This past spring was my first ever visit to New Orleans. It was early evening at the end of May when I found myself sitting on a balcony above the Bourbon Street chaos, listening to Dianna Love tell stories about her Guardian Angel, times she’s been guided out of harm’s way, and a whole string of other brushes with the strange and unexplainable. I knew immediately that I wanted to turn that conversation into an interview.
Since we’re coming up on the season of spooky, what better time to bring Dianna back to the Lair, to talk about all things paranormal, and to give readers a sneak peek at Dianna and Sherrilyn’s next release?
Blood Trinity is the first full-length novel in the brand new BELADOR series. Dianna calls it Urban Fantasy on Steroids, and it’s an awesome new twist in the Sherrilyn Kenyon-Dianna Love collaborations.
By the way, that photo just down on the left is the art for the BLOOD TRINITY limited edition tour t-shirt. You can't buy the shirts anywhere, but Dianna will give away a couple here in the lair today. Also, some of the characters in the new series are scattered through the blog today, and you can check them out and find out which ones are which on the character page of Dianna's website, here.
Grab a beverage and pull up a chair here in the front room of the lair. The hockey hunks will turn down the lights for some spooky ambiance, and Sven and the guys will be around with snacks.
Dianna: Thanks so much for having me here. I’m glad to be back in the lair with the Bandits!
Cassondra: Will you tell us a little about the first time you encountered the unexplainable? And were you freaked out by the experience?
Dianna: I think the first time I really acknowledged to myself that there were some things that were “unexplainable” was as a child on my way to see my first movie inside a theater. Until then, we’d only watched movies at drive-ins from a station wagon. Just as we pulled up to see the movie in the theater, I said something along the lines of, “Oh, no. The movie tape broke.” I was very upset I wasn’t going to see the movie. My family looked at me like I’d lost my mind, but five minutes later we were being told the film had snapped and they couldn’t repair it. Then everyone looked at me as if I was possessed. I realized that day to keep my mouth shut when I “knew” something I shouldn’t know.
Cassondra: So it sounds like your family wasn’t exactly encouraging about it, which must have made it more difficult to process. Nobody else in your family had these sorts of experiences?
Dianna: I have a feeling that I had more unusual experiences than the ones I recall, but I repressed a lot of things or just forgot them because I wasn’t in an atmosphere that would encourage discussing odd things. My family tended to look at me as if I belonged in the movie Exorcist.
If anyone else experienced this, they never shared it around the family, and since I kept odd things to myself after that one time, they had no idea about anything else that happened. They eventually forgot about my unexplained comment that we wouldn’t see a movie.
Cassondra: But you had other brushes with the paranormal?
Dianna: Yes. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I lived in a small neighborhood set out in a rural area. The acre property next to us was a corner lot overgrown with weeds almost as tall as me. I’d had enough of the six-person family of relatives living with our seven-person family in a three bedroom house so I decided to leave home.
I packed up my savings (had a pile of change) in a little purse, put on my brown coat and struck out along the side of our wooded property. Then I turned and walked the back of the property next door. When I got to the corner where two roads intersected, an old guy showed up. I can’t really say if he walked up or just appeared, but asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was leaving and planned to get a job sweeping floors in a store to support myself. I don’t remember exactly what he said but he talked me into going home and promised the other family would leave soon.
I had a friend who lived just across the street from that weed-infested lot. A few days later she asked me what I’d been doing standing in that lot, dressed up in my coat with my purse. I never liked carrying a purse so she’d known that was unusual. Realizing I’d been caught, I explained about trying to leave home and told her the man had talked me out of it. I asked if she knew who he was. She said there was never a man standing with me. That she’d watched the whole time and I just stood there looking up for a little bit, then I nodded and went back home.
Cassondra: Did you know other people who had these kinds of experiences? Had you read about them or seen them on tv or in movies? You seem, now, to take these things in stride, so at what point did you come to accept these as a semi-normal part of your life?
Dianna: Because I was out on my own so young (at seventeen) I adapted quickly to anything in life. I’ve always been very open to anyone’s way of life and different beliefs. I once met a psychic who had an uncanny ability to pull things out of my past that no one could know and predicted my future with what eventually turned out to be very accurate details.
At the time I met this woman, I was engaged to a man I’d been with for four years. The woman told me I would not marry him and went on to tell me how I would put large paintings outside with the man I would marry. That part about my marrying someone else—I thought that was way off base. I put the tape away (she had me tape her since she wouldn’t remember what she said) and forgot about it. Over a year later, I broke off the engagement and went on to meet the man I would marry and am still with 27 years later. My husband, Karl, was in real estate at the time, but started working with me on some projects. We went on to paint together on large murals and build an outdoor advertising plant. That was the psychic’s vision of “paintings outside.”
