Hi Kerrelyn and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Former Marine from the Vietnam War, Russell wakes up from a 39-year-long coma to discover he’s a vampire. And that he’s lost everyone and everything he ever cared about. All because of an evil vampire called Master Han. Russell knows only one purpose for his undead existence: Find and destroy Master Han.
As a child, Jia saw her family slaughtered by Master Han. For years, she has prepared herself for one goal: Find and destroy Master Han.
After losing everyone he loved, Russell follows one strict rule: He works alone. Can Jia convince him that he needs the help of a were-tiger princess? And if they team up, will they discover that love is much more powerful than the hate they’ve been harboring for years?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Shrouded in the dark, and half hidden behind the thick trunk of an oak tree, Russell Ryan Hankelburg carefully aligned the trajectory of his arrow to the exposed neck of Master Han. Steady, Russell reminded himself in response to the adrenaline pounding through his veins. No point in acting like a human.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
Since Russell is the hero, and were-tiger princess, Jia, is the heroine, you know they will end up together. But the princess is actually engaged to a were-tiger prince from South Korea. Knowing this, Russell tries his best not to get romantically involved with Jia. So, to get the two of them together, Jia has to actively pursue him. It was fun to have the heroine take on the role usually reserved for the hero. And once she has some success, Russell has to make up for lost time!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book.
Russell is a poor, vagabond vampire who lives in a cave down by the river. Jia is a were-tiger princess who lives in a palace. At first, they seem terribly mismatched. But then, they team up to defeat Master Han and start to fall in love. By the end of the book, they seem perfect for each other!
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Russell proved to be an interesting character. He’s considered a loose cannon by the other Vamps and shifters. He has no problem “borrowing” supplies from the other Vamps or withholding information if it helps him to achieve his goal. He knows they don’t trust him, and he doesn’t care. He takes what he needs. So it came as a bit of a surprise when he tried to be so honorable in his relationship with Jia.
Jia is interesting, too. She was raised in the palace as a princess, so she could have been pampered and spoiled. But she’s an expert at martial arts and throwing knives. And she’s willing to kill Han’s soldiers if they get in the way of her goal to assassinate Master Han. In her own way, she turned out to be just as bad-ass as Russell!
The First kiss…
Crouching Tiger Forbidden Vampire doesn’t follow the usual routine. The first kiss happens accidentally when the hero and heroine are physically struggling with each other. Since Jia grew up as the palace princess, she’s been sheltered to the point that she’s never been kissed before. So she regrets that her first kiss was accidental and from someone who doesn’t even like her (or so she believes at the time).
Since Jia is engaged, Russell is trying his best not to kiss her. As it becomes increasingly hard to restrain himself, he starts sneaking in little kisses on her cheek or forehead—but never her mouth! He might completely lose control then! The sexual tension builds to the point that when these two finally get together, it’s explosive!
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
Several scenes come to mind, but I don’t want to give out too many spoilers! I’ll try to stick with what readers already know. For instance, readers know from the last book that the dragon-shifter boy, Xiao Fang, was taken prisoner by the demon Darafer and Master Han. In Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire, I wrote a few chapters from Xiao Fang’s point of view. This lets the reader know what’s going on in the enemy camp, but it also describes the heart-wrenching ordeal that the kidnapped boy is going through. And more than once, I was brought to tears.
As for humorous scenes, there are quite a few! Here’s a snippet from a scene where Russell finally agrees to team up with Jia. Of course, he thinks they need a few rules.
Excerpt from Chapter Seven:
He sat on a stool next to her. “Before we get started, I think we should set some ground rules.” When she nodded, he continued, “Rule number one: our partnership is strictly for business. Our mission is to find Han and kill him.”
“I agree.” She slipped her knife back into her boot.
“Rule number two: our method of operation. We’ll start off with the assumption that Han’s underground bunker is somewhere near one of his established camps. I’ll teleport you to each camp, then you will use that super nose of yours to track him down.”
“Rule number three: establishing rank. I’m in charge. You will follow my orders without question.”
“You’ll obey my orders—”
He frowned. “I am not accustomed to explaining myself.”
She gave him a wry look. “Try.”
“I’m the commanding officer—”
“No. We’re partners. That means we’re equal.”
