We're delighted to welcome author Cat Devon, whose Sleeping with the Entity is out this week, and her St. Martin's Press editor, Jennifer Enderlin, here to talk—in their words—about “vampire powers, favorite hero traits, death, sex, and chocolate.” Thanks, Cat and Jennifer!
From Jennifer Enderlin to Cat Devon:
Who are your favorite vampire heroes and who are your favorite non-vampire heroes (who embody vampiric qualities)? I have to say, as a reader, Maxim deWinter from Rebecca always seemed like the perfect vampire hero: gloomy old house, restless, traveled the world, mysterious first wife, weird staff (Mrs. Danvers). What about you, Cat?
Cat: For me, it would be Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre who has to keep a terrible secret, just as vampires keep their dangerous secrets. Again, you have the spooky house with strange sounds and the suspicious comings and goings of the servants. I'd also add Sebastian Ballister from Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels. Here is a man who embodies everything dangerous and bad. Favorite vampire heroes would be those from TV—actor Ian Somerhalder in The Vampire Diaries (talk about a bad vampire but oooh so sexy and capable of love, we hope!) and actor Alex O'Laughlin in Moonlight (a vampire with a conscience, out to right the wrongs in the world and protect his soul mate....oh yeah!). Both are very hot!
Jennifer asks Cat: Why do you think vampire romances have never, ever gone out of style? I’ll hazard a theory in that romance readers love the concept of “eternal” and “immortal,” plus a vampire is the ultimate danger for a heroine. She can neither trust him, nor resist him, even though he has the power to kill her. Why would a woman even want a hero who veers over the line of safety into danger? I think it’s because in our reality, we’re programmed to find “safe” mates. In our imagination we can test the boundaries.
Cat: I think a lot has to do with the immortality issue. Who isn't afraid of death? And then there is the fact that most vampires seem to be sexy specimens. Even in the old classic movies they weren't portrayed as being monsters like Frankenstein. Instead they had an appeal that drew women in.
Jennifer to Cat: Have you ever encountered any non-vampire heroes with the “power to compel?”
Cat: It has to do with the eyes. In vampire legend, a vampire looks into the eyes of his victim to compel them. There are certainly men who have incredible eyes that draw me in. Many are actors like the aforementioned Ian and Alex. Then there are fictional heroes who by their very character and appearance have the power to draw a woman into their arms. For me, all of Susan Elizabeth Phillips heroes have that ability. So do Jayne Ann Krentz's. As a reader, these authors heroes compel me almost as much as they compel the heroine!
Jennifer to Cat: Vampires are by their nature, loners. Doesn’t being a loner fit with many archetypal heroes in romance fiction? What has been your experience with this type of hero?
Cat: Loner is definitely a tag in romance fiction. Tortured loners even more so. It goes back to The Beauty and the Beast thing—where his being a loner, but a powerful one, opens up the heroine to being the only one who can even faintly tame him. Or deal with him. Or love him.
Jennifer: Take, for example, Janet Evanovich’s two heroes: Ranger and Morelli. I think each of them embodies vampiric qualities, without actually being vampires. But Morelli is definitely the “safer” hero. Ranger is pure vampire: a loner, capable of killing, almost immortal himself. Agree? Disagree?
Cat: I totally agree! While Stephanie Plum doesn't really fear that either Ranger or Morelli will harm her, she knows they are capable of harming others if needed. I think this type of dangerous character is much more compelling. Again, it ties back into the Beauty and the Beast theme, where our heroine Belle is the only one who can deal with the hero. The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux ties into that theme. He is a dangerous and powerful lord who has an ugly demeanor, yet she sees beyond that to the soul of the man. Getting back to Evanovich's books, I also think that the dialogue between Stephanie and both Ranger and Morelli also adds to the attraction. She impresses them almost as much as they impress her. The concept of a powerful vampire falling for the heroine ties into the theme of the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And their fall can be very dangerous indeed, for both the heroine and the vampire, for both beauty and the beast.
