Today we have Best-Selling Author,
Read a wonderful Character post below
followed by super great interview.
Starring Briggs and Winnie
It's deep fall in the city, a hard one, the kind that forces kids to wear heavy jackets over their Halloween costumes. A short, heavyset woman hustles into the coffee shop to get out of the wind, weighed down by a heavy, unfashionable laptop bag. She hustles to the counter and orders -- French roast with cream and artificial sweetener, she's kind of blah that way -- then turns to glance around the small crowd sitting at the smattering of bistro tables around the café.
The couple she is looking for sits to her left in the darkest corner, allowing them to both hide and keep an eye on people passing outside by the large picture window, or entering the front door. They've seen the woman long before she noticed them. She is their writer, their creator, and they are intimately attuned to her movements.
The woman moves to their table, trying not to whack people with her bag, and sits down with them, the only one of the trio with her back to the room. Considering their story, she's not entirely surprised that they're cautious.
They are, however, polite. Both stand when the woman arrives, and sit when she does.
"It's good to see you again," she says. "How have you been?"
The man is handsome in a movie star way, tall and lean with dark, carefully groomed hair. He frowns, deep green eyes piercing to the center of the newcomer, the only person in the world with more dangerous power over them than his Maker. He hadn't wanted this meeting in the first place, believing that it placed both he and his lover in peril. They had long since left the city and all its painful memories behind. The owner of Positive Encounter despised him, and he has never been sure that she would let him and his lover go without a fight after the way he defied her.
If he had been alone when it came to fight or flight, he would have chosen the former. But when it came to his lover, Winnie, the danger to his love was not worth his pride. He didn't trust his fictional creator any further.
Winnie, on the other hand, insists that people who read how they began should know what happened after she and Briggs left Positive Encounters and the city.
"We're doing really well," she reports, a small, lushly curved young woman with golden blonde hair spilling in loose waves over her shoulders. She is dressed simply, but with classical elegance, a soft cotton sweater and skirt that suggest wealth, but also simple taste, with practical knee-high soft boots to match.
"Obviously, I can't tell you exactly where we moved, but… it's beautiful. We have a house in the country with a ton of animals: horses and goats and chickens, a dog and a bunch of cats. I love it so much -- it's a warm, quiet life like the one Briggs and I both dreamed of. But we live close enough to a city that we can take in a show or a museum exhibit whenever we get the urge. We also travel a lot. I spent most of my life hiding from excitement, and even though we have to be careful, I still want to see everything I possibly can. Being with Briggs," she gives him a warm smile, "Makes all of that possible. I feel safe with him, no matter where we are or what we're doing."
Apparently, Briggs can't help himself. The scowl he's been wearing since the writer sat down melts away, and he looks at Winnie with unbridled affection. The writer realizes this is her in to address him.
"Briggs, what about you? You left a pretty exciting life here, a regular job and supply of blood at Positive Encounter. This has been a big lifestyle change for you, hasn't it?"
His smile fades as he brings those eyes to rest on the woman. "Ms. Fowler, no offense, but my life here was not exciting. Positive Encounters, as they have the nerve to call it, is nothing but a fancy drug den and a brothel. I was chained to it by my hunger and my guilt for what I did to Duncan in her human life, and she took full advantage of that. I can hardly even call those years before I met Winnie a life at all. I existed, drifting, trying to survive from one horrible act in service to the thirst and the next. I was a monster." He looks to Winnie once more, and gives her a slight, warm smile. "Winnie brought me back to my humanity again."
Whew. That was more than the writer could have hoped to hear from the usually stoic vampire.
"I'm glad to hear you're both so happy. What's next for you?"
Winnie's blue eyes sparkle with delight -- she doesn't seem terribly nervous at all. "I don't know. That's part of what I love so much about life with Briggs. I never know what to expect. We might snuggle in front of the fire at the house with a cup of cider, or make love by the shore in the full moon light. Heck, we might be eating pizza in Italy tomorrow. Every night is an adventure."
He doesn't look away from his lover. "I wish I could take you to the Middle East. Or Africa. Someday, perhaps, there will be peace there, and I can show you the wonders of those places. But next, I think, should be the Far East. We've been to some of the former Soviet states, but not China."
