Sometimes the monsters in the dark are real.
As a child, Lili Banta ignored her grandmother's cryptic warnings to avoid children outside their Filipino community in Houston. When many of those other children fell ill, Lili ignored the whispers in her community that a vampiric aswang walked among them.
Years later, Lili returns to Houston to work for the Quarantine Station of the Center for Disease Control—but she is plagued by dark, bloody dreams that consume her nights and haunt her days. When a strange illness attacks the city's children, Lili is called in to find its source, and maybe even a cure.
But in order to save the city, she must first acknowledge the sinister truth: A monster stalks the night—closer than she ever expected....
Bound By Blood by Margo Bond Collins is a fast, dark read with both old and new creatures coming to light. It's about legend, life, death and the monsters inside. While the story is very literal about monsters actually being inside the victims, I took it as a way to say that we all have monsters inside of us, and we have to fight them before they take us over.
Lili is a charming abd determined character, willing to do everything to save humanity. Will and Iverson, to me, were little more than set dressings, but the two children are as essential to the book as Lili and the aswang are. They're delightful, bright and brave kids.
The story's main villain reminds me of a vampire mixed with a Strega, the witch that takes human form in the day and at night steals children's life force, leaving them to die slow, painful deaths.
But the aswang and the world they came from are refreshingly new to me, and I think that that, above all, is the main selling point of this story: The fact that there's nothing else like it out there right now.
It's entertaining, different and leaves you wanting more!
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INTERVIEW w/ Margo Bond Collins:
1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always known. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
I have always read voraciously. When I was very young, long before the internet, I read all the Trixie Belden mystery books; my mother special-ordered them for me through our small-town department store. A little later, I read the Dragonriders of Pern series in its entirety. Our local library had a five-book checkout limit for children, so we had to go three times a week. In junior high, I read Chaucer and Shakespeare. In high school, I read Gothic mysteries. In college, I read everything and anything—high literature for school, genre literature for fun. Eventually, I ended up with a Ph.D. in literature, in part because I never could figure out how to quit wanting to learn more and more about books!
3. What was the inspiration behind your latest release, Bound By Blood?
I knew I wanted to write a spin-off from Sanguinary, and when Janice Ross asked me if I would contribute to a paranormal anthology, I had my chance. I had been reading up on the Filipino monster the aswang and her ability to seem otherwise normal, but attack children at night. Also, I have two brothers who are MDs, and we had been talking about the Ebola epidemic in Africa and how hospitals deal with infectious disease. All of those things swirled together to create this story. And then I finished it the week that Ebola came to Dallas . . .
4. You write mostly paranormal fiction. What is it about the genre that makes you love it?
I think all authors love the "what if?" factor of fiction writing. What I love about paranormal fiction is that "what if" can expand indefinitely. Anything is possible.
5. How many books will we see in the Night Shift series?
A lot! Right now, I've got at least three more novels and four more novellas planned. My plan is for most of the novels to stand alone, but be set in the Night Shift universe. Each book will be richer for readers who have read the others, and all of the stories are building toward a grand finale, but readers can jump into the series anywhere.
6. Were any of your characters' personalities or emotions taken from real life?
Always! I don't take characters wholesale from real life, but every character draws on people I know.
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
8. What character of yours would you want to switch places with for a day and why?
None of them! Conflict and misery makes for fascinating reading, but I much prefer a drama-free life, whenever I can get it.
9. You're a professor as well as a writer. Has teaching helped your writing or vice versa?
Absolutely. I teach literature and writing, so I'm always analyzing how writers do what they do, what works and what doesn't, and how to improve my own fiction writing.
10. What books of yours do you want to see as a film or TV show? Who do you want to play your characters?
Any of them! I think Sanguinary, the first Night Shift novel, would be fun. I'd like to see Jennifer Lawrence as Detective Cami Davis, Josh Holloway as the cowboy/vampire Reese, Matthew McConaughey as the former detective Garrett, and Benicio Del Toro as the leader of the Sanguinary.
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
New York Times Bestselling Author Margo Bond Collins (it's good to have dreams and goals, right?). Seriously, no matter what happens, I'll still be writing.
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
Curled up in a corner, sobbing? I cannot imagine a life in which I did not write.
13. Can you tell KSR about your previous novels and what you're working on next?
My previous novels are: Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas.
I'm currently working on a contemporary romance for Entangled Publishing, entitled Opposing the Cowboy. Watch for it next spring! And then next summer I'll publish Siren's Kiss as part of the Falling in Deep collection with several other authors (and it just might be a Night Shift novel, too). There very well may be some more in there, too.
14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley. Or, if not collaborate, maybe trail around behind them, staring adoringly.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
Thanks so much for having me!
I never know quite what other people might find surprising. But here goes:
1. I grew up in a small town in Texas that (at the time, at least) had the only college in the country that offered a degree in Rodeo.
2. I am deeply shy. (This would surprise my students, too, because I have a teaching persona that I adopt for the classroom that is anything but shy.)
3. I wrote my dissertation on violent women in eighteenth-century literature. (Okay. That might not be surprising. But it might be at least interesting . . . )
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