Friday, January 4, 2008

Kensington Author Sara Reinke

by Joan Kayse

Sara Reinke lives with her husband and children in Kentucky. When she's not writing books or dreaming up strange new worlds in her mind, she's dutifully employed as a travel writer and editor. She's a proud member of Louisville Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America as well as the Wild & Wicked Authors and Dark Muse Society. A rabid fan of actor Orlando Bloom, she can also link herself to Kevin Bacon in six degrees or less.

Sara, welcome to the Romance Bandits!

Thanks, Joan. It's a pleasure to be here!

Congratulations on your first paranormal book. Tell us about “Dark Thirst”

"Dark Thirst" is the first in a new series from Kensington's Zebra imprint, about Brandon Noble, one of an ancient clan of ruthless vampires known as the Brethren. Horrified by his birthright, Brandon shuns the ritual of the first kill, earning his family's lasting wrath. When he finds love with a human named Angelina -- forbidden among the Brethren -- his fate is sealed. Can Brandon protect Angelina from his enemies -- and his own dark thirst?

"Dark Thirst" is unique in its approach to the vampire world. Where did you find your inspiration?

I found inspiration from different places at different points in my life. The idea for the story has been in my head for a long time, probably more than 10 years. When I was growing up in Frankfort, I can remember seeing the enormous Thoroughbred horse farms lining either side of US 60 on the way to Lexington. I always wondered about who lived there, what kind of lives they led, because it occurred to me that someone could theoretically hide away from the rest of the world there, tucked back among the bluegrass fields. So that's where the original idea of the Brethren as a race evolved from; that speculation in my youth.

As far as the Brethren themselves, I wanted to approach vampirism from a logical perspective, so to speak. I wanted to find a way to make vampires seem plausible, their existence actually possible, and not just something fun or entertaining in a story. Presenting them as "undead," unable to walk in sunlight, warded off by garlic and all of that makes for creepy fun as far as fiction goes, maybe, but I thought there could be a different way, a more reasoned way to present them. Call it my inner Scully compromising with my inner Mulder, a la "The X-Files," I guess, LOL. I like writing paranormal, but I like the challenge of finding some plausible basis in reality for the stories, something that makes them more real. Making the Brethren more akin to a wolf pack was my solution. To me, the Brethren are like wolves, and humans are like dogs -- we're similar in many key ways, but intrinsically different in others as well.

Your heroes face some physical challenges. Was it difficult to get into their POV? What as been the readers reactions?

Brandon is deaf and mute, and from even the most primitive incarnations of this story in my mind, he's been that way, so I don't know that it was necessarily a challenge to write him, or difficult to get into his head-space, so to speak. I don't know why exactly I decided to make him deaf, but I like the paradox that he doesn't consider this to be a disability to him as much as being a vampire is. I wanted Brandon to be an underdog, but someone with the courage, determination and strength of character to stand up for himself and those he loves when the time was right.

Readers have really embraced Brandon. While he's definitely not your stereotypical alpha-male hero, he's also definitely not a wimp. He's young and sort of naive about the world beyond the safe perimeter of the Brethren farms, where he's spent his entire life, but he's also trained in martial arts and capable of handling himself. I certainly fell in love with him while writing the book. I always figure if I can't fall in love with my hero, I can't expect my readers too, either.

What’s next?

I just wrapped up "Dark Hunger," the sequel to "Dark Thirst," which will hit bookstore shelves in July, 2008. Now I need to get cracking on revisions for another project, a paranormal romance called "Resurrection," so my agent can begin marketing it. Somewhere in there, I try to fit in eating, sleeping and picking Play-Do out of my hair after playing with my toddler.

What one piece of writing advice can you give to our aspiring authors?

Never give up, no matter how discouraged you may become. While it's true that it takes talent to elevate your work to the top of a slush pile, from there, it's all a matter of luck -- of getting the right manuscript in front of the right person at just the right moment. And you'll never do that if you let rejections get to you, if you give up. Set realistic goals for yourself and your writing career and work hard to attain them. Never stop learning how to improve your craft. Above all else, have fun. Write what you love and love what you write and eventually, everything else will fall into place.

