Today I have the privilege of hosting two creative, interesting women on my blog, and highlighting their new paranormal novella, Thicker Than Water, the first in the Blood Mercy series. It’s an illustrated novella, something I haven’t seen a lot of in adult genres.
This was a no-brainer for me. Paranormal is my favorite genre, of course. And vampires? As long as they don’t sparkle, I’m all in. I was more than happy to dive into this story and be a part of the blog tour.
Now, this was originally supposed to be a character interview with Melrose and Lucy. But, saying those two have issues is a gross understatement. Melrose cancelled, muttering something about a spot on his suit and things he had to do. And Lucy, well bless her heart, she’s been hiding out all week, asking herself questions out loud (and answering them). Every time I got close to ask her if we could talk, her eyes filled with blood lust, she got a weird look on her face and…Yeah. I may be a pretty good fighter, but against a vamp? Nah. I prefer not to be her sanguine meal, thanks.
So, I talked their creators into having a little convo with me instead. Without further ado, I give you Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko.
What inspired your collaboration? How did you get started?
JB: I’m the type of person who is constantly creating new story ideas, and Janeen’s the type of person who is constantly connecting ideas and pushing towards a finished goal (which is something I lack, hahaha). We’re similar enough that our visions meld well, and different enough that we each bring something unique to the table. We both have a love for horror and monsters, and we both are inspired by the lessons we can learn through their stories.
I love the premise and the new take on vampires and how they are made. I also really love the issues you’ve given each one. What inspired this book?
JB: It started as a role-playing game with friends, and then eventually Janeen and I realized the stories we were telling would make a fantastic book, and here we are!
JI: Yeah, Julia and I met at work and started talking about stories. From there it was text message after text message writing scenes and characters and plotting all kinds of awful disasters.
I’ve never collaborated with someone else in writing before, though I have a few joint ventures in talks. So, I’m curious about the process. What does a typical writing/creating session look like for you?
JB: Oh, gosh. Insanity. Both Janeen and I are attracted to shinies (Janeen) and rabbit holes (me), so in the span of a few hours we will have discussed the plot of the book itself, backstories of the characters, tweaks to world-building, and the exact nature of a Jackalope and its relation to a Unicorn.
JI: The Jackalope and Unicorn discussion was VITAL. As are all the random music searches on YouTube. And the other YouTube videos. All part of the creative process.
JB: So, although incredibly non-linear, our creative sessions tend towards fun, energetic, and, oddly, focused. We both love to play, but we also both know when to be serious.
I definitely understand the rabbit trail of searching for music! I can get lost in finding the perfect song.
If you could tell yourselves anything when you first began collaborating, what would it be?
JB: Stop throwing in the kitchen sink, your story arc looks like a glacier.
JI: Write more things down. Text message is a bear to transcribe. Once I discovered Google Chats, life got easier, because we could copy and paste from transcripts. Oh, and when painting a prop for a student play, open the window. And definitely don’t ignore the fumes in favor of story-texting with a friend.
JB: But when all-else fails, forgetting to open the window when using Goo-Gone will result in making an awesome new friend.
JI: Yes! As well as nausea. But not over the friend.
Okay, I don’t think I’ll ask any more about the fumes and the results of that! So…
I have a thing about names. In my own stories, I like the names to have particular meanings. I can spend hours pouring over name sites. How did you select character names for Thicker Than Water?
JB: I look at either a portrait of them I’ve sketched or the face reference I have for them, and I consider their journey, their backstory, and their personality. From that, I generally get an idea of how I want their name to “feel” (strong, bold, gentle, weak, timid, etc). Often times, that’s paired with a sound I want in their name (be it an “Oh” sound, or I want their name to start with a “Jay” sound, or even I have a specific first letter in mind). From there I either narrow my search to a specific language (the website I use has a “sort by country” filter) and go through the list, comparing them to my character’s reference.
JI: They often come named and refuse to answer to anything else. Which is fun when Julia wants to hunt down names, and I’m stubbornly clinging to the ones in my head. I’m also fussy about making sure there is naming diversity within stories.
Julia, your process sounds a lot like mine. Though I have had a few characters, Like Janeen, come to me already named.
How many more books will be in this series?
JB: could be 4 books, could be more. Current plan is 4, but I know us well enough to not limit ourselves.
JI: not including spinoffs!
Okay, last question. What is something you want readers to take away from this series?
JB: There are monsters in every one of us, and we are more than the horror within ourselves.
JI: Being born with an issue, ailment, disability, or other chronic illness can define your life, but doesn’t have to define your identity. Everyone is given a particular set of conditions and life experiences, but there is also hope even in darkness. And everyone should consider carefully what they choose to cling to when life turns horrible. We humans have a nasty tendency to indulge destructive habits rather than healing ones.
Also, dachshunds are amazing.
JB: And onion rings go really well with vanilla milkshakes. Try it! Or with French fries, that’s tasty too.
I could argue chocolate shakes go better with fries, but I don’t think you want to get into that here. 😉
Thank you both so much for joining me today! It was a blast!
Be sure and get your copy of Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water!
What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?
Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.
Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.
His lost wife, Jane.
One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.
Blood Mercy Official Website: http://www.bloodmercy.wordpress.com
Amazon Preorder Link: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Mercy-Thicker-Than-Water-ebook/dp/B01L47ILUS
Uncommon Universes Press Website: http://www.uncommonuniverses.com
Author Bio: Janeen Ippolito is an idea-charged teacher, reader, writer, book reviewer, and the Fearless Leader of Uncommon Universes Press. She writes nonfiction writing help and speculative fiction laced with horror, humor, and cultural tension. Her co-written illustrated novella, Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water, releases on October 29th. In her nonexistent spare time she reads, cooks, and sword-fights. Two of her dreams are to eat a fried tarantula and to travel to Antarctica. Go to janeenippolito.com for world-building resources and off-the-wall insights from this sleep-deprived author.
Social Media Links
Pinterest: Janeen Ippolito
Author Bio: Julia Busko (like “bus” and “co.”) is an illustrator, designer, writer, and the Elusive Unicorn (art director) of Uncommon Universes Press. In addition to co-writing with Janeen Ippolito, Julia has created book covers, made logos and t-shirt designs, and is planning a series of steampunk fairy tale picture books. In her spare time she dances with a local company and watches documentaries and horror movies. She strives for art filled with creative wonder and the beauty inherent in tragedy. Go to juliabusko.com to dive into a world of remarkable visions and artistic musings.
Social Media Links
Pinterest: Julia Busko
And don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour! Don’t miss out on all the fun.