Sunday, August 14, 2016

Interview with Rosemary A Johns, Author of Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons

What made you decide to be an author? Hi! Thank you Sharon for having me on your blog. I’ve been a traditionally published author of short stories for a number of years. Before that I was a playwright.

Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is my debut novel.
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I wanted to write an urban fantasy. I loved the idea of a novel, which was written from the vampire’s perspective. Dark, intelligent and subversive. But which had a British vampire as the main character. The ultimate anti-hero. A vampire book truly for adults.

‘You know those vampire myths? Holy water, entry by invitation only and sodding crucifixes?

Bollocks to them.

Because you know what? There are no monsters and no immortals. There’s just us: the Lost.’ (Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)

Being an author wasn’t a conscious choice – except when I was four years old and announcing it to everyone! I’ve always daydreamed, read and written. I wrote my first science fiction novel when I was ten. My first short story was published when I was fourteen – editors didn’t know I was a kid. It was a comedy science fiction called April Fools. It was dark, funny and even romantic – the same mix I’d write as I became older.

Writing is the only thing, which fulfils me. It carries me to an entirely different zone where time has no meaning. I mean that – it’s elastic. It’s similar to when I ran a theatre company. The buzz when we put on a show.

It’s true many people could be writers but only a few people are born writers. I was born a writer. Sometimes I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse. But either way it’s a talent – and people should never waste those.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? What I like best: The first draft. I write it in a blur. I lose myself in the world. I’m highly visual. I was the same when I wrote play or film scripts. I’d see the action occurring and would simply be writing down what I was seeing and hearing in front of me. It’s exhilarating. Tarantino is the same.

Like the Least: Not being able to see my readers reactions to what I write. Being disconnected to my readers. I love to hear from them. And I love to give performances or readings. That’s also why I love it when they leave reviews. I always say reviews are better than chocolate (and I LOVE chocolate). It’s true. When I acted in plays, you could tell all the way through how the audience was reacting…the sudden silence or edge of seat… There was an immediacy. I’m really social and so it’s lovely when you get that interaction with a reader still.

On my website I have contests and free stuff to try and keep that interaction. I write for readers – I don’t believe authors are writing into a vacuum. Or writing for themselves. I’m writing for my readers.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? I don’t include real life directly into my books BUT my experiences mean emotionally I have the right depth to write authentically. Artists say pain creates great art. The same is true of writing.

Emotion is at the heart of the best writing. The characters’ motivations. That’s true of my books. Love, hate, revenge, obsession…

‘It made me feel like loving Ruby would be the death of me, even as I lived for being close to her. We relished breathing the same air. Draining the same First Lifers. Shagging and hurting, until we knew each other’s bodies the same as our own. All was nothing outside our love. It smashed on us. Broke on us. We savaged it. Together we screamed at the world and when we had the world by the throat, the world screamed back.’(Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons)

My main character (Light) is a Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. One of the Blood Lifers – Alessandro – is also autistic, elected in the 1930s before that diagnostic label. My son is autistic, with an amazing photographic memory. He was the inspiration for the book. What would it be like to live for centuries with such a memory? Witnessing the glories of the worlds and the darkest moments of both First Life and Blood – and remembering every moment with the clarity of a photograph?

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Every book/story/play! If it wasn’t that way, then it wouldn’t be the right book or at the right stage to be written yet. I have the idea for a novel in ‘scenes’ and ‘acts’ (because I come from a theatre background). It can be months before enough of them come together, including the right setting and time period. Before the characters are clamoring at the right pitch to have their stories told.

You’ve written 2 novels and are working on a 3rd novel. What’s your favorite time management tip?
Blood Dragons is released today (14th August) in both e-book and paperback. Get ready to dive into Blood Life...


Special launch price ONLY $0.99 for five days from 14th to 18th August

 JULY 1866            FLORENCE, ITALY
One night we slipped into La Specola, a museum next to the Pitti Palace, which stank of something sweet but rotten. When Ruby gripped my hand tight, I realised I’d never felt this radiating from her before: it was something alike to fear but not. It was revulsion.
‘The First Lifers are proud of this…museum of death,’ Ruby breathed. ‘They call it science.’

