I've decided to start with the Austra Vampire Series by Elaine Bergstrom. I love these books. They are among the first books I think of when someone asks me to recommend a series with vampires. The books are very well written and the characters are memorable. The Austras are unique.
We're delighted to have Elaine Bergstrom as our guest at The Qwillery.
TQ: What inspired you to write the Austra Vampire Series?
Elaine: I had always wanted to be a writer and got my degree in Journalism. But I went into retail advertising which, as we writers at Gimbels used to say, trained monkeys could do. We also had a lot of downtime and a couple of file cabinets full of trashy romance novels. I was a third of a way through one when I realized I had read it before. I knew I could write something so much better. AND I had an office and a typewriter, so I started writing.
But you asked about the Austra family in particular. I can tell you that I had grown up watching horror films and reading sci fi. The Austras were the perfect amalgam of both interests. The early pages were very different from what eventually became Shattered Glass. I had the setting in Romania, all very traditional, but realized I knew nothing about that part of the world. I did know a lot about Cleveland – and the house I grew up in and the street I lived on, the Catholic church my family attended and the effects of polio. I wrote, in a large part, what I knew and, with the petty details out of the way, I could concentrate on the story. By the time I was halfway through the novel, I had the Austra family, their history, their friends and the plot of the second and third novels in the series (though I think reading them in date order, with Blood Alone first, is not a bad idea).
Also, at the time I began writing Glass, I had just experienced a major change for the better in my life. My then husband had gone through treatment and was sober and, for the first time I could recall, I felt calm, which is important for creative writing. I was also attending frequent Al-Anon meetings at the time. Being a storyteller, I tended to stay in first step meetings, mentally recording the stories, words and emotions of those recovering from the emotional trauma of living with an addict. This helped me understand Charles and Stephen and the love/hate relationship between them. Glass is, above all, a novel of addiction.
TQ: Do you prefer to write in a particular genre or genres?
Elaine: Not necessarily, but there is a bit of bloodthirstyness in me. I recall my editor suggesting I try my hand at romance and sent me some of the more popular ones. I found myself thinking that if I were the women in these stories, I would have killed the bastards making their lives miserable. Perhaps it is time for extreme romance, but I never tried that. I do have an appreciation for a good historical novel, one which gets its facts straight, so It is no surprise that I do have a historical trilogy plotted, set in the time of Czar Alexander. And yes, it is very bloody.
TQ: In what genre(s) would you place the Austra Vampire Series.
Elaine: Sci fi/romance/dark fantasy. One thing it is not is “paranormal.”
TQ: Who is your favorite Austra?
Elaine: Until Nocturne, I would have likely said Laurence. But I am very fond of Patrick. He has a wit about him that I love.
TQ: Where does "Ebb Tide" fit in the Series' reading order?
Elaine: It is part of Glass. It was broken into a couple of pieces. I can’t recall the exact order, but occurs after Judy writes her story and just before the brothers’ confrontation in the church.
TQ: What is the timeline reading order of the Austra books?
Elaine: Shattered Glass or Blood Alone first or second, Blood Rites, Nocturne. Daughter of the Night, anytime. It stands alone.
TQ: Is there anything more planned for the Austra Vampires?
Elaine: Absolutely! I have a novel, Beyond Sundown, a continuation of Nocturne. I am self publishing Nocturne first, then Beyond Sundown immediately after. I think you need to read one before the other.
I have also pulled the copyrights on all my books but Mina and Blood to Blood and will be reissuing them after the final two. The issue for Glass and Blood Alone is that they were not composed on a computer, so they will need OCR scanning, which is a bit expensive.
I am also working on a short story with Patrick and Richard in high school. Think of it as Twilight for a more mature, and less sexually uptight, audience. I am hoping to release it via kindle or download by the end of the summer.
There is one final delicious idea – merging the Mina and Austra stories. I would love to see Van Helsing in the same room with Charles. Now that would be a great conversation!
TQ: Thank you!
