I first came across Sayara’s books via twitter. (Yes, I am one of those who actually BUY books based on tweets) At the time, Sayara had published the second in her Dante’s Purgatory series, an erotic BDSM novel that was far more complex than your standard erotic romance. When she published Master Me, the third in in the Dante series, I was permanently hooked. Not only did Sayara deliver beautifully wrought characters, but she did so in a beautiful prose that had me close to tears in one moment, laughing out loud at the other. Sayara’s characters were strong but vulnerable. They came with baggage. Life was no pink-tinted dream, making them very relatable.
I must admit that I was somewhat hesitant when Sayara next turned to the paranormal genre. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE a good paranormal romance (after all, I’ve written an entire series which deffo qualifies as being paranormal) and a handsome, dark and dangerous vampire is something I enjoy just as much as anyone else. Thing was, though, I felt Sayara did such an excellent job writing erotic romance and I was hoping for more in that genre.
After reading the first book about blood-scientist Ana and the love of her life Greg who has the misfortune of being turned into a vampire, I capitulated. Since then, I’ve been counting down the days until the next book in the series came out—which it finally did, late in April. Did I enjoy it as much as book nr 1? I did—but more of that later.
First, I’d like to spend some time with Sayara. This lady and I share a love for hot romance, cake and chocolate. It is, IMO, unfortunate she lives on the other side of the world from me, but hopefully one day we’ll be able to meet up IRL. Until then, I invited Sayara over to answer some questions about her writing and books.
I originally stumbled upon your erotic romances before following you over to the world of paranormal beings. What inspired you to step out of the sexy world of Dante’s Purgatory and introduce us to Ana and Greg instead?
Greg and Ana’s story was actually the first book I ever wrote. By the time I’d started submitting it to agents, they’d all been Twilighted and were suffering from vampire fatigue. I even saw submission guidelines stating, “No vampires please.” I put Kiss Me, Bite Me aside and began working on my erotic romance series. After I’d published three books in the Dante’s Purgatory series, I felt it was high time I released my vampires into the wild.
Interesting. Do you think Greg and Ana’s story benefited from being set aside for some years before you settled down to write the final version?
Most definitely! The bones of the story stayed the same, but the writing style in the final version is quite different from the original. One thing that stands out is my use of comedy. Over time, I’ve become more confident using it in my writing. In the beginning, I wondered if readers would find my writing humorous. Or if it was just a case of me tapping away at my keyboard and cackling at my own jokes. I’ve had some feedback, and it’s good to know other people are having a laugh, too.
What has influenced your take on vampire life? And where did you get the idea for using digitalis tea to handle sunlight?
The concept of vampires captured my imagination from a young age. Since then, I’ve read heaps of vampire books and watched many movies. A recurring theme is the old, lonely vampire who becomes obsessed with the girl. I didn’t want to write about the ancient vampire, living in his mansion/castle on the hill, lurking in the dark, sleeping in a coffin, and fixating on the woman who’s going to finally make his eternal life worth living. I should point out that I have enjoyed stories like this, but I wanted to write something different. So instead, I wrote about a human couple, already deeply in love, whose lives are turned upside down when one of them has a change in species status.
Digitalis is a genus of plants commonly known as foxglove. The substances that I will mention are all extracted from this plant. NB: Digitalis is toxic to humans but not to vampires.
Digoxigenin: I used this in the lab as a label for the detection of proteins. Which is where the idea of using Digitalis tea originated.
Digitalis tea: My vampires drink this to prevent combustion in sunlight. There have been fatalities where people have accidentally brewed digitalis tea instead of a tea from the harmless and similar-looking comfrey plant.
Digoxin: A heart medication that can also be used by my vampires for sun protection. Vampires don’t have to worry about heart rates.
In addition, a couple of other names for foxglove are “dead man’s bells” and “witches’ gloves.” I rather like those names. And in a last bit of trivia, the working title for book one was Foxglove.
In the midst of all the romance and laughter you give us, you serve up substantially darker ingredients. The very dysfunctional family dinner to celebrate Ana’s father’s birthday sticks out. I can’t help but wonder what inspired your depiction of Ana’s stepmother from hell…
Stepmother is an amalgamation of people I’ve had to deal with in my life. There are both adults and young people in the mix. As a child, I was bullied. Not only verbally, but I was also subjected to physical violence. I’m quite well versed in the traits and behaviour of bullies and abusers. Since I always try to look on the bright side, I tell myself, “I may have gone through a lot of hard stuff but look at all the great material I have for my writing!”
Not quite sure how to react to that answer…It makes me angry and sad to hear that you’ve suffered abuse, but you’re right: it has added depth to your writing. While on the subject of the somewhat darker side of your writing, how on earth did you come up with the notion of torturing someone in a freezer?
Just like Ana, I worked in a blood bank. In the blood bank was a freezer room. One of my colleagues went into the freezer, but when she tried to leave, she stepped out of her shoe. It was a court shoe and she wasn’t wearing socks. We assumed there was some spilled water that froze her shoe to the floor. So, there she was, hopping about, trying to get back into her shoe without letting her bare skin touch the floor. You don’t want to get yourself stuck to a surface in a freezer room. That real-life incident was when the seed of freezer-room torture was planted in my mind. Also, a freezer room has big, heavy doors, is quite insulated, and doesn’t have much traffic. What a great place to get up to nefarious business.
