Jeanne C. Stein is the author of the Anna Strong urban fantasy series, and also has a brand new series coming out that she co-wrote with Samantha Sommersby, which begins with CURSED. Today, she dishes on the new Anna Strong novel, BLOOD BOND, CURSED, and more!
Please welcome Jeanne to the blog!
Jeanne, the 8th (9th!!! my bad) book in the Anna Strong series will be out the end of this month! That’s more than a book a year! Did you ever imagine the series would come this far when you started writing it?
Actually, Blood Bond is the ninth! And no, I really had no idea. But I have to say, I’ve enjoyed writing her and I have a feeling she has a few more stories in her. This book is an end, but it’s also a beginning.
Will you give us a little teaser for Blood Bond?
Here you go:
I let my eyes drift to the world outside our car. We are traveling the main road out of Lourges—to the west instead of the route traveled last night. Up into the gentle hills that surround the village. In the lingering twilight, we pass several side roads that end in huge houses perched like jewels on manicured lots.
Suddenly, an icy finger touches the back of my neck and I shiver.
Frey feels it. His eyes snap to mine. “What’s wrong?”
But I brush his concern away with a hand wave. “Nothing. Really.”
I turn my face away. Glad once again that he can’t read my thoughts; carefully locking those thoughts away from Chael’s prying mind.
Because it is something. This night reminds me of another night, almost two years ago. A ride up another hill in another part of the world that ended in a fight for the death against an old soul vampire.
Instinctively, my hand touches the hem of my dress. I was wearing Avery’s gift that night. Just as I’m wearing Steffan’s now.
I was driven to the house then just as I’m being driven now.
My throat is dry. I have the terrible feeling I shouldn’t have accepted Steffan’s invitation. Worse, I shouldn’t have brought Frey along. I may have read too much into Chael’s show of good will, his compassion for my mother. Was it all just a trick to win my confidence?
Blood pounds through my veins, heat rising as the vampire seizes control.
Frey can feel it. My skin hot against his. He turns a puzzled frown my way. “Anna?”
Chael senses a change, too. He can’t see me in the mirror, but he is acutely aware of the transformation taking place in the seat right behind him. It makes him nervous enough to pull the car over.
Once the car is stopped, I’m out of it, at the driver’s door in a heartbeat. I fling the door open, grab Chael by the neck and pull him out, moving too fast to give him a chance to fight back. His vampire nature flashes, then retreats.
He acts like a dog showing his stomach to an alpha, submissively waiting for whatever I choose to do.
I choose to shake him until his teeth rattle. What game are you playing?
None. I am doing as you asked. Taking you to King Steffan.
His mind is open, his thoughts as passive as his body.
I shake him again. There must be more. All this talk of making history and of King Steffan’s unseating. Do you expect me to fight him?
At this, a smile, thin, unnerving. No. Not you.
Then who? I shove him away, stand ready to defend myself if he unleashes his beast.
He tugs at the hem of his jacket, straightens his tie, smoothes his hair back with both hands. You are still too
impulsive, Anna Strong, he says through gritted teeth and tight jaw. Has it ever occurred to you to ask first before you resort to violence?
Not when it comes to you. Now answer the question. Who do you think is going to attack King Steffan tonight?
Chael shoves his hands into the pockets of his jacket, locks his eyes with mine. Ever heard of a vampire named Vlad?
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
No, I didn’t come to the conclusion I wanted to be a writer until late in life. To my regret. I’ve always loved to read, though, especially mysteries and anything vampire. It was an odd twist of fate that made me finally combine the two. I had attended a local RWA chapter meeting and an editor commented she was looking for a vampire book. I had a completed a mystery, pitched it to her as a vampire book, and she said she wanted to see it. I rewrote the book which was released as The Becoming. That was the beginning of my writing career and I haven’t looked back since. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. And the hardest.
In what way do you think Anna has grown the most in the course of the series, and what do you enjoy most about writing her?
Anna is fiercely loyal to those she loves. Protecting them has always been her first priority, which hasn’t been all that easy since she also has responsibilities to another community—the vampire community. She has grown during the series into her role as the Chosen One. And perhaps into her role as a woman—finally realizing she can have the kind of life she thought impossible…with a man she loves with all her heart and a child to raise as her own.