The Austra Vampire Series
Stephen Austra is a prominent artist, renowned for his wondrous restorations of stained glass in cathedrals and churches. He is also a vampire. But he respects ordinary human lives, and would never hurt a soul. Or so his lover, Helen Wells, desperately wants to believe...
From the back of the Ace edition, ISBN 0-441-00067-3, June 1994.
Originally published in The Vampire's Crypt, Volume 1 (Summer 1989), republished in Vampires: Dracula and the Undead Legions (November 4, 2009).
Paul Stoddard came to Europe to learn the antique art of glassmaking. But there, in the shadow of rising Nazism, he fell in love with a beautiful, seductive woman. A woman of many secrets. Her family, the proud and noble Austras, are vampires. Her cousin has been sent to a concetration camp. And now Paul has decided to join the vampires' war...against the Reich.
From the back of the Ace edition, ISBN 0-441-00088-6, August 1994
Like any great artist, Helen Wells craved immortality. Now, through the unholy kiss of Stephen Austra, her vampire lover, she can taste eternity. But her passion demands a cruel price -- her utter surrender to the darkest animal urges... the aching need to hunt...to kill...to drink.... At frist, Helen resists the savage nature of this strange new life. Until a hired killer begins to stalk her family.
Some men deserve to die. And some hungers demand to be fed.
From the back of the Jove edition, ISBN 0-515-10728-X, December 1991
The ancient names of the Austra family--old ones, mountain lords, vampyr--are still whispered in the rural areas of Romania, though none of the Austras has lived in that rugged land for centuries.
Richard Austra, one of the first children to be born to the family in decades, neither knows nor wishes to know much about his unnatural ancestry. Although he is, in fact, vampyr, he wishes to live as normal a life as possible in the civilized human world. Irena Sava, born in Romania, was brought to America as the child of refugees. She is a gifted operatic soprano, and she intends to use her talent to rise beyond her poor beginnings. When she meets Richard, their love affair--fueled by music, blood, and passion--seems almost fated.
But then a darker fate intervenes, and the lovers find that they must face a deadly enemy, in a dangerous land that both thought they had left behind...
Daughter of the Night
As beautiful and cruel as a wild animal, Elizabeth Bathori cast a shadow of terror across Europe. Seducing. Killing. Bathing in the blood of the innocent. Thousands feared her savage quest for immortality--but few knew the source of her inspiration: Catherine Austra, who came to Elizabeth in the night. Catherine, who possessed the dark gift she craved. Catherine, whose full red lips held the secret of eternity...
The kiss of a vampire.
From the back of the Ace edition, ISBN 0-441-00110-6, September 1994.
Other novels by Elaine -
Elaine Bergstrom, as Marie Kiraly, is the author of The Dracula Story Continues series: Mina, and its sequel, Blood to Blood, as well as 2 other books.
And of course there are goodies: One commentor will win a copy of two anthologies: 1) Vampires: Dracula and the Undead Legions featuring stories by Elaine Bergstrom, L.A. Banks, and others:
and 2) Many Bloody Returns: Tales of Birthdays With Bite featuring stories by Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, and many others:
Leave a comment telling us about a great book or series that you read a long time ago that still sticks with you.
We’ll put the names of all commenters in the Dubble Bubble® receptacle and pull out one winner. If you tweet the contest, we’ll put your name in for the tweet as well. You can tweet as much as you like, but it only counts once. If you also mention the contest on Facebook, we’ll add your name again. You can mention it on Facebook a zillion times, but you only get one extra entry. You can also mention the contest on your blog to get another entry. So you can get your name placed in the receptacle a maximum of 4 times (comment, tweet, FB mention, blog mention). Provide us a link in the comments so we know that you tweeted or Facebooked or blogged.
Because of the weight of the books this contest is only open to those of you with a US or Canadian mailing address. The contest ends at 11:59pm Eastern Time on Monday, May 24, 2010. So leave your comment by then or you won't be entered.