Jennifer: Now take Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind. He operates outside the confines of society (isn’t “received in polite drawing rooms”). Is dangerous to women (he did something “scandalous with a woman he refused to marry”) and he is capable of killing. He is even dangerous to the heroine (“I could crush your skull like a walnut” he tells Scarlett). Do these things make him more irresistible to women?
Cat: I have to say that having a man or a vampire say he could crush my skull wouldn't put him on my Top Ten list, but might make me more likely to turn into vampire hunter instead! I agree that operating outside the confines of society and being capable of killing are well within the realm of a vampire. But having the ability to compel by making their victims WANT them is also a very important theme in vampire legend. Yes, women may fear them, but they also want them big time. They want them even more than chocolate...and that's saying a lot!
From Cat Devon to Jennifer Enderlin:
Editors and vampires both have a lot of power, so few ask them the really fun questions. I'm not talking about your blood type here. I'm asking what vampire trait do you wish you had? Any? None? For me, vamp super speeds sounds great right about now. How about you?
Jennifer: If I could have any vampire trait it would be to the power to compel people to do my bidding. It might seem like editors have all the power, but actually there are so many layers in the publishing process that I the “compelling” factor would come in very handy! I could compel the marketing department to spend more money on advertising and promotion; I could compel accounts to place huge orders and give us great placement. I could compel people to BUY the books. But could I compel people to like the books? I think that’s beyond the power of compelling so we still need editors and authors to work together to make the books as good as possible.
Cat to Jennifer: Vampires vs zombies. I'm on the vampire side. Few zombies are sexy. Not that I'm so shallow I go by appearances alone, I'm just saying vampires are more appealing to me. How about you?
Jennifer: Ugh! I don’t get the zombie appeal AT ALL!!! Have zombies made their way into romance yet? I truly hope not. I have not yet heard of a zombie romance, but maybe I’m just closing my eyes, covering my ears and saying “la la la la la” to block it out.
Cat to Jennifer: I was recently asked if I could have lunch with any fictional character, who would it be? I had a hard time answering. Mr. Darcy comes to mind but he's not the real talkative type. Would I want to have lunch with say...Dracula? I'm not so sure. What about you?
Jennifer: I would not have lunch with Dracula. I would have no chance against him. He’d turn me into a vampire within five minutes and honestly, I don’t think I’d like to be a full-on vampire because, while I’d like to live a LONG time, the “eternal” thing kind of wigs me out. So here are the fictional characters I would like to have lunch with: Scarlett O’Hara, Stephanie Plum, Jack Reacher, James Bond, Travis McGee, Jack Ryan, Bridget Jones, Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), Junie B. Jones, any of the Hathaway family (from Lisa Kleypas’s series), and let’s face it: your vampire Nick St. George. Because he’s totally hot and I think he wouldn’t turn me into a vampire because he’s too into the heroine. So that means I’d need to have lunch with both Daniella Delaney AND Nick St. George from Sleeping with the Entity at the same time. It’d be safer that way. Plus, she would bring killer chocolate cupcakes.
Cat to Jennifer: This is a two-part question—As an editor, you must see a lot of vampires cross your desk (or at least manuscripts with vampires in them). What makes a character memorable and fresh to you,regardless of if they are a vampire or not? What “compels” you to keep reading?
Jennifer: To me (and I don’t see this a lot), it’s really fresh when a vampire actually has a sense of humor! You’d be surprised how many dark and dour vampires there are out there. They need to be aware of the irony of their fate; they need to be aware that even if they are immortal there is still a smidgen of human in them. Vampires of the world: LIGHTEN UP!
Want to answer some of Cat and Jennifer's questions? Have any questions for them? We want to hear your thoughts!
Cat Devon is a pseudonym for an award-winning author. A former librarian and confessed bookaholic, she has a weakness for wickedly sexy vampires, imported dark chocolate and decadent cupcakes. She and her family live in the Chicago area.
Jennifer Enderlin is Vice President, Associate Publisher and Executive Editor at St. Martin’s Press and has been with the company for twenty years. She acquires and edits a variety of fiction and non-fiction, primarily for women.