Friday, December 3, 2010

Werewolves, Vampires and Immortal Guardians

posted by Nancy

Silhouette author Bonnie Vanak makes her first visit to the Lair today. Bonnie broke into publishing with romances set in ancient Egypt and has since written vampires, werewolves, and demons. We'll chat about her latest releases. Welcome, Bonnie!

Please tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.

My writing career began when I authored adventure stories starring Kissy, my pet kissing gourami. Critics at Shongum Elementary School in New Jersey gave these tomes rave reviews, noting, “Your spelling has improved.” Although they never made the NY Times bestselling list, the short stories were featured on my mother’s very busy refrigerator door.

And then I found my mother’s stash of romance novels, including Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt. I was in heaven!

More than ten years ago, I started writing romance novels to balance the emotional strains of constantly seeing poverty and suffering. I work as a writer for a large international charity and travel to poor countries. In fact, I’ve just returned from Haiti and covering the cholera epidemic. Then, in 2001, I won a romance contest and that historical became The Falcon and the Dove, my first published novel.

What draws you to paranormal romance?

I enjoy the possibilities and the adventure of creating my own world. It’s a very freeing sensation when you write paranormal, so different from when I wrote historical romances. I wanted to write werewolves because I like pack loyalty and the challenges it creates. But I also wanted my werewolves to be different, so I gave them unique abilities, from being a healer to being an immortal like Raphael in Immortal Wolf.

You have two releases this month. Courage of the Wolf, a Nocturne Bite ebook, launches the Immortal Justice Guardians. Who are they?

The Justice Guardians are paranormal beings who die and are reborn to immortality. They’re called Phoenixes because of the death and rebirth cycle. They patrol the earth, doling out justice and destroying predators of paranormal creatures. Tristan, one of the most powerful Justice Guardians, first appears in this Bite and he also is in The Shadow Wolf, my September 2011 Nocturne.

What’s the biggest conflict between the hero and heroine of Courage of the Wolf, Michael and Sabrina?

Michael knows he can’t have Sabrina. He must maintain this professional distance, even though he’s sworn to guard her and watch over her. Think of a guardian angel who can’t emotionally become involved with his charge. Sabrina has always had feelings for Michael, who now has enormous responsibilities and is far more powerful than when they first met. She knows he could break her heart if she falls in love with him.

Here's an excerpt (copyright 2010 by Bonnie Vanak)

Just another day in a tropical paradise filled with demons. Right. If only it was just a typical day and not the very one he’d been dreading.

Ambling backwards on the roadside, Michael Anderson scanned Florida’s Alligator Alley for a silver Lexus. As always, Sabrina Kelly was late. The Draicon werewolf would be late for her own funeral. The thought sobered him.

Minutes later, Michael pushed a hand through his long, ragged hair as Sabrina’s car pulled off the road. He breathed in her scent of fresh lavender as the Draicon werewolf hurried toward him. Dressed in a pink sweater set and a floral skirt, she looked like spring. Cut razor straight, her black hair swung just below her jawline. Wide, sea-green eyes shone with intelligence.

When she threw herself into his arms, he hugged back, feeling a lump rise in his throat. The vision came to him again. Blood. Death. Sorrow.

Michael set her back down on her feet. As much as he wanted to use his powers as an Immortal Justice Guardian to direct destiny, he could not. Punishment would be severe if he broke Guardian laws. He’d already broken a big one to buy Sabrina time.

Years ago, when he was still a Draicon werewolf, he’d made a promise to keep her safe. The burning need to protect her had never stopped. It wasn’t love, but a fierce admiration of her strong spirit and honoring the deep friendship they’d shared in the past.

“Why did you want me to pick you up on this road? Forget how to dematerialize?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I like walking. And I thought it would be nice to ride with you in the Lexus to your grandparents’ anniversary party.”

“You knew I was taking the Lexus and not the Expedition? Oh, of course, you know everything.” She shook her head. “Even what type of underwear I have on.”

“I don’t know everything.”

When she turned, he flicked his fingers. A microburst of air sent the fabric swirling upward. “White lace,” he noted with a grin. “Very nice.”