Thank you, Sara for joining us in the lair. Now I'd like to ask our readers what they like best about vampire romances? Sara is giving away a signed copy of "Dark Thirst" to one of our lucky readers.


Aunty Cindy said...

Mine?? PLEASE???

Anna Campbell said...

OK, AC, you can have him back. But only for a little while! He likes Australia. He wants to come back. Hmm, isn't that true about you too? Congratulations!!!

Jill James said...

I have always loved vampire romances for the very idea of longevity in a relationship. When a vampire says he'll love you forever...he means forever.

Donna MacMeans said...

Sara - sounds interesting. Can't say I'm a big vampire fan, but I'm curious how you handled a deaf, mute hero. What a challenge!

This is your first, right? Can you tell us about your call story?

(AC - congrats on bringing the GR back here where he belongs)

Aunty Cindy said...

As a matter of fact, Foanna, I'd LOVE to deliver the GR back to you IN PERSON! I see his feathers are growing back nicely in kind of a mohawk style, and I have a new bottle of black nail polish from Cassondra to finish sprucing him up!

Sara, thanx for joining us in the Lair! GREAT interview! What FABULOUS advice to write what you love and love what you write. And I've driven on that road to Lexington with all those beautiful thoroughbred farms. What a unique idea to make it an enclave for vampires! Now I MUST read your book to enjoy how you did it!


Amy Andrews said...

Yep I'm with Donna - I find the deaf/mute bit even more of a must-read than the vampire angle.

Anything remotely paranormal scares the willies out of me so I do tend to shy away from then although I have enjoyed Keri Arthur's vampires. I just need to get braver. Brandon sounds like a good place to start.

Anna Campbell said...

Sara, welcome to the lair. Joan, great interview! Your book sounds so intriguing with a really different take on vampires (every time I think we've done everything we can with vamps, someone comes along with a fresh take!). One of the reasons I love vampire books is that the good ones are full of this dark, doomed romanticism. You can't beat a good gothic and vamps are about as gothic as you can get! Congratulations on your first book, Sara. I'd love to hear your call story too.

Helen said...

Great interview Sara and Joan
Congrats AC on the GR enjoy spending time with him till he returns as Anna says to Australia and I too would love you to personally deliver him what a party we could have.
I have never read a vampire romance they scare me (a big scardy cat here)although I won a Nalini Singh book here at the bandits not long ago Slave to Sensation which is totally different to the historicals I love and I loved that one.
This book of yours Sara sounds very good a deaf mute vampire this just might be the book that changes my thoughts on vampires I will be trying to get a copy so as I can read it.
Although I am not an author your advise to authors is great because the more books I have to read the better.
Thanks again all
Have Fun

Joan said...

Congrats, AC on nabbing the rooster!

Sara will be along in a bit after she wrangles her toddler and new baby.

Dark Thirst is really a good story and when she first told me about Brandon being deaf/mute I couldn't imagine how that would work.

But she brings it off masterfully.
It's a great read.

Now, off to the 12 hr day job. I'll see ya'll later!

Buffie said...

Hello Sara!! First let me just say that I love LOVE your cover. It's beautiful and hot! I love vamp romances because they are a somewhat dark and usually the vamp has to overcome some major obstacal to have the heroine in his life. I like to see the evolution of the hero's emotions.

And now I really must ask . . . please tell us your six degrees connection with Kevin Bacon. I'm dying to know!

Gannon Carr said...

Sara, I love a good vampire romance! Watching the tortured hero's relationship with the heroine evolve is always interesting. I agree with Anna, every time I think I've read it all when it comes to vamps, someone comes up with a fresh angle. I love that!

I'm with Buffie, tell us about your six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon!

doglady said...

Congrats AC!! I say we all take a road trip to take the GR back to Anna in Australia! What a great interview. And some terrific advice, Sara. You've definitely got my attention with a deaf/mute hero. And as I have LOVED thoroughbred horses since I was old enough to say "horsey" your setting is perfect. I am glad I am not the only one who has passed by houses or places and wondered about the lives of those who live there. I am a huge fan of vampire novels, BUT I don't think just anyone can write a good one. There are so many writers who jump on the paranormal bandwagon and just don't have the "right stuff." I may pick up a new vampire author, but they have to give me a good story and fascinating characters to keep me coming back for more. I love the dichotomy of a vampire hero/heroine. Everyone thinks they want to live forever, but when one explores all that entails sometimes it loses its appeal. There are so many deep philosophical questions that can be addressed by a character who lives forever AND has super human powers. It can make for fabulous heroes and agonizing villains.

