Virna DePaul Interview
I recently read a fantastic book called Chosen by Blood
. It was by a brand new author named Virna DePaul
and I was blown away by the fact that it was a debut book. I had to get the word out to other readers how great she is, so I am thrilled to welcome her here today. On behalf of Fallen Angel Reviews, thank you so much for spending time with me, Virna
It's an honor to be here, Tara. As a new author, I can't tell you how great it feels to be welcomed by readers! We recently met for the first time at the Romantic Times Conference book signing (my first one!) and you not only recognized me and stopped to say hello, but you were one of the first people I signed a book for! To be here now, with you interviewing me and recommending Chosen, is a thrill! Thank you!
To start, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a mother of three young boys, a former criminal prosecutor, and a long-time romance reader who loves to travel, see Broadway shows, and is always struggling with balancing all the important aspects of my life. I want to write incredible books, keep a beautiful house, raise smart, kind, happy kids, keep the romance alive in my marriage, and hang out with my good friends. I've never quite got all those things in the pocket, but I never want to stop trying, either. :)
Tell us about your new release Chosen by Blood
Chosen by Blood is book 1 of the Para-Ops series. Knox Devereaux is a dharmire, a half vampire/half human who is the son of the Vampire Queen and a traitorous human who informed humans how to kill vampires. He struggles to lead his clan, which is literally starving due to an FBI-engineered vaccine that changes the properties of human blood so it can't nourish vamps. At the same time, he believes it's only because of his human blood, the same human blood that his clan despises, that he's strong enough to lead. He's constantly trying to prove his loyalty to his people, and this means doing his duty to marry another vampire.
In the world of this series, vampires are NOT monogamous and the males are duty bound to marry and procreate with vampires. Yet even though Knox feels genuine affection for his married-for-convenience wife, Knox loves a human, Special Agent Felicia Locke. Because of her strong human morals, she tries her best to stay away from Knox, and he lets her, until that is, they both join the FBI's first Para-Ops team. At that time (which is Chapter 1 of the book), he's widowed, but he still has plans to marry another vamp. Felicia's bound and determined not to be his mistress on the side, however. So what will they do? The issue is really about how soul mates fight hard to do the right thing despite a powerful and constant pull to be with one another.
Knox was such a controversial character. I know by my own feelings that many a reader will have a difficult time with him. Of course, I fell in love with him, but it wasn't easy. Why did you make him the way you did?
To some extent, Knox's conflict and character just developed. The one thing I knew from the start was that honor and loyalty were extremely important to him, so important that he often sacrificed his own needs and desires. I knew I wanted Felicia, the human heroine, to be his soul mate, so I tried to think of the ultimate barrier to their being together. Having to marry another vampire in order to prove himself loyal to his clan seemed to be a pretty big one, especially given his back story with his father (a human who betrayed vampires by informing humans how to kill them). I knew he would be controversial to readers, but it felt right, and I don't want to be known as an author who "plays it safe." I like pushing boundaries, and exploring humanity and the complicated issues we face. I don't want to be controversial for its own sake, but in order to challenge myself and others to think about what they really believe. I'm glad you were able to fall in love with Knox despite his shortcomings because that's exactly what Felicia had to do, so it validates their HEA even more in my mind.
What are the Para-Ops?
The Para-Ops team is the first special ops team formed by the FBI to recruit both humans and Otherborn, humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA. The Para-Ops team is comprised of Knox Devereaux, the vampire leader, Felicia, a special agent skilled in hostage negotiation, a wraith, a mage, a werebeast, and a human psychic shaman. The team is formed after humans and Otherborn fought each other in the second civil war. There is tension on the team not just between humans and Otherborn; each race has to grapple with their own fears and biases even as they try to work towards peace in the nation as a whole.
What is coming next for the Para-Ops team?
Chosen by Fate, book 2 in the series, comes out October 4, 2011. Chosen by Fate is the story of the team's ghost, Wraith, and its human psychic shaman, Caleb O'Flare. Wraith and Caleb first meet in book 1 and their strong reactions to one another are the product of complex back stories. In their own ways, Wraith and Caleb have to deal with the tension between pain and pleasure, a dichotomy that is brought to the forefront when they set out on their next mission, investigating a series of crimes in the feline community.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
I do! I'm so excited to be writing paranormals for Berkley, but also contemporary romantic suspense for Harlequin. My debut novel with Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Dangerous to Her, comes out in September 2011. It's about an undercover cop who poses a bailiff in order to investigate a judge. He ends up reuniting with his college love and discovers she's harbored a secret for almost a decade. I've also just sold another story to HRS about a woman who must accept the reopening of her mother's murder investigation by the one man she hoped never to see again. Finally, in April of 2012, I'll be launching a new series with HQN.
How excited were you to become published?
Crazy excited. I'd had several "close" sales. The latest one occurred in June of 2009, when an editor tried to buy this series. She seriously loved it, and so did all the other editors, but marketing passed during the acquisitions meeting because the line had acquired several debut authors already and they weren't sure how I'd stand apart. I kept writing and submitting, but I was definitely feeling beaten down. On November 18, 2009, my agent called to tell me Berkley had made an offer for the series. The call came when I was least expecting it. I was thrilled. My husband was home and we screamed and jumped up and down together!
Was there a particular person who encouraged you to put pen to paper?
When I realized law wasn't fulfilling me creatively, I finally decided to try and do what I'd always wanted-write a novel that would leave others feeling this way, too. Several chapter members from Sacramento Valley Rose RWA helped me get started. Brenda Novak and Allison Brennan inspired and educated me about two things-1) that there are no "rules" and I should just sit down and write the story inside me; and 2) it's possible to be a successful writer despite having 3+ kids, another job or other time-consuming responsibilities. Susan Hatler was one of my first critique partners and she continues to be a wonderful one! Of course there are many other friends who've given me support throughout the years and I thank them all!
Tell me about your favorite authors. Which books helped to inspire your own vision of the paranormal?
I have tons of books on keeper shelves, from Linda Howard and Anne Stuart to Sandra Brown, Lori Foster, Rhyannon Byrd, Susan Andersen, etc. I started off wanting to write romantic suspense, and when I read Larissa Ione, Lora Leigh, Christine Feehan, and JR Ward, I got hooked on sexy paranormals and wanted to write a blend of romantic suspense and paranormal.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I searched for a creative outlet for a long time before I decided to write. For a while, I pursued musical and dramatic theater, auditioning and even taking chorus roles. If you know how shy I am (and that I'm a mediocre singer and a horrible actress!), you'd be surprised! I still remember one Shakespeare monologue audition…Props for trying, right? LOL :)
Is there a movie you could watch over and over again?
I love Shawshank Redemption and LA Confidential. They're intense but always leave me feeling awed and inspired!
What are some of your hobbies besides writing?
Definitely reading. I love movies and plays and musicals and traveling. Most of all, I just love visiting with friends and spending time at home with my family.
Is there a website where readers can learn more about you or make contact?
My website is virnadepaul.com and I discuss my writing journey at justsoldabook.com. I'm also active on Facebook and Twitter @virnadepaul.
Thank you so much for your time, Virna
! I hope more people will become acquainted with this awesome new series and I wish you all the luck in the world with it!
Thank you, Tara!! I appreciate your friendship and support!! :)
Interviewed by: Tara