Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I’m a wife, a mom to toddler twins, and I work full-time in a job I love, which means I wake up early and stay up late so I can be a writer too. Blood Vine is my debut novel, and the first one I wrote, although I’ve completed its sequel now too. It’s a paranormal romance, and it has everything I love in a novel: smitten heroes, mystery, history, a gorgeous setting on a California winery, and of course, my all time favorite—gruff and sexy alpha vampires.
Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
What a great question. Since Blood Vine is my debut, I haven’t received many reviews yet. I do plan to read them, because I may be able to learn something. But, I have read plenty of negative reviews of books I absolutely loved, and that tells me you can’t please everyone. In the genre of romance, every story has already been written at least a bazillion times. The only thing that sets authors apart is when they risk writing something different, and that means not everyone is going to like their work. I aimed to do that in Blood Vine, and I just hope the right audience for Blood Vine will find it.
How did you come up with the idea of Blood Vine?
I’m very cerebral about inspiration, and then the emotional core of the story follows. I research online, I read non-fiction, and I rifle through everything I know about a mythological creature or a time in history until something grabs me. With Blood Vine, it was the idea of a vampire disease caused by exile from the homeland. And I knew the setting was also crucial—I love romance novels where the couple is cooped up together—so I set Blood Vine in a big estate house on a winery.
Once I settled on this premise and setting, the characters and conflicts just emerged, like they were real people waiting to be discovered. I could layer on all the emotion and sexual chemistry that would make readers care about the premise I’d devised. Since I finished Blood Vine, I have written two more novels, and discovered this is the method to my muse’s madness.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
I cheated on this one and made my husband answer. He said, “Vivacious, funny, and smart.” Yes, I know he is flattering me, and I rewarded him generously!
How much of the characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
The heroine of Blood Vine, Zoey Porter, sees the world very much the way I do. She is efficient, pragmatic, assertive, and is secretly tender and funny. But, she’s different than me in that she’s isolated, numb, and has walled off her broken heart. She’s not an autobiographical character by any means, but she is very much how I imagine I would be, if I’d been through what she suffered. Maybe that’s normal for a first book. The heroines I have written since I created Zoey is vastly different from either one of us.
If you could meet anyone and spend an hour with them alive or dead who and why?
It probably sounds cliché, but I’d like to meet Jesus. People have a lot of assumptions about him. They can’t possibly all be right, and yet, there must have been something remarkable about him that caused people to give up everything and follow him. I would really like to experience that mysterious thing.
Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Complex, mystical, sexy, divided, unexpectedly funny
Who would you cast for a movie as your main characters?
I’m not telling I think it’s better to leave room for the readers’ imaginations. I learned this lesson when it was time to decide between two covers. The art department at Omnific had done a great job designing this lovely one and another that featured a headshot of a very sexy guy. So I did a little survey at my office, and even though my coworkers found the model handsome, they all preferred the one with the woman. I call it the When Harry Met Sally cover. Women have different tastes in heroes, but we all want what she’s having. (If you have never seen When Harry Met Sally, it’s SO worth watching, especially for the scene I am talking about.)
What scene was your favorite to write?
The scene when Andre and Zoey have sex for the first time is actually my favorite chapter I’ve written, ever. The where and how they do it feels perfect to me—the perfect expression of why they want each other, and don’t, and who they are and who they could be. So much happens in that scene, besides just a bit of flesh on flesh. To me, nothing is worse in a book than when characters you love have sex that feels very generic and impersonal. And since I wrote this scene with Andre and Zoey, I have a high bar for any other characters I write. I always tell them, “We can’t just go through the motions!”
In Blood Vine, bites are an inconvenient bliss, exiled vampires are wasting away, and the fate of their kind depends on the perfect PR campaign.
When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can’t forget. After her husband’s suicide, Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again. But can she walk away from the intriguing winemaker a second time?
Driven from Croatia by his ancient foes, vampire Andre Maras has finally made a blood-like wine to cure his fellow refugees. Now he needs Zoey’s PR expertise to reach them. After his wife’s death, Andre has a vow of his own—never to risk another painful blood bond. And one taste of the tempting Zoey would bind him to her eternally.
His secrets stall her PR plans. Her jealousy is stoked by the blissed-out beauties leaving his bedroom. At every turn, he utterly fails to resist her. When she discovers he is a vampire, will she be lost to the golden-eyed Hunters, or lose herself to the emptiness in her heart, before she can help him save his kind?
Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.
With a B.A. in comparative religion and an M.A. in theology, Amber is a Christian minister and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to Amber. She believes the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire.
Amber is addicted to vampire stories, but loves to read all kinds of romance and literature. Her favorite books examine history and cultural origins, like Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, or Salmon Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. And, yes, she was named after that Amber, of the classic romance novel Forever Amber.
From the wine country of Sonoma County to the foggy neighborhoods of San Francisco, all of Amber’s fiction is set in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children.
One lucky commenter will win a copy of Blood Vine. Leave a meaningful comment below and a way for us to contact you if you should win. Thank you!