Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Of Witches and Warlocks: The Demon Kiss by Lacey Weatherford with Author Interview

Spoiler Alert! Proceed with caution if you have not read the first book in the series, The Trouble with Spells.
Check out the great author interview with Lacey Weatherford at the bottom of the post!

In The Demon Kiss, book two in the Of Witches and Warlocks series, Vance Mangum decides that the time has come to face down his past demons - literally - but his decision to do it alone does not go over well with his girlfriend and fellow witch, Portia. When he leaves in pursuit of his bloodthirsty father without notice, an incensed Portia decides that she has no choice but to follow and hope that she catches up with him before he catches up with his aptly-named father, Damien. With her mortal-turned-magical (thanks to two enchanted amulets) friends Brad and Shelly in tow, 16-year-old Portia sets out to follow a dangerous and potentially deadly path, one which will lead her not only to Vance, but to Damien and his demonic coven as well. However, after finally being reunited and successfully hunting down their quarry, Vance and Portia are in for a horrifying shock. Damien's plans are far more ghastly than they feared, and the young witches find themselves pawns in a sadistic game.

The Demon Kiss revvs up the action and intrigue from its predecessor, The Trouble with Spells, and the new tone of mystery and espionage adds an exciting new facet to Lacey Weatherford's tale of magic and romance. Portia and Vance's relationship becomes more complex, making it more engaging for readers. Vance develops tremendously as a character in The Demon Kiss - the toll his past has taken on him becomes clear, and it is much easier to understand why he clings to Portia so tightly. His consuming love is endearing, and readers will truly feel for his troubled soul. The struggles that result from his near-demon-conversion also revive hints of his alluring dark side, which went missing in the early days of his relationship with Portia. However, as Vance blossoms as a character, Portia becomes a bit more problematic. Portia seems to be a heroine of the fight-her-own-battles variety, and while she does stand up for herself, she still seems like the weakest link when things get particularly nasty. From the beginning, everyone around her has marveled over her unusually strong powers, but those powers have yet to be demonstrated for the reader. When the rest of the coven fly in as reinforcements, the vast and varied cast of characters is lively, but the familial interactions occasionally get awkward - with Portia sleeping in Vance's room and standing by while he discusses her "virtue" with her father - making this reader cringe. Though I would like to see the rest of the coven gain additional depth in future installments, it was a pleasant surprise to see Brad and Shelly develop as more central characters - a lighthearted and imaginative trend I wish had continued for the entirety of The Demon Kiss. The pair of brave and loyal friends have immense potential as characters, as well as foils to Vance and Portia. Despite a few quibbles, The Demon Kiss is an engaging read, full of more suspense and action-driven plot than the first installment of Portia and Vance's tale. If the series continues to develop in the same strain, it promises to pack a powerhouse punch that will make readers lament the saga's end.

Premise: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Writing: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.8/5

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this novel from the author. This did not affect my review in any way. You can read my complete review policy here.


Author Interview with Lacey Weatherford

In spite of the fact that she is a 38 year old mother of six, this former firefighter/E.M.T. managed to sit down and find the time to write not one, but three subsequent novels to form the Of Witches And Warlocks Series. She has chosen to gear her characters toward the young adult genre, which has shown a significant rise in popularity over the last two decades. Lacey has written characters that are believable in a world of abnormal situations as they learn that choices have consequences that are sometimes unforeseen. (From her website)

What inspired you to write the Of Witches and Warlocks Series?

I had just finished writing another book and was still kind of in that writer mode.  My daughter was dying her hair from blond to a very dark brown and it came out looking black at first.  Someone jokingly told her that people were going to start referring to her as a witch.  The comment stuck in my head.  I was reluctant to pursue the idea at first since I had just finished writing a book and my brain was feeling a little mentally depleted, but the ideas kept tumbling around in my head to the point that I had to start writing them down.  Once that was started I was hooked and had to finish what I had began.

I was told that the model for Portia on your website is your daughter – is the character of Portia based on her? Are any of the other characters based on people you know?

