A master’s voice

rvl_one-on-one_headerPresented by
Tim

 

On November 4, this year, at 2:17 PM, we received an email at RVL that was at once both intriguing and exciting. The email was from a publicist named Michelle and it sparked one of the most interesting, and stimulating editorial interviews that I have had the pleasure of putting together to date. The project, including our research, provided an absolute feast for the senses and some great reading material to boot.

It also allows us the opportunity to do something we’ve never done at RVL before ~ offer our readers the chance to win a prize but more on that later.

Let me ask you a question, if I may?

What have Vampires and classical concert baritones got in common?
Give up? The answer is John Davies.

As a Baritone John has been, including appearances, telecasts and broadcasts, heard and watched by more than 2 billion people around the world, in more than 130 countries. He has been described as, “A golden voice; one of the great Australian baritones.” (Daily Telegraph) and has been said to have, “Seduced the public with Andrea Chenier by Giordano.” (Le Quotidien – France)

His awards include Opera Singer and Vocal Coach of the Year (2011 – Los Angeles Award; US Commerce Association) The 2010 Omni Foundation, Los Angeles, Classical Music Award and the 2003 International Musician of the Year, IBC Cambridge, UK. John has also been listed in the 2002 publication, “2000 Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century” (Melrose, 2002 – ISBN 9780948875298)

Within all of this he has also written a number of works including, “Australian Defence Force – Trade Manual for Singing, ADF Music Corps” 2009 – 2010, the independently published “Theory of Simultaneous Communication and Psi Effect via an Unknown State of Matter which may Exist at Temperatures Approaching Absolute Zero” (1997 – 2002) and “Common Causes of Functional and Organic Disorders of the Voice in Adolescents” (1993 – USyd) to name just a few.

So what brought Real Vampire Life E-Zine and John Davies, thanks to Michelle, together?

Img. source - www.thefirstvampire.com Copyright John Davies

Img. source – www.thefirstvampire.com
Copyright John Davies

John’s latest writing venture, one sure to please even the most discerning reader of Vampire book wares. “The First Vampire” is a debut novel which, “provides an alarmingly plausible explanation of why and how the first human was transformed into a vampire, against a backdrop of factual Eastern European history.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in what is a wonderful opportunity, and a great privilege, it gives us great pleasure to introduce to you Mr. John Davies.

JohnDavies-imageaboutRVL: Good evening John it is great pleasure to be able to spend a little time with you and to be able to discuss your new book.

John: Hi RVL Guys! The pleasure’s all mine. It’s quite exciting for me to have the opportunity to connect with the actual vampire community and vampire fans at your site. And to think…it’s only about six months ago that I threw away my 1970s plastic vampire fangs!!

RVL: Okay, to break the ice, and because we’re dying to know, who’s your favourite vampire? And, if we may, can we ask a little something about your background and your interest in vampires?

John: As a kid, I was intrigued by vampire lore – most of which took the form of films. I came along just in time to catch those Hammer House of Horror films – “Count Yorga Vampire” and “Vampire Lovers,” and so on. And of course there were the Christopher Lee films. I’m not actually sure if there’s a vampire film I did NOT see. And I read all the vampire books I could get my hands on. I even read “Interview with the Vampire” before it became popular. I think the element about vampire lore that was most compelling to me was that of immortality. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s quite common among the vampire community.

As for my favorite vampire, that one depends on the context. Elizabeth Bathory has been very present for centuries, and in some ways, she set the standard for generations of vampires to come – even to the present day. My God… the list of film credits that woman has is amazing – not bad for a chick who was born in 1560. Imagine what she’d think if she knew how much of a star she had become!! *laughs* She’s never collected a single fee for any of her appearances! She gets a nod in TFV; one of the main characters has the Bathory surname.
In the film context, I, along with every other red-blooded teen in the world, was mesmerized by Ingrid Pitt’s “Carmilla” in the 1970 Hammer film, “The Vampire Lovers“. That was such a daring film for its time. Carmilla carried out the slow seduction of Madeleine Smith’s character, and the level of sexuality in vampire films went through the roof.