He gritted his teeth. “We are not equal in battle experience. If we come under attack, the situation could become deadly in less than a second. There will be no time for discussion. Your best bet at survival will be to do precisely what I tell you. Does that explain it?”
“Then you agree.”
She scowled at him. “Okay, you big bully.”
He scowled back. “Rule number four: I am not a bully. I will do everything in my power to keep you safe, even at the cost of the mission.”
Her eyes widened. “You mean you would lose a chance to kill Han in order to save me?”
“I already have.” When her eyes softened, he stood abruptly and swung the crossbow and quiver over one shoulder. “It’s a simple matter of logic. You deserve to live. Han doesn’t. He can always be killed another day.”
“Right.” She tilted her head, studying him. “One might get the impression that you cared.”
“Only about safety. Are you ready to go?”
“Not quite.” She slipped off the stool. “Rule number five—”
“I’m in charge. I do the rules.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
I would use the first chapter, since it requires everything they would need for the movie: the ability to pull off the action scenes (running, fighting, archery, etc), and the chemistry needed between the male and female leads as they clash with each other, both physically and verbally. We need to see the sparks fly!
The beginning of chapter one is posted on my website and here (see below). The following snippet is from chapter one, and it shows some of the dialogue between Russell and Jia after he’s rescued her and teleported her to his cave.
“Who are you?” His deep voice rumbled behind her, tingling the skin at the back of her neck.
She turned and her jaw dropped. He’d taken off his bulky coat and tossed it on the table. That one move had transformed him from an anonymous hobo into a gorgeous superhero. His dark green T-shirt stretched over incredibly wide shoulders. The worn, faded material clung to every contour of his muscled chest and abdomen before tapering to his narrow hips. He folded his arms over his chest, and she thought his sleeves might rip from failing to accommodate the size of his biceps.
The tingle on her neck skittered down her spine. It wasn’t just his muscles that were affecting her. It was something more. His presence. It seemed to fill the cave and, worse, fill her senses, leaving her with no doubt that this man was powerful, intelligent, and perhaps even dangerous.
She swallowed hard. “Who are you?”
“You know what I am.”
“A vampire, yes. But I haven’t figured out yet if you’re one of the good ones.”
“Neither have I.” His mouth twisted with a wry look. “I take it you’ve met the good ones?”
She nodded. “Jin Long, Dou Gal, Angus, and some others. Do you know them?”
“Yes. How do you know them?”
She ignored his question. “Then you’re on their side?”
“Only when it suits me.” He pulled a bottle of blood from an ice chest and opened it. “I won’t feed from you, if that’s what you’re worried about.” He took a long drink.
That was good news. She sheathed her knife.
He set the bottle down and frowned at her. “You pissed me off.”
Her hand shot back to the handle of her knife.
He snorted. “I’m not going to hurt you. Not after going to the trouble of saving your pretty ass.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I have excellent aim, so I suggest you rephrase that.”
He finished his bottle, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “You’re right. ‘Pretty’ was an insult. I’d say your ass is damned beautiful–” When she pulled her knife from its sheath, he scoffed. “I rescued you, and you’re going to kill me? You should be thanking me.”
She pointed the weapon at him. “You brought me here against my will.”
“Would you prefer I take you back? I could drop you off at Han’s camp and let them capture you.” He took a step toward her, his scowl deepening. “What the hell were you thinking, taking on a dozen super soldiers single-handedly? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Don’t you have family somewhere worried about you?”
The vision of her mutilated family flitted through her mind once more. With an inward groan, she lowered her arm. “Just tell me where the exit is, and I’ll be on my way.”
“There is no exit. I teleport you in or out.”
And he would control where they went? She motioned to the stream. “I’ll follow the water. I’m sure it surfaces at some point.”
“Yes, after going through a rock tunnel for a mile or so. Your body would emerge eventually. Dead.”
Jia bit her lip, her gaze wandering to the stream where it disappeared into the tunnel. If she drowned, she wouldn’t have to worry about being hacked to pieces. Her skin pebbled with goose bumps as she imagined those last terrifying moments when she would run out of air—-
“What the hell?” he whispered, and she turned to face him. “You’re considering it, aren’t you? You’re suicidal.” He strode toward her.
She lifted her knife. “Stay back!”
