Recently, Nancy Pennick, author of the YA Time-Travel Romance series “Waiting For Dusk” (available from Fire and Ice Young Adult Books) had a chat with author Tara Fox Hall about her latest book, “Point of No Return”, book 7 in her vampire/shifter romance “Promise Me” series.
A word of warning, if you have not read the entire Promise Me series, there may be a few spoilers.
First, a little about her latest release, “Point of No Return”
When Sarelle discovers Theo’s love for Tasha is not all it seems, she breaks the love spell, even as she fears the consequences. Dreaming with Theo again awakens old feelings, even as Devlin’s possessiveness increases when Sar is discovered to be pregnant. Influenced by her blood bond to Devlin and Danial, and her magical bond with Theo, Sar is determined to make the relationship with her lovers work. But can Sar trust her heart fully, much less her own desires?
NANCY: Tell us a little about yourself. Did you always want to be a writer?
TARA: Not really, lol. I got accolades for writing in college, even was encouraged to publish an essay I wrote for my civil war course. I never followed through, preferring to study hard science and math instead. I only came back to writing because of a twist of fate. See question 3!
NANCY: Point of No Return takes place in upstate New York. Familiar territory?
TARA: Very familiar. I live in upstate New York, and many of the settings in the Promise Me novels are based on real places I’ve visited or frequented.
NANCY: What inspired you to write the series?
TARA: My mom got very sick suddenly, and her doctor misdiagnosed her prescription drug interaction as cancer. This put me into a panic, as I’d always promised to write her a book, and had never found the time for more than one page articles on my various animal rescues. I sat down that same night and began Promise, the novel that would one day be split in half to make Promise Me and Broken Promise.
NANCY: How long did it take to write Point of No Return?
TARA: I don’t really remember! It was written as part of the third book, Secret, which was later split into Her Secret and Point of No Return (Promise Me Books # 6 & 7). I believe I wrote Secret in a month or so. But to be fair, I was using any and all available time to work on my writing: evenings, lunch hours, etc. I was never without a piece of paper and a pen, and I read nothing else, barely watched TV or went out, and did nothing on the internet at all, as at that time I didn’t even have my own email address, much less a website or FB.
NANCY: Sarelle is juggling four men in her life, if you count Terian. Do you know who she ends up with? Or has that changed as you write the series?
TARA: No, Sarelle’s fate is already written, and it’s not going to change. It did change as I wrote the series, because when I was writing Promise, I always imagined her riding off into the sunset with Theo, because that was how that first book ended. But as soon as I began the sequels, it was obvious that there was going to be a lot more twists and turns to the story, and that Sarelle’s true love might be someone else.
NANCY: Tell us about Elle. She makes a statement about Devlin to Sar. “I’m afraid of him sometimes.” She goes on to say, “He doesn’t have any rules…does what he wants.” Foreshadowing?
TARA: My remark was foreshadowing of a sort, in that Devlin is very much a law onto himself. He really has no one he must answer to, which is why he acts as he does, giving little thought to the consequences. He considers himself a free spirit. That is why he’s such a dangerous person: there is little that anyone can threaten him with, especially with Lash at his side. But Devlin is going to find a reason of his own to curb some of his actions, though I’ll add in this spoiler that it’s really not Sar who tames the handsome vampire, it’s another female.
NANCY: In the story, Sar has two cats and two dogs. From reading, one can tell you’re an animal lover. Do you have as many pets as Sar?
TARA: I have more! Ghost and Darkness—Sar’s dogs—are based on my own now deceased German Shepherds Strider and Legolas, who looked and acted just as the two fictional dogs in the Promise Me series. One was white and one was black, which is why when I picked the fictional names, I chose Ghost and Darkness (as well as to give a foreshadowing hint of Sar’s affection for lions in general, lol). There is a reference in the second book about Sar’s name choice, referring to her dogs’ namesake being the real life lions that terrorized the African railroad when it was being built (Google Man-eaters of Tsavo for more info).
