Thanks very much for having us back, Nic & RJ! Irene and I are excited to be sharing our upcoming release, Bonfire, with your readers. For this post, we thought we’d talk about some of the behind-the-scenes thinking that led to our new story.
See, Bonfire picks up a couple months after our first book Vespers left off, and takes Thaddeus and Sarasija through the holiday season.
Yep, the holidays.
We finished Vespers, a book about a vampire, his assistant, and an assortment of evil demons, and decided to follow it up with Christmas. Because, like Irene said, “doesn’t everybody love Christmas? Even if you’re an agnotic Hindu vampire’s assistant? <grin>”
The decision isn’t as strange as it might seem. Thaddeus Dupont is a vampire, but he’s also a good Catholic boy, which obviously has all kinds of associated traditions. There are also vibrant holiday customs associated with our Louisiana bayou setting. From holiday carols to the Christmas Eve bonfires on the levee that give the story its name, we had plenty to work with.
Another reason for a holiday novella is to take two characters Irene and I have a great deal of affection for and focus on their relationship. There’s not a lot of opportunity for the warm fuzzy stuff when there are demons knocking on the door, you know? Here’s Irene again…
“The main series has a lot going on and we’re anticipating it’ll span at least three books. I liked the idea of spending some time with the guys outside of those confines. Maybe explore their “normal” life and have a light mystery that we could wrap up in a short space.”
Writing a novella gave us the chance to show Thaddeus and Sara as a couple, and setting the story during the holidays provided a way of framing their growing pains. Sara’s secular Christmas traditions are quite different that Thad’s, and the way they negotiate their distinct ways of celebrating represents how they work through other issues.
If we’d only focused on the relationship though, things could have gotten a little angsty. We didn’t want that (because holidays!), so we gave Thad and Sara a mystery to solve. There’s a definite spook-factor attached to chasing mysterious lights around the swamp at night, but there’s not nearly as much mayhem in Bonfire as there was in Vespers.
Nohea is missing, too. She was such a key part of Vespers, but she doesn’t live at Thad’s house on the river, so she’s not part of everyday life there. She’s also a little (or a lot) frustrated with her vampire-boss as a result of events in Vespers. Until they work things out – which’ll happen in book 2 – she’s making herself scarce. She’s not completely invisible in Bonfire, but she’s not on the page at all.
And yeah, I totally just talked about one of my characters as if they’re a real person. You should try being in my head sometimes. It really is that confusing.
Bonfire’s a little bit lighter than Vespers, but it carries over some important elements, namely how our two heroes relate to each other and how their beliefs influence their behavior. There’s heat, and there’s humor, and there’s eight tiny alligators pulling Santa’s sleigh.
And you know, Thaddeus and Sara might have defeated the Big Bad in book 1, but Weyer’s Praestigiis Daemonum is still out there somewhere, and depending on who gets ahold of it, all hell could very well break loose.
Releases 15th November
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Silent night, holy hell.
Thaddeus and Sarasija are spending the holidays on the bayou, and while the vampire’s idea of Christmas cheer doesn’t quite match his assistant’s, they’re working on a compromise. Before they can get the tree trimmed, they’re interrupted by the appearance of the feu follet. The ghostly lights appear in the swamp at random and lead even the locals astray.
When the townsfolk link the phenomenon to the return of their most reclusive neighbor, suspicion falls on Thaddeus. These lights aren’t bringing glad tidings, and if Thad and Sara can’t find their source, the feu follet might herald a holiday tragedy for the whole town.
This holiday novella can be enjoyed alone or as book 1.5 of the Hours of the Night Series. Bonfiretakes place the December after the events in Vespers.
Dorothy ran Pinky’s, a small sundries store with a restaurant in back, the only place to buy groceries within ten miles. In her day, she’d been widely acknowledged for her beauty, though I had always respected her for her intelligence and wit. If she recognized the similarities between me and the Mr. Dupont who’d lived in the River house when she was a girl, she’d never mentioned it. We had an accord, Dorothy and I, one I would be reluctant to break.
While the phone was ringing, I noticed two paper shopping bags in the corner of the room. The phone had just enough cord for me to reach the closest bag, but before I could open it, Dorothy answered.
“This is Thaddeus Dupont.”
“I guess you got my message.” Dorothy sounded annoyed, as if she’d rather I hadn’t called.
“Yes. What can I do for you?” I opened the bag and lifted out a glossy black box. Christmas lights. Surprised, I bit my lip against a sharp surge of irritation.
“Well,” she said, “those lights are back.”
Confused, I set aside the first box and lifted out another. “Lights?” More lights?
“You know what I’m talking about. The swamp lights. Back in my grandmother’s day, she’d say Old Ivey was out looking for someone who got murdered.” She paused, and he could almost hear her collecting her thoughts. “Some call ’em the feu follet, and people been following ’em to find the treasure but getting lost in the swamp instead.”
I lifted a third and then a fourth box of Christmas lights out of the bag. “And what has this to do with me?” Fueled by exasperation, my tone was sharper than normal, but what was Sara thinking? A single ornament was one thing, but I never decorated for the holidays, especially with multicolored, LED, synchronized flashers.
“Maybe nothing, Thaddeus, but after the troubles you all had last summer, I figured I better say something in case Old Ivey’s looking for someone you know.”
I carefully set down the box of lights. “I can assure you, Miss Dorothy, I have not murdered anyone and stashed their body in the swamp.”
She paused for a good long while. “No, no, I suppose you haven’t.” The stiffness left her voice, and she exhaled softly. “But something’s going on, and you know how some people get carried away.”
Sara wandered out of the kitchen, his smile brightening when he saw I’d discovered his secret. “Things will die down. They always do.” I knew that from experience. As a solitary man who kept to himself, I periodically came under scrutiny from the neighborhood. There would be talk, and the bravest would come down the river to my house and poke around. My assistant, or maybe Mayette, would allay their fears, and the next good bit of gossip would distract them.
She snorted. “Well maybe you should, I don’t know, see if you can find where those witch lights are coming from.”
Now we’d come to the root of her problem. She wanted me to investigate. Sara pulled one of the strings of lights out of its box and plugged it in, flooding the room with color. I blinked hard against the glare. “You think that will help?”
“Yep. So far, everyone who’s gone missing has turned back up, but if they didn’t, well, that’d be real bad.”
“Look!” Sara’s enthusiasm bled through his whispered comment. He pressed a button so the lights started flashing. “They work.”
I waved off Sara’s laughter. “I agree. Thank you for the information, and I’ll let you know what I find out.”
She thanked me, grudgingly, and ended the call. I hung up slowly, considering the best approach to take.
“You don’t mind, do you, Thaddeus?” Sara unplugged the string of lights and began packing them away. “I wanted to surprise you, put some lights on the porch and maybe on the banister. We don’t have to do the whole Christmasy-Christmas thing, but the lights are pretty.”
Did I mind? Yes, in theory, though when faced with the hope in his eyes, I found the idea of decorating might not be so intolerable. “We do have a bauble.” I sighed, rubbing at the tension in my neck. “I think, Sara, you could ask me to hang the Christmas star in the heavens, and I would find a way to accomplish the task.”
“You’re crazy.” He ducked, hiding behind a shield of hair.
Unable to resist the temptation, I crossed the room and wrapped my arms around him. “You may be right.”
About the Authors
About Irene Preston
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.
Where to find Irene
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About Liv Rancourt
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.
Where to find Liv
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