Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hunters by Stefanie J Pristavu: Interview & Excerpt


Rachel and Daniel broke every rule in the Hunter book.

Don’t turn humans into Hunters. Daniel did that when he saved Rachel from becoming a vampire bride.

Don’t travel beyond your assigned area. Assigned area? They’ve traveled half-way around the world in search for Vlad, the vampire boss.

Report all hunting activity to the Hunters’ High Council. There’s a Hunters’ High Council?

Don’t tell humans about the existence of paranormal beings. Ooopsy, they kinda let that one slip.

Don’t resist arrest and escape from your death sentence. Well, about that… If they’re to go down, they’re taking Vlad with them, especially since he screwed up both their lives.

The Council has a valid reason to want their heads, but Rachel and Daniel have more pressing matters to worry about. Like the screechy voices inside Rachel’s head which sing of death and destruction and the creepy Banshee who predicts the coming of a Hunter – vampire war. A war which Daniel and Rachel must trigger to save their race from extinction.
And Rachel seriously doubts that a head-on battle between the vampires and the Hunters will be their ticket out of the death sentence.
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Cold coated Rachel’s very bones, sending her body into a trembling fit. Everything hurt as if a herd of rhinoceroses had trampled her. She moaned and opened one eye. Nothing. Velvety darkness surrounded her. All lay silent and damp. Her head swam together with her stomach.
She tried to move, to press her hands against her temples, but her body refused to obey. What had they injected her with? It even hurt to blink, not to mention breathe. Every time she filled her lungs it stung as though a hedgehog had taken residence inside her rib cage. An annoying itch stung her left shoulder.
She gasped. What time was it? Was Daniel…? Her throat tightened at the thought. He couldn’t be dead!
Gathering the little strength she had, Rachel urged her body to move. She managed to roll to her stomach and pushed herself into a sitting position, with her back pressing against the wall. The effort provoked a coughing fit and she was suddenly aware of her lungs. Tears filled her eyes. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t pull herself together and at least try to get out of there.
Feeling like a helpless child, she hugged her knees and let the tears flow. She didn’t usually cry, but all that had happened in the last day was too much. Less than twenty-four hours ago, she was in a bar, pissed off at Daniel, and now, she might never see him again. Now, here she was in a pitch-dark place, sitting on a rough stone floor, in complete silence, letting the waterworks flow.
Her insides turned icy cold. What did this fear and sense of no purpose mean? Why did the thought of Daniel dead terrify her so much? The idea of not seeing him, not touching him again was too much for her heart to process. She should be worried, he was her friend, but this was so much more. His face appeared in the darkness, dark blue eyes twinkling. She could hear his laughter, see his smile. That day back in Prague, when Cheryl was still alive, came to her mind. How he’d made her happier than she’d ever been with just one touch.
Hot determination filled her veins and dried her tears. No, she wouldn’t let them do this!
Rachel unlocked her limbs, felt her way up the wall and pulled herself to her feet. Ignoring the millions of needles stinging her numb body, she moved to the right, feeling up the cold stone. She reached the adjoining wall, which turned out to be rough, iron bars.
Perfect! She wrapped her fingers tightly around them and pulled. Except for a pathetic rattle, nothing happened. Rachel frowned. They were supposed to come right off. She tried again, tugging harder. A louder rattle, but nothing else. Whatever was in that drug had sapped her powers.
Rachel leaned her forehead against the damp iron, breathing deeply, trying to calm down. Everything was wrong. She was weak and dizzy when she was supposed to be her strongest and help Daniel. If he wasn’t dead already. Daniel dead, Cheryl dead, Chris hated her. Her eyes stung, trying to hold back a fresh wave of tears. Not the time to drown in self pity. But if Daniel was dead…No, don’t think about that!
Tightening her grip on the iron bars, she clattered them. “Let me out, you assholes!” she yelled as loud as she could. “If you don’t, I’ll hunt all of you down and make you pay!”
A door slammed, sending an eerie echo through…wherever she was. From the way the sound bounced off the walls, she supposed there was a corridor on the other side of the bars. Quick footsteps pressed on the stone floor toward her, and stopped on the other side of her cell. She squinted, but she couldn’t even make out a shadow. An earthy scent filled her nostrils. A man stood before her.
“I didn’t expect you to be up already.”
Rachel gasped. She recognized the voice. It was the Head Hunter. “Let me out,” she said, trying to keep her voice calm.
“I will. As soon as you are ready to be transferred to your new division, in a couple of hours, probably.”
“I don’t want a new division. I work well with Daniel.”
“Daniel will be dead soon enough.”
Rachel held her breath. He wasn’t dead yet. There was still hope. “Let me go or I swear you’ll be sorry.”
“Swearing is never good.” The man sounded amused. “You are very devoted to Daniel.”
“Damn right, I am!” She was starting to get annoyed. “He saved my life. And not just once. He’s my best friend.”
“Good. It means I can trust you.” The Head Hunter lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “I was against Daniel’s sentence. But, unfortunately, we’re a democracy.” He laughed bitterly. “Where is a good old tyrant when you need one?”
Rachel rubbed her eyes. Was he joking? Torturing her by giving her hope and then taking it away? Or was he really on their side? She wished she could see the man’s face. At least that way, she’d have a chance to tell if he was yanking her chain. “Will you let me out, then?”
“No. I will help Daniel escape. He will then come for you. I have given him directions.”
She grasped the iron bars. “Why are you helping us escape?”
“Because I believe Max knew something the rest of us don’t. He was, after all, the wisest of us. The Council is too comfortable with the status quo to try and locate Vlad. They don’t even believe that slaying him would do any good. Sometimes, young renegades are needed.”
Shadows lifted from Rachel’s eyes. Like a beacon in the fog, the Head Hunter’s bearded face came into view. She shook her head, and with every passing second, her vision cleared. Every feature of the man’s face came into sharp focus. The rest of her body tensed and the familiar feeling of responsive muscles accompanied the return of her sight. The drug must have started to wear off. She let out a sigh of relief.
“I will play my part. I will do my best to keep other Hunters out of your way. It shouldn’t be hard, since they do not travel.” He hesitated for a second, then took Rachel’s hand. Can you hear me?
Rachel tilted her head. Yes, of course.
“Peculiar.” The man pulled his hand back. “Daniel spoke to me this way. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“But Daniel said all Hunters talk like this.” Rachel tried not to gawk, but couldn’t help herself.
“Daniel knows little more about this world than you do. He is quite unusual. So powerful for his age.” The Head Hunter rubbed his chin. “I hope you will not let me down. I have risked much for you. Do your job. Kill Vlad.” He whipped around and stalked off.
Rachel sighed and sat, hugging her knees, alone again. A shimmer of hope lifted the weight on her heart. But what if he was lying? What if he’d only said that to get her to go quietly? She had no choice but to wait. Either for her departure, or for her strength to return.

