Dianne Duvall e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (April 2011)
Born in Houston, Texas, Dianne Duvall earned a Bachelor's in English from the University of St. Thomas. Now, when she's not writing, Dianne is very active in the independent film industry. Darkness Dawns, the first in her Immortal Guardians series, introduces readers to Roland and Sarah. He's an immortal; she's a mild mannered music professor who rescues him from certain death at the hands of his enemies. Sarah's intervention lands her right in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and a brotherhood of powerful immortals who also need blood to survive.
Q: Paranormal series where a brotherhood of heroes work together for their greater good or that of humanity, remain a popular concept in paranormal romance. What makes your Immortal Guardians different?
A: Often such heroic brotherhoods are policing themselves or their enemies with the sole purpose of keeping those on the side of evil from killing humans. One important difference in my series is that Immortal Guardians aren't just protecting humans from being ruthlessly murdered by vampires. They're also trying to prevent humans from becoming vampires. In my series, vampires and immortals are both infected with a rare virus that lends them incredible strength, speed and regenerative capabilities. Unfortunately humans, when infected, suffer brain damage that causes a rapid decent into madness. So any humans who survive being attacked become as monstrous as the vampires who preyed upon them.
Immortals are spared this madness. Called gifted ones before their transformation, all were born with incredibly advanced DNA that lends them special gifts (telepathy, teleportation, telekinesis, etc.) and mutates the virus enough to spare them the more corrosive aspects. They don't know why they are different, so they seek this knowledge even as they work to reduce vampires' numbers, keep the vampires from killing humans and prevent humans from becoming vampires. They also keep a vigilant eye out for other gifted ones and work with an extensive network of humans who not only aid them in their daily life, but also search for a cure for the virus in hopes of eliminating vampirism and giving immortals the option of becoming mortal again.
Q: Why did you decide to blend immortal and vampire physiology and mythology?
A: I've always liked to know the whys and hows of things and assumed my readers would, too. In the case of the immortals and the vampires who inhabit my series, physiology proved to be an effective way of explaining the mythology. Many historians believe traditional vampire lore arose from a simple misunderstanding of certain medical conditions like porphyria. I took this notion, expanded upon it and a rare, symbiotic virus capable of producing the characteristics vampires and immortals have in common was born. Physiology also enabled me to explain the difference between immortals and vampires. I'm a big fan of fiction that pits good against bad or evil, but wanted the evil vampires in my series to be different. I didn't want them to choose to be bad. I wanted them to become so against their will. So the detrimental effect the virus has on human brains enabled me to produce villains that may not be so easy to hate despite their vile actions.
Q: Initially Sarah is introduced as something of a homebody who likes her peace and quiet, but once she's cornered she displays a definite kick butt attitude - was her character easy for you to envision?
A: It really was. Creative writing professors always advise their students to write what you know. I'm a homebody myself and place a high value on peace and quiet, both when I'm writing and when I'm relaxing. So that part of her character was very easy for me to write. As for the kick-butt attitude ... I tried to imagine how I would react in Sarah's position. Would someone with Sarah's background face down vampires and minions, kill when cornered, then roar in triumph? I don't think so. She'd do what had to be done, then reaction would set in and her very human vulnerability would surface. It's one of the things I like most about her character. She very quickly assimilates into a very violent world. And while she does so admirably, in my opinion, she is never unaffected by the violence itself or the part she must play in it.
Q: Roland on the other hand, is constantly being accused of being an introvert who purposely distances himself from others, including his fellow immortals - do you think this trait makes him a better match for Sarah?
A: I do think this makes him a better match for Sarah. A popular saying we've probably all heard is 'Opposites attract.' But one can say the same thing about similarities. Both Roland and Sarah are quiet and introspective. But Roland's reclusive, wary nature sparks Sarah's curiosity so much it lures her out of her shell. And Sarah's teasing disposition proves irresistible to Roland and charms him out of his. Friendship quickly blooms, then transforms into love.
Q: You've introduced Seth as the leader of Immortals - when is his story coming up and will it involve the mysterious Ami?
