Talking about Vampires on twitter, ‘Third species’, superpowers and her DARK side, we interviewed Paranormal Romance author Lindsay J. Pryor to celebrate the launch of her debut novel Blood Shadows.
Q. Edward or Jacob?
A. Neither. Twilight is too young for me. If you’d asked me when I was a teenager, I probably would have said Edward.
Q. True Blood or Vampire Diaries?
Absolutely The Vampire Diaries. I LOVE that show. I know I should say True Blood because it’s a lot more adult which is along the lines of the types of books I write, but after the first three series I found myself looking away more than looking at the screen. Then it just fizzled out for me unfortunately. TVD has me totally hooked. I love the chemistry, the relationships, the storylines and Damon is so incredibly addictive.
Q. If Kane was on twitter, what would his bio say? (That’s Kane Malloy, don’t you know – Master-vampire and hero of Blood Shadows)
A. LOL! I really can’t see Kane on twitter. If he was though, his bio would probably say something like: Planning to screw up Blackthorn’s corrupt power base. Want to play?
Q. How about Caitlin’s Twitter bio?
A. I think her bio could say something along the lines of: VCU Agent. I only follow vampires to track and convict them. You have been warned.
In Blood Shadows, Caitlin is a shadow reader – can you explain what exactly that is?
Shadow readers are humans with an innate ability to read and interpret third species’ shadows. Shadows are the third species equivalent of souls. As well as basic DNA, it’s what differentiates them from humans.
A shadow reader can access the inner workings of a shadow like a recording of past actions and events, thus allowing them to search and analyse information. They need a pulse to unlock what is contained because a heart beat releases concentrated energy to make the contained recordings more vivid. Shadow readers are used in the interrogation room by the Third Species Control Division as a last resort to convict those trying to evade justice. It’s a very invasive technique so is only used if a detainee refuses to co-operate or if their confession conflicts with evidence.
I’ve used the concept of shadows as a means of exploring some themes that are fundamental to the Blackthorn series – not least prejudice and attitudes towards morality and redemption.
The Global Council, who oversee the political and social set-up since the third species came out into the open, are very clear that they believe humans are the superior species. They teach that souls are made up of an innate sense of good and evil and because they are pliable and responsive to change, are open to redemption. They dictate that shadows, on the other hand, are not reactive to change and therefore all third species are irredeemable. Third species are therefore judged as a lesser species morally.
Q. If you had one superpower traditional to vampires which one would you choose and why?
A traditional power? I’m going to be so superficial and say the ability to fly. I’m just a big kid. Flying in the dark would be the ultimate.
Q. You’re British, but the vast majority of Paranormal Romance authors are American – do you have any idea why that is? Are there just more vampires in the States?
A. Ha! If that was the case, Bram Stoker should have sent Dracula to the US instead of to Whitby. But seriously, I think it’s because PNR hasn’t been big for so long over here, whereas it has been established for years in the US. It was interesting that during New Voices, a lot of people automatically assumed I was American. I think that’s a perfect example of how tightly associated PNR is with the States. I must admit, when I started to look for where to sub my Blackthorn series, I was really disappointed by the lack of UK publishing houses that were open to unagented PNR submissions.
It’s so tough to break into PNR and to get yourself known. There are some huge names dominating the top of the lists who regularly produce great stories. They also come with very loyal fan bases. I know I’ve got my work cut out trying to carve my niche, but you’ve probably already worked out I like a challenge.
Q. Blood Shadows is the first book in your Blackthorn series… where exactly IS Blackthorn? Google maps tells me it’s in Oxfordshire in the UK, but I’m not sure that’s what you had in mind?
Ha! No, I didn’t have Oxfordshire in mind (I need to go and look that up now). Blackthorn could be anywhere. A specific location is irrelevant to the content of the stories. I did have the layout of the UK in mind when I devised the idea but the concept of locales is transferable anywhere.
Q. You’re a former Sunday school teacher, current Special Needs Teacher, you rescue hedgehogs and are all-sorts of lovely. But Blackthorn is a pretty DARK place – there’s vampires eaten alive, and some pretty imaginative torture scenes – do you have a dark side?
That must be the most probing question I’ve ever been asked! I most definitely do have a dark side. But dark can be interpreted lots of ways. I would never describe myself as a ‘dark’ person. And my dark side most definitely rests firmly within the realms of fantasy. Reality is a different story.
I’m not afraid to let my characters stray into the darker sides of humanity. I suppose Blackthorn is one big representation of that. And because the books are dark, potentially contentious issues will arise out of that. I have to be true to the stories though and, on occasion, that means going places even I feel uncomfortable with. My stories are most definitely not for the faint-hearted but I think that’s the draw.
Q. Vampires and Lycans are described in Blood Shadows are ‘Third Species’ beings. Are there any other third species that we don’t know about yet?
Third species are in human form (hominids), but have genetic make-up that makes them fundamentally different on a functional level. Yes, I have others in my notebooks and plotlines – some new species too. I promise there’s a lot more to come!
Q. There’s some fairly heavy tension in Blood Shadows between humans and Third Species – and the discrimination against Vampires and Lycans feels very much like it mirrors our own world. Was that intentional?
A. Absolutely. I have a pet hate for intolerance and pre-judgmental attitudes. I totally and utterly believe in the uniqueness of every single person and assumptions that discriminate out of ignorance or inflexibility irritate me. You’ll see a lot of that leak into the stories.
Q. You started writing fiction when you were just nine-years-old – what’s been the hardest part of your author journey for you?
A. I was fine until I started considering publication, then self-belief became a huge issue. I sincerely thought no one would get what I write and that held me back. Because of the social arena I grew up in, I’d never mixed with anyone who’s into paranormal and I even now I have people close to me who are fervently against it or just don’t understand the appeal. I don’t know why I have the passion I do – it was certainly from no discernable influence and that’s always made me feel like an outsider with regards my interests. I’d more or less convinced myself I’d never be published with the Blackthorn stories but I couldn’t not write them – they’re too important to me.
Being an author is so much about people-pleasing: pleasing a publisher, pleasing an agent, pleasing an editor, pleasing the readers, pleasing reviewers… it just goes on. I firmly believe that the heart of your writing should always be pleasing yourself first and foremost. It took me a long time to accept that.
Q.And how about the highlights?
Doing well in New Voices [An online writing competition from Mills & Boon] was the breakthrough for me. If it hadn’t been for the feedback through that competition, I can’t guarantee Blackthorn wouldn’t still be languishing in a drawer somewhere. It was that competition and the readers who so vocally supported me (many of whom are now my friends) that have got me to this point. And, of course, New Voices was how I was discovered – albeit ironically not by the publisher and imprint I was targeting! But it all worked out for the best.
Ever since I signed with Bookouture, every day has been a highlight. I feel like I’m on such an adventure and I have not stopped being grateful for every moment.
Q. And finally – the redemption or the romance – in the end, which is more important to you?
A. This is a tough one. Each of my protagonists experiences some sort of redemption through their romance so the two are pretty much intertwined. But which is more important to me? I’m going to say redemption because I think accepting who you are, flaws and all, is the first step to the intimacy needed to truly have someone love you and you them. For me, true romance is all about delving deep with total honesty.
Have any other questions? Let us know via the comments section.