The Last Keeper Blog Tour – Author Interview with Michelle Birbeck

Hi everyone, welcome back for one of the last stops on Michelle Birbeck’s blog tour for her new release, The Last Keeper!  Today, we have Michelle herself here for an interview, so pull up a chair and grab a cup of tea!

RL: Hi Michelle, thank you for being here today!  Congratulations on your first book – I’m sure this a thrill you’ve been anticipating for a while.  Will you tell us a little about your inspiration for this story?

I suppose it started when I was still in school and read my first supernatural books, the Nightworld Series by LJ Smith. Since then I’ve read everything I’ve come across and been fascinated by supernatural creatures. But then I got to thinking about why they’re all so strong and fast and yet hiding in the shadows. It got me thinking what if there was a reason they stayed there? What if they didn’t want to be there but there was something stopping them from simply taking over the rest of the world. And if there was something like that, how would they do it? What sort of being would they be and what sort of abilities would they have to do such a thing? Then as the story progressed in my mind and I started putting the pieces of it together, I wondered what lengths the vampires and other supernatural creatures would go to in order to break that hold someone else had on them.

RL: Vampires are obviously the ‘it’ of fiction right now, though much of the time they’re being portrayed as the good guys.  In The Last Keeper, they play the role of the bad guy.  What factors played into your decision to have the vampires and the Keepers in conflict with each other?

My vampires are generally psychopaths. Some of them deal with it a lot better than others, and a couple of them are exceptions, but in general, they’re all a bit crazy. Kind of like the axe murderer next door who everyone said was such a sweet guy. They can be sweet and seem like the nice guys on occasion, but really they’re almost always plotting how to kill everyone. And that sort of mindset doesn’t like being repressed, by anyone. So it seemed only natural to me to have them fight with everything they have against what the Keepers are trying to do. Of course, for the most part the vampires don’t see why it’s right for them to stay in the shadows.

RL: How did you develop the race of the Keepers? Which came first for you, the Keepers or the vampires?

The Keepers came first. After I decided what they could do, I went to work on the mythologies behind the vampires, witches, and Weres. I didn’t want to do something that had already been done, but at the same time I wanted to incorporate some of the common aspects that everyone would recognise about the races. So I took what I knew, l looked at the world the Keepers had created, and then altered the races so that everything fit and was a combination of traditional and my own.

RL: True love and soul mates play a major part into the plot – when a Keeper finds their mate, they call them a weakness.  Would you tell us some about that idea and how you came up with it?  What will it mean for Serenity?

Every race and character has to have a weakness. None of them can be perfect. And what more profound weakness can you get than the one person you fall in love with? Love makes everyone do stupid things. We kill for it, fight for it, protect it. It makes us jealous and angry, sad and scared. Having their partners as their weakness takes everything that love is/does and wraps it up into one ticking time bomb. It gives the Keepers everything they’ve ever wanted, and can take it away just as easily. For me, it embodied some of my greatest fears, and I think some of everyone’s fears when they’ve been in love. But at the same time, it is, I think, everyone’s greatest desire to not know a day without the person they love.

What it used to mean for the Keepers was that although their time was limited, they found happiness. And knowing that they’d never have to live a day without their partners held some measure of comfort.

For Serenity, she gets her happiness, but none of the comfort. Because as the last Keeper, she knows that once Ray loses his life, the world loses theirs, too.

RL: I have living relatives who remember and fought in World War II, so the time period has always fascinated me.  Why did you choose the World War II setting for the story?

The settings were actually picked around the timeline of events in the book. I knew what I wanted to happen, and when I wanted it to happen in terms of the book, so when it came to looking at settings, I had a good idea of where to start. Also, being from the UK, I wanted it to be set here but at the same time be set in a time that was universally recognised. And when I started looking into various options, World War II was the one option that stood out the most for me. There was such a wealth of culture and events that happened during that time, which fit brilliantly into the book and the storyline.