He vanished. Before she could even react, he grabbed her from behind. His left arm encircled her rib cage and pulled her hard against his chest. His right hand wrenched the knife from her hand and tossed it aside.
So incredibly fast. And strong. Self-doubt crept into her mind once again, reminding her how difficult it was going to be to kill Master Han on her own. As a vampire, Han was just as strong and fast as this one who was pinning her against his rock-hard chest.
“Release me.” Her breath caught as his hand groped along her belted waist.
“Any more knives? Do I need to frisk you?”
“Let me go!”
“I will. Eventually.” His chin grazed the top of her head. “I haven’t decided yet what to do with you.”
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Trust each other and believe in yourselves. Together, you can do anything!
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2015?
Since Crouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire releases Dec. 30, that will be it for 2014. I’m currently working on the first book of a new paranormal romance series—no vampires, but still lots of fun!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Print copy of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE (US/Canada)
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: You’re going on a date with a supernatural guy! What kind of creature will he be? A vampire, a were-tiger, or some other kind of shifter?
Shrouded in the dark, and half hidden behind the thick trunk of an oak tree, Russell Ryan Hankelburg carefully aligned the trajectory of his arrow to the exposed neck of Master Han. Steady, Russell reminded himself in response to the adrenaline pounding through his veins. No point in acting like a human. He wasn’t one. Han had made sure of that, and now the bastard would die for it.
For over two years, through hot, humid jungle and over cold, windblown hills, Russell had tracked his prey. Finally, in the next few seconds it would all be over. His quest for revenge. The culmination of all his rage, the vindication for all he had lost, and the sole purpose for his sorry undead existence. The clearing where Han stood was about fifty yards away, and a dozen guards stood around the perimeter, four of them holding torches. The flames licked at the overcast night sky and flickered off the polished gold of Master Han’s mask. How many times had Russell envisioned ripping the ridiculous piece of metal off the evil vampire’s head? In the best-case scenario, he imagined tearing it off before delivering the final blow so he could watch Han’s face as the Master Bastard realized death was only seconds away.
What good was revenge if it wasn’t acknowledged? Han needed to know that it was Russell who would end his life and turn him to dust.
Han stood at the far side of the clearing, outside the wooden palisade of a camp in northern Myanmar. He was wearing a black Kevlar vest over his red silk robe to protect his heart. If Russell’s arrow failed to pierce the vest enough to kill Han, the bastard would simply teleport away.
Fortunately there was more than one way to kill a vampire. So Russell aimed at the neck instead of the heart, hoping that a ripped carotid artery would incapacitate Han enough to keep him from escaping. Then Russell could teleport straight to him, rip off the mask, and sever Han’s head with one final swing of his sword.
The dozen, armed guards were probably super soldiers, mutated by Han’s demon buddy, Darafer, and they were going to be a problem. Even so, Russell couldn’t take them out first. Their deaths would alert Han, and the cowardly cretin would teleport away like the last few times Russell had come close to killing him.
Russell gritted his teeth with impatience. So close, but still unable to shoot. Han was standing next to the kidnapped dragon shifter, practically hugging him as he taught the young captive the proper stance for drawing back a bow. With a silent curse, Russell lifted his finger off the trigger of his crossbow. He’d seen the boy once before, so he recognized him. Since dragon shifters aged twice as fast as mortals, Xiao Fang looked about twelve years old. In mortal years, he was only six. Russell wasn’t sure what the kid’s mental age was, but he was certainly young enough to have been traumatized by recent events. Darafer had captured the dragon boy over two months ago and delivered him to Han. Since then, Russell had been spying on all thirty of Han’s camps, hoping to catch a glimpse of Han and the boy.
It was extremely rare to see Han outside one of his encampments, but apparently he’d made an exception for the boy. He was giving Xiao Fang an archery lesson and playing the role of a father figure, no doubt to win the young dragon shifter to his side.
The sad reality was that the strategy might work. Away from his home for over two months, the boy could have fallen prey to the Stockholm syndrome, so that he was now identifying with one of his captors. Master Han probably seemed the safer choice. Safer than the demon Darafer, for sure. And here was Han patting the kid on the back and giving him words of encouragement.
