Questions For Writers: Post-Game With Claire C Riley
In a time before BRAVE GODS was a thing, I posted some interview with fellow righters. Having deleted my old site, I wanted to keep come of the content.
This interview with Claire C Riley is from back in 2013 and shortly after the publication of her first novel, Limerence. Claire has since published the sequel, the successful Odium series of books, and has recently started working closely with Madeline Sheehan.
This is the original interview, retained for posterity and shame. The words have been kept to maintain the guilt and innocence of those very different people. The only thing that has been changed is the cover art for Limerence.
When it comes to vampires in literature, there’s not an awful lot that hasn’t been done. That’s why Limerence by Claire C Riley is such a refreshing read; Claire creates a dark, contemporary take on the vampire story that will send shivers down your spine and have you compulsively turning pages.
Claire was kind enough to answer some questions about Limerence and I decided to post them here.
THIS IS A POST-GAME INTERVIEW, SO THERE IS SOME INFORMATION HERE THAT YOU MIGHT CONSIDER A SPOILER. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
1) First things first: tell us about Limerence. A quick run-down of the plot and the characters and why we should like them before we get serious.
Well, my main MC is Mia Lawrence. She is happily engaged to her partner Oliver, and together they live in an apartment which is shared by Mia’s best friend Rachael. Things are going well for them all until the new owner of the Island, Mr Breckt, takes an interest in Mia. She feels a pull towards Mr Breckt, but her own conscience and love for her fiancé stops her from falling for his…ahem… charms. This only leads to anger and hatred towards Oliver, and a deep-seated obsession towards Mia for Mr Breckt. He can’t understand why she refuses him, no one ever refuses him, he’s, how do I put it? He has a way with the ladies.
The more Mia fights him, the more he wants her, and the more he wants her, the more he is willing to do anything to get her. His own obsession and arrogance is everybody’s downfall in the end.
2) Vampires. Let’s talk vampires. There are so many different incarnations of vampires, especially in recently published works. The vampires in Limerence walk that fine line between exotic friends and horrible monsters, somewhat like the vamps in Buffy or Anne’s Rice’s earlier novels. Where did you start building your vampires from? What pieces of lore and myth did you like, and what bits did you drop?
I love the idea of vampires and everything that they are about, and though I like things like Twilight, (I know, I know!) I prefer the more original plots and descriptions of vampires. The ones where they were sexy, dark, and dangerous. Not wussy and vegetarian!
I was sick of all the new takes on them, and wanted to go back to the roots of what vampires really were. Do you know originally they only thought vampires couldn’t go out in the daylight because vampires were secretive and would only kill at night. There was never anything to suggest that they couldn’t go out in daylight originally, people just presumed this as the bodies were always found in the morning. So I made Mr Breckt.
3) There’s quite a few similarities between Limerence and Dracula: a stranger (who just happens to be a vampire) moves to town. Am I imagining the similarities between Mia and Mina Harker?
No, you’re not imagining them, though it isn’t purposeful. Perhaps because I used Bram Stokers Dracula as my base-line for vampires the similarities were there. However, the name Mia is one I have always loved, I even had it pegged for one of my daughters at one point. The Island was a concept I came up with after watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the mysterious stranger just came about all on its own. The vampire thing if you think about it is more of a sub-plot than the actual story. The obsession is the story.
4) Mia’s a thoroughly compelling heroine, in no small part because she’s flawed and has a very human sense of guilt. Writers often say that characters take on a life of their own; was there any point where you found her doing something unexpected
No, for me Mia was the easiest to write. I wanted her to be as realistic as possible, flaws and all. I hate it when you’re reading a really good book and the character does something unrealistic. Or when you watch a film and the MC runs into the creepy dark house where the screams are coming from. I’m like, ‘fool, run the other way!’ ha ha. I didn’t want people to do that with my book, or if they did, I wanted them to know and have the reason as to why she was reacting that way- hence the multiple first person POV.
I guess I just thought about what I would do in that situation, how I would feel etc.
QUESTION 5 WAS ALL ABOUT THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR DESTINY…BUT IT’S BEEN DEEMED TOO JUICY AND SPOILERIFFIC
6) Breckt: a compelling monstrous villain if ever there was one, and I love how he becomes more (and more) monstrous as the book progresses, as if Mia (and the reader) is slowly losing the beer goggles. We all know villains are the most fun to write: was there any point where he worked his way under your skin, or where you were tempted to make him more likeable?