Well, the initial idea of Portia did come from that previous experience with my daughter, and there are definitely some of her characteristics in Portia, such as her love and loyalty toward people, but for the most part I would say that Portia is her own character that developed out of the story as it was written.  As far as the other characters, no one was based in particular on someone that I knew.  I did use threads from different relationships in my life to bring certain characteristics of some of the characters to the forefront, such as the relationship between Portia and her grandmother.  I was always close with my grandma so that was something I could relate to.  The character of Vance Mangum was developed off of the acting style/image of actor Matt Lanter who I am a big fan of also. It was very fun to be able to use him as a reference and to "see" him clearly in my head, which made the character very fun to write.

The dark witches and warlocks in the series are chilling. How did you develop their unique backstory and characteristics?

I wanted the evil in the story to feel tangible and ancient, something with a pulse of its own.  I enjoyed making it something which had evolved through history, changing and growing more evil as time marched on.  I liked that the evil, or changing to be evil, was directly related to the choices and actions of normal witches and warlocks, showing that even these magical people have to face the consequences of their decisions just like the rest of do in real life.  I also wanted the evil in them to feel threatening and graphic.

SPOILER ALERT! (Highlight to read this question and answer) What role do the binding spell and later marriage proposal play in the story? How do you feel about Portia getting engaged at 16?

Vance has been secretly developing feelings for Portia long before the story even begins.  The binding spell was his way of trying to put some kind of mutual tie between them, giving himself some sort of permanency to their relationship.  He has always greatly desired some type of family connection after all of his years on the run and Portia definitely helps to fill that role for him.  It is one of the reasons he latches on to her so hard.  He is also a couple of years older than her, so his head is more into that place where he is looking toward the future and how things might play out in his life.  As far as him asking Portia to get married at 16, well that's just Vance.  He tends to rush headlong into things.  I personally as a mother would probably never condone an engagement at so young of an age but I also feel that Portia is very mature for her age because of the things she has had to go through.  Like I said before, Vance has a great desire for a family connection and he sees that in her.  Because of everything going on around them he is desperately searching for a way to bring her into a more permanent aspect of his life.

What was your favorite scene to write? Why?
I don't know that I have any one favorite scene.  I am a huge sucker for romance so I really loved writing anything that had to do with the chemistry in between Vance and Portia, whether they were loving or fighting together.  I also really enjoyed delving into the heads of my evil characters and seeing what lengths they would go to so they could accomplish their agendas.  They were intriguing to me since I am so opposite of that kind of person.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?

Getting sleep! (laughing) This story was literally hounding me in my head and I would stay up for hours and hours, day after day, while I tried to get it all written down.  I would stay up until one or two in the morning writing until I couldn't see straight and the words quit making sense.  I would stumble off to bed only to wake up again at four or five, excited with a new idea and unable to go back to sleep.  I would crawl out of bed to start typing away again.  I eventually just starting keeping my laptop next to my bed so I could just grab it and write easier. It was crazy!

Portia and Vance are surrounded by a wide variety of characters. What secondary character is your favorite and why? [reader question]

I am actually quite partial to the "Dads" in the story.  Portia's dad, Sean is such a fun loving quirky character.  He takes his job very seriously but there is this underlying humor to him that is refreshing and honest.  He knows when to be serious and he knows when to let it loose a little and have some fun, and you can feel his love and concern for all of those he is in charge of.  Vance's dad, Damien, was just delicious to write.  He has all of this sophisticated charisma that positively oozes out of him but underneath all of his smoothness he is just nasty! Completely evil to the core!  I love it!

If you suddenly discovered you had magical powers, like Portia, what would be the first thing you would use them for?

That's a really good question and don't believe it is one I have thought of before.  I would like to think I would want to do some great thing that would help out humanity somehow, you know...falling back on the traditional "world peace" answer given by every beauty contestant in the world.  But honestly, with six kids, I would most definitely use some of it to clean my house!!  And maybe a magical weight loss plan could be on the agenda too?  I don't know...I might have to ponder on this one some more!

How did your interest in writing develop?

