Two hundred years can strain even the seemingly eternal love of the youkai.
When Hideyoshi’s coldness drives them apart, Hiro finds comfort in his friendship with Takanori, a vociferous human man he met at a ramen shop and can’t seem to keep away from.. Everything Hiro had to fight for from Hideyoshi, Takanori gives freely, making it all too easy to turn away from his responsibilities--and Hideyoshi--in favor of something sweeter.
But while Hiro is off playing human, danger is brewing among the Youkai. Hideyoshi, still reeling from his breakup with Hiro, struggles to uphold the promise they made to the Hunter leader, Kyo, but the Youkai’s loyalty has been challenged by Hiro’s abrupt disappearance. With Hunters literally banging at the door, Hide must find a way to bring Hiro home or risk igniting the war they’ve spent the last two hundred years trying to prevent.
Content Warnings: graphic violence, terminal illness, depictions of grief and depression/mental illness, suicidal actions
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Courtney Maguire and I am from Austin, Texas. I have been writing, or at least making up stories, ever since I was old enough to read. I love all kinds of romance, but contemporary and paranormal are my favorite. Blood Bound will be my fifth published book and the third instalment of my Youkai Bloodlines series.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am a big fan of live music. In the pre-COVID times, I spent most weekends seeing live music. Living in the Live Music Capital of the World means there is always a band playing somewhere. I am also a board game hobbiest, which means I spent most of lockdown painting miniatures. Now, you can pretty much always find me in my local game store.
Do you have a day job as well?
I do. I manage an office for a local engineering company.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I absolutely devoured RL Stine’s Goosebumps books and to a slightly lesser degree, Christopher Pike vampire books.
When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
It’s hard to say. I didn’t have a big ‘Eureka!’ moment or anything like that. I had been writing in the fan fiction space for some time and also for a small, online music magazine. I had a bare-bones draft of a book I’d been working on for a while. It felt like something people might like so I thought, ‘I’ll give this a shot.’ One book turned into five and here we are.
What book do you wish you had written?
Oh man, so many. I read a book a few years ago called The People’s History of the Vampire Uprising’ that was such a cool concept and cool twist on the vampire genre, I’m mad I didn’t come up with it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m not really one to try to make predictions like this (my pessimism tends to get the best of me, especially these days), but I hope I’m still writing stories that maybe make someone’s day a little better.
When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing little short stories in about the fifth grade (age 11? 12?). It took me a while to work up to anything book length. I was probably in my late twenties when I ‘finished’ a book. It was terrible and never saw the light of day. Bloodlaced was the first book I pursued publishing and it wasn’t even really ready. I learned a TON from that first venture into the publishing space and wrote two more books that ended up getting published before Bloodlaced. I’m quite grateful for that, actually, because I was able to use what I learned to make it better and I am so proud of it now.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
They say to write the books you want to read. I did that. I love the paranormal romance genre and wanted so badly to be a part of it.
Where do you get your ideas?
From everywhere. Popular media, other books, dreams, weird 3am conversations with my friends over too many drinks. Stories are everywhere if you know how to listen.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
All.The.Time. Sometimes, the creativity tank just runs out. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have some other outlet, whether it’s art or music or whatever, that inspires you. The whole ‘YOU MUST WRITE EVERY DAY’ mantra is a fallacy and in some cases, just asking for burnout. It’s okay to take a break. Really. Your brain will thank you.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
Pantser for the most part, though writing a series requires a little more planning, at least when it comes to the longer series arcs. Let’s just say, I generally know where I’m going before I start, but how I get there is often a surprise.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I am hugely influenced by Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I’ve read The Vampire Lestat more times than is healthy. Keep in mind, I was reading these as a preteen/teenager in the 90s and Lestat was like the original disaster bisexual. That series was pretty much my whole personality through high school.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
As I mentioned earlier, Bloodlaced was the first book I wrote but was not the first published. I queried that sucker for about two years. I have enough rejections to paper my walls. The vampire fiction market was oversaturated in the wake of Twilight and mine was…well…weird. I was constantly rewriting and it started to feel like banging my head against the wall so I switched course and wrote my contemporary novel, Wounded Martyr. This one saw much more success almost immediately, with a Golden Heart nomination and an offer from Nine Star Press. Maybe contemporary romance was my thing after all. I was about to shelve Bloodlaced for good when I got an R&R from Heather McCorkle at City Owl Press along with a bunch of great feedback. I also met her at the RWA Conference that year and she was so encouraging, I had to give it another shot. So I did, rewriting practically the whole first act from scratch. Heather loved the changes and now we are releasing the third book in the series. I’m still a little shell shocked.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I don’t think so. Even the soul-sucking bits taught me something and I don’t think I’d be where I am without them.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No. I’ve been pretty lucky that way.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’ll be honest, I am a terrible marketer. My primary focus has been getting featured on blogs like this one (thank you very much for that, by the way) and social media presence. Networking is crucial. Having another author recommend your work to their reader base is more valuable than gold.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Blood Bound is the third instalment of the Youkai Bloodlines series and picks up with Hiro and Hideyoshi 200 years after the events of Blood Pact. Time and the pressure of policing the Youkai community have put a strain on their relationship and Hiro finds comfort in the companionship of Takanori, a human man who is the polar opposite of Hideyoshi. When Hiro leaves in favour of this easier life, it damages Hideyoshi’s reputation with the Youkai and draws the attention of the Hunters once again.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There aren’t any specific events or interactions based on real life, but I definitely share traits with some of the characters. Hideyoshi, for example, isn’t exactly demonstrative with his affection and tends to use anger as deflection, things I also personally struggle with. Sometimes it’s easier to be angry at someone that admit you’re scared of losing them.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The banter between Takanori and Hiro is some of my favorite stuff to write. Everything Taka thinks comes straight out of his mouth which is completely disarming to Hiro after living with Hideyoshi for so long. Taka is just a joy every time he’s on the page, really. I adore him.