As for the cats, I did one better. Sar’s three cats Jessica, Cavity, and Asher are based on my 3 cats of the same name, and look just as described. Phantom, Devlin’s cat that we learn about in PONR, is also one of my cats, though his disfigurement is due to a birth defect and not a car accident. Lastly, Moonshadow, my fifth and final real life cat, will make an appearance in the next to last Promise Me Book, when he comes to live at Hayden as part of the family.
NANCY: Werecougars, weresnakes, and werebears. Where did you get your ideas?
TARA: I looked around at paranormal books, and didn’t like the preponderance of werewolves all over the United States, especially in larger cities. That always rang false to me—wolves are roaming around hundreds strong, but no one notices or cares or sees any killings? I didn’t want to add to that. But there was room for werecreatures native and alive in the Northeast that COULD blend into a country setting, with a little thought put into the planning of how they remained unnoticed. And a weresnake…it seemed like the scariest wereanimal there could be. I was happy to be the first to bring one to vivid life, with Lash.
NANCY: Devlin’s bodyguard is a weresnake named Lash. He’s ranked number one in that system. Is he someone to be feared?
TARA: Yes. He’s the worst of the worst. And like all my “bad boys,” a little feminine affection goes a long way with him, but it won’t tame him. He’s someone to watch for sure.
NANCY: Who’s your favorite character in Point of No Return? In the whole series?
TARA: Really, the whole crowd seems to me like old friends now. I’ve been writing the series and putting out the books for the hefty sum of eight years total. I love their interaction as a group, that they can be so well defined as individuals that I can know how they’ll react to a given situation, every strength and weakness. Editing the books is like a visit to home, where everyone knows my name. I’ll miss it very much, when the last book is published and the series ends.
NANCY: This is the seventh book of the series. Was that always the plan to keep the story going?
TARA: I planned to write one book, and then kept going, because my mother asked me to, and I’d written the series for her. But there is an ending and it’s already written. The series will not go on forever.
NANCY: When do you like to write? Do you have a schedule?
TARA: I don’t have a schedule and I have a full life outside of writing, which leads to a hectic schedule. In the past that lead to some missed deadlines. As much as it pains me, I’m really cutting back on my publishing this year to focus on my two series, Promise Me and Lash: promoting the former and writing the latter. I write whenever I can find extra time, usually. But I do plan to take off most of this summer from promotion to work on writing, yes.
NANCY: Romance vs. horror. Which do you like writing for the most?
TARA: Romance is easier. I’m an optimist at heart, and I really want there to be an ending that reaffirms that the struggle or conflict wasn’t for nothing. But I like a lot of action and suspense in the story, too, so horror is a natural genre for me. Hence my brand: tarafoxhall.com, Where Horror and Romance Come Together. And no, the word “come” in the title did not initially have a double meaning, even if I do write erotica, too J
NANCY: Devlin and Danial are vampires and brothers. They are both “Oathed” to Sarelle. Tell us about Oathing.
TARA: Oathing is equivalent to marriage for human beings, though instead of a ring on your finger, you wear a choker around your throat. As a vampire would likely go for the throat to bite, it makes sense to have the symbol of commitment there, where he can’t say he didn’t notice it. A standard Oath gives a vampire sexual rights as well as blood rights to the person giving the Oath, which can be a human, a werecreature, a faerie, or even another vampire, and does not have to be a member of the opposite sex (you’ll see all of these combinations at some point in my books). Also, a vampire can have several Oathed Ones, or can share an Oathed One with another vampire (can you tell that Devlin wrote most of these rules himself?)
The wording of the Oath varies depending on what the Oathed One says in their vow, though there is a standard vow which just states the two rights above and leaves everything else up for grabs. The vampire can also give an Oath of his own in response, such as Danial’s vow of monogamy to Sar, or Devlin’s addition of Theo and Danial to the Oath he shared with Sar.