Cassondra: Do you think the unexplainable happens around all of us, all of the time, and only certain people tend to notice/pay attention? Or do you think these unexplainable things happen to only a few?
Dianna: I think supernatural things happen all the time, but over the years the world has unknowingly (at times) conspired to squash those abilities. From condemning someone with a gift as being satanic to modernizing our fast-paced lives, we’ve done a lot of things which I believe make it difficult to tap into that part of our spirit that works outside of what we consider the “real” world. Interestingly, we seem to be moving back in the direction of exploring unusual things and this time with a more open mind. Many cultures still practice ancient methods of natural healing that were considered foolish in our culture not that many years ago. But now those methods are becoming more well-known and people are getting interested again.
Kelly L. Stone recently published a book called Thinking Write, which is a fascinating book for anyone, not just writers. She teaches that we have preconscious, conscious and subconscious that we can tap for information or answers to questions. She says we start gathering information the minute we open our eyes from birth, and that all that information is stored. When you think about it – that’s like having an additional sense we don’t normally use. There are people and places (some bona fide, some are charlatans) that will teach you how to tap into your “other” senses beyond the five we understand and accept. I would love to have the time at some point to undertake this study. I have a feeling that down the road this world is going to see an era that is ruled by this ability.
Cassondra: Speaking of the unexplainable, when did Paranormal stories first start percolating in your conscious mind? Did you read paranormal fiction before you got your first idea?
Dianna: I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and paranormal. I like things that surprise me. Who isn’t surprised by magic or a miracle? I’ve always been a voracious reader, but I did not read things that scared me because I have such an active imagination I knew when I went to sleep I’d come up with something even worse. I remember reading Anne Rice and having to put down one of her books in the middle of the night because it scared the crud out of me. But I couldn’t wait to read more the next day (only in daylight) because it was a fascinating idea. I’m always captured by really creative thinking. Even if the subject matter sometimes puts me off I still admire the creative thought process.
Cassondra: The first Belador story, Midnight Kiss Goodbye, was published in late 2008 as a novella in the anthology DEAD AFTER DARK. But you’d had this idea for a while, right?
Dianna: You all have heard me say before that I spent a lot of time hanging over a hundred feet in the air, painting large murals alone for fifteen hour days over the years. I didn’t care for radios because of the commercials and we didn’t have iPods back then so it was quiet when I painted. I started making up stories to entertain myself while I painted. Still, I didn’t form a paranormal story until well after I’d started writing seriously in 2001.
Of course, the idea that came to me wasn’t vampires and werewolves, which were all the rage at the time. I had this group of warriors in my mind that were Celtic in origin, but then I saw them battling with powerful beings that were not Celtic. I started thinking, what if the Celtic, Greek, Hindu, Castilian, etc, gods and goddesses clashed with each other? Who would win? Could one god defeat another god? From that I came up with the VIPER coalition and took off on a story line.
Cassondra: You wrote the first BELADOR story alone, right? How did you and Sherrilyn decide to work on this series together?
Dianna: The BAD agency was originally Sherrilyn’s series, and she brought me into that as a co-author. When the publisher told us they’d like to have a paranormal series from both of us, since I’d already released Midnight Kiss Goodbye, I asked Sherrilyn if she’d like to write that as a series together. She loved the idea, and the publisher was thrilled.
Cassondra: This series centers around three main characters. How did you decide to go that direction, and why urban fantasy, instead of the straight romantic suspense or paranormal romance you and Sherrilyn normally focus on?
Dianna: I wanted a bigger playground than to build the series around one character and kept thinking how much I enjoyed an old television series called The Mod Squad, and--
[The door of the lair creaks on its ancient hinges, interrupting Dianna’s answer. Cassondra notices two of the gladiators snap to attention and reach for their swords. ]
Cassondra : [stands up from the sofa, aggravated] Hey! What gives? I had the “BLOG IN PROGRESS Do Not Disturb” sign on the door!
[Three imposing figures fill the wide doorway. Gasps escape members of the crowd in the back of the room as a tall, Adonis-like blonde Russian male steps inside. Then whispers of, “OMG he’s gorgeous!” stir through the group as a stunning African American man follows. A tall brunette woman in a vintage BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) shirt, jeans and biker boots brings up the rear. The three new arrivals and the gladiators face off, alpha energy zinging through the air.]
Cassondra: [raises an eyebrow at Dianna]: You expecting company?
