Gray is a Dhampir—a woman who is alive, but also dead. With supernatural powers and an insatiable need for blood to survive, her existence is a cursed one. When she wakes from a three-year spell induced coma, she not only discovers her lover was responsible, but that he has joined with a dangerous organization known as the Consilium to help them create a new breed of hybrid demons. Humans and Witches are being taken against their will, and fear is growing throughout the covens. Armed with a magical pirate ship, an immortal monk, and a flower plucked from the Underworld, Gray will stop at nothing to start a war. Yet in her quest to track down her enemies, Gray uncovers a dark family secret that threatens to destroy the last shred of humanity she has left.
An Interview with Melissa Sercia
Melissa Sercia’s debut novel, BLOOD AND MAGIC, was published on September 18th, 2018 by City Owl Press.
Question - Please describe what the book is about.
Melissa Sercia - This book is a story about one woman’s quest for revenge against the ones who turned her into a Dhampir—a supernatural creature who needs blood to survive. She has been hunting them for four hundred years without success until her lover betrays her and sends her in a new direction that brings her closer to their trail.
Q - Where did you get the idea?
MS- One night I was having a glass of wine and daydreaming, when the idea for my main character, Gray, came to me. I started asking myself, what if the supernatural world was real? What if we just couldn’t see it? That prompted me to dig deeper into creating my story.
Q - What’s the story behind the title?
MS- I came up with the title almost instantly. This is a story literally about blood and magic, and what happens when the two are combined. My publisher never questioned the title so I am very fortunate.
Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
MS- Without giving anything away, there is a love triangle that develops and influences the plot throughout the rest of the series.
Q - Tell us about your favorite character.
MS- I love all of my characters so much but I have a soft spot for Gray. She is the main character and the first one I created. She has been through so much heartache and betrayal, yet she remains strong and loyal to her friends. She struggles with her demons but doesn’t let that affect her relationships.
Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
MS- I would love to spend the day with Dragos. He is the quintessential bad boy. Charming, witty, a bit dangerous, and a lot of fun. We would probably drink champagne in the French countryside while he waited to ambush one of his enemies.
Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?
MS- My characters are not based on anyone alive today. Most of them are complete figments of my imagination while some are based on Greek mythological figures. Seven, who is a Dhampir pirate, is loosely based on the historical nobleman-turned-pirate, Henry Mainwaring.
Q - How long did you take to write this book?
MS- It took me two years to research and conceptualize Blood and Magic. Once I had a solid outline, I wrote the first draft in two months. It then took me another two years to revise and edit. Once I was satisfied, I sent out my queries. It took four months from the first query to receive the offer for publication. I know it’s rare for this to happen so quickly so I feel truly blessed.
Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?
MS- I read a lot. Everything from Greek mythology to magic and witchcraft. I consulted atlases, google translate, encyclopedias, and even tarot cards.
Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
MS- I removed a couple scenes that didn’t flow well, a character that didn’t quite fit, and a sub plot that wasn’t working. But mostly I added a lot. I typically write the bare bones to get the story down and then go back in during revisions and flesh it up.
Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MS- I am 100% a plotter. I need every detail and scene to be mapped out before I can start writing.
Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
MS- I really love all of it but my favorite is the beginning. That moment where you realize you have this amazing idea that is coming to life. I love doing the research too.
Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
MS- The most challenging thing can be finding the time and head space to devote to writing. When I first started writing, I wouldn’t write if I wasn’t inspired. Now I’ve learned that it is more important to have a routine. Eventually the inspiration comes to meet you when you sit down to write.
Q - Can you share your writing routine?
MS- I wake up every day and head to my desk. This is a must for me. I make some tea and put on some music and make myself write. It doesn’t always have to be good, it just has to be done.
Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
MS- Absolutely! When I get stuck, I will do word sprints, make music playlists that reflect the mood of my story, and/or do research. One of those methods will usually spark my writing and break the block.
Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
MS- Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Your dreams will come true. Anything and everything is possible.
Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
MS- None. Blood and Magic is the first book I’ve ever written. However, I have a huge list of future story ideas that I can’t wait to start working on.
Q - Do you have any writing quirks?
MS- I don’t know if I’d call it a quirk but I do not like to share any of my writing until it is complete. I don’t want to be unintentionally influenced by anyone’s opinion while I’m writing the first draft. Also for this reason, I don’t read any books in my genre while I’m in the first draft stage.
Q - Tell us about yourself.
MS- My day job ended a few months ago with a company closure, so I am currently writing full time. Hopefully I can maintain that because it has been so liberating. I’m from a wonderful Sicilian family. We spend a lot of time together laughing, cooking, and drinking wine. I also have an amazing boyfriend. We have been together for eight years. He has been so supportive throughout this entire process. And we have the most loving cat on the planet.
Q - How did you get into writing?
MS- I have been writing as a hobby since I was about nine years old. I used to be a very introverted person so writing was a way that I could express myself in a way that I didn’t know how to verbally. I’ve also struggled with anxiety most of my life so writing has been very therapeutic.
Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
MS- I love to read, cook, wine taste, binge watch sci-fi and fantasy shows on Netflix, and hang out with my family.
Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
MS- I write poetry, song lyrics, and screenplays. Music is very prominent in my family. My dad plays the saxophone, blues harmonica, piano and bass guitar. My mom used to dance and sing. My sister and I both sing so writing poetry and lyrics have always come naturally for me.
Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
MS- Hmm…I think a lot of people don’t know that I have a photographic memory. I passed a lot of tests in high school that way!
Q - Which book influenced you the most?
MS- Oh wow. As far as influencing me as a person, I would have to go with Wuthering Heights. It’s my favorite book of all time. As a writer, reading Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire made me fall in love with the supernatural, New Orleans (where parts of my book are set), and it made me fall in love with writing as a career.
Q - What are you working on right now?
MS- Right now I’m working on a yet to be titled fairytale retelling set in the dust bowl era. It has elements of steampunk, clockpunk, and portal fantasy. I’m in my research and plotting stage with it and I’m so excited to write it.
Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?
MS- It’s very simple. “You can’t edit a blank page.” Basically you have to write something. Anything. You can always fix it/add to it/change it later. But you can’t do anything with a blank page except write.
Q - The book you’re currently reading
MS- I’m so excited to finally be reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this book!
Melissa Sercia’s Biography
Melissa Sercia writes all things Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is the author of BLOOD AND MAGIC, book 1 in the Blood and Darkness series. Melissa lives in California with her man and her cat. When she's not building whimsical fantasy worlds and slaying demons, you can find her in the kitchen cooking with a glass of wine in her hand.
Links to Melissa Sercia