Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Nina Mason’s character on June 9th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Grey Francis, the author of Bound to a Vampire, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow on of her main characters, Cassandra Monteclaire, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Grey in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Cassandra!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Cassandra. Please have a seat.
Character Cassandra Monteclaire: Hello. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: It’s good to have you visit. We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Cassandra: Of course.
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Cassandra: I am an obstetrician, specializing in high-risk pregnancies. I perform both human and vampire deliveries.
As far as how good I am at my job… Well, I’ve been doing it for over three centuries, so I guess you can say I have more experience than your average OB. I also have the advantage of being a Healer, which in the vampire world refers to someone who can heal any injury or disease with their hands. With my touch, I can fix virtually anything — from stopping hemorrhages to keeping a baby’s heart beating. I’ve never lost one yet.
I love my work. My mother was a midwife and in my human life, I followed in her footsteps. It’s all I ever wanted to do. For years afterwards as a vampire, I wanted to make a difference in the human world. I’ve lived a long time and I’ve seen a lot of suffering. But I’ve learned you can’t save the world. Now, I work exclusively with my own Kind and the human blood donors who live among us. Every birth for us is a miracle but every birth is high risk for the vampire mother. I like to be challenged and helping bring more of my Kind into the world is very rewarding. I am also doing research on the vampire biology to see how to make us fertile more than once a century. It’s a work in progress.
Marie: That’s impressive!
So, what is your family like?
Cassandra: Wow, that’s a complicated one. I have two mates and they’re completely different. First there’s Killian, my Sire. He is an eight hundred year old vampire who embodies both masculine and feminine beauty in one extraordinary body, resonating sex and power like a drug. He is as elegant as he is deadly. He’s a commanding leader and brilliant businessman with an incredible intellect. He also has unfathomable powers that even I don’t understand. Killian is Dominant and our Master in the bedroom – and a true artist in the practice of Bondage and Discipline. When he looks into my eyes, he sees me all the way down to my soul. I never have to tell him my needs. He knows them better than I do. He has always been my touchstone and the hand the guides me. For a long time, while he was gone, a big part of me was missing.
Then there is my other mate, our Third, Alastair. We are from the same time in history and when we met, he was our human Protector with no intention of ever becoming a vampire. Alastair has a dark savage masculine beauty about him. We’ve always had an uncontrollable, sexual heat between us and were undeniable mates from almost the beginning. A great deal has happened since those early years, which I won’t get into here, but Al is now our King and carries the Arm of Power, making him feared, respected and untouchable. But in the bedroom, he is Killian’s submissive and my Dominant. He is the perfect switch. Outside the bedroom, however, there’s no question Alastair can be stubborn and arduous, definitely the dark brooding type. But he is also the funniest person I’ve ever known. No one is more fun or makes me laugh like Al. But as I said before, he never wanted any of this. In his heart, Alastair has always been, and will always be, a ruthless and talented warrior. The spirit of the wolf lives inside him, making him difficult to control, yet utterly impossible not to love.
These two males are my mates and my heart. Together, we have brought four children into this world—extending in ages from three hundred years old to one hundred. Each possesses a gift of their own that makes them a vital part of the empire we rule. But regardless of their individual powers and talents, I see each as a beloved child, a miracle, and an expression of the love that exists between myself and my mates.
Marie: I see. What did your childhood home look like?
Cassandra: Well, you’re talking the 1640’s, so from the little I remember it was a cottage with stone walls, a thatched roof and a dirt floor. It was small and had a stone hearth. I recall only a table and one straw bed I shared with my mother. The most distinct thing I remember about my first home was my mother’s work area where she crushed herbs and made tonics. It smelled of lavender and mint and chamomile flowers. To this day, when I smell these scents, I think of my mother.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Cassandra: I’m a bit of a workaholic. Much like my mates, none of us rarely stops. But when I do have down time, I enjoy curling up with a good book (I read everything from medical research texts to romances), but my true passion is watching movies. I love science fiction, political intrigues, family dramas, and good romances. But no horror. I’ve had enough of that in my real life! I’ve seen vampires films and find them amusing, if not annoying. But I admire the human imagination. For years, when Killian was gone from our lives, Alastair and I would spend our weekends locked together away in our flat listening to music and watching every film we could get our hands on.
Marie: So, what is your greatest dream, Cassandra?
Cassandra: My dream is for my children to what I have been so miraculously blessed with– to be with bonded with a True Mate (or mates as the case may be.) Our children have not been so fortunate. Each has found their True Mate, but for reasons too complicated to get into here, they stay apart from their mates and suffer from the empty void it leaves in their lives. It has been rumored that my disregard for fate and my restoring of lives destined to end, has left a curse upon my family. I do not know if I believe in these superstitions. But I do believe in the power of love and it’s ability to conquer anything. Even curses. My dream is for each of my children to overcome their personal demons and then knock down the barriers between themselves and their mates, and let themselves be loved.
