Verna Depaul Guest Blog

Author Virna DePaul Guest Blog and Amazon Gift Card Contest

Turned: The Belladonna Agency Series by Virna Depaul Thank you Rachel for having me at Bitten By Books today! I am thrilled to share information about my upcoming novel, Turned! It is the first book in my new paranormal romantic suspense series, The Belladonna Agency.

“Some Flowers Thrive Better in the Dark.” I love this tagline because, just like the beautiful but deadly Belladonna nightshade plant, this perfectly describes my heroines in this series, ordinary women with dark pasts who are recruited to join Belladonna, a black ops organization that hunts vampire criminals.

In Turned readers will meet Ty Duncan, a sexy newly turned vampire struggling with the loss of his humanity, and Ana Martin, a former gang member who has yet to accept she is both good and worth of love.

Paranormal Romance Rocks!

The term “paranormal” was coined way back in 1915 for experiences that lie outside the range of normal experience and scientific explanation. Today, Merriam-Webster defines paranormal as very strange and not able to be explained by what scientists know about nature and the world. In the romance community, the word paranormal awakens thoughts of vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies and much more. The challenge of any writer of paranormal romance is giving readers the same but different. Same excitement and emotional catharsis. Unique plot and characters. But then again, this is the task for any writer, whether she writes contemporary, paranormal or suspense.

I have a strong preference for romance heroes with fangs. Vampires are often considered the “bad boy” in the paranormal community. The night is their playground. They are strong, fearsome creatures known for giving into their baser instincts. In addition, they are usually at the top of the food chain—powerful creatures with the ability to the persuade others and defeat their opponents. It’s for this reason that vamps make such great romance heroes—I love it when an alpha vampire used to being in charge is thrown for a loop when the right woman comes along. Who doesn’t love a story in which the beauty and character of a good woman has the power to bring an alpha male to his knees?!

I read my first paranormal romance in…well let’s just say it was a wee bit ago. For some reason, I had a harder time admitting my fancy for vampires than I did my obsession with romance novels. After all, a girl who loves romance and HEAs? Fine. A girl that loves those things with some blood and gore and fantasy? Some people just don’t get it. But good thing I’m pretty independent and while I care about people and love nurturing others, I’m not big on depriving myself based on the whim of others. Plus, these days, you can find vampires in movies, television and novels, and even better, romance and sex is often thrown into the mix.

I love mixing the world of the paranormal with the complexities and conflicts of the human world. In my upcoming novel Turned, the hero Ty Duncan was savagely turned into a vampire and now he must deal with his newer, darker instincts. During Ty’s turning process he has struggled to hold onto his humanity. There are times when he’s not unsuccessful. Still, Ty must convince my heroine Ana Martin to join the Belladonna Agency, a black ops organization that hunts vampire criminals. Ana is a human with a sordid past she is attempting to overcome. Together, she and Ty will go up against a formidable foe, but their biggest challenges will be learning to forgive and love themselves.

The Belladonna Agency is a bit of a spin on Charlie’s Angels. Four women whose lives are all affected by a horrible event find themselves allies and eventually warriors. I wanted my heroes and heroines to be powerful whether they were vampires or humans. Ana can curse and fight with the best of them. She uses not only her physical strength but her strength of mind as well. As a former gang member, she is an unusual heroine but that is part of what makes her special—like Ty, she knows what it feels like to live within a community even as she can never quite fit in. When Ana and Ty use their individual skills they become a formidable pair—and discover a love that will last an eternity. I hope you’ll look into how this unlikely pair battles their enemies and their lust for each other in Turned, releasing April 1, 2014.

Read a 4 star review of  Turned by clicking here.

Buy a print copy of Turned by clicking here.
Buy a Kindle copy of Turned from Amazon by clicking here.

Books in the Belladonna Agency series in the order they should be read:

About Virna Depaul

Author Virna Depaul

Author Bio:

“Virna DePaul is a USAToday and New York Times bestselling author of steamy, suspenseful fiction. Whether its vampires, a Para-Ops team, hot cops or swoon-worthy identical twin brothers, her stories center around complex individuals willing to overcome incredible odds for love. Bedding The Wrong Brother is a #1 Bestselling Contemporary Romance, and is followed by Bedding The Bad Boy. Her PNR series with Random House launches on April 1, 2014 with Turned.”