Dianna: [grins]Hey you guys! Glad you were able to make it.
[The three move a little further into the room, cross their arms and glare.]
Cassondra: [Pats a rock-hard gladiator bicep] It’s okay. They’re friends. Y’all can stand down. [Turns to Dianna] I didn’t know the Beladors were stopping by. [Looks around the room] Sven? Sveeeeeen!!!! Any chance we could get some extra snacks and drinks up here????
Dianna: Everybody, meet Quinn [The blonde man gives a barely-there nod], Evalle [the woman tucks her motorcycle helmet under one arm], and Tzader [Dianna pronounces it “Zay-der”].
Cassondra: These are the main characters in Blood Trinity, the novel coming out next week, right?
Dianna: Yes. They were introduced in the novella last year. It was a paranormal romance with Belador warrior, Trey, and his childhood sweetheart, Sasha, who is a witch, but Trey didn’t know that. At the climax of Trey and Sasha’s story, these three walked on scene in the middle of a huge battle in Atlanta.
[Dianna and Cassondra return to their seats on the sofa, and the gladiators finally relax. Evalle, Tzader and Quinn, however, ignore the chairs Jeanne and a hockey hunk nudge in their direction, and instead, lean against the stone wall.]
Cassondra: I understand that Blood Trinity actually starts with a scene from two years back, which lets everyone know how these three met and why they ‘re so close?
Dianna: Yes. I invited them to stop by today, thinking this would be a great opportunity for everyone to meet them. [Dianna turns to the three Beladors standing across from her in the lair’s main hall] Before we explain about Beladors, I’d like each of you to tell us something about yourself.
Dianna: [drums fingers on her notes] I thought you’d like to get out of the writing cave for a while.
Evalle: Being locked in a dark room is nothing new to me. [she grins] Have to understand that it’s just not a good idea to share too much about who we are and what we can do. Not with demons and other things out there hunting us. Besides, when has Z ever been chatty? [cuts a sly look at Tzader whose face reveals nothing about what he’s thinking]
[Sven and Paulo scurry into the room. Sven sets a large tray full of chips, dips and drinks onto the center table. Evalle raises one eyebrow at Paulo, who is obviously keeping Sven between him and the Beladors.]
Quinn: [clears his throat] I quite agree about sharing information. I will, however, start the dialogue since we were ordered to be here and I doubt we’ll be able to leave until we give up something. Beladors are Celtic and have been around for over two thousand years. We’re ruled by the goddess Macha who empowered her warriors and we’ve inherited our supernatural abilities, such as kinetic powers and telepathy, from our ancestors. We have other powers… [he pauses as if hearing something then turns to Tzader with an exasperated look] I don’t intend to share that much. Give me some credit.
[Tzader crosses his arms and continues to appear menacing.]
Evalle: [sets her helmet on the floor] Loosen up Z. Quinn’s not going to tell them about your knives.
Tzader: Way to go, Evalle. Anything else you want to run off at the mouth about?
Evalle: [flashes an evil grin] Gotcha to talk.
Quinn: [smiles] Maybe you’d like to tell us the origin of those sentient knives.
Tzader: Maybe I should tell them something about how we met?
[Evalle and Quinn cross their arms and scowl]
Dianna: Nope, no spoilers from Blood Trinity. We had a question about what VIPER is and how the coalition functions. Since you’re stationed in Atlanta, Evalle, why don’t you explain?
Evalle: [releases a long stream of air and twists up the corner of her mouth as though answering a pop quiz question] VIPER stands for Vigilante International Protectors Elite Regiment. It’s a coalition of powerful beings around the universe who have agreed to protect mankind from supernatural predators. The gods and goddesses who joined the coalition are considered allies. The others are either enemies or neutral assets who are allowed to function as long as they don’t harm humans.
Tzader: Or threaten a VIPER coalition member.
Evalle: You want to explain, Z?
Tzader: [his lips quirk with the hint of a smile] Not when I can annoy you instead.
Evalle: Anyhow, the coalition is made of different beings from a range of pantheons that work as teams when necessary. As part of the southeastern US division, I’m assigned to Atlanta.
Dianna: You didn’t mention that Sen is in charge of VIPER in North America.
Evalle: [answers dryly] Gee, how’d I miss that? Oh, I know, because he’s an ass--
Quinn: Evalle, darling, that’s not appropriate language here.
Evalle: Oh? Then you come up with a better description of that jerk. Besides, he’s not my superior. Z is Maistir over all the North American Beladors. I answer to him first. Sen can bite my --
[The hologram of a young woman with a long sweep of curling red hair, green eyes like an Irish morning and clothed in a robe of misty green appears in the middle of the room. Gladiator jaws hit the floor. Paulo scoots behind the bar.]
