Virna DePaul is former criminal prosecutor also writes paranormal romance for Berkley and contemporary romantic suspense for Harlequin. Virna also has self-published a number of other novels under the pen name Ava Meyers. I recently had the opportunity to interview Virna about her debut mass market paranormal romantic suspense novel, Chosen By Blood (Book 1 in the Para-Ops series) which will be available on May 3, 2011.
At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved to write (I was an English major in college and an appellate lawyer for years), but I didn’t actually start writing fiction until almost five years ago. Because I love the genre and because of my background as a criminal prosecutor, I started writing contemporary romantic suspense. Eventually, I began experimenting, focusing on what else I liked to read and what was selling.
What genre is your current release and what made you decide to write in this genre?
I’d been writing contemporary romantic suspense manuscripts when I suddenly realized-duh!-I’m READING paranormal romance and love it, so why not try writing one? I love “team” books a la Suzanne Brockmann and Cindy Gerard, and I couldn’t recall a single paranormal series that focused on a whole special ops team comprised of different paranormal creatures. I decided to write a story that was part X-men and part Romancing the Stone, a story where the “Others” weren’t being persecuted by the U.S. government (at least, not anymore) but actively recruited. Chosen By Blood was the result.
Tell us a little something about the novel?
Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and Otherborn- humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA-still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.
My hero, Knox Devereaux, is a dharmire—a half-vampire/half-human. Knox’s clan, including his mother, the vampire Queen, is slowly wasting away. He rules the clan in her place, even though there are many who look down upon him for his human blood. Knox must live down the sins of his human father, who told other humans how to kill vamps. As a result, many of Knox’s clan was slaughtered during the French Revolution. When Knox is offered the lead position on the Para-Ops team, as well as the mission to retrieve the antidote that could save his clan, he jumps on the chance. He does so out of duty toward his people, but also genuine love. But what will he do when the human female he’s forbidden to love tests his duty-will he be forced to choose between her and his clan?
I believe one of the most difficult issues people grapple with is the divide between duty and desire. Just like most of us, Knox was raised to be honorable and loyal to his family and people. In his world, vampires are not monogamous and because of their dwindling numbers, pro-creation between vampires is a social necessity. Loving Felicia Locke, who refuses to share Knox with another female, would demand going against his culture’s principles, but it would also highlight his own human blood, the blood of a traitor.
Where is your story set and does that influence the plotlines and characters in your stories?
Part of the story is set in North Korea, which definitely influences the characters and the story. My research confirmed how very little we know about North Korea due to the government’s obsession with secrecy and homogeny. Still, based on several documentaries I watched, it was even more chilling to discover how little the citizens of North Korea know about the modern world. Since Chosen By Blood deals with issues of war, suspicion among cultures, fanaticism, and duty versus desire, I think using North Korea as a backdrop highlights how the characters are caught between two worlds (old and new, hidden and exposed) and complements the overall tone of mystery and danger.
What is the best part of being a writer? What is the worst?
The best part of writing is that it pushes me to be a more well-rounded person in so many different ways. Not only do I continually strive to improve my craft, but I’ve become more flexible and open-minded through meeting new people, and by juggling the realities of deadlines and family life. I’ve met so many wonderful people I otherwise would not have, and I’ve even overcome (it’s a continuing process, actually) some fears such as flying and public speaking due to the need to promote my work.
The worst part of writing is when insecurity and self-doubt rears its head, which is often. But again, there’s a positive side to this; I can see how, fears aside, I continue to move forward. If I fail, it’s not going to be because I didn’t try.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences and novel with us, Virna. We wish you all the best of luck with your new release.