"The Vampire Lovers" - American International Pictures (AIP), Hammer Films, Fantale Films 1970

“The Vampire Lovers”
– American International Pictures (AIP), Hammer Films, Fantale Films 1970

In the modern era, I think I like Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) the most. I am intrigued by the duality of his personality. In this respect, he’s a little Jekyll and Hyde-ish…and this may be a very accurate reflection of all of us, to a greater or lesser extent.

RVL: In your research and development of the book, prior to writing, how important was the history, myth and folklore about vampires?
John: The book offers an explanation of why and how the first vampire was created, the history, myth and folklore of vampires didn’t play such an important role, simply because from the perspective of the book, there had been no previous vampires. Right or wrong, that was one of the premises of the book. However, the actual history of Wallachia and the Draculesti (Dracul clan) was very important, as it was upon this that the superstructure of the book was constructed. It proved at times to be somewhat frustrating to get at the real facts, as the facts change according to by whom and when those facts were written. Where I found it impossible to determine what the facts were, I avoided making any mention of them, so as to avoid entering into an academic discussion of the opposing points of view and their relative merits. That kind of discourse doesn’t belong in a historical fiction which is aimed at informing and entertaining the readers.

Img. source - http://www.johndaviesmusic.com/

Img. source – http://www.johndaviesmusic.com/

RVL: Have you had the opportunity to read any of the non-fiction material that deals with the modern, vampire sub-culture?
John: Unfortunately, not really. I have read a few things in magazines and online and I have found them to be very interesting. I am certainly aware of the modern vampire sub-culture, and to my way of thinking, it’s not really a new thing – yes, the subject matter is new but the underlying principles are not. The vampire sub-culture seems to be constituted by people with a shared set of beliefs, interests and possibly values and more, and in that respect it’s not all that different from any group which has shared beliefs and practices. To many people, this seem to be a little outside of the so-called “norm” – whatever that is. There’s the magic word – “norm”. If a person chooses to live their life as a vampire, is that really so much different from someone who chooses to live their life as a fanatical football club supporter, or a religious zealot? I guess catching up on materials relevant to the vampire sub-culture will have to go onto my list of must-dos.

RVL: What was it that shaped your early interest in the vampire particularly as a literary topic?
John: When I emerged from the theater after seeing my first big-screen vampire film, I had some questions. If you had to be bitten by a vampire to become a vampire, then how was the first person transformed, and why? Working out answers to those questions was never going to be easy. Sure, you could make up something completely fantastic, but my take on that was that it would leave the vampire to languish in the realms of fantasy. I wanted to attempt to offer an explanation that would seem reasonably plausible to that omnipresent legal entity known as the “reasonable person”. If I could come up with an explanation that a “reasonable person” would read and say, “Hmmmm…”, then I’d be happy. It seems that I may have been a little successful, in that some of the readers have mentioned in reviews that my explanation is quite plausible. Modern-day vampirism is not a fantasy, and I thought that writing a book which was, to a certain extent fact based, might possibly give a little more power to people following the vampire lifestyle. I hope it worked.

RVL: …and when did you first decide to venture into the genre?
John: About ten years ago, I decided that I could take a little time to do a few things I wanted to do (after a life of doing what I didn’t want to do in order to get the house, pay the bills etc – the usual routine). My first thought was to write an opera based on vampires, and I talked to a few friends about that and got started. But as I spent more time developing plots and themes, my ideas transformed. I realized that an opera or Broadway musical wouldn’t work because of the amount of material required to deal seriously with the emergence of the first vampire. So then I thought about a screenplay, but a discussion with a film producer friend led me to immediately forget about writing a screenplay and just do the book.

 

RVL: Did your work on the preparation, premise of, and execution of this work come easily or did it take a particular focus and expansion of thinking on your part?
John: The notion of writing a book presented me with what I thought would be quite a bit of difficulty, as while I had done a great deal of academic writing, writing for the purpose of entertainment wasn’t something I’d ever attempted. However, one day, I decided to just start instead of thinking about how I should proceed, and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed creative writing. I actually had fun…whereas I never had “fun” in academic writing. LOL…it’s ironic that while I was writing creative fiction, I carried out as much research as I would have done in writing academic stuff. But instead of simply reporting clarified historical facts, I tried to paint the picture of the historical events, (at least in a few cases), so that the readers could read history but become a bit more immersed in it by the visions I was trying to put into their heads. By the way, I should mention here, that I never did academic writing in historical subjects. That wasn’t my area. Yes…if you insist…my area tended to be anthropological and I penned such toe-tappers as “Social Iconicity of the Central Javanese Wayang Performance“. Yeah, they really loved that one!