Sara Reinke said...

Hi, gang,

My call story is actually a funny one. As Joan mentioned, I have two little ones. After the birth of my first, I quit my job and stayed home with him. My writing routine, which to that point had developed into this concise, daily, well-oiled machine went all to crap, as you can imagine, LOL. So I had to really struggle to find time to write and get back in the saddle when it came to writing novel-length stuff.

My solution? To pitch a manuscript to Kensington before it was finished, figuring in the time it would take me to hear back from them, I'd have it completed. That sort of looming but indirect deadline would keep me motivated and get me back into practice, or so I figured.

So I emailed my pitch. Two days later, John Scognamiglio, editor in chief, emailed me back to say he'd like to see the entire manuscript. Which was great...except there WAS no entire manuscript. Needless to say, I figured out how to juggle motherhood and writing REALLY quickly, and completed the manuscript in roughly 2 weeks or so. (I was 1/4 done with it when I pitched it.)

Once finished, I sent it off. Two days later, I saw a NY number pop up on my caller ID. Since I was querying agents at the time, too, my first thought/hope was that it was an agent interested in me. Never in a bazillion years did I expect it to be John offering me a contract for not one but TWO books! He thought my little manuscript would be a great addition to their debut program.

All I really remember thinking was "try not to say anything stupid to this man." I tried to sound calm and professional, but was pretty much numb and as close to wetting myself as I hope to ever be in my adult life. I'm sure I came across as a completely giddy, goofy, overexcited newbie, but in retrospect, I figure he's heard it before, so I don't feel too silly now, LOL.

I called my husband screaming. He thought something had happened to the baby.

It was definitely one of the most wonderful, exhilarating and utterly unexpected moments in my entire life, the culmination of a lifetime's worth of dreaming and hoping and struggling and trying. But best of all, it gave me something tangible I can show to my kids years from now -- even if I never publish another book again -- and tell them that dreams can come true with hard work and determination, and you can accomplish anything in this lifetime that you set your mind and heart on.

Sara Reinke said...

As for my six degrees to Kevin Bacon...ok, here goes:

I've met Gregory Hines who was in "A Rage in Harlem" with Forrest Whitaker, who was in "The Great Debaters" with Denzel Washington, who was in "Glory" with Morgan Freeman, who was in "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" with Kevin Costner, who was in "JFK" with Kevin Bacon.


That was six degrees. I can do it in less, too.

I've also met Leo Burmeister, who was in "The Abyss" with Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio, who was also in "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" with Kevin Costner, who was in "JFK" with Kevin Bacon.


Sara Reinke said...

I also wanted to mention that in my book, vampires aren't immortal. Goes back to that whole my inner Scully versus my inner Mulder thing. I can logically explain, at least to myself, how someone or something can live for an extended period of time, but not indefinitely. So my vampires are mortal. Like I said, even though I'm not afraid to stretch the boundaries of my imagination when it comes to paranormal world-building and critter-building, so to speak, LOL, I like to keep things grounded at least somewhat in reality. I want folks to believe vampires are real. That they really COULD exist...

Buffie said...

Sara, what a cool call story!!!

And I love your six degrees (or less). How did you come to meet those famous people?

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Sara! Your book sounds wonderful *g*

I enjoy all types of romances including vampires although I prefer vampire books that aren't too gory *g* Dark is okay, scary is okay, but gory? Well, it's hard to read while in the throes of a dead faint :-)

Thanks for sharing your call story!

Gannon Carr said...

Sara, that's a fabulous call story!

Mortal vampires?! I have a very open mind, so I'm up for anything an author comes up with. As long as they are consistent in their world building, it's all good. I've read books where vamps can go out in sunlight, some where they can't, etc. As long as you make me believe, you can do just about anything.

I'm really looking forward to reading your books!

Nancy said...

AC snags the rooster! Wow! Congrats, AC.

