Interview with Lorelei Bell
Copperhill Media Corporation (2010)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (2/11)
Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is pleased to interview Lorelei Bell, who is here to talk about her new book “Vampire Ascending.”
Lorelei lives in the Midwest—would like to move to where there is less snow and more warmth. She has been with the same man for twenty-five years, and he can still surprise her with a birthday or Valentine’s Day card and make her cry like a baby.
Her favorite holiday is Halloween. When not writing, she drives a 12.5 ton bus shuttling NIU students and other passengers around DeKalb and campus. But she prefers to write and be in her imaginary world of vampires, shifters, and alternative worlds where no one has a cell phone.
Tyler: Welcome, Lorelei. I love books about vampires, but there are so many out there. What makes “Vampire Ascending” different from all the rest of them?
Lorelei: Well, first of all this is not a paranormal romance, although there is a romantic thread throughout it, it won’t be easy for the reader to figure out who will win the female main character’s attentions at the end of this.
Sabrina is a Touch Clairvoyant, which gives her special problems in her life-style, being that she can’t touch anything without gloves on. Plus, she never knows when she might have a “vision” and could go into a semiautomatic state. The vampires have a way to short circuit this by mind-melding.
The master vampires have huge wings, which they can hide.
They do not hunt humans—unless they are rogues—and demons monitor/police them, to make sure they don’t.
I also have one vampire who still follows his religion—which is considered an abomination, of course.
Tyler: Thanks, Lorelei. Let’s start with Sabrina. She’s not a vampire, but she does have clairvoyant powers. Will you tell us about her when the book opens and why you think she’s a character readers will respond to?
Lorelei: First of all, her parents are dead. Her father just recently died in an airplane crash, and she was left the house, and now has to pay taxes, and all the bills that go with. Being a Touch Clairvoyant, she has trouble taking a job because she’s quite liable to go into a full-swoon while blabbering like a loony. So, when she finds this ad about a job for a clairvoyant, this seems made just for her, and the money is so good, she has to take it.
Tyler: Sabrina soon gets involved with vampires. Will you explain how that happens? Does she know they are vampires when she goes to work for them?
Lorelei: When she goes to the job interview, she already knows Mr. Paduraru is a vampire because of her abilities.
Tyler: Can you explain your fictional world in which a woman can go to an interview knowing she’ll be interviewed by a vampire? Does everyone know about the vampires, or are the vampires mostly in hiding and Sabrina is just special in terms of what she knows?
Lorelei: The vampires do have their own laws and keep their identity a secret. Tremayne Towers is a vampire-run hotel in Chicago’s Downtown Loop. One side is for humans only, the other side is for vampires, but many humans—and other supernaturals—work on this side. They allow only those they wish to know about them in this side, and others are often either clueless, or the vampires can do a little memory-meddling on them, change their memories—which they are very good at. No vampire will ever get a speeding ticket.
Tyler: I think I maybe already know the answer to this question, but how did you come up with the name Tremayne Towers?
Lorelei: Oh, well, I sometimes hunt for interesting names. I have a notebook of names, in fact that I’ve collected from everywhere. However, Tremayne is the last name of an author that I’ve sort of saved back for someone awesome. Peter Tremayne wrote “Bloodright, memoirs of Mircea, son to Dracula.” I also wanted the two T’s of Tremayne Towers—if one reads into the novel—to form red fangs on one of their signs. I like to throw some humor into my writing wherever I think it works.
Tyler: Just what kind of business are these vampires in?
Lorelei: Their empire runs on blood, mainly, and they manufacture their different blood in bottles for the vampire on the go. However, Tremayne Towers is a stronghold for the vampires. There are two towers—again I went with the obvious thing; they look like fangs a little bit. The north tower houses the vampires; the south one humans. Mainly, the humans who work for them. However, they aren’t above allowing other humans to take the rooms. There is a sealed doorway so only those who work and live there can enter the vampire side, and vampires are not allowed over to the human side (except for Tremayne, who owns the building).
