Monday, October 10, 2011

Mina's Daughter, The Harker Chronicles - S.L. Schmitz (Review & Author Interview)

Today, we are happy to review "Mina's Daughter, The Harker Chronicles" by S.L. Schmitz.  Not only are we going to review this fabulous cliffhanger series, but we are thrilled to also have S.L. Schmitz join us for an interview.
Visit her website at www.thedeadgirl.com and contact her at Stephanie@darkcontinents.com
1 - How did you come about wanting to write "Mina's Daughter: The Harker Chronicles"?

The vampire story is so engrained in our culture now, that to write a new story with new information is tricky. After I began to do some research on Stoker’s Dracula, and took the time to re-read the original “Dracula” novel, I became immersed in the strong female character of Mina. I assumed that a continuation of Mina’s story must already exist somewhere, so I proceeded to Google the name to find the novels and short stories that I assumed were in existence. What I found was… almost nothing! There are one or two stories about Mina, but not the huge backlog that I was expecting! Once the seed was planted, I realized that I had stumbled upon a missing literary link; what happened to the Crew of Light in the next chapter of their lives? Little by little, Mina’s Daughter: The Harker Chronicles emerged.

In Stoker’s original afterword, he indicated that Jonathon and Mina Harker had a son named Quincey. While I found that useful, it was not the connection to the story that I was looking for. I wanted Mina to have a daughter, someone who would inherit all of the “man’s brain” PLUS some of the vampire blood and powers from Dracula. In addition, I envisioned an alternate history Steampunk component, bringing a new dimension to Stoker’s vision of technology and communication. Pulling all of these components together, while setting the novel in the Edwardian age and bringing in a little romance, Mina’s Daughter born!

2 - Why did you decide to make "Mina's Daughter, the Harker Chronicles" a series of short stories rather than a full novel? 
Actually, it is a full novel. The difference is that it is being released by Trestle Press in installments –think of the old cliffhanger model of story writing. What better way to engage readers than to give them a familiar story that generates lots of interest, and then stop at critical exciting points? Cliffhangers create buzz and sensationalism – it builds an audience and enables the reader to consider the next part of the story on their own terms.

“Mina’s Daughter: The Harker Chronicles” is an e-book that drops a new 2-3 chapter installment  the 15th of every month for a 99 cent download. It is available wherever e-books are sold!
In addition, I have a novel called “Let It Bleed”, which is available in both e-book and softcover. The novel is out now, but the ones available via the Alternating Press publisher will soon be collector’s items, as Let It Bleed will be transitioning over to Dark Continents Publishing in January 2012. That novel is much darker and deeper than Mina; it is a modern day re-telling of the biblical Joseph and Mary story, with a 1980’s gothic and punk soundtrack. 

3 - Where do you get your inspiration from to write?
 Inspiration comes from everywhere! I will be honest, though… I am drawn to themes that are dark, mysterious, otherworldly. Internal conflicts can be just as rich and disturbing as external conflicts – consider how Poe’s tale of the “TellTale Heart” was told exclusively from the point of view of a man in the middle of a mental breakdown.  I adore twist endings and characters that have multiple layers. Another thing that inspires me is conspiracy and conversations that push against typical social mores – I want to introduce a level of uncomfortableness in my writing that forces the reader to ask questions and force them to confront their biases. Religion figures into my  text a lot, as well as alternate historical interpretation and such hot button  issues as prejudice, abortion, and assisted suicide.

4 - Any advice for aspiring writers?

Network, network, network.
Use social networking to get to know other writers. Get to know the readers, reviewers, bloggers, and industry people that are relevant to your genre. Join writer groups – I’m not talking about reader workshops or conferences because that is a whole other kind of support. I’m talking about writing groups like Broad Universe (a women’s organization for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers),  SavvyAuthors.com, and the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association). I champion local  author groups, such as the North Carolina Writer’s Association and my local chapters of the Women’s National Book Association and The International Reading Association, which provides support to young authors.