The vampire may dissolve the Oath at any time, if the human breaks their vows, whatever that might be. The same is true in reverse, if the vampire breaks his vows. We see the former case in Promise Me #5 Immortal Confessions, when Anna’s choker unclasps after she breaks her vow to Devlin by having sex with Danial. But there is a long list of rights that Oathing gives to both parties involved that has only been briefly alluded to thus far in the first two books. There will be more elaboration of these “vampire laws” in the coming Promise Me books.
NANCY: Give us the inside scoop if the brothers are really okay with the arrangement.
TARA: Are any two men ever okay in sharing one woman? The truth is that both vampires would likely prefer that Sar be theirs exclusively. However, Danial and Devlin share the bond of time that no one else does. As such, they are closer than human brothers, even when they are at odds. When it comes to Sarelle, Danial acts content to share her, as long as it’s only his brother and his best friend Theo. Devlin also seems to feel the same way about Danial, but is far more permissive in who Sar takes as a lover. You might say that right now, both brothers are just glad to have found someone they both love who isn’t going to die in a few decades, just when their ménage-a-trois relationship is getting good. Will that last? You’ll have to read and see.
NANCY: There’s a famous quote from an old movie, Dirty Dancing, “No one puts Baby in a corner.” As I read Point of No Return, I felt that Sar was in a corner instead of what that quote implies. She is not in charge of her destiny anymore. Does she feel that way, too? If you agree, please explain. And if not, tell us why. Also, is there a way to get Sarelle out of the corner?
TARA: Yes, Sar feels cornered and trapped. It’s a feeling that begins in PONR, then escalates in Lost Paradise, Promise Me #9. She’s got two vampires to manage, plus her husband Theo. Everyone is jealous, and everyone wants their piece of her. There is only so much Sar to go around. Add into that her two children, her new pregnancy + The Lust, the Vampire Rulers clamoring to have her for a “brood mare,” her financial reliance on her men, and even caring for her pets, and it’s a lot to balance. The final straw for her is her dependence on the vampiric blood to live, though. Once Sar really comes to terms with that that means, she knows that Dev and Danial are going to be in her lives forever…or some other vampire would need to be, to keep her alive. That means she’s never just going to be with Theo. It’s also a kind of dependence that can sour a relationship, to know your life literally depends on your lover, that you can’t exist without them. For a woman who was very independent and enjoyed choosing her own path, this is one of the hardest trials Sarelle has to face in the entire series. She never wanted to need anyone to that extent, and its something this comes back to over and over with increasing frustration.
Sar battles with her feelings for several books, before finally taking decisive actions, hoping that her choices will wrest control back into her hands. Will it? Again, you’ll have to read and see!
Thank you Nancy and Tara! What a great Q & A.
Tara would also give a lucky reader a “I <3 Dev” bumper sticker as well as a Promise Me pen. Leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen at random via Random.org on March 6, 2014.
About Tara Fox Hall:
Tara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. Her writing credits include over twenty short stories published in the nature magazines Catnip Blossoms, Meanwhile, and On The River. Her short horror stories have appeared in Deadman’s Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Halloween Alliance, and Ghastly Door. She also coauthored the essay “The Allure of the Serial Killer,” published in Serial Killers – Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). She divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals of all species, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
Check out all of Tara Fox Hall’s Melange releases here: https://melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/index.html
Other Links for Tara Fox Hall
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tara-fox-hall
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Fox-Hall/151813374904903
About Nancy Pennick:
After a great career in teaching, Nancy found a second calling as a writer. Her debut novel, Waiting for Dusk, was a surprise to her as much as it was to her family. Watching a PBS series on National Parks, her mind wandered to another place and that is where the characters of Katie and Andrew were born.
Nancy’s called Ohio her home for all her life but loves to travel the U.S. She enjoys reading and writing young adult novels with a good cup of tea nearby.
Nancy Pennick at Fire and Ice Young Adult Books: http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/nancypennick/index.html