Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Blog and Spotlight: Author of the Penton Legacy, Susannah Sandlin

A Brave New (Vampire) World

Susannah Sandlin

One of the fun things about writing fiction is building the world in which your characters are going to live. If you’re writing contemporary fiction, you get to decide where you want your story to take place, but you’re pretty much dealing with humans.

Paranormal fiction throws that door wide open, but it’s a crowded genre. Have shapeshifters lost their furry fun? Are vampires all bled out?

When I set about writing my Penton Legacy series, everybody told me vampires were done. Stick a fork in ’em. Move on to something else.

But I had this idea that wouldn’t leave me alone—the idea of what might happen to vampires if much of the human blood supply became lethal to them? What if they tumbled to the bottom of the food chain instead of reigning at the top?

What might happen? Well, for one thing, the city vampires would fan out into rural areas in search more humans who hadn’t gotten the vaccine that started the problem to begin. There would be human trafficking—for blood purposes. Probably, the vampire leaders and lawmakers would be overrun with dissatisfied vampires run amok and struggling to hang onto their power.

At the opposite end of the scale, maybe a master vampire had figured out a way to keep his clan together, along with their willingly bonded humans, in a symbiotic relationship. He buys up an isolated, abandoned mill town in rural Alabama.

And the town’s name is Penton.

There were a few other decisions to be made—how much traditional vampire lore to use, and how far afield I wanted to stray.  Here are a few considerations if you’re considering a vampire novel:

--Feeding. Do you want your vamps to feed from humans, from each other, only from the opposite gender, or from animals? Can they eat food? Does feeding involve sex, or does it depend? Is some kind of bond required between a vampire and whomever he or she feeds from? For the Penton series, my vampires can feed from each other in an emergency (if one has recently fed and the other hasn’t), but eventually have to feed from humans. Gender doesn’t matter, and it only involves sex if they want it to, although the act of feeding and being fed from is apparently VERY pleasurable. They don’t eat food, but can drink alcohol, although it has little effect on them.

--Dead or Alive? You have to decide whether or not you want your vampires to truly be undead. Do they have a heartbeat? Are they physically incapable of waking and moving during daylight hours? If so, can they go outside or must they stay in a light-tight space? My Penton vampires are not undead, but evolved. Their hearts beat slower, their blood is a slightly different color. They go into “daysleep” during the day but the very strong and very old vampires can move around a little as long as they avoid sunlight. They breathe…but it’s more out of habit than necessity.

--Mortal Weakness. What does it take to kill your vampire? Stake through the heart? Removal of heart or head? Fire? Sunlight? Or a more specific substance such as mercury or silver? After all, a vampire hero who is truly immortal will have a pretty dull story. I decided that my vampires could be killed by the removal of the heart or head and by sunlight, but not much else (except, of course, that vaccinated human blood). Silver does have an impact on them, however—it renders their strength to that of humans and will burn their skin.

--Superpowers. What special powers do you want your vamps to have? Can they fly? Have superhuman physical strength? Mental powers? Psychic abilities? Can they see in the dark? Are their other senses heightened? There’s a whole cafeteria line full of superpowers from which to choose! I decided my vampires would have extraordinary physical strength, but only the master vampires (which are few) have any kind of psychic abilities. They can’t fly, but they do have enhanced senses of smell.

--Organization. Finally, how are your vampires organized? Are they loners? Do they live in groups, and if so, what are those groups called? How big are the groups? Is there a ruling body over the vampires that sets law and punishment? The Penton Legacy series vampires are ruled by a Vampire Tribunal (think of an officious, fanged version of Congress). Most vampires are loners or group together in small scathes of five or six. The fact that master vampire Aidan Murphy (a 400-year-old Irishman) has pulled together a scathe of 150 vampires and their bonded humans isn’t sitting well with the paranoid Tribunal, so they want him destroyed.

What’s your favorite vampire type? Who is your favorite vampire character? I’m fond of my own boys, of course—Aidan the Irishman; Mirren, a 400-year-old Scottish mercenary; and Will, the baby of the group at a mere sixty years old—but I do love a good vampire from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And I wouldn’t kick Eric Northman out of the shower.

Dip a fang in the pool and leave a comment for a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a signed copy of one of the Penton books, print or audio!



Penton Vampire Legacy, Book 3
Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Date of Publication: February 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1612183596
ASIN: B0073XV3L2

Number of pages: 328
Word Count: approx. 88,000
Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Book Depository

Book Description:

The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton's humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal's vicious leader, Will's capture could doom the resistance.

Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will's polished charm and Randa's guarded heart finally give way to the warrior within.

Fans of Susannah Sandlin's Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.           

The Penton Legacy, Book 2
By Susannah Sandlin

Release date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Book Description:

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal.

A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side—or dead.

To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.

Book One Penton Legacy series
By Susannah Sandlin

Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death—a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.

Immune to these struggles—at first—is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.

But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland.  Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars

To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago. 

Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.

Susannah Sandlin’s REDEMPTION is the first in the Penton Legacy series. Book two, ABSOLUTION, will be out September 18, and book three, OMEGA, on December 18.

About the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.