Author Interview: Raven Blackburn

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Raven was written by Raven Blackburn.)

Night had fallen fast in these woods, but Kelly had come prepared—with flashlights and extra batteries, but she didn’t have her flashlight on at this moment as she stood near a tree at the edge of the woods. The bright full moon lit the night, and Kelly enjoyed the peace it brought. Knowing who she would be meeting here, she wouldn’t be surprised if any vampires lurked, and she vaguely wondered if solar-powered flashlights would kill a vampire because—well, sunlight. Probably not, but still—that would be an interesting addition for a story.

The sound of leaves crunching underfoot caught her attention, and Kelly snapped her gaze up to see her visitor approaching. She flipped on the flashlight but shone it near her visitor’s feet to light the path. At last they were in hearing range, and Kelly voiced her inquiry, “So Raven, since you write vampires and such, would a solar-powered flashlight kill a vampire?” She arched her brows but then smiled as her friend drew near. “And it’s nice to finally meet you!”

Raven smiled at Kelly. “I agree, it’s so great to finally see you! While in some stories vampires might actually turn into a pile of ash when walking into the broad sunlight, my vampires only lose their powers. They are still vampires, yet they only catch a bad sunburn in the sun, so no, feel free to turn your flashlight on if you need it.”

Kelly arched a brow. “You’re telling me you’re a vampire?” She then smiled and tossed Raven a flashlight. “In case you need it. C’mon! We can talk while we walk to that old mansion I told you about.” With that, she motioned for Raven to fall into step with her as she headed down the beaten path into the dark woods. “Well, this is entirely creepy, but hey, let’s ward off those creepy vibes by you telling me what it is that you do in real life and how it ties into your writing.” Kelly cast Raven a smile but then pushed aside a low tree limb as she continued walking.

Raven caught the flashlight and walked beside Kelly to the haunted mansion and laughed. “Creepy? This is amazing! I love old and abandoned places! What I do in real life? I am a book cover artist in real life, a translator, though I haven’t been working as one and am sorely out of form as I realized when I started translating my books and a crazy cat lady. In fact, more than one of my characters have cats, as I can’t seem to stop them from popping up in my books. I am also a goth, thanks to my fascination with everything creepy, so while I am not really a vampire, though it would be awesome” she grins at this, “I do have a pair of fangs.”

Kelly laughed. “That’s awesome. So, before we get to talk about all your awesome stories and such, what languages do you translate to and from?” She raised her brows but then slowed her step as they came to a mansion in the middle of the woods hidden in overgrowth and shadows of the trees. Being the host of this interview, Kelly knew she had to lead the way. She’d be told it was abandoned—for the most part. She wasn’t sure what the latter end of that sentence met, but neither Kelly nor Raven could be harmed in this interview, so that was reassuring.

Leading the way up the steps of the front porch, Kelly automatically lifted her hand to knock but thought better of it and pushed the door open, which creaked on its hinges. Then she looked back at Raven and whispered. “This is so cool!”

Raven whispered back: “It is!” Poking her head into the house, hoping nothing would jump on her or eat her, though Kelly had reassured her that neither one of them could be harmed, she carefully walked in a step. “Beautiful! Oh, you asked me which languages I translate my stories from and to. I originally started writing in German as I am from Germany, but soon I realized a know a lot more people who speak English and would love to read my stories and support my writing. So I started translating my first book and while doing it, I came to realize that the book needs a lot of work, even after I edited it multiple times in German and that though my English isn’t that bad, I do need help here and there. My friend and fellow author Sharon Lipman had been a tremendous help so far. And you of course.” Raven smiled at Kelly. “I feel really lucky having such great author friends.”

Kelly shone the flashlight around the massive foyer of the room where dust clung to everything and cobwebs draped from pillars and in the corner of the ceiling, but she kept her thoughts on the conversation. “I’m glad you’re translating your stories because I don’t read German, and yes, I’d like to read your work.” She smiled at Raven but then headed down for the stairs—not really sure where she was going, but that was the fun of exploring. Still, she felt the need to whisper, “So…tell me about your stories. I mean, I know about them, but I need to ask. What’s the one you’re really wanting to get published first?” She then paused and glanced at Raven. “Sorry to ask more than one question at a time.”

