Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview with Raven Hart & Contest for SAVANNAH VAMPIRE Novels

"...romantic, tragic, horrific, fantastic and fun...Jam packed with vampires, werewolves, voodoo, demons, zombies and faeries there is plenty here to entertain fantasy and vampire fans alike." "What a ride! A cast of supernatural characters -- from a vampire to a zombie -- is mixed into a fast-paced and action-packed novel."

When most people talk, I stick my fingers in my ears and say, "da da da da da," but when renowned vampire scholar and infamous curmudgeon Dr. Derek Tatum talks, I actually half listen. So when Dr. Derek praised Raven Hart's Savannah Vampire series, I was immediately interested. He said, "There's genuine horror, humor, romance (but it doesn't dominate), a great setting..." and compared the books to early Anne Rice.

Raven Hart is the nom de plume of Susan Groggins and Virginia "Gin" Ellis, who passed away after collaborating on The Vampire's Seduction and The Vampire's Secret with Susan. Susan continued the series with The Vampire's Kiss (2007), The Vampire's Betrayal (2008), and The Vampire's Revenge (2009).

Susan comes to vampire writing the usual way: political writing gave her a working knowledge of bloodsuckers, and technical writing helped her hone her skills on describing details and action.

Susan is kindly giving away two copies of The Vampire's Secret in a contest. Read to the bottom of the interview for contest details.


MARTA: Welcome to Vampire Wire, Susan, and congratulations on the upcoming release of your fifth Savannah Vampire novel. Would you tell us a little about the series and The Vampire’s Revenge?

SUSAN: Thanks, Marta. The Savannah Vampires series is about two very different undead heroes. William Cuyler Thorne is an ancient and aristocratic vampire tortured by a tragic past. Jack McShane is a more happy-go-lucky (until all hell literally breaks loose), womanizing good-old-boy. They’re both devastatingly handsome of course. The series has shape-shifters, voodoo queens, demons, and a pet zombie. Revenge is the latest book in the series in which I hit poor Jack with just about all the trouble I could think of. Don’t bet against that bad boy, though!

MARTA: I first heard about your series from Dr. Derek Tatum of Mondo Vampire, who mentioned that it’s being miscategorized as paranormal romance, but it’s got a grittier edge. He compared your books to early Anne Rice. How would you describe the series, and has it shifted since you and Virginia Ellis first wrote The Vampire’s Seduction?

SUSAN: Derek is quite right. I never considered the books romances either. They contain love stories, but I always thought of the books as character-driven horror. The series really hasn’t shifted since Gin passed except I think she wrote William with a much harder edge that I do. I thank Derek for the comparison to Anne Rice. I’m a huge fan of hers, and that’s very flattering.

MARTA: I’m a big fan of books with a strong regional voice. Tell us a little about your background – are you a native Georgian or a transplant? What do your characters, ancient William Cuyler Thorne and modern Jack McShane, say about the old and new South?

SUSAN: I’m a native Georgian. I think that both William and Jack are very forward-thinking and were even in the old days. They are heroes after all, so they’ve always believed in freedom, justice and equality for everyone, even when it wasn’t popular, especially among aristocrats like William.

MARTA: What’s one of your favorite books that no one else seems to know about, or appreciate as much as they should?

SUSAN: A book came out a year or so ago that was one of the best paranormal novels I ever read. It has a great love story in it, but a very unconventional one. It’s called The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. I also like everything by Deborah Smith of Belle Books.

MARTA: It must be very difficult to continue your series without your writing partner. Does your memory of Gin influence your characters’ journeys?

SUSAN: I think that it really does. It comes out in how the vampires realize how precious and how short life is. They are much more aware of this than are the humans they know.

MARTA: Now, I know that authors don’t control their book covers, but yours rock. Do you know who designed them?

SUSAN: I have no idea. It’s kind of funny because when the books are sold overseas, they give them new covers. The German cover of Seduction is awesome. Much better and much more representative of what the books are like than the American covers.

