Monday, December 12, 2011

Death Wish - Giveaway, Author Interveiw & Book Review

Death Wish (The Vamp Saga #1)by Danielle Blanchard Benson
The year is 2020. Vampires not only exist, they control the government, the pharmaceutical industry and the world.

Manon Mourey is a Let It Ride card dealer at Transylvania Hotel, Spa & Casino in Summerlin, a suburb of Las Vegas, when Mikkel Damgaard enters her life. Sparks fly and as the body count begins to rise, Manon begins to suspect that their meeting was not entirely coincidental, and that perhaps something more sinister is at work.

As Manon accepts her position as one of the elite undead, her very existence sparks a war that begins to consume the International Vampire Council and could soon engulf the human population as well. Werewolves and warlocks notwithstanding, a new breed of vampire sits at the top of the food chain and they’re hungry for something different than mortal blood.

Warning: age 16+, this novel contains sex, violence and explicit language.
85,525 words / 342 paperback pages

My Review:

An Amazing book! A unmatched realistic take on the vampire world. The characters are extremely developed, and relatable. Incredibly smart, and I enjoyed the look into the vampire society that Ms. Blanchard had created. The plot and pace, was relentless (in a good way). I could not stop reading. The sexually intense moments will have you steaming up your reading glasses. So take caution. This is a great book to recommend.

My Rating 5 Stars!

Author Interview 
With Author Danielle Blanchard

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, first of all, I am a writer originally from California but I have lived in Las Vegas for the past 7 ½ years so this is definitely my home now. I have been writing since I was thirteen but I have only been published since April of this year. I found out you could self-publish through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords from another indie author and have gained a lot of wisdom and experience from all the many authors I have come to know and love.

I also participated in the Indie Chicks’ Anthology which has a foreward by best-selling indie author Karen McQuestion and is made up of twenty-five indie writers sharing their personal stories and a snippet of their novels. I chose Forever 27, a novelette to be featured but my proudest moment was definitely the essay I did for the Indie Chicks’ Anthology called “Write or Die”. It pretty much sums up how I feel about the subject of writing in general and being an author in particular.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have always loved making up stories. I wrote my first short story in second grade, dabbled with poetry all throughout middle and high school and began my first novel when I was thirteen. I finished it when I was seventeen.

There is just something deeply fascinating for me about making up my own worlds and characters or making up imaginary people in a real setting and exploring their lives, motivations, reasonings and feelings. It gives me great joy because I am a people watcher and I love to weave real life with characters created from my own imagination.

What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?

How intricate and incredibly difficult it is to actually become an author in the traditionally published sense of the word. One acquires an agent who then acquires an editor who then hopefully gets a publisher interested in your work. If all this goes well, you get an advance and hope to God you sell enough of your wares to actually make money.

My baptism by fire was a book I read from an indie author friend called Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran. I realized I could actually put my work out there and make it look just as professsional (hire a cover artist, hire an editor, format my work for both e-Readers and paperback through Amazon) and make more money. Sure, I wouldn’t get an advance but it is actually more exciting for me to have people discover my work and do my own promotion than it would be if I had gone through a traditional publisher.

Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against authors who succeed the old fashioned way and my hat is off to them. I wouldn’t be adverse to a publishing deal either but at this point and time, Amazon is the only company I would actively seek a publishing deal through (ie: one of their houses like Encore, 47North, or Thomas & Mercer).

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I usually start by outlining a general story and then I think about the kind of characters I want to create based upon this skeleton of a story I have created. With Death Wish, it was very much plotted beforehand but the character’s names changed although I knew exactly where I wanted the story to take place and the general story idea.

I like to let a story stew for a while before I begin writing it and even after I have begun the process, I always leave the outline a bit vague so I can make changes and mold the story as it comes about. There are just certain plot twists I can feel will work better than others and usually, I let the story take me where it wants to go. I do my best never to have a lot of filler. Every word on the paper should have a pertinent interest in the storyline itself and should not be there for “padding”.
After that, I usually proofread through my story several times before it is sent to the editor. My editor usually comes back from the first draft with plot holes that need to be filled, cliffhangers that need to be tied up and so that is my job next before it is sent back to my editor for a final read through or redraft. I basically keep at it until the story is complete.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

The most important elements in good writing to me are a plausible plot and strong characters. I am a huge believer in character building and perhaps that could be to my detriment because sometimes, my stories might be slow to start. I believe if my readers can’t identify with my characters then they won’t really care about what happens to them. My biggest fear in terms of criticism are wafer-thin characters and an implausible plot.