Connect with Virna

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  1. Hello Bitten By Books readers! I am so happy to be here today! Thank you so much to Rachel and the BBB staff for having me!


  2. Hi Virna!

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us here today! I am so thrilled. You must be super excited for the release of Turned in just a few days.

    My question for you is, what do you do to celebrate once your release hits the shelves. Do you have special ritual (besides touring for the book lol) or something you treat yourself to once a project is finally out?

    • Great question Rachel! Waiting eagerly for release day is part happy anticipation and a bit of torture. It is a bit like a birth. As a writer you have worked hard to create something and you pray that people like it. We do tours and promotions to spread the word about the release and then kind of hold our breath on release day. For the release of Turned I have decided to have a Relax day on release day. I’m going to treat myself to a massage and hope that readers like my new series!

      Thanks Rachel!

  3. Do you put things that happen in real life in your books?

    • Hi Barb!

      I try not to put real life events in my books. However, sometimes a person will make an impression on me and end up in a book in little ways such as a character trait.


  4. Congratulations on your upcoming release of Turned! It sounds like a fascinating book. Vampires are my favorite paranormal romance heroes too. Who are some of your favorite vampires?

    • Hi Bonnie,

      Thank you! There are so many! I love JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series! All of the vampires in their books are so sexy and irresistible!


  5. When you first decided to write a book/novel and get it publish- did you have anything holding you back that you had to work through? If so, and it’s not too private, what was it? 🙂

    • Hi Sarah,

      There were a couple of things holding me back at first. Fear that I wouldn’t be good enough. Also giving up my steady and secure job as a lawyer. Even though I didn’t like being a lawyer I’d been raised to choose a practical profession. I also had three kids and didn’t want my hubby to feel like the financial burdens were all on him. But I also loved writing. I had to follow my passion and believe it would work out 🙂


  6. Elise-Maria Barton

    What, if any,influence do vampire legends and/or other author’s works on the same topic have on your creativity process?

    • Hi Elise-Maria,

      Vampire legends have a little influence on my work but not too much. I try to switch things up and come up with different vampire traits than those readers are used to.


  7. Hi Virna,
    Can’t wait to read Turned! Can you tell us a bit more about The Belladonna Agency series – how many books you think this may be, when the next one will be released, how to get the numbers of those gorgeous cover models (please, please, please!!!)…

    • Hi Margaret!

      The Belladonna Agency is a bit of a spin on Charlie’s Angels! I loved that show growing up! Four women are brought together by a singular event. However, they do not find out until years later how the event truly changed all of their lives and linked them together. The Belladonna Agency is a black ops intelligence unit that is charged with handling crimes that often delve into the paranormal. The boss is Carly and she plays her cards close to the vest. Right now I am looking at four books in the series but I hope for more 🙂 I really wish I could give you those numbers Margaret but unfortunately I missed out on those photo shoots!


      • I forgot to add when the next book in the Belladonna Series, Awakened will be released! Right now we are looking at July 1, 2014 for Awakened!

        Thanks again Margaret!

  8. Raonaid Luckwell

    Say you were allowed only to give one piece of advice to newbie writers and authors. What advice do you think is the most important to give.

    • Hi Raonaid,

      Never stop writing! If writing is your passion never stop doing it! Things will get in your way and try to discourage you but don’t let it. 🙂


  9. Congrats on the upcoming release. It sounds really good.
    What 3 things would you say your hero/heroine would never leave the house without? 🙂

    • Hi Elaing8,

      Oooh good question. Thank you! Ty and Ana would never leave home without each other especially if they were going into battle. A weapon and a cell phone! Even the most saavy vampires need their cell phones LOL 🙂


  10. Turned sounds great!

    Who are some of your favorite book vampires (aside from your own of course!)?

    I don’t know that there is any single asset I need for my hero/heroines to have- I like variety in my characters but I want all of my characters to be well rounded. I hate “perfect” characters. I want weaknesses and mistakes and I want to see growth. Those are the things I need to see in all of my characters.

