I’m definitely NOT going to tell Byron that, he would find it quite upsetting.

How do my stories start out? I usually start with a very vague notion, then I work on character. For instance, the Forbidden series started with my thinking, “What if the vampire had to be seduced?” I wanted to put a different spin on the classic vampire tale of seduction. That’s how Byron Renfield was born. First came his name, then I began to flesh out his character, where he lived, his history, his likes and dislikes, his values and beliefs, what drives him, what inspires him, etc.

I find that when I know my character fully and completely, I can place them in a situation and then sit back and let the plot unfold. Sometimes I’ll have a general idea as to the overall arc, but that’s about it. I don’t plot my stories out ahead of time or create outlines.

I wouldn’t exactly say that my characters talk to me or that I talk to them. With Byron, I would have to say that it feels more like he’s talking through me. Both Forbidden: The Claim and Forbidden: The Awakening were written from Byron’s point of view. When I write in first person I have to clear my head so that who I am can fade into the background and the character’s voice can come forth.

I don’t disappear entirely though. In fact, I often draw on my own experiences to enrich my characters. I love to cook and I enjoy wine, so Byron has a wine cellar and is a gourmet chef. Other traits that he has were borrowed from my husband and son, Max. The fact the Byron is a fencer is credited to Max. My husband is responsible for Byron playing the stock market and worshiping Steve Jobs. Yes, Byron works on a MAC, not a PC.

And now, for those of you that have yet to meet Byron. Here’s a little taste:


It started out as a perfect day, the kind of day that it was worth staying up to enjoy. The sky was completely clouded over and the rain was pouring down in torrents. It was barely 8:00 a.m. when I dragged my favorite black leather chair over to the large picture window so I could enjoy my merlot and watch the storm. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking he drinks at eight o’clock in the morning? The answer is yes. I drink what I want, when I want. I eat what I want, when I want. And, except for a short list of prohibited items, I do what I want, when I want. You see… I am immortal… I am a vampire.


It was early evening. Lightning split the darkened sky, illuminating the rocky coastline of the island. My island. I leaned my head back, released a sigh, draped my hand over the armrest of the chair, and let the last of Violet’s letters flutter to the floor to join the others. I’d discovered them among Grace’s belongings shortly after her death, and I’d spent the last few weeks reading them.

Each passage seemed to reveal something else to me, some nuance, some detail. I felt like a bit of a voyeur. It was as if I were staring into the window of her very soul. She’d laid it all bare. Not for me, of course, but it was there nonetheless. Her hopes and dreams, her fears and doubts, her longings. In her delicate hand she’d written to Grace more than a hundred letters over the years. During the course of their correspondence, Grace had clearly become her friend and confidant.

I stood up and stretched, then made my way over to my new iMAC G5. I was determined to give writing to Violet just one more try before turning in and getting a few hours of sleep. The high pitched hum sounded, the monitor came to life, and I pulled up a new document. In the past month I’d tried to write to her more than a dozen times to tell her of Grace’s death. Tried and failed. I just…couldn’t seem to find the right words.


Dear Violet

My dearest Violet

It was no use. I didn’t even know how to begin. I picked up the snapshot of her that Grace had kept in her wallet, a young girl in cap and gown, sunlight bouncing off her fiery red hair. Her bright green eyes full of mirth. She had jumped up into the air, diploma in hand, and someone had captured the moment. My throat tightened and my chest constricted. I reminded myself for the thousandth time that I was grieving and that the sadness was natural.

But this was more than sadness, more than grief for the loss of Fred and Grace. This was discontentment. And I shouldn’t be feeling it. I have everything I’ve ever wanted, after all. So why am I sitting here torn apart by this sense of hunger, yearning for what I can’t have and shouldn’t want?

It was clearly her fault, Violet’s. Her letters had touched me. And her face… Her face had managed to etch itself deep within my subconscious, weaving itself into my dreams. Unwittingly, unknowingly, she had awakened something in me…

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