Crafting Heroines with Amber Belldene and Giveaway

Today, please help me welcome author Amber Belldene to Preternatura.  Amber is stopping by today as part of her virtual book tour celebrating the release of her lastes book, Blood ReunitedBlood Reunited is the third book in Amber’s Blood Vine series and was published on January 28 by Omnific Publishing. Amber’s one of my fellow authors on the Paranormal Unbound blog and is just a very cool person, you know, not that I’m prejudiced or anything.

Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book.  As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.  Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion.  She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths.  Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.  You can learn more about Amber by visiting her website, on facebook or by following her on twitter. 

blood reunited cover
ABOUT BLOOD REUNITED: Brooding vampire halfling and biologist Bel Maras is determined to create a cure for the wasting disease that plagues his vampire family. His work becomes essential as the Hunters intensify their global and bloody campaign. When Bel’s cure fails, only his ancient and estranged godmother Uta Ilirije can help. But seeing the ice-cold Uta reveals something shocking–she is his bonded mate. She may be a dangerous warrior, but Uta feels her failures acutely. She has been unable to protect her kind from Hunters, and vampires are dying out. Worse, she tied Bel to her long ago in an accident of blood, then abandoned him for his own good–a choice he has never forgiven. Many days, she is convinced Bel and the vampires would be better off if she just walked into the sun. Biology has fated them to be mates. Now these old enemies must overcome their past to save the vampires and come to peace with the bond they never chose.
And now, let’s hear from Amber…

Suzanne, thank you so much for having me on Preternatura on my release day! Today Blood Reunited, the final installation in the Blood Vine series is available.

I thought it would be fun to talk heroines with you, because I know you’re interested in how to craft a great female character and people always say DJ from your Sentinels is an awesome lead.

We both blog on Paranormal Unbound, and that group of authors has an earnest, heartfelt, and uber-serious manifesto declaring our formal commitment to “Feisty women in leather and hot alpha males with fangs…But also quirky, neurotic heroines and geeky, glasses-wearing heroes.” Yeah, I do love me some Clark Kent!

But, okay, maybe we are being a little playful in our manifesto. amber belldene

We are also affirming the pleasure of a fabulously wide variety of characters that the paranormal genre makes possible.

The myriad possibilities of supernatural creatures and their conflicts can make every worn-out trope and storyline fresh. I had an absolute blast writing Uta, the heroine of my new release, Blood Reunited, and her fated mates story.  She is a foul-mouthed alpha female with an Atlas complex and a mate who hates her. And she makes a lot of jokes about sheep.

To me, female characters are harder to write than male characters.  Maybe it’s because most of my readers are female, and I know they will scrutinize my heroine more than my hero because they don’t want to desire her, but to relate with her and admire her. She has to be just the right blend of vulnerable and heroic—a standard few of us achieve in real life.  But, hey, that’s why they get to star in books, and we just get to star in our ordinary lives!

The heroine of Blood Reunited, Uta Ilirije, is a twenty-three hundred year old vampire whom I based off of an actual historical figure, Teuta, warrior queen of the Illyrians.  Her amazing story includes rebelling against the Roman Empire’s attempt to colonize her people.  When I first imagined including her in this series, I had simply liked the idea of an old, female secondary character and I imagined a rebellious, ancient queen would be brash and fun to write.

Soon I realized she would be the heroine of book three, because she was the perfect counterpoint to Bel Maras, and their relationship explained some of the mysteries I’d discovered around his halfling status. (Maybe that sounds weird, but I do feel like I find out things about my characters, rather than invent them.)   

Bad-boy biologist Bel is a vampire halfling, which means that, while he lacks vampire super-strength, he also does not age, can enjoy sunlight, and swills bourbon like a champ.  He is not quite two-hundred years old—no spring chicken for sure.  But he’s still a sullen and brooding adolescent when compared to the world-weary ninth-oldest vampire, to whom he was bonded at birth by an accident of blood. I anticipated having to struggle to keep Uta’s great strength from making Bel look weak, but he surprised me by always matching her in his stubbornness, bravery, and dedication to their common cause.

Uta fights vampire Hunters in her designer shoes, knits blankets at vampire speed, and can’t be bothered to learn English, given how many other languages crowd her old, old brain. 

We don’t have a lot in common, but I’d like to think if I lived another two-thousand years, I’d grow up to be a lot like her. And I certainly hope I would be as fiercely faithful to the causes I believe in, if I were in her shoes.

If you decide to read Uta’s story, I hope you’ll let me know if you found her an interesting heroine.  I always learn from hearing from my readers!

Blood Vine Series Banner 450 x 169Thanks, Amber!  This one is definitely on my TBR list.  So how about it?  Can you think of a book where the heroine might have an advantage or two over the hero? I’ve written some human heroes with paranormal heroines, and those are always a challenge.  Leave a comment and then enter below for chance to win some awesome prizes!

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14 thoughts on “Crafting Heroines with Amber Belldene and Giveaway

  1. i really don’t mind an heroine stronger than the hero from time to time it’s always interesting to see and in storm force that was really one of the advantage of the book made it even more special^^

    Congrats amber for your new release!

    • Miki, thanks for the congrats! I agree that a strong heroine does make things interesting–it shakes up the conflict in a different way. I haven’t read Storm Force, but I remember when Suzanne talked about it on Paranormal Unbound! Thanks for the reminder to check out another book with this trope.

  2. Thanks Suzanne for having me on your blog today! I was delighted when I saw I would be with you and your awesome readers on release day!

    I knew all of you would have some great thoughts about strong heroines!

  3. I loved Uta, Amber. She’s kick-ass, and so deeply tortured. It was so much fun to get to know her. In the series I thought Zoey would always be my favorite Blood Vine character but I gotta admit, Uta stole the prize.

    • Aw Paula, that’s so sweet. Yes, Uta turned out to be my favorite too–you never know how these things will work out! She just was who she was, and she ended up stealing my heart 🙂

  4. Amber, I like how you discover the mysteries of your characters (and their past). That’s how I feel about it, too! I enjoyed reading all your books. Your characters are fun. It just took a brain fart to realize Uta wasn’t really an old woman, but an old vampire. Big difference!! Haha!

    • Yes! I had a few people who had to overcome that from their impression in the previous books–funny that we have all these sexy timeless alpha male vampires, but when it’s a female, we still think old woman. I’m sure her accent doesn’t help–but through Bel’s eyes, I think it becomes clear in chapter 1.

    • That’s awesome, Sandy. I know some writers still feel really constrained by that trope, but I’m glad I have a publisher that was fine with me ignoring it, and Bel is tough in his own way!

  5. I get really annoyed when heroes shove the heroine to the side because she isn’t capable according to them to handle something. Actually threw a book across the room recently because of that. So I say yes to strong heroines!

    A great example is in Allegiance Sworn by Kylie Griffin, where the heroine is a demon and the hero a human.

    • Yes! Totally agree–though I don’t mind when he wrestles with his need to protect her–if that’s a part of the conflict. I don’t like it when its assumed that it has to be that way! Thanks for the tip about Allegiance Sworn. Sounds good!

  6. I love the stronger women characters. If shes stronger than the male more power to her! I still to this day love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she is stronger then most of the males.