Sara, I really like your take on vampires. I was watching a special on wolves the other night and am impressed that you thought to go in this direction but not with shape-shifters. When you decided to give Brandon these impairments, did you feel as if you were taking a risk, or did you feel that the time had come for a hero with physical challenges?

Donna MacMeans said...

Hmm...I've met Joanne Woodward, who is married to Paul Newman, who was in "Message In a Bottle" with Kevin Costner, who was in "JFK" with Kevin Bacon. Hey - I'm connected!!! Does that make us, like, cousins or something?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Sara, welcome to the Lair. I certainly like your take on vampires. I've always been intrigued with the rational, intellectual, maybe even scientific approach to a new species. I'll certainly pick up Dark Thirst.

I do enjoy a good vampire or werewolf book, but I'm turned off if they're silly or just about the blood-sex connection. Some of them have too much teenagey angst for me, but when they're done well, they're great!

AC -- YOU, YOU, my friend are awesome. The GR is back in the home counties!!

MsHellion said...

My favorite part of vampire romances is that the heroes are usually dark, tortured heroes. They have their own code of morality they refuse to break. Alphas that play by their own rules and still seem heroic. Plus, there is that running theme of REDEMPTION and in the end, it seems the love of one good woman is the key to finding just that.

I'm a total sap for redemption, tortured hero stories.

flchen1 said...

AC, congrats on the GR :)

Sara, that is an AWESOME call story!! Thanks for sharing that, and congrats on your successes so far and on your two little ones! I'm amazed at your supermom/super author powers!

I'm with Donna, not a big vamp fan, but your hero does have me intrigued... I will have to give your book a read just for Brandon :)

Jennifer Y. said...

Just wanted to pop in and say that I LOVED this book and look forward to reading more!

Gillian Layne said...

When I was a teen, I read a book called "An Old Friend of the Family" where the vampire was someone to call in times of crisis. I was SO in love with that book.

Your story blurb sounds wickedly romantic--I'll be looking for it on our shelves! :)

Cassondra said...

Great interview Joanie and Sara!

I live in Kentucky too, and I can so relate to looking at those horse farms. First, they're beautiful, and so manicured, and I also wondered what it would be like to live there. My best friend from high school ended up as one of the trainers at one of the big famous farms, and married the guy who "managed the mares" (grin) there.

Isn't it interesting where the impetus for stories comes from? The tiniest spark of something touches a nerve in our subconscious and off we go, into story land.

I haven't read an awful lot of vampire romance, but what I've liked thus far is that each author I've read seems to change them up a bit--include something a bit different so they're not all the same "stock" movie versions of the beings that most people think of when they hear the word "vampire." That's a crucial element to an enjoyable story for me.

Sara, has it always been vampires for you? Or did you start out writing other stuff?

Susan Seyfarth said...

Sara, your call story gave me the goosebumps. I love it when really great things happen by surprise. And I really love your inner Scully & your inner Mulder duking it out over your plots. :-) It sounds like the result is a really fresh take on the vampire genre that even a paranormal-phobe like me would take a chance on. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.


Anna Campbell said...

Sara, cool call story. Thanks for sharing that with us. Isn't it true that life throws us these curveballs sometimes and that's when the interesting stuff happens? And your six degrees makes me laugh. My dad met Charlton Heston - I can get to six degrees of nearly anyone through him. I'd love to know how you got to meet these famous people! Come on, spill the goss!

Helen said...

Sara I loved the call story as well and your connection to Kevein Bacon is fantastic.
Your book is really intriguing me I really need to read this one.
Have Fun

Cherie J said...

I enjoy vampire stories because they are so exciting. Just something about a dark sexy guy who has vampiric powers that really gets to me. I love the creativity and variety put into the stories by various authors. Such an exciting genre.

catslady said...

Oh that's all so interesting. great blog. I do have to admit I haven't as yet tried a vampire story. I really don't know why! Yours does sound really good.

Sara Reinke said...

