Today, I am pleased to bring you a special guest, debut author Shayne Leighton. She was gracious enough to stop by and answer a few questions about her upcoming book
OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS.
OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS.
Abandoned as an infant in Prague, Charlotte Ruzikova was raised by Valek, one of the last Vampires left alive. Genocide and war conflicts their secret society nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe.
But when the dictator in power becomes threatened by evil lurking in Valek's past, Charlotte must find a way to fight for the only one she's ever loved and the only thing she has ever truly believed in...and all before the sun comes up.
Shayne Leighton - Q & A
Q: What lead you to first start writing?
SL: I started writing very young. I remember writing my first short story in elementary school about what it would be like to live in a giant bubble. (To this day, that is still one of my favorite stories I've ever written!) For some reason, I have always had this wildly active imagination. I was never able to draw very well, so I suppose I found writing as the best thing for me to have some sort of creative outlet. My mom also loves all things magical and fairy-like. I grew up around a lot of fantasy, which I think just fed my imagination more.
Q: Tell us a little about your background?
SL: Born and raised in one of the most boring places imaginable...South Florida. I'm sure there are few people reading this with wide eyes, thinking, "Florida? Boring?" Yes. Unless you have a penthouse in Miami, Florida is boring. The amount of "snow-birds" - (elderly people that migrate down here for the winder) are unimaginable...which also makes driving impossible. I'm one of those people that would be most happy living in a flowery cottage in the middle of the woods on a mountain (as long as a large, exciting city was only a few miles away.) Yes, I am an idealist. My mom's side of the family is Russian and Lithuanian (and has the largest impact on my life), my father's side is British. My adopted, extended family is Czech (hence my fascination and my writing an entire novel series on the subject.) - I think that sums it up pretty nicely.
Q: Vampires seem to be the hot topic to write about. Why did you choose to write about vampires?
SL: A lot of people have been asking me this question, and I love answering it. I was first introduced to the vampire by one of my closest friends in high school. This was after "Twilight" had first been released. I knew this friend was really into vampires, and I was excited to tell her about this new book I had found. She read it, and to my surprise, didn't find any taste for it (though many of my other friends did.) She said to me, "You want real vampires? I'll show you real vampires..." One night, we all curled up around the television in her living room and she popped in Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire" with Tom Cruise and most importantly...Brad Pitt. The rest is history. I guess you can say I was *bitten* by the vampire bug (haha). After that, I read (and watched) Bram Stoker's "Dracula", I read Anne Rice's chronicles in their entirety. I had no idea how fascinating I was going to personally find this mythos. Paired with my love of European history, this was perfect! I didn't choose vampires because I wanted to jump on the bandwagon (though that is perfectly okay :D ) In fact, I knew the over-saturation might actually hurt me. But I chose to focus on them anyway, simply because I am so fascinated and in love with the idea. I think writers write their best work when they write about something they are passionate about. I love dark, twisted fantasy. Could I write a post-Civil War book? Probably. Would it be as good? Probably not. :-)
Q: Why did you pick the Czech Republic for the location of your first book?
SL: Like I said, I love Europe. One city in Europe that (until very recently with all of the "Mission Impossible" hype) never got a lot of attention, was Prague. I think Prague seems like one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you don't always hear about it. There are so many stories set in London and Paris. From my research and the photos I've seen, Prague is just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than these other more popular cities. Because of the dark history and so much gothic architecture (like a place Tim Burton would set one of his films), it just seemed like the perfect place for vampires to thrive. A lot of articles also say that Prague is the most haunted city in the world, making it the perfect backdrop for magical beings. I'm really excited to bring this nation's rich culture and history more to the forefront.
Q: What should people know about OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS?
SL: The only thing potential readers should know is, OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS is not going to be at all what you expect. There are a lot of young adult epics set in the modern day, and a lot of them seem to run together because of the similar themes, settings, obstacles, etc. OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS doesn't read like any other young adult paranormal that I've come across so far. It's a little darker, a little more adult, and it definitely tests the boundaries of what is generally acceptable in this genre. I can't give away too much about the story yet, but soon, you'll see what I mean. (evil grin)
Q: Tell us a little about your heroin Charlotte?
