When I began to write paranormal romance I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to place all of my books within the same reality, with the same rules and creatures, or if I would prefer that each story or series stood alone.
Standalone tales allow for tremendous scope. I would be able to move from a world in which vampires are the result of a curse into one in which they are born of a particular genetic heritage, and the ramifications of their origins could influence their bodies, their abilities, their strengths and weaknesses to suit the story. Lycanthropy could be transmissible by bite, by an item, by a disease, and every werewolf in each story could differ from the next.
Stories all set within the same overarching universe offer continuity, and reward fans who have come to understand the world over time. They offer a vast and ever-growing backdrop to paint new stories against, and often can spawn ideas for entire new stories simply from a throwaway line or background character three books ago. Diligence is required to ensure that you don’t break rules you’ve established earlier on, though, or that a new rule you introduce doesn’t conflict with one which already exists. To use a television term, a unified universe requires a Series Bible.
I weighed the options and chose to write within a single universe with consistent guidelines and the potential for cameos from established characters. Ultimately it interested me more. As a reader I like to know that if I pick up a book by an author whose past work I have enjoyed that I am likely to get more of the things I enjoyed.
The downside, of course, is the aforementioned Series Bible. I only have three novellas and one novel so far and yet the guidelines for them are already quite vast (and, thankfully, organised). There are notes on the physiology of vampires and werewolves, the abilities of psychics and the schools of magic in existence. For Blind Man’s Wolf I have expanded on sections regarding the Vampire Council of Elders’ Laws with which they govern London, and the ways in which intermingling with humans has affected the Wolf Shifters down the centuries.
Here, then, are a handful of snippets from my “Series Bible” for you!
* Every vampire’s power is the unique byproduct of the magic of vampire blood interacting with the mind and body of the individual during turning.
* Some powers fall neatly in line with who or what the vampire was before he was turned, others stem from some buried aspect of the vampire’s body or mind.
* Not all powers are useful or beneficial; some are seen as a curse rather than a power.
* Some are driven insane by being turned, and may well be put down before anyone can determine what their power may have been, or whether the insanity itself is the “power”.
* No vampire develops more than one power, either when turned or after centuries of existence.
* No two powers are identical, no matter how similar they may appear to an outside observer.
* Shifters have three shapes: Human, animal, and halfway.
* Changing shape is an act of will, and requires around ten seconds.
* Clothes do not change with the person; they are left behind. Taking halfway shape will destroy clothes not loose enough to accommodate the massive, muscular body.
* Changing to halfway form is often a threat of violence. When done in another pack’s territory it can be a declaration of war. The halfway form is powerful and steered by the shifter’s passions.
* Halfway form during the full moon is dangerous, and a shifter may lose control, attacking anything that moves until he calms down or the sun rises.
* With Wolf Shifters, an Alpha is in control of this passion, and has the dominance over his pack to keep them calm through the three nights where they are most dangerous.
A night-blind vampire. A werewolf with lousy self-confidence. And a whole hell of a lot of danger…
Tooth & Claw, Book 1.
Ellis O’Neill is an art dealer with too many problems: his eyesight has deteriorated to the point of night-blindness; he’s estranged from his family, to whom he owes a considerable sum of money; and his guide dog went right off him the night Ellis died. Without his dog, Ellis is trapped in a life bouncing between home and work, dependent on his personal assistant.
Werewolf Randall Carter has problems of his own. He loves his pack, he really does, but as their Omega he’s always the one to bear the brunt of their rage. It’s a role he can’t avoid, and Randall isn’t sure he can take it for much longer, so he buries himself in his day job. Randall’s the best dog trainer in the city, and when he’s offered a client who needs him to work evenings he’d be a fool to turn it down.
Soon Randall is falling for someone he should despise. Everything about the undead is anathema to his kind, but Ellis is exactly the kind of guy Randall would want to ask out on a date – if he were still breathing. Worse, they may not have too long to figure their feelings out. Someone or something is gunning for Ellis and anyone else who gets in the way; they won’t rest until the vampire is destroyed.
Ellis’ flat was in a beautiful old building that must once have been a townhouse of some sort. Randall didn’t care.
Fuck, he was letting Ellis drag him off home for sex like some kind of caveman. There were only two ways this could go, and one of them led to carnage.
The flat was dark inside. Curtains were closed, and the only light came from LEDs on whatever electronics were scattered around. It wasn’t enough to see by, not with his human eyes.
He made vague note of a wealth of locks on the door of Ellis’ flat, but Ellis didn’t spend any time locking them. It felt less like a trap that way.
Maybe it was supposed to.
Ellis only released him to take Tiberius’ harness off. Randall heard the rip of Velcro in the dark, and the plastic sound of something placed on a hard surface. He didn’t dare move in case the werespider theory turned out to be true.
He tried not to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
“You all right?” Ellis breathed, suddenly close again.
Randall gulped. “Yeah. It’s just dark. I can’t really see much.”
“It’s fine. Let me show you.”
Ellis’ fingers slid down Randall’s arms and then curled around his hands, and Randall clutched them like a lifeline.
“Follow me.” Ellis tugged as he spoke.
Randall let Ellis lead him through the alien landscape and forced himself to take slow breaths. He was behaving like a child. Ellis’ whole world was this dark, and Randall was getting worked up over a single flat.
Admittedly it could be a flat of death. But that didn’t count; Randall’s other shapes could see in here, and if he needed to use them he’d be fine.
Ellis turned him and pushed him back. His calves nudged against something soft, so Randall did as he was told and sat.
It was a bed.
Randall laughed, suddenly nervous. “Bloody hell. You don’t hang about, do you?”
Ellis’ chuckle came closer. His knees straddled Randall’s lap, and he leaned against the shorter man until Randall took the hint and lay back on the mattress. “Don’t worry. I won’t bite.”
“Oh?” It came out more strangled than Randall had aimed for.
“Nibble, maybe. Suck, absolutely. Lick, you bet I will. Biting’s for people who lose control.”
Randall groaned. He was hard again, just like that. His groin pulsed with lust over a handful of words scattered like confetti against his lips. He drew breath, but Ellis kissed him and stole it away again.
He was already lost, and Ellis hadn’t even begun.
The Social Links:
Amelia Faulkner was born in the rolling green countryside of Oxfordshire, and moved to London once she was mostly grown up. She has a degree in Computer Science, and spent quite a long time working with computers until her childhood love of writing could no longer be ignored. Since then she has written for corporate clients and personal pleasure, and finally stepped away from office-bound working in 2011 to freelance from home. Amelia is also a keen photographer and film-goer, and resides in the city (not the City) with her husband. She is notoriously camera-shy, so please enjoy this picture of her cat!