My mother has a saying, “Switching gears is as good as a rest.” I took this bit of wisdom to heart in 2022. I’d written three romantic thriller series in a row and found myself feeling rather blah about writing another one. Don’t get me wrong, I love the thriller, suspense, and mystery genres. I love giving my protagonists a challenging mystery to solve, and I love putting them in danger while they do it. I have a fan base with expectations for a new thriller series, and I sure didn’t want to let them down.
However, I also recognized that it was time to do something different. I needed to change things up and switch gears. I needed to incorporate something new (to me) into my next series. I was low on creative energy, and the usual things (setting writing goals and being accountable to other writers) I did to jump-start my motivation to write weren’t working. Even brainstorming plots and characters with my writing friends didn’t help, until I added something new. A genre element that gave my main protagonist a whole new set of problems to deal with.
I added a paranormal element.
As soon as the thought occurred to me it was immediately followed by, but paranormal is dead. It’s over-done. I’ll lose readers. Unless…I put my own spin on it. I write damaged heroes. Men who’ve gone through horrible circumstances and come out the other side with long-lasting trauma. They’re flawed, stubborn, and sarcastic. The essence of my protagonists, because my female characters are often the same, didn’t need to change. What needed to change was the rules of the world they lived in.
What really got my creativity rolling was when my daughter asked me to write a vampire story. I rolled my eyes at that request, but then a thought occurred to me. What if I flipped the expected qualities of a vampire? Instead of a rich, powerful, and confident man who used his longer life span wisely, my vampire protagonist was the opposite of those things. Broke, shunned, and living in a well of regret. What if his hunger for power had resulted in the deaths of his wife and son, and he decided to punish himself for the rest of his very long life? What if there are only a few vampires, and becoming a vampire is only possible if the prospect has a very specific and rare gene?
If the greater world discovered them, one of two things would likely happen. One, they would be experimented on and used to find a way for everyone to become virtually immortal. Which would be a disaster. Most vampires become paranoid, obsessive compulsive, and controlling. Some of them lose their sanity entirely. Human beings were not designed to live for hundreds of years. Two, they’d be forced to become super-soldiers and die fighting in some stupid war.
The result of these what if questions is my new series, Sinners Never Die. The first book, Sinner’s Secret has this for a short pitch:
Bazyli Breznik used to rule the world, but now the centuries old vampire is at the bottom of the food chain. He’s broke and drives a yellow cab in NYC. He sleeps in the trunk. He’s an alcoholic. His only friends are drunks. He’s a murderer and believes he’s the most evil creature on earth. He’s wrong.
Here are some of the reviews from readers, old and new:
“Sinner's Secret by Julie Rowe offers a surprising twist on the well-worn vampire/supernatural/romance story. Thanks in large part to its main characters who are a far cry from the standard 'too beautiful to be real' male and the 'tough, but unable to trust female cop'. Julie Rowe avoids the cliches and instead gives us a story where the hero and heroine are full-bodied characters.” — Tracy Henshaw (Reviewer), NetGalley.
“I thought I had set vampires aside,
but that was so wrong because now Julie Rowe has ventured into vampire fiction!
As soon as I read the blurb, the anticipation began to build.
Readers, the anticipation was correct. This book was worth the wait! Baz is a beautifully imagined vampire. There is no bite followed by a dead, cold, hard body. There was an auto-immune disease, and I imagine many can relate to that. Baz is the curmudgeon you love- think Jason Momoa crossed with Clint Eastwood, being a Julie Rowe plot, there are plenty of exciting scenes (explosions and violence) as well as the other kind of exciting scenes. Nika was a perfect heroine to go along with Baz’s hero. His cousin and mom promise to be entertaining in a second story. I cannot wait for book two!” Reading Obsession (Educator), NetGalley.
“Legit a great action packed read for anyone wanting a different kind of vampire novel with some added in cop drama!” Miranda Austria, Reviewer NetGalley.
Switching gears creatively has made writing fun for me again, and I think that’s transferred to the page (many of the reviews mention how funny the characters are). When I’m done with this series, I will probably look for a new gear to switch to then.
Full-time author and workshop facilitator, Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the Northwest Territories and Fort McMurray, Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “Fiction has to be believable”.