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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

POWER IN THE BLOOD


Tell us about yourself.
I'm Han Solo. I haul freight through a hazardous run, I regularly get pulled over, and I'm not even paid well for it. And I have a beautiful blond boy and a beautiful brunette girl who love me. 

Seriously, I'm a middle-aged truck driver, with a husband, four kids and two cats. The husband is blond. My brunette girlfriend is my co-author Naomi Brooks. She is chronically ill and dealing with family issues, so I'm going it alone for a while.

I've been writing since third grade, off and on, mostly fanfiction. I was writing fanfic back in the days of xerox fanzines, when we had to resurrect Spock ourselves if we wanted him in a story.  This crotchety GeriatricFan moment has been brought to you by Star Trek, Star Wars and the year 1982.

I got heavily into fanfic in 1998, and that led me into original stories in 2004, when someone I knew from a Star Wars mailing list put out a call for GLBT monster stories. One thing led to another and here I am, with nine published novels and two more nearly done.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I never wanted to, exactly. I always knew I was a writer. I typed on my mother's old manual typewriter. I scribbled in notebooks. I nearly failed ninth grade algebra because the fantasy piece I was writing was much more interesting than factors. I did fail calculus because the erotic fantasy novel I was writing was more interesting. The only obstacle was publication. I had a few things in fanzines and then on the net. Then I got my break and ran with it.

Where and/or how do you find the greatest inspiration?
Movies. I have muses/player bases/fantasy casting for most of my characters. I have been known to watch movies simply because a certain actor is in them. I still haven't managed more than fifteen minutes of A Matador's Mistress without having to go write, or have a cold shower, one of the two.  When I'm stuck with a character or a scene, I put a standby movie in—X-Men 3, The Mummy, The Experiment, Ice Pirates, or Love! Valour! Compassion! are some of my favorites—and the issue tends to resolve itself.

What made you chose to write gay erotic literature in particular? And is there any other genre you’d like to write? And if so, why?
I came into this from slash fanfiction, which is same-sex stories, erotic or not.
I kinda fell into slash by reading it on the Buffy lists. Xander/Angelus actually made sense. And once the subtext goggles were on, they didn't come off, and all kinds of things started making a different sort of sense to me.

I find writing two men having sex easier than writing a woman in a sex scene for a number of reasons. There are no good words for the female anatomy. I'm never sure I'm far enough out of a female character's responses to make her original.

I write in multiple genres in the m/m genre. I've written several kinds of science fiction, from steampunk and cyberpunk to space opera and dystopia,  contemporary, fairy tales, horror and historical fantasy. Power in the Blood, my January 6 release through Storm Moon Press, is almost completely dark urban fantasy/horror. There is one sex scene in it, and two more off screen. I've written several steampunk with no sex in them and a straight-up horror piece as well.

Which appears first when contemplating a new project: A character, the plot and/or the title?
It varies with the project. With Glad Hands, it was the title. I first heard the term in truck-driving school and KNEW I had to use it. The idea of a trucker traveling through the Dis-United States I had created for another book series came later. With “For Love of Etarin,” it was the characters. For “Long Term,” it was a pornographic image, and the scene that led to it wrote itself, the characters and plot came later.

Has your own life influenced your novels? And if so, how?
Oh yes. It shows a lot in Power in the Blood. The book opens at an out-of-the-way restaurant near a derelict canoe rental. That is a real place. I unloaded my truck there everyday for a couple years. The church service is drawn on my own experiences in Baptist churches, especially megachurches. The geography of Memphis is very real. I drive past the old boarded up mansion that I use for the vampire night club every time I go to see some friends.

In other books, my library experience shows, my truck-driving job shows, my geographic knowledge influences everything. And Alive on the Inside is kind of a twisted love letter to the town where I grew up. Most of the townspeople in it are real, and almost all the places.

