Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Interview: If You Were My Vampire by L.J.K. Oliva

UFI welcomes Author L.J.K. Oliva. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview?
I am a total geek/nerd (and no, I'm not using those words interchangeably!). I love history, geology, earth science, and astronomy. I also love Star Wars, Supernatural, The Princess Bride, and Lord of the Rings. Not necessarily in that order.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time?
I'm mom to a 5-year-old, so this "down time" you speak of is something I only vaguely remember, haha. When I'm not writing, however, I love cooking, gardening, hiking, or going on long drives through the mountains (the fact that I'm scouting body-dumping locations for my books has NO BEARING here).

What is your Favorite part of writing?
The part where my characters finally stop poking me when I'm trying to sleep. That usually means I'm finally getting their story right.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?
Beyond the Butt-In-Chair-Fingers-On-Keyboard Rule, not really, no. I don't subscribe to some of the more-superstitious things some writers "need" to do in order to be creative. I've found that I tend to get caught up in the cuteness of them, and I don't actually get much done.

I love writing, I love stories, but this is my job. I show up, clock in, and I go to work.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres?

Karen Marie Moning (Fever series), Stacia Kane (Downside Ghosts), Sarah Blair (Tides of Darkness series), Jacqueline Rhoads (The Wolvers Series), Daniel Jose Older, Madhuri Pavamani (The Keeper Series), Kayti Nika Raet (The Outsider Chronicles).

Some of these people are my gods. Some are my friends. All are f*cking awesome authors whose books you need in your life!

How would you pitch the Shades Below series to someone who has not heard of it before?
The Ghostbusters team up with Sam and Dean Winchester, then they all move to San Francisco and hunt monsters and fall in love.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that If You Were My Vampire is set in?
Basically, it's our world- as in, the parts of our world that mundane people don't realize exist. I love hearing from readers who say they feel like the Shades Below universe and the stories in it could be real, because that's the whole point! I want people to be walking down the street after reading one of my books, see something out of the corner of their eye, and wonder.


Do you have a favorite scene in If You Were My Vampire?
Ooo, that's tough. Not to sound self-serving, but I pretty much like the whole book, haha! That being said, some of the scenes I most enjoyed writing were the scenes that involved Seneca Lynch, my soldier vampire, and Tonio Ramirez, my gay Texas transplant. I really like how their characters turned out, and seeing them play off of (and with ;-)) each other was really fun.

Which one character out of all your books was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?
Another tough question! So far, Jesper MacMillian of the main Shades Below books is my favorite. He's been through a lot, and could have chosen to be bitter. I think he was still on the fence about that at the beginning of A World Apart (Shades Below, #1), but meeting Lena Alan and learning about the paranormal forced him to reexamine the world and where he fits in it. For MacMillian, that's going to be a very, very good thing.

The hardest has been Darius deCompostela, hero of Season Of The Witch (Shades Below, #1.5). This wasn't due to anything about his character, per se, more about the racial politics I felt as a white woman writing a black hero. I believe white authors can and should engage characters of color in our work, however, I believe even more strongly that we need to be very mindful how we do that. I really wanted to get Darius right. I didn't want to tread on any toes, engage in cultural or racial appropriation, and I definitely didn't want to start telling stories that weren't mine to tell.

In the end, I realized that if I approached Darius as a "black hero", I was going to get myself in trouble. Instead, I came from the angle that he was a hero who happened to be black; that he was *gasp* a person first and foremost. I'm a writer. I can make people. Darius and Georgia took it from there.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?
I'll be continuing my Shades Below series for the near and not-so-near future. The next book returns to Lena and MacMillian, and follows the repercussions of what happened to the heroine of this story. Lena will be forced to deal with her grief and her feelings of failure, and MacMillian will be forced to consider just how far he'll go for the woman he's coming to love.

L.J.K Oliva writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with a heavy dash of suspense. She likes her whiskey strong, her chocolate dark, and her steak bloody. L.J.K. likes monsters… and knows the darkest ones don’t live in closets.

Find L.J.K. and her books

If You Were My Vampire
Shades Below #2.5
Goodreads     Pinterest Board

Sometimes, your life begins the day you die…

Asher Evans is a man haunted by history. Turned vampire in the concentration camp that claimed his family, he has never recovered from the loss of his humanity. Removed from the mundane world and resigned to facing eternity alone, he’s completely unprepared when the unthinkable happens: he meets a girl.

As the youngest daughter of San Francisco’s most prestigious psychic family, Grace Alan has always known about the things that go bump in the night. She especially knows about monsters…including the fact that she is one. Grace has spent her entire life trying to be normal, and finally, things seem to be looking up. There’s only one problem.

She’s just been murdered.

When Asher stumbles upon a dying Grace, he knows he should leave her to her fate. But in a world that looks at him and sees only a monster, Grace reminds him what it feels like to be human. He can’t bring himself to let her die.

Unfortunately, rescuing her has consequences. Female vampires have been illegal for centuries. In saving Grace, Asher may have condemned them both.

Can be read as a standalone

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Excerpt #2:

Traffic was scant on The Embarcadero.  Even going at a light pace, it didn't take long to reach Fisherman's Wharf.  A stiff wind was blowing in off the Bay, and the crowds of tourists had long since departed in favor of warmer retreats.  Seagulls feasted on the scraps of sourdough bread bowls sticky with clam chowder left in their wake.
A lone street musician remained on the empty sidewalk.  He was seated on a small, rusty stool, a battered guitar perched on his knees.  He sang in a haunting tenor, his voice crisp and clear in the stillness.  The words of the song echoed off the surrounding buildings.
Someone to watch over me...
Asher stopped.  "This song was written the year I was born."
Grace didn't answer.  Asher was about to look down when her hand slipped into his.
Perhaps it was the cold.  Perhaps he was still high from the streetcar ride or the race down Market Street.  Either way, he clearly wasn't in his right mind, because instead of pushing her away, he spun her around so she was squarely in his arms.
Her eyes widened.  "What...?"
"Dance with me."  He couldn't believe himself.  Asher took a deep breath.  "I mean, unless you don't—"
Grace coiled her fingers through his, lifted her other hand and rested it on his shoulder.  She met his eyes.  Asher wasn't sure what she saw there.  A blush stole across her cheeks, but she didn't look away.  "You'll have to show me how."
Asher released the breath.  He hadn't been aware he was holding it.  Gently, he reached up and adjusted her hand on his shoulder.  Then he set his hand to her waist.  "It's easy.  Just move with me."
He heard her breath stutter, and her hand trembled a little in his.  For some inexplicable reason, that pleased him.   He firmed his other hand against her back, and started to move.  It was nothing complicated, just a simple two-step he'd seen his parents do.  Asher closed his eyes.  For a moment, he could almost remember a time when things had been normal.  A time when he'd been happy.
A time when he'd been human.
He jerked his eyes open again.  His throat ached.  He swallowed ruthlessly, tried to lock down the place inside him that felt poised to crack wide open.  He started to pull back.
Grace's fingers tightened around his, and she rested her cheek against his chest.  Her hand slid from his shoulder and curled around the back of his neck.
Asher wasn't sure he remembered how to breathe.  "Grace," he whispered.  The emptiness inside him expanded.  "I can't..."
"It's easy."  He felt her voice in every fiber of his being.  "Just move with me."
Asher stared down at her.  The emptiness receded a little.  The vise around his chest loosened.  He closed his eyes again and let Grace hold him, let the scent of patchouli leak into his senses and anchor him firmly in the present moment.

They danced until the song ended, and the street musician finally packed away his guitar.