A: Seth will definitely get his own story, but other immortals will get theirs first. Seth has, after all, spent millennia putting the needs of immortals and gifted ones before his own. It's a hard habit for him to break and will take a unique woman to help him do it. As for Ami ... Seth's relationship with her will become clear in Night Reigns, the second book in the series.
Q: Ami's rescue hints that there may be other enemies besides vampires that the Immortals must contend with - true or false, and can you elaborate?
A: True. In Darkness Dawns, Bastien sets into motion the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill. His actions in raising the vampire army and enlisting the help of biochemist Dr. Montrose Keegan will set off a chain of events that will produce enemies that will threaten the Immortal Guardians' existence. Readers will get a glimpse of this - and how it all relates to those from whom Ami was rescued - in Night Reigns.
Q: Marcus seems the clear contender to star in your next book - yes or no, and when can fans expect book two?
A: Yes. Marcus is the hero in Night Reigns, which will release on December 6, 2011. In it, Marcus still mourns the loss of Bethany, the woman he loved for eight centuries. When his actions become reckless enough to spawn concern (even in Roland), Seth assigns him a new Second ... one who will prove immensely distracting and turn his world upside down.
Q: What other supernatural creatures will you introduce in future instalments?
A: Hmm. I can't answer this one without giving away some rather big surprises. Stay tuned. :-).
Q: Do you have an endgame planned for your Immortal Guardian series?
A: Ever since the concept of the Immortal Guardians came to me, I've envisioned the climax of the series or, more specifically, that one scene that would make readers catch their breath, widen their eyes and frantically turn the page to see how it all is resolved. The scene that would answer all of the questions that have arisen in the series that immortals were unable to answer. So, yes, I do have an endgame planned. Stay tuned. :-).
Q: How do you balance your writing career with the broad spectrum of work you do in the independent film industry?
A: It helps that the independent film work isn't five days a week, every week, year round. It's intermittent. The pre-production - coordinating casting calls, auditions, rehearsals, prepping for special effects, etc. - may require quite a bit of work, but it still leaves me time to write or edit as desired. Production, though it often involves very long hours, actually allows me more time to write than one might think. I usually serve as script supervisor (the continuity expert who makes sure the actress is carrying her purse on the right shoulder or that the actor flipped the light switch on with his left hand in every shot) and/or special effects makeup artist and special effects coordinator, so there are a lot of lulls during rehearsal, blocking, equipment relocation, meal breaks, and so on in which I can write or edit manuscripts. For example, when I worked on a feature film over the summer, I took the rough draft of Night Reigns with me and edited it whenever I wasn't needed on the set. Post-production, in which I edit films and add special effects, is the most demanding, so much so that I sometimes have to set my writing aside briefly, which actually is a plus because when I read back through a manuscript I tend to view it with fresher eyes.
Q: Your novel is very visual; has working in independent films helped you in this aspect?
A: It has. Seeing firsthand everything directors do to create striking and effective visual images and all that composers and sound editors add to enhance those images and make the overall scene more enthralling helps me remember to employ all of the senses and add little things that can make fiction seem more like reality. For example, Night Reigns contains the following sentence, describing an empty parking lot:
'Orange and brown leaves swirled and tumbled across patched black asphalt that still glistened in places from a midnight shower.'
The 'patches' make the parking lot seem more real because so many parking lots are speckled with blacktop patches. And I've learned that filmmakers will often dampen pavement on night shoots so it will reflect light more and be more visually appealing. So when I wrote this scene and pictured an empty parking lot, this is how I saw it. Both details are minor, but I think they make a big difference.
Q: Let's imagine that your fairy godmother suddenly popped into your office, waved her magic wand and zapped you into Sarah's shoes as she's facing down hordes of vampires ... how do you think you'd react?
A: I would probably freeze in panic for a couple of seconds, hurl curses at my fairy godmother, then start shooting, since guns are Sarah's weapon of choice. If I survived (I like to think I would), then once the last vampire fell, I would probably drop to my knees, burst into tears and start cursing my fairy godmother again. :-DGo to DianneDuvall.com for more information about Dianne, her books and poetry, film work and writing resources.
Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.