RVL: In approaching the subject of your work what was the basic definition of “vampire” that was uppermost in your mind?
John: I wanted my vampire to be, essentially, a being that was immortal unless attacked at its vulnerable point. I wanted it to be unable to exist in sunlight, and also consigned to drinking blood. Most importantly I wanted to demonstrate why those conditions came about within a purely understandable and logical argument. So, the definition from which I worked was fairly stereotypical. If I was going to invent a whole bunch of new conditions which were quite foreign to those which we attach to the more “traditional” vampire, then I would be inventing a new type of entity. For example, a vampire imbued with a whole bunch of magical and extra-sensory abilities still fits in with the essential stereotype, whereas a vampire who is, say, susceptible to kryptonite radiation would be essentially a new invention of my own devising. And a book about that creature would fail, in my view, to be fairly faithful to the vampire genre.

RVL: Has your mindset changed from the basic premise of vampires that you set out with in approaching your writing?
John: Not really. However, as I developed the plot, I found that the vampire that I would end up creating would be a creature that we humans and current vampires could genuinely feel sorry for, relate to and view as very noble for having chosen the course it did. The pre-vampire human of the book was given virtually no choice in whether he should become a vampire. He HAD to transform in order to achieve a bunch of ends. I had to create a set of circumstances which would force a perfectly reasonable person to opt for the transformation which Dracula opted for. I hope that the result of doing that is that I wound up with a creature who had a great deal of human characteristics and emotions with which ordinary people could feel empathy. Am I making sense there?

RVL: How did the characters come to life for you in writing? Did you have any precedents in mind?
John: No, I had no precedents in mind. As I proceeded with the historical research into the Draculesti, I found that the actual history dictated much of the fiction to me. For example, the fact of continual, bloody murder and random raids carried out by the Ottomans created a tableau in my mind of utter carnage which took place at Corbeni (a real village not far from Curtea de Arges and Cetate Poenari). The meeting at Kiralyi-Palota on October 9, 1408 did happen in reality. And the men who were inducted into the order that day, were the men in my book. Where I could find details of their appearances, either by examining documents or artworks, I included in the text. As for the exact details of the shape that meeting took, nothing is known, so I invented what I considered to be a reasonably viable hypothesis which would (hopefully) be entertaining to readers. I don’t know if pastiches like this are interesting to modern-day vampires or not, but to my way of thinking, without that meeting and those inductees, today’s real vampires might (emphasis on might) never have been able to come into existence. Now I’m raving!

Corbeni, Romania Img. courtesy of www.booking.com

Corbeni, Romania
Img. courtesy of www.booking.com

Most of the characters of the historical discourse of the book are real, and by reading everything available about them, I tried to extrapolate to a point where I could surmise a reasonable version of what those people were actually like back in the 1400s. Setting those people into the action, once I had decided what they might be like, wasn’t too difficult, despite the six hundred year gap. For example, if a guy has food poisoning and feels a sudden need to run to the bathroom whilst in the middle of a conversation with a beautiful woman, the outcomes of those circumstances will be the same whether it was 1415 or 2015. And that kind of scenario led me, in part, to the decision that the language should be modern, and not archaic. Some readers have mentioned that the book reads very quickly, and I think that’s because I opted for 21st century language instead of the stilted type of language that has been prevalent in literature right up to the present day.

