1. Before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
Merci, and I appreciate the invitation to be interviewed.
There’s really not much to tell. I’m a Deep South creole. When I was six, my parents allowed me to stay up late and watch Dracula’s Daughter on television. It scared me so I had to sleep with a nightlight for the next thirteen years. Now I’m paying them back by writing about vampires. (Anyone wanting to know more about that can read The Clan Andriescu for the night and the way I met my vampire patrons.)
Other than that, I’ve led a checkered, but surprisingly dull, life. I’ve been a college student, a dancer (not the Magic Mike-type, however), done stage work, been a traveling salesman, and a doctor’s assistant. I’ve lived on both coasts. I had an early marriage and an even earlier divorce and got custody of my son, and began the exciting and hectic life of a single parent. In fact, I’m now a grandparent and am babysitting my granddaughter while I attempt to do this interview. (If I have to jump up and chase her while we’re doing this, excuse me. That kid can move fast!)
2. Besides writing, what other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare Time? What’s that? I suppose I’m a pretty sad case. I spend most of my days writing.
Actually, when I’m not writing, I like to…read. Yes, if I’m not writing a book, I’m reading one. I also watch a lot of movies. I have an upstairs neighbor who’s 65 and adores horror films, so she and I head out to the theatre where she gets the senior rate and I pretend to be her grandchild and try to con them to let me in under the child’s discount. (Hasn’t worked but I keep hoping.) I’m also a plant rescue person. I take abandoned plants and cast-away clippings and clone and repot them. My apartment looks like a jungle. I currently have two avocado trees grown from pits, an ornamental sweet potato vine cloned from a clipping, and a humongous begonia I rescued from the roots of a plant which froze to death last winter.
3. What is your daily routine as far as when you have an idea for your story?
Oh, just the usual. Up at 8:00, get my morning coffee fix. Head for the computer. First thing I check emails, then do some promotional posting, then stop for another cuppa and get Down to Business. Unless I have a meeting to go to or am helping out my upstairs neighbor with some project (She’s a dear old lady, (see above description)…how can I not help her?), I spend the afternoon writing. At 6:00, I wind it all up and collapse on the couch, to watch a little boob tube and rest my weary but creative mind.
4. Where do you get your ideas from?
I’m still trying to figure that out. A couple actually came from dreams. Most of them come from my seeing some movie or reading a novel and thinking of various outcomes or characterizations different from those the author/scriptwriter actually used. It usually starts with the phrase, “It would’ve been better if he’d done it this way…”
Some, I have to admit, I make up out of whole cloth. They just pop into my head. (Have to grab those quick before they pop back out again!) And then there’s the occasional taken-from-real-life episode, like the one engendering The Second Species.
5. Out of all of the stories you’ve written so far, what would be your favorite and why?
I guess I’m going to have to say it’s the coming series The Second Species, although it’s not published yet. I had to do a great amount of research in writing the stories because they span such a large amount of time, from the late 18th century to the present. I always like to get my facts as accurate as possible so I found myself checking the date cigarettes and matches were first introduced into Europe, to which planes had red-eye flights to London from Paris in 1968, to information on Hurricane Katrina. I checked what songs were popular during that time, as well as the political events going on. I learned when the waltz became popular and how young women had to have their parents’ permission to dance it because it was considered so “scandalous.” Kind of like the 19th century version of “The Twist.” It took a lot of time and a lot of work but I enjoyed it because I learned quite a few interesting facts. I think the stories have more reality to them because of the things I discovered.
6. Tell us something funny about yourself that not a lot of people know about?
I’m such a staid serious person this may take a minute. (Thinking, brow wrinkled with concentration.) I can only think of one thing and they weren’t funny to me at the time. Now, of course, I can laugh. It was shortly after my marriage and we were at a family reunion. My cousins and I were jumping into the pool. I had on a bathing suit which had been worn so much it had stretched just enough that when I came up from the bottom of the pool, it slid off and stayed there. Just like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Me staying in the water while everyone else got out and stood on the pool’s edge, including my traitorous spouse, laughing. Luckily, a kind uncle threw me a towel while another cousin retrieved that blasted suit. It went into the garbage and I went to K-Mart and got another, guaranteed NOT to stretch!
