About the author: “Margie Fuston grew up in the woods of California where she made up fantasy worlds that always involved unicorns. In college, she earned undergraduate degrees in business and literature and a master’s in creative writing. Now she’s back in the woods and spends all her time wrangling a herd of cats and helping her nephews hunt ghosts, pond monsters, and mermaids. She’s the author of VAMPIRES, HEARTS & OTHER DEAD THINGS (out now) and CRUEL ILLUSIONS (September 2022).” (Bio from the author.)
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Margie Fuston: It feels absolutely wonderful. Sometimes I forget that my book is out there and anyone can read it now. It’s a bit surreal. To celebrate, I got some really good food because I always celebrate with food. My love of good food probably comes across in the book too!
MF: Damon. He’d definitely kill me, but I’d be okay with it.
MF: A hard one! I have to go with Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr.
MF: Death Dealer! I love Buffy, but I really want Selene’s outfit.
MF: I always knew that I would write about grief and losing someone to cancer, but I really wasn’t planning to tackle that topic so early on in my writing career. This is very unromantic, but there was a moment when agents were starting to ask for vampire stories again, and I asked myself how I could make a vampire story really unique, and this very desperate character popped into my mind, and I loved the idea of vampires representing hope and life.
MF: Thank you! To be honest, that just came pretty naturally to me. If I’m going through something terrible, I’m probably cracking a lot of jokes about it, so I really wanted to show how those moments of lightness can help someone get through something awful.
MF: I love this question because I had so many I didn’t get to use! It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but I love Chapter 18: “If you kiss me right now, will I live forever?” from Byzantium. One of my favorite quotes I didn’t get to use was also meant for Chapter 18: “This isn’t some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don’t wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after.” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They both really suited that chapter, and it was torture to choose between them. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I had too many Buffy quotes.
MF: The depth of their bond really surprised me. Victoria’s going through something extremely difficult, but Henry’s watched his mother go through a similar pain, so I think he understood Victoria’s actions on a level that not everyone is going to understand, which is why he sticks by her even when Victoria makes some bad choices, and Henry gets hurt in the process, but he understands why she’s doing those things better than she does at some points. His love for her surprised me in the best way.
MF: Nicholas is a character that came to me pretty quickly. I knew I needed someone to offer Victoria something else she needs in this moment of her life, and that needed to be more than just the secret to immortality. He challenges her to live and feel when she’s trying desperately to escape her emotions. Henry’s challenging her to feel things too, but he wants her to feel the grief she’s running from, and Nicholas wants to show her she can feel joy too. They’re both so essential to how she grows as a character, but I think Victoria and Nicholas end up opening each other up in a beautiful way.
MF: I knew pretty quickly that New Orleans was going to be the perfect setting because not only is it a place full of vampire legends, it’s also a place that’s full of life. I wanted a setting that challenged Victoria’s desire not to feel. I absolutely loved every second of researching this book. I actually had no idea what the plot would be before I went to New Orleans, but all the challenges that Nicholas gives just fell into place as I experienced the city. But my absolute favorite part was the food!
MF: That was also something that came to me while visiting New Orleans. I, of course, had to go into a bookstore I wandered by in the French Quarter, and it had a wonderful selection of poetry that sparked the idea for how Nicholas would unfold his secret: underlining words in poems that Victoria would receive after completing challenges, and at the end, she’s able to put those words together into one final poem. That was one of the hardest parts of the book: finding poems that were meant to say something to Victoria that also had the right words to create that final message.
MF: I absolutely love Pitch Wars. It’s a mentorship program where, if selected, you work with a mentor to revise your manuscript over the course of four months. I had two mentors who are absolutely fabulous people, and they really pushed me to dig into the emotional depth of the story. At the end of Pitch Wars is the agent round that showcases your pitch and the opening of your novel and agents can then request the full manuscript. I was lucky enough to sign with an amazing agent only a week after the showcase. We sold the book six months later. I always knew I wanted to mentor when the time was right, so once my book sold, I applied, and now I’m on my second year as a mentor. It’s a wonderful program that I highly encourage writers to look into.
MF: Drafting has always been my favorite, and it still is because I love falling headfirst into a new story for the first time, but now that I’ve gone through the many revisions that the publishing process requires, I have a new love for editing and seeing how careful attention to detail can pay off.
MF: CRUEL ILLUSIONS is also about a girl looking for vampires, but she has a completely different perspective than Victoria. Where Victoria sees vampires as possible saviors, Ava only sees them as death, and the book is partly about challenging that perspective. It definitely dives way deeper into a vampire world and reads more like fantasy. So it’s a lot different than VAMPIRES, HEARTS & OTHER DEAD THINGS, which really reads more like a contemporary.
PRR Writer, Erika Brittain