“Michael!” she scolded him with a smile.

A faint blush raced across her cheeks. It was like watching the sun chase away the night. Enchanted, he watched her moisten her pink lips. What would her petal-soft mouth feel like beneath his as he took her, hard and fast? He swallowed hard at the startling, sexual thought. Sabrina was off-limits.

He was a Phoenix, an Immortal Justice Guardian who’d died and been reborn to his powers. Michael patrolled the earth, doling out justice and destroying predators of paranormal creatures. He’d succeeded at his job until a year ago, when the Hellfire demon Ambrosis slaughtered Sabrina’s parents and five siblings as Sabrina tried to save them. Her family had been heading to visit her grandparents when the demon attacked them as they took a brief respite from driving.

If he could, he’d die to keep her safe. But he couldn’t die again. Sabrina had to face her own demon. Guardian laws demanded he must not interfere.

“Let’s go,” he muttered. The sun sinking toward the horizon warned they were running out of time.

Inside the car, his senses drank in her scent as if he were still a Draicon werewolf. Trees, palms and scrub brush passed in a blur as the car sped toward Florida’s west coast.

“Michael, you’re the only friend who still bothers with me. Thank you,” Sabrina told him.

“I’m not just your friend, Brie. I’ve watched over you since I became a Justice Guardian. You’ve shut yourself off from the world.”

She blinked hard. “If not for you, I’d never have done this. I can’t bear the memories.” White showed on her knuckles as her fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “All I can recall is fighting. Pain, and then nothing. Nothing except waking up to see my family was dead.”

“You still don’t remember what happened to you?”

“It’s a blur, except I have the scar to remind me. I have nightmares about Ambrosis, and this voice keeps telling me I must have the courage to face him again. But ever since I lost my family, I’m terrified of something else happening.”

Michael looked away. “You should pay attention to your dreams. Often, they contain messages.”

She inhaled deeply. “Dreams are just dreams. Let’s not talk about it. It’s hard enough for me to drive on this road again. I haven’t been this way since Ambrosis killed my family.”

A fist of guilt slammed into his guts. He stared out the passenger’s side window. I’m sorry, Brie, but I must do this. It’s my duty as a Justice Guardian.

Familiar landmarks appeared on the roadside. Sabrina’s hands shook. “This is the place. If I’d never insisted on Dad stopping so we could hunt in the swamp, they’d still be alive. I’m going to speed up .…”

“Pull over,” he told her.



I love that! You also have a story,”Unwrapped,” in the Christmas With a Vampire anthology (with that seriously cute guy on the cover). What’s that story about?

Think Romeo and Juliet with fangs and sharp claws! Adrian, the vampire, and Sarah, the Draicon werewolf, must team together to defeat the evil creatures who want Sarah dead. There’s a surprising twist at the end of the story.

Do the hero and heroine have a history?

Yes, in "Unwrapped," Adrian and Sarah were friends who secretly cared about each other.

When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?

In my spare time, my husband and I bike ride and take hikes, and we just finished decorating the whole house for Christmas. He’s into trains, so instead of one train beneath the tree, we have three! It’s great fun at the holidays for our friends and their children.

What’s next for you?

The Shadow Wolf is my next mass market Nocturne book, out in September 2011. And I just contracted to write three novellas for Nocturne in a sexy new series I’m calling The Ancients. It’s about three sisters who are half demon, half angel. They are coming into their powers and must be stopped before they turn fully demonic. Three Ancients, a werewolf, a vampire and a shapeshifting jaguar, are assigned to sexually bond with them to tame their dark side, or destroy them if the bonding fails.

For more on Bonnie and her work, visit her website. Bonnie is giving away a copy of her first Nocturne, The Empath (now out of print), to one commenter today. So answer one of these questions to be eligible. What's your favorite kind of paranormal romance? Your favorite Christmas romance? Your favorite romance hero and heroine who battle forces of darkness?


Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

have Fun

Helen said...

