SURRENDER THE DARK (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong-Review and Interview
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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 23, 2017
As a provocative series of paranormal temptation begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him. But when the stakes are literally life or death, their struggle for control is no game.
Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.
After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.
REVIEW: I had not read anything by this author before reading this book.
I read the back cover and was hooked…. How could the author manage to make Ben the vampire hunter and Tzadkiel the vampire that killed his family and blinded him go from enemies to lovers?
Ben’s a hunter, from a long line of hunters, when Ben was eight, his parents and uncle were slaughtered by a vampire and he was blinded. Ben had to learn quick and he did….. For the last 20 years, Ben has hunted and killed as many vampires as he could find in his home town of Boston. He hunts with his two best friends, Nyx, who is part witch and part fae, and Akito, who has always wanted to be a superhero.
The vampire in question has been walking the earth for thousands of years, but the last 20 years Tzadkiel has been in hiding, trying to heal from his injuries that were inflicted by Ben’s family. He has a plan, though, to get his strength back and also strengthen his mora (his vampire family) once again, he will need to take out the hunter in Boston.
Tzadkiel sets out to teach Ben a lesson before he ends his life, so he pretends to be a hunter like Ben, and to reeducate Ben in the art of vampire killing. He makes Ben’s previous teachings from his family a sham, he puts doubt into Ben’s mind. He makes him question his own background.
Ben and Tzadkiel and are very attracted to one another and neither of them can seem to stop it. But there is so much between them, that it takes a while before any real feelings emerge. There is a lot of hatred and mistrust.
But there is a power struggle going on in Boston that puts everyone in danger, there are zombies and strange goings on, so Ben and Tzadkiel decide that it’s better the devil you know basis and form an uneasy alliance between them.
So will they have a happy ending? It was hard to believe they would, there was so much hatred and bad blood between them, I couldn’t see how. So I won’t tell you 😉you’ll have to buy the book and find out yourself.
Copy supplied for review
Reviewed by Julie B
TRC: Hi, Tibby and welcome to The Reading Café.
Tibby: Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here!
TRC: Congratulations on the release of SURRENDER THE DARK
Tibby: It’s such a thrill to have the book out in the world and to be able to share it with you and your readers!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
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Tibby: I come from a family that had a book addiction. There are more bookshelves in my family than family members, and more books in three of our homes than in all of my home town public library. I think I started writing out of self defense. At least at first, writing my own stories was easier on my budget.
Thinking I would love to work as well as live around books 24/7, I obtained a Master’s of Library science in 2011. Alas, the economy and my student loans didn’t support my actually working in a library. So, now I work in the technology sector by day and allow my author alter ego to come out on nights and weekends.
TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?
Tibby: I grew up in a house with 10 people, my great grandparents included. My great grandmother used to tell me stories as I fell asleep at night. She came up with tales about elves who lived in our backyard, as well as relating the fun of being the middle of a family of 12 children. It’s safe to say that my imagination is influenced in large part by my relationship with her.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?
Tibby: I’ve been extraordinarily lucky with publishing my work. My third completed novel was picked up a few months after I completed the pages. I’ve had some wonderful mentors, friends, and professionals such as my agent and my editors to rely on. If I had to say anything has been difficult, it’s that I work pretty much seven days a week and don’t take vacations because I need to use that time to meet my deadlines. I love writing though, so it’s really no sacrifice.
TRC: Would you please tell us something about SURRENDER THE DARK?
Tibby: The plot of Surrender the Dark came to me almost three years ago when I had first moved back to the Boston area for work. I was walking down a snowy street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wondering how a person with visual impairments would navigate the icy brick sidewalks, when I looked up and saw a Victorian building decorated with gargoyles and urns. I thought, “Hm. That would be a great place for a vampire to crouch in wait for its quarry.” On the heels of that came the thought, “Blind vampire hunter.” Boom! A story was born!
TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series? Is the series entirely M/M based?
