Photo by Bernie LaFramboise
Oak Park resident and author Soraya Biela discovered and occupied a neglected perspective in the vampire fantasy genre. Where most often the stories are overflowing with Twilight’s precocious young girls and Anne Rice’s charismatic older men, Biela’s storytelling focused on the voice of an older woman. Enter Joey Roxy; a charming woman, a radio talk show host, and a vampire.
Biela has released the first two books in the trilogy, the first entitled Velvet Heaven and the second, Velvet Hammer. The narrative is both relatable and addictive. Seductive situations and bloodthirsty intimacy can be very intriguing for readers who wanted more out of the run-of-the-mill vampire epics. Readers can feel the rush Biela gets out of peering through the consciousness of her characters, and she fashions a personal fantasy that is as enjoyable to the reader as it is to her.
Joey Roxy is completely inspired by a real-life mentor of Biela’s: a talk show host named Rollye, who spins records of obscure soul music. Biela began reaching out to Rollye first as an adoring fan, and was soon enamored by Rollye’s depth of compassion and magnetic personality.
The support Rollye gave Biela during trying times, and the admiration she felt through this relationship, nurtured the creative devotion necessary to model a character that honors their connection.
“As a thank you I wanted to write her into the novel I had going at the time,” Biela said. “But as I began to write I had 50 pages in only a month, and that were way more compelling than what I had been writing.”
As the relationship blossomed, Biela began researching her mentor’s career history. She came across an online forum where a truck driver had accused Rollye of being a vampire because her radio show employed very late hours, and her enduring youthful appearance seemed impossible without some supernatural explanation. This notion excited Biela, and after writing Rollye’s character into a story she was working on at the time, the inspiration snow-balled into the vampire character in Velvet Heaven.
“Here was this intelligent, witty, sexy woman over 60. She seemed timeless,” Biela said. “She was a perfect fit. I started to write my version of her from our conversations both on and off air. I would send her what I wrote for her approval since so much of it was her likeness.”
Biela’s interest in storytelling began as a child with wildly vivid dreams, an abundant imagination, and the drive to be a writer and a creator. As she grew into a lover of gothic literature, her trajectory into this genre seems as natural as a vampire’s thirst for blood.
“Who doesn’t want to be immortal? I’ve always been drawn to [vampires]. I never feel like we have enough time to do all we want in one lifetime. “
Biela’s books are now self-published, which gives her the freedom to maintain the storyline she is interested in telling without compromising her vision. However, Biela has big dreams. She envisions her original creation someday becoming as influential as JK Rowling’s. But for now, Biela is simply thrilled at the future prospect of the realization of her finished trilogy. Perhaps with such adult themes in the same way the wizarding world did for kids, the challenges Joey Roxy faces as an older female vampire, women of the same age can live out the fantasy.
“In book one we see Joey struggling with a human husband, continuing her already dwindling career, and just adapting to life as one of the undead at her age,” Biela said. “In book two we see more of the vampire history, as well as the lineage her husband has which is causing all kinds of problems in their marriage. We see her letting go of her human ways and really embracing the sensual monster she has become.”
Velvet Heaven and Velvet Hammer are now available on Amazon, and the third and final installment of the series still hasn’t seen the light of day. Let’s hope it doesn’t burst into flames when it does!