I have had an interest in writing since I was a young girl and started heavily reading the Nancy Drew novels at the age of eight.  I started writing little stories of my own around the age of nine about me and my cousin.  My mom actually saved those and gave them back to me!  They are hilarious.  Over the years I dabbled very lightly in poetry and writing fun little romances for friends as well as some skits, but it was definitely my love of reading that cultivated my desire to write.  I got involved with associations like The Friends of the Library and things like that when I was older.  I just loved a good story and hoped that one day I would be able to come up with one myself.  I signed up for writing classes in college to help further those interests even though I was going into emergency medicine instead.  It is just something I have been drawn to for as long as I can remember.

Can you please discuss your writing process? [reader question]

The first thing I do when I get a new idea is to just write it down as soon as possible.  Then I may spend a few days contemplating on the subject to see if anything good forms out of it.  If new ideas come out of that reflection then I write those down too until I feel I have a good idea or direction to go in.  When I actually sit down to write it is always on my laptop, somewhere that I can feel really comfortable (on my bed a lot lately) with some water and music.  I find the music to be very influential to the scenes I write so I often end up having whole play lists of songs that accompany my books.  It is very enjoyable for me.  If I find that I come to a place where I feel "stuck" I usually talk over plot lines out loud with someone.  Just having that person to bounce ideas off of always helps to trigger something in my head which will help work things out.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

I answer this question the same way every time but it is the most honest advice I can give and that is just keep writing.  Sometimes people get so discouraged because they don't feel like they have written something great right off the bat.  I don’t feel there is ever any "bad" writing.  If you are writing then you are in that creative process that will allow something to happen eventually.  Yes, you might have to rewrite or tweak your work a lot but that is okay. It is my firm belief that if you persevere you will end up with something beautiful in the end.  Also, if you do decide to try to get published, do your research about the agents/publishers that are out there.  There are good ones and bad ones so always get to know the people you think you may want to work with first.

What are your favorite books? What about them appeals to you?

As I said earlier, I am a sucker for romance.  I like all styles of it but I do believe my favorite styles are historical or paranormal.  I also like historical/paranormal blended together.  Having been an incurable romantic for as long as I can remember I have always loved a good story with a dashing hero and an equally strong heroine.  I have read a lot of different styles of books and I have too many favorites to list and that list is always changing too.  There is just nothing like a good book!

What authors have inspired you? In what way were they inspirational? [reader question]

I have probably most been inspired by L.M. Montgomery who was the author of the Anne of Green Gables series.  I absolutely adore how descriptive her writing is and how she could bring you into the personalities of each of her characters.  I could feel the nostalgia of the scenes that she would set and I loved every little nuance of getting to know each individual character.  Her writing really drew me into her stories.  I hope that is something that I have been able to convey to my readers as well.

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

My best friend and I are the texting queens of the universe!  She is a book lover like I am so we are always telling each other what to read.  We don’t live in the same town so we are constantly texting to each other all day long.  Then we get together on weekends and go to which ever movie has the hottest guys with the best shirtless abs in them!! Like I said…sucker for hot heroes and romance!!

How many novels do you have planned for the Of Witches and Warlocks Series? What can you tell us about the upcoming novels?

There are four books in the series.  The Trouble With Spells, The Demon Kiss, Blood Of The White Witch, and Redemption.  The third will continue on with Vance and Portia’s story together as well as moving farther into Vance’s quest to work things out with his family issues.  It will also bring to the forefront a major change in their relationship. This change will set new things in motion for them, and those involved with them, guiding the story into some new big twists involving an ancient prophecy.  This prophecy will great influence some of the character development which will carry over into book four.  I so wish I could tell you more….but these plots are on super secret mode right now.  I can only promise that you won’t be disappointed!!

Thank you so much to Lacey for agreeing to be interviewed and for her terrific answers, and thank you to the readers who submitted questions! 




Cari said...

I like how you provide the details without showing the spoilers.

SusanKMann said...

Fantastic review, I wish I had more time to read. In fact I feel like just leaving work and going home now. This book sounds fantastic. I thought it couldn't get any better than the first but it does. Also fantastic interview, you learn more and more about her and her insight. Excellent post. x

Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

Fantastic review and interview! I like how you hid the spoilers :)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Well, this series sounds like a great one. Thanks for the great review. I also have to say the interview is awesome. I love how you set the one up with having to highlight it because it had a spoiler in it. :) Thanks!

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