We all love our vampires, right? No vampire fatigue here as I work on my next Penton book! Today’s guest agrees: vampires are deep.
I’m very happy to welcome author Jenna Barwin to the website. She’s here to talk about her upcoming paranormal romance, Secrets of the Vampire Vintners, and how historical research played a key role in creating her hero. To receive an email alert when her book is published, click here and sign up for her newsletter.
About Jenna: Jenna believes in changing careers frequently enough to keep life interesting. She has worked as a circus magician, news video editor, and public law attorney (but not all at the same time) and, now, a full-time writer. She’s currently working with an editor on her upcoming book, Secrets of the Vampire Vintners, due out in 2017. You can reach Jenna at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Now, let’s hear from Jenna!
Vampires Are Deep
What do regency novels and present-day vampire romances have in common? They both require historical research. (They also have hot, sexy male heroes in them, but you already knew that.)
Those hot, sexy vampire don’t just pop up out of nowhere. Vampires who have lived many centuries have deep back stories. When I started writing Secrets of the Vampire Vintners, I wanted a vampire who was old enough to have some gravitas, but not too old, and who was turned vampire in California.
California was under Mexican rule from 1821 to 1848. While some Europeans lived in California at the time, Mexico controlled land grants and used them to encourage settlement by citizens of Mexico. So it made sense that our hero comes from Mexico. I picked the coastal city of Veracruz as his birthplace because it’s a very old city, a place his family could have lived for many generations before he traveled to California to claim his family’s land grant.
Every deep, brooding hero keeps a secret and has an emotional wound. This is where my research got interesting. Available on the Internet are hand-written Mexican baptismal records from the late 1700s/early 1800s. Until it was made illegal by the government, race was noted as part of the record. A baby was listed as “español” if Spanish, and if of mixed Spanish and Amerindian ancestry, the word “mestizo” was noted, meaning “mixed race.”
Now that I knew his historical milieu, I crafted his secret and his wound. I’ll let Enrique explain his story, as told to the special woman in his life as she lies in his arms after they make love. She asks him to tell her something about himself he hasn’t told her yet and he recounts why he traveled to California in 1822:
She leaned back against his bare chest, his arms around her, stretched out on the couch. “Why did your father choose you to claim your family’s land grant?” she asked.
“Because I reminded him of my mother’s father.”
“He didn’t like your grandfather?”
“My abuelito was half Totonac. The Totonacas lived in that region of Mexico before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.”
Bingo! She had guessed he wasn’t part Aztec or Mayan.
“My grandfather’s mother, Antonia, worked for his father Jose,” he said, speaking softly near her ear. “It was not uncommon for the surviving Totonac people to take on the Spanish names of their conquerors. Antonia cooked for the ranch.” He paused again, longer this time. “Jose had no sons by his wife.”
“Your great-grandfather was married to someone else?” she asked, unable to keep the surprise from her voice.
“He had an affair with Antonia. That is probably the politest term for it. She would not have had much choice if my great-grandfather wanted her. When Antonia gave birth to a son, arrangements were made and the child—my grandfather—was presented as his wife’s child.”
“Like the biblical Hagar and Sarah, but with a twist.”
“Indeed. The priest who made the baptismal record was bribed to write español rather than mestizo by his name. My father married my mother knowing she was a quarter Totonac.”
“If he resented her parentage, why did he marry her?”
“The answer to any question that begins with ‘why’ is ‘money.’”
“Your grandfather’s family had money?”
“And my father’s family did not. My darker skin, my wide Totonac nose and distinctive profile, these reminded my father constantly that he had married a mestizo.”
“I love your face!”
She tried to turn around to look at him. His arms held her in place, stopping her. “But my father did not. So he sent me away.”
She thought back to what he had told her about his maker’s hold over him. No wonder he kept secrets to protect his image. His father never gave him the respect that all little boys craved.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“Don’t be.” He kissed the back of her neck lightly. “It led me to this moment, which I wouldn’t exchange for anything.”
To receive an email alert when Secrets of the Vampire Vintners is published, click here and sign up for Jenna Barwin’s newsletter.
And in the meantime, get in the running for a $5 Amazon giftcard by telling us: who’s your favorite vampire? As much as I love the early Jean-Claude before he became enslaved to coldhearted Anita Blake, I will vote for Bones. And Mirren. Gotta love my big bad Scotsman.