Monday, March 14, 2011

Whatcha Reading? Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire

Whatcha Reading? is a feature that spotlights currently released titles.  Vicki Keire is visiting today to tell us about her book Gifts of the Blood.

 Gifts of the Blood
Gifted Blood Trilogy, Book 1
by Vicki Keire
Caspia Chastain has a gift: she can draw the future. When a watchful stranger named Ethan appears and tells her he's here to guard her dying brother’s soul from the forces of Darkness that threaten her family and her town, she recognizes him from one of her drawings. It's a brand new drawing full of brutal images and strange symbols. Can Caspia trust him when the gifts of her blood awaken?

What’s the basic premise of Gifts of the Blood?
Caspia Chastain is a talented artist with the ability to draw the future, usually at the worst possible times; everyday she watches her brother Logan fight his cancer diagnosis. When an outsider named Ethan appears, determined to protect Caspia and her brother from dangers he won’t explain, she initially rejects him. She’s seen him before: in a drawing of a frightening future, surrounded by brilliant light, dark wings, and violence. It’s a future she can only hope won’t come true.

But when Caspia finds herself in the middle of a supernatural war, she turns to the guardian who walked out of her sketchbook for help. Together, they discover generations of unsettling secrets about the little town of Whitfield and the Chastain bloodline. In a town where Dark doesn't equal evil and Light isn't always good, Caspia and Ethan find themselves making strange alliances and even stranger sacrifices in order to protect those they love.

Who is the audience for Gifts of the Blood?
I think it may be technically labeled as young adult paranormal romance, but it’s definitely popular with adults and has urban fantasy elements as well. I think there’s a missing step between the YA/Adult age categories sometimes, and I guess maybe my book falls between it.

What inspired the idea for the book?
One day in September, very much like the beginning of the book, I was just enjoying the weather and scribbling out ideas. I remember wishing I could capture that perfect fall day somehow, so I imagined an artist character. I already had Whitfield fairly well imagined, so it was easy to see Caspia living and working there. Since Whitfield is supernatural, I knew this character would have to be special, too, and her prophetic abilities were born.

It looks like Gifts of the Blood is part of a series. Can you tell us more about the trilogy?
Everything is building towards one final epic conflict between good and evil, except suddenly those definitions have been turned upside down. Caspia’s going to have to make some tough choices, and some of those closest to her will be on the other side. Then there’s Ethan, and how her relationship with him raises complicated questions about the nature of love: is love stronger when it’s based on choice or destiny? Does letting go make you stronger or loosen those bonds? Ideally, readers will put down that last book with a feeling I call “shattered, but with champagne.”

Who did the cover art for Gifts of the Blood?
It was collaborative. The photographer is Lia Kolytrina. The design, layout, finishing process and a whole bunch of other technical stuff I didn’t quite understand is by Tribble Studios, who also does album covers. I’m lucky to be working with them again because they’re really patient with me and can translate raw ideas into images, even if all they have to go on from me is, “Can you make her hands look more glowy, guys?”

What sets Gifts of the Blood apart from other books in the genre?
That’s a tough one! There are so many great paranormal reads out there. I like to think Gifts is different because it’s part of a larger, more nuanced universe. Every character, every event, every single detail we encounter in Gifts connects with another Whitfield character or event. It’s a meticulously constructed world. For example, characters from my next novella shop at the hardware store under Caspia’s apartment, and Erik, the coffee shop’s guitarist, is getting his own series this summer. So everything connects. I think this gives Caspia and Ethan’s story a degree of depth that’s pretty unique.

If you could be any one character, who would you be, and why?
I’ve always had this thing for bad boys and villains, so I would have to go with my dark and tormented antagonist, Asheroth. I think he’s one of the most complicated characters I’ve ever written, so it’s hard for me to call him evil. I think he’s more polymoral. There’s hope for some redemption there, but oooh, he’s wicked. Plus he wears red leather. Wicked boys in red leather get me every time.

Where can readers find Gifts of the Blood?
Right now it’s only available in ebook format for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and Smashwords for all formats in between. However it is being published in paperback through CreateSpace. The good folks over there tell me two weeks, but I like to say three because that’s just how my luck runs.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
About me personally or my books, or both? Hmm. Sometimes I go into this fugue state when I’m writing; I’ll find a song that perfectly captures an emotion or tone or something, and I’ll play it on a loop for however long it takes me to write the scene. I think I played Glossary’s “Your Heart to Haunt” for days on end. I’m not kidding. It is officially Caspia and Ethan’s song. My neighbors hate me, but it worked, and so I put it in the book. I like being able to keep my books as real and detailed as possible so I use real life whenever possible.

How can readers find you online?
I have a website: where I’m pretty active. In fact, I kind of treat it as world building when I write, so there’s lots of extra stuff about whatever project I’m working on. There’s also my blog, The Ides of March:, which I keep pretty current. I’m also really active on Goodreads because it makes me feel more normal about my compulsive reading disorder. I’m more active on Twitter (@vickikeire) than Facebook, but I have a fan page there, too.