"Oh, I would love to see China! The Great Wall? Could we?" She holds both of his hands in hers as she gazes at him with love and wonder.
"Of course. Anywhere, my love." He kisses her knuckles softly.
The writer feels like a third wheel… which she is. These two are clearly in a world of their own, and have no desire to add more. But there is a final question she wants to ask.
"I wonder… Winnie, do you think you'll eventually become a vampire?"
The happiness pops like a soap bubble, and their faces fall as both turn to her. Briggs slumps visibly, his eyes down. Winnie, on the other hand, appears angry.
"He won't turn me," she says. "He says it's an abomination, and he won't put me through what he goes through every day. It's not fair, if you ask me. And I'm not giving up trying to change his mind until the day I die."
"Stop saying that, Winifred," Briggs says softly, suddenly far less the fierce, protective alpha male he had been a few moments ago, and more like a man broken by an impossible choice. "I love you. You don't know what you would become if I made you like me."
Winnie reaches over and tips his head up to look at her. "Briggs, my love… don't you know that I think you are amazing? That what you are is beautiful and miraculous? Together, neither of us would have to suffer. We both know how to survive without hurting anyone. I don't want to leave you when this short mortal life is over. I want to be with you forever."
Briggs turns away from her ad looks back at the writer. "This, and the question of danger from my Maker, are the only stains on an otherwise wonderful life. Both will be addressed, and even they don't shadow my gratitude for Winnie coming into my life. Even if we only have sixty years together, it will be the best time of my existence. What else do you want to know?"
The writer wants to know a great deal more, but the emotion between Winnie and Briggs is high, and she realizes there is a great deal more to this story that needs to be told than can come from this single meeting in a crowded coffee shop.
"Only what you want to tell me."
Winnie reaches across the table and takes the writer's hand. "I owe you everything for him. I do. Like Briggs said, we have our troubles, but I wouldn't trade any of them for the half-life I lived before. I was so alone, and now… now I have him, and I can't think of anything better. Everything is an adventure, a brand new experience, a miracle. So please… look into our lives again. Visit us when you can see everything we are. We would be so happy to have you."
"But not tonight," growls Briggs. "Tonight we have to leave this town before Duncan realizes we're here. If she doesn't already."
The writer wonders just how much trouble Briggs and Winnie are really in. Now after talking to them, her curiosity is piqued.
"Okay," she says, rising. The pair stands along with her and there are handshakes all around. "Thank you too for meeting with me. I wish you nothing but happiness."
"Thank you. For everything," says Briggs with uncharacteristic warmth.
"Please. Tell more of our story," repeats Winnie. "And go easy on us, if you can."
The writer nods and turns from them to head out into the cold once more. She hopes that the troubles they mentioned won't get in the way of their obvious happiness. Of course, a good story requires conflict, and their problems aren't simple ones.
But she won't know for sure until she visits their life again.
Interview with H.A. HowlerHello Heather, it's wonderful to have you here today!
1. Heather, can you tell readers a Little about yourself?
Glad to. First of all, thanks for having me. I'm loving Hallows Madness! It comes at my favorite time of year, ending with my favorite holiday, so having a month long hop is just the thing.
As for me, I'm a full-time writer from the northern tundra of Upstate New York. I do freelance work for a living: copywriting, website copy, newspaper and blog articles for various companies on topics from green living to travel. My true love, of course, is fiction. Especially urban/dark fantasy and paranormal romance. I consider myself incredibly lucky to spend pretty much all day every day writing!
When I'm not putting pen to paper (I still do that!) or typing away, however, I enjoy yoga and meditation, cooking, travel (especially by train), and being owned by two pushy cats. I'm also a massive TV geek from way back! Guess what my favorite shows are -- if you guess genre shows, you're right. Angel and Buffy were my all time favorites, but I've got a long list of others I adore. If it's dark and mysterious, I'm there!
As most writers are, I'm a voracious reader. My favorites are exactly what I write, of course, but I'll read almost anything, and try to keep my reading list varied for the sake of my reading. I haven't kept track of the UF/PNR genres for a few years, so I'm scrambling to catch up on some of the great newer authors who have joined the scene.