There is also an airline as well. The windows are fake, so vampires are safe to travel. This is mainly the Tremayne brothers’ enterprise in the states. I’m sure the vampires across the world are doing the same. (lol)
Tyler: What is Sabrina hired to do?
Lorelei: Sabrina is hired to find out who is murdering vampires. Actually the only vampire that Tremayne is concerned with is his dead life-time mate, Letitia.
Tyler: Most of the vampire novels I’ve read have male vampires for the main characters. Did you consciously decide to write about a female main character rather than tell it from a vampire’s point of view? What advantage as a female does Sabrina have over a male character?
Lorelei: Yes. I didn’t want a story where I constantly had to give a back story as to what went on before the story opens, or explain how things came to be this way. Plus, I wanted a female protagonist who wasn’t the run-of-the mill “kick-ass,” starting out, at least. I wanted my protagonist to be a reluctant hero through the first two books while we get to know her. She’s not even sure of her own abilities, or that she is a sibyl, so she learns more about these things as the series progresses. She is a character who will grow, as her story unfolds over time. Making her human I felt would give readers someone they could more readily relate to rather than someone who is absolutely supernatural. Of course, her being bitten by a werewolf in the beginning of this book throws in more interesting obstacles for her to hurdle as time goes on. And may help her in certain moments as well.
Tyler: Lorelei, what do you mean by a sibyl?
Lorelei: The word sibyl comes from the Latin/Greek sibylla, meaning prophetess. And for my character, Sabrina, I’m loosely following the basic lore. But being a powerful clairvoyant, Sabrina tends to go into these black-outs, and during these moments she speaks about what she sees. Normal humans can’t understand her. Vampires can because their hearing and knowledge of different languages aids them in understanding her.
In the next two books, I expand upon what her role is in the world of vampires (and other supernaturals), as a sibyl. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and I’m very excited about it. In fact an excerpt of the first chapter of “Vampire’s Trill” can be viewed by going to my blog on the left hand side bar, and hopping a ride to “Lorelei’s Archives.”
Tyler: Lorelei, one vampire who is a main character, is Sabrina’s boss. What can you tell us about that vampire particularly?
Lorelei: Bjorn Tremayne was once a Viking when a human (human name was Bjorn Bloodaxe), and is part giant, and so stands seven-foot tall. His eyes are a blue-green, and his hair is blond, wavy, and long. He is owner and CEO of Tremayne Towers, and is the magnate of the eastern half of the vampire state known as the North American Vampire Association. His brother, Erik, runs the western half.
Tyler: Vampire novels have basic traits for vampires such as not being able to be out in the sunlight, being able to turn into a bat, not being able to face a crucifix. How many of these vampire traits did you retain, and what new ones did you create?
Lorelei: Vampires do have a heartbeat, but it’s very slow. They need human blood, but can get by with a mix of human and animal. They do have a mirror image—I’d always questioned this as to why they wouldn’t see themselves in the mirror. The older ones have more powers than those that are less than 100 years old. The very old ones can become any creature, or simply vanish.
Those who were Christians in life are affected by the crucifix—it can burn them if they come into contact with it. Also, silver and holy water also burns them, but it depends upon how religious they were as to how strongly these things will affect them. Bjorn Tremayne was a pagan, and so these Christian objects will not bother him.
Tyler: What made you decide upon specific traits and reject others?
Lorelei: I felt that they had to have weaknesses, but many of the old folk tales, like the mirror image, I felt were silly. It’s more a matter of twisting the traits, such as not having to sleep in a coffin—they really prefer beds. But they can’t take sunlight; however, the very old ones can take some.
Tyler: You mentioned above the vampire who follows his religion. What is that religion and does it play a role in “Vampire Ascending”?
Lorelei: Vasyl was born in about the first century. He is French. While alive he was a priest, and I do go into his history in the second book, so I don’t want to do that here. However, yes, Vasyl’s religion does play a small role in the scene where Sabrina is facing rogue vampires and trying to “save” Jeanie from them. The other vampires are either afraid of him, or repulsed by his ability to touch a crucifix—even though it burns him.
