I’m thrilled to be here today, even if the reason is a little sad: the last book in The Taker Trilogy, The Descent, is coming out in a few days (January 7). Even though it’s a happy occasion—a new book coming out!—it’s definitely bittersweet saying goodbye to characters that have been with me for 13 years. That’s longer than I’ve known some of my flesh-and-blood friends!

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, what were my inspirations for The Taker books? I think I get asked this a lot because the books are unusual—as a matter of fact, that’s probably the number one comment I hear from readers: “The story was nothing like I expected.” I’ve watched over the past few years as reviewers and critics have struggled to come up with a way to describe what is an un-categorizable story. My favorite, from Jennifer Castro at Cliché fashion magazine, is “[a] time-transcending page-turner.”

Another reason why the books are unusual is that unlike a conventional fantasy where you enter a world that’s already fully formed—for instance, in a vampire novel, you more or less know what the “rules” are—in The Taker Trilogy the secret behind the magic isn’t revealed until the very end of the story. The reader is presented with these mysteries and has to make sense of them, just as you would in real life.

What is the trilogy about? On one level, it’s the story of a young woman who falls deeply in love with a man she can’t have. In her quest to win him back, she joins up with a man with mysterious supernatural powers who gives her the opportunity to win her love back, but at a terrible price. Again, I’m going to turn to Castro, who summed it up really well: “[It’s] the story of an impressionable young woman, the ‘Adonis’ who she falls in love with and the ‘monster’ who falls in love with her… It’s a portrayal of everlasting love and unrelenting obsession, both of which know no boundaries for these characters.” The story is supposed to show the power of love, its highs and lows, as the struggle between the three characters spans over two centuries, several continents and, in The Descent, even takes them to the underworld.

So, what were the inspirations for this tempestuous tale?

The Time Traveler’s Wife: I was completely blown away by Audrey Niffenegger’s bittersweet love story. Like the author, I am a fan of tragic romance, the idea that you are unable to give up on your love, no matter how impossible the circumstances.

Orlando (the 1992 movie, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf): This movie is a mind-bending fantasy about a person, Orlando, who lives over 400 years, starting out as a young British aristocrat in the Elizabethan era, changing genders along the way. Magical and lush, it opened my eyes to what it would really be like to live on and on, without knowing why and with no idea what might happen to you next.

Interview with the Vampire: Yes, Anne Rice’s classic was a big influence, even though there are no vampires in The Taker Trilogy. Her villain Lestat is irresistible. In true Gothic tradition, Lestat represents our unfiltered emotional side, the part of us that is in touch with our deepest desires and animal instincts. More than anything, I wanted a villain who is as savagely charismatic as Lestat and I think that I got that in the monstrous Adair.

I’m curious to know what era inspires you. If you could live at any period in time, which would it be and why? Leave a comment below and be entered to win one of these great prizes: Grand prize: The Taker trilogy, one vial necklace and one bracelet. Second prize: The Taker trilogy and one bracelet. Third prize: The Taker trilogy.

Be sure to answer the question in a comment below by 9 a.m., Friday, January 3, for your chance to win! One grand prize winner, one second place winner and one third place winner will be chosen at random. Click here for complete contest rules.)