As you know we at RVL have been very fortunate in getting to know, through the course of our work, some exceptional people. People who have, and continue to, inform, enlighten and entertain us. Our guests tonight are such people, they are some of the authors in the vampire fiction genre that we have had the pleasure of coming into contact with previously and so we thought we’d catch up with them and see what’s happening.
“Every thought is new when an author expresses it in a manner peculiar to himself.”
~ The Marquis de Vauvenargues ~
I would suggest that these words, most assuredly, apply to the vampire genre for it is a genre at once both over-explored and yet still unexplored in great measure. If it were not for the author’s that hold to their course in the face of popular pop-icons we might not have many of the memorable characters and circumstances that we can enjoy in the vampire novels of today.
Accordingly, for this little chat, we sought out some of the authors we have had the pleasure of working with to find out what’s happening with them at present, how the works they have published have fared and what they have in the pipeline for their readers.
Please join us in welcoming back to RVL,
Lady Eleanor Tombs, author of The Ridge , Lady Raven Dane author of Legacy of the Dark Kind , Shaun McGinnis co-author of The Bloodline: Birth of The Vampir and
L.A. Nantz (a.k.a. Vodalok) author of Incubus Succubus and creator of the “Vampire Script”.
RVL: Good evening everyone, it’s wonderful to have you back with us again. So, how have you been keeping?
L.A.N: Life is always bringing new surprises, and mine has been full of great ones!
RD: Not as busy writing as I would have liked, real life and ill health have created obstacles but everything improving now, including writing time.
E: Thank you for the invitation to partake in another interview. I am overwhelmed with the writing of the second book of the series and welcoming our newest addition to the family, a baby girl.
SM: I’m doing very well, thank you. It’s been quite an eventful year with my fiancé Vicky and I setting an official wedding date, moving into a beautiful new home, and pursuing a different career path, all the while attempting to maintain a writing schedule. It’s been chaotic, but in a good way.
RVL: I listed the writings that we have spoken with you about previously in the introductions, how has response been to your publications?
SM: The responses have been terrific. In December the Solstice List honored ‘The Bloodline: Birth of the Vampir’ by declaring it one of the best horror novels of 2013, along with positive reviews from Amazon readers, Geekdom of Gore, and of course family and friends. I’ve been truly honored, moved, and humbled by the positive feedback.
L.A.N: well as a self-publish author, it’s a slow matter on getting new publications visible to a larger audience, but the people that have seen what I’m doing, have loved it all.
RD: Eveything helps! Greater exposure to my work is always most welcome and appreciated with so many books out there competing for attention. I have no idea if sales of the vampire series were effected as not due a royalty statement from that publisher for a while.
E: I have had many people buy my book and I have had a wonderful reception to it. I am so blessed with fantastic readers that enjoy my story.
RVL: …and did those responses change your approach and plans for your following writings?
RD: Yes. I must get back to the Dark Kind soon, my readers are impatient for another book. I am committed to another Steampunk novel in the Cyrus Darian series and an important short story commission for a horror anthology…maybe then return to the Land of Secrets and Shadows.
E: It has. I am working as hard as ever to bring new creatures and dig deep into history to create a longer, more challenging book for all to enjoy. Everyone that read the first book have been knocking down my door for the sequel.
L.A.N: no, for me it just reinforces what I am doing. I’m hoping I can start a word of mouth movement to further my reach, and improve my standing with the reading world.
SM: What thrills me most about not only writing, but being published, is the delight expressed by my family and friends, along with the enjoyment others have found in ‘Bloodline’. The only change I foresee (if it can be called that) is one of dogged determination in my approach to future stories. I can’t fathom letting down my family, friends, or those who read my works, let alone myself. I take great pride in everything I do and I hope that it will continue to show in upcoming publications.
RVL: What major changes, if any, have affected your plans for further publications?
L.A.N: …well as I’ve mentioned, I’m self-published, so the greatest challenge for me, is promotion of my work. I have to be the author, agent, and sales department for myself. It’s a lot of hard work, that I will admit, sometimes is overwhelming.
