by LIA KANE
REVIEWED BY: Ellen Fritz
After surviving an assault during her freshman year in college, Jerrika Rand’s life is changed in the blink of an eye. The encounter leaves her infected with VAM, commonly known as the Bloodfeeding Disease.
Seven years and two social work degrees later, Jerrika accepts a job as Director of a VAM orphanage in the small town of Blue Sky, North Carolina, where fear and hatred of the misunderstood disease abound. She thinks she has found sympathetic friends in the town mayor and the VAM-specialist physician, but when the orphanage burns to the ground, she doesn’t know who she can trust anymore. Digging deep into the dark secrets of the small town, Jerrika learns of two of Blue Sky’s prominent women who have mysteriously disappeared in recent years.
And wonders if she’s next…
And wonders if she’s next…
In “A Sucker Born Every Minute”, author Lia Kane gives us a refreshing new variation on the vampire theme.
Despite becoming VAM-positive as a result of being drugged and infected while in her freshman year, Jerrika, the main character, stays a kind, caring and loyal person, who is always ready to defend those who share her affliction, from attacks by hostile people.
As the VAM virus can be passed on by something as simple as a passionate kiss, infected people are not allowed to indulge in intimate relationships. To complicate matters for Jerrika, the handsome Mayor, as well as the equally handsome doctor, enters her life when she starts her job at the orphanage for VAM-positive children in Blue Sky. Both men seem almost too good to be true.
You'll smile at the antics of the VAM-positive orphans and enjoy meeting their unusual caretakers. This book hooked me from the very beginning. It reads at a comfortable pace, with never a dull moment. The characters are realistic and life like; and the dialogue highly perky and entertaining.
Although there are several suspects when bad things start to happen, Lia keeps the reader guessing right up to the end. Moments of suspense, sadness and fear are masterfully balanced by a good measure of humor.
“A Sucker Born Every Minute” is a truly heartwarming read. With this book I sense the birth of an absolutely awesome new series!
ELLEN'S STAR RATING: 5/5
INTERVIEW with author LIA KANE
Q: What sparked the idea for “A Sucker Born Every Minute”?
A: I think the idea was sparked by a combination of the vampire craze (I love watching vampire movies and reading vampire fiction, so I admit, I've been bitten by that vampire bug too) and also current events related to public health. Over the past decade, people have panicked over the threat of pandemics - Swine flu, SARS, the list goes on. In the 90's, everyone was terrified of HIV and AIDS. I had been wanting to write a vampire story for a while, but wanted to take a really different approach and rewrite the rules a bit. I wanted my vampires to be as credible as possible, so in "A Sucker Born Every Minute," the 'vampires' are all people with the VAM disease, which causes them to feed on blood. They don't have any of the traditional strengths and powers that typical vampires do, but they have all of the weaknesses. On top of that, they're not seen as very glamorous characters. They're feared and shunned by most of the world, as people are terrified of acquiring the highly contagious disease. It was fun to have the freedom to write about vampires as the oppressed underdogs instead of the powerful, sexy creatures they are in most popular fiction these days.
Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: It's a double entendre. The main character, Jerrika, is young, naïve, and thrust into a situation that turns out to be incredibly dangerous. She doesn't know who she can trust, and she knows that someone is playing her, so she's the proverbial 'sucker' of the story. Although there are baby vamps in this story as well; infants and toddlers who were born with the disease and drink blood from bottles and sippy cups. They were 'born' suckers.
Q: Who designed the cover and how much input did you have regarding the design?
A: Robin Ludwig designed it. You can view her portfolio at coversbyrobin.deviantart.com. I gave Robin the idea that I had in my head of a woman holding a bottle filled with blood, and the next thing I knew, she had designed an amazing, eye-catching cover! She can take a very simple idea and run with it. I have worked with her on other projects, including the cover for the sequel to "A Sucker Born Every Minute" and every time, she has exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend her to other authors.
Q: Which of your characters are your favorite?
A: I like them all! Everyone in the story was inspired to some degree by people in my own life that I love and admire. I really like Jerrika, the heroine of the story. Since being infected, she's had a hard life, but she's doing the very best she can to redefine herself, move on with her life, and help others who have the same disease. The greatest battle she has to fight is learning how to love and trust people again after she's been hurt and betrayed by so many, but toward the end of the story, she starts to come around. She's stronger than she realizes, which is what I admire about her.
I also love all of the kids in the story, especially Haley.
And I can't name the person, because it will be a spoiler, but I really love the bad guy in the story. This person turns out to be a character that you just love to hate.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A: Finding the time to do it! Everything I write is written in my head before I sit down at the keyboard. The story has been in the back of my brain for a while now, but It took me about six months of stop-and-go to get it all on paper. I write full time from home, but I do a lot of freelance work to pay the bills, so paying projects always take higher priority than personal projects. And then there are all the other parts of life that every writer has to balance: family, friends, health, community groups I'm involved in, etc. Sometimes it's just a struggle to find the time, which is where I think a lot of potentially great writers get derailed. Rome wasn't built in a day, and novels don't get written overnight. It takes work and it takes time to write a book. But it was important enough for me to tell this story that I found the time and eventually finished it.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in “A Sucker Born Every Minute”?
A: I'm not sure just yet! It's a newly released story so I'm anxious to hear what other people have to say about it. If I get a lot of feedback from people about a particular character or part of the plot that just doesn't click with people, then I would write that character or part of the story differently in the sequel.
Q: What were the challenges involved in bringing it to life?
A: I have a degree in public health and worked closely with infectious disease nurses, social workers and their clients in a clinical setting for several years. Having that real-life experience helped me out a lot with knowing how to write VAM as a credible disease. I didn't do a lot of formal literary research. Instead, I just do a lot of reading. That's the best training for a writer. Find authors that you admire and read, read, read as much of their work that you can get your hands on. Doing that has really helped me recognize my own strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and has given me successful models and examples that I can follow in developing elements of my own writing.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: Definitely. There's a subtle plea to be more tolerant and understanding toward those who are different. People fear what they don't understand. Fear easily morphs into hate, which inevitably causes harm.