    I honestly do not remember the first paranormal romance I read but I think it was a natural progression for me from high fantasy to urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Maybe the Dark Hunter series by Sherilyn Kenyon…

    • Hi Kristin,

      Thank you!

      I love JR Ward, Lara Adrian, Jeaniene Frost, Rhyannon Bryd & Larissa Ione.

      I agree with you I like characters to have flaws as well.


  11. Raonaid Luckwell

    What do you think are the most important assets for heroes and heroines?

    Flaws, a hero and heroine must be less than perfect yet has room to grow and evolve. A perfect character is unrealistic and dull, a reader cannot relate.

    Some inner strength. It’s okay if that strength falters. That’s just human nature. Loyality..

  12. Raonaid Luckwell

    What was the first paranormal romance you read?
    Mm, I want to include Diane Tregarde by Mercedes Lackey since it does have some romance elements but it is more like Urban Fantasy. That series was ahead of its time.

    But the book that really opened me up to paranormal romance is Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I had stayed away from paranormal romances because I thought vampires and werewolves were over done, the same ol same ol like the movies. I was missing out and that paved the way

    • I agree Mercedes Lackey’s Diane Tregarde thrillers were ahead of their time! Kenyon’s Night Pleasures is a great first paranormal romance to get a person into the genre!


  13. What movies and books (other than your own) coming out in 2014 are you really excited about?

  14. Hi Lisa,

    I have a lot of reading to catch up on and since I’m in the middle of my family vacation I’m getting started. One that I was really looking forward to came out a little bit a go and that is the last book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series or as most refer to it as the Cat and Bones series 🙂 I am reading Up From A Grave now. I am also looking forward to Unwound by Lorelei James. Movies…hmm I am looking forward to the next Captain America movie Winter Soldier.


  15. Hi Virna – I’m really excited about this new series. It sounds like the two of them will be helping each other deal with their own individual issues. Should be great.

    Do you read books while writing and do you try and stay away from like material if you do read while writing?

    • 1. I think heroes and heroines must have something to overcome. They have to be relatable but not necessarily likable.
      2. The first PNR I read was Kelley Armstrong’s BITTEN and I never turned back :).

      • Oh I love that you said they have to be relatable but not necessarily likable. I really like it when I grow to love a character throughout the story.

        I too enjoy Armstrong’s series. Have you seen the Bitten TV show on Syfy? If so, do you like it?


  16. Hi Viki,

    Thank you I hope you enjoy Turned!

    I don’t read a lot while writing but if I do it’s usually in a different genre than what I am writing. I want to make sure everything is coming from my crazy brain 🙂


  17. Hey Virna, Congrats on the release of Turned! Do you listen to music while writing? If so what do you listen to or what would be on the Turned playlist?

    • Hi Faith!

      Thank you! I actually do not listen to music while writing. I become so immersed in my story that I zone out. This allows me to write anywhere 🙂


  18. Paranormal romance has its fair share of detractors, getting a bad rep from some, but would you say it’s the more maligned of the popular genres? If not, which genre has it worse?

    • Hi Fox!

      No matter what genre we are talking about we are always able to find detractors. I think that every genre goes through certain times of popularity. In the romance genre, paranormal, contemporary and suspense are pretty popular right now and I love them all. I think the sub-genre of science fiction romance tends to be harder to market. Hard core scifi fans are not as open to scifi from romance writers.


  19. What’s harder? Writing a book, or promoting one?

    • Hi Kristi,

      Ooh good question! I think they are both difficult for different reasons. Writing a book is hard because it takes longer and you have to pull all of that creative imagery in your mind out and transfer it to paper. Promoting is difficult because you are letting this piece of yourself free and you are really hoping that people embrace it.


  20. I love reading paranormal romance too. What are five paranormal romances that you consider must reads for fans of the genre?

    • Hi Susan,

      Wow! Great question! I’m going to go with series… Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones), Rhyannon Byrd’s Primal Instinct series especially the Touch books, JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Larissa Ione’s Demonica series and last but not least Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling Series.