Dianna: Welcome, Brina. For those who do not know, Brina is the warrior queen of the Beladors, who answers only to the goddess Macha.
Brina: [ignores Dianna and targets Evalle with her sharp gaze] No swearing, Evalle Kincaid.
Evalle: What? [looks innocently at Brina] I was going to say he can bite my boot leather.
Brina: Or lying.
Evalle: [voice humble] Not lying. I was editing as I spoke. That’s what Dianna and Sherrilyn do, right Dianna?
Dianna: [sighs] Technically, she’s correct, Brina.
Brina: [shifts her censoring gaze toward Dianna] You and Sherrilyn encourage Evalle’s reckless behavior enough as it is.
Quinn: [mutters] Hear, hear.
Evalle: [hands on hips] And neither do I need help with getting out of trouble.
Tzader: That’s debatable.
Evalle: I’ve kicked my share of demon butt.
Tzader: Might not have to if you weren’t such a demon magnetic.
Evalle: Hey! I didn’t cause the problem in Atlanta. That started with Trey and Vyan. If Vyan’s warlord hadn’t found a way out from under Mount Meru--
Dianna: Whoa! No spoilers.
Brina: [rolls her eyes] I have more to worry about than spoilers. [she vanishes]
Quinn: [chuckling over Brina’s departure] We could talk about that thing Evalle calls a pet.
Evalle and Dianna: No!
Quinn: In that case, I say we spend some time getting acquainted with the ladies here…ahem…I mean our fans who have stopped by. [the rascal winks at the crowd of Bandits and Buddies. ]
Tzader: [grins at Evalle’s eye roll] I’m in.
[Gladiators cross their arms. A couple of hockey hunks who’ve sneaked in the back door stand up straighter and frown.]
Evalle: Better be careful where you two aim those smiles. Looks like these guys are marking their territory.
Cassondra: Don’t mind them. They’re just not used to having competition in the lair.
Tzader: We can handle competition. [he slices a challenging look at the hockey hunks] Long as the woman is unattached. Quinn and I don’t poach.
Dianna: Absolutely not. All Beladors live by a code of honor.
Evalle: Except for the traitor. When we find that one and hand him over to Macha he’ll wish he’d never been born.
Quinn: True. The goddess is not one to cross. That’s been proven by what she did to our ancestors 800 years ago.
Tzader: [winces] Did you have to bring that up?
Quinn: It’s not as though we can hide what our ancestors did, but Macha made them pay for their bloodlust.
Evalle: That didn’t stop Vyan from coming back to demand his pound of flesh.
Tzader: That was two years ago and Vyan agreed not to throw down with the Beladors again.
Cassondra: Sheesh. So much for this interview . [sighs and reaches for another chip]
Dianna: I think that wraps up this session before this bunch gives away any more spoilers or Evalle gets into real trouble.
Evalle: [smirks] Bring it on.
Dianna: [shakes head in resignation and turns to the Bandits and Buddies gathered in the lair] Thank you all for coming out today. Blood Trinity will be available at online bookstores and in your local brick-and-mortar bookstores on October 19th. Once you read the first in this series you’ll know why we say, “Atlanta is about to get a lot hotter.” Feel free to ask Tzader, Evalle and Quinn questions, but know that I’ll stop them from giving away spoilers.
Cassondra: OR getting too cozy with any of the ladies here.
Dianna: [looks at the three Beladors and mutters] The excerpt for Blood Trinity is up on my website here and if that doesn’t answer the rest of their questions I could just answer for you three.
Evalle: No way.
Quinn: I think not.
Tzader: We got this.
Dianna: [turns back to audience] You can ask a question or just say hello. Or you can answer one of my questions, below. Everyone who posts will be in a drawing for prizes. I’m giving away 3 copies of Blood Trinity and 2 of the coveted Belador tour T-shirts. If you don’t win one of those here, stop by my Dianna Love Fan Page on Facebook and LIKE me to be eligible for winning T-shirts, books and…a Kindle, Nook or iPad.Here are a few questions for YOU to answer:
* Have you ever had a niggle that made you go back into the house before leaving that resulted in either finding something you had to have that day or turning off an appliance that could have been a danger?
* How often have you simply known when the phone rang who it was? Or started thinking about someone unexpectedly in an intense way then heard from them or heard news about that person?
*To the mothers out there – when have you had that maternal sixth sense about something to do with your child?
* Do you believe we have extra senses we are not using?