Holley native pens popular vampire romance
By Sue Cook, staff reporter
Holley native Jillian Hazzard is seeing success on Amazon from the sales of her recently released book, “Blood Leverage.” The title refers to the power of blood, such as familial ties, life-giving abilities or as an economic value in the world of her book.
The debut book is part of a planned trilogy called “The Bloodstone Chronicles.”
After graduating in 1995 from Holley, Hazzard attended the University of Buffalo. She completed four years of English and then completed a law doctoral. Her writing has been non-fiction and mostly legal work. However, many of her friends felt she should branch out.
“People were always telling me I should write a book,” said Hazzard. “Then one day I got stuck in a Barnes and Noble waiting for my ride.”
Hazzard said she picked up an unofficial biography of an author and was skimming through it when she reached a quote that struck a chord with her. The quote basically said that most people think they could write a novel if they had the time, but that even if they had time, they would not be capable.
She took it as a personal challenge. She began a book, which she scrapped after six months. When she fell ill with a cold and wanted to relax, she looked through her vampire novels and found herself disappointed. She felt she could do better.
“Vampires couldn’t stay a secret nowadays with social media. Everyone would want immortality and it would not end well for the humans,” she said.
The book takes place centuries in the future at a time when vampires are openly in existence. Humans had undergone an event called the Mass Conversion, which changed them into vampires because of technology discovered which meant that harming humans for food was no longer needed. The technology failed and now the remaining humans live in two factions. There are humans that trade blood for the ability to live an easier life in the cities and there are the Free Humans who live in rural areas to avoid these transactions.
The main character, Aurora “Rory” Strong, lives a hard life as a Free Human. Her own village has made her into a social outcast due to her mother’s research into how the Mass Conversion led to the failure of society. Rory seeks to rebel through the illegal private transactions of the sale of her own blood.
“I used general lore with a few tweaks,” she said of her vampires, which are a mix of traditional and modern in their powers and lifestyles.
“Blood Leverage” is in the Top 100 new release vampire romances on Amazon, and the top 77 of vampire novels overall. It is also available on Kindle, owned by Amazon, which offers 2.7 million books. Though it’s place on the list fluctuates due to the algorithm Amazon uses, the book is in the top 10,000. At the time of the interview, the book was in the top 6,000.
“I’m fortunate the reaction to ‘Blood Leverage’ has been so positive. I’m so grateful for the support in Orleans County,” Hazzard said. “Small-town support behind you is immensely valuable. Thank you to all the people who have supported me.”
The reviews average out to a 4.7 out of 5 stars. Reviewers have even written her fan mail. Some reviewers compare her work to international best-sellers.
“It’s weird and unexpected and wonderful,” she said.
Hazzard has also been in talks with some of the teaching staff at Holley school for a possible discussion with the students about writing and self-publishing in the fall. She also plans to offer advice that she has learned from trading works with other authors for early proofreads.
“You can write part time as a way to get your work out there. You can create your own career as an author,” she said. “The biggest asset any potential writer has are their friends. You only get a fresh set of eyes from them once. Provide your beta readers with a clean manuscript so they don’t focus on the typos and can focus on the plot. They should be helping to make the plot as good as possible.”
Though she is currently not practicing law, Hazzard continues to take classes to maintain her license, including a course she completed about publishing house contracts. It only reinforced her idea that self-publishing her novel was the best course of action.
She said the contracts make it very difficult to succeed if an author is accepted at a major publishing house. She has known writers that are ecstatic to receive the validation of a major publisher, but find that they don’t reach the success they thought they would.
To obtain a contract with a major publisher, writers must first have an agent. After getting an agent’s attention with a book blurb, the agents will then read the novel and provide further feedback.
“I had 12 agents respond,” she said. “They asked to read a draft. They gave a lot of praise and a lot of changes. They tell you what they think a book needs to succeed.”
Hazzard instead opted to self publish because it cut out the middleman and she was able to see her vision through to the end as she wanted to see it. Now that self-publishing is also made easier with modern technology, authors have fewer costs to themselves as well.
With the success of her first novel, Hazzard is already working on completing the second book in the trilogy, “Blood Loyalty.” She said the third book, which she also has outlined, will be released in the spring.
“I already know how it will end. I’ve planned an exit strategy,” she said. “Some authors or publishers are determined to milk it, but often readers complain that the series tends to deteriorate over time. I laid the foundation, now I need to build the building.”
For more information about Hazzard, visit her website at www.jshazzard.com.