An interview with Colleen Gleason, author of The Rest Falls Away and Rises the Night
By Nancy L. Horner
I’m not the typical vampire-novel reader, so when I purchased a copy of The Rest Falls Away, it was admittedly on a whim. Author Colleen Gleason was among the first people to visit my book-review-and-chatter blog, and we had conversed a bit through our blogs. At the time of its release, I hesitated to order The Rest Falls Away, merely because vampires are not “my thing”. But, when I happened across a copy at my local bookstore, it passed my random passage flip-test with flying colors and I realized I truly wanted to read it anyway, if only for the sake of supporting an author I already knew I liked.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book and the quality of writing. The Rest Falls Away is an excellent blend of action, adventure, romance and historical fiction. Colleen’s second book, Rises the Night, is a bit darker but also packed with adventure and tremendously fun reading.
I still had to wonder, though, after batting emails back and forth with Colleen, what she’d truly be like in person. What kind of person writes books with a vampire-slaying Regency-era heroine? Would she be dark and mysterious like the subject matter of her books?
The answer, in this case, is that the author is a petite, effervescent and delicate beauty with dark curls and an air of graceful self-assurance. Colleen and I met at California Pizza Kitchen in Ann Arbor’s Briarwood Mall for lunch, she wearing a “Born Venator” t-shirt -- a reference to her vampire-slaying heroine. She showed her quirky side by ordering her tea significantly watered down and just about all of her salad toppings on the side.
Colleen and I had exchanged emails rather than speaking by phone, so I was also surprised to find that she talks a blue streak; Colleen is an incredibly fun and bubbly person. In fact, she peppered me with so many questions that I had to remind myself just who was supposed to be the interviewer and who the subject in order to inject a few choice questions into our conversation.
Colleen has written nine novels. There are five books in the Victoria Gardella vampire series; and, at the time we spoke, she had sold four of the five titles. The next novel in the series is The Bleeding Dusk, which is due to be released in February of 2008. I asked Colleen, first, if she has always written - the first question that usually comes to my mind. “Oh, yes,” she said. We discussed the fact that not writing is much like a traffic jam, that the need to purge simply continues to build, even if there’s something that prevents her from finding writing time. She said not all authors think blogging is worth the time, but she enjoys writing her blog in addition to her fiction.
Because Colleen regularly answers questions about her series on the blog and she has been widely interviewed, I asked her if there was anything specific that she desired to get across to readers.
There were three particular points Colleen was anxious to explain. Readers, Colleen said, often leave the books with entirely different impressions of Victoria, the vampire-slaying heroine who has made the painful choice between living an ordinary life or taking on the role of vampire slayer, a job she has inherited from the Gardella family. Some feel that Victoria is too far ahead of her time; others feel that she gives in to societal demands a little too completely.
So, what exactly was Colleen trying to get across to readers?
First, “People change history because they’re different.” The reader should not expect Victoria, then, to either bend entirely to societal expectations or to forge too far ahead of them. Instead, she is forthright enough to become a changing force without breaking so far out of the mold that she would be completely unable to fit in. Victoria does, in fact, move smoothly from the fancy balls to London’s dark alleys and, later, to the even darker underground world of an Italian secret society.
Second, “Women want to have everything, but Victoria has to sacrifice.” This, Colleen emphasized, is true of every woman. But, in Victoria’s case, the sacrifices fit the time period. Victoria lives in a social class where the whirl of parties and balls is designed with the particular goal of marriage and family within or above her social class -- and Victoria is forewarned that marriage and life as a Venator do not go hand in hand. She must choose, then, between living a normal life and settling down with husband and family or adopting the life of a Venator. In so doing, she chooses between the sacrifice of a normal life or the lost chance to help potentially save lives. Regardless of what decision she makes, Victoria must make a sacrifice.
Third, Colleen says, “I have a huge admiration for people who care for us; and, Victoria is one of those obligated.” Victoria’s “job” as a vampire slayer is a caring job, she says, much like that of police, paramedics, and other emergency personnel -- her vampire-slaying serves to protect the innocent from death or the fate of becoming an immortal being who must feed off the living. This is a very important issue to Colleen because her brother, who also lives in Michigan, is a firefighter.
Colleen told me about her plan for the progression of the series, without giving away the ending. In addition to the gentleman Victoria falls in love with in the first book, there are two very tempting men of dubious character to whom Victoria is eventually attracted: Max and Sebastian. Who will she end up with? Colleen won’t say. She did, however, say that the series will have a definite ending because she doesn’t want to continue holding those potential suitors at a distance until readers become frustrated and cease to read any further.
Another fact Colleen discussed was that it was important to show Victoria growing and changing throughout the series, rather than remaining a static character. “She’s naïve, at first,” Colleen said, “and grows less so as the series progresses.” From my perspective as a reader, I believe that Colleen is succeeding at fulfilling her goals through the ever-changing character of Victoria.
You can find Colleen at -
Her blog: For All the World to See - http://www.colleengleason.com/wordpress/
Her website: http://www.colleengleason.com/
Colleen’s favorite authors:
Some favorite contemporary authors are Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (It Had to Be You is a particular favorite title). And, in the historical fiction category: Liz Carlyle, Eloisa James, Elizabeth Peters (the Amanda Peabody and Vicki Bliss books). She enjoys Peters’ paranormal romance/gothic books, written under the pen name Barbara Michaels.