Speak the Speech Trippingly on the Tongue

One thing that helps keep Ari and me focused is deciding what we’re going to write, in what order we’re going to write it, and then making a list. Works with deadlines get priority on The List, and we also have a shared iCal calendar just for writing deadlines. Currently, we’ve just submitted a story and crossed it off The List, and we’ll be finishing up the rough draft of a Valentine’s Day novella this week. It’ll get a few days to marinate, and then we’ll edit it and send it off.

After that, it’s time to whip the rough draft of Blood Bathory 2 into shape! The draft is finished, but we need to add scenes we skipped over, mostly brief scenes establishing what the villains are up to, and then edit it. Considering it’ll probably be 100k-ish, that’ll take a while. We’re budgeting about a month to get that done, allowing for real life interventions, and once that’s finished, we’ll move on to the next thing on our list.

One of those things is Blood Bathory 3, the third and final novel that will wrap up our trilogy, although we’ll probably revisit that world down the road. The trilogy will be stand-alone, but the world we’re building will let us come back to it if we want to, and I think we will because we’ve enjoyed it so much.

I’m looking forward to writing the primary character I’ll be writing in BB3, and I think he’ll pose an interesting challenge. He was born in the 1500s, and for plot-related reasons I can’t divulge, he spent a rather long time more or less isolated from the world. Not cut off entirely but separated enough that his language didn’t have time to catch up completely to the modern world, so he still uses a fair bit of archaic language without realizing it. So I’ve been planning for his language — word choice, sentence structure — to be different, but I hadn’t stopped to think about how his pronunciation might be different until I saw this:

love this. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past, and I love that there are people who are so passionate about language that they’d go to the trouble of researching and reconstructing Shakespearean pronunciation. Not only that, but now I have a pretty good idea of what my character probably sounds like. Maybe not quite to this extent but I’m sure it still impacts his speech, which should make trying to communicate with some of the other characters interesting!

Suffice to say, going to London to see an Original Pronunciation production at The Globe is going on my bucket list.


History and Villainy

dod-posterWhen we were thinking about a possible villain for Blood Bathory: Like the Night, we knew we didn’t want to use Dracula/Vlad Tepes because he’s been done to death *rimshot*. I can’t remember how we settled on using Elizabeth Bathory, but I do remember that we liked the idea of using her because while she has been used as a villain in some movies and books, she hasn’t been used nearly as much as ol’ Drac.

Mostly, she appears as the villain in B-grade 1970s horror movies like the one Evan mentions. He gets the name of the movie wrong (a deliberate mistake on our part); it’s called Daughters of Darkness (1971), and it does indeed star John Karlen, known for playing Willie Loomis on Dark Shadows.

Elizabeth’s alleged penchant for bathing in the blood of young women to preserve her beauty made her a perfect candidate for being cast as a vampire, and we didn’t see her working in the fashion industry as too much of a stretch either. She’d be surrounded by beautiful young people whom she could either turn into vampires or feed on as she pleased.

But Elizabeth isn’t the only historical figure we decided to use to our fictional advantage.  Anna is based on the historical Elizabeth’s eldest daughter by Ferenc Nadasdy, and Janos is based on Janos Ujvary, Elizabeth’s servant who was arrested as one of her accomplices and executed in 1611.  Multiple sources describe him as “dwarf-like”.

In keeping with our trend of using historical figures as villains, we’re introducing another one in the second Blood Bathory novel. Well, technically, we’re introducing three, but two of them are dead long before the action begins, and they’re only mentioned. One of them is Vlad Tepes because we couldn’t leave him out entirely, but the other two… you’ll just have to wait and see!

Evan and Will are returning for significant roles in the second novel, but they won’t be at center stage this time. Our leading men this time are Adam Carson and Tyr Gustavson, who are lost souls trying to find a place to belong after experiencing tremendous loss. Together, they face a threat even greater than Elizabeth Bathory… who is not the biggest, baddest vampire out there. After all, she may have created Evan, but someone else created her.



The evolution of a novel

I believe I’ve mentioned before that we originally developed the concept for Blood Bathory when we were writing a fanfiction story back in 2007; we wanted the main characters to be involved in an online fandom, but we didn’t want to use a real fandom in case someone took offense and thought we were poking fun at it. We hadn’t planned to do as much world-building as we did, but it seemed that once we got started, we got on a roll and ended up creating much more for the imaginary fandom than we intended.

In the original story, Blood Bathory was intentionally over the top, cheesy, and campy. I had the original Dark Shadows in mind, and when we were brainstorming, we agreed we wanted it to be something we could have fun with and geek out over. I wrote a couple of journal entries about our writing/thought process when we were doing all the world-building here and here, if anyone is interested in more specific info.

When we posted the story, we got several comments about the show we’d created, mostly people saying they would actually watch it if it was real, so when we started thinking seriously about moving away from writing fanfiction and toward writing original fiction, we thought maybe taking the concept of the show and working it into a premise for a novel might be a good idea. We both love the supernatural/paranormal genre, so it was a natural choice for us. However, we had to make significant changes to the overall concept and plot to make it workable. The tongue in cheek fun we’d had with the fictional TV show wouldn’t work for a more serious paranormal romance.

