Tainted Blood Spotlight + Giveaway

Title: Tainted Blood

Author: ML Brennan

Series: Generation V (book 3)

Publisher: Roc

Release Date: Nov 4, 2014

Page Count: 318

Genre: Urban Fantasy

In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…
Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control. So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin. But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…

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My first novel, Generation V , was published in 2013 from ROC Books, and is a work of urban fantasy. Its sequel, Iron Night , was published January 7, 2014. The third book in the series is  Tainted Blood and will be published on November 4, 2014 — and is now available for pre-order!

I cut my baby bibliophile teeth on my older brother’s collection of Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert, but it was a chance encounter with Emma Bull’s War For The Oaks as a teenager that led to genre true love. Today, I’ll read everything from Mary Roach’s non-fiction to Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasies, but I’ll still drop everything for vampires and werewolves in the big city.

I hold an advanced degree in the humanities, and I am an adjunct professor at several New England colleges. I am currently hard at work on the fourth Fortitude Scott book.

You can check out my full list of books at my Amazon Author Page .

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Where are you from?

I’m a born and bred New Englander. I grew up on the coast of Connecticut, but I did spend my first year of college in Newport, Rhode Island, which is where I have set my series. I have a lot of fun peppering the books with little bits of New England – for example, I think a lot of people wonder what on earth Moxie is, but it’s probably what Rhode Island natives always get the most excited about seeing in the books. (Moxie is actually a regional soda that a friend of mine once described as tasting like the essence of mothballs and cats)

What was your life like before becoming an author?

I got an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, then an MFA in Fiction, so I was earning pretty bad money teaching college courses as an adjunct, supplemented now and then by fairly crummy jobs in retail. The whole time I was writing away, hoping to get that breakthrough book. I had written one literary fiction book that had gotten to the point where I was signed with an agent, but the book never sold and I was pretty heartbroken. That summer I didn’t pick up extra work during the lag between semesters, and instead I wrote something different – mostly, I think, just to cheer myself up. That was Generation V, and that was the one that sold.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was very young, but I wasn’t serious about it for a long time. When I first went to college, my plan was to dual major in writing and political science, and become a speechwriter. That was probably due to all the West Wing that I was watching back then. I ended up getting a little more cynical about politics and a lot more interested in writing, but I still didn’t think it was something that would be my focus. I actually was in my first semester at law school when I finally realized that this was what I really wanted to do – so I dropped out of law school and got a master’s degree instead. For me, the start of my master’s program is when I became serious about writing.

Why did you begin writing?

Writing was always something that I enjoyed doing as a hobby – I liked the act of storytelling, of creation, of making people laugh or react based on what I’d created. Ultimately, that’s still why I love doing it, even after discovering that it’s fairly hard work.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I tend to ride the line between what’s funny and what’s dark a lot. I love making jokes and having lines that make my readers laugh, and I want there to be a silliness and a sense of fun, but at the same time I need there to be a danger to the world. Just because someone is nice in my world doesn’t mean that I’m going to keep them safe, and just because someone is cruel or nasty doesn’t mean that what they say is wrong.

Where did you gleam the inspiration for your story?

A lot of times I’ll come up with an image or an action that I fall in love with, and everything else ends up hanging on that. With Generation V, it was actually the climactic battle scene that was the first thing I had in mind, with Suzume’s return and Fortitude’s evolution. Sometimes it comes down to plotting out various elements and deciding where I want things to go, and then putting those pieces together like a puzzle. But most importantly, I’m always trying to figure out how to challenge my characters and force them into new directions.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Oh, of course. I don’t think any author could say no to this. I have an ongoing prank in Tainted Blood that is directly based on a prank that was pulled by some friends of mine – that went straight into the manuscript. The feeling and experience of working at a sucky, low-wage job came from the experiences of both me and a lot of people I knew in the years post-college. Fort’s frustration and confusion at where he is in life, and the feeling of almost betrayal at the uselessness of a degree despite big promises – that’s definitely something that came from life. Even smaller things – Fort’s crummy car was based very much on cars that I knew and drove. A lot of the details and texture of real life (the feeling at a breakup, or the longing for a particular person, or the way you feel about a sibling) filter in and become part of the world.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Right now I’m in edits on the fourth American Vampire book, Dark Ascension. I’m really excited about where I’m taking the series, because in a lot of ways this is going to be the book where I pull off the main road and start going into the wilderness.

What is your writing routine? What’s then one thing you can’t write without (besides pencil and paper ;])?

