Do you remember New Voices 2010? Boy, I sure do. That’s also where I met Lindsay J Pryor and got a chance to read a few of her wow-factor chapters. Now here she is, with her brand new book Blood Shadows! Way to go Lindsay!
I recently had a conversation with an artist friend. I asked him if he’d ever like to do a solo exhibition of his work. He responded that he paints for himself and not others – that’s how he produces his best work. He’s an active member of local art groups, enjoys teaching and promotes others’ work, but he has no great desire to have his own on someone’s wall. If he concerns himself with what others will think, of what might be saleable, he’ll lose what makes his art what it is. The conversation triggered memories of my somewhat long journey to publication.
It was twenty-one years ago that I wrote my first paranormal romance. I was seventeen at the time. I’d already been into vampires for years ever since I’d seen The Little Vampire on TV. I was instantly hooked by this other world living undetected alongside humans and all that came with it.
I began writing paranormal romance because, at that time, I couldn’t find it in my local bookshop. Anne Rice was in the horror section. Paranormal romance/urban fantasy shelves didn’t exist. I wasn’t surprised: vampires weren’t supposed to fall in love – they were supposed to bite you and run off into the night with their cloak flapping behind them. No one I knew ever talked about vampires let alone read about romantic ones.
I was already hooked by the concept though and continued writing my stories until, in my early-twenties, I started to consider seeking publication one day. I’d quickly resolved that I was never going to get published writing my kind of love stories. Instead it would remain my ‘quirk’ whilst I wrote scripts, poetry, short stories, a series of children’s books and a full-length children’s novel.
I’d left home by this point to take up my first teaching post. I’d moved to a big city over 300 miles away from everything I knew. Walking home one night, I got lost in a very isolated and run-down part of the city. Iron bars were on windows. Metal shutters were on doors. The place was dead. I was terrified, but the idea for Blackthorn was born – dark paranormal stories set in an urban, gritty backdrop of social unrest, where vampires brush shoulders with humans. I’d have a dystopian world where humans were calling the shots, where there was segregation and prejudice.
Over time, Blackthorn developed into a backdrop for dark and intense romances focusing claustrophobically on the hero and heroine who, incidentally, had no place falling in love with each other. Oh yes, a publisher was going to snap those up – absolutely not. I didn’t even know how to categorise them let alone where to sub them.
Instead I focused my attention on a project I thought might actually get onto shelves one day. I spent years on it, cramming a ridiculously epic supernatural thriller into every spare hour between a full-time demanding job and trying to keep some semblance of a life. And every time an inevitable but unwelcome romance started to evolve between the two main protagonists, I’d cut the scenes and rewrite. And rewrite. The story was finally left with no heart, no soul.
Every time I needed a reprieve from the frustration, the endless plot-knots, I’d go back to my Blackthorn stories. Over the years, I’d developed notebooks full of plotlines, characterisations and background information. I wrote novellas to test the characters – to see if they worked on page, to see if they’d spark. I thought I’d get bored, but the ideas and the potential just kept coming. A whole multi-layered world was taking shape – a world that had become tangible to me.
And then I’d get back to ‘The Novel’.
That was until everything changed for me back in 2007 when my dad lost his seven-year battle with aggressive multiple myeloma. After years of living on the knife-edge of hope that a miracle cure would be found, I saw firsthand the human condition in all its vulnerability and limitations. Anyone who has been through that kind of tragedy knows it makes you see the world very differently. Another personal tragedy only a few months later and never had I been so aware of how precious life is and how important it is to chase your dreams. My Dad had already told me that in one of our last conversations: to make sure I did what I wanted to do in life.
I pulled out all my scribbles and started to construct full-length novels for the Blackthorn series. Like my artist friend described, I absorbed myself in the pleasure of the stories with no worries about audience or future publication. I went back to writing for me.
By that time paranormal romance was well and truly a genre of its own. In 2010, I saw that Harlequin Mills and Boon were running a writing contest called New Voices and were accepting paranormal romance. Best of all, they were offering editorial feedback for runners-up. So I tentatively entered one of my Blackthorn stories – Blood Roses. I got into the final.
A year later, while I was still waiting for editorial feedback, I entered the competition again with another Blackthorn story – Beguiling The Enemy (now Blood Shadows). I got into the final again. The response was amazing and I was soon inundated with requests from readers to get both stories published.
Over the next few months, I polished up both novels and researched agents and publishers. I’d just started to sub when I was approached by Bookouture (founded by ex-Harlequin marketing controller Oliver Rhodes). They requested both manuscripts and fell in love with them. Soon after, I was offered a three-book deal for the first books in the Blackthorn series.
To top off what has been amazing three months for me, a major film company requested the book the day after the press release of my signing. Okay, so I won’t let myself get too excited – I know countless books get requested. But I will get excited about potential new vampire films being scouted. For someone like me whose passion for vampires has spanned almost thirty years and is still as intense as ever, that’s fantastic news – let alone for newbie paranormal fans already working their way through everything books, films and TV shows have to offer in the genre.
I guess I spent years trying to find my glasses (figuratively speaking) when they were on top of my head all along. I don’t regret it though. I learned a lot along the way – not least that you have to write the stories you have a passion for. If you love your characters – whatever they are – if you take them on a journey and root for them every step of the way, it will shine through. Know your voice, use it as only you can and hopefully one day you’ll find your audience. If not, you’ll certainly have a lot more fun trying!
Okay RU Writers and Readers! What dream should you be following that you’ve been pushing to the side?
Come back on Monday and find out what RU founder Kelsey Browning has been up to!
Bio: Lindsay J Pryor is a British Paranormal Romance author who writes dark, intense stories set in the dystopian world of Blackthorn.
Find Lindsay online at www.lindsayjpryor.com or on twitter @lindsayjpryor
“An intoxicating blend of danger and sensuality – Lindsay J. Pryor easily earns a place alongside Paranormal Romance’s best writers!” Michele Hauf
“An incredible voice for paranormal.” Rhyannon Byrd
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