Drunken #Vampires? (But Drunk on What?) With Amber Belldene and #Win a Book

Quick programming note (or something like that). This past weekend was the awesome annual Reader’s Luncheon for the Southern Magic chapter of RWA. I haven’t had a chance to blog about it (pics coming Sunday!), but Jeaniene Frost had a great post about it. I never had a chance to remind her of our only meeting, when we were on a panel together and everything I opened my mouth to speak, this woman’s cell phone “rang” in the “mehhhhh….mehhhhhh” of a bleating goat. It’s my claim to fame.

Today, please help me welcome author Amber Belldene to Preternatura.  Amber has stopped by today to talk about vampires and booze—a bloody dangerous mixture. Amber is the author of the Blood Vine series which includes Blood Vine (Blood Vine #1) which was released on January 8 and Blood Entangled (Blood Vine #2), which was released on July 23. Amber’s also one of the mad geniuses behind the Paranormal Unbound blog.
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 longing.  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. 
ABOUT BLOOD VINE: In Blood Vine, bites are an inconvenient bliss, exiled vampires are wasting away, and the fate of their kind depends on the perfect PR campaign. When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can’t forget. After her husband’s suicide, Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again. But can she walk away from the intriguing winemaker a second time? Driven from Croatia by his ancient foes, vampire Andre Maras has finally made a blood-like wine to cure his fellow refugees. Now he needs Zoey’s PR expertise to reach them. After his wife’s death, Andre has a vow of his own—never to risk another painful blood bond. And one taste of the tempting Zoey would bind him to her eternally. His secrets stall her PR plans. Her jealousy is stoked by the blissed-out beauties leaving his bedroom. At every turn, he utterly fails to resist her. When she discovers he is a vampire, will she be lost to the golden-eyed Hunters, or lose herself to the emptiness in her heart, before she can help him save his kind? 
ABOUT BLOOD ENTANGLED:  KOS MARAS’s orderly life is in shambles—he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires, but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night he watches over a temptingly beautiful woman sleeping in his bed. He is convinced love cannot last a vampire-long lifetime and an entanglement will only cause them grief, but he doesn’t have the heart to send her away. From a long line of blood servants, LENA ISAAKSON is destined to serve a vampire, but a string of humiliating rejections thwarts her pleasure. When Kos shows her kindness, she hopes he will claim her. Instead he proves himself a coward in the face of love and sends her to serve another. Will the dark seduction of a rakish new vampire finally bring Lena the pleasure she desires or deliver her into the hands of Hunters who want to destroy everything the Maras family has worked for?
And now, let’s hear from Amber, and then comment to win both books!

A Vampire’s Guide to Wine Tasting

By Amber Belldene

In The Vampire Diaries, alcohol soothes blood hunger. In Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches, wine is one of the few things vampires can consume.   In the Black Dagger Brotherhood, each brother has his own signature top-shelf liquor, which they drink in abundance without ever getting intoxicated. 

Susannah/Suzanne, it’s been a while since I read your Penton Legacy Series.  Do your vampires drink anything besides blood?

[Suz says; Ah yes indeed! They can drink alcohol (Aidan’s especially fond of Irish whiskey), but it’s hard to get a buzz–they get more buzzed from a drunk human!]

An author has to decide from the start whether or not her vampires can drink booze. Either way, it’s a crucial decision.  A vampire may long for something he once enjoyed, or over-indulge to assuage her guilt ridden conscience.

When I first imagined my Blood Vine series, I started with a location.  What was the most beautiful place to set a series (preferably a setting I actually knew something about)?  And the idea came to me—a California winery.  I live in San Francisco, not far from wine country, and I could easily imagine a beautiful estate house where I could trap all my heroes and heroines (because everyone knows they have to be stuck together for the sparks to fly!). 

Thus, the Kaštel Estate Winery was born.

From there, like a series of dominoes, the elements of the Blood Vine series fell into place.  Of course they would make Zinfandel, because it’s my favorite wine.  And I happened to know it originated in Croatia, an exotic place which had already captured my imagination.  So maybe my vampires were the ones to bring Zinfandel to California in the first place.  But why did they leave their homeland and how did they feel about their exile? Mixing history with their supernatural conflicts became one of the most fun parts of writing the series.

The premise of the Blood Vine Series is that vampires can’t normally drink anything aside from blood, but Andre Maras has cultivated healing vines from his homeland, and he must find a way to share his potent wine with the other exiled vampires.

While researching Blood Vine, I learned about the history of winemaking in California.  While writing book two, Blood Entangled, I studied the actual logistics of making wine because my hero Kos Maras is the operations man for the Kaštel Estate Winery. I learned how wine is bottled and labeled, where the bottles come from and how the wine is distributed.  For Blood Reunited, which releases in January, I enjoyed learning about the most ancient traditions of wine making in the Caucus Mountains of Turkey and the Republic of Georgia.

And of course, all along the way, I had to taste wine for the sake of accuracy.  I’ve sampled wonderful Zins, Croatian and Georgian wines.  I’ve spent time savoring the flavors so I can describe them just right—not with those silly sales pitches like “hints of cherry, licorice and tobacco” but  the real, potent, sweet and acidic decadence that is a glass of hearty, California Zinfandel or so-dark-its-nearly-black Saparavi wine from the Georgian winery Pheasant’s Tears (let me just say, if you like big wine, try it!!).    

My research journey has left me even more fascinated by the history of winemaking, and even more in love with the its results.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the art department at my publisher has captured the vine imagery on my covers, and they’ve done it again with the still-secret Blood Reunited cover.

Have you been to a winery?

Do you have a favorite wine?

What does your favorite vampire imbibe?

Leave a comment and be entered to win an e-copy of Blood Vine and Blood Entangled.

Thanks, Amber!  Remember, you must leave a comment to be entered to win!

27 thoughts on “Drunken #Vampires? (But Drunk on What?) With Amber Belldene and #Win a Book

  1. i enjoyed liquorous wine ( the sweeter ones) but i never indulge a lot it simply that my father always mad me taste his to szhow me that it’s better to have a few but of quality than a lot of bad one..; it stayed in my my favourite wines often german one ( i liked to call them yellow wine when little because of their rich color) but i recently discovered a red one that’s liquorousz too a pur delice ( the wines step are more than 100 years old and man you can feel it succulent)

  2. Not entering! I already have the books. Thanks for the guestpost Amber, now I am even more eager to read the books. I don’t like wine, but I did see my very first vineyards lately in Luxembourg, on the sides of the mountains there.

  3. LOL! I don’t drink so I don’t have a favorite wine but I could care less if my vampires imbibe… they can drink anything they want! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Thanks for a fun post and congrats to Amber on the new release! I would love to visit a winery but there aren’t any in my neck of the woods. I’ve always been fascinated by wine but haven’t found anything that I like! I guess then my vampires would drink coffee cuz I can’t live without the stuff!

    • LOL! Erin, I would survive on coffee and wine alone, if I had my choice. There are some vampires that drink it. Maybe in Janienne Frosts books, or I am getting those confused with another?

  5. I don’t drink wine, but my family has made wine for several years. We have a wine press in the garage and the kids have fun walking around it grinding up the grapes. My husband has made a different label for each year. I use it in cooking and the rest of the family drinks it. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. I’ve never been to a winery or ever really been into wine but I’ve always been intrigued by the making of it. So someday I’d love to visit one. 🙂