Writing BLOOD VINE
By Amber Belldene
A few weeks ago, one of my priest-friends was late for our colleague group and when we called her to inquire where she was, she was surprised—she’d gotten caught up in reading Blood Reunited and lost track of time. I was, of course, insanely flattered by this turn of events. When she arrived, she gushed about the book, but instead of letting my ego inflate, I had begun to panic.
“It’s so good,” she said.
“But, is it better than the other book you just read?” She had recently read a draft of my work-in-progress, which is a book I’ve been gestating for years. I call it the book of my heart, and when I’m feeling grandiose after a couple glasses of wine, I’ve even called it my magnum opus. I was certain that new book was the best thing I’ve ever written.
She knows all this, and so she winced when she made her confession. “Honestly, yeah. I liked Blood Reunited better.”
“But why!?!” I think I might have actually said exclamation mark-question mark-exclamation.
“It’s the characters. After three books, I love them so much. I’ve been with them for so long, been through so much with them.”
Okay. She had a point there. I had blubbered, balled, and gushed when writing “the end” of the Blood Vine series. It was so emotional and cathartic, taking those characters to a hard-won happy ending.
The Blood Vine series is about four separate couples, but it is also about a family—about how they interact, dole out shit talk and make hard sacrifices for each other. It’s about an ancient conflict and a struggle for peace. And oh yeah, it’s about wine, which I happen to love.
The books have a huge cast of characters and by the end, you know them all very well. Somewhere along the way, I worried I was nuts when I began to feel like I was actually a part of the ensemble, one more wacky member of the Maras family. I think some readers have felt that way too, and I’m proud of that as a writer. I love the idea of readers being drawn in so much that they feel they are part of the gang, right there at the Kastel Estate Winery.
Perhaps it is this feeling of belonging for me as the writer that made it so sad to end the series after three books. Some of my readers didn’t want it to end either. One of my favorite reviews on Amazon says, “Hope, pray, demand--okay, even beg--for the series to continue.” Again, insanely flattering and touching. If only it were possible! But I always planned this series to have a clear plot arc. I personally want to read tight, overarching conflicts, not meandering series, and so that is what I wrote. In fact, the story is so “finished” that I struggled about how to add a short story about Pedro and Lucas, my M/M star-crossed lovers. It took a while, but I finally figured it out, so look for it in the boxed set!
And after that, I’m saying farewell to the Blood Vine world, unless my muse changes her mind. I hope all my readers will come along with me to the new worlds I build, and feel just as much a part of them in time.
About the Author
I grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when I could pull myself away from a book. As a child, I hid my Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on me when I preach these days.
I’m an Episcopal Priest with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. I believe stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it’s strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to me, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. I write paranormal, historical and contemporary romance and live with my husband and two children in San Francisco.
My literary agent is the fabulous Becca Stumpf of the Prospect Agency.