“That’s fine. The one I would like to get published first, because it is the first part of my main series is “Blood Oath”, a story following a young woman whose sister was kidnapped by a vampire. She needs to team up with another vampire to save her. Of course she is not really happy about it. You are actually meeting my villain Michael next week. He is looking forward to it. While he is a truly bad person, he does have his reasons for his actions. And while I actually wanted to send my stories to publishers first and see if they take them, I have decided to self-publish. That way I get to keep the covers I made for the books. I am quite fond of the one I made for Blood Oath. It is actually the first one I don’t keep remaking. Cover artist problems I guess.” Raven laughed.

“And you do make the best covers ever!” Kelly exclaimed but then froze as her voice rang through the house. She shot Raven a look. “Yeah…if anybody’s here, but I bet they’re awake now. This should be fun.” She gave her friend a wolfish grin but then went on. “So,what got you into writing? When did you get serious about it?”

Raven glanced around. Well, if something was here, it might be in for a surprise. Like a smashed in head thanks to the heavy flashlight. “This might sound cliché, but since my sixteenth birthday I kept dreaming about my two main characters, Ethan and Ella. They kept appearing and I figured if I didn’t want to go mad, I had to get their story down. Over the years it has changed multiple times, and finally in 2010 I started telling people that I want to write a book. There was a lot of eye-rolling of course, but I actually finished the book and were able to laugh about everyone who doubted that I could do it. And I’ll be honest, it is a great feeling finishing a book.”

“That is a great feeling!” The two of them came into the banquet hall of the mansion where the table was still covered with a white linen clothe, all the silverware and plates in their place, and several candlesticks lining the center of the table. Spiderwebs from candle to candle, and a thick layer of dust coated the silver. Kelly kept her hands to herself but observed everything while keeping her attention on the topic. “So, you write about vampires? How are your vampires different from all the other vampire stories out there?” She tossed Raven a look, who was on the other side of the table exploring too.

Raven traced an antique looking candlestick with her fingers. “Oh, I don’t think that my vampires are different from other stories, not really, they still need blood, they avoid going outside at day when they can avoid it, due to their loss of power in sunlight and you kill them with a stake through the heart, though don’t tell them I told you that. I do have some unique details, as most vampire authors have, such as my vampires being immune to holy water and their ability to trace a person for quite some time if they drank their blood. I am hoping people will read my stories for my characters, that they will be the ones people want to know more about.” Raven looked nervous. “As a new author that does put a lot of pressure on me though.”

“But I know you have a story with a vampire that has awesome cats! I don’t read a lot of vampire stories, so I wouldn’t know, but I haven’t heard of a cat-loving vampire, so I personally love that unique detail.” Kelly smirked across the way at her friend as they finally came to the end of the table and stepped into the darkened corridor. Only the beams of their flashlights shone the way. “So…of everything you’ve written, do you have a specific scene that stands out as your favorite?”

“Oh right, the cats! I always tend to forget, that cats are not in each story.” Raven smirked. “I do in fact have two favorite scenes. One is a scene where my FMC Ella comes to ask my MMC Ethan for help, but because my vampires need to feed every day and he hasn’t been feeding for a week, he attacks her. Of course she comes out of this alive and relatively unscathed, but it shows a side of Ethan that is normally uncommon. He normally is protective of women, due to his past, he wouldn’t harm them at any cost, but the monster in him, the vampire, starved as it is, becomes unleashed and attacks her. And the second is the scene where the title comes from, the Blood Oath he swears to her, were he needs to bite her, and well, let’s say it feels very good to her. She lets him, even if it scares her and it is sexually charged scene. I kept glancing around to make sure no one reads over my shoulder while I was writing.”

“Yeah, definitely wouldn’t want anyone to read over your shoulder when writing those kinds of scenes.” Kelly nodded as they came to a door. Uncertain where it led, she pushed it open, expecting it to lead to another room, but instead it lead to an overgrown greenhouse garden. Kelly frowned as she shone her flashlight over the unkempt plants which broke through the glass of the ceiling while other plants hunched over. “This…was not what I was expecting.”

