Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flowers & Fangs with Guest Blogger: Susannah Sandlin

Win a copy of Redemption and meet the author of a new vampire series 
Susannah Sandlin!

She's here to chat about vampire employment and here's what she had to say...

Ever notice how many vampires own nightclubs? It’s logical. After all, they need evening businesses that put them in contact with potential dinner entrees—er, I mean customers. Blood donors. Whatever.

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Jean-Claude has a string of nightclubs, including the oh-so-clever Circus of the Damned. Charlaine Harris’ Eric Northman, in addition to being Sheriff of Area Five, owns Fangtasia. The guys of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood are rich and live in the shadows so they just hang out at bars owned by other vampires. Jeaniene Frost’s Bones and Cat are vampire bounty-hunters, which often takes them to bars.

I’m kind of perverse, so I was determined, as I developed the vampire characters for my new paranormal romance series, that there would be not one single vampire bar owner. In fact, in the isolated Alabama town in which my vampires live, there are no bars. No nightclubs. No all-night laundromats with a little bar off to the side. Nada. If my fanged boys and girls want to hang at a bar, they have to drive to Auburn or Atlanta.

So my vampires need hobbies. One tinkers on motorcycles and cars—anything with an engine. Another likes to visit a nearby college town so he can meet nice human coeds—and, okay, yeah, they probably go bars. But he was turned vampire at age 22, so you can forgive him a bit of post-adolescent fun.

My master vampire, Aidan Murphy, likes a nice Irish whiskey—alcohol is the only “people food” his kind can tolerate, but he doesn’t sell it. He has a town to run, after all. A tiny, isolated little Southern town of all vampires and their willingly bonded human familiars, or feeders. No outsiders allowed. Well, until the war starts…but that’s another story.

Aidan was an interesting character to write. He has a lot of emotional baggage left over from his human life, particularly where his brother and his former wife is concerned. Owen and Aidan were turned vampire at the same time, back in Ireland in 1601. Their feud spans centuries and continents until it finally culminates in a Cain and Abel showdown in Penton, Alabama, in modern times.

But Aidan needed a hobby too, besides running his town and fighting off his brother and figuring out a way to survive the coming vampire apocalypse (did I mention that a vaccine developed for a human pandemic has turned the blood of vaccinated humans poisonous to vampires? Uh-oh).

In his human life, Aidan was a poor farmer, but he loved the land. So it made sense to me that he would still love to work the earth. He misses the feel of soil in his hands, the smell of sunlight on leaves, the work of growing and nurturing plants.

But he can’t exactly trot out to the fields in a straw hat and start digging up potatoes under the blistering Alabama sun, so instead, Aidan has a greenhouse. A fancy one with retractable panels and sun catchers that hold the smell and feel of sunlight until well after nightfall. In it, he grows a variety of night-bloomers: bright-white moonflowers, brilliant golden evening primroses, exotic hybrids of lilies and orchids, and, his favorite, the red hibiscus with its ruby-colored throat spreading out to delicate pale-pink petals. It’s a delicate-looking bloom for a plant that’s surprisingly hardy and low-maintenance. Just like a certain woman he’s recently met.

After all, when you have flowers, who needs a bar?  What are the occupations or hobbies of your favorite vampires?

A Note from the Book Boost:  I'm sorry, you lost me at Eric Northman.  Grrr.  And did I mention, sigh?  Let's see hobbies or occupations of fave vampires?  Let me think.  I liked the concept of Angel being a sort of private investigator for the underworld (it has been way overdone now).  I can't recall the vampire brothers from Vampire Diaries really doing anything other than chasing the same girl.  I guess that's a hobby and a cool one--if you're that particular girl.  I like how Elizabeth Taylor is the Queen of Vampires in the Mary Janice Davidson series.  I might like to be "her majesty" as well.  Perhaps I should have my kids call me that, what do you think?  Thanks for joining us and best of luck on the new series--you had me at small town Alabama!


The world’s vampire population is on the brink of starvation since the vaccine to treat a global pandemic rendered human blood deadly to them. Their only hope for survival is a handful of rural areas that the vaccine never breached.

The tiny town of Penton, Alabama, is one such enclave, where Aidan Murphy has established a community of vampires and their willingly bonded humans. Together, they live in peace—until Aidan’s estranged brother descends upon the town and begins attacking its humans. Whether the rampage is a result of his centuries-old feud with Aidan or the civil war threatening to erupt in the vampire world matters not. All that matters is the blood.

Desperate to save his adopted family, Aidan breaks one of his cardinal rules, kidnapping an unvaccinated human doctor—and unexpectedly falling in love for the first time in nearly four hundred years.

Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.


Krys met his gaze. “Were you a businessman before you were, uh…”

He knew she’d accepted that he was a vampire, but she still had trouble using the words. He couldn’t blame her. Her worldview had done a one-eighty in the last week. That she was even
standing here with him was a bloody miracle, and if he wanted her to become more at ease, he needed no repeats of the scene in the tunnel. He stuck his hands in his pockets, where he wouldn’t have to worry about them straying in her vicinity. 

“Never a businessman. Come on. I’ll show you what I was, sort of.” He led her across the side lawn to his pride and joy. He’d actually chosen the house on Mill Trace not because it fit his status as the head of Penton but because it had a large enough yard for him to grade it level and add a freestanding greenhouse. Bronze frame with a redbrick base, bronze-tinted glass, and thermostatic roof vents. His most peaceful moments were spent here, where he could work with
the soil.

He juggled his key ring, shaking loose the key for the greenhouse door, then unlocked it and turned on the lights as Krys entered.

“Oh my God.” She stopped inside the arched entrance. “You grew these?”

These were his night-bloomers, pulsing with color and vibrancy under the soft lights. Showy white moonflowers, brilliant gold lemon lilies, rich purple evening irises, and his favorites, the red night-blooming hibiscus.

“I was a farmer before I was turned,” he said, walking down the aisles, pinching off a faded bloom, shifting a pot to equalize the light source, turning off a sprayer. “This has been my
way of staying close to it. I swear when I come here early in the evening, I still smell the sunlight on them.”

Krys stopped behind him. “Wait…You grow the flowers that someone brings to my room every night?”

Now he felt pathetic. Trouble was, the more he knew Krys, the more his heart and brain got in sync with his screwed-up mating instincts. Might as well admit it: he was freaking wooing the woman he’d kidnapped.

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Amber Belldene said...

This is a great question. Eternity leaves time to kill and room for hobbies, for sure! The vampires I write need some way to let their minds rest, since they don't sleep. Something repetitive is ideal. My males mostly play cards. My one badass female is a closeted knitter who makes the most luxurious hand knit items for herself.

Susannah Sandlin said...

I love that your badass female knits--that's a great one! I also have a card-player, although he's recently gotten hooked on Angry Birds. The idea of a vampire playing Angry Birds makes me laugh :-)

Stacy McKitrick said...

My son plays video games (systems and hand-helds) so I have my male vampires doing the same thing!

Susannah Sandlin said...

I think it's especially funny when vampires do high-tech things, Stacy --often they're so old-school! Thanks for stopping by.

Debby said...

I think it is great that she knits. I like to crochet. I think she should learn that.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Susannah Sandlin said...

A crocheting vampire would be good, too, Debby!

Stacey Brutger said...

Great twist on your story! I love to see new paranormal characters and worlds that stand out from the crowd.

I haven't read a vampire book in a while. I might have to move my amazon order up a bit. :)
You are on my wish list.

Susannah Sandlin said...

Thanks, Stacey! Vampires were all over the place for a while, then sort of died out (ha!) while people had Twilight fatigue, but are making a bit of a resurgence.