RD: Reader demand. A double edged sword, it is wonderful people love the books so much they want more but my Muse keeps feeding me new ideas away from the Dark Kind and Cyrus Darian.. I wish I could be more productive and a quicker writer…Barbara Cartland style with a new book every week !
E: One major change is to make the sequel longer. If I had one complaint about the first book, it would be that they wanted more.
SM: Having ended my personal and professional relationship with my writing partner last year he has taken it upon himself to engage in personal attacks, from character assassination, name calling, hate pages and all out lies via social media in an attempt to discredit me and my involvement in ‘The Bloodline’ series. The fact of the matter is that for three and a half years I poured my heart and soul into this story, and in July 2011 ‘Bloodline’, the original screenplay from which the novel adaptation was developed, was registered at the Writers Guild of America West in my name, and my name alone.
Every ounce of research, character development, story development, the story itself, even its conception, came directly from my hard work and determination, while my former partner contributed absolutely nothing. From January to July 2013 I wrote, re-wrote, expanded, and redlined the first draft of ‘Birth of the Vampir’, turning it into the novel that was ultimately published, again while my former partner contributed nothing. He has even gone so far as to attack the publisher, referring to them as “predatory” and accusing them of “having put him through the wringer”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. My personal experience with the publisher has been nothing short of positive and professional, and by no means do they deserve this blatant, unethical treatment. I find these kind of unjustifiable attacks not only cowardly, but show a severe lack of moral character from someone who is hell bent on tearing down others in order to deflect blame and responsibility from himself.
What I worry about most with future publications is that there may be those who read these underhanded comments and take them as gospel, having no notion of who I am or the situation at hand. If I’m guilty of anything it’s having given my friendship and trust to someone so undeserving. This is the first I’ve spoken of it in any public forum, not wanting to immerse myself in such negativity, but there comes a time when defending one’s reputation trumps all other concerns.
RVL: Have there been, or will there be, any radical departures from characters or story lines that you have developed previously in forthcoming writings?
RD: I think I will not carry on the Legacy series with what happens next after Blood Alliance…both my readers and myself would like to explore the distant past and the reigns of the Vampire Kings.
L.A.N: um, no, is the short answer. The long answer is, a few characters may out right die, and one in particular will be the focus of great and unexpected change. I’m hoping he will become a favorite with the readers, as I love him dearly. What is happening to him, how it will fit into the greater plot, and affect its outcome is still a little unclear to me. He wants more time in the lime light, and needs to realize, he’s not the main character. I might do some side stories, or a compilation of side stories where he can be the star as I go, but for now… *smiles* it’s a wait and see kind of thing.
SM: I don’t perceive any profound changes at this time. My personal approach to writing is to develop every nuance of my characters and story lines before I ever proceed to putting them on paper. I’ll run each scene through my thoughts, like a movie, portraying each character one by one in order to build relationships which come across as believable to the reader.
I must sense every scene, from smells, to noises, to the weather. Every building, vehicle, weapon, even how history may play a roll, all of it is processed to the nth degree before I move forward. It’s a tedious procedure to say the least, but it works for me. Having said that, there’s always a possibility that at some point in time a more exciting scenario will reveal itself, putting a particular story on a completely different path.
RVL: Have the influences that helped shape your characters and stories changed since you wrote your last publication?
SM: Not really. If anything, those influences remain my inspiration, but they haven’t changed my approach.
L.A.N: yes and no. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
RD: Hope not! I have a horror of outside influences and steer clear of other people’s work and films in the genre I write in. Saying that, my discovery of Game of Thrones has given me an appetite for writing some epic dark fantasy … my own vampires on horses with big swords, as shown in flashback in Blood Tears. And the next Cyrus Darian has a dragon it it….
