Q. How did you come up with the origins for the vampires in the Dark Dynasties series? How long did it take to hammer out the details?
A. I started with the Ptolemy, though at the time I didn’t know they would end up being so antagonistic. Arsinöe was really the source of the entire “dynasty” idea, actually…I was just so fascinated by this slain sister of Cleopatra who, in my books, wouldn’t have actually died. It made sense to me that she would head up a very powerful vampire faction, and that sort of led to the idea of “Ooh, what about setting up a whole system of vampire nobility! With TATTOOS!” No, really…my thought process during pre-writing sounds like that. Lots of exclamation points and goggling at shiny objects. It does fall into some sort of sense eventually. In any case, it was fun searching for other potential sources of vampire power and then coming up with symbols for them. Hammering out the basic details of the dynasty system didn’t actually take that long once I got rolling. I get kind of, um, fixated on what I’m doing. I want to say that I had the basics sketched out in a matter of days. There was constant refinement as I was writing the first book, though. Mostly because I am a total pantser.
Q. Will members of the Cait Sith, who have merged with the reborn Lilim, ever be able to use their new found bursts of psychic energy?
A. Yes, though because the blood is blended, you’re going to see more variation in the scope of people’s abilities. The original Lilim were very much purebloods. This group isn’t nearly as homogeneous, and I love that. I think the fact that they’re natural outsiders is actually one of their greatest strengths. But in any case, yes, the reborn Lilim will learn to use what they have. It’s going to take a few years, however, for them to really begin harnessing those powers. Not much time has elapsed in that world over the course of the books so far, which is why we haven’t really seen it yet.
Q. Do you have plans for a book for Vlad? I’ve been digging him over the last few books.
A. You and me both! I love Vlad. Which means…yes, I have plans!
Q. What can you tell us about Immortal Craving, book #4 in the Dark Dynasties series? From the preview in the back of Shadow Rising, it sounds as if there’s another previously unmentioned dynasty that will come into play. Or am I just reading too much into the preview? (At this point I begged Kendra to tell me even if it was too spoilery for me to post the answer.)
A. You’re not reading too much into it! I actually did mention the Rakshasa in Dark Awakening — Anura’s mate was one, but his bloodline was hunted and killed. They’re presumed extinct…until Tasmin, the hero of Immortal Craving, wakes up deep in the Sasan Gir, a forest in India, and discovers he’s been asleep for the better part of five hundred years. How that happened and what it means for Tasmin’s future is the basis of the book. Well, and his unlikely relationship with the Queen of the Lilim’s human best friend, Bay Harper, who might love chasing ghosts but is awfully uncomfortable with vampires. Tasmin is a lion shifter, and he has…issues. In my incredibly biased opinion, he’s awesome :) And his book comes out in February!
Q. What is your advice to wanna-be writers?
A. Be determined, because at every level there are obstacles and setbacks. Half the battle in getting anywhere with a writing career is simply not quitting. Befriend other writers, for they are weird like you and will understand. Learn to recognize constructive criticism and accept it, even when it stings. And always, always keep learning and pushing yourself to improve. Immortal Craving is my ninth completed, contracted book. My writing has progressed so much since my first book, Call of the Highland Moon, that it amazes me to look back. I owe my editors a lot for all they’ve taught me!
Q. What is your optimum setting and place to write? Computer vs. paper, complete silence vs. music, etc
A. Hmm, every book is different, but generally I prefer quiet, my little laptop (which has such crap wireless that it isn’t generally worth bothering with, an excellent thing for a procrastinator like me!), and I’ll park it either in my husband’s comfy recliner or in my big chair upstairs in the bedroom. I’m horribly distractible, so I kind of have to hide to get anything done. And did I mention I have a husband, three kids, three dogs, and a cat? Some twisted part of me must thrive on chaos.
Q. Do you have a favorite character in the Dark Dynasty series? What makes them your favorite? Mine are Jaden and Damien because they were both damaged “bad boy” types who each had a lot to overcome, but managed to rise to the occasion when needed. I think Vlad comes in second, or would that be third if there’s a tie for first?
A. I say make them take their shirts off and fight it out for first place! I don’t really have a favorite favorite. I mean, they’re all beautiful, tormented creatures. I love Ty for his quiet strength, Jaden for his essential sweetness, and Damien for…being Damien. I may love him just a little tiny bit best. I’m an awful sucker for smart-mouthed rogues. I love all my heroines as well, though Lyra Black made me laugh the most. That goes a long way with me!
Q. How do you come up with names for your characters?
A. Sometimes I just know, and sometimes (more often, unfortunately) I wander the internet for extended periods of time waiting for something to strike my fancy.
Thanks so much for having me here today!
Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of the Dark Dynasties series (Forever), as well as the RITA-finaling Renegade Angel (Harlequin Nocturne) and the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy (Sourcebooks). She lives in Maryland with her husband, three children, and menagerie of pets, and can usually be found drinking too much coffee and working on yet another paranormal romance. You can find her at her website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.