7. Are any of the stories you’ve written based on real life experiences or basically just from imagination?
Mais oui. The Second Species. In the stories, the entire species suffered from X-P, which is a congenital autoimmune disease, in which the body can’t repair the damage done to the skin by ultraviolet light. My mother suffered from a less virulent version called PMLE—polymorphic light eruption—and she had to avoid direct sunlight or suffer second degree burns. That gave me the basis for my vampires. (Luckily I didn’t inherit such a bad case. I only break out in a rash when I go out in the sun.)
8. Does your ‘muse’ have a name and if so what is his/her name?
Frankly, it doesn’t sit still long enough for us to have a conversation. I don’t know its name. I don’t even know what gender it is. Just an ephemeral shape which darts in, whispers a wisp of inspiration into my fevered brain and then darts back out again, leaving me standing there going, “Hey! What? Wait!”
9. What other genre besides the one you are writing about now would you like to venture into writing?
I’ve written one other genre, a standalone novel which is a dark history set in colonial Louisiana. It’s also an M/M novel with paranormal overtones and perhaps because of that, or perhaps not, so far I’m having trouble finding a publisher for it.
10. Who are some of your favorite authors that are out now?
I like JD Robb’s “In Death” series; Jim Butcher’s Harry “Dresden series”, James L. Hartch’s “Miss Havana” books, and Tara Fox Hall’s “Lash” series. Who would’ve thought a series about a were-snake could be so intriguing?
11. Who are your favorite female and male characters from your books and why?
At this point, my favorite character is Vlad Chemare from The Last Vampire Standing. Vlad’s brash, bold, and speaks his mind, and even though he’s over 600 years old, he’s kept up with the times so when he comes to America, he fits right in. I enjoyed writing Vlad’s story because he was so irreverent and tongue-in fang when it came to his vampire brethren.
My favorite female character goes right along with Vlad. His sweetheart, Meredith. She doesn’t take any guff off him just because he’s handsome and sexy, and a vampire. In fact, when they first meet, she calls him “Fang Boy” and tells him to keep his fangs to himself. You gotta love a gal like that!
12. What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer?
1. Sticking to it. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to write a book.” It’s difficult to write it, make sure it’s grammatically correct, has a workable plot and characters, and then submit it somewhere and wait for someone with a God complex to hack your baby to bits or change it so drastically you wonder if you should admit to being its author. It’s kind of like raising a child and then sending him off to school. You don’t know if your little angel is going to come back the way he left or if an emo with green-streaked waist-length hair, earrings and tattoos will appear in his place. (Yes, I know whereof I speak…have all three, except my hair is only shoulder-length and has bright red streaks. If my parents were alive, they’d pretend they didn’t know me.)
2. Getting everyone to accept the fact that not every writer is rich simply because he’s written a book. Most people when they meet me start off with, “I guess you make a lot of money…” I’ve had several dates walk out once I admit I’m not raking in the dough… They’ll regret that when I really do!
13. What advice would you give someone who wants to start off being a writer?
1. Be determined.
2.Develop a thick skin.
3. Be even more determined.
14. If you hadn’t become a writer, what do you think you would be doing right now?
Sitting in a bar somewhere drinking my fifth gin and tonic and moaning my lost youth.
15. What would be the perfect Romantic getaway?
I can think of several places…all of them where I’ve set novels at one time or another…a little cottage in Ireland…the ruins of a castle in Transylvania…the beach at Savannah…Any place is romantic if the right person’s with you and you’re sharing the adventure.
Well, now that we got the questions and answers out of the way…..why don’t you tell us about your latest story you have out now?
I thought about this a while and decided to do a little time traveling and promote The Second Species, which is scheduled for a Hallowe’en release. (Appropriate, non?)
While Humans multiply into Earth's dominant life-form, the Tree of Man sprouts another prolific branch—the aventurieri, evolving as winged, nocturnal hunters with a dietary need for blood. For their own safety, Mankind's half-brothers live their twilight lives in the Carpathians' shadowed heights, where they develop their own civilization, laws, and religion--and a prophecy of the Intamplare, a savior paradoxically betraying his people.
