Birth of the Bacchae
Immortal Relics Book 1 by Stephanie Mirro Genre: Urban Fantasy
"Vampires, Immortals, Bacchae—they’re all the same. The name may change, but their appetites never do."
Ever since archaeology student Serafina Finch found an ancient Roman amulet on a dig in Italy, she's been having dreams. Strange dreams that leave her with an eerie sense of foreboding. But between a busy college schedule and a boyfriend she's hoping to marry, she doesn't have time for strange.
Then a mysterious cult takes an obsessive interest in the artifact. Serafina finds her life in chaos as she's thrown into the supernatural world, where Immortals and witches alike claim ownership of the amulet. Her amulet.
As her connection to the amulet grows, she discovers a dark secret about her past. Serafina realizes she must protect the powerful relic at all costs--even if it means losing one of the people she loves most.
“Invisible. Powerful. Immortal. We are Bacchae.”
BIRTH OF THE BACCHAE is a New Adult Urban Fantasy novel exploring the origins of vampire lore in a modern setting. Where do the stories come from? How were vampires created? Do they still exist today?
Blood soaked through the dirt. At least, that’s what it looked like at first. Sera’s pulse quickened as she carefully swept dirt off the item buried beneath the soil. A dark crimson pendant attached to a chain appeared before her. She used her soft-bristle brush to clear the area around the necklace until she was certain it was on its own. Oh my god…
Sera stared at the artifact, holding her breath as if she might blow it away. Her heart pounded like a drum.
Despite Chad’s warning not to waste her time, she had picked the zone she was digging in with a sense of purpose, knowing the other sites around the ancient Roman temple’s altar would have long since been looted. She’d expected to find common pottery shards along the temple’s sidewall, where niches were often found in excavations. But a silver necklace with what appeared to be a ruby a little bigger than a quarter? Never in a million years.
Knowing she shouldn’t touch it with her bare hands but unable to resist, Sera ran a fingertip along the chain to the gemstone. It drew her in like a mythical Siren calling from her treacherous shore.
Stephanie Mirro's lifelong love of ancient mythology led to majoring in the Classics in college, which wasn't quite as much fun as writing her own mythology stories as she did as a child. But that education, combined with an overactive imagination and being an avid fantasy reader, resulted in a writing career.
Starting her days with coffee and ending them with wine means Stephanie can usually be found juggling household chores, keeping the kids alive, and trying to write, edit, publish, and market the stories that haunt her dreams.
Born and raised in Southern Arizona, Stephanie now resides in Northern Virginia with her husband, two kids, and two furbabies. This thing called "seasons" is still magical.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m allergic to hair dye! Which made going grey in my 20s kind of frustrating. I found out when I dyed my hair at home and ended up going to the ER because of how sick I felt. And also the fact that my face/head puffed up! All of my lymph nodes were swelling with the reaction, and anywhere dye touched my skin I blistered. It was not a great experience, let me tell you. I embrace my greys now.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I’m a bit sound sensitive so it KILLS me when I can hear someone chewing with their mouth open. I can’t NOT hear it anymore.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ, and while I hated growing up in the “southwest” culture (nothing wrong with it, mind you, it’s just not me), I can appreciate it so much more now that I’ve moved away. The desert is such a beautiful ecosystem and such a stark contrast to what most people in the US grew up with. It’s always amusing to hear newbies to the desert comment about everything that was just plain normal to me a few years ago.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
First, I would eat all the food, particularly breakfast burritos and pizza. Next, I would make sure all my loved ones knew how much I loved and appreciated them. Finally, I’d try and rob a bank just for funsies. (That’s just a joke, of course. I know it’s a very traumatic event for those on the other side of the event.)
Who is your hero and why?
As sappy as it is, my momma is my hero. After becoming a mom myself, I understand my mom so much better and all the crap she had to put up with from me and my sister. We weren’t THAT bad, but she is a saint for handling it the way she did. I always felt like I could tell my mom anything, knowing she wouldn’t judge me but would just hold me instead if I needed it.
She’s also the most amazing, selfless grandma. A woman who immediately said yes when I asked if there was any possibility of her flying to FL last year to babysit my kids while my husband and I went to a wedding. No hesitation at all, and my mom HATES to fly (she gets really anxious). I love you, Mom!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Much like my main character, Serafina, I enjoy a glass of wine and a mindless TV show or a hot bath. My wine du jour is Merlot, but I’m also a big fan of Malbecs right now.
How to find time to write as a parent?
Schedules! I get up at 5 am (my kids get up between 6:30-7 right now) which gives me a good hour of writing time after the coffee has been made and the caffeine kicks in. Because I stay at home with my kiddos, I also take advantage of naptime for social media and marketing tasks. My home is in a constant state of clutter, but everyone has clean clothes and food on their plates so I call it a win. And in my wonderful husband’s words as he’s washing the dishes, “You’re not a homemaker, your job is keeping the kids alive.”
Also, be kind to yourself! It is NOT easy balancing it all.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Maybe at 5ish? It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I have not always been a very disciplined or uber motivated person, however, so it’s taken me roughly 30 years to finally get around to making it a career. But here I am!
Do you have a favorite movie?
It might be a strange choice to some, but I freaking love Wild Things with Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon. Everything about that movie is awesome. A close second is Boondock Saints. (Also, if Daryl dies, we riot!)
