A big welcome to Jenn Lyons who is here to telling us what she learned from writing Blood Chimera and celebrating the release of Blood Chimera, (published on August 12, 2014 by World Weaver Press).
What I Learned From Writing Blood Chimera
How to Finish Stuff
This was a big deal for me, you understand. Blood Chimera was my third novel (technically, it was my fifth, but those first two trunk novels shall never rise from the crypts where they lie buried and tied up with chains.) I hadn’t finished the first two either, but was stuck in ruts on both. So Blood Chimera was the book where I learned to break through writer’s block (Steven King’s advice: write fast enough and writer’s block can’t keep up) and finish the darned book.
Being able to actually finish something is incredibly powerful: I recommend it to everyone.
I really do love Los Angeles
Although I didn’t finish the novel until I’d moved out of Los Angeles, I still miss the city that’s been my home for over twenty years. I love L.A., even with all its flaws and all its problems. Maybe especially because of that. Los Angeles isn’t one city, you see, it’s a dozen cities with some of the most diverse and fantastic populations you can imagine. And the food! (So good.) I’m not saying it’s perfect (traffic, rent) just that I really miss 26 Beach. And Abbot Kinney. And Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. And Beard Papa. And the sunsets (sadly, yes, they really are so pretty because of the smog.)
The Importance of Research
Or more to the point, how to not overdo it. Research is one of my fatal flaws, in that I’ll crack open the books to the point of absurdity because I love it so much. (True story: I once spent two years researching epidemiology for a world-building element of my science fiction book that translated to a few sentences in a flash back scene. Ugh.) Don’t get me wrong, I did plenty of research for Blood Chimera, but what I discovered was that I could learn more in a few conversations with a Beverly Hills detective that I ever did in months reading books on police procedures. (I also learned that Beverly Hills PD is VERY willing to accommodate requests for tours and interviews from writers, and LAPD less so. Or at least, one group called me back immediately, and I never heard back from the other.)
My characters have minds of their own
Charlie Du was originally blonde, white, and in way over her head, her only real skill being able to smile, lie, and keep arrogant men amused. (Pretty typical and hugely dated noir femme fatale stuff.) Boy, did she not put up with that for very long. I’ve learned that sometimes when I have writer’s block, it’s not that some mysterious muse of inspiration is lacking in my life, it’s that I’m fighting my own instincts (which really do know best.) In this case? Charlie was not white, not blonde, not disposable, and she knew it! She’s so much more interesting now that I can’t imagine what I was thinking.
I’m glad I came to my senses.
There’s no such thing as an original idea
Now, you may think someone writing a book about vampires must by necessity be inured to the idea that their vampires will not be ‘unique.’ Vampires, after all. And yet, I was pretty sure that my take on vampires hadn’t been done before. I was proud of that fact. I remember a few years back I was describing my world to a coworker (with the enthusiasm only a five-year-old or a writer can muster) when he gave me an odd look and said, “Oh, so you must be one of those conspiracy theorists, huh?”
That stopped me. “What?”
“You know, those folks who believe in the reptile vampire Illuminati?”
I had no idea what he meant, so I did a little research. Turns out there’s an active conspiracy theory community who believe humanity is secretly ruled by a race of saurian vampires (hi out there!) who can pass as human. Makes me wonder if someday I’m going to be accused of being part of the conspiracy. Especially since one maran family’s house symbol is the Eye of Providence (the Illuminati pyramid on the back of the one dollar bill.)
Ah well, great (and paranoid) minds think alike!
The Kidnap and Ransom Trade is Terrifying
Most of the research I did for this book was the subject of kidnap and ransom (K&R,) which is a shadowy black box of horror and despair. In the US, kidnappings tends to be small scale, but there are parts of the world where kidnapping is one of the main weapons in the political and fund-raising arsenals of some entirely nasty organizations. Groups like ISIS and Boko Haram have gained considerable attention in the last year because of their political kidnappings (which is exactly the effect those kidnappers were hoping for,) but for decades for-profit kidnappings have been major revenue sources for groups like Al Queda, FARC, Mexican Cartels, and the Russian Mafia.
It’s a thoroughly ugly business, but the more I researched, the more I became fascinated with the men (K&R experts, or crisis management consultants, depending on how deep the corporate-speak rabbit hole goes) who say goodbye to friends and family for months at a time in order to try to bring kidnap victims home. I was impressed by the fact that they have a very different set of priorities than most law-enforcement groups that deal with criminals, because they are in fact not about catching criminals. They’re about bringing men and women home alive. At the same time, a lot of these people are thoroughly resented by governments, including the US Government, because of the belief that they are aiding and abetting terrorists and criminals by handing over money.
That would probably be fascinating even without a paranormal element, but being who I am, I had to add an entire world of monsters, wizards, and complications.
It just wouldn’t have been as much fun otherwise.
Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats and a lot of opinions on anything from the Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be founding debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.
Blood Chimera by Jenn Lyons
Available on August 12, 2014 by World Weaver Press
Some ransoms aren’t meant to be paid. – Kidnap and Ransom negotiation used to be straightforward. The bad guys kidnap someone, and K&R expert Jackson Pastor negotiates their release, skillfully traversing a maze of bloodthirsty monsters: criminals, terrorists, police, and especially the FBI.
But that was before he met real bloodthirsty monsters.
When Jackson Pastor arrives in Los Angeles to help a new client recover his kidnapped wife, he finds himself dropped in the middle of a 500-year-old war between rival European and Mexican vampire clans, a conflict that threatens to escalate into a full-on public gang war. Worse, Jackson hasn’t been brought to Los Angeles to be a negotiator.
His new boss wants to turn him into an assassin.
With Jackson about to be caught in the middle of a clan war, his only hope of escape may lie with a secret FBI monster-hunting task-force led by a very dangerous, eccentric wizard.
Which could be a problem, since Jack’s a monster himself.
Blood Chimera is gritty, noir-style mystery of paranormal proportions where nothing is as it seems, not even the term “vampire.”
Interested in being a guest on All Things Urban Fantasy? Fill out our Guest Request Form