Chris Marie Green Brews Up Supernatural Mystery e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (February, 2007)
Whether she's writing the next installment of her new dark fantasy series under the pen name, Chris Marie Green, or creating stories for various series romance lines as Crystal Green, this busy author says she's 'been writing since she could hold a crayon'. She's outgrown the crayons but her enthusiasm for storytelling has never waned. Chris took a few detours before settling down to become a full time writer: she graduated with a B.A. in English from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and then taught eighth grade. But by 2002, she'd decided that her true calling was as a writer and with over twenty books to her credit, she doesn't see herself slowing down any time soon. February sees the release of Chris's first dark fantasy title, Night Rising, book one of her new Vampire Babylon series. It's the story of a stuntwoman who comes home to Hollywood after her estranged father has gone missing. As she searches for him, she meets a very odd trio who run a paranormal investigative agency and lead her into a dark and dangerous underbelly of Hollywood she could never have imagined.
Q: Night Rising, book one of your new Vampire Babylon series, has been described as noir-mystery-fantasy - was blending these sub-genres your goal when you envisioned the story?
A: Not at all. I set out to create an action/adventure vampire tale with only a bit of mystery. But as soon as I started the actual writing, the mystery demanded its own place alongside the vampires. And I suppose the Hollywood gothic tone coupled with the investigative agency made for a noir Chinatown feel.
Q: What makes your heroine, Dawn Madison, different from all the other vampire slayers who are out there right now?
A: Dawn is kind of the worst-case scenario of a Hollywood Kid - even though she'd be the first to tell you that she's not half as messed up as the average Silver Screen child. Her bad attitude stems from deep insecurity issues that come from being the daughter of a Tinseltown legend and a lowly bar bouncer who became her mom's so-called "boy toy." Her rage builds as her search for herself in this land of make believe leads to truths she doesn't want to deal with, and that rage is a dangerous weapon against these vampires who've suddenly endangered her sanity as well as her life. Along with the revelation of the mystery, Dawn has to deal with more than vampires: she has to evaluate how far she will go to reach an understanding about herself. At first, she's not fighting to save the world as much as to keep hers together.
Q: Were you taking a poke at Hollywood and the darker side of child stardom in your characterization of child vampire, Robby?
A: That pretty much evolved as I wrote the book. There are some really sad, unbelievable tales about what can happen to child stars: lives of crime and addiction. Robby came to be the extreme version of that.
Q: Care to give us a few insights into the mysterious Jonah Limpet and how his character evolved?
A: Well, I can't go into too much detail about The Voice, because books two and three give us answers about who he is and what he's up to. But I can tell you that he evolved out of a need to ... let's say balance the scales of good and bad in the story. Like the reader, Dawn doesn't know whether she can trust him or not. And, like Dawn, The Voice is waging his own struggles with how far he'd go to get what he wants. When I first came up with the series idea, he was just a mysterious voice who gave orders in a Charlie's Angels wink-wink-nudge-nudge fashion, but then I fleshed him out, so to speak. There's a lot more to Mr. Limpet than Dawn even suspects, and I promise you'll find out all about him by book three ... (Mwa-ha-ha.)
Q: You have two more titles coming out in your Vampire Babylon trilogy - can you give us a thumbnail sketch of the next adventures Dawn and her friends get themselves mixed up in, and when readers can expect to find Midnight Reign & Break of Dawn on bookshelves?
A: Midnight Reign will be released February, 2008, but Break of Dawn isn't going to have such a lag time; BoD doesn't have a slot yet though. (You can check my sites for updates, starting with VampireBabylon.com.) In Midnight Reign, there's yet another mystery to solve, one that is tied very intricately into the Underground introduced in book one. I'll even tell you that it centers around a serial killer. Readers will also get to know the Master quite well. In Break of Dawn (and the title is very significant), Dawn sets out to completely solve the mystery of Jonah Limpet, even though there are some revelations about him in Midnight Reign.