RVL: Are you aware that there is a thriving community of people who self-identify as “vampires” in the world today that originated in New York in the early nineties, what is your perception of that?
John: Yes, I am aware of that. Not totally aware, but I know about it. I know that there are several classifications of current vampires, according to their proclivities for example. But I’m not up on the details. My take on it is pretty straightforward. As a former dead guy myself (cancer, not fangs – diagnosed not to live past 2014), all I have to say is good on them. It’s 2015 and not the 70s and people should be able to live their lives however they choose, provided of course, that they do no harm to others.
It’s a human characteristic to strive to extricate oneself from the amorphous mire of anonymity and non-individuation, and to that end we all, in some way, create a platform whereby we can be considered to be individuals. So, if a guy wants to wear a neon-green suit and go to Starbucks on 55 and 7, and people comment positively on his suit, then the odds are that the self-edification of that will make him feel a bit better about himself. (Of course, people might make negative comments about his suit, with different outcomes.) He’ll possibly be a happier camper, and happy campers are possibly more likely to rate a plus, as opposed to a minus, in the community at large.

I’m not being judgmental here, don’t get me wrong. But if people feel good about themselves and they feel that they’re being honest to their ideals, then they’re probably living a more fulfilling life. And let’s face it, we all have only one life (so far) and to spend it in a way that makes us feel good should make for a pretty satisfying existence. OK, make exceptions to that for the criminally insane etc., as they harm others and place a great burden on society as a whole.

So, if someone identifies with the vampire persona and that leads them into fruitful social and intellectual interaction with others of their kind, then that can only be a good thing, right? And the exchange of information – be it historical, cultural or whatever, which likely happens when vampire groups meet – serves as a strong underpinning to bonding, and again, that’s very important for people. At least I think it is (exception: solitary vampires). If living one’s life as a vampire, maybe sleeping in a coffin, being awake only at night or wearing fangs adds to ones sense of self worth, then that also has to be a good thing.
I can’t help but note a little irony here, insofar as being a member of a sub-culture such as vampires, could possibly have an effect of bringing the members closer to societal “norms” (sorry!) in that they have a shared set of beliefs, maybe ritual practices, rules and mores. Further, they have websites, magazines, social media pages and sites, administrative infrastructure…all the same things that church groups and vintage fire truck enthusiasts have. In the latter case, the ritual of the “sounding of the klaxons” is far more offensive and unacceptable to me than say, the calm ritual of attracting spiritual nourishment from higher planes, and in that respect, the fire truck guys remove themselves way further out of the mainstream than do vampire groups, when they conduct the sounding of the klaxons in a public park in a densely populated area at 8.00am on a Sunday morning.
On another, possibly trite, tangent, I am very happy to see that people identifying with the vampire cult can now buy professionally made fangs and a whole bunch of apparel which goes with the genre. We had to make our own back when I was a kid! It’s really great to see all the YouTube videos about various aspects of vampirism – OK, all the videos aren’t necessarily for serious adherents, but they cater to people’s interest in the subject.

Img. source - www.thefirstvampire.com Copyright John Davies

Img. source – www.thefirstvampire.com
Copyright John Davies

The First Vampire.com

RVL: Please tell us a little about your novel… just a teaser, naturally…
John: I think some of the facts I introduced are interesting. OK, I hate to spoil the fun with the facts, but Dracula’s association with Transylvania was practically non-existent. He was born there, as his parents were there at the time of his birth, in a kind of self-imposed exile. He spent only the first five years of his life there, and then the family moved back home to Wallachia, on the southern side of the Carpathians. It was Stoker’s fiction which placed him in Transylvania, not the facts. The introductory section of the book has a sincere warning about the possible dangers of reciting the Latin rite, which is used to summon evil. A great deal of what drives the narrative centers on a Catholic priest who really gets it in the end. And the whole mystery of how and why the transformation took place is uncovered by a contemporary college sophomore. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, and that’s not easy when there’s a spoiler on every other page!

 

RVL: Do you have other works in the pipeline, along the same lines?
John: Yes. I’m working on the sequel now, which will be a little different from the current book in that it will lean less on historical fact. After all, the facts have been established in book one. That said, book two will still rely heavily on facts – just not so much historical (but still pretty weird). In book two, there are some of the old characters and a few new ones, and hopefully a whole new bunch of WTF moments.