MARTA: If Dr. Tatum’s wish came true and a series was being done with your books, what Southern actors would you cast as the leads?

SUSAN: I think that the guy who plays Sawyer on Lost—if you gave him some polish and sophistication and a nice haircut—we be an excellent William. He’s from Georgia like me. Jack’s a tough one because in my mind, nobody is as handsome and sexy as him. That’s why in my book trailers, I picked images of gorgeous bodies with no face showing because I’ve never seen a face that would live up to Jack in my mind. Pierce Brosnan comes close, but Jack is more rugged.

MARTA: What’s next for you? Where can readers find out more about your writing and your books?

SUSAN: I’m working on a proposal for a werewolf series, and I plan to write a southern comic novel. I’ve got many more story ideas than I have time to write them. My website is

MARTA: Thanks for visiting Vampire Wire, Susan, and best luck on your latest release!

SUSAN: Thanks for having me!


The Savannah Vampire series is:

The Vampire's Seduction (Book One)
The Vampire's Secret (Book Two)
The Vampire's Kiss (Book Three)
The Vampire's Betrayal (Book Four)
The Vampire's Revenge (Book Five)

Read an excerpt from The Vampire's Seduction: "My name is William Cuyler Thorne. I have been a soldier, a scholar, a wastrel and a womanizer. But most importantly, I suppose, is the fact that among the many things I have been, I remain an unwavering killer of men. A predator..."

CONTEST: To enter the contest for one of TWO COPIES of The Vampire's Secret, just tell me your favorite local setting for a vampire or paranormal story, or leave a comment for Susan, who will be dropping by through the week. The contest runs through March 31 and a winner will be chosen by a random drawing.

I know I really enjoyed the Toronto setting for Tanya Huff's Blood Books and I really like the way New York is described in Caridad Pineiro's The Calling series.


Vamps, vamps, vamps! Just some new vids for you.

The song is from "Dr. Horrible" by Joss Whedon and sung by Neil Patrick Harris, who is all kinds of fabulous.

And if you're like me, when you think vampires, you think DISCO! Yes, because both are evil, yet seductive in a very wrong wrong way.

What's more evil and seductive than disco and vampires? Vampires with ponytails.


SandyG265 said...

My favorite setting id New Orleans from Interview with the Vampire

Marianna said...

I love the fictional town of Bon Temps in the Sookie Stackhouse books. Harris was going for different, and I like it because it isn't some slick city setting.

So true about vamps and disco, haha!

patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

Zita said...

I like Toronto from the Michelle Rowen and Kelley Armstrong series, but mostly because I am more familiar with Toronto than most US cities. I find it help me to be able to picture a city when I'm reading and I will often google maps an area so that I can place it geographically.

Bookie said...

I too love the setting of Bon Temps for the Sookie Stackhouse series and I also like Anita Blake's St.Louis setting.

Derek Tatum said...

I wonder if "Paranormal Friendship" is a genre name that will take hold?

I'd never have thought of Brosnan as Jack. I've always thought of someone who looked pure Southern born and bred.

I mainly compare these books to the Anne Rice-style of vampire fiction because they are "vampire books" rather than "books with a lot of supernatural elements, including vampires." Just good, solid vampire fiction.

Marta said...

Sandy, Marianna, and Bookie, I'm with you. I think New Orleans has always had that decadent image, and I also love the way Charlaine Harris created her small Southern town. I completely visualize the town when I'm reading her books. I was reading one of her Lily Bard mysteries and was impressed again by her imagery.

Dr. Derek, we're going to have a discussion about vampires here later this week, and I hope you'll be my guest for a Q&A sometime...if it doesn't take away from your important time transcribing ancient manuscripts and yelling at neighborhood kids to get off your lawn.

Bethie said...

My favorite setting is NYC. Thanks for the giveaway.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

vslavetopassionv said...

Savannah is the perfect setting for vampires. I would love to read this series.