What inspired you to write this book?
When I was in college, I studied the Classics which is the study of ancient civilizations. At some point, I learned about various mystery rites—religious ceremonies we don't know much about. My favorite was the Bacchanalia, a celebration dedicated to Bacchus (the Roman god of wine, frenzies, and festivities). The rite included feats of inhuman strength such as uprooting trees, tearing apart a bull with one's bare hands, and eating its raw flesh. And from there the idea grew.
What can we expect from you in the future? Her Majesty’s Fury, book 2 of the Immortal Relics, will come out this fall (my goal is by end of October). I’ll write book 3 during November’s NaNoWriMo challenge with the goal of publishing by spring. I have plans to keep going with the series, including 2 novellas which will be origin stories for the Bacchae characters Solomon and Danae (Bacchae = vampire in my world). After that or while I’m working on those, I have a YA post-zombie apocalypse series I can’t wait to start.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
For some, I waited until the characters themselves told me their names. Serafina Finch is one of those. For others, I did some research. For example, I looked up common slave names of the 1800s to name Solomon Jones. It didn’t connect at first that my two POV characters both began with the letter ‘S’ so I tried to change his name to a few others but nothing stuck. He was Solomon. Danae I had known for a long time as it came from my studies in college.
Who designed your book covers?
Hampton from TS95studios! I can’t say enough great things about his art and his professionalism. He will be doing all of the Immortal Relics covers.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s a tough one. The thing is, it’s my debut novel. I’ve learned a lot from writing Birth of the Bacchae, and I worked really hard to edit it as I learned new things. Could there be improvements? Absolutely. I’m well aware the book is more of a slow burn than dropping right into major action. But you write what you love, and I love a slow burn. I’ve also embraced the fact that the series will show my writing progression, and, not to toot my own horn too much, but I think I’m starting out at a pretty decent place.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
So much! But I’ll focus on writing itself. I started out as a bit of a pantser, but I discovered I’m much better with a loose outline. I’m not a full-blown plotter, but I need to know the major plot points so I don’t get muddled down in the mundane. I actually had no experience with all the various ways one can structure a novel, but I’m really glad I found one that resonates with me (K.M. Weiland’s “Structuring Your Novel”).
How did you come up with the name for Birth of the Bacchae?
It literally popped into my head when I was daydreaming during class. I know the name is going to trip some people up (Bacchae = BOCK-eye), but changing the title was like trying to change Solomon’s name. It just couldn’t be done. I chopped close to 10k words from my story during editing, so I’m not afraid to make changes. But some things just are.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
There’s a scene near the end that started the entire story. It’s part of the climax, so I don’t want to spoil it, but it starts with the words, “Drip… drip… drip…” It’s best read while listening to Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Sweet Dreams,” which I listened to about a thousand times while writing the scene. It’s dark and full of angst, just like the scene.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must-read.
I’ll share my favorite review from Goodreads as an answer: “(I've read roughly 47 million vampire novels, and I can honestly say that this is the first time I have read this particular origin story -- so 47 million points to Gryffindor for that.)
In this universe, vampires are the creations of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and madness, made to be his companions. However, they have gone astray from his ways and become violent predators, betraying their creator. When Serafina discovers an ancient Bacchic relic on an archaeological dig, she sets of [sic] a chain of events, inserting herself in the middle of that struggle.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and I appreciated the fact that it didn't feel like I had already read it before. My predictions weren't all true, and I enjoy being surprised. Plus, it's always fun when the vampires are good ole' fashioned monstrous bad guys, not sparkly love interests.
*adds author's next book to release calendar*”
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, Jacqueline Carey, Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Anne McCaffrey, Tamora Pierce, L.J. Smith
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Is it too obvious to say Harry Potter? J.K. Rowling captured the hearts of MILLIONS of people around the world and created a world and cast of characters that help real kids get through their own tough times. It would be my ultimate dream to be able to speak to readers that way.
Advice they would give new authors?
Just finish it. It’s the advice I received from my mentor, Martin Wilsey, in my writing group, and it’s the advice other successful authors have given as well. You can’t edit a blank page. Don’t worry about how it sounds while you’re writing it. Write crap. Write “he did this, then she said this.” Whatever it takes to finish. Once your story is written, that’s when the real magic happens.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Sit down, shut up, and write. (i.e. stop making excuses!)
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Oh, this question is fun. As a female, it can be difficult to write men as they are instead of how I want them to be.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
1.5 months for the first draft. Although technically it’s over ten years because I started a million times before this last year. One year ago, something just clicked in my brain, and I sat down and wrote my book. Sounds easy, but the 15 years before that were frustrating as hell. It was just my time.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and no. I don’t think I’ve experienced true writer’s block to be able to say whether it exists or not. But I’ve gotten stuck many times. I’ve been in slumps or not known where to take a scene or wanted to throw my computer across the room. I even avoided writing a scene for months because it would mean the book was finished-finished. But I find the best solution to those issues is to focus my time elsewhere: I write another story I’ve been dying to dive into; I work on marketing/social media tasks (like this!); I read a book in my genre or on writing; I watch YouTube videos from other authors, learn from the masters on MasterClass, or watch a TV show. If I’m dying to finish something but I’m feeling stuck, I’ll print it out and edit on paper. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can trick your mind into making magic.
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