We kept the main characters pretty much the same. The original had a Will Trask and an Evan St. John, and there was a character named Marielle, who started out as a “Voodoo queen”. We eliminated the Voodoo element from the original and replaced it with the theriomorph concept, making them the servants of Gaia who fight Elizabeth Bathory and the rest of the Blood Cursed, i.e. vampires. Marielle ended up evolving into a shapeshifter who is thousands of years old, a former priestess of Isis who became a servant of Gaia.

We needed to create a strong supporting cast, some of whom include Elizabeth’s daughter Anna, a former California surfer dude turned shape-shifter, and an outspoken forensic specialist who enjoys needling Will and Evan every chance she gets. None of these characters existed in the original concept, so we had to develop them once we began writing the novel.

Developing the concept of Gaia required a lot of thought. How much power and influence does she have over the world? Is she a deity or not? Does she have limits? We had to think things through, especially since we decided to expand the story into a trilogy, and we wanted to be sure we could maintain consistency throughout all three books.

So basically we had to do some serious world building on our world building! But it was really fun, and we’re happy with what we’ve come up with. Instead of Voodoo queens and Evan being strapped to a sacrificial altar, we’ve got shape-shifters and a shoot out at a fashion show.

But the one thing that didn’t change is that Will and Evan are desperately attracted to each other, and their rocky road to romance plays out against the backdrop of a supernatural turf war.

Blood Bathory is now available from Torquere Press!


Trivia Tuesday!

I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts about how certain characters got their names, and I freely admit that I’ll choose names entirely for my own amusement.

Readers of this blog already know that Luke Reynolds from Heart of Stone is named for Mal Reynolds from Firefly and a minor character in “Bay Leaves and Bachelors” — Peyton Wilkes — was named after Payton Place and Ashley Wilkes. Since names have been an inadvertent trend in my trivia posts, I thought I’d talk about names and how we come up with them.

Not all character names are references — just some of them. 😉 Another example of a reference name is Will Trask from our novel coming out next week, Blood Bathory: Like the Night. When we originally created the characters of Evan and Will (and that backstory is a whole ‘nother trivia post), it was because we were trying to create a fake television show for a fake fandom. The show was intended to be cheesy, over the top camp, and I had the original Dark Shadows in the back of my mind in terms of tone and feel.

In our novel, Will isn’t my character; I wrote Evan. But I’m the one who came up with Will’s name, and I took it from the original Dark Shadows, based on a “love to hate” character called Reverend Trask, who was played to melodramatic, glorious perfection by Jerry Lacy. (Have I mentioned I love Dark Shadows? Because I love it to little minty balls.)

In One the Rocks, Aidan Grimm got his last name because Ari and I are both fans of the TV show, Grimm (and of the delectable David Giuntoli, whom Aidan is physically based on).

In Fennel and Forgiveness, Darius Cooper got his last name (and his appearance) from Karl Urban’s character in Red. Ari LOVES this movie; I haven’t seen it yet, but considering the cast, it’s pretty high on my “to watch” list. Right after I get to all the movies and shows on my iTunes and DVR. >.>

There are probably other characters who have reference-based names, but I can’t pull them up off the top of my head, and some I just don’t remember. I’m not sure that we named Agnes from Heart of Stone after Agnes Gooch, for example, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

In short, we frequently include things in our writing because we’re geeks and it amuses us, so I’m sure I’ll have more easter eggs to share down the road. 😀

News Flash

New Novel: Blood Bathory!

We are proud to announce the Torquere Press has accepted our novel Blood Bathory: Like the Night for publication. We don’t have a release date yet, but we were too excited to wait to announce it!

This is a story that is very near and dear to our hearts for many reasons. It was the first novel we completed after leaving fandom writing to try our hand at getting published, yet it still has roots in the world where we honed our skills for so many years. We needed a television show fandom to use in a fanfiction story, and because we didn’t want to inadvertently stir up any drama by using a real fandom, we decided to make one up. Figuring it was in for a penny, in for a pound, we went all out on the endeavor, creating LJ communities for the “fandom”, and accounts for the “fans” who posted to the them. We even wrote fanfiction based on the non-existent show!

We did more world-building for our fictional TV show that wouldn’t even do much more than serve as a background for the main story than we had on anything we’d written prior, and we discovered that we enjoyed it and were pretty good at it. In fact, there were people who said they’d watch the show if it was real.

The original Blood Bathory was meant to be campy and cheesy, but when we decided to dust off the concept and use it as the basis for our first original m/m novel, we had to revise it heavily to make it more realistic and less cheesy. But the two lead characters and the Big Bad remained the same, and we made sure to create a solid foundation for the supernatural world they live in.

We’re very proud of the characters we’ve created and the world-building we’ve done, and we’re thrilled that our first “baby” is finally going to be published — and in print as well as ebook format!

Blood Bathory: Like the Night is the first book in a planned trilogy, and we’ve already got plots, plans, and even drafting underway for the next two books. We hope everyone will enjoy reading Blood Bathory as much as we enjoyed writing it!