I’m pleased to introduce to you our featured author Julia Phillips Smith. Julia is the author of the Dark Ages Vampire series and the Dragonsfyre series. Julia has stopped by and answered some questions for us about herself and her work. Please give Julia a warm welcome to VRB.
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Saint Sanguinus, the first in the Dark Ages Vampire series. You can read that review here.
An elite brotherhood stands between humans and vampires, preventing one side from annihilating the other. Who are called to this service?
Only those warriors who curse God with their dying breath. Welsh warrior Peredur falls to a spear before he can claim Tanwen for his bride. Raging on the battlefield, Peredur utters the curse that seals his fate and leads him to another life. Using the power of a saint whose bone makes up an amulet, Peredur takes on the trials to become a true member of the brethren. Yet his need for the chieftain’s daughter Tanwen still burns.
Tanwen resists her father’s command to take a husband. The only one who understands her sorrow is Cavan, the wise woman’s son. When he promises that he can reunite her with her beloved, she agrees to his terms.
But does Tanwen truly understand the depth of the price that must be paid?
Book trailer 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2Dcv_qhXjM
Book trailer 2 –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY8gACi2aaY&feature=relmfu
Welcome to VampireRomanceBooks.com and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We are so happy to have you with us today.
It’s great to be here!
Besides being busy with a whirlwind blog tour, what other exciting things are happening in your life right now?
I’ve just released book 1 of a second series, a dark fantasy called BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE on May 30th along with a new book trailer, which has gathered over 250 views in just two weeks on You Tube:
I wrote and directed the book trailer, which was produced by my friend Tara MacDonald from Charlie Mac Productions. We shot it in April, so the release of the book and the trailer was something I’ve been looking forward to with a lot of excitement.
When you aren’t busy writing, what do you like to do with your free time?
Right now, all of my free time is spent gobbling up a 127-episode Russian historical TV series called Bednaya Nastya that my husband and I are watching on Viki.com. I’d already watched it all on You Tube with only a few English subtitles for some scenes, but at Viki.com it’s almost fully subtitled (still waiting on the final twenty episodes.) It’s amazing what truly understanding the dialogue will reveal!
I’m a big fan of all things Russian, and I have a tiny grasp of some vocabulary, so I actually enjoyed disappearing into the series and just listening to them speak and paying attention to the actors’ body language in order to follow the story. Now that my husband and I are getting the full meal deal through the subtitles, however, I’m really enjoying the excellent writing for the series. When we think we know where a scene is going to go, it often surprises us. For my husband who is a dedicated movie viewer, and for me, a film school grad, we hunger for something that takes us in unpredictable directions.
Your bio mentions that you have a degree in Applied Arts in Film. What made you move from film to writing books?
My husband, who trained as an actor at Toronto’s New School of Drama, who appeared in many of my student films and helped me to complete my degree in many ways great and small, was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder just as I was finishing my four years at Ryerson. At that point we needed my income and I couldn’t afford to gather film credits, which often involves working on low-budget or no-budget projects at the beginning of a filmmaker’s career.
Although I kept working on occasional film and television projects following graduation, I redirected my storytelling into novel writing. It didn’t require a sizeable budget, it didn’t matter what the weather was doing and it didn’t involve feeding a crew.
It did require a steep learning curve for me. Writing novels turns the author into an entire film crew who wears every creative hat from every department.
Would you like to see either of your books on the big screen?
Of course! Because I’m really more of a film person, I’m the sort who skips reading the book when I’m interested in seeing the film or TV adaptation. That’s why making the book trailers for my two books has been such a radiant joy for me.
I had the pleasure of reading Saint Sanguinus and enjoyed it. 6th Century Wales is such a unique and fascinating time period for a vampire tale. What about that era made you decide to build your series around it?
Thank you so much!
When I was in grade six, I bought a used copy of Mary Stewart’s THE CRYSTAL CAVE at a tea and sale at a local church. I proceeded to utterly dissolve into that world, which took place in post-Roman Britain. Ever since then, I’ve had story ideas come to me which take place in that time period and in the UK.
Another reason that I chose Dark Age Britain stems from the murkiness of what we know about that era. I’ve even closely followed archeological discoveries over the years that shed light on what is now being referred to as the Migration Period.
Since the Dark ages were closely followed by witch hunts that plagued Europe, Britain and even the New World, I wondered if there wasn’t a reason that the people of the early middle ages feared the supernatural so intensely.
What can we expect in the 2nd book of the series? Will you focus on Peredur, Cavan, and Tanwen or will others of the Brotherhood be in the spotlight?
Book 2 will continue to follow Peredur and the brethren, focusing on identity issues for him, while Cavan and Tanwen regroup to become embroiled in clan power struggles.
