Colleen Gleason and I have been friends since we both finaled in Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest in 2003. There have been many times when we've instant messaged each other late at night or sat in a hotel lobby somewhere bemoaning the fact that we hadn't sold any books yet. Fortunately, now we both have -- after many years of writing, submitting and those dreaded rejections in the mailbox. Colleen hit upon a fantastic, high-concept idea with her Gardella Vampire Chronicles -- Buffy in Regency England. Even if I didn't know Colleen, I would adore these books. Unlike a traditional romance in which the heroine gets her man in the course of one book, Colleen has forced Victoria Gardella (and us!) to wait five books to see if she gets her happily ever after. The last in the series, As Shadows Fade, hit bookstore shelves yesterday. I'm SO looking forward to reading the final installment and hoping my guy (of the two potential heroes), Max, is the one Victoria ends up with. If not...well, I have Colleen's address. :)
Q: In this final book of the series, does Victoria finally get her happy ever after? Was it difficult for you to make her choose a hero?
A: Yes, she does!
It wasn’t hard for me to make Victoria choose her man, because, even though she hasn’t always known, I have always known, since the beginning, who her true love would be. That’s never changed, and I’ve never wavered.
But she, like most of us, has had to experience different relationships, and see them begin, end, and change, before she could decide who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She also has had to grow into her role not only as a woman, but as a Venator, as Illa Gardella, before she was ready to make that commitment.
It had to be a man who understands her, to accepts her, who respects her–and with whom she shares beliefs, morals, and judgments. Again, just like the rest of us! So, Victoria chooses a man who will support her in her role as Illa Gardella and help her make those choices from now on. She won’t be alone.
Q: This is the last book in the series about Victoria. How did you feel about the end, and did you find it difficult to wrap up all the loose ends?
As far as the series goes, I felt it was time to wrap up as many loose ends as possible (there are still some that remain unanswered–such as, the mystery behind those paintings in the Consilium!), as Victoria’s story was winding down. I found it both exhilarating to give Victoria her happy ending, as well as completely devastating. I loved her and her character and her world, all of her men and supporting cast, and it was hard to say good-bye.
But at the end of the day, I thought it was important to end not only on what I felt was a high note, but also now, before it went on too long and became predictable or, as I’ve said in the past, before Victoria has had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at her.
When I decided that five books were perfect for Victoria’s story arc, I did have that thought in mind…that I didn’t want to go too far with her so that the series was battered or done to death. For me, as a reader and watcher, I find that series that go on for too long lose some of their sharpness and freshness. As for how the series was to end…I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to end until I was finished with When Twilight Burns, insofar as other threads. I mean, you know I’ve always known who Vic would end up with…but the other threads…I wasn’t certain how they would be resolved.
Q: A lot of books get attention because of their heroes. However, in The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, you have created a very strong standout heroine who gets more time onstage than the possible heroes. Was this by design or did it just happen that way?
A: The series has always been about a woman faced with the desire to do and be “everything”–wife, woman, vampire hunter, Society lady, etc.– and her challenges when confronted with having to make choices and decisions about her priorities.
It’s about a woman who is so unique in her world of Regency England that she is stronger than any man, is charged with a special duty…and yet is a woman, and wants what most women–heck, what most people want: to be appreciated, respected and loved, to have companionship and friendship, and to have someone to partner with.
So, it was indeed by design that Victoria is the cornerstone of the series. And it is Victoria who makes Rockley, Sebastian, Max and even Beauregard and Lilith do things and make choices that they might not have made. She changes them, even as they change her. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
Q: Victoria has grown into her strength a lot throughout this series. What can readers expect to see from her in As Shadows Fade?
A: You can expect to see a very strong, capable woman who has finally come into her own. She knows what she wants (but not always how to go about getting it when it doesn’t have to do with vampires), she has made mistakes in the past and has learned from them, and she is Illa Gardella. She has been through a lot, and by the end of this book, we’ll see that she’s as happy as she can be, that she’s found her place, and has accepted it, even embraced it–with courage, experience, and confidence.
In short, she’s a very different woman than the one we first met in The Rest Falls Away…and I really like the person she’s become.
However, in this book, she faces a different sort of pervasive evil than anything she’s come up against previously. People who have read this book see that the paranormal antagonists are very different than the stake-able vampires in the first book…they’re darker and creepier and more inherently evil. Those scenes feel different than other fight scenes that I’ve written, and that’s purposeful, because I wanted to end the series with her showing that she can fight any evil…not just vampires.
If she’d come up against this particular enemy in the first book or two, Victoria wouldn’t have made it. She’s grown in confidence and knowledge, and only because of that has she been able to come this far.
Thanks for hanging out with us here in the lair today, Colleen. I'm sure we've got many Gardella fans here. And if they aren't now, I hope they will be soon.
If you've not read this series, go forth and purchase all five books (made easy by clicking on the cover of As Shadows Fade in this post). Also, you have a chance to win one of your very own today. Colleen is giving away a book of the winner's choice from the Gardella series to three lucky commenters today.
And if you are already a fan of the series, I'm curious who you're rooting for -- Max or Sebastian. I will endeavor not to say snarky things if you say Sebastian. :)