Review, Interview, and Giveaway: Bound By Blood by Margo Bond Collins

Sometimes the monsters in the dark are real…

As a child, Lili Banta ignored her grandmother’s cryptic warnings to avoid children outside their Filipino community in Houston. When many of those other children fell ill, Lili ignored the whispers in her community that a vampiric aswang walked among them.

Years later, Lili returns to Houston to work for the Quarantine Station of the Center for Disease Control—but she is plagued by dark, bloody dreams that consume her nights and haunt her days. When a strange illness attacks the city’s children, Lili is called in to find its source, and maybe even a cure.

But in order to save the city, she must first acknowledge the sinister truth: A monster stalks the night—closer than she ever expected….

First and foremost this is not a romance. However I still enjoyed the book. I thought the story brought an interesting cultural twist on typical vampire stories. It’s been a good long while since I’ve read any stories that involved aswang and this one brought all of the mythology and lore in perfectly. The way Lili solved what was happening was not expected. I enjoy when I’m surprised by the ending. I was left wanting to know more about the characters that were introduced right at the end of the story, along with the main character Lili and the people she left behind. I’m hoping for more books in this series. I want to know what happens next!

What inspired you to write Bound by Blood?
Most of my ideas come to me almost in passing, when I see something that catches my attention. In the case of Sanguinary, it was a color. My husband and I have season tickets to the Dallas Opera, and the interior walls of the Winspear Opera House—the ones that separate the lobby from the theater itself—are a gorgeous dark red. As we were walking out one night, I glanced back and saw that the tint of the outer glass walls turned the inner walls to a blood-red. At the same time, I saw a woman in a dark red dress of the same color. And of course that led to thoughts of vampires and murder (doesn’t that happen with everyone?! Or is it just sicko writers?)—and the story spun out from there.

Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style changes depending upon the work, the characters, the genre. Several of my earlier books were pretty humorous, even though they dealt with dark topics. This one isn’t quite as light as those.

How did you come up with the title?
I actually came up with several titles and then let my street team vote—they’re always helping me come up with titles or naming places in my books. I love them!

How much of the book is realistic?
It’s an urban fantasy, so the setting is definitely realistic—it takes place in Dallas, much of it in real places. And some of the police work is realistic, even if I don’t show all the report-writing that really happens. But there are vampires hanging out in Dallas in the book, so I doubt that part’s terribly realistic!

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nope. Or at least, no more than any other fiction book might be—and all of my characters are amalgamations of people I have known, just as settings are places I have been, and plots are spun from the ‘what ifs’ that surround me.

What books have most influenced your life most?
I’m an English professor in my other life, so I don’t think this question is fair! I could probably list a hundred books that have influenced me. But here’s a short list: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein was the first “grown-up” book I read, and it helped cement a lifelong love of reading. Love in Excess by Eliza Haywood helped me decide to specialize in eighteenth-century British literature when I was getting my Ph.D. The Wife’s Resentment by Delarivier Manley helped me determine my dissertation topic. Sunshine by Robin McKinley influenced me to write my own first novel.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would love to have Connie Willis as a mentor. She’s amazing.

What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m finishing up Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux series.

What are your current projects?
It’s a sequel kind of year! I’m writing sequels to just about all my books.

Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I both write and teach writing, and they’re so interconnected that I can’t imagine my life any other way!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making up stories. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since. But about ten years ago, a friend suggested I join in National Novel Writing Month ( Until then, I had always written short stories. That year, I finished the first draft of what would eventually become Legally Undead—it will be my third published novel, but it’s the first one I wrote.

I ended up as an English major in college because I was fascinated by the ways stories work. And then I went on to graduate school because I couldn’t figure out what else to do. I ended up with a Ph.D. in literature almost by accident; I just never quit wanting to learn about all the stories in the world!

So now I teach literature and writing in my day job, and the rest of the time, I write, both as a fiction author and as an academic.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
It hit me, hard, that no matter how I twisted it around in my head, Reese was going to be more than just an informant to me. I didn’t know if I could trust him, this cowboy-vampire I had been thrown together with. But something about him sang to me, like a tune just out of hearing, almost recognized—a song of protection and death. And I wanted to dance to it, almost as much as I wanted to escape it.

