Today I’m pleased to welcome Sara Curran-Ross to discuss her new novel, KNIGHT OF SWORDS.
The title of your book, KNIGHT OF SWORDS, immediately made me think of a tarot card. Is there a tarot connection?
Yes, definitely. The whole story and Swords series is based around the tarot and the characters found on the cards. My novel centers around Nathan Valancourt as the Knight Of Swords and his quest to rescue his queen and mate.
In the tarot The Knight of Swords is often depicted on his horse, causing a whirlwind around him with the speed he is traveling at. His sword is outstretched as though he is riding into battle. When I perceive this image of the knight I am able to conjure up a vast array of characteristics. Some of them have been influenced by many and varied readings but they are mostly my own.
I see the Knight of Swords on a quest and he will let nothing get in his way. He is stubborn in his pursuit and will never rest until he gets what he wants. Noble and a great defender of his queen, he is his best in battle and for that reason always seeks one out. He is handsome, strong, virile, dashing, charming and intelligent. He is active both in sporting activities and always prefers to win. His judgement is quick and once he gives it, it is never moved. There are no second chances with the Knight of Swords. I often envision a heroic knight from history such as Edward The Black Prince.
I think of the Knight of Swords as a womanizer. He is able to woo any woman he meets however resistant she is to him, he will always win her over. When he is infatuated he will treat her well. But woe betide any woman who gets in the way of his quest for he will cast her aside as though she were nothing but a hindrance. In his favor if he does happen to fall in love, he will fall deeply.
The Knight of Swords is a double edged ruthless customer with a dark side to his nature. He is narrow- minded whilst occupied by a quest and sometimes does not see the whole picture or take any help that is needed to his detriment. He may be arrogant, possessive, jealous, defiant and can misread others as potential threats. His words may be as cutting and as wounding as those inflicted by his sword. He is a bad enemy to make.
Nathan Valancourt is the Knight of Swords and embodies these qualities as a human/vampire hybrid. The story is therefore seen through his eyes alone. His quest is to rescue his queen, Juliet from the devil Sebastian. He must learn to combine both the light and dark characteristics of the knight if he is to succeed.
Tell us about Nathan Valancourt. Is he a true late Victorian male, or ahead of his time in some ways?
I have attempted to be authentic with both Nathan and Juliet as young late Victorians. I have both a BA (Hons) and an MA degree in History but I never studied the Victorian era. I was therefore exploring new territory when I decided to write a novel in the Victorian period. However, I wasn’t totally blind to the age especially in literature, having always been an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes and Oscar Wilde’s plays. In writing Nathan’s character and the setting for the novel my research of Victorian British society has greatly increased.
Nathan’s character speaks in the language of the time. He is a good example of the idle rich longing for a purpose to his life. He spends his days and evenings attending social engagements and parties to womanize until he finds his purpose in Juliet. He doesn’t care much for politics but when he suspects Juliet is sympathetic to the Suffragist movement he is disapproving. Like many men of his time he perceives the Suffragists as ‘loud, raucous women who are unhappy with their lot in life,’ and describes them as a ‘detriment to their sex’. He believes voting for the next leader of the country should be left to the intelligence of men. It may be said that he becomes ahead of his time when he learns to respect Juliet’s power as Queen of Talus and her right to independence as a woman.
What about your heroine, Juliet? From the cover, she looks like a force to be reckoned with.
Juliet is an eighteen year old Victorian lady with a powerful sense of duty and propriety. She has been left a fortune and a large shipping business in her uncle’s will. She has the wealth and means to be independent in her own right but finds herself battling the chauvinistic traditions of both the vampires and Victorian society to gain her freedom. As Queen of her people, she has many powers and gifts but is still viewed as needing the counsel of a man whose own rule upon her must be obeyed without question.
She is a feisty heroine who is not afraid to challenge those around her, male or female. I have tried to make her proportionate to the Victorian age and her identity as a woman. I make Juliet use her strength as a woman and her intelligence to outwit her enemies as well as her powers.
Many heroines in novels are depicted as physically stronger than men and able to engage in merciless high kicking hand to hand combat. To me, it’s unrealistic and prevents the female reader from identifying with them. It also appears as though the writer believed they had no choice but to make their heroine into an honorary man to win the fight. They couldn’t think of any way a woman could win the battle. I’m not saying the heroine shouldn’t be physically fighting but let’s make it realistic. It’s the same for male characters. Nathan may ride to Juliet’s rescue but she also bails him out of trouble quite a few times as well.
What separates the vampires in the world of KNIGHT OF SWORDS from, say, the vampires of TWILIGHT?
Firstly the vampires in Knight of Swords are hybrids born from a relationship between a vampire and a human. They are descended from mythical ancient Britons called The Taleians who existed alongside the Druids. The men were powerful warriors and the women possessed vast psychic and shape shifting abilities. The Druids were jealous of their powers and did not trust them. They set a curse upon the Taleians and turned them into vampires. The Taleians turned on each other in violence with their blood lust and were driven from their lands to be hunted down in fear by the humans. Those who escaped death scattered across England and the globe.
Taleian hybrid vampires are born human and never age more than twenty-five years old in appearance. But at some point in their human life they will find themselves enduring a physical death to be reborn as a vampire.
There is no room for vegetarianism as a hybrid. If they drink even a little animal blood they will become ill. Consuming vast quantities of it will cause death. The hybrids must live on human blood provided by willing donors. In return the human donors receive healing for any disease or malady they suffer with from the vampire’s bite.
On the personal relationship front, each hybrid is provided with a lifelong partner by fate when they are born human. On meeting for the first time they will establish a strong psychic bond. This bond must be consummated by a physical union and the male vampire’s bite upon the female’s neck. Unfortunately, fate also provides challengers to the male hybrid’s position as mate. The vampire is forced to engage in a duel of swords with one of these men before he can join with his female hybrid. If he does not kill the challenger by removing his head and dies, his mate may be claimed. If he fails her but escapes with his life their psychic bond will be severed. The loss will cause him madness.
Sara Curran-Ross was born on April 1970 in the UK where she resides with her husband, daughter and dog.
She was training to be a Legal Executive once upon a time until she went to university. In 2002 Sara graduated from university with a honors degree in History after giving birth to her daughter in 1999 in the middle of it all. Ever a glutton for punishment, she returned to university at the end of 2007 and in 2008 graduated with a History Masters Degree.
Sara has been writing since her teenage years and has now made it her full time focus. She enjoys writing thrillers, dark fantasy and historical romance novels and is always on the lookout for a new writing challenge.
Contact: sara at saracurranross dot com