I'm going to answer a bunch of posts all in one big long one. :)

Nancy -- I don't know if I necessarily felt it was risky to write about a disabled hero, but even from the earliest incarnations of the story in my mind, Brandon was deaf and mute. I can't imagine the story without that. Not that the disabilities were plot devices, but they were just inherent parts of Brandon, just like he had brown eyes or dark hair. I do, however, admit there's always a challenge in pursuing something that may be considered difficult for a publisher to market. Admittedly, there aren't a lot of books out there with disabled heroes or heroines PERIOD, much less a disabled vampire.

Donna -- Maybe we are "cousins" indeed, LOL! There ought to be some sort of big online "family reunion" for all of us folks who can connect to Kevin Bacon. I'd tried to post my story of how I met Gregory Hines earlier, but looks like it didn't go through. I met him in Covington, KY, where they were filming "A Rage in Harlem." We stopped to watch them shooting a scene, and caught him walking to his trailer. He was a very nice man, as I recall. :)

Jennifer -- Thanks so much for the support! I'm delighted you enjoyed the book! The sequel, "Dark Hunger" will hit bookstores in July, 2008. I just sent it off to my editor before the new year.

Cassondra -- "Dark Thirst" was my first foray into writing vampire fiction, but I've written a broad variety of genres in the last few years before finding that -- or paranormals, at least -- as my "niche." Up until 2002, I took about a 10 year hiatus from fiction writing to pursue a more "grown up" career in journalism. In 2001, an uncle I was especially close to passed away at a young age and his death, coupled with that of my father-in-law shortly after my wedding, really made me rethink what I wanted to do with my life. I still had passion for writing fiction, so I decided to pursue it and did, starting off with an epic fantasy book because that's the genre my uncle most enjoyed. From my world-building for the fantasy story, I developed an interest in historical research, which led me to trying my hand at historical fiction. From there, it was a quick jump over to historical romance, and then I came full-circle by combining the supernatural elements I most enjoyed in fantasy writing with romance. "Dark Thirst" is the ultimate result.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Sara. Good to see you here. I like vampire romances because the romance is so intense and the hero is dark and mysterious.

Aunty Cindy said...

Greetings All and Sara, LOVED your Call Story! Thanx again for hanging out with us in the Lair.

Alas, the poor GR can not WAIT to get outta Sac-Town! We've had almost 3 inches of rain since last night, and winds gusting up to 75 mph! ACK! My power has been spotty all day. Hope this gets through.

With no power, I also have NO HEAT so the GR and I have been huddled under various covers eating left over Christmas choccie.


Joan said...


Seems the bigger question is....can you get to JFK in 6 degrees or less? LOL

Looks like ya'll have been having a good time while I labored away at the day job.

Sara, can you tell us something about the hero in "Dark Hunger"?

Sara Reinke said...

Sure thing, Joan. :) (Hey, don't I know you from somewhere? *g*)

The hero in "Dark Hunger" is a secondary character from "Dark Thirst." His name is Rene Morin and he's an above-knee amputee. I didn't set out to write another book with a disabled hero, I promise, LOL.

I had a lot of fun researching both Brandon and Rene, in terms of their disabilities. I have this philosophy where I try to learn something with every new manuscript I write, and the Brethren books have definitely been eye-opening.

Thanks so much for welcoming me to your blog today, Bandits. I had such a wonderful time and really enjoyed getting to meet you.

Joan, I'll let you award the copy of "Dark Thirst" -- don't know if you have a specific method in mind. I can email the winner and get their mailing info -- will send a signed copy next week! :)

If anyone would like a free signed cover flat for "Dark Thirst," please email me at and drop me your snail mail address!

:) Sara

Joan said...


Thanks for coming to visit us! We hope you'll come back often.

Tomorrow I will again use my magic sooperdooper hat to draw out a name!

Caren Crane said...

Sara, welcome to the Lair! I must admit, I love it that you got the seed of your idea from the Kentucky bluegrass. When I was a girl growing up in Tennessee, I often got the feeling the hills knew something we didn't. That they had secrets we could learn if we were brave enough to look for them. I think you found the secret in the bluegrass!

I think that pull we feel toward the unknown and the potentially dangerous is the attraction of the vampire story. Plus, there is no happy ending for a vampire, so it's the ultimate challenge for a writer to find one. And to find a plausible one is even more of a challenge. I can't wait to get my hands on "Dark Thirst"!