  21. Hi Virna! Could you fill in the blank? “I could never write a heroine that was _______.”

    • Hi Bethany,

      Hmm…I don’t think I could every write a heroine that was weak. I don’t like for my heroines to be dependent on the hero for everything. I love a sassy woman that knows how to get herself out of trouble 🙂


  22. Congrats on your book! Are there any songs that particularly inspired your work? And do you listen to music when you write, or do you prefer silence?

  23. Author questions:

    I think the most important assets are a good heart and a creative mind. I think it takes a good heart to be on track to be a hero/ine, and a creative mind to survive the process. 🙂

    The first paranormal romance I read was Dark Somethingarother, and it was pretty good. And the second book was pretty similar. And the third, I wondered if the author was just using find/replace on character names and eye colors. And then I gave up on romance novels again. It took me a while to find good romances that I could appreciate for what they were. It was totally worth the search though!

    • Hi Maire,

      I don’t listen to the music while writing but I don’t need to have silence to write. I tend to zone out or rather zone into the story developing in my mind so I can write just about anywhere.

      I love the way you put it about the assets. I totally agree it takes a good heart to be a hero/heroine and a creative mind to survive the process! Great!


  24. Patricia Pinkston

    Do any of the old vampire legends, i.e. Dracula influence you at all, or, do you go in other directions?

  25. Hi Virna – loved Turned so much. Good luck with the release. When does the next book come out?

  26. I have always loved the vampires too! But I went the other way. I always admitted to my love of the paranormal but not my love of love stories. I notice that you describe the couples love as forever. Have you ever considered having a vampire go human so they can age with the human they love instead of turning the human to a vampire? It’s weird but I have never seen it done and I think it would be an interesting twist!

    • Hi Jen,

      I have considered having a vampire go human. I agree it would be an interesting plot twist and the act would intensify the romance. If an immortal is willing to give up forever to live one life fully that is breathtaking!


  27. My first paranormal romance was On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. I know it’s not classified as paranormal romance but that’s how I classify it in my mind!

  28. It’s an amazing tagline, did you write it?

    • Hi Mary,

      Thank you! Yes, that line came to me very early in the plotting process. I really felt that the ladies in the series have learned how to thrive in the dark because they weren’t given a choice.


  29. what influence you to become a writer and at what age did you get influenced?

    • Hi Stacey,

      I have read romance since I was 12 and devoured them. I never thought I could actually write one. But after becoming a lawyer, and realizing how much I hated being a lawyer, and trying singing, acting and painting, I finally decided, heck, why not at least try writing. And I fell in love with it!


  30. Answer Authors Question
    1.Hero and Heroines have to be some what like the rest of us with problem and not be perfect.
    2.Mercedes lackey book called Born to run maybe that was before there was Paranormal Romance books

  31. If you could do a crossover with any book, film, or TV show, what would it be and why?

    • Hi Trix,

      I’m now sure I understand the question. However, if I could write a book based on any TV show or film I’d love to add a great romance to a number of movies, including Shawshank Redemption. Andy, the hero, deserves a good romance after everything he went through in that movie.


  32. Do the ideas for your characters’ story-lines come easily or do you have to work hard to figure out how they will progress? Who is the most difficult character you have ever written and why?

    • Hi Carly,

      Wow, probably Knox Devereaux, the hero from Chosen By Blood. Because he was married when he fell in love with the heroine, Felicia. And he loved his wife, even though he wasn’t IN LOVE with her. I really wanted him to be a hero, still. I think it worked out in the end, but he was and continues to be a bit controversial. I don’t write easy characters. Mostly, I write characters readers either love or hate…


  33. 1) Assets: Humility and self confidence. They need to be confident enough to face what ever challenges life throws their way but humble enough not to get arrogant and cocky. That always bugs me! Oh, and a few sexy tattoos never hurt either! 😀

    2) Paranormal Romance: I don’t remember the exact first paranormal romance I read, but one of the first was Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. She made vampires cool and sexy back when everyone else was writing them as monsters.

  34. Congrats on the release!

    I was curious about how Ty came about. Did you always know that Ty was going to be newly turned compared to a more experienced older vampire? And did you think about showing him as human first?


    And on a side note, hurray for computers that finally work properly!