Marie: What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Cassandra: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I’ve had almost four centuries to become who I want to be. And yet I remain a jealous and possessive creature. So much bad came from my inability to accept the vampire nature. By that, I mean we are not strictly monogamous. We live too long to not exchange sexual energy with other vampires. But for me, my mates have always been more than enough. Alastair, much younger than Killian, needed sexual conquests as a form of nourishment. I was counseled to accept this by every vampire I respected. Because I was not able to share my mate, even in this fleeting, meaningless way, my actions led to my own capture by the Torians and Killian’s decision to go to the earth for over two centuries. All those years lost, all those years wandering in search of him, stem from one single act of defiance. Defiance that came from a jealous heart. And yet, to this day, I still tell Alastair he is free to take his pleasure with any male, but I will not tolerate another female in his bed. Alastair, only recently, has obliged this wish in an attempt win me back by his side. But he gave up a great deal of personal power in order to do so. Remember, sex and blood feeds the immense power inside of him. And it is that power that protects us all. I realize now I was asking him to go against his nature and jeopardize his strength as King. So to answer your question, I wish I did not care. I wish my heart beat more like a vampire’s and less like a human’s. Nothing is stopping me. I try everyday, century after century…
Marie: All right, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Cassandra: That’s an easy one. I had no real notion of love until Killian took me to his bed that first time. He took ownership of me–body and soul. And I, in turn, understood the ecstasy of surrender. It was as if I was finally awake for the first time, every inch of my body alive with pleasure. He deflowered me as a vampire and showed me how to truly make love. But he also showed me the depths of my heart by sharing his own with me. No matter who came before, it was all washed away when Killian claimed me as his.
Marie: (Sighs.) I love romance.
Let’s try a different question, shall we?
So, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Cassandra: Not to sound overly dramatic, but there have been so many horrific events in my long life, it’s hard to pick one. I’ve been captured by Torians and kept in silver manacles, my skin constantly burning and peeling, never knowing when I’d be killed. A century later, my son was captured and tortured for weeks on end before we found him. Friends have been hacked to pieces before my eyes by our enemies. How do you live in this violent world for over three centuries and pick the most terrible event? But in truth, there was one thing more terrible than all the horrors I witnessed. And that was losing Killian. When I escaped the Torians and found Alastair, we thought we’d find Killian in a matter of days or weeks. When Beaumont, his attorney, read his will, we realized Killian had no intention of coming back from wherever he’d buried himself. It was that moment, and the hundreds that followed when we wandered across Europe for decades in search of him, hitting one dead end after another, that we realized we’d lost him. Nothing can replace a mate, especially one like Killian. We were two lost souls without him. We had to learn to be for each other what we’d both lost.
I’m so sorry. 😦
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter, okay?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Cassandra: My dream has always been to help people. Not just as a midwife, but as a healer. As a human, I had the ability to take away pain with my hands. Seeing the relief and peace I could bring people with my touch, I knew it was my calling. But back in those years, a simple healer did not aspire to too much. I only knew I wanted to help as many people as I could before someone called me a witch and had me killed. That came soon enough. It wasn’t until I was made a vampire and my gift turned into the ability to heal that I saw the bigger picture. I wanted to help humankind on a grand scale. Of course, that was impossible. Killian made certain I only used my healing on humans in our own inner circle. Otherwise, I would have caused mass hysteria. It was hard for me to understand that then. I felt only that I was being held back and that my great gift was being wasted. I swore one day, I would break free and find a time and place where I could heal without superstition and fear. That time was the 20th century. With the liberation of women, I went to medical school and opened a medical practice. Of course, I had to put an ocean between my mate and myself in order to do so, and that was horribly difficult, but I lived my dream.
But you ask an interesting question: was it not what I expected? The answer is no, it was not. I was finally able to help people but the price was too high. I was separated from my own Kind – my mate, our children and all our friends. I was living in exile. In time, I realized my own Kind, our warriors fighting nightly battles and our females struggling to bring life into this world, needed me more. The human race would struggle on with their medications and machines. But my place was among my own Kind where I didn’t have to pretend to be something I wasn’t.
Marie: I see.
So, who is your role model, Cassandra?
Cassandra: Strangely enough, because I barely remember her anymore, my role model continues to be my mother. My memories of her are of being awakened at all hours of night, sometimes in the worst of weather, and dragging herself, and me, to wherever farm or village a woman was giving birth. There was never a consideration of herself or her own discomfort, only the purpose she served. It is that blind dedication that inspired and molded me into the healer I am today.