Of course good writing in terms of grammar is essential as well but that is why I hire and trust my editor. She is my secret. I may craft a good story but she polishes it and makes it quite beautiful. Without her, I would be incredibly lost so I can’t sing her praises enough as a good editor is worth his or her weight in gold!

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My current novel is a change in direction for me. The first books I released were a novella series called The Beautiful People. It was a Hollywood extravaganza which takes place during the early part of the twenty-first century and focuses on young Hollywood, pop culture and the entertainment industry.

Death Wish, the first book from The Vamp Saga, is completely different as it is paranormal with romantic, science fiction and a heavy urban fantasy element. It takes place in the future where the world is controlled by the International Vampire Council and the Global Six. I have always wanted to write about vampires and politics so I mixed the two and came up with my current novel. It wrote itself and it, too, will be a series but instead of novella length, they will all be full length novels. There are ten planned total and although I was supposed to release the second in the series November of 2012, I am trying to finish it up so it can be released late Summer, early Autumn of 2012.

In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum Death Wish for us.

Manon Mourey is seduced by Mikkel Damgaard and becomes ensnared in vampire politics; she’s also the key to a secret that can create a new and powerful breed of vampires.

How did you come up with a story that was such a whirl wind of events?

A wild imagination? Actually, I have been fascinated for vampires for a long time. I have read all the classics (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles) and of course I grew up with Blade. I am a member of Generation X after all. I wanted to return the vampire back to where they belong: mean, lean and incredibly vicious. I also wanted to create a vampire society.

We have seen the vampire obsessed with humans and I acknowledge this in my novel because it is only fair. I give props to Stephenie Meyer, Charlaine Harris and Amanda Hocking because they are part of pop culture whether I agree with their vampire legends or not. I think they deserve just as much homage as Anne Rice and Bram Stoker, the godfather of the Vampires, because they have all left an imprint on a genre that is just bursting wide open with literature.

I hope in my own way, this is my imprint on that literature because my vampires are segregated from humans and live in their own society, have their own rules and customs. That is not to say they don’t associate with humans because they do. There are familiars and mortals whom they trust but the important part is the vampires consider themselves a more superior species to humans, not much different in their philosophy as that of the Nazi mythology.

In my series, humans are taken into this world and have it opened up before them. They see how vampires think, feel and act; how they view relations with each other, with humans, and with other supernatural creatures. More than anything, I hope the reader gets a sense of how intricate their world is and how they have to make decisions that affect not only themselves but the world they live in and by default, human beings, because they have become the masters of society.

How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?

Death Wish was completed in six weeks and it wrote itself. I made a goal for myself to write three thousand words a day and that is what I did. I didn’t have any writer’s block because this was a book that wanted and needed to be written. I am a huge fan of the True Blood series and like many fans, I was disappointed after the fourth season finale. I usually write novels if the genre I am interested in has been wronged in some way. I believed the vampire genre has been watered down in many ways. YA vampire novels? To me, that is an oxymoron because vampires are not appropriate for children to read in any way, shape or form.

I suppose Death Wish was my answer to all of the vampire novels out there I felt had gotten it wrong. Is my novel perfect? Nope. Will there be people who hate it? Absolutely. But the people who have read it and loved it are my biggest fans and to them, I will always be grateful. If I can entertain a group of the population then I have done my job and that makes me a very happy author.

Will we be seeing a following book to this stories?

Most definitely. I am just getting started. Better Off Dead, the second novel in The Vamp Saga, explores some very interesting issues and unlike Death Wish, it will be told both in first and third person. I will always adore Manon’s point of view but there are too many plot developments for her voice alone. To make it a longer and more full bodied novel, I believe it was essential for the reader to get more than her point of view.

How did you come up with the character Manon?

She’s one of my favorites. It’s hard because I didn’t want her to be a typical Mary Sue where she was weak and needed a man to save her. She’s an every woman, at least in today’s society. She works, she doesn’t have any children and she has just ended a bad relationship. She doesn’t want to need Mikkel but she does as it is the first time she has ever felt fulfilled as a woman. There is a twist though and it really does toy around with the dynamics of their relationship because as it turns out, she is stronger than him and he is over thirteen hundred years old. I think it is an interesting twist as she will be the one who will have to save him but at the same time, there are moments when she must temper her strength and be the “lady” he expects her to be. She was an exciting and extremely interesting character to mold and write. I had a lot of fun with her.