Excerpt from Gifts of the Blood
Copyright 2010  Vicki Keire

“But… why? Why would someone take my drawing?” I demanded.
He was silent a long time, staring off at the patches of moonlight that crept in through the big bay window that took up most of my bedroom’s front wall. His eyes were a little unfocused, his head tilted as if listening intently. I studied his profile, thinking of him as lines and angles, of mysteries and secrets. Logan must have fallen asleep; the apartment was silent. The only noise was the faint sound of people and traffic from the square. “I don’t know,” he finally murmured, as if the silence had given him an answer. “I wish I did. But I don’t like it.” My scraped-up side pressed into the sheets beneath me. It throbbed dully, reminding me of other aches. Full-body tiredness crept across me like steam from a hot scented bath I suddenly wanted. I felt pleasantly foggy and slow.
“Ethan,” I murmured into my forearm. I wondered where he would go. Did drawings come to life have places to sleep? I imagined him picking random paintings from his imagination and stepping into them. “If I was a drawing come to life,” I said, swinging my legs over the side of my bed, “I would pick a different famous painting every night to sneak into.” He had moved, again without me noticing, to the very center of my bay window. He stared at the sky as if looking for something specific. I joined him there, leaning my forehead against the cold glass. “Starry Starry Night,” I sighed. “I’d like to sleep under a sky like that.” The full chill of October after dark hit me, seeping through my thin ripped t-shirt and chilling me all the way down to my toes. I shivered violently, but it didn’t break my dreamy lassitude. “Do you have a place to stay, Ethan?” I heard myself ask. I knew I should be horrified, giving a stranger-than-stranger the option to stay, but I wasn’t. I just shivered some more and looked at the sky, trying to see what Ethan found so fascinating up there. I could see only light pollution haze and a few pinpricks of white, meant to be stars.
Warm fingers draped a soft leather jacket around my shoulders. Behind me, he lifted my tangled dark brown hair from beneath the collar of his jacket and smoothed it so it hung across my shoulder blades. I leaned backwards into his touch as Abigail had nudged him for petting. Later, I would wonder at this. Later, I would be angry at myself for relaxing so completely and unwisely with someone who’d scared me senseless earlier that very day. But for now, I was conscious only of Ethan’s fingers untangling my hair and a growing sense of peace, stronger than anything I’d felt since before Logan’s diagnosis.
“What else, Caspia?” he almost whispered, warmth and the scent of new growing things all around me. “What other paintings would you visit, if you could?” His arms wrapped around me, tight with nervous care. Sleep pulled against me like waterlogged socks.
“I want to live in that Escher drawing,” I murmured. My eyes fluttered closed. “The house with all the crazy stairs.” I felt movement and warmth. 
Relativity.” He supplied the name absently, as if his thoughts were far away. I opened my eyes to find we were no longer by the window, but back on my bed. I lay stretched out on my uninjured side, covered with his jacket. He knelt by the side, his blue-green tinted eyes clear again and even with mine. I reached out for him but my hand felt so heavy I pulled it back under his jacket. I remembered feeling sedated when I first woke up, after meeting him for the first time in Mrs. Alice’s shop. 
“Hey,” I tried to demand, but I sounded more like I’d been drinking. “Did you do something to me earlier? Outside Mrs. Alice’s shop?”
"Other than scare the hell out of you, you mean?” He snorted. “I sincerely hope so.”  
“You are so not answering my questions,” I accused through half-closed eyes.   
“You are so resistant to… routine persuasion,” he sighed. “I think you might be in danger.”
“Is that why I drew you? Why you came?” I asked.
He looked absolutely, positively grief-stricken. “I’m not here for you at all.” He visibly sagged after the words left his mouth, like he’d just admitted to the darkest sin of all. “But it didn’t make a difference, did it?” He laughed bitterly. “I… interfered. Like my half-cursed brothers. I’m no better.” He moved so quickly I couldn’t track him. One second he was staring at me by my bed, and the next, he was at the window, palms flat against the glass as if in supplication.
I tried to sit up but sleep threatened to drag me under like a drug. “How do you do that? Move so fast?” I complained. “And what do you mean, I’m in danger? Or that you interfered? With what?”
“How is it,” he countered, turning to me, his voice low and dangerous now, “that you’re still awake and asking questions?”
“I’m stubborn like that.” I tried to sound fierce, but I wasn’t very convincing. I could barely keep my eyes open and my vision was starting to fuzz. “And don’t forget your jacket when you get the hell out of my…”
“Keep it.” My eyes were mere slits, struggling to stay open against a sudden vivid light. “You might need it. It offers some protection against… cold, and… other things.” He sounded frustrated, and the light flared painfully. Still I tried to keep my eyes open, desperately curious about the light, about Ethan, about…
“Sleep, Caspia. I’ll see you again. Sleep.”

= = = = =

Read a 35% sample on Smashwords
Find it on Goodreads HERE
 Here it is! ...and only $0.99 at the time of this post. 

And keep your eyes peeled for the next book in the Gifted Blood Trilogy, expected to be released March 31, 2011.
Darkness in the Blood
Gifted Blood Trilogy, Book 2
by Vicki Keire


Vicki Keire grew up in a 19th Century haunted house in the Deep South full of books, abandoned coal chutes, and plenty of places to get into trouble with her siblings. She holds advanced degrees in several obscure branches of English Literature. She spent the last decade researching and teaching writing and literature while slipping paranormal fiction in between the pages of her textbooks. She is a fierce proponent of the Indie movement in writing, art, and music.

When not reading and writing about all things paranormal, she enjoys other people's cooking and keeps vampire hours. She'd rather burn the laundry than fold it. She believes that when an author wins the Newberry, he or she gets a secret lifetime pass to Neverland. She likes lost causes and the way Southerners speak in mysterious euphemisms even they can't always decode. She still lives in the Deep South with her husband, children, and attendant menagerie, but is pretty sure her house isn't haunted. A person can't be so lucky twice.

Thanks for telling us about your book Vicki!

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