Daelith said...

Savannah and Bon Temps are two of my favorite vampire settings. I have a soft spot for Southern vampires.

Absolutely love the Savannah Vampire series and am anxiously awaiting book 6.

No entry for me. I have all the series.

Susan/Raven said...

Thanks Daelith! And a special shout-out to Derek for recommending the books! Hey, Marta, where did you get that photo?! IT'S JACK! IT'S HIM!!! I SWEAR IT IS!!!

Ina said...

Hi Susan!
thanks for a very interesting interview - my favorite setting is Budapest, it's a great story and since reading the Lords of the Underworld I love that city :)
greetings, Ina

Marta said...

Hi, Daelith, thanks for sharing the love of the Savannah Vampires!

Ina, what a great suggestion!

Susan/Raven, nice of you to drop by! When you said Pierce Brosnan wasn't rugged enough, I thought you must be thinking of him as James Bond. He's been in a lot of rough, rugged roles. (I like him in the darkly funny "The Matador" as a sleazy assassin.) I just searched the web until I found one that wasn't too grizzly or too polished.

Dot S. said...

I like the Hudson Valley setting for JR Ward's BDB books. That could be because thats where I call home.

Susan/Raven I have not read your series but I am totally intrigued and intend to start. Thanks for the informative interview.

Rosie said...

That's an easy question . . . I love all of my paranormal (and contemp) books to be set in New Orleans. I love that city!

BookFreak said...

Hey Susan!
I LOVE your covers.

I like it when vampires are out in a regular place. If vampires are trying to blend in, whats more blending in then just going out to a regular place. Plus its a more chance for us girls who wish to be a vampire, and have a vampire lover.


p.s Love the vids,
Damon + Eric + Gerard = a sexy group of vampires I wouldnt mind kidnapping me. :]

jacabur1 said...

Susan and Marta, my Favorite local setting would have to be the one used by Maria Lima in her Blood Line series and that is Texas Hill Country and the little make believe town of Rio Seco, Texas. I am a born and raised Texan and live about 60 miles east of the real Texas Hill Country and with its proximity to the weirdness of Austin a Vampire family just might carry it off living there for centuries!!!

Have my eye on the Savannah Vampires books!!! :)
jackie b central texas

misskallie2000 said...

I was born and raised in GA so I am a real GA peach. LOL..
Susan, I loved the interview. I had not heard of you or your books until now so I will have to add you and your books to my to buy list.
I would love to see one of your stories set in Macon, my birth place or Warner Robins, Home now. I am retired now after 40 plus yrs so have more time to read and have been avid reader for over 55 yrs.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Derek Tatum said...

Oh yeah Marta, just shoot me an e-mail and let me know what you need for a Q&A.

Sarah said...

I really love the town Bon Temps from the Sookie series & I also love the Toronto setting from Kelley Armstrongs Otherworld series. I've never visited the US or Canada but I love to travel virtually through a good book :o)

I'd not heard of this series before but it sounds fab so thanks for the recommendation - I'll definitely be checking this one out!

joder said...

I would pick New Orleans from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters series. It's an atmospheric city full of history and moodiness.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Mama Bookworm said...

My favorite setting is Bon Temps as well. I love Sookie Stackhouse’s world.

TheFictionEnthusiast AT Live DOT Com

angel28140 said...

I'm all about either Southern settings or urban ones. Both work magic, in different ways. :-)

Hilda said...

My favorite setting is also the one in Tanya Huff's Blood Series!

This sounds like something I want to read - little tired of all the vampire romance :)

Twi-Hearted said...

I think the best setting for vampires is the deep south. Specifically, anywhere in Lousiana. Something about the heat and humidity, which leaves that dewy sweat all over your body, mixed with mosquitoes biting and swamps gallor just conjures up images of the undead.

Martha Lawson said...

New Orleans all the way for vampire or paranormal stories!!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Chelsea B. said...

This was a great interview! I've heard some fantastic things about this series! And I love all settings--I'm not picky!