Marie: That is certainly an honorable calling.
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Cassandra: Sadly, there was, but she is no longer with us. She was a selfish, short-sighted human and a ruthless vampire. I had the misfortune of being her Sire, and as such, I had to pretend to care for her well being. But it was always difficult knowing I’d brought a monster into the world. As I said, she is no longer with us. The French Revolution and the rampant violence and anarchy of the streets took care of her, so I will not speak ill of her any more other than to say some vampires are their own worst enemies and bring about their own demise.
Marie: Very true.
So, what is your deepest desire?
Cassandra: My deepest desire has always been, and continues to be, making love to both my mates at the same time. There is a deep connection and a euphoric flow of power that inhabits us when the three of us become one. Whether we are in the bedroom or our dungeon, whether we are using leather restraints or we are just flesh-to-flesh, I am nourished by their uninhibited, ravenous passion, not just for me, but also for each other.
Marie: Okay. What is your greatest fear?
Cassandra: Loss. I know it well and I don’t want to feel it ever again. I know that’s impossible, but I do whatever is necessary to protect my own. With the return of Killian, I have been given an extraordinary gift. But there are so many others close to my heart who put their lives in jeopardy every night and there are only so many times I can bring them back from the edge of death. But that’s what I do. I keep everyone alive. Or at least try.
Marie: Well, I hate to say it, but we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Cassandra. (Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Grey Francis on the stage today. Hi, Grey!
Author Grey Francis: Hi. Thank you so much for having me here, Marie! 🙂
Marie: My pleasure!
As you know, we just got to talk to the hero of your story, Cassandra. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Grey: Cassandra is a passionate character – not only in her relationships with her mates, but in her quest to save each of them. But like many women, Cassandra is torn between her career and her family. In the past, she struggles between wanting to do more as a healer and being obedient to Killian and the Triune. In the present, she must choose between her medical practice in New York and returning to her vampire clan in London. Ultimately, love always wins out with Cassandra. Her deep love for her mates is the very fabric of who she is. When she discovers Killian is alive, after being missing for over two centuries, she stops at nothing to find him, including using Forrest and his Sentient resources to track him down before they do. She does this despite the strained relationship that has developed between these former allies and Vampire nations. She also pursues this dangerous route against her mate’s wishes. Cassandra can be headstrong and stubborn and rebellious this way.
Cassandra also goes to great personal lengths to calm the overwhelming power that churns inside Alastair that ultimately threatens to destroy him. At one point in the story, Alastair describes Cassandra as “pure love.” She is sensitive and intuitive in regards to Killian and Alastair’s deep but fractured love for one another and stops at nothing to mend their relationship. Early on in the story, Cassandra has a vision of the three of them together and acts as a conduit to bridge the gap between these two complicated males. Three and a half centuries later, she must do this again despite the festering betrayal that haunts Alastair. Cassandra is not only a healer of the body, but she heals the emotional scars of the ones she cherishes and forces them to work it out. What I love about Cassandra’s character is her personal growth throughout the story. She is always a strong woman, but her willingness to act ruthlessly when necessary and act independently of her overpowering Master Vampire mates, shows how she really comes into her own as a woman and as a vampire.
Marie: That’s great!
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Grey: Cassandra’s greatest strength is her compassion. Even as a newly turned Vampire who feels betrayed by the human race for attempting to execute her as a witch, she still feels a great deal of compassion for the suffering of human women and children. Despite being forbidden to do so, Cassandra goes to great lengths to help abused women or pregnant women who would not otherwise survive birth without her intervention. Killian calls this quality Cassandra’s “human stain”, but it is more of a gift than any of them realize.
Marie: Now let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, is her greatest weakness?
Grey: Cassandra’s strength is also her greatest weakness. Her compassion for humans, a world she has been sworn to not interfere in, is something she is willing pursue, even if it means betraying her Master’s wishes. There are disastrous consequences resulting from Cassandra’s unwillingness to stop delivering human babies and she almost loses everything she holds dear because of her recklessness.
However, I think it’s a toss up between Cassandra’s human stain and her possessiveness of Alastair. Her unwillingness to share him sexually, a common practice among vampires, causes turmoil in the Triune and makes her act out irrationally, again with disastrous results. As Killian tells her at one point in the story, “Your problem, my darling, is you love him too much.”
Marie: Okay. So, what are some of her favorite foods?
Grey: Even though my vampires can eat and enjoy solid food, they really prefer blood. When Cassandra does eat, she appreciates a very rare steak.
Marie: Let’s try something else.