2. Could you tell readers about Positive Encounters in your own words?
Positive Encounter is a story about a shy, lonely woman named Winnie Mulligan who has lived her life hiding from the world. She's not unhappy, precisely, but she feels unfulfilled. One day she overhears her co-workers in the ladies' room talking about how hot it was to be bitten by a vampire at Positive Encounters. She does her research, and finds out that it's a way to have a great adventure in a tightly controlled environment. The vampires and clients are supposed to be bound by a set of rules called the "Encounter Commandments" -- to keep the vampires in control and the client safe.
Can't go wrong, right?
Well, Winnie goes through the extensive screening procedure, signs on the dotted line, and schedules her "Encounter." When she meets her Host, sexy but troubled vampire Briggs Aubrey -- who, without her knowledge has been stalking her since she signed up -- the rules go right out the window, and anything can happen.
It's a love story, it's erotic, yes. It tells a story of how two lonely people/creatures can be changed by finding each other. But I think, underneath the story is also kind of creepy. Besides the fact that Briggs is obsessed with Winnie before he even meets her, just the concept of Positive Encounters is frightening: people putting their lives on the line for a thrill. It's not exactly bungie jumping, after all, it's a hungry predator making a meal out of you, and all that's standing between you and death is the predator promising to follow the rules.
But people are that lonely and that bored that they think this is acceptable just because the vampires say they won't hurt you. While Winnie and Briggs seem to have found something special, you never know what might happen next. Duncan isn't saying the things she says just to be mean, she's really telling the truth, and you have to wonder if Winnie has made a mistake by dismissing her. The creepy nature of the story, the question of whether Briggs' hunger can really remain under control even if he falls in love with Winnie, gets lost in the passion. Just like things that are bad for us often get forgotten in the rush of infatuation, love, and lust in real life.
3. What inspired you to write this particular genre?
I've been in love with vampire stories since I was too young to be reading them. LOL. I read "Interview with the Vampire" when it first came out in paperback -- I was a little kid, and I had to sneak. I've been a vampire fan ever since. It started with horror, of course, there wasn't really much vampire fiction around besides horror back then, with the exception of Anne and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, who writes the highly underrated St. Germain series. It's as much historical fiction as vampire stories, and a lot of fun.
As time went on, paranormal romance was born, and as I always loved romance too, I was immediately addicted. Back in those days, however, you had to scour bookstore shelves looking for vampire romances. Slowly, the genre increased. Around the same time, Urban Fantasy was born with the Anita Blake Series. PNR and UF sort of grew together through the 90's, and after Buffy, really exploded. Both genres were everywhere. I was writing Buffy fanfiction and reading every PNR and UF book I could get my hands on -- fanfic is where I got my writing start. It's a great way to learn how to write, find your voice, deal with feedback, and make some great friends.
So if I had to break my inspirations into short form, I would say that Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, and the Buffy writers and cast (because they were really the ones who brought the story to life) influenced me to write in this genre. Actually, I decided to take the plunge when reading Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters when they first came out. She and I had such similar voices and senses of humor, and she wrote such great, hot stories, I thought, "Yeah, this is what I'm going to do."
4. What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?I honestly cannot tell you! I've been asking myself that for years, and I could babble all day about my theories. In simplest terms -- vampires in PNR/UF are incredibly sexy. But I think the fascination goes a lot deeper than that. As a species, they're both amazing and tragic. On one hand -- and this is all predicated by whose universe the vampires are in, of course, because their characteristics vary -- they have unbelievable powers. They're faster, stronger, more agile than human beings. They never get sick, never age, and barring a visit from all the hunters out there nowadays, never die.
One of the biggest draws for me is that these beings literally have all the time in the world, to do anything. Go anywhere. Learn whatever they want. Human beings have such limited lifespans, we have to pick and choose what we get to experience in our brief years. Vampires don't have those restrictions. I look at my TBR list sometimes and I think, "I will never be able to read or write all the books I want to in my lifetime." A vampire wouldn't have to say that!" Of course, not having to deal with aging or death are definitely positives.
