I hate prejudice. Sometimes it’s mild, as in “I hate horror films.” Sometimes it’s harmful and frightening, as in the Ku Klux Klan or the way women were pigeonholed as breeders and stupid for so long. It’s often characterised by either “always” or “never,” as in "Those people never do that," or "those people always do that." It’s usually an unthinking remark that, when you think about it, means nothing, but it can become a rallying call. Various objects of hate have existed, and some of the worst consist of ethnic groups. I really hate those.
I wanted to write about it, but I didn’t want to be judgmental or preachy. That kind of work doesn’t do it for me, so why should it for anyone else?
So I thought, “What if I used a race that doesn’t exist? You know, like vampires or shape-shifters, or people with a special psychic gift?”
And so my first paranormal series, the Department 57 series, was born.
Of course it morphed into much more than that. Secret agents fighting against twin enemies—the PHR, an organisation that sees vampires, shape-shifters, or anyone they consider “different” to be genetic malformations, and band together to murder them. And an equally secret, but more loose arrangement of scientists and wealthy people who want to exploit Talents for their own ends. They want longer life, strength and beauty, but they want to steal it, by experimenting on captured Talents to “extract” what they want.
There is also another way for Talents to elude this, but that’s for another series!
That was the core. In the Department 57 series, the Talents are living secretly in society. Nobody knows they exist outside myth. Except the PHR and the experimenters. It was a heady premise and so far it’s taken me through several more series—STORM, Pure Wildfire and now a new series which will make its debut later this year.
Department 57 was the first, however, and at twelve books, I’m resting it. There are still many characters who need writing about, so the word “rest” means just that. I’m not killing the series, it hasn’t finished, I’m just working on new outlines and stories. But I can’t do everything, and I’ve always had more ideas than time to develop them. I have a vampire police procedural series in development and I’ve written the first book of a new series featuring some of my favourite things, history and paranormal romance.
As well as the new series, which is currently called “The Thorndykes.”
So how vulnerable are my Talents? Because they had to invent kryptonite for Superman, he was just too invulnerable without it. I set out to answer questions like, “if they’re so strong and long-living, why haven’t they taken over the world?” and “what makes ordinary humans special?”
Building the world was a challenge, but it has taken a lot of testing and it still works, so I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Now I’m taking a version of the world back in time for Samhain (see what I mean about new series?) so I’m mixing up that aspect, as well, and including some of my favourite myths.
So, romantic suspense. The stories in the Department 57 and STORM series are secret agents tales. The difference is that in Department 57, they’re living secretly, and in STORM they’re “out,” facing a bunch of new problems, learning to live together. I’ve read stories that have paranormal beings living in society, set in a future or alternate world, but I wanted to know how it would happen now, how it would affect society as we see it today. And to take it at the cusp, when Talents have only just revealed themselves. All they want is to live in parallel with everyone else, but there are much fewer of them, and they have the might of politics and prejudice to face. There are so many legends about them, you could choose to believe what you wanted, or believe what someone else told you instead of the evidence in front of your own eyes.
Would you like a vampire living next door?