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Grey: That would be a quality in the bedroom. Although Cassandra is a natural submissive, she at certain points, in order to help her mate, must take on the role of the Dominant. As a Mistress, she is commanding and knows how to use bondage and controlled pain to banish Alastair’s demons and release the unwieldy power that builds up inside him. She believes she cannot completely tame him, but when she really needs to, Cassandra can transform herself and take control, bringing her great King to his knees.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Grey: Readers will like Cassandra and probably identify with her on many levels. Cassandra starts her journey in a pretty dark place. Women, especially midwives and healers, were persecuted throughout history. Watching Cassandra become vampire, we see her rise from the ashes of being a victim of violence to being a strong powerful creature who will never let a man abuse her again. Cassandra projects a sense of empowerment with her choice of human prey, gravitating almost exclusively to rapists and abusive men. Readers will certainly sympathize with Cassandra as a strong, intelligent female in a historical context, struggling to have a say over her life and her powers. They may even recognize her success as a doctor in the modern world as a feminist journey through time. And lastly, as a creature of passion, Cassandra fulfills our fantasies of being mated to not only one scorching hot, seductive and powerful male, but two. But it is her emotive nature and her compassion that make her the most human of all my vampires, and I think readers will find themselves relating to her over and over.
Now that we have a real taste of Cassandra, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Bound to a Vampire?
Grey: The story has really changed a lot from my original idea. When the book was born in my head, I was thinking about the women in my life and some of our more adventurous sexual histories. Everyone has a history, some more extensive and interesting than others. Who didn’t have that great love that vanished from their lives? Or that big mistake we’d rather not think about. As humans, these adventures usually take place over a relatively short period of our overall lives. Then I started wondering about vampires. I was already deeply entrenched in vampire literature for years and I was frankly, a little tired of the male perspective. I wanted to know what a female vampire’s sexual/romantic history would look like after several centuries. Would it be a long messy trail of great loves and tragic losses? I found this idea fascinating. I wanted to go into the past and document a female vampire’s love life. But once I began, Cassandra did not cooperate and took on a personality of her own, dedicating herself to only two lovers. Two very disarmingly sexy, complicated, charismatic, powerful lovers. In the end, it allowed me to explore a very deeply complex triad that was far more interesting than a parade of characters coming in and out of her life.
Marie: Wow, that is fascinating! Isn’t it funny how things turn out not only different than you planned, but better? 😉
So, Grey, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Grey: I am definitely a plotter. I create long, detailed outlines, sometimes including dialogue (whenever it comes to me, I write it down, even in the outline). I follow my outline, but inevitably as the characters develop, the story evolves and new scenes are added, often taking me in unexpected directions. A book, at least for me, is almost a living, breathing thing. I give it life but then the characters take over.
Marie: Yes, I know what you mean. Some of my characters really go their own way. (Laughs.)
So…I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Bound to a Vampire or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Grey: This is my first book and I tried for months to get an agent. I rarely got past a form letter from an editorial assistant. It was very disheartening, especially as someone who worked in both publishing and film, having written screenplays that have been represented and working with hundreds of authors — I knew I had something. After a lot of research I decided to self-publish. It’s a lot of work, but I liked having the control over who designed my cover and having input and I liked working directly with my editor. I have no regrets. I worked with the options that were available to me and these days, as writers, we definitely have options. The biggest challenge has been marketing and making the world aware of my book. I think next time I would definitely start the marketing and publicity end of things much earlier in the process.
Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Bound to a Vampire appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Grey Francis, a very talented author! 🙂
Here is the blurb for Bound to a Vampire (Into the Dark Woods Series).
Cassandra Montclaire is a three-hundred-and-sixty-year-old vampire living in modern-day New York. Her human life ended three centuries earlier when, condemned as a witch, she was rescued and turned by a Master Vampire named Killian. Bonded in a passionate trio with their Protector, the three lived an exciting and dangerous life full of love, decadence, and dark passion. But then Killian vanished without a trace. Until now.
A human ally of Cassandra’s has proof Killian is alive and is killing off members of his organization. Killian is now a marked man, and Cassandra must find him before time runs out and he is eliminated.
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00TKOBMDQ
About Grey Francis
Grey Francis, a native of Los Angeles, has been writing since she was a teen, penning stories about ghosts, witches and vampires, among other denizens of the night. After graduating with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University, Grey was employed in the New York publishing world before relocating
back to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. She later explored her fascination with the paranormal as a screenwriter, but it wasn’t until the birth of her series, Into the Dark Woods, that she found her voice as an erotic novelist. When Grey isn’t writing her next book, she is a busy full-time mother of two children.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Grey Francis, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Central: http://amzn.to/1JHSssN
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Cassandra, the female main character of Bound to a Vampire, and Grey Francis, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to check out Grey’s latest release! 🙂