It made Russell’s stomach churn with disgust. For a second, he considered teleporting straight to the boy, nabbing him, and taking him to Tiger Town, where he would be safe. The good Vamps were gathered there with their allies, the were-tigers, anxiously awaiting their chance to rescue the dragon boy and defeat Master Han. One phone call and Russell could have a dozen Vamps and shifters by his side.
But wait. Han was stepping back to let Xiao Fang take his shot. It might be another two years before Russell got a chance like this. His first priority had to be killing Han. In the ensuing chaos, the boy could easily be rescued. And this situation was ideal, since Han and his super soldiers were all standing perfectly still so as not to disturb the boy’s concentration.
Russell eased his finger back onto the trigger. Die, you bastard.
One of the guards jerked suddenly. As he fell forward onto his face, the soldier next to him stiffened with a cry, then crumbled to his knees.
What the hell? Russell barely had time to spot the knives protruding from the fallen soldiers’ backs when Han jumped on the boy, pushing him down onto the ground. A third knife whizzed past where Han had been standing, embedding itself with a thunk in a tree.
The remaining soldiers shouted, immediately drawing their swords. Han vanished, taking the dragon boy with him.
Damn it to hell! Russell fumed silently. Who were these assholes who had ruined his plans? From the speed and accuracy of the attack, he assumed there were two knife throwers. Maybe three. Whoever they were, they might have trouble escaping the superfast soldiers who were giving chase.
Not my problem, he told himself. The attackers had destroyed the best chance he’d had in a long time. If they were all murdered in the next few minutes, they would never have a chance to interfere with him again.
With a groan, he rested his head against the tree trunk. When had he become such an uncaring prick? Even though he’d been stripped of his humanity, did that mean he had to act like a heartless monster? The attackers were clearly on the same side he was. That made them allies in the war against Master Han.
Damn, but he hated having allies. As long as he was alone, he had nothing to lose.
Maybe the attackers were guys he knew, like J.L. Wang and Rajiv, and in that case, vampire J.L. would have teleported his were-tiger buddy out of danger. But knife throwing was not J.L.’s style. He would have used a rifle or handgun. And he would have wounded the soldiers instead of killing them.
If the attackers were mortal, they wouldn’t stand a chance against ten super soldiers. An old vestige of Marine honor pricked at Russell’s undead heart. You don’t leave men behind.
“Dammit,” he muttered, hitching the leather sling of the crossbow onto his shoulder.
He levitated to the top of the tree. The soldiers were easy to spot, since four of them were still carrying torches. The four flames of light were weaving through the forest at a speed faster than any mortal could achieve.
He focused on the tree line ahead of the lights, then teleported there. Perched high in a tree, he searched the ground below for movement. Even though the sky was dark and overcast, his superior night vision spotted a runner, lean and lithe, maintaining a fast pace, but not quick enough to outdistance the soldiers.
Only one? He scanned a wide area in case the attackers had fanned out. No, only one was running. Had the others hidden themselves, leaving this one to draw away the heat? A quick glance back verified that the soldiers were gaining on him. Ten against one. It would be a slaughter.
He teleported again to get a closer look at the runner and nearly fell off the tree branch. It was a woman.
New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks delivers the exciting conclusion in the Love at Stake series, where a Marine-turned-vampire finds love with the shifter princess forbidden to him . . .
Russell wakes from a coma to find he’s become a vampire. Now he has a thirst for revenge. Determined to hunt down the master vampire who turned him, he’s used to working alone . . . until he meets Jia. She is after the same vampire for murdering her parents and insists she can help Russell on this mission. Reluctantly, he agrees, and sets up some ground rules:
Rule #1: Their partnership is strictly business. If he holds her a little too close . . . if she looks at him with those exotic eyes . . . well, that has to stop.
Rule #2: He’s in charge. Jia isn’t used to taking orders and questions every move he makes. So he stops her the only way he knows how.
Rule #3: Don’t fall in love. But the kiss that was supposed to quiet her awakens something else in him . . . something forbidden. Because Jia is engaged. To someone else.
Meet the Author:
Kerrelyn Sparks is the bestselling author of the Love at Stake series, which has hit as high as number 5 on the New York Times list and 22 on the USA Today list. Kerrelyn is honored that her band of merry vampires and shifters are spreading love and laughter worldwide in fourteen different languages.
To learn more about her paranormal and historical romances, please visit www.kerrelynsparks.com.