RVL: …and who do you see as the “target audience” with your work in this genre?
John: Teens and forward, but with particular emphasis on people who’ve grown up with Buffy, Angel, True Blood and so on. There are many disturbing parts of the book, and some parents may want to read it before they give it to their 14-year old. I wanted the book to be accessible and interesting for all ages. It all depends where they lie on the spectrum. I hope people find more than a few interesting things. Despite what some readers say, I still like the idea that Dracula’s predicament was discovered by a college sophomore girl. I also like it that some advanced age readers have reached out to me to tell me that they really enjoyed finding out about the true background of Vampire lore. It’s cool to hear that from readers.

RVL: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your work?
John: The hard copy book and kindle are available on Amazon, and all other electronic formats are available at their respective sites, such as Barnes and Noble. When people have finished reading the book, they should go to The First Vampire.com. They will discover a letter for them from you-know-who…and even though they will have finished reading the book by the time they get to tfv.com, they will find even more little plot twists in the letter.

RVL: Are there any plans afoot to take your creations to the screen, big or small?
John: Let’s just say that I’ll be doing my best! To be honest, I think the book would make a better series than a film because you only have 120 minutes in a film and the book has so many tiny, yet very important, details. It would be difficult for anybody to decide which details to omit from the film while still leaving the plot intact.

RVL: Do you have any comments that you would like to make about the subject of vampires, the literary vampire genre or, in general?
John: The subject of vampires is captivating and alluring, and I think that’s what has made it a constant literary and entertainment theme for generations. Whether it be the element of sexuality, immortality, mysticism, occultism or whatever, it has a strong pull for people from all walks of life. And it’s an enduring subject as well; to my knowledge, the subject has been dealt with fairly constantly since the early 1700s (Bathory notwithstanding) when there was a period of vampire “mania” – even back then, people were digging up graves of others suspected of being vampires. In my view, Stoker’s book was the one which cemented the vampire into the imaginations of people world-wide and into history itself. It is an amazing piece of literature which has given rise to hundreds, possibly thousands of creative works. Vampires seem to have this way of sparking curiosity in our minds. Vampire lore makes us think outside the box, more perspicaciously, and offers us some alternatives which we’re certainly not going to be exposed to in our business admin degrees. Vampires make us wonder, they amaze us, and that possibly makes us think a little deeper and certainly more laterally. I don’t see the genre or its devotees disappearing any time soon, and I’m very glad about that.

RVL: Thank you very much indeed for your time today John; we are honoured and delighted to be able to help introduce your work to our readership and we wish you every success with it.

John: Thank YOU very much RVL, for giving me the opportunity to share some deeper thoughts on the subject with your members; and thank you so much for very intelligent questions! (Beats the crap out of, “So, John…tell us a little about your book..” – to which I think, “Oh, so, you didn’t even do your homework and read it.“)
To those of you who have embraced vampire lore at a serious level, or have immersed yourselves in the vampire sub-culture, all I can say is, “Props to you!” Like I said earlier, you only live once (at this stage), so enjoy it while you’re here!

——————————————————————————————————————-

I think that, from the outset, this editorial/interview was always going to be something special for me to research and write. The research alone was gratifying on so many levels that I feel privileged to have come into contact with our guest this evening.

John Davies, graduate with letters as a Licentiate of Trinity College London with a vocal performance specialization, The Royal Schools of Music and the University of Sydney, composer of the celebratory music for the canonization of The Blessed Mary MacKillop, convener of an ongoing philanthropic program for singing students in Los Angeles in 2010. He gave master classes in performance to young singers, many of whom came from under-serviced backgrounds. Teacher, author, classical concert performer, recording artist, and, in 2011, cancer survivor which led to his 2012 co-venture agreement with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with the aim of philanthropically funding major research projects in the areas of prostate cancer and radiation oncology with abiding interests in anthropology, science fiction, horror, and classics.

If there were anybody that embodied the very essence of la joie de la vie then it would surely have to be our guest this evening, Mr. John Davies.

 

Click Here For Your Opportunity To Win A Signed Copy Of

“The First Vampire” by John Davies

Copyright RVL and John Davies 2015 – All rights in graphics and musical performances remains with John Davies except where noted.

NB: Where used, quoted portions of other works are reproduced under the “fair use for education” provisions of relevant legislations.
The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented.