E: I would say I am surrounded by new, fascinating people that I have embraced into my life that help inspire me. My life and the people that shaped the first book have all but departed from my life and fresh concepts and understandings have been learned. So, I would say I feel more grounded in this next book of the series making it a wonderful experience for me.
RVL: What projects, without giving away any secrets, are you currently engaged in?
SM: At the moment I’m engaged in two projects. One is the follow-up to the Bloodline series, the other, a ghost story which has been swirling around in my head for nearly fifteen years.
L.A.N: well I just finished an unrelated set of short stories (the title is “Mia’s Tempest”) that start in the spring and end with the possible end of the world by winter. The stories are all interconnected in one way or the other, but, the lives that are covered, and the events that are highlighted, are all very unique stories. And then there is the children’s book, “Everything dies”.
RD: The third Cyrus Darian as mentioned and a short story in a future anthology with some big names in it….very excited about that. Telos Publishing has bought an alternative history/supernatural novel off me….but not allowed to reveal the details of that yet.
E: I am in the process, slow and painful process, of keeping The Ridge series continuing with the addition of the next book.
RVL: …and when do you expect these to be released?
L.A.N: both the children’s book and the book “Mia’s Tempest”, are already available through my lulu.com account. Just look for L. A. Nantz.
E: I would love to see it out and in the hands of my readers around Yule, Gods be willing.
RD:Truthfully, I have no idea. The new book out with Telos should be out late 2014.
SM: My hope is to have one ready for submission by the end of the year with the other to follow by summer 2015.
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?
L.A.N: I would say the same thing. Writing is an art, and the part of the mind that allows us to do so is a muscle. If it is not flexed and worked, and worked hard, it will atrophy. No writer wants that to happen. So for me I take a single word, and try to turn that into a horror story, just to keep me on my toes. It’s how Mia’s Tempest was born.
E: All the best writing I have found of my own was when the pain and sorrow was so great I could no longer keep it inside me. I felt as though I would burst. No one can keep such feelings within their flesh and it should be let out on paper. Such writings are truths, pure emotion that being that raw, can relieve your soul of scars that form when you keep hidden the pain and anguish. As to keep writing, yes. I agree completely. Getting wrapped up in your life, facebook, tumblr, what have you, write there. If you are writing even if it is nonsense, you still have your imagination and or your creative side active.
RD: I would also add, keep reading. Her advice to keep writing though blocks is a good one but I think take a break from the work that is causing angst. Do something creative but different. I had a four month hiatus working on Blood Alliance to the point of nearly hating the book and scrapping it. Instead I followed another writer’s advice and wrote my High Fantasy spoof The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire. That seemed to free the block and I was able to finish Alliance
SM: I would say that Ms. Armstrong is spot on. As a self-proclaimed introvert I often find it difficult to express my feelings to others, especially in difficult times. Writing for me is therapeutic, a way to deal with my own personal issues without burdening others with my troubles if, and when, they arise.
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, what advice would you give to an aspiring vampire genre author?
RD: Bring something new to the table….very difficult but the market has been totally flooded with Twilight and True Blood clones. Don’t copy mine either…LOL !
The BBC series ‘In the Flesh‘ and the French series ‘ The Returned‘ shows what can be done with the overdone Zombie genre… A fresh approach to a tired genre is always welcome
SM: This is a difficult question to answer. Had you asked me to give advice on home design, which had been my career for the better part of sixteen years, I could do so without batting an eye. As a first time published author, however, I continue to find myself seeking the advice of those with far more experience.
Having a published novel is a remarkable accomplishment, but it is still only one book, and I don’t know if I’m the appropriate person to be providing guidance at this point in my brief writing career. The one bit of advice I believe I can offer comes from my interaction with other aspiring authors. I find that almost all have a real reluctance in letting their stories go, fearing rejection from publishers or agents. Writing is a very personal and time consuming venture and having their work rebuffed can be disheartening at best.
