Hello everyone! Today I am delighted to welcome author T. Baggins to Joyfully Jay! T. is here to answer some of our questions about her latest release, Soulless, which Crissy reviewed and really loved. In fact, Crissy took on the job of writing all these interview questions, so way to go girl!
In addition to chatting with us today, T. has brought some great prizes as part of her Soulless Blog Tour, so you can leave a comment or follow the Rafflecopter link below. So please join us in giving T. a big welcome!
So today we are here to talk more about your recent Soulless, which we reviewed and really loved. For those who haven’t read it, can you tell us more about the book and what it is about?
Sure, and let me begin by thanking you for the positive review and blog tour stop. It means a lot to me!
Soulless is the story of two men, seemingly with nothing in common, brought together by fate. Nicholas, a chemist and baronet, is the richest, most important man in his country village of Maidenstone. Four years before the story begins, Nicholas was trampled by a stallion in a riding accident. His pelvis was broken, his femurs were shattered, and – well, there’s no easy way to say it. His genitals were crushed. To tell you the once-bold outdoorsman is embittered by his current existence as a cripple, not just physically but sexually, doesn’t begin to cover it.
Enter Ban, a handsome newcomer offering to buy Nicholas’s ancestral home. Ban serves an unseen “father,” circulates only after dusk, and seems worldly beyond his years. He’s a vampire, used to three hundred years of taking whatever he wants. But Nicholas recognizes Ban for what he is. And when circumstances force Nicholas to make a pact with Ban, he discovers a new dimension to his desires, and a resurrected capacity for love.
There are so many different aspects of the paranormal that are part of this book — vampires (obviously), dark magic, occult, vampire hunters. With all of the pretty, glittery vampire stories out there these days, what inspired you to write a horror-based vampire story?
Imagine me at an office job I’ve since departed, thank goodness. I’m emailing a friend about Michael Fassbender, who I’ve recently discovered in the movie X-Men: First Class. We’re being very silly, sending back one-word messages like “Fass-cinating!” and “Fass-tastic!” Suddenly I type “Fasspire!” And she sends back, “OMG!” So that night, I sat down and, channeling energy from who knows where, wrote the first two chapters of Soulless. I had an immediate sense of Nicholas’s alienation, his misery, and Ban’s confidence and joie de vivre. My first notion was, I don’t want Ban to mope about being a vampire. I want him to enjoy it, at least on the surface. Who wouldn’t enjoy being eternally young, super-strong, and magnetically attractive?
I’m kind of head over heels for Ban. He’s a very complex, conflicted character. How easy or hard was he to write?
I can’t lie. Ban was a joy to write. Every scene with him seemed to take me to some strange inner place I never guessed existed. I particularly liked how he saw himself as not very bright, and was sensitive to being pegged as a counterfeit gentlemen by “true” gentry like Nicholas. Ban comes up the hard way, from the very bottom, evolving from illiterate peasant to “sodomite” runaway to well-educated, semi-immortal musician.
I particularly liked writing about his religious sensibilities, which strike me as quite pure. He wants to love God, but after he becomes a vampire, he humbly accepts damnation, like the child of the fifteenth century he is. Yet he never stops believing in God, not for a moment, or expecting that kindness and love will win. He just assumes he’s banished from loving kindness forever—until his liaison with Nicholas teaches him to hope.
Sebastian is a villain to end all villains. If I were prone to nightmares, he would have a starring role. Was it easier to write Sebastian or the other, somewhat tamer characters? Did your vision of Sebastian translate to paper?
Yes, Sebastian was also fun to write, because I see him as a dark parallel of Nicholas. Sebastian is horribly crippled; so is Nicholas. Sebastian loses most of his youth and beauty; Nicholas loses a great deal of strength, and (in his mind) his sexual allure. Nicholas’s response is to be as bad as he can be: to burn his ex-wife’s novels, let the estate fall to ruin, pass every night in a drunken stupor. Sebastian’s injuries also change him, turning him more sadistic, more jealous, more desperate for ego gratification. But when Nicholas sees the innocent in danger, be it his pupil, Martha, or the entire village of Maidenstone, he casts off his cruel persona, which is really just a tantrum. By contrast, Sebastian is genuinely cold, entitled, and vicious to the bone. He only softens when he senses a personal advantage or pleasure. Nicholas softens the moment someone else truly needs him.
The world in Soulless is dark and scary, fraught with vampires and things that go bump in the night. The Old Ones are a big part of this world, the beginning of this world in a way. They seem to be part fallen angel, part alien. What was your inspiration for the most evil beings in all existence?