When the Prince’s executioner is killed by one of their kind, his son’s demand for revenge sends him into the outside world, taking the first step in bringing about the prophecy.
From the Hellfire Clubs of Vienna to a French Marquise’s bedchamber, Marek Strigoi searches for his father’s killer, determined no one, not even his prince, will keep him from his vengeance.
When both the hunter and the hunted are vampires, not even Hell can stand in the way.
In whispers spaced with caresses and kisses, they talked. This was something new to Marek, as novel as the whole experience of loving, and he liked it.
“My father was a carpenter. But after Mama died, he began to drink and gamble and soon no one would hire him.”
“How old were you then?”
“About six, I think. I barely remember my mother. Just that she had red hair like mine and smiled a lot.”
Marek ran his fingers through the red curls tangled on her shoulder.
“Now.” She turned to face him, leaning on one elbow. “Tell me of your life.”
“There’s not much to tell. I’m just a spoiled, indulged noble’s son.” He glossed over his family’s history, not mentioning the duties he performed for the Domnitor. That could be done later. He did tell her of his father’s murder by Mircea Ravagiu and of the vow he and the others had made.
She kissed his fingers. “My Lord, there’s something I would ask you.”
“Ask me anything, my crimson lily.”
Still clutching his hand, she rolled away slightly, as if her question couldn’t be asked while near him. “Last night you said a ghidaj’s physically different.”
“That’s right.” He frowned. What’s she going to ask? He remembered how she’d studied his body the night before.
“I-is that why your eyes are two colors?”
That question made him laugh with relief. “I'm afraid so. You see, the leadership of a House doesn’t necessarily go to the eldest son, but to the one who meets the rules of the Principiu.”
“The laws handed down to us by the Oracle.” He settled himself slightly, drawing her closer as he explained. “Each family within a house has a head but there’s one ghidaj over all of them. My Casa’s the Atentatori and I’m its ghidaj.”
“And you became ghidaj because your eyes don’t match?”
“Partly. I became ghidaj because I’m like no one else in my family. The ghidaj has to have a physical irregularity, but a very striking one. I remember meeting one leader who was only three feet tall, and another with six fingers on one hand.” Once again, Marek wondered what his father’s abnormality had been. He’d never seen it, so whatever it was, it was something his clothing had hidden. “My father was very fair and blue-eyed, as was my mother. You’ve seen how blond the twins and Dan are, while I…” He gestured at his hair, letting his hand sweep down his body. “I’m dark-haired and... well...quite hairy...”
“And I love every inch of your very hairy body.” She twisted to plant a kiss on his chest. “But that doesn’t explain why one of your eyes is green and the other blue. Were you born that way?”
He shook his head. “Until I was thirteen, my eyes were as blue as the twins’. Within a few hours of my natal night, one began to cloud and weep and a short time later, it became this pale green color. That’s also when my body hair appeared.” He sighed slightly, realizing he’d never before spoken to anyone about this, not even his classmates at school. They’d accepted him as an heir and let it go at that. “My father had delayed announcing a successor but when that happened, he called me into his study, told me he had no choice but to declare me the next ghidaj. He also added since he intended to live a very long time, I could still pursue my hopes of being a scholar.” He looked away. “He didn’t live as long as he wished, thanks to Mircea Ravagiu.”
“My poor darling.” She caught his face between her hands, kissing his mouth gently. “I hope you find this Ravagiu fiend and kill him for what he’s done to you. And after you do…”
“After I do?”
“I want you to fly directly back to me and let me look into your beautiful eyes while we make love.” She nuzzled her lips against his cheek.
“You know,” he told her, surprise in his voice. “You’re the first person who’s mentioned my eyes in a very long time. I’d almost forgotten how I must look.”
“You look handsome, ..totally handsome.”
She snuggled her cheek against his chest and Marek put his arms around her. For the first time in over a dozen years, he drifted into a quiet and dreamless sleep.
Shadow Lord, the first entry in The Second Species series, will be released by Double Dragon Publishing in October.