Writing sex/romantic scenes can be a challenge for some authors. Do you find it difficult? If yes, how do you compensate? If no, from where do you draw your inspiration?
Sometimes it can be. There are days when I just write (SEX GOES HERE) in the manuscript and move along. There are days when the sex writes itself. And if I'm needing inspiration, this is where I go back to the DVD player and Netflix. No, not porn, just the actors. That tends to give me enough inspiration to get through the sex scene.

Do you have a method you use to write the sensual parts? Do you prefer the sex to be open and bold? Or left to the imagination?
I like it morbid and creepifying. Lovers are the worst monsters of all. I usually make the sex explicit, although when the scene doesn't need it, I close the door. I really don't have a method. I tend to let the characters carry me along for a scene. If I'm not feeling it, it gets the (SEX GOES HERE) treatment until I am... or until my deadline forces the issue.

Who is your favorite character, which you’ve created? And why?
That's like asking me which of my four kids is my favorite. But deep down, I have a deep abiding love for David Inman in the Nikolai series. David is a secondary character and I have to sit on him hard or he will take over. He's the best mind of the twenty-first century and a psychopath. He's called The Butcher of Cairo, because he flooded Cairo, Illinois off the map, killing all inhabitants. He's the right-hand man and devoted body-slave of a man who doesn't love him. I like him because he hurts so beautifully and so viciously.

Tell us about your newest release!
Power in the Blood comes out January 6. And if you pre-order, you not only get a 20% discount, you get it early. It's available as print or e-book or both.

It's a family tragedy set against a vampire apocalypse.

Oren Stolt and his six kids are Breathers, humans with vampire DNA who will become immortal if they die violently. Oren looks forward to a quiet death in his own bed.

But the Harvest of the Firstfruits has other ideas. They're an evangelical vampire church that believes they can bring about the Second Coming if they convert and turn everyone in the world. Those who don't pray will become prey. They've chosen Memphis for their first conference.

And the Undying, immortal vampire hunters like Oren and the kids will become if they die, have been sent to eradicate the church, or eradicate the city.

Oren's problems with his oldest son bringing home his boyfriend (and having sex in Oren's bed), with his twins growing increasingly violent and with his daughters committing regular computer felonies to cover for the twins, are all about to seem very, very small.

The fun part of this was the Undying. I have all of history to pick and choose from to make characters. And they're all clinically insane from PTSD and culture shock. Anne Winthrop seeks her solace in a whiskey bottle, after having been hanged in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Samil, a former captain in the armies of King David, butchers his way through vampires like he once butchered it through Philistines. Farzan died before he was ever born and now lives a half-life in an artificial womb hooked to a computer, while Mahshid, his mother, serves as a major-domo for the Undying's complex. Joshua, who looks like a Lebanese construction worker, is more amused than  insane.  And Maggie, little old white-haired Maggie, in her purple pantsuit and pink paisley fanny-pack, prefers her bingo evenings to hunting vampires, but still has a sharpshooter qualification with her automatic pistol.

The vampires draw heavily on my own years as an Evangelical Christian. Since I'm working in a completely naturalistic universe, holy symbols have no effect. So the religious vampires are able to keep their faith and spread it. But they aren't the only vamps in town, and those had their own ideas about the new ones too. Elvis as a vampire is one cliché I managed to avoid, though.

This was an interesting one to write, especially flying solo after all this time working with a partner. It drew on a lot of things I already knew and more I had to look up. I researched everything from Persian glue making to Bellevue Baptist's seating capacity.

Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Buy Link: Power In The Blood

Blurb: Oren Stolt understands the natural order better than most people. Vampires prey on humans and Undying keep the vampires' numbers in check.

Until now.

Now, across the United States, vampire numbers are exploding, thanks to a new church. The Tabernacle of the Firstfruits preaches a Risen Lord and invites believers to follow Him in death and resurrection... quite literally.

In Memphis, the church is about to host its first conference, with an eye to converting the whole world to the vampiric gospel.

And all that stands between humanity and eternal night is Oren, his kids, and a thin line of insane immortals.


