A guest post by Amy McNulty
In 2017, after writing several high fantasy YA books and dabbling in contemporary romance under a pen name, I thought it might be time for me to combine the two and try my hand at urban fantasy. As a fan of Twilight, I’d wanted to try my own take on a teenager meeting vampires for a while, so when the idea of a five-book series (my longest to date) came to me, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I wanted it to be different from Twilight, of course, so three things in particular sprang to mind: let two (eventually three) sisters share the spotlight, give the vampires a gimmick, and don’t focus solely on the blood-sucking undead. (Yes, werewolves are important to the Twilight universe, but they’re largely a supporting team to the main events.)
I liked the idea of sisters at war on behalf of paranormal creatures, but I didn’t want to go the werewolf route, which is why I brought in mermaids, so the vampires would have an adversary to fight against. (Plotting battles when one creature is strongest in water made for some very interesting logistics, especially when I gave vampires the weakness of being in pain when coming into contact with water.) Eventually, as the title of the series (Blood, Bloom, & Water) gives away, it becomes apparent that there’s a three-way conflict and faeries are the third type of paranormal creature to enter the story. Over the past three years of publication, it’s been a blast to work out how all of these creatures would work together (and clash with one another) in my small, unnamed Midwest suburb, making use of the sisters and their high school friends in their quest to become the dominant type of creature.
As far as setting the vampires apart goes, I decided to make them all stuck in the early 1940s, when the majority of them were turned as teens into the living undead. They dress in 40s fashion and use 40s slang and have slightly old-fashioned notions. The choice was simply a matter of personal predilection for the era (I love film noir) and because it seemed like most vampire fiction either had the vampires fully embrace modern times or have them stuck in a much, much older aesthetic from several centuries past.
Once I had my creatures in mind, I decided to focus on the main characters. How would I get sisters to fight to the death, especially ones who were good at heart? How can they keep it up without letting their parents know? Will they actually hurt one another? It’s a slow process for them to fully accept their battle, but I started by making them new step-sisters who are just getting to know one another, so while they get along, they don’t have the long history sisters raised together might. That also allows for shared custody between one set of parents and gets the battling sisters away from one another at times. None of the sisters immediately embrace the idea of battling the others with the magic powers they receive as champions of the paranormal, but with charming vampire, merman, and faery princes to tempt them, some as potential boyfriends, others as friends with empathetic desires and histories, the girls find reasons to fight. Misunderstandings and lines drawn in the sand make it so eventually, the sisters feel they have to see this through.
Writing the final volume in this series was a bittersweet experience, but I’m so glad the final installment in my vision four years ago is now available! Because it takes place ten years after the events of the first four, with the third sister as the POV protagonist (the other two share the POV equally in Books 1-4), I had to imagine what future life might be like in around a decade from now. It’s just small details, but I tried to sprinkle in clues that this is a future but ordinary world. Because many of the creatures from the previous books are out of commission for this epilogue adventure, I had to bring in a new set: This time, it’s angels. Like with my vampires, mermaids, and faeries, I added my own twists to the stereotypes when I plotted them into the middle of this high-stake high school adventure.
About the Author
Amy McNulty is an editor and author of books that run the gamut from YA speculative fiction to contemporary romance. A lifelong fiction fanatic, she fangirls over books, anime, manga, comics, movies, games, and TV shows from her home state of Wisconsin. When not editing her clients’ novels, she’s busy fulfilling her dream by crafting fantastical worlds of her own. Learn more about her at her website.