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Suzanne McLeod Bibliography and Interview Series

LoveVampires Interview With Suzanne McLeod

Suzanne McLeoad ImageSuzanne McLeod on Suzanne McLeod

I’ve always been a book-lover, reading anything from 5 or more books a week. Luckily I’m good at multi-tasking when reading; things like cooking, eating, drying my hair, watching TV and even walking [with care] have accompanied my reading habit. But it wasn’t until just over five years ago that I decided to have a go at my own writing. Apart from the reading and the writing, I’ve had a pic ‘n’ mix selection of jobs from cocktail waitress, dance group roadie, builder’s labourer, book-keeper and I’ve sold everything from newspapers to jewellery, to car insurance. I live on the South Coast of England about a mile from the sea, along with my husband, our two rescue dogs [a hyperactive Jack Russell/Labrador cross and a couch-potato German Shepherd/ Lab cross] and we’re lucky enough to share our garden with a colony of local bats.

Suzanne McLeod on (tell us about your books)

The books are set in a contemporary London, but with an alternate history. In Genny's world the mythical and magical characters have always co-existed in some way with humans, and their existence has never been a secret. So Genny’s London is  place where you can party the night away with a celebrity vampire, ride the underground with a goblin worker, buy a love charm from the witches’ market, report a crime to a mountain troll or hire someone to sort out that annoying pixie infestation. But like all cities, magical London has its darker side. Not all the non-humans, be they vamps or fae or one of the Others, live happily with each other, or with the humans which means tensions and conflicts arise, leading to things going wrong and ultimately to murder. And it is this side that Genny all too frequently ends up involved in and investigating.

Sweet Scent of Blood Cover ImageSo, trolls in Old Scotland Yard and vampire nightclubs in Leicester Square – where did your inspiration for a magical London come from?

When I created the world that Genny, my main character, lives and works in, I wanted somewhere special to set the book; London for me was an obvious choice. I was born there, the city itself is iconic and has the most wonderful history, it’s near enough to where I live to be easy to research [and no, I don’t just go round the shops on my research trips, despite what my husband thinks! LOL!]  And for me inspiration lurks on every corner, and loiters down every dark alley. Frex, my troll police deal with crimes committed by the magical elements of society [partly because they’re impervious to magic themselves] and as such they have their own division, which meant they needed their own premises. Old Scotland Yard as a building exists, but is no longer in use, but with its history and position in the heart of London it made an ideal HQ for the Metropolitan Magic and Murder Squad.

Your vampires are all dangerous (if not evil) characters. With their moral ambiguity was it difficult to portray Malik sympathetically enough that he became a credible romantic interest for Genny?

Malik was always going to be a major character in Genny’s life, so I took the time to get to know him and his past. Knowing a character’s back story, even if it doesn’t make it onto the page [yet] means you know what motivates them. But of course, Genny is the character telling the story and we only see Malik through her eyes, so the difficulty was more building the nuances into their interactions with each other and to show by his actions that Malik considers Genny to be an individual and not just a means to an end. And last but no means least, Genny had to think Malik was hot! No point having a romantic interest if your main character doesn’t fancy them. LOL!

What can readers expect to see Genny doing next?

Genny’s life becomes even more complicated in book 2 – The Cold Kiss of Death – All she wants is to live the quiet life and to do her job but her tangled personal life needs to be sorted out first; she's being haunted by a ghost, her witch neighbours want her evicted and her sort-of-Ex - and now her new boss - can't decide whether he wants their relationship to be business or pleasure. Problems enough without the queue of vampires all wanting her to paint the town red. Then one of her human friends is murdered by sidhe magic, and Genny is determined to find the killer. Her efforts lead her to some of the most dangerous and seductive fae - but her search is hindered by the vampires, who have their own political agenda. Then when all the evidence points to Genny and she's named the main suspect; she ends up on the run - and not just from the police - but from some of London's most powerful supernaturals.

How many books are planned for the series?

Gollancz, my publishers, have bought the first three books in the series, and I have plenty more ideas for stories in Genny’s world, so all being well, her adventures will carry on with more books after the third book.

Many would-be writers never see their work in print. Could you describe the path to publication? What were the highlights and pitfalls along the way?

My path to publication is a pretty amazing one, and not necessarily the usual one of try, try again and persevere in the face of rejection that a lot of writers have before they become published - something which I have the greatest of respect for - and I have to pinch myself that it has actually happened to me.  When I started writing it wasn’t with the aim of getting published or having a career.  My initial efforts were more along the lines of 'Can I do this or not?' But once I began, I found I loved writing and everything about it, from thinking up the ideas, the world, the characters and how they would interact, to getting the words down on screen, and then playing with them so they say exactly what I want. Then after a couple of my short stories were accepted for publication, I started working on the idea for The Sweet Scent of Blood.

Around this time, John Jarrold [my now agent] was taking a workshop at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, so I went along for some advice and a critique. I showed him my first three chapters and the synopsis and was stunned when he offered to represent me. Once I’d finished writing The Sweet Scent of Blood [such an easy sentence to type which belies all the hard graft and terrified angst of ‘will it be good enough’, that any writer, not just me, puts into writing a novel] I was utterly delighted when John sold that book and two others to my publishers. So I’ve been incredibly lucky in my path to publication and the only pitfall I’ve come across so far is the dreaded ‘deadline’!

If you had to pick between huge commercial success or artistic respect and critical acclaim which would you choose?

I’d love to make enough money writing so I could give up the day job and concentrate on the writing full-time, and hopefully I might achieve that in a few years if things go well. And of course, I wouldn’t say no to huge commercial success, who wouldn’t? As for critical acclaim, I want everyone to love my books and my characters as much as I do, [although I’m aware that realistically not everyone will, we all have different tastes] but if a reader picks up my book because they want to be entertained and they enjoy the time they spend in my world with my characters as much as I do, then that for me is what I hope for most when I’m writing.

Dead Until Dark CoverWhich authors have had the most influence on your work as a writer?

I think every book I’ve ever read has probably influenced me in some sort of osmosis-like way, but the writers who have had the most influence are without a doubt my critique group, the Thursday Writers [an uninspiring name for some truly inspiring people]. They live through all the stages of my writing and offer unfailing help and support and tell me what works and what doesn’t. Then there are all those writers whose characters I love and make me want to create characters just as wonderful as theirs, like Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Charles de Lint, Laurell K Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Holly Black and many more.

As a reader, which book have you enjoyed reading most recently and why?

‘You Suck’ by Christopher Moore. I loved his character Jody as the reluctant vampire heroine in ‘Bloodsucking Fiends’ and was delighted to follow her story again. His books always have me giggling and chuckling away, while still making me care about his characters and whether they’ll succeed in whatever they’re trying to do.

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer ImageWho is you favourite fictional vampire character? (from TV, movies, fiction or comics)

I love Spike, from Buffy [who doesn’t *g*] because he’s the ultimate bad boy come good, with added snark. Although Eric from Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires series, comes a really close second as does Henry from the Blood Ties TV series based on Tanya Huff’s Vicky Nelson books.

You're walking down a dark alley and a vampire jumps out in front of you - are you a screamer, a slayer, a runner or vampire bait?

Oh, definitely a screamer, but then I’m such a wuss, I still sleep with the lights on when I’m home alone, so I’d probably give the dark alley a miss anyway *g*.

A big "thank-you" to Suzanne McLeod for taking part in the LoveVampires author interview. Visit the site for more information about her work.
20th October 2008

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