Not sure how to get started networking? Start by Googling for blogs that are on your topic or genre. Once you find a blogger/reviewer that you like, look on the page to see if that person has a list of “recommended link” or “blogs that I follow”. Start opening up and reading those blogs. Continue drilling down, joining the different mailing and Facebook opportunities. Ask to friend the writers and bloggers and reviewers that you meet. You will be amazed at how quickly you can enter into a conversation with someone whom you’ve met in a social networking community.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule and spending a few moments with us!  Good luck with all your future endeavours!  And now...On to the review!
** This book was provided to us by the publisher, and we were in no way paid for our review.  The review was done simply because we support and believe in the author's works**
Ever since she turned eighteen, Katherine Wilhelmina Harker has  been keeping a horrible secret; she craves human blood. But she has no idea where this terrible thirst comes from - all she knows is that her father is  dead and her mother passed away last year in mysterious circumstances. Katie lives in the London apartments of her guardian, Dr. Seward, and does not want to let anyone know about the dark stranger who sometimes visits her at night.
Now a teacher at the same academy her mother attended, Katie dreams of a world beyond London society, but is too frightened of her odd, newly-developing powers and her desire to drink the blood of all of the young gentlemen who call on her. She knows that there has to be more to the story of her birth than anyone will tell her, so now, to find out who she really is, Katie sets about locating the whereabouts of the missing Dr. Van Helsing to get the answers…
- Synopsis from the Book


No video for this book, but this song went well with this book.



If you are a fan of cliff hanger series’, then this is the book for you!  In this story we are introduced to Katherine (Katie) Harker, daughter of Mina Harker who passed away last year. We start the story with Katie and her friends at the zoo, having a picnic.  But the picnic is anything but normal.  A large alpha wolf has decided to crash their party!  I had a vivid picture in my mind of three proper ladies dressed in their fancy clothes, not making any moves except for their lips as they throw verbal jabs at each other.  I caught myself chuckling out loud.  I was anxious to see what was going to happen and was already curious about Katie because of the way she handled the wolf.  It was a great way to start the book.
Schmitz did a great job describing Katie’s firstencounter with her blood lust.  I could picture each moment in my mind, the freeze frame, the desire to drink her admirer’s blood, the look on Sara’s face when she walked in on them, and leave off with Katie receiving an unexpected note in her bedroom.
In the second installment, we find ourselves where we left off in the first, with Katie contemplating how the note could have been placed into her room.  We see more of the blood lust in Katie, and the paranormal experiences she encounters.  We are also introduced to a member of the Van Helsing family who comes to the family home to discuss business related to another member of the Van Helsing family.
Schmitz has an addicting writing style that gives the readers just enough information to keep them interested and craving more.
Mina’s Daughter, the Harker Chronicles was wonderfully written, with a cast of characters that were equally enjoyable.  True fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula will really enjoy this cliff hanger series that shows us what happens after the original story.  I am really looking forward to what S.L. Schmitz has in store for us with this fantastic story.
I fell in love with the story from the first sentence of the first installment of the Harker Chronicles. At first I didn't know if I could get into the story, mainly because it was a short story and I find that short stories usually don't have any of the eye popping details that novels do. Strange enough I found myself pulled so deeply into the story that I forgot all of my doubts, each word was beautifully crafted and each emotion was expressed perfectly. I constantly found myself watching the story in my head especially in the beginning with Katie and the wolf, and at the End with the mysterious note... The most interesting part about Katie is that she is the daughter of Mina from Bram Stoker's Dracula (hence the title, duhr).
The one strong thing that I feared when I was about to read it was that the short story is placed in the past and I was worried that I would spent hours wondering what the heck some of the words meant (you have to understand I am a teenager). Nope! I somehow managed to understand every part of it, and even found a few hints of humor in the novel (something that was impossible when I read Pride and Prejudice...and Zombies). The most engaging part (for me) is when we learn that Katie isn't all that normal when she ends up having an unwanted thirst for, wait for it, blood.
If that doesn't kind of make you interested then it will take a lot for you to be.
In the second installment I was drawn in the moment that Katie looks into the mirror only to have a great surprise when she sees her reflection. I won't say much so that I don't ruin it for you, but the one thing that made this installment rememberable was the mysterious and the way that I imagined him (tall dark and I don't know...gorgeous?), Wolfgang Van Helsing (grandson of Dr.Van Helsing, ring any bells?) definitely knows something that we don't, but hopefully we will find out more about him in the next installments in the Harker Chronicles?
A great and quick read, I just cannot wait for the next installments. I recommend this to anybody who wants to know what happens after Dracula ends...
Thumbs up!

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