I encourage those budding “vampire genre” writers to be true to yourselves, true to your stories, be original, and let them go. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone says no. What’s the best that could happen? Someone says yes! Remember, Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling, and even Stephen King faced rejection at first, and today we know each one by name. I’m aware that this isn’t necessarily comforting for those still looking to break through, but remember this; if you do nothing you know what happens…nothing.
L.A.N: first I would tell them, “write what you know, keep it as real as you can, make sure you understand the dynamics, chemistry, and universal laws of the world you are writing about. Give it a great deal of thought. Keep logs of characters; who they are, what they like, give as much detail about them as you can until they become alive. Once they have a life of their own, writing them will be smooth and flawless. I would also recommend, avoid writing twilight trash. I think we all know what I mean by that.
E: I would say first and foremost do not be afraid. The way you think or view something is not that far out of an idea. When writing my book I thought everyone would hate my main character. They would despise her and would not be able to relate to her thought process or the way she viewed the world. That is far from the truth talking with the readers. Write what you know and jump. Publish your writing(s) and you will be surprised at the way you will feel less odd and more understood.
RVL: I’m going to ask you to get your crystal balls out now and look into the future… where do you see the literary vampire, or your own work, heading over the next ten years?
E: that is an impossible request. When looking at the progression of the vampire literature you have the reanimation of a corpse to the handsome, lustful vampires, to the average teenager high school vampires. Who knows which writers are out there with a brand new concept of what he or she sees in her dreams as a vampire. I will say I am excited to see.
L.A.N: a series of 5 or more books. Two of which I have already started. The story starts with ‘Incubus succubus; awakening‘, the first novel. Then will come (here after incubus succubus will be IN. Su.) “In. Su. Lies”; “In. Su. The Price of Flesh”; “In. Su. House of Dragons”; and the fifth novel, “In. Su. End Game”. Will it be the end of Stephen? not likely..! Will Viper, Chan or any of the others end up in the crypts? You’ll have to wait to see.
RD: Hopefully discovering my books and making them into the next HBO blockbuster if and when Game of Thrones finished…. Meanwhile, in the real world, interest in vampire literature will remain but only if new ideas and concepts are introduced, the world can only take so much sparkly teenage angst.
SM: Where the literary vampire’s journey leads in the next decade is hard to determine. But I will say this, from John Polidori’s ‘Vampyre’ (1819), to Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ (1897), to Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot’ (1975), to Whitley Strieber’s ‘The Hunger’ (1981), the literary vampire has more than stood the test of time, and I don’t anticipate it will change in the near future, if ever.
RVL: Thank you all for your time today, it’s been marvelous to catch up with you all again and we at RVL 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?
RD: Will do…and thank you for the opportunity to waffle on and a big Gothmother hug to all the darkly beautiful ones of RVL…
E: I deeply thank you for taking your time to follow up with me and my works. I look forward to reconnecting with you in the future with news of the release of the second book of my series as well. It has been a pleasure dealing with you and the RVL. Such a wonderful place with extraordinary people.
SM: It’s been wonderful catching up with you and your readers, and I will absolutely keep RVL posted on my future works. RVL has been very supportive of me and my writing and for that I am truly indebted.
Challenging the “new” stereotypes, bringing back the mystery, re-defining the icon that has been eroded in the minds of a new “pop” culture. Relating today’s tales of the Vampyre in time honoured traditions and casting new spells and weaving new mysteries… all the tasks of the Vampire genre authors of today. Some make a huge splash, others make quiet ripples that spread endlessly in the sea of public consciousness but one thing is for sure, we ALL owe them a debt for making the Vampyre as real and relevant a hero, or anti-hero as you will, that it has always been. In short, keeping the dream alive for us all.
We, at RVL, would like to thank them for sharing their time with us and for being wonderful friends and supporters of our E-Zine. We would also like to congratulate Lady Eleanor and her partner, belatedly, on the arrival of baby Moriganna, and Shaun and Lady Vicky on setting the date for their nuptials.
Copyright RVL, Raven Dane, L.A. Nantz, Eleanor Tombs, Shaun McGinnis 2014
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