It's interesting and tragic that vampires are, as Doctor Who once said, "fixed point(s) in time." The world keeps moving and changing around them, but they remain the same as they did the moment they changed. They are, essentially, spectators to life and history. Of course, I like vampires who are active in the events of the present time -- if you're there, why not get in it? You're strong, smart, and nigh indestructible, you should be a hero… or at least a villain. ;)
At the same time, they're tragically not in the world, either. They're creatures separated from everyday life because of their nature. Some vampires are monsters or at least amoral predators because of this. Some try to use their powers for good (love a vampire hero!). Some are really broody and upset about it, although this kind of vampire has gone sadly out of style (except in YA, and I'm not really interested in that genre). Vampires who miss their humanity or wish they were still part of the world, aren't. They live forever, watching people and civilizations crumble and die, while they remain. I think that's sad, the other side of the "cool, I can read all the books!" coin.
Finally, I totally have a neck thing. Vampire bites are hot. There's an incredible eroticism about two creatures sharing life force that way. Now, this isn't to say that it's a real-life kink for me, because bloodplay is nasty and dangerous as a rule. But in fiction? Share away!
5. How did you come up with the name?Positive Encounters is the name of the company that offers "Encounters," the "safe" vampire bites. It's kind of ironic, considering the nature of the Encounters. The vampires are basically luring their meals into a cage and feeding from them. It's hot and orgasmic for the clients, too, but they're in more danger than they think. The company calls themselves "Positive" just to deflect people from considering that danger.
I named the story "Positive Encounter" (singular) because it actually was positive, at least for Winnie and Briggs. Is Winnie still in danger? Probably… Briggs does have a problem with his hunger. But for the moment, they've saved each other from lives that made them unhappy. Both get to break away, supported by the other. It's a positive Encounter.
6. What is your favorite scene from the book?
It's really only a few scenes, but of course, my favorite scene is the steamy one!
7. Do you write in different genres?
I write in a number of alternative and darker genres, including horror, dark erotica, BDSM, and m/m under a different pseudonym, A. Sangrey Black. I also write a lot of different styles under the PNR/UF umbrella. Fairies, Werewolves, Incubi and Succubae, dark or sweet, I follow the inspiration where it takes me!
8. What books do you have coming out next?
I have a LOT of irons in the fire, so to speak, so the next year is going to be very busy. My first BDSM Paranormal Menage will be released in November from Cobblestone Press under my A. Sangrey Black pseudonym. It's called IF WISHES WERE SHADOWS, and it's a big departure for me, publishing-wise. I wrote in the genre when I did fanfic, but this is my first foray into the darker side when it comes to original fiction! I'm both excited and nervous!
9. Where can readers find you on the web?
I'm all over the place. LOL. The core of my network is my blog, Bloodthirsty Muses: http://bloodthirstymuses.wordpress.com. I have a main page at http://hafowler.wix.com/bloodthirstymuses, and of course you can find me at all the usual places: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
Look for links at my blog!
10. What is genre is your favorite to read?Guess! Definitely Urban Fantasy with a STRONG romantic element. Paranormal romance is second. My very favorites are series that have a single kick-ass heroine and one guy. They have their ups and downs, but I'm more drawn to one established couple than a new one in every book.
My all-time favorite series is actually Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books -- nowhere NEAR UF/PNR, unless you count the first book's time travel. I also adore J.D. Robb/La Nora's In Death series. You'll note that they share in common a strong primary couple. But I also still love the Anita Blake series (although I can't keep track of the lovers anymore. I'm an old fashioned Jean-Claude/Richard/Anita girl anyway), Kim Harrison's Hallows series, and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters.
My reading tastes are fairly broad outside of romance and UF though. I like biography, horror, and philosophy books best, with a good dose of humor.
Thank you so much Heather, I look forward to reading more of your books.
Best of luck!
Thank you very much! This has been a lot of fun!
My Review of Positive Encounters by H.A. Fowler
I gave this short story a 3
Positive Encounters by H.A. Fowler is the perfect vampire short story. If you ever dreamed of being bitten by a vamp, then Positve Encounters is your destination. Fowler delivers readers into a world of hunger and passion, were the need for blood and fantasy have created a gold mine. This interesting story brings Winnie and Briggs together and readers are sure to enjoy.