‘We can go. Let’s find some piazza with music, drinking and dancing. The land of the living for once? Then we can…’

Ruby held her finger to my lips. ‘You need to see.’

Ruby’s hand curled tighter around mine. I glanced up. The walls of the museum were pinned with dead butterflies: every type, colour and size. They were neatly ordered, categorized and labelled. As my pulse quickened, Ruby caught my eye. She nodded.

Room after room was the same: display cases lining the walls, standing from floor to ceiling, or lying open, like glass coffins. Snow White in some twisted rendition of the tale. Rooms of stuffed birds, stilled forever on their perches, with predator next to natural prey: herbivores, carnivores, a huge hippo and a gallery of primates staring back blankly from their boxes.

We paced in silence, until we reached the primates. Then I rested my forehead on the glass, holding my palm up to touch the grasp of the chimpanzee on the other side.

Poor bugger.

Death was so close it throttled me. I’d lived close with it, intimate-like, as a Blood Lifer.

But this?

I’d known science in my First Life or reckoned I had. Yet somehow I’d failed to see the darkness underneath.
‘All that’s missing is one of us,’ Ruby’s fingers were stroking the back of my nut. ‘Then they’d have the full collection. We’re the Lost species. Why do you think we hide?’ I twisted to Ruby, shocked. She raised her eyebrow. ‘Are we not superior? Evolution’s advancement? Yet we’re adapted for masking our true face, whilst relying on humans for sustenance. Just as we do the night for protection from the sun. Prithee tell me how beggarly is a divided world, in which half does not fathom the truth? And for it to be danger akin to heresy to reveal it? Consider what these First Lifers pay to see.’

With disgust Ruby led me around the exhibits. For a moment, I thought there were mutilated cadavers laid out in the glass cases (which gave me the willies I can tell you), but then I saw they were anatomical wax models, copied from real corpses.

All right then, so that wasn’t much better because on every side were these torture victims, with their guts out, their chests ripped back and lungs offered up, as if we were about to dig in, whilst twins curled around each other bonded in uterus. The skinned man was laid on his side, arching in agony.

When I paused at a man reduced to one large circulatory system, I felt Ruby’s arms snake around my waist. She rested her chin on my shoulder. Blue and red coils circled the corpse: First Lifer reduced to food and all it’d needed was a little flaying.
Here, laid bare, was the proof that man was created for our needs.

‘They want to be feasted upon, even if they do not know it. A First Lifer is our prey. We grant the death he seeks, so he no longer needs to fear it.’

Special launch price ONLY $0.99 for five days from 14th to 18th August

Pre-order the second book in the series - Rebel Vampires Volume 2: Blood Shackles – here:

Blood Shackles is released in November.

Welcome to the Blood club – where the predators become the prey…

Here’s an exclusive excerpt:

‘So, shadow, you hungry?’ I couldn’t hold back the flinch. You noticed. ‘That isn’t your real name, huh?’
I looked away. ‘It’s what I’m called now.’

‘Na-ah, I wanna know. I’ll tell you mine. I’m Grayse. It’s a Manx name.’

I remembered the agony of the belt… My name is Light… Cane… My name is Light… Riding crop… Light, Light, Light… Sir’s boot, fist and the snap of shattered bones.

‘Light,’ I whispered, ‘my name is Light.’

‘OK then, Light, you hungry?’

I nodded. Every molecule roared for blood.

You swung open the fridge, pulling out a baby’s bottle - thick with crimson - which you held towards me with an expectant expression.

Starved though I was, a bloke’s still got to draw the line somewhere.

I raised my eyebrow. And didn’t reach for the bottle.
After a moment, you lowered your arm. ‘I don’t get it. She said this is what you needed on account of your fangs having been removed.’

Suddenly I found myself off the stool and right in your face. To give you your due, you didn’t back away, although your fingers clutched at the marble kitchen top. I didn’t miss that. ‘What’s next? Pretty little bowl with Light printed on the side for my din dins? Or a leash?’

‘At least it’d go with the collar I’ve got you.’ I drew back to study you. Your grey peepers were coolly amused. ‘Joke.’

‘Right. Ha-bloody-ha.’

