Message From The Author

Author's Message

Vampire Hunter Anita Blake Does the Pregnancy Dance


By Faygie Levy

Chances are the vampires won't stop coming just because Anita Blake thinks she's pregnant. Author Laurell K. Hamilton offers some hints about how this will affect her hunter heroine in Danse Macabre, out this month from Berkley.

How did you come up with the title Danse Macabre? It's been the name of Jean-Claude's dance club since The Killing Dance. That's what I wanted to call that book, but I was overruled at the time because another, bigger writer had used the title for the same publishing house. Happily, no one argued with me much when I wanted to call Anita Blake No. 14 Danse Macabre.

This book deals with the possibility of Anita being pregnant. Why did you decide to tackle this plot? Anita is having regular to semi-regular sex with seven guys. If you're having that much sex with that many men, a pregnancy scare is likely. But for this book, only six of the men she's had sex with were in her bed in the month in question. So, six possible fathers -- if she's pregnant.

I'd been planning on doing a pregnancy scare for quite some time and, strangely, about the time I started the book, fans were asking me at events, "Is Anita ever going to get pregnant?"

So do you think readers will be pleased you're finally telling this story? The fans have loved the idea of a pregnancy scare. They just made me promise that the question would be answered by the end of the book: yes or no. By the end of Danse Macabre, everyone will know if she is or if she isn't.

How does the pregnancy question allow Anita and company to grow? Can readers expect a little vampire hunter in the future? The pregnancy question is one of the main points of the plot. For Anita, even the possibility changes how she looks at parts of her world. But it's too much
a part of the climax to just blurt out the answer here. Sorry.

You're a mother yourself. What impact does that have on your writing, and how much of your own experience did you draw on for this book? Being the mother of a preteen impacts my life a lot, but I'm not sure how much it impacts my writing. When I first got pregnant, my then editor worried that it would make me soft. She seemed to think that once I had a baby, I'd be writing fluffy bunny stories. The Lunatic Cafe, the first book I finished after my daughter was born, I think had the highest kill count ever.

I don't know how having a small baby affects other writers, but it made me mean. There's a lack of sleep and, physically, pregnancy is hard on the body, and having a tiny baby gives you no time to heal. Yes, my first husband helped with the baby, but it was still exhausting. I had a very eventful pregnancy, which meant I saw a lot of the hospital maternity ward and had a lot of ultrasounds. I used some of that in this book, but mostly Anita's scare didn't have much to do with my own experience. I was married and trying to be pregnant. We were happy when it happened. Anita is not happy at all.

What do you say to readers who have been critical of your writing of late, saying that you've focused more on sex than character growth? Since
I consider sex one of the most intimate things a person can do,
I fail to understand why sex is not part of a person's growth as a character. I knew going in that I would take some flack from some readers for the sex. So I make certain that the sex justifies itself. Every sex scene must do at least two of four things: further character growth, explain a part of the magic system, world-build or give a clue to part of the plot. I often put clues to the mystery in the middle of the sex scenes. It's amazing how many people miss the clues. Frankly, I no longer feel a need to justify myself about the sex. The very criticism of it implies that there is something intrinsically wrong with sex. I don't believe that. Do you?

Why does your other heroine, Merry Gentry (who returns in December's Mistral's Kiss), share the same last name as your grandmother? If I'd known
it was going to be a big deal, I would never have done it. People ask me if Merry's family and the fey are like my family. God, no. Here's how the last name came to me: In fifth grade, I found
out that Gentry is a euphemism for fairies or the little people in Ireland. I loved knowing that bit of trivia and, years later, when
I had to give Merry a nom de plume, I chose a traditional name
for the fey, Gentry. That it was also one of my family names pleased me, but my grandmother had nothing to do with how
I wrote the series. Her only contribution was telling me that Rawhead and Bloody Bones would get me if I wasn't good. Rawhead and Bloody Bones is a Scottish nursery boggle or bogeyman. Somewhere back in my ancestry is someone who lived in the Scottish border country and, all these centuries later, that bit of folklore survived when almost everything else was lost.

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