What authors or novels have influenced your writing the most?
I think there are two novels that have influenced my writing in the paranormal genre: Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin and Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice. The first because Ira Levin painted the details of everyday life so well, you found it easy to accept the fantastic elements. And Interview With The Vampire because it was one of the first books where you actually got the perspective of a vampire.
As far as the craft of writing, I have always admired Robert B. Parker for his ability to write dialogue. He was the master of telling a story through the spoken words of his characters.
Read any good books lately?
Just finished Richelle Mead’s Gameboard of the Gods. Loved it!
Your brand new novel with Samantha Sommersby (as SJ Harper), CURSED, will be out in October! Care to dish?
In Cursed, I think we came up with the perfect combination–an Urban Fantasy with all the elements of a good paranormal romance.
A pitch line might be: Without a Trace meets Angel, only our Angel is an age-old Siren turned FBI Agent who has been cursed with mortality by a vindictive goddess and finds herself partnered with a hunky alpha werewolf with a history of his own. Both are searching for redemption for past sins. Using the powers of seduction and strength, along with their knowledge of the supernatural and good old-fashioned detective work, their job is to rescue women in distress.
But along the way, something else happens—something dangerous to them both…Emma and Zack fall in love.
In addition to the UF/Paranormal Romance elements, each book will revolve around an FBI missing person’s case. We have researched the technical elements to make sure we are spot on with FBI policies and procedures. The stories are set in San Diego where there is indeed an FBI field office.
Demeter comes to me in a dream. She’s standing in my garden, dressed in a long gown that sparkles, its fabric sheer and woven from ice crystals. Everything about her is ice—from her translucent alabaster skin to her piercing cobalt eyes to her stark white hair, flowing past her waist and tinged with frost. She holds a sword in one hand, a severed head in the other. Blood from it drips onto the pristine pile of snow that has formed at her feet, staining it.
“Do you know who this is, Ligea?” she asks, turning the head so I can see the face.
No matter what name I currently use, Demeter always calls me by the first.
My stomach knots. “Yes,” I whisper, head bowed.
“His fate was in your hands. You had a choice. You made the wrong one. You betrayed him with your lust.”
“Not lust,” I cry, tears streaming from my eyes. “Love. He was my husband. I loved him.”
“Silence! You haven’t earned the right to love.” Demeter’s voice thunders into the night, her sparking anger splits the darkness like lightening. “You and your sisters lost that right when you lost my daughter.”
“But you got Persephone back.” Even as the words fall from my lips, I know I’ve made a mistake. We’ve been here before; she and I. You’d think I would have learned by now. I should never challenge Demeter.
The Goddess grows still. “You’d be wise to remember who you are talking to, Ligea,” she says, the soft tone of her voice more frightening than if she’d been yelling. “Or I may add another head to my trophy shelf.” A cold smile turns her features into stone as a thin layer of ice and frost forms outward from the edges of her gown, covering her skin.
She holds the head up once again. She turns it so I can see the face. A scream rips out of my throat.
This time, the head she holds is Zack’s.
You’re obviously a busy lady, but when you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
I try to get to the gym at least three times a week. Four, if I’m lucky. But with two books being released in two months, and a second book in the Fallen Siren series due in September, I don’t have much free time. I do hope to start traveling with my husband soon to places that don’t involve book signings!
What’s next for you this year, and beyond?
First, finish the second book in the Fallen Siren series. Then concentrate on setting up the signing schedules for both Blood Bond and Cursed. I’m writing a mystery I plan to self-publish on Amazon and another Anna Strong novella (the first, Cloud City, is available now on Amazon.) I also have a story to write for a new Charlaine Harris anthology, Dead But Not Forgotten. We get to play in the Sookie world!! In between all that are conventions—Dragon Con and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, to name two. Is it any wonder I don’t have much free time?
About BLOOD BOND:
As a vampire, Anna Strong has an immortal life…but now she’s running out of time.
Anna’s relationship with shape-shifter Daniel Frey has given her hope for a future with him and his son—especially when Frey proposes
But just when Anna starts to think her life couldn’t be better, she must fly to France to be at the side of her dying mother. There she learns that not every vampire accepts her Chosen One status. And one such vamp is about to go rogue—by leading his followers in a fight to usurp humanity .