Well he is coming to my place and it is very humid here today and I have just put another Christmas cake in the oven he must have smelt it LOL


I do so love the sound of your books I love shapeshifters. Congrats on the release I will be popping over to your website and noting down a list of books I am sure to be adding to my must have list LOL more books excellent and with Christmas just around the corner whoo hoo.

My favourite type of paranormal romance is shapeshifters and magic I have loved Nalini Singh's Psy Changleing series and also Pamela Palmer's Feral Warrior series and all of those couples from these books fought big battles with darkness. I have a lot of favourite Christmas stories but I also have a few new ones on the TBR pile that I will be reading next up.

Bonnie I loved the excerpt I know I will love it congrats on the release and thank you very much Nancy for inviting Bonnie along today.

Have to check on the cake I might need to turn the air con on the oven is warming the house a bit much for summer LOL

have Fun

Minna said...

What's your favorite kind of paranormal romance? Shapeshifters.

SiNn said...

nicee post

I have to say myf av type of paranormal romance really varies i love them all vampires and werewolves the most

I really dontr ead a wholelot of christmas reads really enjoyed fren michaels antho Holiday Magic was apretty good one

too many favs to pick just one tho i do loveee Jaxon Castille and Libby Jamieson from His darkest hunger by Julianna Stone really allof her characters rock expecially that one

your books all sound awesome ur a new to me author

Unknown said...

well done Helen will be up later get the kettle on LOL

Your books sound really good Bonnie.... I like any paranormal ... I read all sorts, I like variety, not stick to one genre.... I have just read Mistletoe magic by Sophia James and really enjoyed that.... congratulations on the books and will have put them on my TBR pile

Christine Wells said...

Hi Bonnie! Welcome to the lair. Nancy, thanks for a great interview.

Bonnie, I was just saying to my mother that when I get into the writing zone, all my cares disappear for a while. I suppose that's doubly true for you, having what might be literally termed the weight of the world on your shoulders. I really admire what you do and I can understand you'd want to travel as far away from reality as possible in your fictional world. Your books sound great!

As far as paranormal goes, I enjoy Nalini Singh and J.R. Ward. I also loved the foray Jenny Crusie took into the woo woo side of things recently with "Maybe This Time".

As for Christmas books, I can't go past the classics, A Christmas Carol, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas etc. I'm also looking forward to some great anthologies this year, like the one our Tawny's contributed to==IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MISTLETOE.

Helen keep the rooster away from those wolves, won't you?

Nas said...

Vampires all the Jacob was hot in maybe werewolves too!

But this excerpt made me want to read more about Sabrina and Michael!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi everyone! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt and it's nice being here.

It's still early for me but thought I'd pop in to say hello. DH leaves for work at the crack of dawn so I wake up early. Can someone make me a nice cup of tea? :-)

Christine, writing does give me a break and it is nice to escape for a while. I always bring books to read on my trips as well.

Helen, totally get it about the a/c. It's winter here in Florida and we finally turned it off this week because the temperatures are now below 75. Around here, people wear coats when it get to be around 65. I can always tell who the tourists are because they are the ones who go swimming in the ocean in the winter!

Gillian Layne said...

Good morning, Bonnie! I have a cup of tea for you right here. :)

I absolutely love Bonnie's work--I was addicted to her Egyptian historical works, and gladly followed her into the world of sexy, darkly romantic paranormals.

Congratulations on both releases. I know they're on my Christmas wish list! :)

Laurie G said...

I'm relatively new to the paranormal genre. I did like the Twilight series, Jennifer St Gile's books and I do like Lori Handelhand's Night Creature novels.

Favorite: shapeshifter wolves

Christmas books: Curtiss Matloch's Miracle On I-40 and Linda Howard's Bluebird Winter.

H&H -Jennifer St Giles Touch a Dark Wolf Erin and Jared!!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi Gillian! So good to see you!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi Laurie. I like Jennifer St. Giles books as well. I know she has a new series out with Samhain, a military thriller series called The Silent Warrior series.

Nancy said...

Hi, Helen. Have fun with the bird!

"Christmas cake?" Is this an Australian tradition?

Nancy said...