This information is freely available to all FOR PERSONAL USE only, it may be linked to on personal web sites WITH FULL CREDIT but it may NOT be used for commercial purposes nor for general distribution without PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT from Real Vampire Life and our guest.
For further details please see our Website Disclaimer

“After Ninety Years” ~ A Vampire from the old country

library6 ethosworldcomPresented by

Tim & Lady M

We are being, and have been, literally bombarded with Vampire literature over many, many years. The popular literature has spawned television series’, movies, sequels and serialised novels untold. Each has its place, each has its pros and each its cons; each has its fans and its detractors but one of the things that has, in the main, been missing from the field is the representation of literature from the very cradle of the folklore of the vampire.

If you look up the history of Vampire literature you will find references to one of the first works of art to touch upon the subject, the short German poem The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, the narrative poem Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger being a notable 18th century example even though the returned lover is actually revealed to be death himself, a later German poem exploring the same subject with a prominent vampiric element was The Bride of Corinth (1797) by Goethe. Naturally, looking further you will come across Southey, Polidori and Bram Stoker ~ a stellar cast, no doubt, however, all representing the tale in pure fiction and in a ‘westernised’ fashion to appeal to their selected audience.

The actual folklore, and the telling of that folklore, is only now beginning to be a field of increasing interest. We were both pleased, and privileged, to be contacted recently by our friend, associate, author and resident Balkan History expert Dr. James Lyon who has just recently completed, and published, the translation of a vampire tale that pre-dates Bram Stoker’s famous novel by 17 years.

Milovan Glišić

Milovan Glišić

The book is called “After Ninety Years”, originally authored by Serbian writer, dramatist, translator, and literary theorist Milovan Glišić , Dr. Lyon, with help, as he puts it, from “My long suffering wife…” and his mother-in-law, along with a number of proof readers and helpers, has brought the story of Sava Savanović to life for everyone who has an interest in the origins of Vampire folklore.
My lady wife, Lady M, prepared the following review for you, dear reader and, in her turn, put up with strange Editorial questions that I am wont to throw around the place. Here then are her words of the story.

afterninetycover

After Ninety Years
by Milovan Glisic
translated by Dr. James Lyon PhD

Strahinja (Strakh-in-ya) and Radojka (Radojka) were in love … a love that was forbidden by her father Zivan (Zhi-van). This almost sounds like the opening for many vampire stories that have been written over the years.
This story, however, was written in 1880 and although we see the young couple live happily ever after, it is the course of events which, as you will read, leads to the discovery of the vampire, Sava Savanović (Sah-vah Sah-vam-o-vich) by Strahinja. The young suitor risks his life to help the people of Zarozje grind their wheat into flour knowing each miller before him had been the victim of a night stalker.
The tale is told about the “vampire”, Sava Savanović, who frequented the watermill each night for some 90 years to feed on the millers who worked there, and the search by the villagers to find and destroy him.
It is important to note that in order to understand the time and circumstances that this story takes place in, reading the Translator’s Notes and the Foreword are necessary as it will give you a greater understanding of the tradition and cultural flavor of the Serbian backdrop of the Village of Zarozje (Za-rozh-ye).

Img. source: kids.britannica.com

Img. source: kids.britannica.com

I must admit, having read many books with regard to vampire legend, I wondered whether this tale would take the same road as others have in the description of how the vampire happened on his victims and if the feeding method the vampire used was of a sanguinary nature. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sava, the vampire, did not feed on the blood of his victims but through forceful touch, sucked out their life essence culminating in the death, by strangulation, of each of his victims.

There are several elements that every reader will recognize almost immediately, the presence of a priest, the use of Holy Water and a wooden stake made of Hawthorn; what you may not recognize is the attitude of the villagers toward the scourge of Savanović, the almost ‘matter of fact’ acceptance that the Vampire is simply an accepted part of the natural world that they inhabit. In fact the preparations for hunting, finding and dispatching the vampire are quite methodical and calmly executed.

Thank you, James, for taking the time to translate this wonderful piece of vampire lore. A piece of lore from the very cradle of Vampire legends that belies the popular notion of vampires biting necks and drinking the blood of their prey.

