Please say hello to Alex Beecroft and
Sons Of Devils
British scholar Frank Carew is in Wallachia to study the magic generator on nobleman Radu Vacarescu’s land. There, his party is attacked by bandits and his friends are killed. Pursued by a vampiric figure, he flees to Radu’s castle for help.
Unfortunately, this is precisely where the vampires came from. If allowed, they would feed unchecked and spread their undeath across the whole Earth, but Radu maintains a shaky control over them and keeps them penned in his tiny corner of the country.
As Frank recovers from his assault, Radu finds himself falling for the young man. But loving Frank and not wanting to lose him leaves Radu vulnerable to his demons’ demands. Can he bear to let them feed on the man he loves? Or must he give in to their blackmail and set them free to feast on his entire country?
Get the book:
A favourite question which authors get asked a lot is “where do you get your inspiration?” I think the people who ask this question expect it to have a simple answer – one that can be conveyed in a small soundbite. Something like “Oh, I pick up ideas from Fortean Times,” or “I like to watch people and deduce their stories like Sherlock Holmes.”
For me, however, the process of coming up with an idea large enough to form a book is a process of accretion. I have an idea, and then I have another idea, and I put them next to each other like puzzle pieces, rotating them in many directions to see if they will fit.
If someone asked me what my inspiration was for the Arising books, for example, I would have to say “I wanted to write a short vampire novella and was trying to think of a way in which the vampire could be killed which hadn't been done before. I wondered if an enterprising person might replace the floor under which they lay with a glass floor, so that when they were lying in their coffins, the sun could fall directly on them and kill them.”
That was the reason that for 90% of its pre-published existence, this story was called “The Glass Floor.”
Of course, the moment I began to think about how this would actually work, everything went (as we say in Yorkshire) arse over tit. Wouldn't the vampires be sleeping in covered coffins anyway? Wouldn't they notice an entire floor being removed from above their heads? Wasn't it a little impractical? If they didn't notice and couldn't stop floor removal, they probably wouldn't have been able to stop being staked either, which would have been considerably less effort for the protagonists.
But if I gave my vampires powers to prevent themselves from being staked, I foiled myself again, because now they would very definitely also have powers to prevent themselves from sleeping through a floor removal.
Hm – so that meant if they were going to have mind control powers for their own protection, I had to have at least one character with the power to resist them. But then why had he not killed them already?
Do you see what I mean about the accretion? I had an unworkable situation, but by asking questions about it to refine exactly what the problems were and how I could solve them, I began to split the idea into strands that I could tease out, unwind and then begin to tie together once more in a way that made sense.
Where did these vampires dwell anyway? That was easy – I was doing a 'proper' vampire story, so to me that had to be set in Romania. This meant I had to study Romanian history and politics, and suddenly I was sufficiently fascinated with that that I was also eager for the story to be something of a tour through a country that I thought the reader would really enjoy.
Then it occurred to me to wonder how vampires, who are famously dead, had managed to hold on to their property for the past 300 years. Normally dead people are not permitted to own large estates. I decided that they would rule through their descendants. And then I wondered how they would manage to keep control of their descendants, who would have a lot to gain by staking them and moving on with their own lives. And that was how I came up with the idea that became the heart of Sons of Devils – the idea that the one man who was immune to their mind control was also the one man who couldn't bring himself to hurt them, because for him they were his parents.
The end of the process was that the thing that had been the inspiration for the book was reduced pretty much to a footnote. I did manage to just about keep the glass floor in there, but only for a metaphor and a moment of creepiness. The book had grown beyond it by that point, turning into something stranger and much more complex – something that eventually needed two novels rather than a single novella to do it justice.
And that's why you should only ask a writer that question if you're prepared for an essay in return. The short answer is “The first idea arrives by magic, and it falls into the mind like a nucleation point into a cloud – something that gives all the other ideas a place to cluster around. It's as simple as asking questions, and as mysterious as hearing muses...” The shorter answer is, “I don't really know.”
About the author:
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
Connect with Alex:
To celebrate the release of Sons of Devils, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit and one ebook from Alex Beecroft’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
Promotional post. Materials provided by the publisher.