Please welcome Stephanie Collier to the Author Corner! I met Stephanie on Twitter during a pitch contest. I read her pitch and thought “I have to read this book!” Well you can imagine my excitement when I saw the book was published! Here is an idea of what drew me to her novel:
When a Nazi concentration camp murders Alhena, The Blood Countess damns Demyan to immortality, but his soul already belongs to the one who had died – bound by a Gypsy curse – and the promise of her rebirth is the only thing that can save him from an eternity of darkness.
Honestly, she had me at concentration camp, and the mix of supernatural and romance had me knowing this was going to be a great novel.
I asked Stephanie what inspired her to write The Blood of the Black Rose:
I was in a dark place in my life when I started writing The Blood of the Black Rose and I needed a way to outsource the pain that I was feeling. I found that way through the written word and this story, which inadvertently ended up being a healing process from all the anger that was built up inside of me. It then evolved into something that I never dreamed possible as I brought in elements of the holocaust and Elizabeth Bathory (things that had always intrigued me). And even though my life had dramatically changed, I couldn’t just stop writing Demyan’s story. His pain was my pain. His darkness was my darkness. Though my world was right again, his wasn’t and I couldn’t just lock him away in a drawer and pretend that it was. So, I continued to tell his story. Over two years later, his is now complete as well. It didn’t quite have the ending that I was prepared to write, but it was an ending that seemed to flow without a second thought. The story was no longer mine, it was his, and I trusted that.
Before you go, here is an excerpt:
Time seemed to blur and weave its way into stillness as I stared beyond what my eyes could see. I lost myself in oblivion when…there he was, his nose only inches from mine. The same soldier that had forcibly grasped her face was standing before me and I felt my temper begin to rise from within. He turned on his heel, commanding that I follow.
I hobbled slowly behind him, my side aching and my brain working in chaotic alarm. I was led to the brightly dancing flames and a steel emptiness obscured my contempt as we halted. I was so close that the blazing sparks boiled my blood.
I watched in revulsion as an iron rod was placed into its fiery depths. My teeth bared in frightened anticipation as it was lifted, my eyes intensely following the movement of the glowing shaft and the hand wielding it. Then it was harshly thrust into my flesh, slightly to the left of my racing heart. My head flew back as I howled against the pain, the smell and sound of my own flesh being scorched intensifying the suffering upon my skin.
My fury exploded, leaving all sense of reason behind, devouring the pain and completely swallowing every other emotion. I leapt at the man who had branded me.
His eyes widened in alarm.
Before I could strike, a rifle was aimed directly at my face. I stopped in my tracks, turned and staggered away. Pure adrenaline was the only thing pushing me forward, not knowing if each extension of breath would be my last.
When nothing more happened, my breathing began to even and my taut muscles relaxed in their strain. I approached the line and by the time I was able to take my spot next to her the blinding malice had subsided, leaving me completely drained. My arm fell flaccidly to my side, the other holding tight to the provided clothing, determined to conceal my most intimate parts.
The sun had finally hit its peak in the sky and its rays enveloped me, warming my skin with their heat against my back. My fingertips subconsciously reached up for the seared flesh, lightly playing along it. Cringing at their touch, I unintentionally memorized the series of numbers that marked me as dispensable. The truth of my fate began to sink in as I realized I was in fact no longer a human being.
The day wore on as a countless number of people were marked, all the men being the first to be branded. And as the sun’s light diminished it took every ounce of its warmth, the chill air returning with a vengeance, ruthlessly freezing us in our nakedness.
The fire’s brightly glowing embers viciously licked at the blackened sky with its flaming tongue, its ominous sparks floating to the ground, destroying the grass beneath it and fueling the fear that was already there.
A wild look of hysteria clouded her eyes as they moved on to the women and I shifted my hand closer, my pinky finger gently entwining and hooking around hers. I hoped the tenderness of the gesture would offer the comfort that words could not.
Another soldier approached and her body reacted in rolling quakes of nervousness. My fingers softly traced and caressed the back of her smooth hand soothingly. She squeezed the extremity with a frightening force then relinquished it. With a deep breath, a look of determination crossed over her features and she followed him to the blistering inferno.
I called out to her, a wordless cry of despair, but my voice was lost among the sea of screaming sobs. I watched as her body went stiff at the sight of the flaming rod, watched every muscle contort in unbearable pain, but it was her voice rising above the noise of the crowd that wound its way into my soul, tugging at my heartstrings. My jaw tightened, my hands closing into fists as my body lurched forward instinctively.
Feminine yet like a band of hard steel, an unusually strong arm silently darted in front of my bare chest, barring my way and keeping me from acting on the roiling emotions that kept churning, blinding me to all logic.
“You don’t want to be doing that, my darling,” a captivatingly sultry whisper at my ear demanded, halting me at once.
I turned my head to the side and amber-colored eyes, with all the answers to the world’s questions betraying the youthfulness of her face, intensely stared into mine in the dim light. The mysterious woman’s arm dropped, setting me free and my attention immediately snapped back to the fire.
The skin above her left breast was red and swollen as she toddled back to me, the numbers deeply imprinted into her flesh. Numbers that matched my own. Tears flowed down her beautiful face. The salty drops trickled onto the damaged skin, causing her to shudder against its stinging pain. As she turned to stand next to me, I remembered the woman who had kept me from my retribution.
My eyes scanned the crowd for her, but she had inexplicably disappeared, all trace of her existence vanishing into the night.
For more about Stephanie check out her blog: http://www.stephaniecollier.com/blog.html