Great question. I’ve not been asked this before. Originally he was very likeable. He was friendly and down to earth and dating Rachael not Mia, but he was also an arrogant womaniser and when Mia showed she wasn’t interested that was where his infatuation started. I decided to make him more calm and calculating in the end though, as I thought his downward spiral would be more compelling than just a hot guy stomping his foot because some girl didn’t like him.
7) One of my favourite scenes in the book happens as Mia and Ollie are performing in the club: she’s thinking about Ollie, but Breckt is watching and convincing himself that her thoughts are only for him. You switch narrator like this throughout the book: was it difficult to get into the characters’ heads like this, or was it easier than you expected
I’m glad you liked that scene, that’s actually one of my very favourite throughout the book. It was fascinating to write to be honest. Imagining what each of them would be thinking. I tried to think about arguments people have and how everyone sees them form their own perspective, that’s where I got my inspiration from.
8) Limerence is quite a sensual book, especially once Mia’s transformation is complete. How did you feel about writing about death, the taste of blood, those sort of things?
I just wanted it to feel real. The horror; and yet the glory of it. Of how it must be to drink the blood, especially for a newbie. To kill and know it is wrong, but feel no remorse. To want someone to touch you so much, but restrain yourself. I guess a lot of it is the conflicting emotions that I tried to work with. It feels more like real life if you know what I mean. How many times a day do you make the right choice over the wrong one, yet you don’t ponder the thoughts that brought you to the decision. You should do, it’s fascinating.
9) And the sex… It’s quite a racy book, although none of the scenes are gratuitous. We really get a sense of the characters and their relationships based on what they do (or don’t do) with/to each other, and how they feel during it. How did you write/edit those scenes? Did you find yourself toning them down, or injecting even more spice into them?
It was originally A LOT hotter, but I toned it down. I didn’t want it to be erotica, but I did want it to have an adult tone to it. Then I toned it down too much and had to go and give it some more sex haha. The first EVER scene I wrote was when Ollie and Mia are in the hotel room and she can hear the guy next door with the prostitute. It was a lot dirtier, then it went very YA, somehow I managed to get it to a nice footing between loving and racy. I hope.
10) You’ve already thrown some ideas out into the ether for who you can see playing certain characters, and readers can see more on your own blog. You’ve quite a visual flair to the book, so if Limerence were to be adapted, how could you see it? Movie, TV show? Are there any directors or styles that either influenced Limerence, or that you’d like to see their take on it?
A movie would be perfect I think. Though I could be convinced of the TV show haha. I would love for Francis Ford Coppola to direct it. He directed the original Bram Stoker film, as well as The Godfather. He had the right idea with dark and sensual, and pushing boundaries, but keeping the storyline true.
11) Limerence ends leaving Mia in a very interesting predicament: you’ve obviously plans for the future, and have been quite open about a sequel. Can you tell us a little bit about what might happen in the future? If you can’t share about the plot, are there scenes or themes you want to explore?
Yes, I’ve already started the sequel. Though I keep getting dragged away from it by my other book- Odium.
Without giving too much away, there will be a lot more on The Queen and Mr San and what they are up to. A lot of the original sub-plots with conflicting emotions, but the difference being that Mia is fighting her inner demon. She loves Ollie still, but there is a predatory side to her now that she cannot deny. She hasn’t lost her humanity as such, but she loves what she is, she enjoys the feeling of power it gives her, but she does miss her old life and the people in it. She isn’t looking to be the person she was, but to find out who she truly is now and what that means for her. There’s a lot of new characters as well as some old ones to keep her threaded to the past, but she’s moving forwards now… she has no choice because of what she is.
12) Finally…for anyone who’s been reading and convinced to buy the book, tell us where we can get it.
It is also up for free loan for KDP Select members
13) Last but not least…sum the book up in five words.
Sexy, dark, obsessive, truthful, twisty. (or that’s what I hope)
Thanks for the interview, Ken. I really enjoyed answering these questions. Totally got me thinking, right off to do some more writing…
And there you have it. Y’all can thank Claire for answering the questions. And go get the book. Seriously…you’ll love it.
Huge thanks to Claire for letting me share this post again in 2015 and embarrass us both in the process.
Also published on Medium.