Tell us about Verland: The Transformation?
Verland is the result of the confrontation/contemplation of death that overwhelmed me after my father’s sudden and unexpected death several years ago. I became completely preoccupied with questions of immortality, loss, and how to somehow move forward and embrace life in the face of so much darkness and uncertainty. So out of all of that came a mystery-murder, historical-thriller Gothic novel!
What separates Verland: The Transformation from the plethora of vampire novels coming out now?
That a vampire is one of the central characters is completely secondary to the novel’s many complex and interwoven themes. So many readers have responded to the character Verland as an exploration—and affirmation—of humanity in all of its darkness and light. In this way, Verland has nothing in common with either the blood-drenched “monster” or the pop culture pin-ups dominating the genre right now. He’s the classic Gothic outsider in our surreal and often isolating modern world.
What do you personally look for when searching out vampire fiction?
I’m going to be honest here—I don’t read hardly any vampire fiction! But I do read Gothic literature, vampire or otherwise, and what I’m looking for is an author who takes me on a journey down those strange, dark, complex pathways that make our existence so fascinated—and frightening!
How do you see the role of vampires in contemporary literature? Do you think the market is nearing over saturation?
A lot of vampires these days are little more than serial killers with a blood fetish, or heartthrobs with particularly long life spans. In some cases, it’s like The Sopranos with fangs. In other words, that equally alluring/repellant potency of the Gothic “Other,” the fascination with the macabre outsider and the extremes of such an existence, is often missing. But the vampire myth, when mined to its deepest, darkest depths, taps into something very primal in our essence, and there’s no saturation point for that.
What is the process you use when crafting your tales?
Drink a lot of red wine while fixating on ideas, themes, subjects; write; finish the whole thing off with obsessive-compulsive revising.
What is your favorite character that you created? Do you love or hate him/her?
All of the characters in the novel speak to some part of me, even the so-called “villain” Kingman, who really represents the fear of death taken to an extreme. But Verland is really something special to me, in part because of the long and often painful process that he embarks upon when he loses his identity and must rediscover and remake himself again and again—much like we all do, to a less extreme extent. Gideon is also a kind of culmination of so many of the lessons and experiences we all go through in life, just taken to that extreme of “What if that life were hundreds or thousands of years long?”
What are your future writing aspirations?
Send more pinot…
What writer most influenced you as an author? How?
I’m an avid student of literature, so all of the greats constantly influence me as an author—Shakespeare, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Woolf, Cather…the list goes on and on. Reading and studying such authors is a constant reminder of what language can and should do—that every word counts.
What is the most influential literary character to you personally? Why?
That’s an incredibly difficult one to narrow down! One that comes to mind right away is Pip in Dicken’s Great Expectations, because he captures so much of that fundamental human experience of hope, of the discovery of oneself--and the losses and gains that inevitably follow. And almost any character from Dostoevsky tends to permanently alter one’s interior.
If you could take the reins of writing for any existing franchise, which would you choose and why?