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda Leigh said...

I meant to put this series on my wishlist a while ago, but I just looked and it wasn't there. Now it is!
My favorite settings have been New Orleans in several books, Toronto in several series, and Savannah, which is one of many reasons why I'm looking forward to this series!

Giada said...

Hi Susan!:)
My favourite local setting for a vampire story would be Rome! I love that city so full of history!
Thank you for this contest!
Giada M

fabgiada @

donnas said...

I like New Orleans in Interview With A Vampire. And Toronto in Michelle Rowan and Kelley Armstrongs series. Chicago is great in the Chicagoland Vampire novels too.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

buddyt said...

I generally like my vampires traditional so medieval castle and East European countries are my favourite. I haven't read many of the new vampire series (I think I stopped at Anne Rive) but I am reading Vampire Apocalypse by Derek Gunn at the moment and really enjoying its combination dystopia and vampires.

If the giveaway is open worldwide,then please enter me.


Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Roxanne Rhoads said...

Toronto in Tanya Huff's series is amazing but I have got to say New Orleans in Anne Rice's books. Her books brought New Orleans to life for me and I have been in love with the city ever since- been there once plan to go back again soon.

RoxanneRhoads @ aol. com

Kelsey said...

My favorite vampire setting is pretty much anything. It all depends on the author's writing style if the book is good or not. But I'd say my favorite setting is modern day or set in England.

Thanks for the contest!

wrww13 said...

I love the settings of the land of the fae in Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry books, with the Seelie and Unseelie courts. The way the rooms,locations and the way time changes according to her wishes.

layla418 said...

I love the setting of New Orleans in the Dark Hunter's series by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

throuthehaze said...

I think New Orleans makes a perfect setting for vampires
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

I like the New Orleans and Bon Temps setting in the Sookie Stackhouse series and also the Toronto setting in Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series. I would love to read an UF or paranormal novel set in New York, somehow I never found one set there.

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

YzhaBella (aka Kate) said...

I'm all about the New Orleans Vampire! lol, just kidding. But I really do like New Orleans and honestly I think it simply because I've read so many there are set there! Would really love to go there some day!

PS to Stella: Toronto is too cold! No place for a hot 'n sexy vampire or shifter! (lol, I live about an hour from there...had to!)

Kate Leger aka YzhaBella
mleger0546 (@) rogers (dot) com

Zahir Blue said...

Methinks there is just something about vampires that reminds me of New England--and not just because of Dark Shadows and Salem's Lot. Maybe because the real life case of Mercy Brown, or having living in NYC and seen the thousand ways vampires could "hide" there.

Julie said...

I'm currently a fan of the Bon Temps setting in the Southern Vampire Series (just cause small towns like that are even more open to paranormal things lurking around). Though prior to that I always thought New Orleans was a great one.

Count me in the giveaway juliecookies(at)

Steven Foley said...

For me I also love the Bon Temps setting. Anything that has a backwoods, swampy, muggyness about it reeks/reaks (sp?) of vampires. I also loved the Moonlight series setting. A sort of Manhattan high society take on vamps. Who said vamps have to only be dirty bloodsuckers? They can be highly sophisticated and fashion friendly too. :)
stussystuff82 at yahoo dot com

Shelley said...

Well I have to go with Keri Arthurs Rile Jensen series - simply because I'm a proud Aussie - and it's rare to find a anything of this genre set Down Under

shelleyraedesigns at gmail dot com

elizabeth said...

Russia I don't know why but Russia it mostly because all the sexy Vamps come from Russia.

Spav said...

My favourite setting for a paranormal story is a town, not very big, in which everyone knows everybody.


Jen said...

My favorite setting for a paranormal story is in Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series. It's set in Cincinnati, and I'm from around there. So I love how close to home it is.

Tanya said...

My favorite setting for vampires are in New Orleans...I feel there is so much history and myth..that it provides an author a good setting for a paranornal story that's believable..