A young adult urban fantasy novel by Amalie Howard

an excellent choice for any age

The Story Behind the Story

I’d like to say that Bloodspell was born out of some epic event in my life, out of some life-changing moment that had cosmic implications, ones that drove me to expel this work from my insides. But that would just be so far from the truth, it would be a work of fiction in itself. The truth is, I wrote this book because I love supernatural fantasy. I love witches. I love vampires. I love romance. And I especially love kick-ass heroines.

Stephen King once said, “Books are a unique portable magic,” and I wanted to create a bit of magic of my own. I wanted to write the kind of story that weaves a spell around you and causes you to turn page after page huddled under the covers at three in the morning, the story that triggers that desperate feeling of wanting to skip to the last page just to know what happens, and you can’t help yourself when you do. I wanted to write a story that makes you not just fall in love, but keeps you in enthralled through its entire journey, and one that when you finally get through it (at six in the morning and late for work), you’d say, “that was awesome!” The story that hit that spot, you know: the one where you get the tingles on your arms and you speed-read because you can’t bear to wait another second to discover what happens next. And then you stop and go back because you know you’re cheating yourself, and you force yourself to slow down, reread it, enjoy it … love it. I wanted to write one of those books.

I’ve always loved writing. I remember carrying around a small bound workbook that I wrote in painstakingly almost daily when I was a child. Those pages had stories about everything; stories cooked up by an overactive imagination and fueled by other books I devoured voraciously. I read anything and everything, from Grimm’s fairy tales to Greek mythology. The darker, the better! I’ve always loved the lure of the unknown, the combined beauty and horror of the mythical, the sensory seduction of all things magic. As a child, having spent many years of my life in the Caribbean, an area of the world so rich in occult folklore, I had more than enough inspiration. Word of mouth tales of voodoo or West Indian sorcery called Obeah, tales of the Soucouyant, a supernatural beast disguised as an old woman by day and a blood-sucking creature by night—those stories thrilled and terrified, and I always wanted more.

I supposed you could say that Bloodspell was the product of years and years of story-hoarding … a dormant volcano, if you will. Because one day, after coming back empty-handed from a book-store trip searching for something new to read, I got out my laptop and proceeded to write a story about a girl who learns that she’s a witch, and one capable of destroying the world as we know it—no half measures here! That story then combined with earlier stories I’d written, and Bloodspell was born.

My protagonist’s task is daunting, because not only is Victoria just a girl trying to find herself, she has this extraordinary power that overshadows everything else, when all she wants is to be normal. Parts of Victoria are me, but she’s also every girl out there who has to make the most of what she’s got to be happy. To put things in perspective, you have a girl who loses everything she holds dear in her young life, and then learns she has a power beyond anything she’s ever imagined—what could that do to someone? It could either destroy them or make them stronger, right? But this isn’t a black and white event—it’s a process, and one of learning and of trial and error. It’s life. Our choices determine who we are, and when we embrace that, that’s our process of becoming. Bloodspell is Victoria’s story of becoming.

To make things a touch more exciting (as if they aren’t challenging enough), Victoria falls for Christian, and he’s a vampire. I’ve always loved vampires (well, my version of vampires anyway)—they’re sexy, mysterious, and hot, with that scintillating underlying element of danger. What is with us girls and the bad boys we love to hate and hate to love?! The thing about Bloodspell is that it’s not just a paranormal love story between a witch and a vampire, it’s also a metaphor for loving anyone that isn’t from your world, or culture, or background, or class. Face it, we see it more and more every day. At least I do. I’m of Indo-Caribbean decent and I married a white Australian man—I swear my grandmother had a heart attack. But then again, she came from a very different generation to mine. We all make choices in love, and although they may be difficult choices whose consequences may mean that we have to walk on proverbial eggshells with everyone else, we do it because we MUST … just as Victoria and Christian are compelled to do.

Moving on, a good love story isn’t complete without strife. So you always have to include the people on the periphery who make everything just a tad more difficult—the envious friend, the judgmental parents, the ex. We’ve all been there at some point or another in our lives. My first crush fell for my best friend. I can’t even express the anguish my untried teenage heart suffered. I remember standing at my window, an awkward and gauche fifteen-year-old, peeking from behind my curtains at the boy next door, a painful lump in my throat that I could barely swallow around. It was sadly, unrequited love, and still remains a bittersweet memory. But oh, the fountains of poetry that experience produced! But I digress.

So now enters the ideal boyfriend. Ok, fine, my ideal boyfriend is not a vampire. Let’s think of him as a metaphor—the guy from the wrong side of the supernatural tracks. Christian combines the good and the bad, just by default of what he is. He’s what I call a “reluctant vampire searching for redemption,” and that in my opinion, humanizes him. He can’t help who or what he is, but he can try to change how he perceives himself and how he is perceived—evil, after all, is only a state of mind. Lucian on the other hand, Christian’s twin brother, revels in his dark nature and delights in being a vampire. He’s power-seeking and dangerous. I actually didn’t set out thinking about their names and what they represented when I wrote the novel, although it has since been pointed out to me—Christian and Lucian as in Christ and Lucifer; the opposite ends of good and evil.

One of Aesop’s fables tells a story about the Scorpion and the Frog where the scorpion begs a frog to take him across a river and promises not to sting him. In the middle of the river, the scorpion stings the frog, and as they both drown, the frog cries, ‘why did you sting me? Now we will both die.’ The scorpion remarks, ‘I can’t help it; it’s in my nature to sting.’ I disagree with this in some sense because I have to believe that Christian can somehow best his own dark nature, and that the possibility of redemption for him is real. Metaphorically speaking, if we receive a bad lot in life, does that mean we can’t change who we are for the better? I’d sincerely hope not.

And now, the million-dollar question—do I believe in magic? A resounding ‘yes’ ensues! I do believe there’s quite a bit in the world that we can’t account for with scientific or logical explanation. I believe that magic exists all around us, but it’s something that you have to believe in or you’ll never know it’s there. Like I said, I grew up reading stories about magic so it’s always been a huge part of my life, whether it’s real, symbolic, or metaphorical. The universe is too far-flung and too far-reaching for me not to believe in something just because it isn’t tangible. It’s also a matter of interpretation—I feel magic every time a baby laughs, and in the Disney tradition, perhaps it’s entirely possible that a fairy is born when a baby laughs. Who are we to dispute that? Logic is overrated.

I’d like to hope that any of my readers can identify with my characters. Even though their story is set in a supernatural world, underneath it all—it’s still just a story about a girl who must come to terms with who she is, and the boy who will risk everything he is to love her.

Sink your teeth in, and embrace the magic!

Autographed bookplates are available. Open internationally. One bookplate per person, please!
Please send me your contact details (including your full name for envelope addressing) via the contact form below as well as the name you would like me to personalize on the bookplate.
Enjoy reading Bloodspell!

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