Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Melissa Graves author of Tainted Heart.
Hi Melissa, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
1) How do you develop your plots and characters?
I do most of my pre-planning in my head. Putting things on paper before I have solid ideas is actually problematic for me. I need to make sense of the general plot and the main characters and where I want them to start and end before I really dig in. From there, I outline my story scene by scene until I have a workable novel, and then I proceed to write in chronological order (if I deviate I would just write all the juicy smut and forget everything else!) until I’m done. Writing like this often calls for me to stop dead and regroup, but it’s the only way I know how!
2) Who doesn’t love a good hero? Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration behind them?
I can’t decide whether Brian or Kyle is more the “hero” of Tainted Heart. I’d like to think they both are, representing a sort of yin/yang symmetry. Brian is a doctor, a care-taker, a believer in the good in people and the ability for systems to be as good as the people who create them. And yet he’s flawed, too—he’s inexperienced in love and works too much, doesn’t know how to separate his personal and professional lives without one or the other suffering. He has daddy issues and a lot of unresolved feelings about family and his mother’s death—he likes to think he’s well-adjusted, but he’s not. Kyle is a young man who has suffered more than he’s lived happily, and he’s learning how to work to better himself—his struggle is honorable and his past makes you ache for him, but he can be single-minded and selfish, both naturally and because of his predatory vampire nature. They love each other but often live in two different worlds. There’s a lot of myself in the both of them—my idealism and wannabe optimism in Brian, my jadedness and inexperience in Kyle.
3) What real-life inspirations do you use when world building?
I limit my world-building in a lot of ways, because I want my reader to be able to graft their own images and ideas onto the landscape of my ideas. But I also like fast and dirty, immersive action augmented with sharp dialogue—in a lot of ways, mimicking the style of a television show. It’s a personal preference. I like the speed and clarity of sparse prose and snappy dialogue. I feel the reader can just jump in head first, get wrapped up in the action and yet feel like an interactive member at the same time because they aren’t drowning in lengthy introspection or exposition. In terms of Tainted Heart, Chicago was an excellent setting for a vampire novel, providing inspiration easily—many of the locations described in the story exist in reality.
4) Did you learn anything from this book and what was it?
Taking the story from the fairy tale romance of Brian and Kyle’s meeting in Bleeding Heart to the nitty gritty of the second year of their relationship in Tainted Heart was a huge shift, and I enjoyed exploring that a lot. The importance of showing them struggle, both romantically and professionally, became very clear to me when I was considering the plot for Tainted Heart. The title of the book is very indicative of both the political plot and the romantic one.
I also learned a lot about keeping established relationship sex hot and fresh—first time romance is compelling and easy to write, UST comes to me like breathing, but sex within an existing relationship, especially in a book dedicated to consistent, explicit erotica, is challenging to keep new. I think readers will be pleased with the result—hopefully, actually pleased!
5) It’s your last meal on earth. What do you choose?
Well that’s just unfair! Okay, okay…
A filet mignon (medium rare) with some kind of Italian pasta on the side—fusilli in tomato cream sauce. A nice crisp green vegetable. And for dessert, the biggest, gooiest, chocolate chip cookie you can give me.
Tainted Heart by Melissa Graves
Series: Mi Corazón Sangrante #2
(Series should be read in order)
Release Date: November 5, 2015
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: RJ Shepherd, Buckeyegrrl Designs
Categories: Erotica, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Pages or Words: 294 pages
A year after meeting and falling for the young, mysterious vampire, Dr. Brian Preston is now living and working side-by-side with Kyle Hayes for the agency guiding vampire-human relations at a secret underground facility. As the couple adapts to the demands of Brian’s career tending to vampires, Kyle’s return to school and the needs of their evolving relationship, a dangerous conspiracy puts everyone they know and everything they have been working for in danger. The sequel to 2014’s Bleeding Heart, Tainted Heart is Book Two in the Mi Corazón Sangrante series.
~ REVIEW ~
In TAINTED HEART, the sequel to Bleeding Heart, by Melissa Graves, Kyle and Brian have been living together for over a year. Brian is now a doctor at a vampire health clinic and works at the facility researching treatments for vampire illnesses, while Kyle is attending college, continues to take clients as a blood worker at the facility, and volunteers at a vampire youth shelter. Due to their busy schedules, they don’t get to spend as much time together as they did in the beginning of their relationship. They have stresses at work, with unexplained activity in the facility’s computer logs, and in their domestic life, with Kyle maturing as a vampire.
Furthermore, vampires have been seen at Turn Back anti-vampire protests, have become increasingly violent, and have been showing up more frequently at Brian’s clinic with human illnesses. Kyle has started hanging out with a young, handsome, tempting, and powerful vampire, while Brian’s disapproving father hasn’t changed and still treats Brian like he’s worthless. Whenever Brian and Kyle are apart, it feels like they’re growing apart. But when they’re together, their love is as strong as ever and their passion is even more intense. They’re both scared of the changes in their lives and of losing each other.
I don’t normally read paranormal, but Book 1 got me hooked on Brian and Kyle’s story and I couldn’t wait to read the sequel. Tainted Heart was so intriguing that I couldn’t put the book down, especially when the action started to pick up after some of the backstory of the facility was revealed. The twists and turns in the plot were suspenseful, and Brian and Kyle’s relationship was exciting and sweet. I loved how they were each other’s heroes, and how they protected and fought for each other in both books.
I liked how Brian and Kyle overcame the obstacles in their relationship and were fiercely determined to defeat the villains threatening their lives and their relationship. I liked how they proved their love, loyalty, and trust in each other, and how the challenges to their relationship made them stronger as a couple. Not to mention, their vampire-human sex scenes–the erotic biting, sucking, and licking–were super hot and well-written.
Though exposition in dialogue slowed down the narration at times, I was completely invested in the outcome of their story. I adore Brian and Kyle, and definitely want to know what happens next in Book 3 of the series.
~ EXCERPT ~
When it gets dark, he texts Brian that he’s going to be out late, and avails himself of not one but three vampire-human nightclubs set along a dense strip of Chicago nightlife. Going alone to places like this always attracts immediate attention, and he isn’t surprised when he has to pry both humans and vampires off of himself. But he doesn’t mind—the blood from the center is humming in his veins, and that buzz takes on a new dimension every time that he swallows a thimbleful of blood from a donor, which he does at least a dozen times over the course of the evening. When he’s more relaxed, he allows bodies against his own, dancing with strangers until strobe lights become normal and everything outside is too dim and still.
The blood changes the world around him. Every color, every sound and every source of light takes on a life of its own.
He loses track of how many donors he pays. All he knows is he’s spent all of the pocket money that Brian gave him for the weekend.
He feels like a bloated tick. He’s been away too long. Brian. He has to get back to Brian.
~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~
A veteran writer of fan fiction with thousands of followers, Melissa Graves wrote her first story at age thirteen, and by age sixteen had met her future husband in an online vampire fiction chat room. A fan of science fiction and fantasy, she has a degree in anthropology and a passion for good chocolate, amateur erotica and fan worlds that celebrate diversity. She is mother to two cats.
Bleeding Heart, book one of the Mi Corazón Sangrante series, was her debut novel for Interlude Press.
~ TOUR DATES & STOPS ~