Hi, and thanks for having me here, Laurie, on your awesome blog. It was kind of hard to pull myself together and do this, but Yay, I’m finally here, and ready to be interrogated.


A little something about myself. Well, I was born and raised in Romania (still live there actually) and have been writing for most of my life. It got better once I learned how to spell. And now, I try to dedicate as much time to my passion as possible.


Welcome Stefanie… Don’t be nervous.  It’s great of you to take time to stop by. So, let’s begin, shall we?  What do you think makes a good story?


As far as I’m concerned, there are a few things that have to be there – characters, plot and feeling.


If I don’t like the characters, the plot has to be a masterpiece of creativity and innovation for me to like the story as a whole.


I’m a character reader, so if those are great, I tend to overlook minor plot problems. But that doesn’t mean it gets to be Swiss cheese. And please, don’t make me roll my eyes.

As far as feelings go, I’m including humor here. I want to smile while I’m reading a book, so whether it’s a funny situation, a brilliant bit of bantering in dialogue or outright humor, I have to have something there, even in the darkest drama. I love it when I’m reading a book and I find a chunk of dialogue that I find brilliant. So I really hope readers can find that in my own work.


I like the way you summed that up.  Those all all elements I generally look for, too.  How do you describe your writing style?

My writing style is… well, light. I’m not native English so I’m still learning words every day. This means I usually have trouble with complicated descriptions, and you might find slightly awkward phrasing in my works.


I love dialogue, inner thought and sarcasm, so you find a lot of that in my writing style, as well as fighting scenes. For some reason, I keep writing action in all my books.


My goal for my books is a fast, easy to read story that will keep the reader entertained and have him rooting for the characters. And I also have to throw a shocking plot twist somewhere in there. I can’t function if I don’t J


So, in Hunters, you’ll find all that – action, adventure, romance, banter, funny dialogue and a fast moving plot with a shocking twist.


Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?


Yeah, most of the time. And it depends on the scene I’m writing. If a certain song puts me in the mood to write something, I’m known to put it on repeat and hear it out until I’ve finished said scene.