Helen wrote: all of those couples from these books fought big battles with darkness

You know, I think that's one reason I like fantasy and paranormal romance so much. The darkness is intense, and the stakes are high, but they don't get under my skin the way some serial killer books do.

Nancy said...

Minna, do you have a favorite type of shifter?

Nancy said...

SiNn, I'm not familiar with Julianna Stone's books. I'll have to check those out.

Thanks for stopping in.

Nancy said...

Hi, Barb--Sophia James, huh? Another one I'll have to look up.

I'm a sucker for Christmas romances. I don't usually buy many anthologies but I love the seasonal ones. The shorter stories are perfect for a time when I'm rushing around like a crazy person.

Nancy said...

Christine, we used to read A Christmas Carol aloud as a family during Advent. The boy has gotten away from being read to, of course, but we did read the last Harry Potter aloud as a family. Since this is his last Christmas season at home (a fact I try not to dwell on), maybe I'll see if he'll go for A Christmas Carol one more time.

Nancy said...

Hi, Nas Dean--Isn't that a great excerpt?

Many of the kids at my son's school, especially the girls, love Twilight and Jacob. There's a huge Twilight contingent at DragonCon, the annual SFF convention in Atlanta.

Nancy said...

Bonnie, I love that picture of you with the flamingo.

We spent one Christmas in Florida with my father's brother and his family. Some of my cousins and I ate our Christmas dinner outside at the picnic table, in shorts. That seemed so weird to me.

Then the temperature plunged into the thirties and threatened the orange crop, which was scary for the Floridians but felt more normal to me.

Nancy said...

Hi, Gillian--One of the things the fantasy market is more open to than the romance one is an unusual setting. They don't have the kinds of strictures romance publishers seem to. Egypt sounds like a great setting to me. One of my favorite YA books (I can even see the cover in my mind after all these years) was Mara, Daughter of the Nile.

Nancy said...

Hi, Laurie--

Those all sound like great suggestions. Lori Handeland is blogging with us, probably about the Night Creatures series, on March 3. I love here Elizabeth Phoenix books. If you haven't seen those, you might want to check them out.

Alyssa Maxwell said...

Hi Bonnie! I'm not picky - just give me a paranormal with a dark, brooding, SEXY hero who would go to any lengths for the heroine, and I'm hooked! Congrats on all your releases, current and future!

Nancy said...

Hi, Allison--Brooding, sexy heroes are very popular here. :-)

jo robertson said...

Hi, Bonnie, welcome to the Lair! I love the unique kinds of creatures you've created in your books. Very interesting.

I enjoy vampire stories even though the market seems flooded at the moment. I really liked the early Anita Blake series.

Gerri Russell said...


Good morning! Congratulations on your new release. Sound all your books are!

The thing that keeps me coming back to paranormals over and over again is the epic battle between good and evil. I just can't get enough. One thing I alway love about your paranormals in particular is that you have that classic darkness vs. light, but you also have humor to lighten things up. It's a gift. Thank you for sharing your gift with us today!

Nancy said...

Jo, I have another friend who loves the Anita Blake series, especially the early ones.

Nancy said...

Gerri, I love that epic battle, too. I think that's one reason I read so much fantasy and science fiction--they're ALL about the epic battle.

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Helen. You KNOW he smelt that cake! Our boy loves the sweets!

Great excerpt, Bonnie! Wow!

I love all paranormals! Funny,dark, sexy - you name it.

Vampires appeal to me because of the loneliness that must ensue when you think of living forever.

Werewolves I like because of the idea of losing control and then trying to get it back in another form.

Angels and demons appeal to me because I know we all have them inside us - our better angels and our personal demons.

And witches and wizards are just fun!

I love Christmas anthologies, especially Regency set anthologies. I pull them all out at Christmas and read them to get me in the spirit. One of my all time favorites is Angel Christmas published in 1995 (yes, my copy is very yellowed and well-read!) It has stories by Mary Balogh, Marilyn Campbell, Carole Nelson Douglas, Emma Merritt and Patricia Rice. It is well worth trying to find it used, trust me.