Kelly then glanced at her watched and pursed her lips. “Time’s up unfortunately, so we need to get going. It’s so frustrating because it feels like an hour hasn’t gone by!” She wagged her head. “But…let’s explore a little more.” Kelly motioned for Raven to follow as they crept their way through the garden. “Now, you also do book covers and other great art. How did that start?”

Raven pouted at her watch. The abandoned mansion must be screwing with the time. “Ever since I was a kid I loved to draw, well and write of course, so when I got my first computer and I heard of a free graphics program called GIMP I just needed it. My first few attempts were disastrous.” She chuckled. “And of course I had no clue about copyrights or the like. Luckily I didn’t try to sell anything. Well and somehow writing and making covers seemed to fit together fantastically. It was Sharon though who showed me the site selfpubbookcovers.com and I decided to sign up. By then I have been working with GIMP for about eight years already and with the help of the site’s (selfpubbookcovers.com) owner, who showed me all the right stock photo sites, I started making them professionally. And then I met you. Funny how it all works.”

“And I interviewed Sharon before. The character of hers I interviewed was also a vampire.” Kelly pushed aside overgrown limbs and branches. This was getting ridiculous! So Kelly finally stood back, motioned with her hand, and a path immediately cleared before them all the way to another door. “Thank you!” Kelly spoke as if to the garden but then glanced back at Raven as she led the way. “Have you two ever thought about doing a crossover?”

“Oh I love Sharon’s book! She posted the first chapter on Wattpad. Totally worth reading! Our vampires are vastly different though, so I am not sure if a cross-over would work. But we did talk about making an anthology with some other vampire writers. Since we both are relative new writers we are still a bit unsure and shy about sharing our prose and we both are not really experienced in writing short stories, as they always end in full novels. But it would be awesome having our characters meet some day.” Raven gave the “jungle” a skeptical. “I hope there are no spiders in there. Give me monsters any day, but if there is something with more than four legs in there, I am running the other way.”

At this Kelly laughed thinking of the spider she had found in her bed a few days ago after she had woken. “yes, hopefully no spiders.” At last, they made it to the door and pushed through, stepping back into the woods. Kelly looked back at the house and sighed. “I want to go back sometime and explore it more thoroughly. I hear there’s an old baby grand piano in the ballroom, but for now we have to get back.” She then led the way back to the path they had taken but didn’t rush as though contemplated what Raven told her. “As for you being a new writer and being shy with your prose and such, it is a good idea to have your writing style determined before merging it with another writer, but don’t ever let that hold you back. You never know what you’ll discover about your own writing. If you ever want to give it a try, let me know. I’ll show you an easy way to co-write.” Kelly grinned at Raven but then slowed to a halt as they came upon an open portal. “Well, there’s your path back home. Glad we were finally able to meet. I can’t wait to meet your character Michael!” She smirked at Raven.

“I’d love to co-write some time, but you are right, I really want to find my unique voice first and learn to work with it first, before I even think about writing with someone else! And Michael is really looking forward to meeting you, which actually worries me. Thanks so much for having me today, it was awesome! And say hi to Lorrek from me!” Raven smiled at Kelly, wishing she could stretch out the visit, but she knew she had to get back to her world.

Kelly smiled as she watched Raven step into the portal. She waited a moment and then spun around on her heel and crossed her arms as she glared at Vlad. “*Why* didn’t you reveal yourself to her? She’s a huge fan.”

Vlad the Impaler—also known as Dracula—raised his brow at her tone of voice but then shook his head. “Timing wasn’t right.”

“Timing?? You do realize she’s going to kill me, right? And I’ll never get to write your actual story.”

Vlad smiled. Kelly just glared. Ancient dead men could be impossible sometimes.

<~>~<~>~<~>

Raven Blackburn’s story is titled ‘Blood Oath’, and it is Book 1 in her series ‘Blood and Light’. No release date set for it yet, but you can read some of her work on Wattpad and follow her on social media here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RavenBlackburnAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RavenLBlackburn

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/RavenBlackburn

You can also find her work as a cover designer on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/RavenbornCovers/

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