After ninety years cover After Ninety Years

available now at Amazon.com

Translations of foreign originated works are always fraught with their own difficulties and it is often heard that many stories “lose something” in the translation, while the tale may not invoke the abject terror and atmospheric dramatics of the purely fictional imagination it does provide a most intriguing and fascinating insight into the “reality”, if we can use the term, of the Vampire’s place in the world from whence it was born. This book is a must have for the library of any serious student, or afficianado, of Vampire history and folklore.

Copyright Dr. James Lyon & RVL 2015

NB: Where used, quoted portions of other works are reproduced under the “fair use for education” provisions of relevant legislations.
The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented.

This information is freely available to all FOR PERSONAL USE only, it may be reproduced, or linked to, on personal web sites WITH FULL CREDIT but it may not be used for commercial purposes nor for general distribution without PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT from Real Vampire Life and our guest/s.

For further details please see our Website Disclaimer

 

One-on-One – A graphic affair

rvl_one-on-one_headerPresented by
Tim

As you know we, at RVL, are big supporters of a number of fiction authors, and other creative talents, that rub elbows with our sub-culture and our guest this evening is no exception. He is a Yale graduate and former writer for Weekly World News. He is the author of the critically acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast and writes a weekly blog The Best and Worst of Horror featuring movie reviews and bizarre news. As a WWN reporter, he investigated many stories related to vampires and continues, as ever, to be fascinated by them.

He has now turned his attention, in a contemporary literary sense, to the Vampire genre and has just released news of his new graphic novel project Night Cage. The premise is simple: vampires take over a women’s prison ~ Imagine ‘Orange is the New Black’ meets ‘Salem’s Lot’.

The last time we chatted with this gentleman was back in 2012 and it gives us great pleasure to welcome him back to Real Vampire Life E-Zine in a one-on-one interview with our good friend C. Michael Forsyth.

As our Michael tells us of his newest work,
The project is being funded through Kickstarter. Folks who jump on the bandwagon will be rewarded with a boatload of goodies, ranging from advance copies of the book and exclusive art, posters and T-shirts to a chance to be drawn into the graphic novel as a character!

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. C. Michael Forsyth
Mike_Pic_Book

RVL: Good evening Michael, it’s wonderful to have you back with us again, seems there’s been a bit happening since we last spoke. So, what have you been up to and how have you been keeping?

CMF: I’ve been quite busy. I’ve written three novels since then: The Blood of Titans, a love story set in a mythical kingdom in ancient Africa; The Identity Thief, a thriller about an identity thief who impersonates the worst possible person and ends up on the run, and my latest, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House, in which the two famous men solve a paranormal mystery.

RVL: The last time we had you with us was back in 2012, as I mentioned in the intro, how about a bit of a rundown on what transpired with Hour of the Beast and the work that followed? And, what’s been going on since then?

CMF: Hour of the Beast garnered some tremendous reviews as did the Arthur Conan Doyle book, which received a rave review from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and as far away as the Sherlock Holmes Society of India.

RVL: …and did the responses, and the experiences from that period, change your approach and plans for the new project?

CMF: I’ve realized the importance of identifying the natural audience for your work and building a relationship with them well before the work is published. Hour of the Beast was my first rodeo, and I did none of that. I simply published it, then tried everything imaginable to publicize it. With the Arthur Conan Doyle adventure, I started getting advance material to Sherlock Holmes fan organizations. This time, months before the graphic novel comes out, I am forming ties with every Facebook group associated with vampires and horror that will have me.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth, "Night Cage"

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth, “Night Cage”

RVL: What major changes, following the last book, affected your plans for the new project Night Cage?

CMF: Well, most significantly, I decided to make it a graphic novel.
RVL: Why a graphic as opposed to a traditional novel?

CMF: I’m sure you’re aware of the decline of print books. One of the few bright spots in the publishing industry is the burgeoning success of the graphic novel. Fans of comic books want to have something they can hold in their hands. And graphic novels, which are essentially storyboards, are quicker to catch the eyes of movie producers, who actively hunt them down at comic book conventions.

RVL: Let’s talk about the graphic novel now, what inspired the work?