‘So, what..?’ You waved the bottle of blood at me.
Hypnotised by the scent, I weaved after it, like you were a sodding snake charmer. ‘A cup’ll do me. Warmed.’

Before you turned away, you glanced back at me.
‘You’re not what I expected.’

‘And how did you expect an unwilling Blood Lifer sex slave exactly?’

That amused expression in your peepers, which didn’t quite make your serious mouth again. ‘Not like you.’

‘No one’s like me.’

You busied yourself pouring the thick blood out of the bottle and into a bright red-and-black teacup; I liked that I matched your décor. ‘I’m just figuring that out,’ you murmured. (Rebel Vampires Volume 2: Blood Shackles)

I’m currently working on the third book in the series (Blood Renegades), which is released next spring. In it Light has only two weeks to give his witness, on trial for his life, before he’s burnt at the stake – because who wants to hear the truth?

Time management wise…everyone is an individual. What works for one person, won’t work for another.

Everyone has to find their working rhythm. Their curve of creativity: when they do their creative work best. When they have their dips in energy and would be better off resting. When they can still work but would be better off doing non-creative work, like marketing, editing or social media. And then not mix these things up: i.e. not doing Facebook during your most creative time!

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? Outline. I know the end of my book before I start. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t do clever things with structure. Or themes, imagery and layering… I like to write rich and interesting books, which become even more interesting on a second read through. Or a third.

On my website are free Questions for Book Clubs, see ( I love book clubs, both physical and virtual. If I didn’t outline, I couldn’t address the things, which I know I want to from the beginning.

At the same time, however, the scenes themselves aren’t tightly outlined: they’re labelled. For example: ‘The Heartbeat Club Scene – First Meeting’. I’ll know – like a dot-to-dot – where I want to go and what I want to achieve within it. But then once I start to write, the characters take over.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? I usually say read – but I’m going to adapt that and say WRITE. It doesn’t matter if it’s not published. Or in fact where. Write as much as you can, in as many different genres and styles.

Be a mimic, especially with dialogue. My theatre background has made a big difference with how I write: my books are more immediate and compelling because you’re inside the character’s head or on their shoulder. It’s unsettling, scary and thrilling. You achieve that by being real – and true to both dialogue and voice. You get that by being a mimic. And by writing. A lot. 

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? I am a music fanatic. Seriously. Cut me open and I bleed…Nirvana. Or possibly David Bowie. If I’d been writing Blood Dragons there’d have been a far more 1960s vibe going on.

Light the Blood Lifer falls in love with a human singer during the wild 1960s music scene. Whilst I was writing it, I used it as an excuse…sorry, I mean…essential research…to listen to the same 1960s music as the characters. So The Stones, The Who, The Beatles…

Whilst my characters battled, shagged and boogied (sometimes all three), I listened and watched on vicarious. There are definite upsides to being a writer.

Tell me more about Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons.
A hidden paranormal London lies beneath our own. Escape into the supernatural world of the Blood Lifers – where vampires are both predator and prey.

There are three people in this affair – and two of them aren’t human…

1960s London. Light is a rebel Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. And a Triton motorbike. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. Both predator and prey. His venom is deadly. He feeds on blood. Human, of course. But when he discovers his ruthless family’s horrifying secret experiments, he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared.

Ruby is a sexy but savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer. She burns with a destructive love for Light. But he’s keeping something from her. Something that breaks every rule in Blood Life. When she discovers the truth, things take a terrifying turn.

Kathy is a seductive singer. But she’s also human. Light knows his passionate love for her is reckless but he’s enchanted. Yet such a romance is forbidden. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.

What dark revelations will Light reveal at the heart of the experiments? Will he be able to stop them in time? The consequences of failure are unimaginable. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.

A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?

ROSEMARY A JOHNS is a traditionally published author of short stories under the name R. A. Johns. Blood Dragons is Rosemary A Johns’ debut novel. Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as "uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life"), and worked with disability charities. When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires.

Twitter: @RosemaryAJohns

Buy Links:

Rosemary A Johns, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview. Thanks for having me on your blog as well, I’ve had a fantastic time!

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  1. Thanks Sharon for having me on your blog! I'm excited that Blood Dragons is now released - love finally hearing readers' reactions. Hope everyone has a great day!