Young widow Emma Andrews had grown up hearing the stories of her mother, a woman whose madness had sent her to an early grave and whose legacy Emma was forced to endure. Her mother’s daughter, her family always feared that someday Emma might go mad as well so it was with great reluctance that she accepted her cousin’s invitation to visit Dulwich Manor.
During her stay strange things begin to happen to Emma. She hears and sees things that she knows cannot possibly be real. She also realizes that she has begun to develop amazing skills that she had never had before. It’s all enough to make poor Emma believe that she has indeed begun to suffer her mother’s fate after all… That is until she meets Valerian Fox. Fox, another guest of Dulwich Manor is a quiet man and Emma suspects that beneath his silent gaze lies answers to the strange things that are happening not just to her but within Dulwich Manor itself.
It is not long before Emma discovers the truth, that Dulwich Manor is being plagued by a creature of the night. The evil vampire lord Marius has set his sights on Henrietta, Emma’s little cousin and Emma knows she must do something to stop him before it’s too late. To do so Emma must come to terms with her past and embrace her mother’s true legacy, that of the Dhampir, powerful vampire hunters who are themselves the children of vampires.
Jacqueline Lepore, who is best known for her works of Romantic Fiction has stepped into the realm of Gothic Fantasy with her newest novel Descent into Dust. Set in Victorian England it tells the tale of a young vampire hunter’s early days before discovering that she is Dhampir, the child of a human and a vampire. Intriguing and suspenseful, readers will find themselves enthralled as they follow Emma’s transformation from reluctant socialite to confident protector of the innocent.
A terrific book that keeps the reader wondering just what will happen next, Descent into Dust is the first in a series of Emma Andrews adventures and I find myself eagerly awaiting the next installment The Cyprian Queen, which is slated for release in March 2011.
Jacqueline Lepore has also graciously provided Vampires.Com with an exclusive interview.
1. How do you think your career as a psychiatrist has effected your writing style, specifically in character development?
Many people make this mistake, but I am a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. As to how it affects my writing, one reviewer once said that my profession informs my work. I like to draw complex and emotional characters, since this is a realm I’m comfortable with. Also, I tend to concentrate on the relationships my characters have. With the Emma Andrews series, alongside the complicated and tradition-rich vampire world, are the strong bonds of friendship between the chief characters and I love to explore how those bonds are challenged by the dangers they face.
2. Do you think you could see yourself living as a woman in the Victorian era?
This is a great question, because it is at the heart of why I wrote this series. As a modern woman, I cringe at the ideals of Victorian society and I’ve often wondered: What would I do if I had been born back then? Ugh! It would be horrible–the very idea of being repressed so extremely just makes me cringe. I would never have been allowed to be a psychologist, or a writer, or anything I wanted to be.
So, when I imagined Emma, I thought I would like to explore how a woman of brains, wit, and supernatural powers would find the resources to act outside of the prescribed ideals of her time–because she had to, it’s a matter of life and death! And, not only is she risking causing gossip and disapproval, but everyone’s ready to brand her a madwoman because of her mother’s condition. So the stakes on both sides are really high. I really wanted to make this conflict very dramatic: the challenge of following her destiny and doing what she needs to do and still finding a way to stay in society’s good graces.
3. When you decided that your series would be supernatural in nature what drew you to the vampire? What made vampires stand out above other supernatural beings such as werewolves, demons, phantoms etc.?
You may have read in the extras section of the book how the series got started. It was originally conceived to be an historical amateur detective series. Sort of a young, Victorian Jessica Fletcher doing drawing room “Murder She Wrote” sort of mysteries ( I know, I know…look, I didn’t follow through!) Anyway, my husband and I like many of the same detective series characters and he kept pushing me to flesh out some kind of unique character for the lead. The problem was, I couldn’t think of a thing that I could realistically see myself writing. It was a real struggle until I thought: maybe she could have supernatural powers. After all, I myself have always wanted to have supernatural powers, so I thought that would be fun to write. I began to brainstorm the series and it just kind of all fell into place.
As to why vampires, I was hugely influenced by Elizabeth Kostova’s THE HISTORIAN, which I read about the time I was formulating my ideas of the series. I loved how sophisticated and intelligent she treated the subject of vampires, and this had a hand in my delving into literature, cultural folklore, religious traditions, and all the rest to generate the rules in which I wanted to base my paranormal world. Originally I thought to include other supernatural beings, and I still might, but the vampire world, its hierarchy and rules and all the rest of it, sort of took over, and I just went with it and enjoyed the ride.
4. Shall any other supernatural beings other than vampires be making appearances in the series somewhere in the future?
Oops. I already answered. But here’s a hint: It’s established in DESCENT INTO DUST that Sebastian sees ghosts!
5. Can you give us a glimpse into Emma’s future? Where do you see her as the series progresses?
Well….Lots of ideas. Emma has to find out what happened to her mother, doesn’t she? I mean, that’s really at the root of her whole destiny. Can you imagine any self-respecting psychologist not pursuing these intriguing mommy issues? LOL So, there’s that. And, there is of course “THE DRACULA” which is hinted at in DESCENT INTO DUST but really gets developed in the second book, THE CYPRIAN QUEEN, which is due out next year. Feuds, rivalries, star-crossed lovers, mysterious enemies, dark liaisons, and many, many more secrets that impact Emma directly are all planned for future books. I am currently working on the third book, THE DARK WALTZ. I am having so much fun with these characters and this fascinating and complicated vampire world, I hope it never ends. We’ll see.
Would you like to have a copy of Descent into Dust? Send us an email to [email protected] with ‘Descent into Dust contest’ as the title and we’ll randomly select two winners!