When I was in grad school, I was a very fussy writer. I could only write at night, and when I was in the right mood. To a large extent, that was when I had the luxury to do that. Once I started having to actually hold down a real job, I suddenly couldn’t do that anymore. And then I sold Generation V, and I was suddenly on deadlines to turn in later books – waiting for the muse to show up just didn’t become an option anymore.

What I can’t live without, though, is my home office. I can close the door to the rest of the house, and then it’s just me, my keyboard, and my piles of notes. I’m not one of those people who can sit in the middle of a coffeeshop and write – I don’t do well with distractions. Frankly, just having the bird feeder outside the window is sometimes a little too much outside stimulation.

Which comes first: The character's story, or the idea for the novel?

With Generation V, it was the idea for the novel. Since then, because I’m working in a series, the character’s story has taken on an equal footing, but my guess is that I’ll always be an idea person first, since when I’ve outlined other concepts I always do start with an idea and a world, then create a character that’s going to inhabit it.

What is your favorite part of the book?

One portion of the book just really excited me – the first was showing more about Fortitude’s brother, Chivalry. He starts the series as all these noble, sexy things that are stereotypically vampire-y in our media – he’s brooding, emotionally devoted, old-fashioned – and then I start taking them apart. Tainted Blood was when I got to finally get really messy with Chivalry, and show that he wasn’t nearly as simplistic as he was initially presented – there’s a real darkness there.

Similarly, I loved having Fort’s older sister, Prudence, be the one to give him his first primer in how vampires interact with human blood. For one thing, researching that scene was very fun (I read a wonderful book on obligate sanguivores to learn about the digestive needs of blood feeders), but I also just had so much fun writing it. I love Prudence’s finickyness about her white sofa, contrasted with her complete nonchalance with slicing open someone’s vein.

What was the greatest obstacle you faced while writing this book and how did you overcome it?

Hm. One thing was the Fortitude/Suzume relationship. When I started the series, my focus was for the two of them to be friends who respected, understood, and learned from each other. That was definitely there. But when I made the decision to allow a romance to develop, I never wanted to lose that primary friendship that was at the core of that. I spent a lot of the planning of Tainted Blood trying to be very mindful of that balance, that the heart of this relationship isn’t sexiness, but friendship.

This was also my first who-done-it mystery – the first two books were fairly straightforward when it came to tracking down murderers, so it was definitely a new experience. I always knew who was the murderer, but I spent a fair amount of time working backwards and trying to cover up my tracks, but at the same time also trying to make sure that I was leaving enough clues for Fort and Suzume to follow a trail to the conclusion without requiring them to be hopelessly stupid and ignore evidence that was painfully obvious to the reader. That was tricky.

Will the series end at book 3 or can we expect more Fort?

Oh, it’s definitely still going. In a lot of ways, I’m finally getting to really play out some of the ideas I had waiting from the very first book. People will get to see more of Fort in August 2015 with Dark Ascension.

Any chance of a spin off from the series?

It’s hard to say. I think the publisher would definitely need to see more excitement and sales in this series before they were willing to let me work on anything else in this world – urban fantasy is a pretty packed genre right now, and I think that a lot of publishers are getting cautious. I do have a few other irons in the fire, though, but can’t talk about those quite yet. I’ll say this much – don’t expect this to be my only fantasy series.

Coffee or Tea?


What are you currently reading?

I’m just finishing up The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo – really fabulous look at not just Anne Boleyn’s life, but how she’s been presented in different incarnations over the centuries in everything from serious history to plays to TV shows like The Tudors, and what it says about society’s view on women. I’m absolutely loving it.

Do you have a favorite line in Tainted Blood?

My personal favorite is when Suzume says to Fort, "After all, your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard." I’d been trying to find a spot for that line for several books, and it just makes me laugh every time.

What are you concept or theme are you hoping your readers will grasp while reading Tainted Blood?

I really want readers in this book to be engaging with the idea of justice versus realpolitik. There’s been a big rise in grimdark lately, in both epic fantasy and urban – I enjoy a lot of it, and I’m always in favor of worlds that aren’t syrupy and filled with easy choices and color-coded dragons. But at the same time, I think readers have gotten used to heroes and heroines who go down that realpolitik track really easily. Something that I like about Fort is that he’s an idealist and a populist, and he’s not going to give up on those things easily, and I can never quite picture him going the way of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. At the same time I don’t want that to be his easy out, or why he should get his way, but I think there is a real question of what is actually the right decision in terms of morals and justice and what is the right decision in terms of political expediency and longevity of rule. I don’t expect everyone to agree with Fort’s choices, but I hope that they interest people and spark some conversation.

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