I must admit to laughing out loud at the quotes at the beginning of Kiss Me, Kill me. How spontaneous were these additions? Because seriously: “Speak softly and carry a big stick” (Theodore Roosevelt) may be good general advice, but is somewhat distant from the challenges facing Ana.
Many books have one or two quotes from famous people at the beginning. I thought I’d give my characters a chance to have their quotes written somewhere, since it’s unlikely they will be quoted in other authors’ books. Then I came up with the concept that my book would rebel and try to insert quotes. Proper ones. From important people. Which is how Theodore Roosevelt ended up in there. And what followed was the book adding its own quotes while I protested, saying things like, “Wait. What the heck is that doing there?” It has no bearing on this story. Although…it would have been handy to have a big stick, considering what happened.
Will we see more of Ana and Greg?
I’m leaving Ana and Greg for the moment to enjoy their happily ever after in the afterlife. I’m starting a new paranormal romance/romantic comedy series. However, I may revisit Ana and Greg in the future. There are things to be investigated. The science of vampirism, for one.
Well, I must admit to looking forward to Sayara’s next series while keeping my fingers crossed that Ana and Greg will one day emerge from that happily ever afterlife…
Kiss me, Kill me – Blurb
Oh, Universe…how bad dost thou suck? Let me count the ways.
Near demise by molesting dudes in an alleyway.
Near demise by marsupial-induced car crash.
Near demise by colleague/psycho stalker.
Near demise by rogue vamps in that other alley.
Really, I should have taken my boyfriend up on his offer to turn me. But choosing to endure a liquid diet for all eternity is a weighty proposition. I mean, life hasn’t been all blood and crumpets for Greg since becoming a creature of the night. Then there’s the case of the only other vampire I know, who didn’t exactly take her turning like a champ.
Door Number One: retain my humanity.
Door Number Two: embrace vampirehood.
Being a scientist, I analyse things. Down to the bone. The sample size of two vampires, combined with the lack of available literature on humanity versus vampirehood, makes it impossible to accumulate any meaningful data upon which to base my decision.
While I’m busy weighing the pros and cons, the universe serves up one more heaping helping of suck—in the form of a formidable opponent determined to freeze me out (literally) and snatch away my man.
This is SO gonna hurt. I should have opted for Door Number Two sooner…
So what are my thoughts about Sayara’s latest?
Kiss me, Kill me, is first and foremost a love story. Our loving couple struggles with issues that are somewhat…err…different from those most of us have to confront, like the fact that Greg really, really wants to bite Ana and drink her blood while Ana is not exactly thrilled by the idea, seeing as she isn’t entirely sure she wants to become a vampire like her lover. They compromise. Ana sneaks bags of blood from her blood lab to keep Greg fed, he loves her, kisses her, but does not bite.
Greg is a relatively new vampire. He is also very hot and utterly devoted to Ana, who is just as devoted back. While the sensual and beautifully depicted romance between Greg and Ana is the centrepiece of the story, there’s a lot of other stuff going on. Like Ana’s best friend struggling with cancer. Or Ana’s seriously dysfunctional family doing their best to tear Ana down. Or Ana saving an ancient vampire from death by sun. Or said vampire saving Ana from death by blood loss. And then there’s that super bitch hovering in the background who wants nothing more but to torture Ana to death.
Yet again, Sayara delivers a gripping story and characters one just can’t help loving. Well, minus the super bitch and Ana’s stepmother… Yet again, the prose is delicious, the dialogue crisp. As always, Sayara manages to combine a light read filled with laugh-out-loud moments with an underlying darker theme, in this case one of abuse. While Ana’s adult life (minus the super bitch) is in many ways is rather wonderful, she bears the scars of a childhood of mistreatment and there were a number of moments when I felt tears pricking at my eyes. This is what makes Sayara’s books so readable: beneath the romance lurk truths about human life and the scars we all accumulate along the way.
For those looking for an engrossing read, you cannot really go wrong with this well-wrought story of love, blood and potential death! But do yourself a favour: start with the first in the series!
Buy Kiss me, Kill me
About the author
If someone told a young Sayara St. Clair that one day she would be an erotic/paranormal-romance-writing Aussie expat living in Thailand, she would have snort-laughed and yelled, “You. Be. Crazy!”If someone told her the same thing now, she would not yell, only nod solemnly. Because that actually happened.
Sayara has a science degree, with majors in both microbiology and biochemistry. Working in the fields of serology and tissue banking, she got to do lots of cool and sometimes slightly weird stuff. She was employed as the manager/buyer for furniture retail stores, where she had a chance to unleash her inner interior decorator. (Interior design is one of her great passions.) And for a time, she taught English to students in Asia. (Hanging about in a roomful of extremely loud, pint-sized humans is not one of her great passions.) She has written ads for TV, print and radio; real estate brochures; website copy; and a screenplay. Now she’s writing fiction and has discovered it’s her favorite thing to do. She’s also learned that writing sultry romances is so much more fun than writing dry old scientific journal articles. No one has sex in scientific journal articles. Not the ones she wrote anyway.
When not writing, she may be most commonly found in a horizontal position reading, in the kitchen baking, in the garden planting, or somewhere else singing at the top of her lungs. She loves music and is prone to spontaneous bouts of dancing.
With regards to vampires and chocolate: she bites one on a daily basis and has had a lifelong obsession with the other. And she’s not telling which one’s which.
Find out more about Sayara here!