I have the great pleasure of welcoming Skyla Dawn Cameron to my blog today. She writes the Demons of Oblivion series and I read and reviewed the first book in the series Bloodlines a few months ago. I was introduced to some great characters that are unforgettable and I'm anxious to find out what happens next in the series.
Website: Skyla Dawn Cameron
Welcome to Hanging With Bells Skyla! Tell us a little something about yourself.
Thank you so much for having me!
Well, I'm in my late twenties, I've written eighteen novels, and I'm a crazy cat lady. I'm an editor and artist by day, and sometimes by night because I work very long hours. I have thirty-four books on my TBR pile, not including manuscripts I have to read for work. My off-time (what's that again?) involves vegan cooking, playing video games, and jogging. I wrote a song called "The Stabbity Song" which I usually sing on Mondays. I have multiple zombie survival plans. When I grow up, I want to be world dictator. And possibly a princess. I also just got a kitten (I can TOTALLY explain...) and her name is Temperance von Eviltry, Duchess of Doom. My genre of choice when writing is urban fantasy and sometimes horror, usually with a paranormal bent, occasionally with a splash of romance, and almost always with a healthy dose of snark and humor.
I read your book Bloodlines and let me say...it was AWESOME! What a great group of characters in this book! How did you come up with the storyline for this series?
Thank you! I'm still so glad (and relieved) you enjoyed it.
Bloodlines came about years ago when the character of Zara just tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey, so, I'm really interesting and I think you should write about me." I'm incapable of doing anything standalone, so a larger plot arc emerged as I was writing the first draft--something that would span at least five books. At that point, I was very much a "pantser" sort of writer--meaning I wrote by the seat of my pants instead of plotting, with a couple of big moments in my head though I had no idea how I'd get to them--so as the twists and turns were revealed to Zara in Bloodlines, they were revealed to me as well. For example, I had no idea who the villain was until he appeared, and was quite thankful to see everything fit together nicely as if I knew all along.
Subconsciously, Zara--and the world she inhabited--came from my own need to have an outlet. I was a young housewife in a not-so-great situation where I had no control. Enter Zara, who provided for herself, took care of herself, and had a blast doing it. She's by no means a Mary Sue--she's deeply flawed and I don't think I'd want to be her (at least not when everyone's trying to kill her)--but she gave me something I desperately needed at that point in my life. There's a scene in the book where she says essentially that Zara Lain--which isn't her real name--existed to save the woman she used to be. I've said before that Zara saved me as well, and it's true.
Books two and three have different narrators and explore different parts of the puzzle I'm going to tie together in books four and five, and that came about because I wanted to try something new and really push myself as a writer. As a result, those first three books are as different as the heroines who narrate them. I start with characters first and then the story and plot come from them--what will best serve their character arcs.
Zara Lain is the main character in Bloodlines the 1st book in the Demons of the Oblivion series. She's an assassin for hire and an awesome one at that. Is her character always in your head and when she is, she must take over. Yes?
Oh she is LOUD, LOL. Very loud. She first appeared around late 2004/early 2005--that was when I first wrote Bloodlines. (It was originally published in 2008, and the 2011 release is a completely rewritten, expanded version of the novel.) She bothered me for months, yammering away, and I couldn't work on anything else. I wrote the sequel in 2007, started the third, but the series lagged for awhile as I worked on other things and had a bit of a crisis in my personal life. She was always in the back of my mind but didn't bother me too much. Then last year, when I decided to rewrite Bloodlines, Zara stepped right up like she'd never been gone and hasn't quieted since. She does the same thing when she appears as a secondary character in the other books--the moment she shows up in the story, she just takes over and won't step back again.
As you know I love the character Nate in Bloodlines *swoon* and I'm not the only one. Did you think so many of your readers were going to connect with him the way that they did?
Oh, I love Nate. I had hoped others would too. He was designed to be Zara's polar opposite and, therefore, someone for readers to connect with if they didn't connect with her (I mean, she kills people for a living--I knew full well she wouldn't be entirely sympathetic to many). I also have issues with some of the overly possessive alpha males in fiction (as I do in real life), so I wanted to create someone who was strong and swoon-worthy without being brutish or a misogynist. To me, what makes Nate so appealing is his respect, both for Zara and himself. He doesn't leap into bed with her the first (or second, or third, or fourth, or twentieth) chance he gets and he doesn't seek ownership of her. He's damaged and he has his flaws, but he has the one quality I like in guys (romantic or otherwise): he knows that recognizing someone else's strength doesn't diminish one's own (to paraphrase my idol Joss Whedon).
There are 3 more books in the Demons of the Oblivion series. Can you tell us a little bit about each one? (I need Exhumed like ASAP!)
I will totally get you an ARC of Exhumed...when it's written next year. ;-) I'm actually contracted for four more if you count tomorrow's release Hunter and it *may* extend past that if the fifth ends the way I think it will (*plays ominous music*).
