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A novel to sink your teeth into

Staff Writer | November 15, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - She's a lawyer who writes romance novels about vampires.

While Rebecca Zanetti doesn't limit herself to penning dark love stories about passionate bloodsuckers, that's the tale that caught a major publisher's eye.

It earned the Hayden woman a three-book deal with Kensington Book's Brava division. The first novel, "Fated," is due for release in February.

Zanetti, who started writing books just two years ago, is still surprised that it was the story with fangs that got picked up.

"I kept reading everywhere that vampires were done," Zanetti said.

But the plot and characters were in her head and wouldn't leave her alone, so Zanetti sat down to write the book for herself, and in doing so, learned a valuable lesson.

"The book that sells is the one you want to write, the one that's fun to write," Zanetti said.

She always wanted to write a book, but didn't give it a serious try until she was snowed in during December 2008, a record-setting month for snow accumulation in North Idaho. Once she started, it was like opening a floodgate. Zanetti has already penned five complete books, and her agent is shopping her other works around to publishers.

A lifelong avid reader, Zanetti has always enjoyed a good romance. A big believer in happy endings, she always wants things to work out for whatever star-crossed lovers she is reading about.

Kensington Books' Brava division publishes historical and contemporary sensual romance, and Zanetti admits being apprehensive at first about the idea of people she knows reading her "steamy" work.

"It's spicy," Zanetti said.

She sits on the board of Wisdomworks, a local nondenominational nonprofit run by a pair of Catholic nuns.

"They can't wait to read my vampire book," Zanetti said with a smile. "I think they can handle it."

She grew up in Hayden Lake, and graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School in 1988.

"I took creative writing from Mr. Ruskovich. He was a wonderful teacher. I still remember some of his lessons," Zanetti said.

She went on to Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., where she majored in journalism and political science. After college, Zanetti worked as an art curator, and as an aide to Dirk Kempthorne when he was serving as U.S. Senator from Idaho.

She always wanted to be an attorney, so Zanetti went back to school and got a law degree from the University of Idaho. She was admitted to the Idaho State Bar Association in 1999.

With husband Tony Zanetti, she has two children who attend Hayden Meadows Elementary School.

After she completed her first books, Zanetti, who knew nothing about the publishing world, started looking for a company to buy her work. Along the way, she received a few rejections. Eventually, she tried pitching her vampire story.

"It was either get on the treadmill or send out a query or two," Zanetti said.

To her surprise, the book she didn't expect to sell was accepted within five days.

Zanetti will never forget the day nearly a year ago when she got the call that Kensington had accepted her vampire series. At the other end of the line, Zanetti heard an editor's voice asking her to sit down.

"I remember her telling me she had somebody faint once when she told them this," Zanetti said.

She doesn't remember much from the rest of the call. Immediately afterward, she went to find her husband to tell him the good news. Then she and her sisters went to Borders and Hastings and bought every Kensington Brava book they could find.

Since then, she's spread the word about the upcoming release of "Fated."

With the rise of self-published books, which hers is not, Zanetti said some retailers aren't impressed when she mentions that her own book will be on shelves soon.

"I mentioned it to one woman, and she said, 'Oh, honey, everybody has a book coming out,'" Zanetti said.

No matter, Zanetti won't be the one getting her books into stores. She has a publisher to handle distribution.

"Fated" is available by pre-order online at, and it's already selling.

"I check it every day," Zanetti said with a sheepish giggle. "Somebody bought it in the UK."

To give herself more time for writing and her family, Zanetti decided to take a break from practicing law, and voluntarily ended her contract as a hearing examiner for Kootenai County earlier this year.

"Writing about vampires is more fun than arguing in court," Zanetti said.

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