Those who follow the Roaring Mouse will have already read my review of Carlie Cullen’s Heart Search: Lost last week. Now reviews aren’t always a big aspect of the blog, as I tend to feature books I love rather than ones that make me go ‘meh.’ Rather I prefer doing features, telling you why I like a book and why it might be worth your while reading it. And I love this one!
Heart Search: Lost is the first book in a new paranormal romance series. It takes an interesting approach in its evaluation of a couple who are torn apart, days before their wedding, when one becomes a vampire. Josh, the newbie in the vamp world, has been targeted by the leader of a coven of vampires who hang out down in t’South of England. This leader, Samir, has an ability to sense vampires and communicate with them, as well as sensing which humans will make good additions to the vampire covens.
We follow two parallel stories through the book. Josh learns about becoming a vampire, discovering his own unique powers, and coming to terms with the loss of his prior life. Remy, his fiancée, resolves to track Josh down by visiting all the places that they had been together before the split. This is a great literary device, both to build Remy’s character, but also to flesh out the details of their relationship in retrospect.
The book is an entertaining read. It was the first paranormal romance book I’ve read (although my wife’s side of the shelf is replete with black covered vamp books), and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it. I really connected with Remy, found the plot intriguing, and was hooked enough to want to follow the series and recommend it to the missus.
Heart Search: Lost represents Carlie Cullen’s debut on the author collective group Myrddin. I asked Carlie some questions about her work and her plans:
Carlie: Hi Ross! I’m excited to be talking to you today and on our side of the pond too! Thanks for inviting me.
Me: I really surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the paranormal romance of your novel. Why do you think it has taken off as a genre? What is it about vampires?
Thank you, Ross. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Apart from pure escapism you mean? Every young woman has dreams about finding her ‘perfect man’ and the way vampires are generally portrayed makes them desirable. I think the idea of having a romance with a man who is handsome, charismatic and immortal is attractive to readers. They can fantasise about how they could be swept off their feet by this dashing man, romanced by him and making him fall in love with them so maybe he would not want to lose them thereby becoming immortal themselves. Let’s face it, although we all know we’re going to die at some point in our lives, there are an enormous amount of people who’re really scared by it and the idea of finding the ‘Fountain of Youth’ or being bitten by a vampire and made immortal is a way of dealing with that fear. In case you’re wondering, I’ve used the male vampire here because it’s primarily women who read novels in this genre.
The other thing about vampires is the air of menace and mystery that surrounds them. A lot of women are naturally attracted to this type of person, even if they know these characters are wrong for them. Some men too dream of finding a dangerous and enigmatic woman – it’s not just women who are drawn in to the myth. Some people live ‘safe’ and often boring lives and wish they had the gumption to find some adventure. Fantasising about vampires is a way of fulfilling that need in them.
Me: As a fellow Brit, I loved the locations in your book. Did you visit the places that Remy went to?
Carlie: Quite a few of them, yes. My daughter attended university in Lancaster which isn’t far from the Lake District and we visited Ullswater and Windemere. She visited Dove Cottage on a uni field trip and told me about it. I’ve been to the Peak District on business and some of the other locations were passed through, visited or stayed at during family vacations when my daughter was younger.
I did do some research for some of the places I didn’t know very well to find out a bit more so I could then write about them as if I’d really explored the areas though.
Me: How much have the more famous Paranormal books like Twilight, Vampire Diaries etc influenced your writing? Are you a big fan of theirs?
Carlie: Famous books in this genre have opened my eyes to more possibilities and allowed my imagination to think out of the box a bit more than perhaps it might have done, but I wouldn’t say they’ve influenced my writing a huge amount. I think it was your review of Heart Search: Lost which pointed out a couple of similarities between my novel and the Twilight saga yet you also said my story was sufficiently different so as not to be compared to it. The funny thing is, I’d planned and started writing Heart Search before I read some of the Twilight books and the ‘resemblances’ to Stephenie Meyer’s books were in the outline prior to my reading most of her work and therefore, totally coincidental.
I do enjoy paranormal books and readily admit that yes, I’m a Twilight fan (no booing from the sidelines please). There are areas of her books, particularly the first two, where Bella comes across as totally boring, living a shell of a life without hobbies or anything to interest her except Edward. That, to me, was a little unrealistic, but apart from that they are entertaining and I do like the story. I’ve never read Vampire Diaries and only recently began reading Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series. Although maybe I should read more in this genre, I don’t because I want my work to be as unique as possible and don’t want to be influenced too much by the other vampire novels on the shelves.
Me: If you had to pick a character you enjoyed writing the most who would it be?
Carlie: Hmmm, I enjoyed writing all my characters for different reasons, so this is quite a hard question to answer. If you’d asked me which one was the most challenging to write I’d have an answer as quick as a snap of my fingers.
I really enjoyed writing Remy’s character, but if you’re going to pin me against the wall and make me pick just one then I would have to say Joshua. It was exciting to write his journey into immortality and all that entailed. I loved writing the coven scenes, especially when he became embroiled in a power struggle. It was also interesting to marry his new status with the vestiges of humanity which came from his enduring love for Remy.
Me: What's top of your To Be Read pile at the moment?
Carlie: It’s The Ring of Lost Souls by Rachel Tsoumbakos. She’s a fabulous writer and I can’t wait to feast my eyes with it.
Me: Crystal ball question: do you think print books are on a steady decline now, consigned to libraries and collectors, in the way that vinyl on records went?
Carlie: Actually, no I don’t. Recent figures show that more paperbacks are read than e-books! This isn’t my only reason for thinking this way. Digital books are still in their infancy. There are generations of readers around the world who’ve grown up reading print books and will continue to do so. Whilst I appreciate the portability of e-readers, I personally prefer to read from a print book and would pick that in favour of an e-book any day, despite the additional cost.
I think there will come a time when print books go on a major decline, but I don’t believe it’ll be in my lifetime and maybe not even in my daughter’s.
Me: What's up next for Carlie Cullen? What's the next project?
Carlie: Well, I’ve started writing book two of the Heart Search trilogy and plan to have the first draft finished before the end of the year. I’d like to get it published mid to late spring next year, if not before and then I’ll be onto the final one in the series. After that, I’m leaving vampires alone for a little while and am planning a fantasy novel based around the lovely lady I use as my avatar. That project will take a while as I’ve got some serious world-building to plan and magic systems to create.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Ross. I’ve really enjoyed our chat! Now where’s that cuppa you promised me?
Thanks very much Carlie- a great interview. If you want to check out Carlie's book it's available via Amazon in both the UK and US.
Amazon US http://amzn.to/OLwU59
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/PhC0Gu