Due to reader interest in the other members of the brotherhood, I’m now looking to create stories that will explore these warriors in greater depth. Anyone for Sigbjorn the Viking getting his own book? I’m in!
Your book, Bound by Dragonsfyre, the first in the Dragonsfyre Trilogy, sounds great. Can you tell us a little about that series and how it might compare to the Dark Ages Vampire series?
While SAINT SANGUINUS is set in a real time and place which then incorporates paranormal aspects into the story, BOUND BY DRAGONFYRE is a dark fantasy which takes place in a land I call the Eighth Dominion.
The Dark Ages Vampire series focuses on guardian vampires and includes figures associated with magic such as the village wise woman and the stag man of the forest. It also moves into the philosophy of religion through the characters of the saint and an angel.
The Dragonsfyre Trilogy is a political intrigue series focusing on the nobility and the lengths to which the noble houses will go in order to gain and preserve power. This series explores different levels of slavery, as characters from every class are bound to their stations. Magic makes its forbidden presence felt in this world, as does the scorched-earth trail of the dragon.
Both series ring with clashing swords, battling clans and life-and-death stakes. Both series take the reader into a world where the people we learn to care about are prepared to do whatever it takes for the ones they love.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way, either growing up or as an adult?
Well, the Mary Stewart Merlin trilogy which I mentioned, which I read when I was a tween. That series was highly influential, as was Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain series, which focuses on the everyday problems faced by vampires trying to live undetected among hostile humans. I discovered these books in my twenties.
What was influential about them? Mary Stewart’s detailed setting felt so vivid that 1400 years collapsed until nothing seemed to separate me from post-Roman Britain. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s attention to the little aggravations of life, such as moving house and needing permits from town officials, also made the various historical time periods feel familiar and real for me.
These are both aspects that have influenced my writing voice.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Because both books are the first in a series, I still have lots of room to explore many of the characters. I’m looking forward to that as much as the readers.
As for themes, I’m always drawn to stories where there is a class difference between lovers, and where unsuspecting characters discover there are heroes hiding somewhere inside of them.
Your characters have very unique names. When naming them, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
I don’t think about the meaning as much as the sound of the name and how it fits into the culture I’ve set up for that character.
As someone who does numerology, however, I never name a character whose first initial doesn’t fit their personality. The first initial of a person’s name is one of the significant numbers in a chart, indicating intention. For example, my first initial is J, which equals 1, which is the Lone Wolf/Leader number. I would never name an extroverted charmer with an A, J or S first name because it just wouldn’t fit.
How do you get started writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it)?
My stories always come to me in what could be considered a sort of vision. Dramatic scenes play out in my head with no warning whatsoever, and I then have to sort out what is happening, why are they doing that to him, and who are these people?
I’m not a plotter. I don’t think up stories in a methodical manner, building logically from this narrative point to that.
I’m what is known as a writing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-writer, or a pantser. I just tune into the New Stories channel playing inside of my mind and pay close attention.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The greatest advice I can give to writers in today’s technologically-advanced playing field is this:
The temptation to see your novel in print or as an ebook is very enticing, the more so when self-publishing beckons. However, your book deserves to be the best book you can write, which probably means more revisions and much more blood, sweat and tears.
If you decide to go the indie route, do it because you realize with all of your heart and soul that your story works best in a niche market and that self-pubbing is the way to best find that readership.
What made you decide to self-publish as opposed to working with one of the big publishing houses?
I have never been someone who likes what the general population likes. As I mentioned earlier, I’m more apt to watch a hard-to-obtain Russian series than to watch Survivor. I don’t want the stories that come to me to be reworked into something that I myself wouldn’t enjoy reading.
It’s not that I don’t want to edit and revise my story into tiptop shape. It’s more that I’m writing for all of the other me’s out there who want something a little different than what’s currently offered by the traditional publishing houses.
Who are some of your favorite authors? If you could collaborate with one of them, who would it be?
A lot of my favorite authors write historical romance. I’m a giant fan girl of Jo Beverley. Anna Campbell, Christina Brooke and Julianne MacLean are all auto-buy authors for me.
I’m not sure how collaboration would work with their real-world stories and my magical, paranormal ones. Yet I’d be willing to give it a try! Considering that Julianne is my cousin, and Anna and Christine are online buddies, who knows?
Thanks again for spending some time with us today. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans or to those that have yet to read one of your books?
I’m so happy to see how many readers like to read about vampires who really like to sink their teeth deeply into necks for a taste of glossy, gleaming blood. Keeping vampires real, one feed at a time.
To read more about Julia and her work you can find her at any of these places…..
A longtime blogger, she invites you to visit A Piece of My Mind