BookLife Talks with Raven Belasco
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Blood Ad Infinitum'
What’s the story behind this series—where did the idea for this urban fantasy come from?
It’s a bit crazy, but I actually dreamed a scene from the first book. I woke up with the scene fresh in my mind and a whole lot of backstory about the two main characters as well. I immediately typed it all up. At the time, I was working on what I assumed was going to be my first novel, a science fiction story. But it seemed like if I rejected this scene, I would be kicking the muses in the teeth, and for a writer, that’s not a great idea! So, I just shrugged and said, “Well, I guess my first published novel will be vampires, not far-future societies.” On the downside, there’s a glut of vampire stories on the market, and it didn’t make getting published any easier. I really had to prove to everyone that I have something new to say about vampires.
The first book in the series, Blood Ex Libris, was your debut novel. Has your writing process changed over the course of the series?
I’d say that it’s simply become what it is, since there was no novel-writing process to begin with. I’d written short stories, poetry, and articles, but I just jumped into the deep end with Blood Ex Libris. I wrote down the scene I’d dreamed. And then I went back to the beginning and wrote up to that point. And then I just took it from there. I had done a basic outline but quickly discovered that my characters hold very little interest in my outlines. So I know how a story starts, the important parts of what needs to get done along the way, and where I want us all to end up. Everything else is entirely organic. The most important part of my process is actually walking the dog every day before sitting down to write. I use that time to let the action roll forward in my head without a screen in front of me. When we get home, I sit down right away and start typing.
Why do you think vampires in literature are so perennial?Monsters are perennial. Our stories have had monsters since early humans started sitting around fires and telling tales through the long dark night. And in their rawest form, almost every part of the world has a vampire myth of one sort or another, so vampires underwent spontaneous divergent evolution—which means we are really fascinated by blood-drinking monsters. And then the Victorian era made them sexy to boot. So now they are irresistible, and not just to readers—many writers will be tempted to play in that powerful sandbox.
How do you imagine readers at this moment will connect to Blood Ad Infinitum?
I love this question. I think most of my readers come for the escapism, especially in stressful pandemic times, and stay for the unique view of vampires and the questions that vampires ask of the darker parts hidden in each of us. In this book, I really push Noosh, the protagonist, to grow far past what she ever expected, even after joining the am’r world. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t been pushed to grow in unexpected ways in 2020 and 2021. I hope viewing “externally forced growth” through the lens of fantasy can help readers appreciate the hard work they have put in on a more mundane, but no less vital, level.
What can readers expect going forward in the Blood & Ancient Scrolls series?
Pirates! Vampire pirates! In Blood Ad Infinitum, one of the villains does get away. We have to hunt her down—and it’s going to require taking to the high seas to do so! This is absolutely in no way because I want to research historical pirates and then have a blast exploring how to be a vampire in a situation that traditional vampire myth made very challenging. Not in the slightest!