November Ellison is a fantasy/romance writer based out of Newark, OH. She has just released a new book named Beacon. We have conducted an interview with her.
How did you craft your characters such as Cain and Joanna Benally?
In 2003, I heard the song “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence and instantly envisioned this story between a priest and a vampire developing an intense friendship / relationship. Now, in my mind the priest was male and lost in his own profession, and the vampire character was female. However, I’m no expert on the Catholic Church and the thought of doing that character real justice was very daunting.
A few years ago, a friend suggested that I make the priest character a female and the vampire a male and set it here in Newark, Ohio. A light instantly went off in my head, and the words flew out of my fingertips.
One of my favorite pieces of research for the book was an article I found online that suggested the mark of Cain was red hair. Granted, the whole article went on to explain why redheads are evil, but the initial premise sparked a lot of the inspiration for Cain’s actual appearance. Cain was actually much harder to write than Jo, because “villains” always seem to be so one-dimensional. Jo’s character is an ode to the many strong women in my life. She was very real to me, and very natural to write. First and foremost, my mother is a straight-talking no-nonsense woman of action, and my sister and I both inherited those traits.
When you publish a fiction novel, people think that being a writer is your day job. Mine isn’t. I’m a single mom who works full-time as an executive in a male-dominated field: math. They say you should write what you know. I know all about leading and trying to walk with grace in difficult leadership situations. I do it every day, Monday through Friday.
What influences went into ‘Beacon’?
I’m not sure where to start. I love vampire books (well, most vampire books) and have ever since I was a child. I think my first introduction to vampires came in the form of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. From there, I went on to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Anne Rice’s books took over my life in high school and college. I read and re-read almost all of them. Every vampire in Anne Rice’s world is self-absorbed, a concept that stuck with me throughout my own writing. After all, if you’re immortal and live “apart” from the bigger world – you Could get lost in your own self-importance.
More recently, I’ve read all the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I like those quite a bit as well. My favorite vampires are in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I love, love, love the world she creates where magical creatures are part of our everyday lives and are overseen by a governmental agency.
I also can’t talk about my influences without talking about the Holy Bible. The Book of John was a big influence with Beacon – every time stamp mentioned in the book correlates to a chapter and verse pairing in the book of John. I wanted Jo’s story to loosely follow what Jesus went through… not because Jo is supposed to represent Jesus, but because Jesus is pretty much the ultimate role model for leadership in adversity. Also, I had made a lead character a pastor. For someone secular, it was a lot of research: what would she say? How would she think? What scripture would she reference? All of the work I did to research the life of a pastor definitely inspired me to give the book a more Christian vibe. John isn’t necessarily my favorite book of the Holy Bible. John simply provides the richest reference material and it’s the longest of all the gospels. It gave me more freedom to choose time stamps in parallel to the action.
What inspires you to write about telepathic abilities in your story?
Telepathy has always been part of most vampire mythology. I’m not sure why. For me, it was a way for vampires to serve as jury, judge, and executioner. Vampires can read the thoughts of humans and know which ones have committed horrible acts.
Honestly, we all experience telepathy in some form or fashion. If a co-worker is in a bad mood, that mood can bring down a whole team’s performance. Conversely, someone in a good mood can infect their social circle with joy. All day, every day, we’re transmitting our emotions. I wanted to create a mythology where vampires are particularly attracted to negative emotions and thoughts.
How does gothic fiction with a mix of romance became interesting for modern readers?
It’s really not a novel concept to mix a vampire story with a love story. Even in the “first” vampire novel (Dracula), Lucy is somewhat seduced by the vampire. Blood, sex, and death: they have been linked together forever. For me, personally, I didn’t want to create a story where the heroine either needed saving or gave up her whole life to be with a man. I wanted a strong female lead who chose love instead of succumbing to it, if that makes any sense.
What are the interesting vampirism points in your book 'Beacon'?
- Most humans can't see them. Victims can see them right before they're killed. Regular humans never do. A vampire could be standing next to you now, and you wouldn't know it.
- They seem to be magnetic. They transfer their power to "Beacons" through ionic transfer (what happens when you touch a doorknob after walking on a carpet in your socks. The shock you feel from the doorknob is an ionic transfer of the energy from the resting door to you). - Rubber / latex keeps vampires from ionic transfer. If you put your vampire in a latex body suit, and he/she tries to zap a Beacon, nothing would happen.
- When they get "made" into a new vampire, they forget everything about their old human life. They have no idea who they are, how they got there, and what they are... all of their human memories are erased. Sort of like how some people think that standing in front of a microwave kills memories - similar principle. So, you can't ask a vampire any personal/past life questions. They don't know anything. They only know their own experiences, and most of them only know how to hunt "bad / evil" people and kill them / drink their blood.
- They also seem to be electronic. They fry electronic devices if they touch them (like electromagnetic pulses), and electricity either disables or kills them.
- Vampires are weakened when surrounded by earth or wood (organics that are non-metal), strengthened when surrounded by water or metal (like electricity).
- They have boundaries. They can't cross into another vampire's territory. Only one vampire can exist per territory. They repel each other like two ends of a magnet. No two vampires have ever spoken to each other. The older the vampire is, the stronger the vampire is, and the stronger their magnetic field is. If you have two strong magnets, they push each other away at a longer distance. If you had two weak magnets, you can move them a lot closer to each other before they repel each other.
- There are some new-age websites that think wearing magnets slows down the aging process. It could be assumed their magnetic abilities keep vampires from aging / dying.Twitter: https://twitter.com/NovemberEllison
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