Long before Bram Stoker first brought his infamous vampire, Dracula, to the literary world, tales and stories about blood drinking undead creatures permeated the planet. Although Stoker’s vampire lacked the sex appeal many readers associate with the species today, Dracula began a literary tradition still very alive. Somewhere along the way, vampires moved outside the horror realm into romance.
I’ve always been into vampires. In grade school, some of my besties and I played vampire games. We probably were inspired by the first vampire I recall – the original Barnabus Collins of Dark Shadows fame. Like many others of my generations, we rushed home from school or whiled away our summer afternoons to visit Collinwood. From there, I sought out vampire tales with a thirst (pardon the pun) of my own. From campy vamps like George Hamilton in Love At First Bite to Stephen King’s creepy vampires from Salem’s Lot, I delighted in anything with fangs.
My first published short story was titled Flame and appeared in a long defunct vampire magazine published in New Orleans. And yes, it was a classic vampire story with a twist of romance, probably not overly original. As my career moved onward, I worked toward my goal of writing novels. I didn’t set out to write romance or anything paranormal but that’s what happened. Somewhere along the way I realized I was writing romance and my love of night creature crept into my work. One December as I headed home along a two-lane dark and lonely highway, I noticed most of the other vehicles on the road at such a late hour were eighteen wheelers, big trucks. And I thought, “hmm, truck driving would be a perfect cover job for a vampire.” A few months later, I wrote my first vampire novel, then signed a contract, and saw it published by Evernight Publishing. Love Tattoo chronicles the meeting of an uber sexy Irish vampire named Will Brennan who drives a big rig and a wannabee singer, Cara Riley, on her way to Nashville in hopes of getting a break. Instead, she’s so into Will she never leaves Memphis and…well, no spoilers. It became the first of the Love Covenant series (Love Tattoo, Love Scars, Love Knots, Love Shadows).
Readers and reviewers liked Love Tattoo. But the same year it came out, several of my other romances did as well. Comanche Forever, out from Rebel Ink Press in just a few days on November 3, is my “new” vampire novel. It probably wouldn’t exist without Bennet Pomerantz, fellow author, radio host, and reviewer who made me a promise when I was a guest on his Anything Goes radio program last January. He told me if I wrote a new vampire novel, he’d write the forward. I don’t think he thought I would but with an offer like that, oh, yeah, I did and so did he!
So, what’s the story with Comanche Forever? Well, maybe the blurb will give readers a hint of what’s coming.
As one of the last free Comanche warriors, Pea’hocso surrendered with Quanah Parker at Fort Sill in 1875. As if that wasn’t enough of a tragedy, an encounter the same night with a woman bent on revenge against his people turned him into a vampire, a blood drinking creature of the night. Now it’s the 21st century and Pea’hocso goes by the name of Ned Big Eagle. He deals cards at an Oklahoma casino and lives a solitary life on the edge of the Wichita Mountains. His undead existence is anything but enjoyable but Ned endures – what else can he do – until he meets history professor Anne Delahanty. Anne evokes emotions and desires he hasn’t known since he was still human but Ned tries to resist the temptation. He can’t bring the woman he realizes he loves into his vampire life – or can he? The question gnaws at what’s left of his soul as he wonders if revealing the truth will cause him to lose Anne forever. When she rejects his efforts to tell her, Ned figures the reality will crash down on them both. And it will when they least expect it and if they survive the tragedy, there may be a future after all.
I’m sure questions arise. Why is the hero a Comanche warrior? Why is the story set in the Wichita Mountains and around Lawton, Oklahoma? It’s simple, really. There are a lot of vampire romances out these days, some excellent, some passable, and some at the bottom of the list. We’ve got the whole Twilight thing with Edward Cullen too. So I decided if I wanted to write another vampire novel, I’d want something different, out of the ordinary. And, although vampire legends and stories can be found in most cultures, the idea didn’t exist within the Comanche tribe. So I thought it would be quite a twist for my hero, Ned, to have become something he had never believed possible. Once I decided I wanted my hero to be Native American, specifically Comanche, I decided I’d set the story in far southwestern Oklahoma.
I live next door to Oklahoma, the eastern side. The Sooner State is one of my favorite places to visit and I’ve been to every corner. My husband once worked as an oil field roughneck out in the Panhandle. One of my great-grandmothers was born there when it was still Indian Territory. Tulsa is one of my favorite small cities in the country and I adore the wide open spaces in many parts of the state.
Two of my uncles once lived in the Lawton-Fort Sill area. Uncle Raymond adored anything Western and with our shared partial Cherokee heritage, he fit into the local scenery just fine. Although it’s a long way from Monument Valley, the country in the air has the same magnificent appearance and classic Western views. The Wichita Mountains offer breathtaking views and the national grasslands boast one of the largest remaining herds of buffalo in the nation. It’s a beautiful place and it made the ideal setting for my novel.
GIVEAWAY: Lee Ann will give away an ebook copy of Comanche Forever to one lucky commenter. Contest ends 10/31 at 11:59PM EDT (Prize delivered to winner on November 3rd when the book officially releases).