From Michelle: I love today’s GuestBlog from Bella Emma Holly almost as much as I adore her new FitzClare Chronicles series and “Kissing Midnight.” The book’s a hot, heady adventure, clever and wry, with a perfectly cool new setting for a historical romance: post WWI London. The June – August series? Think of it as a Summer of Love, upyr style: Instantly gratifying indulgence with a bite. Please offer our pal Emma a warm Bella buongiorno…
From Emma: What makes a family? Most people would agree it’s more than blood. Lots of folks have blood relatives they don’t speak to - or friends they’re closer to than real siblings. Since I find the latter more interesting to write about than the former, I decided to let Edmund Fitz Clare, the vampire hero of "Kissing Midnight," create a family that was made up of voluntary bonds.
No one, certainly not the other members of upyrkind, consider it Edmund’s obligation to adopt a trio of humans who were orphaned in the last Great War. Edmund doesn’t need immortality - hello, vampire! - and he already has two human descendants who have been changed. No, when this seeming professor of history rescues Ben and Sally and Graham, it’s because he wants a family to love.
That, I think, is the secret to his nonstandard parenting success.
Edmund wants to love his children. Not to raise them to be paragons. Not to keep them safe from their own mistakes. Not to swaddle them forever in cotton wool. (Okay, he would like to do that, but he refrains.) He wants to love them. That’s his idea of proving he’s become a better man than he used to be. To him, loving his family isn’t his obligation, it’s his privilege. So what if he risks immolation just to walk his youngest girl to school? Never mind how hard it is to keep the secret of his true nature from their curious eyes. He gets his fulfillment from watching them grow up to be themselves.
In return, his children adore him back. They might think their night owl father is eccentric, but they sense the unconditional nature of his affection, and they feel fortunate to have his care.
They feel fortunate to have each other, too, because they don’t share blood ties, either.
Before Edmund ever showed up at the orphanage, middle child Ben went hungry to save Sally from starvation. Edmund’s eldest, Graham, appointed himself both the younger pair’s protector. These children chose each other as much as Edmund chose them. In truth, them choosing each other inspired Edmund to adopt them all. It would have taken a harder-hearted vampire than Edmund ever was to leave any one of them behind.
So here is this voluntary family, grown up now, not perfect by any means, but each aware that they are lucky to have someone to love and be loved by. As a storyteller, the Fitz Clares’ dynamic was a pleasure to explore. What would put the most pressure on these voluntary ties? What wonderful or terrible decisions might the adoptees be driven to as I pushed them to their limits? How could I help them, fictional characters though they were, fully recognize the treasure they had in each other?
Answering those questions propelled me all the way through "Kissing Midnight" and two other books. It provided me one of the most rewarding writing experiences I’ve ever had. Edmund was already a favorite of mine; I’d written about him in "Catching-" and "Courting Midnight," but his children came to tug at me just as strongly. Edmund’s mortal love interest did as well, in part because Estelle’s life embodied the very issues I was sorting through. Her blood parents met their obligations without really loving her. To me, it was no wonder she fell in love with Edmund and the rest of his brood.
Naturally, I’m hoping lots of people will love my creations. If they do, I know the Fitz Clares won’t be the first made-up family readers have fallen for. Understanding that, here’s my question for you, Bellas: What fictional families have had you jonesing to be adopted? What, to you, gives a family circle an irresistible glow? I’ll be waiting to hear what you say!
***Check out an adults-only excerpt from one of the Bellas' fave "Kissing Midnight" scenes here!