CMF: My favorite Stephen King novel (and all-time favorite vampire novel) is Salem’s Lot. I also was a huge fan as a kid, of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I wanted to capture that idea of insidious evil spreading like a contagion, with people fighting to hang onto their very humanity. The prison setting adds an element of claustrophobia to the already terrifying situation. There’s nowhere to run.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth, "Night Cage"

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth, “Night Cage”

RVL: Did the influences that helped shape your characters and stories in the past change for the development of ‘Night Cage’?

CMF: Each story I’ve written has been in a different genre, calling for different approaches. The Arthur Conan Doyle and Houdini mystery is rather genteel in style, written to some degree in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes story, and of course, since the protagonists are real historical figures, it was a matter of getting to know them intimately through research and bringing them to life as characters. The characters in Night Cage are in most cases types you’d see in a women’s prison, but beefed up with interesting traits and, hopefully, given a bit more depth than usual.

RVL: What projects, without giving away any secrets, apart from Night Cage are you currently engaged in or planning for the future?

CMF: I am working on another mashup, involving Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, and Aleister Crowley, the occultist. I am also recording audiobooks for each of my novels. I’ve already narrated the audiobook of The Blood of Titans, which is available at Amazon.com and on iTunes, and hope to complete the other three by the end of the year.

RVL: Do you also narrate the work of for other writers?

CMF: Yes, I’ve just started doing some work as a professional narrator, which I enjoy tremendously. You can find samples of my work on the ACX web site. That’s Amazon’s audiobook publishing company.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth, "Night Cage"

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth, “Night Cage”

RVL: …and when do you hope to see ‘Night Cage’ released?

CMF: I hope to release the graphic novel in December.

RVL: Where can people find the “Kickstarter” for the project and where can they go to keep up to date with the project?

CMF: Readers can check it out by visiting

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/167816057/night-cage
I have a Facebook page devoted to Night Cage and have been updating fans regularly.

RVL: In her SXSW keynote speech in 2006 Heather Armstrong noted;
“Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it’s so hurtful to think about writing.”
What would you say to that?

CMF: I wholeheartedly agree. It’s very risky for a writer to take a break from his craft. That six- month break can easily turn into a six-year break. Today there’s one less excuse not to write – the feeling that there might not be any point since your work might never be published. With the old barriers to publication gone, you can now forge ahead confident that your will see the light of day, whether it is self-published or solely in eBook.

"Night Cage" Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

“Night Cage”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

RVL: There would be, I would hazard a guess, a great many budding “vampire genre” writers out there, many of whom may well be reading this, many who may be wrestling with how to create that “perfect idea” that will make it big… what advice would you give to an aspiring vampire genre author?

CMF: Night Cage is what Hollywood producers call “high concept,” meaning a single, simple, strong idea that drives the plot and can easily be sold to audiences. But I don’t think that’s necessarily what writers should aspire to. Look at the Walking Dead. There’s nothing new and brilliant about the concept. Those are the old George Romero “slow zombies.” What makes the graphic novel and TV series so captivating is the characters and the conflicts between them. A fiction writer in the vampire genre, or any other genre, should focus on building characters we care about. The only thing I would try to do in terms of new and brilliant is to try to look at vampires in a fresh way. Anne Rice, for example, broke new ground by envisioning them as decadent aristocrats, instead of the monsters we always knew.

RVL: Thank you for your time today Michael, it’s been marvelous to catch up with you again and we would like to wish you all success with your current and future projects. Don’t forget to keep us posted so we can let our world know what’s happening okay and so we can keep up with the “Night Cage” project.

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Who remembers, as a kid, being excited when the latest comic book hit the stands? Who remembers waiting eagerly for the next “comic book installment” from their favourite heroes and heroines?

Hollywood has taken to the ‘comic book’ and graphic novel genre in a big way these days with blockbuster movies based on comics and graphic novels, Superman, The Avengers, Batman.

The very first American graphic novel – Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin’s Blackmark  (1971) started the trend here and it has been a popular form of the literary art since perhaps it won’t be all that long before we can enjoy the visual, big screen version of Night Cage.

Copyright (except as noted) RVL and C. Michael Forsyth

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