How did you come up with the title?
The many types of bonds—familial, love, obligation—and how they interact and sometimes contradict each other is really the heart of this story, so Blood Bound felt like the natural choice.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I could tell you, but that would be a spoiler for book 4 :P
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Be brave. Write that weird thing you’re sure no one will like but you. You’d be surprised how many weirdos are out there.
What does your protagonist think about you?
I can just imagine Hiro shaking his fist at the proverbial camera screaming ‘WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO ME!?’
Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, his creator?
Hiro probably would for no other reason than his dysfunctional need for approval. Hideyoshi would have no interest in me whatsoever.
What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?
I can’t think of anything specific that has been tough; I’ve been quite lucky in that all the criticism I’ve gotten has been pretty fair. I might have an emotional reaction at first, but when I stop and really think about it, it’s valid. I haven’t had any ‘rethink your life choice’ sort of criticism.
What has been the best compliment?
I had someone tell me I was doing God’s work by writing a non-binary protagonist when Bloodlaced released. I had another reader tell me they were shoving it in their trans friend’s hands and then gave me the play by play as their friend read it. It made my day, honestly.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?
Asagi demands quite a lot of attention. Hideyoshi does too, and it’s all worry over Hiro.
What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
Hideyoshi would drink simple, black coffee. Hiro prefers tea and is VERY specific about how it’s brewed. Asagi would definitely order some complicated nonsense just because it sounds fancy.
What sort of writing environment do you create? I.e. music or not?Pen and paper or laptop/PC?
I prefer quiet and write on a laptop. I do like keyboards with lots of haptic feedback. I live for the clacky-clacky noise.
Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than other? Racy?Love?Action?
One type of scene that is difficult but also kind of my favorite is a scene where one or both characters are saying almost the opposite of what they feel or mean, especially if it’s not the POV character. Maybe you want the reader to see it, but the POV character to not quite get it. This happens with Hideyoshi and Hiro a lot. Hiro will often mistake Hideyoshi’s restraint with lack of care when really, Hideyoshi cares VERY MUCH he’s just bad at expressing it. Their love languages are so different and it shows big time in those moments.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Mostly thank you. My readers have been so wonderful and supportive through this whole thing. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?
There are some subjects of social discourse I don’t feel qualified to participate in because I’m not part of the affected group and I certainly wouldn’t write about anything that glorifies abusive or bigoted behaviour.
Do you have any strange writing habits? Like writing in the shower?
I pace a lot. I do tend to get a lot of my best ideas while driving, which is annoying.
If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation – who would you choose for which character?
I recently came across a magazine photo spread with Watanabe Keisuke and Satoh Takeru and now I’m obsessed with the idea of them playing Hiro and Hideyoshi. Holy smokes, they look good together.
How important are the names in your book?
I don’t agonize too much over names, beyond getting the Japanese convention right.
Did you choose them based on how they sounded or looked, or was it completely random?
To some extent, I guess I do choose based on the sound. I like the rhythm of names.
Do you have any name choosing resources you would recommend?
Google is a goldmine of name lists. If meaning is important to you, you can even find lists compiled based on that. Mostly, I just listen for names I like in the world around me. I poach names from everywhere.
Do you read your reviews?
I’m a masochist, so yes :P
Do you respond to them, good or bad?
No. If a blogger posts a review on their blog, I may give them a quick ‘thank you for reading’ comment, but I never engage directly with the content of the review. It’s not meant for me.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
You will always get bad reviews, no matter how good your book is. If you read a bad review, my best advice is to have your feelings IN PRIVATE, maybe rant with a close friend, and then take a step back and see what you can learn from it.
What is your best marketing tip?
I think the best thing you can do is just be nice. Thanks to the parasocial nature of the internet, readers and writers have unprecedented access to each other. People are bound to butt heads. Be civil. Be kind. Take responsibility when you mess up.
What is your least favourite part of the writing or publishing process?
The hurry up and wait. You can kill yourself trying to make a deadline for something that won’t actually see the light of day for six months to a year. I know there’s a lot that goes on in the background, but my goodness it can be frustrating. It can also make the actual release feel very anticlimactic at times.
4 out of 5 (very good)
BLOOD BOUND is the third book in the Youkai Bloodlines series, and we continue with Hide and Hiro's story, with Asagi, of course!
Hide still can't show Hiro his affection, which leads to a chasm between them that seems as though it can't be breached. Hiro ends up leaving and, in doing so, finds friendship and love with a human, Takanori. Unfortunately, it was doomed from the beginning (human, remember!). Not only that, Taka becomes mortally ill.
Now, I'm going negative first, so be warned. I have no idea if it was my review copy, but none of the chapters gave any indication about who was speaking or even what year it was. This caused me confusion as I tried to figure out just what was going on and when, as we flip from times and characters as the story progresses. Each time it happened, I got kicked out of the story as I scrambled to keep up.
Moving to the positive - you get a beautiful but all-too-short romance with Taka and Hiro. PLUS, and this was a real benefit to me, you get the inside knowledge and history on Hide, Hiro, and even a little on Asagi. This really helped to put into perspective each character, their view on the world, and how they cope with it.
On this whole, this was a great addition to the series and I can't wait to find out where we go next. Absolutely recommended by me.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas.
Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.
Her first novel, WOUNDED MARTYR, is a 2019 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short Category.