Dianne Duvall Guest Post: The Strangest Places

The Strangest Places

When it comes to worldbuilding, authors can find inspiration in the strangest places, particularly when writing paranormal romance in which there are very few boundaries.  Take my new novel Darkness Dawns, the first book in my Immortal Guardians series, for instance.  In it, I wanted to approach the vampire romance genre from a new angle, create two separate beings who suffer from the same affliction.  Alike, but not alike. 

Some historians believe the vampire mythology arose from a misunderstanding of such illnesses as porphyria.  I picked this tidbit up on the History Channel and it inspired me to make vampirism the result of a virus.  But this virus would not behave like any other.  It would essentially replace the infected person’s immune system, then use blood to heal any and all damage -- no matter how minute -- the body incurs.  This provided me with an excellent catch 22:  Cure the virus and you kill the immune system.  So there is no way out for anyone infected.  Both vampires and immortals in my series would be infected with it.  Immortals, however, would differ from vampires on a genetic level.  Vampires would be humans who have been infected.  Immortals would be gifted ones -- men and women born with incredibly advanced DNA -- who have been infected. 

Which leads me to the Tardigrade, also known as the water bear.  Tardigrades are microscopic, water-dwelling animals found all over the world that reach a maximum length of 1.5 millimeters.  If there is moss in your backyard or you live on the beach, chances are good these tiny creatures are your neighbors.  The question you’re probably asking is:  What do they have to do with vampires and immortals?  I was first introduced to Tardigrades several years ago via a program on Animal Planet and instantly became fascinated.  Though tiny, water bears are virtually indestructible.  They can survive extreme cold.  If frozen, they appear dead, but come alive again when thawed.  They can survive extreme heat, being submerged in boiling water.  If their water source dries up, they don’t die of dehydration.  They go into a sort of hibernation that lasts until the next rain, even if years pass, then “wake up.”  They can endure a thousand times more radiation than other animals and can even survive in the vacuum of space. 

When I saw this, I knew I had to create a being who was equally resilient and indestructible and eventually did so in Darkness Dawns:  the immortals.  The advanced DNA immortals in my series possess mutates the virus and renders them . . . well . . . immortal, or as immortal as they can get.  While vampires can bleed to death, immortals  -- when suffering extreme blood loss -- will instead go into a stasis or sort of hibernation like the water bear and survive until another blood source comes along.  Their wounds heal faster than vampires’.  And older immortals can withstand limited exposure to sunlight.  Nothing short of decapitation will kill them.  

Then there are the vampires.  Oftentimes vampires who are villainous or evil in paranormal romance novels choose to be so, willingly succumbing to bloodlust and a penchant for violence.  I wanted to take that choice away from them so that even good guys would have no choice but to become madmen who prey upon humans.  So I made the virus one that affected the brain and caused insanity in humans.  Sound familiar?  Here’s a hint:  King George III, also known as the Mad King.  Some believe his madness was a result of syphilis, which can affect the brain and cause insanity if left untreated.  He was my inspiration for the vampiric virus driving humans mad.

From microscopic animals to mad kings, writers can find inspiration in the strangest places when worldbuilding.  If those sources are from real events or real figures, history, science, etc., I believe it can add a realism that makes the fictional world all the more fascinating and effective.  I hope you’ll enjoy the world I’ve built in Darkness Dawns and my Immortal Guardians series. 


In this dazzling, sensual novel, Dianne Duvall beckons readers into a world of vampires, immortals, and humans with extraordinary gifts . . . where passion can last forever, if you're willing to pay the price . . .

Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control . . .

In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible -- when it mean forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.


For the writers out there:  What are some of the strangest places in which you’ve found inspiration?  For the readers out there:  Is there such a thing as too much realism in romances?

Thanks so much for joining me today!  You can find me on the internet:

My blog The Immortal Realm:  http://dianneduvall.blogspot.com/

And be sure to enter my Win a Kindle contest!  Details are on my website.  :-)

Dianne Duvall


  1. Hi, Dianne.

    I enjoyed reading the post; it was interesting and informative.

    Is there such a thing as too much realism in romances? No, I don't think so. With a romance novel, there is always a "touch of magic."

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  2. No, I don't think there is ever too much realism in novels. I think I actually prefer the books I read to be more realistic. Sometimes when they are too over the top it's hard for me to belive in the story. I feel disconected from the story.

    I can't wait to read this book. It looks so good and something I definitely want to read.


  3. Yes, I'd say there could be such a thing as too much realism in romances. That's what makes reading romance so much fun, the lovely, idealistic situations where love conquers all and everyone lives happily ever after. If I wanted real life, I wouldn't need to read fiction.


  4. Hi, Tracey! Nice to "see" you again! I'm glad you liked the post. That "touch of magic" you mentioned is what brings me back to paranormals over and over again. :-)

    Hi, Danielle! Thanks for stopping by! I agree. The more realism there is, the more I'm pulled into the story. Stephen King once said, either in an interview or in his book On Writing, that he likes to write his stories in such a way that readers will say, "I know this would never happen in real life, but if it did I could see it happening just this way." That was my goal with Darkness Dawns. I hope you like it! :-)

    Hi, Barbara! That's the great thing about paranormals. Even when authors infuse them with as much realism as possible, there's always plenty of fantasy to provide a welcome escape from the real world. One of my English professors in college turned her nose up at all genre fiction and really didn't seem to understand why readers would WANT an escape from the drama and stress of real life in the books they read. That still puzzles me.

  5. I absolutely love this title.

    Great post Dianne. I am very fond of the idea of Vampires in this novel. There is one other series that I've read that does the virus take and I loved that one too. Plus, Darkness Dawn is written so well Dianne could say they are aliens from a planet 1,000 light years a way and i would totally buy it =D!!!

    Love the post and love the title even more!!!!


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