My favorite paranormal hero and heroine? Valerius and Tabitha from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Seize the Night. He's a stuffy immortal Roman general, very GQ and she is a Goth chick mortal vampire slayer. And her twin sister is married to the general's immortal enemy. Great stuff!

Nancy said...

Hi, Louisa--I have a bunch of those Regency Christmas anthologies, too!

I love Valerius, and the "old enemies" dynamic between him and Kyrian adds a bit of zing to the whole thing.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi Allison, thanks so much! Yes, brooding and sexy, that's how I like them too!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi Nancy! Thanks for inviting me! I like Christmas stories, and Christmas movies! Watched a real tear jerker last night... The Christmas Shoes. I think tonight we'll pop Peanuts into the DVD player.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi there, Jo. I hear you about the market seeming to be flooded. I have visions of vampires on the street, looking for a book to nestle into. ;-)

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi Gerri, thanks so much!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Louisa, I like angels and demons, too. The novellas I'm writing now feature a heroine who is half angel, half demon. You have a good point. We all have good and bad inside us. And I think Valerius is hot, too. Tabby makes the perfect foil for him. Love her shop and how he cringes when he first arrives in her apartment!

Nancy said...

Bonnie, I'm glad you could join us.

Charlie Brown and Company are a great antidote for tear-jerkers.

Mary Ricksen said...

Congratulations on your new releases Bonnie! As always I can't wait to read them. You had me hooked from the very first time I picked up The Falcon and The Dove. What a thrill it was to first meet you! And what a wonderful thing it is to see what a great person you are. Your job alone has pushed you straight to heaven, and you're a very sensitive person too. Thanks Bonnie, for writing and for being a great role model for us all...

Karyn Gerrard said...

Hi Bonnie and Nancy!

I have really taken to paranormal romance, Love wolves, shifters, the whole thing.
But I will always have a soft spot for vampires.
Maybe it is the inherit tragedy of living so long, seeing and feeling so much.
Or maybe it is the whole drinking blood thing, LOL!
All the best for your release!

catslady said...

Oh, I don't really have favorites per se. I love the book I'm reading usually and I enjoy variety so I like all types and really don't favor one over the other. A good book is a good book lol.

Nancy said...

Mary, thanks for stopping by.

Nancy said...

Karyn wrote, about her soft spot for vampires: Maybe it is the inherit tragedy of living so long, seeing and feeling so much.

That's beautifully put, Karyn.

Nancy said...

Hi, Catslady--No favorites, huh? I like a wide variety, too. Lately I've been reading a bit more mystery, and I have some thrillers here for the winter break.

Nancy said...

Bonnie, where was the outdoor photo on the blog taken?

Bonnie Vanak said...

Mary, you are too sweet. Thanks.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Karyn, I agree, vamps seem to have that brooding, long life angst. Dark and sexy, and nuzzling your neck....hmmmm!

Bonnie Vanak said...

catslady, I just had a discussion today with some coworkers about paperbacks versus electronic books. I have a Kindle, which I love, but I also have paperbacks all over the house. I read a little here and there as I get time. I will always love my paperbacks, as much as I enjoy the Kindle.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Nancy, the photo was taken in the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, at a housing community my organization built. It's very poor there, but the mountains are rugged, velvet green and breathtaking.

Beth Andrews said...

So great to have you in the lair, Bonnie! Your stories sound fabulous *g* I don't have a favorite type of paranormal story - as long as I'm able to suspend disbelief and lose myself in the story, I'm happy :-)

Thanks so much for being with us today!

Nancy said...

Bonnie, is that the main thing your organization does, build houses?

The countryside in that photo looks very lush and beautiful.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Welcome to the Lair, Bonnie! Nancy, you always bring the most interesting authors and books to visit us!!

My favorite paranormals are werewolf shifters, time travels, and the psychic woo-woo kind. Not really into vampires, uh..other than the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And I adore all of Sherrilyn Kenyon's paranormals. So I'm thinking your Justice Guardian series is going to be right up my alley!

Favorite Chritmas romance? Sandy Blair's A Highlander For Christmas. Highlander, time travel, I'm a character in it. Yep, what's not to like?