I always must ask, If you could pick one actor to portray Mikkel on the big screen who would it be and why?

Only one? That is so hard! I am a huge fan of Charlie Hunnam (the lead actor in Sons of Anarchy) so although he would be ideal, I would have to choose Alexander Skarsgård from True Blood. Yep… I was definitely thinking of the handsome Swedish actor when I molded Mikkel.

Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?

The emotional sequences between Manon and Mikkel. It is often hard to balance violence and romance in one novel but a vampire novel will usually involve both. It was extremely difficult to have that whole, “I hate you”/”I love you” without it coming off as contrived and soap operish. I tried to convey the feelings between two human beings, one who is coming into this relationship blind while the other knows her whole life story and intentionally decides to keep parts of it secret for his own gain.

I believe if I were in Manon’s shoes, I would have felt the same conflicted feelings towards a person like this because are they hiding secrets for my benefit or just to play me and that is where I want the readers to understand when they experience Manon’s schizo behavior towards Mikkel.

What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?

I actually got to design the cover myself and when I first thought of the concept, I wanted it to be very plain, just a photo of the Las Vegas strip and full moon because I was intent on not having any cheesy vampire covers. I then found the other photo and knew I had to incorporate it into the photo but my version was very amateurish. I sent it to my cover artist and he sent it back.

It was amazing and I couldn’t believe this was my freakin’ book. I am still amazed every time I see the cover (although I should be used to it by now). I did choose to have the plain Las Vegas strip cover for the paperback because I thought it was a bit more discreet and would suit people better, especially if they are reading my novel in public.

Follow This Author & Her Book:

Barnes And Noble:

What: An ebook copy of Death Wish: Book I (The Vamp Saga)
Residency Requirements: United States, Canada, UK and Ireland
Open For TEN Days

To take part in the giveaway PLEASE leave a comment for the author along with your email address.


Julie S said...

Sounds like a really interesting read. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

Toni said...

As soon as this site recommended this book I added it to my list. Sounds like a great story. Thanks for stopping by.


Lizzielvr said...

Hi Danielle! I love the premise of this book and added to my Goodreads list!

Thanks for the interview and contest!

lizzielvr at

Victoria said...

Sounds interesting. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.


moonglitter said...

I absolutely love reading new to me authors and I look forward to reading your work! Thanks for a great interview!! I'll keep my eyes peeled for your next book! :D

Krysykat said...

'paranormal with romantic, science fiction and a heavy urban fantasy element' sounds interesting :) I'd love to read it!


Diana (@Offbeat Vagabond) said...

This sounds amazing. I am a sucker for great vampire societies and this sounds like a winner. I can't believed you designed your own cover, you did an amazing job. That is funny you couldn't even believe it was yours when it was done LOL! Jax or Eric as Mikkel *swoons*, you have very good taste my friend LOL! Great review and interview hon and thank you for the giveaway.

drharleyquinn87 (at) gmail (dot) com

SacredmOOn said...

OMG! I've seen this book on Amazon awhile back. The rating's and reviews are awesome! So I immediately added it to my wish-list. Yup, this book is a must read for me. Thanks for posting this review and interview. I can't wait to read it. Cheers! DeAnna Schultz

Anna said...

Sounds interesting PLZ count me in I would love to read this book

lindalou said...

Your book sounds awesome and I'd love to be entered for the giveaway! Thank you!

Danielle Blanchard Benson said...

Thank you, everyone, who have expressed interest in this contest. Along with this contest, please visit my blog and find another surprise there!

I want to thank Melissa for the review and interview and introducing me to so many of her awesome fans! I really do hope all of you will be able to read Death Wish and spread the good news to your friends and family interested in paranormal reads.

I am very excited about this series and can I just say that I am in such a hurry to have the whole world know, this early word of mouth buzz is amazing!

@Diana: I did the concept of the contest but my cover artist, Athanasios, actually designed the cover via Photoshop. My crude design concept and what it really came out to be were very different so he is a miracle worker. I do use cover artists and editors because I can weave one hell of a story but I can't do everything. ;-)

Again, thank you all for your interest and happy reading! ;-)

Sharon said...

this book has all the elements I look for. Sounds like a great read. Look forward to checking it out. I also agree with you about having a believable plot being important. I've read books that were really great ideas, but the author lost me somewhere in the middle because things just didn't sound right, if you know what I mean . Thanks for the chance to win.

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