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Interview with Robert S. Fuller Jr., author of Valerie: Daughter of the Dragon

Valerie Daughter of the Dragon Robert Fuller

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Tell us about Valerie: Daughter of the Dragon (Valerie Trilogy)
 On the surface, Valerie: Daughter of the Dragon is a gothic vampire romance, but beneath that, it’s about the search for one’s identity in a world they no longer recognize. While working on an upcoming gothic fashion show, Samantha Hammond is drawn to the mysterious clothing designer Valerie Ross. As their relationship deepens, Samantha learns that Valerie is not what she appears. The revelation, that Valerie is a 150 year-old vampire, thrusts Samantha into a world where vampires and witches exist around every corner. Further complications arise when Pamela Darius, a murderous adversary from Valerie’s past, uses Samantha and those around her as pawns in a deadly game of seduction, pain, betrayal, and death.

You say the book is about your character’s search for identity. All the best vampire books operate on more than a superficial level, don’t they?

Very true. Vampires have always been used as metaphors, where they were used to explore sex, death, mysticism, or even forbidden love. There’s a reason vampires exist as “creatures of the night”. They allow the reader, through the experiences of the vampire’s victims to witness what goes on in the shadows, or when “respectable” people are safely tucked away in their beds. In Valerie, the vampire offers my protagonist a chance to explore her sexuality and to search within herself for her identity. Only when my protagonist, Samantha, is able to free herself from what the world expects her to be, does she come alive.

So if you had to put it in box, what genre would you say the book is?

Valerie is being marketed as a sensual vampire romance, but due to some content, it can also be considered a paranormal romance.

And what kind of readers will that appeal to?

I wanted to create a vampire tale that involved the realities of the adult world, yet introduce a supernatural element as an additional obstacle for the character to overcome. The main characters are middle-aged adults, comfortable in their respective lives, but this stranger is introduced into their world to horrifying and tragic results. I also wanted to take the vampire genre from the YA reader and return some of the dread and terror that I remember from my youth.

That’s interesting, do you think vampire tales have gone too far towards the sappy and/or comical extremes in their desire to attract teenage readers? Is there still room for grown-up vampire novels?

Obviously, I’d like to believe that if you write an intelligent vampire story that connects with adults and speaks to them, then yes, there is still room. Let’s face it, adults and teens love the Twilight books, and as much as I’m more of a vampire traditionalist, what those books did was keep vampires interesting. Vampire fiction has been around since the 1700’s, so as long as there are fans of the genre and authors willing to offer something worth reading then why not. The challenge for us authors, willing to write grown-up novels, is to market them to grown-ups.

How long did this book take to write?

The road from finished manuscript to publication has been roughly 5 years, but the journey began over 20 years ago. Valerie actually took shape back in the 80’s. I wrote most of it while in high school as a way to pass the time. When I graduated I packed it up, and forgot about it. Several years later my wife found the original manuscript and encouraged me to finish it and find a publisher. Since then I’ve done several re-writes and edits to hone the story.

That long? What was the most challenging part of your creative process?

Knowing when enough is enough with regards to the editing process was the biggest challenge. Each time I went through it, I saw something different, or another facet that I wanted to explore. Valerie is a sprawling 720 page epic that contains enough twists and turns to keep the reader riveted until the end. I saw the path, but getting there through countless edits felt daunting, but was worth the challenge.

720 pages? What are your storytelling tactics for holding the reader’s attention for that many pages?

Over 700 pages for a debut book sounds a bit pretentious and long winded, but I really wanted to create an expansive world that lures the reader in, and engages them in a way that shorter books could not do. Valerie actually has three plot-lines that run simultaneously, and intersect at several points throughout the book. The first is the heart of the book, the story between the mortal Samantha, and her vampire lover Valerie. The second plot involves a splintered coven of witches, who live to serve Valerie and her family of vampires. Their leader has died, and Valerie must train a new Priestess to ascend to the head of the coven. Samantha’s 16 year-old neighbor, Sara, is the candidate and must undergo extensive training to learn about her mystic heritage. The third plot involves a deadly vampire assassin, Pamela Darius, who has been tracking Valerie for a century, and with each passing season has drawn close enough to finally hatch her plot to destroy Valerie, and return her own family to the vampire throne. All three plots contain enough twists, action, and suspense to keep the story moving along until they all come together in the final chapters.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I still live in the same Northeastern Ohio city that I grew up in, so much of my book has that Midwestern grit and realism. I’m an avid movie, music, and sports fan. I’m fortunate to have married my soul-mate, Jackie. She makes sure I stay grounded and has been a beacon of light when things looked the darkest. We have a 23 year-old son, Dustin, who is never shy about sharing his opinions on my writing. My two feline buddies, Meeps and Benny, make sure my feet never get cold while I’m writing. Bandit, a rescue dog we adopted 13 years ago, and my sounding board through much of the writing of Valerie, passed away a few months before I submitted the manuscript for publication, but I’m sure he would be pleased at the finished product.

How can we follow you on Facebook and/or Twitter?

Anyone looking for more information on Valerie: Daughter of the Dragon or any of the upcoming books in the trilogy can check out my Author Facebook page.

What about a blog?

I have a blog that readers can keep up with everything related to my book and also find reviews, and author guest posts. All they have to do is go to my website: www.robertfullerauthor.com and there they’ll find my blog link.

And where can we buy your book?

On Amazon (US, UK), and via CreateSpace.

You said something about this being a trilogy. Is that what’s up next?

Next up is Book 2 of the Valerie series, scheduled for an October 2013 release and the final book in the Valerie series will hit shelves in October 2014. After completion of the Valerie Trilogy, I have a few different genres that I want to explore including a crime thriller, and a true tale of horror set in a funeral home.

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