Welcome to the second week of our celebrations for the superbly talented
This week, we're taking a look at the Partnership In Blood series, plus our author interview, and another chance to win a copy of a book from Ariel's backlist.
First up in the Partnership In Blood series is Alliance In Blood
Can a desperate wizard and a bitter, disillusioned vampire find a way to build the partnership that could save their world?
In a world rocked by magical war, vampires are seen by many as less than human, as the stereotypical creatures of the night who prey on others. But as the war intensifies, the wizards know they need an advantage to turn the tide in their favor: the strength and edge the vampires can give them in the battle against the dark wizards who seek to destroy life as they know it.
In a dangerous move and show of good will, the wizards ask the leader of the vampires to meet with them, so that they might plead their cause. One desperate man, Alain Magnier, and one bitter, disillusioned vampire, Orlando St. Clair, meet in Paris, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance of their decision: Will the vampires join the cause and form a partnership with the wizards to win the war?
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Secondly, Covenant In Blood
The wizards and the vampires have forged an alliance based on blood and magic, hoping to turn the tide of the war against the dark wizards. A few wizard-vampire bonds are as successful as Alain Magnier's and Orlando St. Clair's, but some are much less so, leading to arguments, resentment, and outright fights between the allies despite their mutual goals. Following his best friend Alain's example, Thierry Dumont determinedly forms a partnership with vampire Sebastien Noyer, despite the wizard's discomfort with being so close to a vampire a man so soon after his wife's death. But they find that desperation may be the key to forming a covenant that works: Thierry and Sebastien are almost immediately devoted to one another's safety. With new strength behind it, the Alliance's leaders move to announce its existence to the whole world, hoping to rally support against the dark wizards who threaten to destroy life as they know it. Struggling to find its way in the expanding war, the Alliance discovers that despite its advantages, the partnerships are affecting the balance of magical power in the world, which may be an even bigger threat than the war itself.
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Third in line, Conflict In Blood
As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.
The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.
As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.
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Fourth in the series, Reparation In Blood
The war is at a fever pitch with both sides stretched to the limit, when the dark wizards score a shocking victory and capture Orlando St. Clair. Haggard with worry and grief at the separation from his lover, Alain fears that even if they find Orlando, the vampire's heart and mind may be far too broken to save.
Knowing the Alliance teeters on the brink, Christophe Lombard, the oldest, most powerful vampire in Paris leaves his self-imposed seclusion to join the fight. Alain's lost friend Eric Simonet, who betrayed him to join the dark wizards, is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption. And Jean, enraged by Orlando's capture, faces the most agonizing decision in his unlife as the final battle looms: Will their actions lead to the shattering of the Alliance or the salvation of the world?
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Also available in this series
1. What inspires you? What gets you writing?
Everything inspires me. Dreams, overheard snippets of conversation, the woman or man on the plane next to me, the waiter in a restaurant who makes that extra effort to make a visit special, a comment on a TV show, the lyrics of a song. The list is pretty much as infinite as life.
So of course the next question stemming from that answer is what inspired which books. The Partnership in Blood series and Out of the Fire both came from dreams. Inventor’s Companion came from song lyrics. Dance Off came from a comment on a TV show. My current work in progress came from two different waiters. The Lang Downs series came from a random comment from a dear friend. The woman on the plane next to me coming home from Orlando gave me an idea for my next book.
2. What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
I am such a seat of the pants writer. It’s not even funny. I used to make outlines. I used to feel like I had to. Then I realized I was putting all this effort into something that either made me give up because I couldn’t make it work or that I tossed out the window before the end of chapter one. So I gave up on that and now I just write. That isn’t to say I don’t plan, because of course I do, but I plan scene by scene instead of trying to plan the whole book out first. It gives the characters space to breathe and develop on their own instead of in a way that I’ve dictated.
3. Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
That is a hard question. It’s like asking me to choose which of my children is my favorite. If I had to choose just one… wow, I’m still not sure I can do this. I can narrow it down to two if I absolutely must. Caine Neiheisel from Lang Downs because he had the courage to walk away from a dead-end life and start over somewhere new, and Raymond Payet from Partnership in Blood for two reasons. He’s such a complex and layered character. I kept discovering new facets of him through the entire series, even in the last book where he wasn’t present anymore. And secondly because he and Jean were the couple that convinced me I could publish my books.