SL: Charlotte is one of my favorite characters I have ever written. She is completely pure and innocent (almost doll-like) - sheltered from the dangers of the "real world". But after everything I put her through in this story, she becomes this strong, damaged, flawed, power-house of a character. Somehow, even after many harsh reality-checks and falls-from-grace, she still maintains this impossibly innocent, little-girl-like quality. She's a twisted, little, doll and I love her.
Q: Who is your favorite character in OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS, and why they are your favorite?
SL: This is a loaded question, because I love them all so equally. I think Valek is a fabulous hero, because he is imperfect. He makes horrible mistakes, but at the end, you still fall for him, which I think is important. But I guess my favorite character, simply because he is one of the most interesting, is Francis. I loosely based him off of Prince Poppycock from the 2010 season of America's Got Talent. That might sound a little lame (to base a vampire off of a reality show contestant - even though I thought John Quale was the most TALENTED guy on that show and in the entertainment business in general - love him), Francis is amazing. He's super witty, with biting remarks and a short fuse of a temper. He's spoiled and extremely self-centered, but his heart still manages to be in the right place. Even though he doesn't want anyone to know it, he is secretly a very caring and loving character who only searches for love in return. If I could be friends with anyone of my characters in real life, Francis would be it. When the film gets made, I actually hope to approach John Quale for the role of Francis. :-)
Q: Do you have a publication date for OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS?
SL: Not yet, sadly. The novel is still neck-deep in the editing stages. My first round of edits has been completed, waiting on the second round to come from my editor. But I'm sure it will be announced some time very soon and I'll be sure to let everyone know on the book's Facebook page and on the official blog I'll also say, that when the book's release date is announced, I'll also be releasing something VERY special on that day that will be paired with the selling of the book. Can't post any details yet, but keep a look out for some teasers! I think my potential readers will really get excited about it!
Q: Is OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS part of a series?
SL: If so, how many books will be in this series? Yes, OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS is such a big story, I had to make it a series. Right now, I'm saying that there will be 5 books in the series...but I'm on the fens about possibly doing more. Depends on my stamina and how well the books are received. :-)
Q: Do you write to music? If so, what would be on your OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS soundtrack?
SL: Yes! Music is one of the things that inspires me most. I always have a soundtrack to back my scenes while I'm writing (especially the exciting scenes)! The entire playlist for the first book can be found here.
Q: What are you currently reading?
SL: Hush,Hush and Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. Loving it so far! I great, new saga! I hope to start Across the Universe next!
Q: What is your favorite genre to read?
SL: Definitely dark fantasy and paranormal romance. I believe we read and watch movies to escape our reality, so why read something set in reality? Fantasy takes you to a whole, new, impossible world and I love that! Getting lost in a world that's otherwise impossible is always a lot of fun and very interesting.
Q: Do you have a favorite vampire series?
SL: Anne Rice's THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES, naturally. Lestat is, in my opinion, the best vampire in literature - and Anne writes so beautifully.
Q: Which authors do you admire?
SL: I love Cynthia Leitich Smith. She's not only extraordinarily talented, she's also been a good, virtual friend of mine for a few years now. Her books TANTALIZE, ETERNAL, and BLESSED are awesome and extremely seductive and I love that. Cynthia and her husband, Greg do so much for the children's and YA lit community and I just think she's a great lady. She always gives me a pep-talk when I'm in need of one. Of course, I also admire Anne Rice because she's so wicked and her writing is so beautiful.
Q: If you have your choice between a naughty or nice book, which would you pick on a cold winters night? Definitely naughty!
SL: Isn't that just more fun? ;-)
OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS Official Website
If you think OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS sounds interesting, take a minute to check out the book trailers!