James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell on Their Latest Release: Innocent Blood
Vampire fiction got a new twist when James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, both bestselling authors, collaborated on The Order of the Sanguines series. The first installment in the series, The Blood Gospel, introduced a trio of unlikely heroes: Erin Granger, an archaeologist; Jordan Stone. a soldier; and a priest, Father Rhun Korza, a member of the Sanguines (priests protected by the blood of Christ). The three banded together to fight against the striogi, vampirelike, soulless creatures.
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Author James Rollins
Rollins and Cantrell's newest release, Innocent Blood, continues where Blood Gospel left off. Erin, Jordan and Father Rhun have reunited to find a child prophesied to be an angel made flesh.
Neither Rollins, who's based in the United States, or Cantrell, who's based in Europe, had ever written fiction with a partner before The Order of the Sanguines. We asked them about their experiences.
Rollins had the idea for the series and asked Cantrell to join him. Hesitant at first to discuss the series before she committed to the project, he eventually told her all about it and she eagerly agreed to join him.
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Author Rebecca Cantrell
"The series started from a simple supposition: If vampires existed, how might Christ have dealt with such a scourge?" Rollins told us. "Would He offer them a path to salvation? If so, how might that change the Catholic Church in the past? How might that look today? This led both Rebecca and I into intense research about the [Catholic Church], about how history might have been altered, etc. It was a great deal of fun building this alternate history of the world."
While the books deal with the history and mythology of the Roman Catholic Church, neither author is comfortable calling it a "Christian horror thriller" series. "The book was written as a mainstream Gothic thriller," Cantrell told us. "Some of the characters, the vampire priests, are Catholic, but I don't feel the books deal primarily with issues of Christianity."
"Agreed," said Rollins, "though I can see how that tag might be attached to the books."
Both authors agree that elements from several genres are used in the series, most obviously Gothic horror. "Most of my books in the past have blended different genres, mixing scientific speculation with explorations of historical mysteries," said Rollins. "And this series is no exception, even with the introduction of vampires, as Rebecca and I also looked into the 'science' behind vampiric mythology and folded that into the books.
"I...try to always tell the story that is truest to the characters," Cantrell adds. "If the characters are Sanguinist priests on the hunt for an angel, then that world has expectations, and it's fun for readers (and writers!) to play with those expectations. Can the story lead the reader through a strong Gothic/horror world where they hear every heartbeat, feel every terror? What do Sanguinist priests struggle with in their darkest moments? How does it feel to be them? Those are human questions (or vampire questions, anyway), and answering those questions without regard to genre feels, for me, the best way to pull readers into the story.
"As a writer, I'm also a reader," Cantrell continues, "so I'm constantly asking myself: What would be fun and new and interesting for the reader? What haven't we seen before? What happens if we open this door instead of that one? I try to search past the simplest solution, sometimes coming up with a long list of options to choose from, just to make sure that I'm getting the best answers to those questions. I owe the reader and the story that."