The department wouldn’t force me to stick it out, wouldn’t expect me to team up with a vampire for anything more than the most superficial of connections.

I could walk out at any time.

But I wouldn’t. He’d help us find and stop whoever was killing these women.

That’s why I’ll stay in this.

“I’ll tell you everything,” I said to the vampire snarling at me. “But I’ll need your help.”

Reese’s lip dropped back down, covering the fang.

I was glad—it was easier to contemplate joining forces with him when he wasn’t reminding me that he was one of the monsters.

“Talk,” he said.

I shook my head. “Not here,” I said, speaking quietly. How good his hearing might be was only one of the many things I didn’t know about vampires.

He slid up to the bar beside me.

“We can’t leave,” he said, equally softly. I had to lean close to hear him.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Mendoza all but dared me to Claim you, back there.” He didn’t look down at me. “If I don’t bleed you at least a little before we go, he’ll be suspicious.”

At his words, the half-healed bite mark Reese had left on my shoulder throbbed once, sending a hot pulse throughout my entire body.

I wanted the response to be revulsion.

Almost everyone who went undercover with the vamps came out addicted to their bite. The ones who could still string two sentences together, like Garrett, stayed on the force.

The others . . .

The press portrayed us as bumbling and stupid—and maybe we were. Sending detectives in against humanity’s worst nightmare? We were like little kids trying to hold back the dark with matches, bound to get our fingers burned, and worse, maybe burn the house down around us.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Too many to count! Because I’m a literature professor, I have piles and piles of favorite authors. Right now, though, I’m particularly fond of Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, Holly Black, Ann Aguirre, and Melanie Karsak. What I love about all of them is their ability to create such realistic worlds, to draw me in and keep me interested in the stories they spin out.

Who designed the cover?
Liliana Sanches. She’s amazing!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing it. Editing is always the hardest part for me. I love the creation part of writing, but loathe editing with a fiery passion!

Do you have any advice for other writers?
The very best advice I ever got was just this: keep writing new things. Always have a work in progress. Finish writing a piece, do a quick edit, and submit it somewhere for publication. Then move on to the next project. Don’t wait to hear back—that way lies madness! If it’s rejected (and often it will be; that’s the nature of writing for publication), don’t let it get you down. Just send it out again and go back to your work in progress.

What genre do you consider your book?
Urban Fantasy

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I get stuck, like everyone. I hit writer’s block sometimes. But when that happens, I usually switch over to another project or go for a walk. Sometimes I’ll go back and try to work on editing what’s already done. But I loathe editing and revising. I know it must be done, but I hate it with a fiery passion. So that usually prompts me to go back to writing!

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I only recently started working from an outline. I haven’t decided yet what I think of it—I used to write entirely by the seat of my pants!

Have you ever hated something you wrote?
I always go through a period of hating what I’ve written. So yes. I’ve hated everything I’ve written! But I usually get over it.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
Absolutely. I think my writing is at its best when I am that deeply invested in the characters. So I try to put myself in all the characters’ positions, to think like they think, to feel what they feel.

Sitting straight up in bed, I gasped and threw myself back against the headboard, the thud dying away along with the remaining shreds of my dream.

But the word still ricocheted through my mind.


Until yesterday, I hadn’t thought of the term in years—not since I’d left Houston for med school in Maine, determined to get as far away from home as I could.

But this resurgence of the same, odd illness that had swept my city years before was apparently also dredging up the old stories from deep in my subconscious: the aswang, a vampiric woman who lived a quiet life by day and fed on children in the night, flying back home on bat-wings just before dawn.

My unconscious mind had clearly also expanded on the idea, casting me in the role of aswang and adding schizoid conversations with a chorus of internal voices.

Great. I’m insane in my dreams.

And I’m a monster.

Shuddering, I wiped my hand across my gritty, raw eyelids.

About Margo:
Margo Bond Collins is the author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them—and sometimes fight them.

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