Wednesday, November 9, 2011

INTERVIEW & REVIEW: Michael J Lee (author of From Russia with Blood)

Good morning, all! It's time for another first stop along the Bewitching Book Tours literary route, featuring the fantastic Michael J Lee, who has stopped by in support of his second novel, From Russia with Blood.

About Michael: Micheal J Lee was born in the Midwest and has spent time out on the East Coast and in LA. He learned the craft of screenwriting the hard way, as a barely paid reader. That’s how he got a good feel for writing form and the craft of storytelling. His approach to a story is a lot like Bruce Lee's approach to fighting, absorb what is useful.

Lee published his first paranormal romance, My Frankenstein, recently. It's been an adventure – and now he’s on to book 2, From Russia with Blood.
Without further ado, please welcome Michael J Lee!


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

Under my Twitter profile it says “All around geeky guy.” That sums me up. I’ve been into science fiction, fantasy and horror since a very young age. I’ve been writing stories since I could understand what a story was. I like a broad range of writers and filmmakers.

♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

It was just right for the story. I played around with the story idea in my head and it took on a life of its own. The same thing happened with my first book, My Frankenstein. I just played it out in my head and it worked so well I knew I had to pursue it.

♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?

In From Russia with Blood I rely a lot on my experiences traveling and living in different areas of the country. I move the action from Ohio to Connecticut to LA and then to Las Vegas. Each part is different physically but that’s just the surface. There’s a vibe to each place and that’s what I wanted to capture.

♥ Do you have a soundtrack to your writing, a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?

Funny you should mention that. When I was writing From Russia with Blood I listened to You Know My Name by Chris Cornell a lot. I also listened to some great movie soundtracks. There’s this one from a movie in 1971 called Zeppelin that’s a terrific adventure movie score.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

I’ve had experiences with both. For My Frankenstein the story came first and then I agonized over what to call it. The title, From Russia with Blood, came to me instantly. It was such a great title I had to write a story to go with it.

♥ Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?

I love how the opening turned out in From Russia with Blood. In the final version it starts with Ian walking into the ambush. He has four assailants surrounding him. He knows they’re there but he can’t let them know that he knows. It’s a very tense scene. Ian’s counting down to when he has to act. And then when the trap is sprung it’s fast a brutal.

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

Cooking. I think cooking and writing go hand in hand. Cooking is equal parts imagination and technique. You’re always looking to try knew flavors and ingredients but you have to have good kitchen fundamentals if you want to get anything done.

♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries?

I have to give a huge shout out to Vivi Anna who’s been my guide to modern paranormal writing and a great friend.

George R. R. Martin has been a huge influence of late. I’m fascinated how he makes such a fantastic setting seem as real as next door, how he grounds his world in real historic research, and how he develops his characters. He’s even inspired a foodie site Inn at the Crossroads so he has all my interests covered.

♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

I’m a reader and screenplay contest judge myself so I am paranoid about getting other people to read my work!

♥ If your book were being made into a movie, and you had total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?

For Ian I’d cast Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian. Personal reasons. My sister’s met him. She’s married to one of his good friends and he sounds like a really cool guy.

As Larissa I’d cast Amanda Seyfried.

♥ What can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

I’m hard at work on sequels to My Frankenstein and From Russia with Blood. I’m also working on a series that combines history with paranormal fiction, The History of Blood.


SYNOPSIS: 400 year old vampire Ian Redd joined British Intelligence during the Cold War. But after the Berlin Wall came down they decided they no longer needed his services. He was retired, almost permanently. Ian escaped and has lived the quiet life in a small town until a professional hit team arrived at his doorstep. Who sent them? That’s a question that will lead Ian into the arms of a beautiful woman named Larissa Barton and into the most dangerous operation of his unlife.

Larissa Barton’s life has barely begun and it’s already gone off the tracks. She’s back in her hometown working as a barista. But things change when Ian Redd enters her life. Dark, mysterious and gorgeous, Ian is her only protection her from the people and creatures who suddenly want her dead. With Ian by her side Larissa plunges into a world of magic, werewolves, vampires, spies and assassins and discovers her own secret past.

REVIEW: This is one of those books that puts you in mind of so many other stories – the Night Watch trilogy, Necroscope series, and Saint Germain saga immediately come to mind – but which has such a strong voice, you very quickly stop making comparisons, and just settle in for the read.

Personally, I prefer my vampires unrepentantly evil and monstrously scary, but Ian has such a charm to him, and such a carefully laid out back story, that I ‘bought’ his redemption. For me, though, it was Larissa who stole the book. I liked her from the start, especially with the way in which she first deals with the arrival of her nightmare in the coffee shop where she works.

She could have worked just fine as a mortal heroine, leaving Ian to loom over all aspects of the story, but making her a witch elevated her to true ‘partner’ status, giving the story some much appreciated depth and variety.

As for the villain . . . well, how can you go wrong with the infamous Rasputin? There was definitely a potential for cheesiness here, a temptation to play up the scene-chewing eccentricity of a James Bond villain, but Lee deftly handles the legacy, allowing Rasputin to develop as a character of his own.

The action was inventive, the pacing was very good (I can only think of a few places where it lagged a bit), and the romantic elements were just about perfect. While not the greatest work of vampire fiction ever written, it’s a welcome addition to the genre.


Thanks so much to Michael J Lee for stopping by. If you'd like to follow his virtual journey in support of From Russia with Blood check out his schedule at Bewitching Book Tours. You can also find him online on his Blog and at Goodreads.


  1. Sally,

    Thank you for the rocking review and for having me on your incredible site. I'm thrilled that you loved Larissa. She's a joy to write. One of those characters who can say just about anything.

    Just to let everyone know From Russia with Blood is available on Smashwords


    And has a Facebook Page

    Thanks again


    Michael J Lee

  2. What an awesome interview and review! Thank you! I will have to check it out for sure!


  3. Great! thanks for the share!