I’m most inspired by love songs and music about going against the grain and picking yourself up and trying again. Since most of my characters go through hard times at least at one point, I listen to empowering songs OR depressing ones. Sometimes, I make a playlist for each project. Hunters was no exception. Though I actually lost the playlist and can’t remember half of it. Oh, well. Wow, I guess I listen to a lot of music, huh?

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?


Usually, when I start a new project, I have an inkling of an idea and try to figure out that precise scene/idea. I’ll need an MC, so I look for a name and identity for the lucky guy/gal. When I’m done with the MC, I start with the other characters. The ones I need right away, at least. Then start thinking about the plot and how to have my characters go from A to B.


I can’t say I have a formula. Things pop into my head and my work usually consists in me trying to untangle the mess and give it some logical meaning.


Sometimes it’s plot first, other times scenes first. Even characters first.

I do work on the plot myself, but the characters usually have a will of their own, so they might even highjack the plot and run away with it.

Rachel and Daniel, the MCs in Hunters did that to me – came out wrong, stole the plot and ran away. Fortunately I managed to beat them back on the path with my Revision Stick. (Every writer should have one of those)


Lol!!  Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?


To me, yes. The name has to fit the character and I have to like it. The last bit is a given, since I actually come up with them, but it’s getting harder, since I don’t actually want to use the same name twice.


If I don’t like the character, I’m known to give them crappy names I don’t care for. Of course, that’s all subjective, and names I hate, others might love and vice versa.


With Daniel and Rachel, I had a critique partner telling me that she hates the names, since they’re pretty usual. By the end of the story, she changed her mind though J


So far, I’ve avoided making up names or changing the spelling on them. I don’t know why it annoys me, but I don’t like to see it in other books, so, for now, misspelled names are staying out of mine. I’m not saying I won’t change my mind in case the name seems to fit the character.


My advantage is that, if I run out of ideas, I can always turn to names from my language. The Romanian vampires in Hunters all have old fashion Romanian names, fit for the times they became vampires.


Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?


Physically, yes. (And no, not Rachel. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not an curly orange-haired bombshell. I’m a brunette. I do have green eyes, but that’s about as far as the resemblance goes) As far as personality goes, I guess each and every one of them has a little piece of me inside them, but I haven’t modeled a character entirely after me. That’s because I’m boring.


Okay, I’m not boring, I’m pretty awesome actually (kidding), but compared to my characters, I’m the height of boring. Plus, I’m lazy and probably wouldn’t do half the stuff my characters do. I do give them my defects then snigger as they fight to overcome them. Yes, I’m pretty evil with my characters sometimes. Especially when I almost kill them or break their hearts.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?


I’m actually already writing an YA series involving secret agencies, family feuds, lots of adventure and romance. It’s called the Jewel series (since the MCs have to find giant jewels – a different one in every book) and my goal for it is to show how people can grow over the years and figure themselves out.


Also, I’m planning on a second series – a paranormal one involving a dream realm and a guardian of said realm. It’s still a work inside my head and I actually have to figure out where to actually take the story, but I’m pretty confident something interesting will come out of it.

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?


Focus on writing. I mean it! Always have a project at the back of your mind after you finish your current project, because revising, editing and publishing are killers. You need a happy place to go to when your work doesn’t come out like you want it or you get a bad review. For me, the happy place is another WIP.  And always remember why you started writing in the first place – because you love it, and nothing anyway can do or say will change that.


Also, having writer buddies helps a lot. Nothing like an understanding shoulder to cry on. *waves* Hi guys! Look, I’m doing an interview!


Thanks for having me! It was wonderful to be here.



 Born and raised in Romania, the only girl amongst two brothers, Stefanie has spent her childhood playing pretend and inventing characters. Once she actually learned how to spell in English, she started writing the adventures of her alter egos. Hundreds of thousands of words and thirteen years later, after two years of learning the craft of writing, Steph still tests the waters of her imagination, coming up with stories and characters.

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Enter for a chance to win a Kindle formatted copy of Hunters. 2 winners!
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Giveaway ends November 3rd  11:59 PM Central Time.


Stefanie J Pristavu said...

Thanks so much for having me, Laurie! And that banner you made is awesome!

Rhonda D said...

I love finding new-to-me authors. This sounds like a really exciting book. I love a book that will make me laugh and have me biting my nails all on the same page and this book sounds as if it will do both. Thank you for sharing!
slinkydennis at yahoo dot com