But I do love Scrooge type Christmas stories. Okay hunky Scrooge type guys whose Christmas ends with a romance!

jo robertson said...

Hey, Helen, what have you got the rooster doing today? Is he helping you to bake?

I like shapeshifter books too, although I haven't read all that many.

jo robertson said...

Bonnie, your Egyptian historicals sound very interesting too. Can you tell us something about them?

Nancy said...

Suz, I love Scrooge stories, too.

Just the name "Justice Guardians" sounds so cool, doesn't it?

Nancy said...

Jo, I hope Helen keeps the rooster very, very busy so he's too tired to much up the holiday preparations here in the Lair.

jo robertson said...

Nancy said, "The darkness is intense, and the stakes are high, but they don't get under my skin the way some serial killer books do."

A good description of the distinction, Nancy. You know the danger is highly elevated, but in paranormals, there's this curtain between our real-life world and the made-up one. In suspense or thrillers, we're not insulated from the wickedness of the world.

But I like the thrillers, too LOL

jo robertson said...

Bonnie said, "The novellas I'm writing now feature a heroine who is half angel, half demon."

I LOVE this idea of half angel, half demon (isn't that sort of like the mortal condition elevated to an epic level, anyway?). Will these novellas come out separately or in an anthology?

This idea really appeals to me!

jo robertson said...

Yes, Nancy, the early Anita Blake books were light, fun, and unusual for the time they came out in. The latter ones are just too kinky for me.

Nancy said...

Jo wrote: You know the danger is highly elevated, but in paranormals, there's this curtain between our real-life world and the made-up one.

That's very apt, Jo. During the winter break, I'm finally going to read some of the thrillers I've been scoping out. I like RS, but I think I might also like regular suspense, especially if it has some romance in it.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks Beth! It's a pleasure to join with you in the lair.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Nancy, no, my organizations also runs orphanages, feeds people, does developmental projects and we also install water wells. We installed several water filtraton units in Haiti in the Artibonite region, where the cholera outbreak first occurred. I just returned from that area. It's very sad. All the people have to drink is the contaminated water.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks Suzanne. I like Scrooge stories, too.

Nancy said...

Bonnie, thanks for explaining what your organization does. I've read that in the aftermath of disaster, potable water is one of the most important things.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks for asking, Jo. My Egyptian historials are seven books published with Dorchester. They take place in Victorian and Edwardian Egypt, and feature a mystical tribe called the Khamsin warriors of the wind. I just got all my rights back to these books from Dorchester, and plan to put the first two on the Kindle after the New Year.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Jo, the novellas will be separate stories, but scheduled close together since they are a connected series. They might be put into an anthology someday, which is what happened with my first novella for Nocturne.

Bonnie Vanak said...

I'm wondering about Helen's rooster... is it a quiet rooster or the type that crows all night long? Funny thing about roosters, I always thought they never crowed at night. My first trip to a developing country, boy did I find out otherwise!

Nancy said...

Bonnie, you never know about the Golden Rooster. He's sneaky, but he's also a bit of a braggart. Since he loves Tim Tams, our Australian friends have to lock up their supply when he's with them.

Cassondra said...

Hi Bonnie, and hi Nancy!

Bonnie, your books sound so interesting. I love it when somebody finds a new way to twist the paranormal world. I'm also interested in pack behavior, and love reading books which do that well.

I'm curious whether you made it a point to study pack behavior before you wrote your werewolf characters, or if you flew into the mist to create your own particular relationship dynamics?

Nancy, wonderful interview. Thanks for bringing Bonnie to the lair!

Cassondra said...

Helen, you got the rooster!

He's very fond of your house, especially around the holidays....those Crissy cakes you make....yummm......You better watch for beak marks.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hi Cassondra! Good question! Yes, I did research wolves. The whole pack mentality and closeness and how they work as a unit is what I used as the hero's conflict in The Empath, my first Ncoturne. Nicolas is banished from the pack and that plays into his emotional vulnerability.

Now if I were studying roosters, especially golden ones, it seems I would have to hang around Helen's place. :-)