4. Which character is your least favorite, and why?
Well, I don’t like any of the bad guys when I have them, but I don’t think that’s what you mean. Derek Marshall from Fallout was a hard character to write. He was arrogant and gruff and difficult to live much, much less to get Sambit to fall in love with. At the same time, though, I had to respect him for being who he is unapologetically. It did make selling him a little harder
5. If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
I don’t know that I would. Each book is what it is for a reason, and while my technique as a writer might have improved over the past ten years, the core of each book still stands. I actually had the chance last year to revisit the entire Partnership in Blood series with an eye to tightening up the writing, fixing continuity errors, and generally making sure everything was exactly the way I wanted it. I started writing Alliance in Blood ten years ago. I am not the same writer I was then. And yet I found that I changed very little beyond continuity. As different as my style has become overall, the style of that series fits those character.
6. What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
I’m working on the edits for Cherish the Land, the next Lang Downs book. Then I have two ongoing books on my computer. One is a contemporary May-December romance set in Montréal. Pascal is a career waiter in an upscale restaurant in downtown Montréal. Mathias waits tables at a gay bar because his bank job doesn’t pay all the bills yet. The other is a romantic suspense set in the Louisiana bayou. Three businessmen have gone missing and the primary suspect is the man our lead character has started to fall in love with. I’m not entirely sure when either of them will be ready to submit. I’ve had some really exciting things going on with the translations department that have eaten into my writing time over the past few months, but now that things are on track, I hope to be back to working on them soon.
7. You've written a few books with other authors. Please tell us a little about the co-author process. How does that work? What are the pitfalls to be aware of?
I have had the pleasure of writing with four different authors at various times, and each has been a wonderful and enriching experience. I can only speak to our process in writing together, but we have always gone the route of each of us claiming one of the main characters and writing him. It creates a very organic story. No matter how much we discuss what’s going to happen ahead of time, when the words appear on the page, each of us is controlling only how our character reacts and we have to wait for a reaction from the other character before we can move forward. We write together in real time, using Google docs.
The biggest pitfall is sharing a vision for the story. If we can’t agree on where a story is going or how a scene should work, everything else will be off. Other issues include meshing styles so it isn’t immediately obvious where one of us stopped writing and the other picked up and maintaining POV. It’s very easy for the non-POV character’s thoughts to slip in when we’re writing together. Sometimes we solve that by writing omniscient POV. Sometimes we solve that during editing or by switching POV halfway through a scene. And sometimes we just mess up and the editors have to call us on it.
8. You've written a few separate series so far. Can you tell us a little about your bag of tricks to keep a series going, to maintain cohesion over an extended time period, including novels for a series that can be read as standalones, as you did for Lang Downs?
I’ve actually written five separate series: Partnership in Blood, Lang Downs, Exploring Limits, Hot Cargo, and the historical series that begins with Checkmate. Of those, Exploring Limits and Partnership in Blood are the true series in that book two picks up where book one left off. Those were both written as one book, but they got too long to be published as one book, so that helped with continuity. The Partnership in Blood spin-offs required a little more work for continuity, but I’m fortunate to have a friend and beta reader who never complains about going back and rereading to make sure I haven’t made a fool out of myself, even when I didn’t think to go back and check myself.
For Lang Downs and the other loosely connected series, I always go back and skim at least the previous book before I start writing so I remember where I left everyone. As far as making them standalones at the same time as part of a connected series, up until the most recent book, I’ve always had at least one new character, someone who doesn’t know the history of the previous books. I’ve dealt with the issue of backstory through that character. What does Thorne (or Sam or Chris) need to know in order to function on the station among the people and relationships already there? That’s what a new reader also needs to know. If the details of how Caine and Macklin got together don’t impact Thorne’s ability to settle onto the station, then all he needs to know is that they’re a couple. The same goes for a new reader. Sure, they might be curious, but they can read Conquer the Flames without knowing those details.
More about Ariel:
Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their cat. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with both France, where she found her husband, and India, where she dreams of retiring some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit, and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.
Thank you to our readers for joining us today. Come back next week for more about Ariel Tachna! Until then, happy reading!