Thursday, October 14, 2010

BLOODTHIRSTY NOVEL WITH A TWIST



Inspiration for Anita Viljoen sparks at night, when the house is quiet, the kids are in bed and dreams get more vivid.

She awakes in those dark hours, sometimes fatigued, but determined to put those thoughts on paper.

“It’s my subconscious picking up on things,” says Viljoen, whose dreams inspired her first book, a thriller set in B.C. called Feeders.

Set in the suburbs of Metro Vancouver, Feeders is a story about coven of benevolent and placid vampires.

Instead of hunting people, they rather have humans voluntarily donate their blood.

These humans have a rare blood disorder that enables them to regenerate blood quickly when first drained but they need to be drained often to survive. These humans are known to vampires as Feeders.

The story follows Anne Patterson who is attacked, left bleeding and broken by a rogue vampire, when it unsuccessfully tries to drain her blood.

Luc Hastings, a feeder, and his vampire friend and tracker, Roman, find Anne at the side of a deserted road while tracking the rogue. Luc helps Ann accept her role as Feeder but things start to go seriously wrong when Anne is kidnapped.

For a first-time writer, Viljoen has done her homework to build a tale that’s part love story and part prime-time TV thriller.

Feeders was born from her curiosity about Polycythemia vera, a medical condition that thickens blood.

To decrease blood thickness, patients can have up to a pint of blood removed weekly.

Viljoens says she wanted her novel to be more than just make-believe.

To read a book about vampires already stretches your imagination, she explains.

“In order to make it realistic, I did as much research as I could to even it out.”

And research she did. Viljoens studied flight regulations to accurately portray gripping chase scenes in a helicopter; plotted how long it takes to drive from suburb to suburb; explored her characters’ histories and even had the coven’s leader, Sir Robert McKay, make his voyage to Canada on a ship that once sailed the Atlantic.

It’s a technique that allowed her characters to bloom, build pasts and spin futures for a sequel that’s already in the works.

“Once you’ve got your foundation, you work from there,” says Viljoen.

The people she meets while working as an esthetician at Temptations Salon and Spa in Maple Ridge helped pepper vampires Luc and Roman with unique and relatable traits.

“I would love to sketch what I’m seeing,” says Viljoen. “It’s a movie in my head. Like playing with chess pieces. I like having control of my characters, but sometimes they grab hold of me and fly away.”