It started with the question: is Ban truly soulless? My answer: no. Is he demonic, or Satanic, or in somehow existing in opposition to a divine being? Again, no. So to create non-Satanic vampires, I needed to build a world where aliens fell to earth somewhere around 5000 B.C. E., were worshipped as gods, and set up a dynasty. We don’t get a complete history, but we understand that by 1798, Sebastian is one of the last full-blooded aliens—“Old Ones”—in existence. So he’s desperate to continue his bloodline, or perhaps see the earth inherited by human beings after all.
I love love and I love the idea of soul mates. I especially love the subject matter of reincarnation in combination with soul mates that you focused on with Ban and Nicholas. What was your motivation there? And did you go into this story know that the reincarnation of Ban’s true love was going to be such a big part of this story?
I, too, adore the notion of soul mates. My first attempt at a published novel, many moons ago, was called All Our Yesterdays. (I hear there’s a new book with the title out there now, so someone else beat me to it.) My book wasn’t ready for primetime, but the notion of lovers with unfinished business stuck with me. When I started Soulless, I didn’t realize Ban and Nicholas had met and loved before. Then I started writing about Ban after he left Cowslip, traveling to Bath to see the traveling circus, and it all hit me—their tragic romance, and how a seemingly defenseless “charlatan” like Serafino might cripple an immortal like Sebastian for centuries to come.
I love the characters of Soulless. Now that I’ve finished reading this book I am interested in Stephen Lark’s transition and frankly, his story as a whole. Is there any chance that we’ll get to read his story someday?
Thank you for asking! There’s an excellent chance. I already have an half-completed outline in my head: why Lark left the Order, what happened when he and his uncle attacked the vampire nest in Greece, his early (unrequited) attraction to Nicholas, and how he later found true love. I think Lark’s story will have to be written. And who knows, the characters in the final chapter of Soulless, all five of them, might turn up in Lark’s book as well, since unanswered questions abound about them, too.
Is there anything else you are working on that you can tell us about?
Sure! I am working on a new novel (possibly the first of a trilogy) called Epoch of the Dead. Here’s the concept. Six months after the “youth tonic” trademarked as Rivers Clear infected the human population, triggering the zombie apocalypse, a small band of survivors in Tennessee are stretched to the breaking point. The group’s leaders want to cull the least useful members. For trans female Lena and android Daniel, that signals danger to the Bunker’s most vulnerable member: beautiful, mysterious Max. Two things they know for sure. The dead are evolving, growing smarter. And non-humans like Daniel might just be humanity’s best hope.
If our readers want to learn more about you and your books, where can they find you?
I am on Facebook. You can friend me here or follow my fan page here. You can also visit my blog for free reads. I tend to offer my works in progress as serials before publishing them. So you can read the first version of Epoch of the Dead for free. Finally, if you’d like to speak privately, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for joining us today!
The pleasure was all mine. Thank you again for the opportunity, and that glowing review!
Nicholas Robinson is a chemist decades ahead of his time. Crippled by a riding accident and embittered by his injuries, he shuns the world, focusing on his laboratory and experiments. But when the sale of his country estate, Grantley, leads to an encounter with a vampire, Nicholas realizes there is more in heaven and earth than he ever dreamed possible.
A Creature of Darkness
Although three hundred years old, Bancroft Ulwin is young by supernatural standards. Enslaved by his cruel, deformed maker, Ban is forbidden from relations with mortal men unless it ends in death. But his liaison with Nicholas, expressly against his master’s wishes, soon expands beyond mere lust to something more.
A Love Predestined
Long ago while still mortal, Ban met Serafino, the only true love of his life. When death separated them, Ban accepted his role as an enemy of human kind. But as he comes to suspect Nicholas is Serafino reincarnated, Ban begins to question everything he once believed. Including his own damnation.
About the Author
Orphaned at birth, T. Baggins was raised by wolves until age fourteen, when the pack moved on one night without a forwarding address. Returning to human society, Ms. Baggins taught herself to read and write by studying fan fiction. Cutting her teeth on Kirk/Spock (Star Trek: The Original Series, baby!) she soon began slashing rock stars and X-Men. Despite a lifetime spent in the southern U.S., T. Baggins considers herself a citizen of the cosmos and a freethinker, which is good, because no one has offered so much as a penny for her thoughts. In her spare time she enjoys blogging at Shades of Gay, emptying gin bottles and tweeting into the void as @therealtbaggins.
As part of her blog tour, T. is giving away a bunch of great prizes. You can either leave a comment her to enter, or enter through the Rafflecopter giveaway for extra chances to win.
- 2 x $25 Amazon gift cards
- 3 x Signed copies of Soulless
- 5 x ebooks of Soulless
All prizes open internationally. The contest closes on Sunday, October 27th.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.