Tibby: There are three books planned for the series. They are all m/m, of a sort. The third book explores some gender issues, but I think readers will be intrigued. I know I am!
TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?
Tibby: I think most folks enjoy a certain amount of predictability in Romance, but the key is to satisfy those expectations while keeping the world and conflicts fresh. Tropes can be used as long as they’re used for a reason. The key is to make those choices consciously and to let the characters and conflict drive the story. Also, I rarely read inside my own genre anymore. I read outside the genre and find that weaving storytelling methods from those other genres into my own process helps me not to reach for the “easy fix”. Some authors can read in their genre, but I’m not someone who can do that without getting bogged down.
TRC: You write several different genres. Which do you prefer? Which do you find the most difficult?
Tibby: True! I write contemporary, paranormal, m/m and m/f. I find PNR the most challenging, but the most enjoyable. The complexity of world building, characterization, and plot keep me engaged more fully. I have had a marvelous time writing contemporary stories, but PNR has long been my first love.
TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?
Tibby: I do believe the cover image is very important. It’s a shorthand that tells readers several things at a glance:
1. The genre
2. The tone (light, dark, fun, angsty)
3. The quality of production put into the book by the publisher (Did the publisher believe in the book enough to spend time on the cover?)
4. Author brand
If the cover is compelling it will make the reader stop and notice the book, picking it out of a sea of other available and often wonderful options.
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Tibby: Oh, it’s very much the characters directing the show. If I don’t give them control, they simply shut up and I have nothing to write or what I write comes out wooden. I learned a long time ago that they run the show!
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavor?
Tibby: My goodness. I don’t know that I’m qualified to say why writers might fail in showing emotions, but I think the key here is “show.” If you tell readers “It was a dark and stormy night,” you’re setting a scene, but it’s a cardboard cutout that evokes little. Writing, instead, “Tree branches scraped the leaded pane windows, their shadows like bony fingers on the ceiling. Thunder cracked, the simultaneous lightning flash illuminating the room. Sophia stifled a scream. Jared stood at the end of her bed i. He smelled of rain and freshly turned earth.”
We’ve set the scene and created anticipation so that when Jared does appear, we’re experiencing the authenticity of Sophia’s emotions. To merely say “it was a dark and stormy night” makes the reader feel as if they are watching a costume drama minus the costumes and period setting.
TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?
Tibby: I do! However, I don’t usually find my playlist for the novel until I’ve written several chapters and understand a little more about the characters. Then, I go on Pandora and listen to my Alternative station until I find the songs that speak to mood and psychology. Sometimes those songs influence the emotions later in the story, but mostly they support the ones I’ve already discovered.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Tibby: I have several critique partners. I also bounce ideas off of my editor and agent.
TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?
Tibby: Probably that we are born knowing how to write. Learning to tell a good story takes many years of practice.
TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?
Tibby: There’s not much I won’t tell people, given a chance. So, not much! Though my close friends know this, possibly not many of my readers do, however. The character of Greg in No Apologies lives the career that I wanted for myself. He also has some life experiences that were also my own.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Tibby: Currently, I’m working on the second draft of the follow-up novel to Surrender the Dark. It is titled Taste the Dark, and tells the story of Akito, who falls in love with Lyandros, brother to the vampire king.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Tibby: Thank you for having me! I hope you and your readers enjoy Surrender the Dark!
Favorite TV Show
Currently, The Crown and Victoria. I’m researching a historical PNR!
Last Movie You Saw
Oh dear. I can’t recall. It has been a while.
Dark or Milk Chocolate
It depends on the chocolate. If it’s really expensive dark chocolate, it can triumph over milk chocolate. My guilty pleasure, however, are Cadbury Mini Eggs.
Secret Celebrity Crush
Last Vacation Destination
Do you have any pets?
I have two cats, Dean and Diana.
Last book you read
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold. If you haven’t read Cordelia’s Honor, pick it up!
TRC: Thank you, Tibby, for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.
Tibby: Thank you for having me. I’ve enjoyed myself immensely!