Tyler: Another character in the book is Sabrina’s best friend. Will you tell us a little about her?
Lorelei: Jeanie Woodbine is Sabrina’s very best friend. They grew up together, and have a very strong bond. I felt that was important for the story, and what happens to Jeanie is so important that Sabrina has to do something to find her—even though it puts her in danger.
Tyler: “Vampire Ascending” is really a mystery story in more than one way. What is the puzzle that Sabrina needs to solve?
Lorelei: There are a couple of mysteries, really. One is: Who murdered Letitia? The other is who abducted Jeanie, and where is she now? The minor ones are intermingled in the story as it revolves around finding Letitia’s murderer.
Tyler: You have several other supernatural characters in the novel. Will you tell us about them and how they fit into the story?
Lorelei: Elves run the Ascension Process, the hospital and the Sanguine Team who works to revive either humans who give blood, or vampires who may have been hurt somehow. Ba’al Demons have blood that is deadly to vampires—or actually anyone—and run what is called the VIU, the Vampire Investigations Unit.
There are others, like werewolves, and witches. Dante Badheart is a shape shifter, he is also Tremayne’s scion, and becomes Sabrina’s partner because he is also a telepath.
Tyler: What previous treatments of vampires—novels or films—would you say have influenced you the most and how?
Lorelei: I would have to say that Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series was what got me interested in trying to write a vampire novel again. I saw that the topic was hot, and the way she worked in mystery and romance into her stories was something I could get into. Many other novels helped me pull together my ideas, as well, but I’d have to say these stories were so different that I wanted to see what sort of story I could come up with.
Tyler: Why do you think so many people find vampires attractive and entertaining, especially in recent years?
Lorelei: I’d want to say that perhaps it is their powers, their long lives—to see many centuries go by. I think there’s something to be said of their sexuality, too. Before this century, the vampire novels didn’t show the vampire either wanting or needing sex. In my novel, the need for blood and sex are dually important.
I remembered also that the first film in which Dracula was portrayed more as a sympathetic character, rather than a villain—and the romantic hero, really—was the 1979 Universal Pictures in which Frank Langella played Dracula. And then when Francis Ford Coppola's re-make of “Dracula”, with Gary Oldman as Dracula, I thought that really rocked. It held more true to the story. I think it re-awakened the Dracula/vampire films and books again.
Anne Rice also went to work on her vampire books, bringing more audience to the genre, mainly because she did something different.
Tyler: What kinds of responses have you received from readers so far, Lorelei, and have any of them surprised you?
Lorelei: They all surprise me, really. I’ve mostly gotten women’s responses so far. All have said “I love your book” and “when is the next one coming out?”
The one response which gave me more insight, and comparing it to other vampire novels was from my local Borders store manager, Julie Morsh, who said that “It was more real and more adult.” I know that she was comparing it to “Twilight.”
I remember reading “Twilight” and I simply couldn’t get past the second book in that series. A lot of teens obviously could relate, but I wanted a more adult book and theme. When I went to write “Vampire Ascending, I put a lot of thought behind how I wanted a protagonist to be someone people would really relate to; she had to be likable. I didn’t care for Bella at all in “Twilight,” and couldn’t believe that she wasn’t visiting a psychiatrist’s office by page five, and on anti-depressants.
The other responses which surprised me were the reviews which I’ve gotten on Amazon. I know that one reviewer did make the comment that he did not read vampire novels, was asked to review mine, and once he got into it, he was hooked. That’s about the only other male response I have so far.
Tyler: What is next for you, Lorelei? More vampire novels or do you have plans to write something entirely different?
Lorelei: The next book in the series is “Vampire’s Trill.” I’ve been working on this for almost a year and hope to get it to my publisher so it will be out this summer. The third book is half-finished, too.
Tyler: Thank you, Lorelei, for the opportunity to interview you today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information can be found there about “Vampire Ascending”?
Lorelei: I have several sites where you can find more information. My publisher’s website is www.copperhillmedia.com and my blog is http//:loreleismuse-lorelei.blogspot.com/. My book and I are also on Facebook and you can find my books at Amazon.