Hunter releases on August 30. It's about a Demon Hunter--a nun at that, named Ryann--sent on a mission to track and kill a vampire who has murdered a member of her organization. I'll let you guess who that vampire might be. ;-) The book is a big departure from Bloodlines--far less coarse language, no sex, no explosions...even the body count is lower. I was very much outside of my comfort zone with this one. Possibly it was written by Stepford Skyla.
Lineage is in progress and will release 2012 (hopefully late winter or early spring). It's about a homicidal, suicidal quarter-demon out to avenge the deaths of her husband and children. It's very dark and it's directly influenced by the events in Bloodlines.
Exhumed is when Zara takes over again as narrator. In some ways, it's more of a direct sequel to Bloodlines, but much of Hunter and Lineage is setting up all the dominoes I plan to knock down in Exhumed. There's little I'm saying about this book except that then end of Bloodlines should give you an idea of what it involves, and if you read the short story Thrall (included with paperback versions of Bloodlines, as well as exclusive to the Mundania-sold ebooks only) you'll have an idea about some of the challenges the characters face in it. I hope to have it out late 2012.
The fifth, Oblivion, is one I'm not saying a word about at this point--not even who is narrating. Possibly because I haven't decided yet. *cough* #writerfail
After that, I'd like at least two more Zara books and another Ryann one, but I want to get through what I'm contracted for first, so we'll see.
Are you planning on writing another series and what else do you have planned for the future for your readers?
Actually, I hoard novels (meaning I write without publishing them). I have a very dark YA paranormal series on the go, four of five books written and unpublished--I wrote three last year, one earlier this year, and hope to write the final one by December. I have the first book of a post-apocalyptic UF series in progress. I have the first of a comedic paranormal horror trilogy in progress. I have two other WIP manuscripts in separate series on the back burner, urban fantasy and comedic horror romance respectively. I'm basically never NOT writing and I try to finish at least three novels a year now.
Next year I have a paranormal romance (yes, real romance--and instead of killing the hero at the end, I kill him at the beginning) novella coming out. And then I have the Demons of Oblivion books keeping me busy--in addition to Lineage, which I'm writing right now, I have a free Zara Lain serial in progress on my website at zaralain.com. It's called Amends and it bridges the gap between Bloodlines and Hunter, updating with a chapter every other Monday.
Those were some great answers Skyla! A big thank you to Skyla Dawn Cameron for stopping by the blog today. Want more info on the books in her Demons of Oblivion series? Well here you go!
Book 1: Bloodlines
My review: link
If you're in her way, it sucks to be you.
After three hundred years of unlife, vampire Zara Lain has seemingly done it all, and she's now making a living as a successful thief-turned-assassin. Her newest assignment seems simple enough--kill the aging leader of the O'Connor Coven and his only heir, and she'll have another ten million in the bank.
But in the dangerous world of the supernatural, few things are ever "simple."
When a massive assault decimates the continent's population of powerful witches and warlocks, and its orchestrator has vampires being hunted down and captured, Zara realizes the tables have turned and now she'll be playing the hero. Forced to join with a smart-mouthed fellow vampire, a demonologist who's also a fan of hers, a recently widowed--and frequently brooding--warlock, and her best friend's mom, Zara's grudgingly willing to do what she can to save the day.
If only people would stop ruining all her outfits...
Book 2: Hunter
Release date: 8/30/11 at Mundania Press
Sometimes natural predators need to be kept in check, and for that, there's Ryann David. Orphaned as an infant and raised by an exiled branch of the church to become a warrior for God, she and her fellow members of Venatores Daemonum have trained all their lives with only one purpose: destroy all vampires and demons in the mortal realm.
But when Ryann and her team are sent on a mission--to find and capture a vampire who's killed one of their own--she learns that perhaps not all is as it seems. Aligned with an irreverent psychic detective, a pair of vampires, and her own determination to do what’s right, Ryann seeks out the truth as the black and white world she knew turns a murky shade of grey.
Book 3: Lineage
Release date: Early 2012
Family reunions suck.
What's a woman to do when her dad's the antichrist, her grandma's the devil, the end of the world is at her doorstep, and she's out to avenge the murders of her husband and kids?
Kill everything in her way.
Quarter-demon Peri Takata exists with but one goal in mind: annihilate everyone responsible for the death of her family. Then - her need for vengeance quelled - she plans to take her own life.
Her mission brings her to the vampire Zara Lain, the only known survivor of the event that destroyed Peri's family five years ago. Hunting down a secret society of those who don't want to be found has its challenges, however, especially when forces are working to keep the antichrist's daughter very much alive. The apocalypse is closing in and Peri may be playing a role in it whether she wants to or not.
But when a heart long-thought dead begins to beat again with love for another, she's not so sure about anything anymore.
Book 4: Exhumed - TBA
Book 5: Oblivion - TBA