Monday, April 23, 2012

M.R. Interviews...Naima Haviland

Amazon readers call Bloodroom “romantic, sexy …a Moulin Rouge type of story” and “an exciting,
intricate, and delicate foray into the seductions of the vampire …” Bloodroom is currently a paperback
and Kindle e-book, and will be available in all digital formats this June.

 Enter to win a free Autographed copy of Bloodroom at April 24-25. The Kindle edition will be a free download from
Amazon April 27-28.

Amazon and Smashwords readers say Night at the Demontorium is ” …not unlike The King in Yellow or
even Lovecraft …” and “An exceptional collection lovingly crafted of dark, thoughtful visions …” Ranked
among Amazon Kindle’s Top 20 Bestselling Horror Anthologies, Night at the Demontorium is a twisted
journey through realms of madness and addiction.

Please Welcome Naima Haviland

Where did the ideas from Bloodroom come from? 

My ideas usually arise from something visual. I dreamed I was walking in a forest at night and happened upon a pack of dying wolves. The mystery of the wolves' fate was the genesis of Bloodroom. Swisher's look was inspired by a girl in the Penguin's entourage in Batman II. Julian's antebellum mansion actually exists; it's Drayton Hall outside of Charleston, SC. And Natalie is primarily inspired by the ballerina who died at my feet when I was five -- in her role as the Swan Queen in a performance given at our school. She lay gracefully folded in on herself, trembling as Tchaikovsky's score soared above and through me. She was so beautiful, so doomed. When she stopped shaking and lay still and "dead", I think I might have stopped breathing for a moment. I didn't know what would ultimately happen to Natalie till I finished writing Bloodroom. I wondered when Julian kills her, what will that be like? Julian wonders the same thing throughout the story; he can't stop thinking about it.

What sets Julian in Bloodroom from other vampires?

Julian's hubris sets him apart. He believes his every decision is the right one, regardless of its cruelty. He's never challenged and has never suffered the consequences of any action. His sense of entitlement is as much a part of him as breathing is to humans. Julian character is similar to someone with antisocial or narcissistic personality disorder. His conscience and empathy are compartmentalized into seeming nonexistence. He puts off killing Natalie because he enjoys their affair but comes to care about her, a surprising development he's completely unequipped to handle. It's Stockholm syndrome in reverse. But it's against the law to let her live. Procrastination can get him killed.

 Who do you think Bloodroom will appeal to the most?

My first instinct is to say women, but I've known a lot of guys who enjoyed it. I like to say Bloodroom lives at the crossroads where Jane Eyre and Nine Inch Nails meet. Women whose deepest romantic fantasies are edgy, dangerous, sharp, and dark will like Bloodroom. But readers who believe there should be limits to what a good romantic male lead can get away with probably won't like it. 

Bloodroom combines sexual elements within a horror setting.  Is it more important for you to be 
sexy or scary?  Do you find combining the elements to be difficult? 

To answer the first question, it's good to understand what you really think is sexy and what you really find scary. In real life, I must confess they have sometimes overlapped. So in writing I can exaggerate what's at stake and add a supernatural element. I don't find combining the elements to be difficult at all. It's yin and yang: life and death, joy and pain. So, what is sexy? Someone hot and new. What is scary? Hottie has a body in the basement. I want you. Can I trust you? In the next instant, scary trumps sexy. If I'm fast enough, I might make it out alive.

Do you have a particular favorite story from your short story collection, Night at the Demontorium?  Why?

Probably Bedring. Night at the Demontorium is completely different from Bloodroom, but it's a recurring theme in my writing that what looks safe probably isn't. In Bedring, a man who is successful in every aspect of life arrives at his showcase home in a gated community to find an alien entity in his unmade bed. In his perfect world an unmade bed is an abnormality in itself, but in short order the bedring will destroy every fabrication the man has so carefully constructed – including that of his own personality. 

How is your process for creating short fiction different from that of a novel?

Well the process is a lot shorter! LoL - seriously. Most of my short stories begin as nightmares. I spend all of the following Saturday with my laptop, transforming my nightmare into a short story.

What is the first book you remember genuinely being frightened by?  Was your immediate reaction to run out and find other similar tales, or stash it in your closet and block it out?

As a pre-schooler, I pored through my father's horror comics and illustrated books. I was fascinated -- Aubrey Beardsley's Art Deco Salome holding a tray with John the Baptist's head on it and blood running over  the edge -- are you kidding? As an adult, I read Stephen King's Pet Cemetery and realized that I had become literally too terrified to move. My impulse was to read more and more horror. Not much of it scares me to the degree Pet Cemetery did, but I do find the genre to be fascinating because of what it says about us. I don't think the horror genre gets enough credit for tackling the great issue of life -- namely, that it will end. Writers and readers are literally fearless to take that on again and again, and to do it in a fun format!

What fictional character had the greatest impact on you?

Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter, written by the great horror writer Nathanial Hawthorne. Forced to wear a huge red 'A' on her bodice to proclaim her sin to the world, she countered her community's injustice with independence, dignity, and defiance. In writing and reading horror, I find that the monster isn't always the point. It's the characters' reaction to the monster that is the true point of a story.

What active genre authors are you still excited to be following?

I can't put down any book by Sara Waters. Her haunted house novel, The Little Stranger, is amazing. She is the heir apparent to Shirley Jackson, who wrote novels like The Haunting of Hill House that turn and churn around the psychological makeup of her characters. I also really like a new writer, Kenya Wright, whose urban fantasy novel, Fire Baptized, is original, humorous, sensual, and engrossing.

Do you have anything new coming down the pipeline you would like to share?

The Bad Death is an antebellum vampire-slayer novel. Its heroine, Anika, is a slave on a South Carolina rice plantation in the late 1700s.(This sounds awesome) Novels and movies set in a dystopian future are really hot right now, but what we conveniently forget is that we had a dystopian past. I did a lot of historical research to create a convincing story that unfolds across lines of race, class, and power. In that region, at that time, much of the slave population was African or first generation African American. Their culture, known as Gullah, survived intact almost to the present day due to the geographical isolation of the region. Gullah folklore has a rich and diverse array of monsters that drive the plot of The Bad Death. The novel is due out this fall and is the first in a trilogy that shares some characters with Bloodroom.

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