Excerpt:

The Lego table lay on its side in the restaurant flowerbed, a few of the plastic bricks clinging to its four-color top, the broken glass around it just catching the first glints of light as the new sun came over the ridge. The rider parked his motorcycle beside it and swung off, leaving his helmet on the bike seat. He paced the scene, careful not to leave tracks, especially since the attackers had left none when they ate the patrons of the little restaurant.
The young man counted six dead inside, a fair crowd for an early Thursday breakfast. The whole air felt like vampires, cold and ugly, without the proper sense of growing that an Ozark spring should have in early May. He gave a mirthless smile. He was starting to sound like his insane mentor, Jacob.
A miniature schoolbus, sitting on two flats, its grille and most of its glass missing, mocked him from the junk yard by the defunct canoe rental place. The other three victims, all children, slumped bonelessly on the cracked seats, their heads lolling on shredded throats. Great. This crew had a sense of humor. He turned away, ignoring the building's tattered bunting and last summer's faded flags f that fluttered raggedly in a dawn breeze.
He ignored the dingy motel--its fresh paint not quite covering its age, as it advertised air conditioning and color TV--since no odor of blood came from it, and mounted up. It was still three hours hard riding to Memphis.
The native stone church around the next bend probably boasted more bodies in the graveyard than the pews. He obeyed his tingling sixth sense and parked. He wasn't psychic, but he knew his mind assembled little details in ways he wasn't readily aware of. The sixth sense never led him astray if he just took things easy. He left the helmet on, wincing at how much he was thinking like Jacob these days.
He made his way through all the cars in the lot, too many for a Thursday morning with no funeral. A stake in one hand, leaving his Colts in their holsters, he pushed the door of the church open. Bodies in the pews, indeed. He stared at the two dozen folks in Wednesday Church clothes, and the utter lack of blood on the scene, save for one place. “1 Corinth. 15: 20-22” dripped across one white wall.
He grabbed a Bible out of one of the pew racks and checked the table of contents for 1 Corinth. Ah, Corinthians. Jacob was religious, but didn't go much for direct Bible quotes. He preferred illuminating stories.
He found it and flipped to it, vaguely remembering that the first number would be the chapter and the later numbers the verses. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” He read the words slowly and aloud, the action of a man who learned to read late in life and never really trusted his literacy.
Great,  more vampire humor, just what he didn't need on this trip. It was harder to think of them as animals, animals he needed to exterminate, when they evinced intelligence and humor.
The vampires were long gone. He climbed back on the bike, letting the sun warm his leathers, and took off down the ridge for Hardy, Antique Capital of Arkansas, as the sign said. This was going to be messy. Most police departments knew about the vampires and had deals to look the other way as long as no bodies turned up. There were too many bodies for an easy cover-up this time.

Just for fun–

What is your favorite color(s)?
 I like green, a lot. It looks good on me.

Which do you prefer a great hero or a great villain?
A great villain, a SMART, sexy villain and a flawed hero. I like a good anti-hero too. I still have the hots for Max Von Sydow, what can I say?

What is your favorite movie? And why? 
Gothic. It's a little movie about the night that led to the creation of Frankenstein. I like it because it is smart, it is sexy, and it is very very dark. Gabriel Byrne shirtless, having sex and being kissed by Julian Sands... well, that's a side benefit.

If you could be anyone in the world who would it be? And why?
I don't think I want to be anyone else. I have my own problems, but they are my problems and I know what they are. Being someone else would be a whole set of new problems.

Where do you see your writing career in the next five to ten years?
I plan to finish the Nikolai series, finish the series of children's books I write under a pseudonym, and clear out the Marinate file. (that's where ideas go to wait their turn) I expect to stay small press, since New York is in such flux. I expect most of this to shake out in about five years. Being totally unrealistic, I'd like to see one of my books get picked up for a movie.

Angela Sparrow: Angela Sparrow

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