entangled is my new release, and it’s the second book in my paranormal vampire romance series Blood Vine. The story of the ancient war between Hunters and vampires continues to unfold [Tweet this!], and of course Kos Maras and Lena Isaakson get caught up in that conflict. There’s also plenty more of the saga between Pedro Torres and Lucas Bennett, my favorite star-crossed lovers.
What makes your book unique?
Wow, that’s a hard question for a writer to answer! We know our stories so well, and what sets them apart in terms of premise, or plot, or characters. But I suspect what really makes books different is the author’s world view, and how successfully that comes through in his or her writing voice. [Tweet this!] In my day job I’m an Episcopal priest, and that has given me a love of history, and language, and the way we talk about spiritual mysteries (which is a must for a paranormal author). I also couldn’t do that job if I didn’t love people, in all their wacky, complicated, screwed-up glory, which surely shapes the characters I dream up. Lastly, as a preacher, I think I always write both sermons and novels with a gritty, realistic vision of hope for forgiveness, healing, peacemaking—a better world. I hope that vision comes through in my novels.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
When I first began writing, I was a bit of a pantser and let the story take me where it wanted. Occasionally I still write short stories or novellas that way. But I’ve learned that my paranormal world building is so intricate that I really need to plot things out. For Blood Entangled, I created a basic outline with the major events. With this medium amount of planning, I was pleasantly surprised by connections that emerged within the complex worlds with lots of characters, and history, and backstories. Also, I am really interested in theme, and I find when I have one in my head, it helps bring lots of things together organically. In a way, I am probably more of a “theme-driven” author than a plot or character driven one.
How did you develop the names for your characters?
This is a great question. Most of the names of my characters come from their national identities. Andre was a centurion in the Roman Empire, and his name comes from the Latin word andrus, for man. His sons Lobel and Kosjenic (Bel and Kos) are named after two of the legendary Slavic forefathers of Croatia. Uta, who we meet in Blood Entangled, is actually my take on Teuta, an ancient queen of Illyria and a wonderful, larger-than-life historical figure. Mason Hyde, who is a San Francisco native vampire, is named after two major streets in the city where we both happen to live. Pedro, a winemaker from Spain, was loosely named after my Italian cat Pietro. Zoey, Lena, and Lucas were given names I like. My children have my two favorite names. Now I get to give my characters all the other ones I love!
Yes. Love them. Very early on in my writing process, as I am getting to know my characters and imagining the story arc, I begin to get visions of the sex they will have. To me, the sex scenes are where the romance conflicts needs to surface and to be resolved [Tweet this!], so I need to know early in the book what the couple’s chemistry is like, what is going to complicate it, and what their physical interactions will be like. Did I mention I love sex scenes?
How did you decide on the setting?
The first thing I came up with in The Blood Vine Series was its location. What was the most beautiful place to set a series (preferably a setting I actually knew something about)? And the idea came to me—a California winery. I live in San Francisco, not far from wine country, and I could easily imagine a beautiful estate house where I could trap all my heroes and heroines (because everyone knows they have to be stuck together for the sparks to fly!). That’s how the Kastel Estate Winery was born.
The third and final book in The Blood Vine Series, Blood Reunited, is next. My fabulous editor has the book in hand now, and I look forward to working with her on it. And I have to confess, I cried so much as I wrapped up the series. I know I will get to spend time with all the characters until the final book releases, and then I will go into Maras family withdrawal. I have already begun some new projects, but I will probably have to spin off some novellas with some of my favorite minor characters!
About Book Two in the Blood Vine series:
KOS MARAS’s orderly life is in shambles—he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires [Tweet this!], but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night he watches over a temptingly beautiful woman sleeping in his bed. He is convinced love cannot last a vampire-long lifetime and an entanglement will only cause them grief, but he doesn’t have the heart to send her away.
From a long line of blood servants, LENA ISAAKSON is destined to serve a vampire, but a string of humiliating rejections thwarts her pleasure. When Kos shows her kindness, she hopes he will claim her. Instead he proves himself a coward in the face of love and sends her to serve another.
Will the dark seduction of a rakish new vampire finally bring Lena the pleasure she desires or deliver her into the hands of Hunters who want to destroy everything the Maras family has worked for?
Find it on:
Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.
Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.
And as a special bonus, we have an excerpt!
She called out the moment she saw him. “I’m not going.” His father’s cook—no, former cook—sat on Kos’s sofa looking fierce and lovely.
“Hello to you, too.”
She seemed fine—no scent of fear, pulse slow and steady—surprisingly calm and composed. For the first time since she’d called, he took a full breath, because she was safe and unafraid. She drew her long legs up underneath her on the couch. That was good—he found them immensely distracting. She crossed her arms over those awe-inspiring breasts, which was also helpful.
“Come on, we’ve got to go.” He pointed his thumb at the door.
She pouted. “I said no.”
When had she grown so stubborn? Dropping into a squat with his elbows on the coffee table, he peered into her eyes, the same dark blue as the ocean outside. “You’re not safe.”
“I feel better than I have in years. Away from Andre, I’m my old self. I won’t go back. I have friends I can stay with in San Francisco. Take me to Santa Rosa and I’ll get a bus.”
Krist i svi sveci–by Christ and all the Croatian saints, she was difficult.
“Good chance the Hunters know your name,” Kos said, “which means they can find you anywhere. It’s possible they’ll even tail us from here.”
“I won’t go.” She shook her head and crossed her arms more tightly.
If her resistance weren’t so infuriating, it would have been cute. Kos set his jaw and put on his most determined expression. “You will.”
Her mouth opened in surprise, but she still said, “No.”
Damn, she had a way of making him tense. He rolled his shoulders. Reason wasn’t working, neither was coercion. He had one more option.
“Lena, do it for me. I’d never forgive myself if something happened to you.” It wasn’t strictly manipulation if it was true.
“What do you mean?”
He leaned over the coffee table. “In Croatia we lost four members of our household. I promised I’d never let that happen again. Please don’t endanger yourself and put me through that a second time.”
She inched toward him, still hugging herself tightly.
At last, she dropped her arms to her sides. “Okay. I’ll go if I can borrow one of your books.”
“I have loads of books at Kaštel too. You’re welcome to any of them.”
“But I like this one.” She touched the cover of A New Selected Poems by Galway Kinnell where it lay on the coffee table.
“I like the one about the footsteps.” She blushed, her eyes aimed at the book.
A lump formed in Kos’s throat—the poem was a favorite, about how Kinnell’s young son appeared every time his parents finished making love, to climb between them in the bed where he was conceived. The last time he’d read it, it had stirred longings for impossible things, so he’d abandoned Kinnell entirely.
Lena thumbed the pages of the book where it lay on the table. She still didn’t look at him. “It got me thinking I might not want to do the whole blood servant thing anymore. Maybe it’s time for me to leave household service and have a normal life.”
“I understand that feeling, but the decision will have to wait. I’ll help you find a job, with humans or vampires, but first we need to keep you safe.”
Her head tilted, but she finally nodded and grabbed her overnight bag.