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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