A big welcome to fellow Kiwi author Gillian St. Kevern as she celebrates the release of The Vampire’s Relic.
The Vampire’s Relic may be the fifth book in my series of standalone Gothic novellas, but in a few very significant ways it is my first.
First published book with a female narrator.
First published book with a lesbian romance centre stage.
First published book where I am not tying myself into anxious knots worrying about what people are going to think of it.
This is a really, really big deal.
As an awkward kid, I read to escape. Much later, as a writer, I wrote to escape. I’ve always been partial to the paranormal, fantasy (high or urban), sci-fi, possibly because no one was ever going to mistake me for a vampire, or an elf, or a werewolf. It was therefore a safe space for me to play around in without fear of judgement.
The overwhelming majority of narrators in my stories are male. Part of this is because the books I grew up on were pretty uniformly dominated by male-voices, even when written by women. There was an underlying assumption in the publishing world that while girls and women will read books with male narrators, boys and men will not read books with female narrators. Fortunately there has been push-back against this belief in recent years, helped a great deal by series like The Hunger Games.
But the bigger reason, the reason that I did not dare to acknowledge until recently, is that I have been afraid of people thinking my characters are me.
There is a large part of me in everything I write. Every character, intentionally or otherwise, has some part of me in them, every book reveals something of my world view, my underlying assumptions, my prejudices. It’s a fact of writing. But still, as an intensely private person, I worried about what each story said about me, how I would be judged, all of that.
Many years, many books and many conversations with friends, family and a therapist later, I’m at a stage where I am not worried about people seeing me in my stories. I’m still worried about lots of other things (and I’m sure that there will be future stories whose publication will scare the heck out of me), but I’m at a stage where I’m comfortable enough in my identity that I feel I’m strong enough to face whatever assumptions people made. More than that, I’m committed to not letting my fear of judgement holding me back from writing the stories I want to write.
I love Hester kind of a lot. I adore Vanda. I even enjoyed Kitty. The thought that these three awesome women could still be sitting on a shelf, waiting for their time to tell their story, annoys me. Why did it take me so long to get to this point? Why did it have to be a journey at all?
I can kick myself over that later. For now, I’m just happy with my new release.
Blurb: Does a vampire ever really die?
Actresses Hester Wilson and Kitty O’Hara have taken some strange gigs in their careers, but their latest is something else. The aptly named Lord Cross has hired them to investigate the disappearance of Leighton, his secretary. Kitty’s convinced this opportunity will secure their fortunes. Hester’s not sure. The more she hears about Leighton, the more skeptical she becomes. It’s the 1870s, after all. Who in their right mind believes in vampires, let alone voluntarily hunts them?
Countess Kohary, Vanda de Szigethy, is beautiful, charming, secretive—and cursed. Wherever she goes, sickness and dead bodies follow. Cross believes she has a hand in Leighton’s disappearance, but when Hester takes a position in Vanda’s household, she discovers a woman fighting the cruel legacy of her late husband. Vanda’s desperate struggle wins Hester’s admiration, even as her strange beauty casts an almost hypnotic spell. Is Vanda victim or vampire? Can Hester discover the truth in time to save Leighton? And what will it take to end the vampire’s legacy for good?
About the Author:
As a teenager, Gillian St. Kevern was frustrated that the characters in the stories she read never did what she wanted them to. Now she’s an author, they still don’t. Gillian writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, YA, vintage mystery, and contemporary comedy. Her stories reflect a variety of LGBTQIA experiences. Gillian is a member of RWNZ and co-founder of New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers.
Read By Candlelight is a collection of stories loosely inspired by the works of M R James, J S Le Fanu, Anne Radcliffe, and other writers of gothic literature. If you’d like to learn more about Gillian’s writing, visit her website or on social media