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Archive for September 2nd, 2008

Since I want to take this week to introduce you to the characters at the heart of my vampire-romance, DARK HUNGER, I’ve decided the best way to do that is to let them speak for themselves. Each day for the rest of the week here at Novel Thoughts, I’ll be bringing one of the cast front and center to answer your questions and tell you more about them. It will be sort of like a TV talk show, only without the annoying promises of counseling at the end of each segment.

To start off, I’d like to welcome Tessa Noble-Davenant to Novel Thoughts. The heroine of DARK HUNGER, Tessa is as much on the run from the Brethren as her twin brother, Brandon. Forced into an abusive marriage, pregnant with her husband’s child, Tessa is desperate to find a better life for her baby than the one she’s known, Tessa, thanks for joining us today!

Tessa: You’re welcome. I think.

Q: Readers are first introduced to you in the pages of “Dark Thirst.” Can you tell us a little bit about how you become a part of the story?

Tessa: I don’t know if I’d call it a story… A mess is more like it. Or a nightmare, maybe. The really horrible sort, where you wake up biting back a scream. My brother Brandon ran away from home, the horse farms in Kentucky where our people — a vampire race called the Brethren — have lived for centuries. No one ever leaves the farm, at least not without the permission of the clan Elders, and in particular, my grandfather, Augustus Noble.

Q: Leaving is forbidden among the Brethren? So why did Brandon?

Tessa: I think he’d finally had enough; finally felt like he had no other choice, no one to help him. And that’s probably my fault. When my family forced me into marriage three years ago, I pretty much left him alone there in our family’s house. He’s always been treated differently, like an outsider, ever since we were kids. He was hurt when he was young; some burglars beat him horribly, cut his throat…it was awful. We thought he was going to die. He survived somehow, but he didn’t heal right, not all of the way. He’s deaf and mute as a result…different from the rest of the Brethren. And I think a lot of them hated him for that. He grew up very mistreated, picked on a lot by our older brother, Caine, bullied by our cousins, looked down upon by our grandfather. He didn’t have a lot of allies in the house, people to look out for him, protect him. There was our father, of course, and when we were younger, there was me. And our grandmother, too, at least for awhile. Her name was Eleanor. I always thought she loved him…loved us both.

Q: What will happen to Brandon now?

Tessa: The Elders are hunting him. They’re like the Grandfather, the oldest, most experienced hunters among the Brethren. They’re very, very powerful — very strong physically, as well as telepathically. If they find him…if they catch Brandon, they’ll kill him. Or worse.

Q: What could be worse than death?

Tessa: For Brandon? Being brought back to Kentucky, to the Brethren farms.

Q: And what about you? Like Brandon, you’ve escaped the Brethren. Are the Elders hunting you, too?

Tessa: I’m not anywhere near as important to them as Brandon. He’s a man. Among the Brethren, that’s important — it’s probably the only thing that’s kept him alive so far. Women are worthless. We bear children, raise them, do the housework, keep things neat. But the men make the rules, have the final and only say. We’re just property to them, to treat…or mistreat however they want. The Elders are hunting me, but not because they want me. They want my baby, because it could be a boy. A son for my husband’s clan, the Davenants.

Q: When you left the farm, you left your husband, too. Is he worried about you, do you think?

Tessa: Martin? He doesn’t care about anybody except himself…and his bitch first-wife, Monica. Brethren families are polygamous. The men can have multiple wives, all through arranged marriages decided on by the clan Elders. My husband, Martin, has six wives, counting me.

Q: You don’t sound like there’s much love lost between you and Martin.

Tessa: There’s not. He…he would beat me sometimes. Sometimes a lot. I hate him for that. Among other things.

Q: It sounds like you have a lot of reasons not to trust the men in your life.

Tessa: I do, yes…well, except for Brandon, of course. And Rene.

Q: Rene?

Tessa: Rene Morin. He’s like me and Brandon…sort of. He’s half Brethren. His mother was human. He grew up thinking he was alone in the world, no one else like him, until he met me and Brandon. He has a lot of hang-ups…he’s sort of bossy…a smart ass…he drinks too much… But he took care of Brandon when he was hurt, and now he’s trying to take care of me and my baby, too…at least in his own way.

Q: You like him?

Tessa: (laughs) I wouldn’t go that far! I tolerate him. When he’s not being an asshole. We’re cooped up in a car together, driving from Louisiana to California. You have to at least pretend to get along with someone for that length of time, in that kind of small space. Otherwise you’d kill each other. Although Rene and I might just yet. Although…

Q: Although…?

Tessa: (laughing again) I have to admit, there’s something sort of charming about Rene Morin. God, don’t tell him I said so, though, or I’d never hear the end of it! It’s like when it comes to the baby, for example, he can be really gentle, sweet even. And it’s not like he’s unattractive or anything. Just the opposite, in fact. I think that’s what annoys me the most.

Q: Can he protect you from the Elders? From Martin?

Tessa: He has a gun. He says he can, anyway, but I’m not so sure. He doesn’t know what the Elders are like, what Martin is like, how strong they are. And since he’s half-human, they’ll be able to sense that about him. They’ll think he’s an abomination and try to kill him, too.

Q: And what about you? Will they kill you if they find you?

Tessa: No. At least not until I have this baby. But sometimes there are things worse than death, like I said. Having to go back to the Davenant farm, living with Martin, living with Monica again — that would be hell for me.

Q: Monica, Martin’s first wife?

Tessa: (nods) She hates me. And the feeling is mutual, I assure you. She’s always been jealous of me, jealous of my family, the Nobles, because my grandfather is dominant, the leader over the Brethren. I don’t think Martin ever had a thought in his head that Monica didn’t put there. I don’t know who it’s been better to finally be free of — him or her. I don’t want to raise my baby around them, any of the Brethren. They’re nothing like what a family’s supposed to be; Martin sure as hell isn’t a father.

Q: Is Rene?

Tessa: Rene…? Well, I…I don’t… (after a moment, smiling) Yes. Yes, Rene would be a good father, I think. Despite himself.

You can learn more about Tessa in “Dark Thirst” and “Dark Hunger,” the first two books in The Brethren Series from Zebra Books. Feel free to post questions or comments directly to Tessa or ask them of me — remember, if you do, you’re entered for the chance to win a signed copy of “Dark Thirst” at the end of the day today! Stay tuned tomorrow for more character interviews — up next, our reluctant hero, Rene Morin takes the stage!

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