    • Hi Rae,

      I did always know that Ty was going to be newly Turned. That is a huge part of his story. Ty is struggling with his new darker instincts and battles to hold on to his humanity. My heroine, Ana is also battling demons of her own and I felt it was important that they go on this learning journey together.


  35. Loyalty, intelligence, and a sense of humor are paramount for PNR heroes of both sexes!

    I can’t remember my first PNR offhand…maybe SNARED by JL Merrow. Very cool m/m novella with a welcome humorous twist ending!

  36. How’d you come up with the title?

    • Hi bn100,

      Ty was recently Turned rather violently into a vampire. Part of the story revolves around this horrible thing that happened to him and how he is dealing with it. Everyone in the story was Turned into something else either emotionally or physically by something that happened that links them all together. This one event changed the course of all of their lives and Turned them into the people that they are now. Turned felt like the right title 🙂


  37. think intelligence is important

  38. can’t remember what it was

  39. What was your favorite childhood book?

  40. 1. The most important assets probably are courage and persistence despite enemies, difficulties or dangers.

    2. It was probably Twilight Saga, I think.

  41. congrats on the upcoming release 🙂 i have my copy on order 🙂 do you plan to have paranormal characters other than vampires in this series? (just curious) also any plans to return to your para-ops series? (i really like it)

    answers to your q’s: 1 – strength of character, bonds of friendship/family that are important to them; 2 — honestly don’t remember as it’s been too long & too many books since

    • Hi Gamistress66,

      Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy Turned! The Belladonna Agency is a prequel to Para-Ops so we see the world before the 2nd Civil War. It’s just when vampires have been discovered, but other paranormal creatures are still hiding. So the foundation is there to introduce other paranormal creatures. I would love to return to the Para-Ops series to do Lucy’s story. But I have other books I need to get done first.


      • appreciate the info on the timeframe of the series, makes me even happier that I’ve ordered it. kinda a best of 2 things — a new series but related to the old series I want more of 🙂 thanks 🙂

  42. How long did Turned take to write? Was it a long process or did it cruise right along? I know some writers work on more that one story at a time, while others keep to one.

  43. If you could have dinner with three folks living, dead, real or fiction who would they be and why?

  44. I think brains, strength, and sense of humor are three necessities for any hero/heroine.
    first paranormal book I read was way been when with Maggie Shayne’s Wings of the Night series.

  45. Virna how does the concepts for your storyline come to you? I would also like to know how you come up with the concept for each of the characters in your storyline?

  46. Virna, when you were a child what did you read? How young were you when you read that 1st paranormal?

  47. Questions from Virna:
    What do you think are the most important assets for heroes and heroines?
    Loyalty, honesty, integrity, a solid core value system – even if I don’t necessarily agree with them all.

    What was the first paranormal romance you read?
    Gosh um… the first that I can remember as an adult was Laurell K Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures.

  48. What do you think are the most important assets for heroes and heroines?
    While courage and intelligence is a given, compassion and a sense of humor is always a nice addition

    What was the first paranormal romance you read?
    It was one of Feehan’s Carpathian books and boy did it hook me on this genre

  49. Congrats on your upcoming release, Virna! It sounds like a great series!
    Vampires were my first paranormal love. 😉
    I was wondering what your writing process is like? Are you a panster or a plotter?

  50. The most important assets for a hero and heroine for me would be loyalty and strength. With strength, I don’t mean physical (though that is always nice in the heroes), but strength of character. 😉

  51. The first one that I remember reading was Lasher by Anne Rice. I LOVED it!!

  52. I know some authors do this, so I was wondering, do you play any music in particular while you write?

  53. Ms. DePaul, I would like to know how you keep all the genre that you write straight in your mind? Also have you ever mixed a character up when you are writing?

  54. Hi Virna –
    Do you keep a ‘book bible’ for each of your books/series (aka ‘style guide’), in order to keep track of each character’s description and traits to keep everything consistent? Assuming you do, do you hand write this or put it on the computer? If you use the computer, do you use an app or program or use your own set-up?

    I had put ‘Tuned’ on my ‘to buy’ list before I came across this guest blog and contest. Sounds really good!