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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Author's Tips: Using Research in Building a Paranormal Romance World

Hi, I'm Susan Hanniford Crowley, a new paranormal romance author but a long-time science fiction and fantasy author and editor. I am also the founder of the Nights of Passion Blog. Drop by and visit anytime.

In writing my new vampire romance THE STORMY LOVE LIFE OF LAURA CORDELAIS, researching mythology and places was a fun and at times an intense experience. Starting with places, I spent every summer in New York with my aunt and grandmother, some summers in Florida with my other grandparents, and I spent a gloriously intense week in New Orleans especially in the French Quarter where I focused most of the plot. While I was visiting, my husband and I rode in a carriage pulled by a mule named Napolean, which the driver yelled at and called 'stupeed.' In doing my research, I found that one scholar identified over 40 separate dialects. I chose to use two sparingly to add the flavor of the city. I also used some French and had a friend who speaks French fluently check it over. Two of my vampires spoke French and there is an inscription in French on the Cordelais crypt in St. Louis #1 Cemetery. Studying the cities of the dead in New Orleans is a real scream, not to mention voodoo and rituals. Some of my research was online, some in person.

Tip #1: Use the places you've been to and when you can't go someplace, research the place to death.

I used ancient Greek mythology, the more obscure legends, to bring the Keres, the ancestors of the vampires, and also the Telkhines, Laura's ancestors, to life. It took a lot of work going further and further back until I came across creatures not commonly taught in schools. It meant a ton of reading. Regarding vampires, I had twenty-five years of research behind me as a panelist at science fiction and fantasy conventions. I also came into it knowing a lot about Greek mythology, being part Greek. Still, I wanted the supernaturals in my book to be a significant challenge to David, my principle vampire. He's a sophisticated New Yorker, so I took him out of his element by having part of the story in New Orleans and Florida.

Tip #2 Use your own heritage and dig deeper into its mythology. Research legends that are obscure and use your imagination to fill in the holes.

Laura struggled through the dark and burst through a great light. She gasped for breath and it filled her. Warmth spread through her every part, then a surge of energy she didn’t understand. Her heart beat. Differently. Odd. Different from any feeling she’d ever had. Her eyelashes fluttered and then in the dim light of a strange windowless room, she saw a man’s face.

His dark, curly hair framed his chiseled features. What struck her most were his dark, fathomless eyes. I can get lost in those eyes and never want to leave.

He smiled.

She flushed. I hope he can’t hear what I’m thinking.

I can.

She sat up, smiling with embarrassment. “You pulled me out of the river?”


“Thank you.” Laura trembled. “I don’t understand. I was dying.”

“You were very badly injured in the fall. I was going to take you to the hospital, but you said, ‘No hospital.’ That you’d keep trying to kill yourself.” His jaw tightened. “I couldn’t bear the idea of your death. Please, forgive me, but I couldn’t let you die.” He gazed deeply into her eyes.

Laura moved her tongue inside her mouth and came across the fangs.
“Oh, my God!” She tried to sit up, but he pushed her gently down.

“Don’t get up just yet. You’re still healing.”

“You made me a vampire?” Every tale she’d heard as a child in New Orleans rushed back to her. Vampires were monsters. “Now I’m a monster!” Anger flushed through her. How dare he make her this! He had no right. She seethed.

“No. You are not a monster. Neither am I. I gave you a life. It’s your choice how you live it.”

Then another emotion unexpectedly filled her, when she gazed up into his eyes. I couldn’t bear the idea of your death. His tender words echoed in her entire being and soothed her broken heart, as if he’d kissed her lips without touching her. She looked at him with wonder, reached up and caressed the young beard on his chin. He smiled and she could see his fangs now. Strangely, she wasn’t frightened.

My website is

My blog is Nights of Passion blog


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