The McKay coven's saga continues with Maple Ridge writer Anita Viljoen's Hybrid
Writer/mom/esthetician Anita Viljoen has served up another fictional feast, one that fans of the vampire genre can really plunge their teeth into.
Hybrid is the sequel to Feeders, the Maple Ridge resident's first novel.
Feeders is set in her adopted province of B.C. and centres around Sir Robert McKay's coven of vampires, who seek "feeders."
"Feeders" are humans with a rare blood disorder that enables them to regenerate their blood quickly when first drained. "Feeders" then need frequent draining to survive.
The South African born-and-raised Viljoen's first fictional foray is not so much about the bloodsuckers hunting their quarry as it is about the symbiotic relationship between human "volunteers" and vampires.
Hybrid picks up where Feeders left off.
This follow-up focuses on Gemma Anne O'Sullivan, a.k.a. Gem, the daughter of a human mother, Megan McKay, and a vampire father, Michael O'Sullivan.
She is a hybrid and the first female of her kind, a secret kept by the McKay council for two-and-a-half decades.
The reappearance of Sire Raymond Pitout in Canada compromises her secret, as the International Vampire Council sends out its head of security, Lord Malcolm Murphy (the first hybrid), to protect Gem and destroy Sire Pitout.
The story grows complicated when Malcolm falls in love with Gem.
"There are a lot of odds and ends to this book, and it closes off on Feeders," Viljoen said. "A lot of questions are answered. The main story is about the two hybrids who fall in love."
Hybrid is the second of three books penned by the 42-year-old Viljoen.
Her third creation, A Bride Reborn, a vampire tale with a reincarnation theme, is currently in the publisher's hands.
Viljoen's inspiration comes from her fascination with the paranormal, vampires in particular.
"I enjoy vampires because they're mysterious," Viljoen said. "It's the whole concept of immortality. Living forever is a unique concept. Imagine the history they live with."
On the vein of history, and time in particular, finding time to write has been, and will always be, a juggling act for Viljoen.
She and her husband of 23 years, Martin, are raising an 18-year-old son, Brandon, and a 13-year-old daughter, Nicole.
And, when she's not writing or at home with her family, Viljoen works as an esthetician at Temptations Salon & Spa in Maple Ridge.
Her hectic life was partly why she wrote most of her first novel while the rest of the world slept, from 1:30 to 3:30 a.m.
Recently she's become less of an "early-morning owl." She now writes when ideas come to her.
"I find I get [writing] spurts when I get calm moments," she said. "I've been writing mostly when I can fit it in. With Feeders and Hybrid, I wrote at night but with the new one that I finished writing, it was much more during the day."
While Viljoen never considered herself to be a writer, the concept of her first two novels had been swimming in her head for quite some time before she finally put fingertips to computer keys.
"It was a progression," she said. "It's amazing how it took shape."
Hybrid turned out to be a much smoother process than Feeders. As a novel-writing newbie, Viljoen said getting Feeders edited and published "was a whole new ball game."
"With this one [Hybrid], it just followed suit, it just flowed right into it," Viljoen said.
She had Hybrid edited locally, in Maple Ridge. The same editor revisited Feeders, and the second edition of Viljoen's first book was released recently.
"Editing is very, very crucial," Viljoen said. "The first edition [of Feeders] was my voice. The second edition is universal."
Feeders are based on real people who live with a blood disorder called polycythemia vera, in which the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells.
Polycythemia vera may also result in the overproduction of white blood cells and platelets. Most of the health concerns associated with polycythemia vera are caused by a blood-thickening effect that results from an overproduction of red blood cells.
Viljoen said people who read Feeders told her they loved the book.
"Many have told me that they couldn't put the book down, many have told me it's a very good concept, they loved the energy of it, the intrigue of it, so it's all very positive," she said.
People can pick up copies of Hybrid and Feeders at Bean Around Books, 22626 Lougheed Hwy., or purchase them online at Viljoen's official website, sbpra.com/anitaeviljoen/, or on the Amazon, Chapters Indigo, and Black Bond Books websites.
Anita Viljoen is inviting the public to a launch and book-signing event for Hybrid on Sunday, March 11 at Bean Around Books. The event runs from 2 to 4 p.m.
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