Q: Of all the archetypes in horror and dark fantasy, what is it about vampires and their dark mythology that appeals to you - and to so many other readers and moviegoers?
A: Vampires hold death at bay, and depending on who writes about them, they don't age, either. Men have searched for eternal youth for eons, but here are the creatures that have the power to stay vital. Also, many vampires give themselves over to pure pleasure and are willing to initiate others into it - but there's a price. Humans seem to always be attracted to someone who wields great power, whether it's in business, skill, or charm.
Q: You also contribute to various series romances for Harlequin and have quite a backlist of titles in the Blaze, Bombshell and Silhouette Special Edition lines. Which requires the most discipline - series romance or mainstream fiction?
A: Each line actually requires a certain discipline. Special Edition is a "comfort write" for me; it's the equivalent of a "comfort read," where I know there'll be a happy ending. That sounds easy enough, but the emotion takes work; you want it to feel real. With Blazes, love scenes are the challenge - and the fun. A lot of thought goes into those scenes, and you have to make sure the readers care enough about the characters for the erotic element to matter. Bombshell was basically mainstream fiction shelved in the romance section of the bookstore: I wrote a vampire story (The Huntress) and an atmospheric thriller (Baited) for the line. Paranormals and mysteries challenge me quite a bit, because I constantly have to be mindful of holes in the world I've built as well as remembering who knows what in the scope of a mystery. Oddly enough, I'd say the Vampire Babylon books use elements from all three lines: Special Edition emotion, Blaze erotica, and Bombshell action/adventure.
Q: The Bombshell line is no more - what do you think contributed to the line's demise?
A: I think they weren't sure how to market those books. Do you put them in the romance section since Bombshells are published by Silhouette and you have the guaranteed shelf space? Or do you shelve them with mainstream fiction since the stories don't have the traditional romantic content? There was a definite identity crisis, and that's really too bad. I didn't just write those books, I was a huge fan of them. Many could have been packaged as single titles and had a longer life.
Q: Now that you've successfully tried your hand at dark fantasy, are there any other genres you'd like to sink your imaginative teeth into?
A: Why, thank you. :D I think I need to cool it with the genre hopping at the moment, but I'd love to do another atmospheric thriller in the same vein as Baited. I've got an idea for one, and I'll be working on the proposal soon. I'll also be sticking with dark fantasy as well as paranormal, plus my series pursuits.
Q: The romance novel has evolved and taken many different directions over the past few decades - do you think the current trend for "erotically charged" romance was inevitable or will this sub-genre eventually run its course?
A: I believe it's here to stay! I think we'll see erotically charged romance stretch and flex and develop into new kinds of stories. I only wish I could predict what will happen because I'd be all over it.
Q: Juggling so many different projects and deadlines must be tricky - how do you keep yourself on track, inspired and sane?
A: Sane? Well, two out of three ain't bad. :-) Last year was a killer year for me, so I've slowed down the last couple of months. However, I'm gearing up once again for another busy year. Normally, I have my lists, which detail everything I have to do day by day, week by week, and month by month. When I check off an item, it's like I've crossed a finish line. Hence, I think a daily sense of accomplishment is a great way to stay on track. For inspiration, I love to travel. (You can check out travelogues for Japan and Italy on my main site: www.crystal-green.com.) And the sane part? Actually, I'm very close to my family. They remind me that work isn't everything.
Q: Who - or what - was the greatest influence in your career choice?
A: My parents. Remember that crayon reference in this interview's introduction? They're the ones who put it in my hand. They never pressured me to become a writer - they just encouraged me every time I wrote a story or an essay or a poem. Getting published was just always kind of an expected thing, a goal I always took for granted. But when it happened, they were proud. They still are. : )Find out more about Chris Marie Green, her background and her books, and read her blog at Crystal-Green.com and VampireBabylon.com.
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