Shayne's first year out of high school (after meeting mentor, friend, and executive producer, Marcie Gorman), she penned, co-directed, and starred in the feature-length film, The Incubus a paranormal romance, which obtained distribution and opened in over fifteen theaters across South Florida among popular chains like Regal, AMC, and Cinemark. The Incubus has obtained a fan-base of over 60,000 girls online, and has garnered the attention of reporters from the Miami Herald, CBS News, and NPR Radio. Leighton also starred alongside Scream Queen, Tara Cardinal in the film, Legend of the Red Reaper. Now, 20-year-old Leighton is excited to release her debut young adult novel series, Of Light and Darkness, set in contemporary Prague as well as penning several other screenplays, a novel adaptation for Legend of the Red Reaper, an original pop/rock album, and acting in various film roles.
Onto Charlotte's Character Interview...
What was your first memory when you began living with Valek?
It's funny, but I have this really hazy memory of just walking around the house, being carried by his large hangs. I'm not sure how young I was. All I can recall, was that the house was dark, except for the golden glow of the kitchen light, and his hands were a little cold. But I do remember the distinct feeling of being safe. That might be the memory from the night he found me, and we entered our house for the first time together, but I was a baby...and who can remember that far back, anyway?
What were some of the reasons you liked staying with Valek and having his attention focused solely on you?
Well, Valek is my family. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. He's the only family in this world that I have. But what's more, is that Valek is extremely attentive and protective. There's just something about the way that he looks at me. I guess I just love that secure feeling, knowing that he'll never leave me. We'll always be together and that I'm always safe. He's a bit distracted with so many vampires living in one space now, and I do miss that one on one attention from him.
How did you find out Valek was a vampire?
It was never really something I "found out". It was just something I've always known. I grew up from infancy with Valek as my guardian, so the surprise of what he was never really came. In fact, for the beginning years, I thought we were the exact same. What I did need to find out was that I wasn't like him. He let me know when I was about five years old how different we were, and then I understood as much as a five year old can understand. That's when, in the back of my mind, he became the slightest bit scary. Just the slightest.
What kept you from running away?
I never really wanted to run away. As I stated before, Valek is my family. I'd never want to leave that for anything. Valek is the one I treasure most in life and I couldn't imagine where I'd be without him. Of course, growing up, there was a couple of times when I threatened to run away, as any angst-ridden teenager does, I suppose. But they were all just empty threats.
What surprised you the most while you were living with a vampire?
Living with a Vampire, life lacks surprises. You begin to expect the unexpected. But I suppose the best answer to this question, was when I discovered the freezer-room in his office at the back of the house with all of his "left-over" meals. I had nightmares for weeks while he tried to explain to me that he would use the left-over human parts for the good of medicine. I just couldn't seem to get past the fact that...everyone in that room was just like me. The human. The meal. The prey.
When one human stands before an army of impossible obstacles, the likelihood of overcoming them in this coming-of-age modern fairytale may result in war between light and darkness.
Abandoned as an infant in Prague, naive and strong-willed Charlotte Ruzikova was raised by one of the last Vampires left alive. As a human, she knows no other home than the one nestled deep in the woods of Eastern Europe, where Witches drew spells of enchantment, Phasers threw tea parties, and Elves are the closest in kin. Charlotte has lived her life in the dark with her Guardian, content to having him to herself and reveling in his attention, until she's realizes she wants more...
Resident medical doctor and Vampire, Valek Ruzik fears the day his ward would come of age and blossom into a fine woman, and he is forced to confront his own motives as time is of the essence once his past catches up to him, and their lives become endangered...
As genocide and war threatens their secret society, the dictator in power is ready to wipe out Valek's race, but Charlotte will not allow that to happen. Fighting for the only one she's ever loved and truly believed in, she will do whatever it takes to save their love...before the sun comes up and light takes over.
Thanks to both Shayne and Teen Book Scene!