1. When did you become fascinated by vampires?
I’ve been fascinated with vampires most of my life. My mother loved horror movies, so I grew up watching the old Universal and Hammer horror movies. I’ve always been intrigued by the dynamic between Peter Cushing as van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula; they were more like action movies than straight vampire films. Peter Cushing running along a table to tear down the curtains in front of Dracula or jumping on a burning windmill to turn the blades into the shape of a cross to kill the vampire. When you watch that as a ten-year-old it has a huge impact on you.
2. Why did you choose to write about classic dark vampires?
When I started writing The Vampire Hunters trilogy there were not many contemporary bad-ass vampires in bookstores. Vampires were more sympathetic and human, like in Anne Rice’s or Stephanie Meyer’s books or the True Blood series. I figured there were many fans out there who felt the same way I did, so I decided to write the type of vampire book I wanted to read.
One thing I wanted to do was develop my dark vampires. In most books/movies, they are two-dimensional characters, creatures there only to be destroyed. That’s why I created two vampires – the bad-ass monster types that kill to feed (snuffies) and the masters. My masters can take human form and are driven by their emotions and experiences. Each has their own backstory about how they were turned and how that impacted their vampiric future. Each has their own motivations for why they want to take over then planet. Rather than just monsters, my vampires are protagonists.
3. What’s your favorite vampire story?
30 Days of Night. It’s so dark and the vampires are so feral the movie is visceral. I’m not sure what scene clinched it for me: the battle with the child vampire or the scene when the young woman being used as bait pleads to God for help and Marlowe looks to the sky, back to the woman, and says “No God.”
4. Favorite vampire TV show, and did you watch V Wars (opinions on it)?
My favorite vampire TV show is Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon is one of the best writers around. His plots are intricate and his characters perfectly developed. I was blown away by the Season Two finale. I also admire the way he can blend horror and heart-breaking decisions with humor and make it work. Buffy had a major influence on how I wrote The Vampire Hunters.
I did watch V Wars. Twice, which says a lot since I rarely watch an entire season of a TV more than once. I loved the concept that the vampires are infected and could possibly be cured, which makes them not just creatures of the night to be eliminated. I’ve read the graphic novel and am about to read the novel so I can compare them. My only criticism is that not all of us who worked for the government and evil. Having said that, however, Calix Niklos has made my top three bad guys list (right behind Hannibal Lector and Hans Gruber).
5. If you could do a dream cast for The Vampire Hunters who would be in it?
Nathan Fillion would make the perfect Drake; I wrote the character imagining him in the role (although the iced coffee drinking, whiskey swilling, cigar smoking wise ass with a pet rabbit is me living precariously through my character). As for the other characters, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it but, if given my choice, I would choose Scarlett Johansen as Alison Monroe, Peter Sarsgaard and Arabella Morton as the vampires Ion Zielenska and Antoinette Varela, and Brent Spiner as Dr. Reese from Salem State. I’m not sure who I would pick to play Jim Delmarco.
6. Would you like to be turned into a vampire?
I’m not sure. I would never willingly be turned if I had to live as feral vampire unable to blend in with humans. As I get older, there is a part of me that is attracted to the aspect of eternal youth and of letting my instincts and passions take control over morality and reason. And who can say no to an unsatiated sex drive? If I could be a vampire who can control his urges, like Eric Northman or Michael Fayne, then I would say yes.
7. If you could pick one vampire book to live in, which one would you pick?
Tough choice, but I would have to go with the Brian Lumley books. Intelligence agencies battle vampires controlled by the former Soviet Union as part of Cold War politics. It’s almost as if he wrote those books with me in mind.
8. What are your vampire must read books for your fans?
Two of my favorite vampire series are Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series and Guillermo del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain trilogy. Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is a classic. Three books with interesting takes on the genre are V Wars by Jonathon Maberry, Vampire$ by John Steakley, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. A unique novel is Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines by D.L. Snell which is about vampires and zombies battling over the few remaining humans left in a post-apocalyptic world. And, of course, the vampire novels of Rhiannon Frater and Laurell K. Hamilton.
9. If you could talk to any author dead or alive who would you choose and why?
I’ve been very fortunate to have met and chatted with many contemporary writers and have become friends with several of them. I would choose the one who I have not met and who had the greatest on my life: Graham Masterton because he was the one whop got my hooked on modern horror. When I was a kid, I read the classics – Wells, Verne, Poe, Shelley, Stoker. When I was ten, my mother bought me The Manitou for Christmas. It was the goriest and most intriguing novel I had ever read up to that moment and got me hooked on modern horror. The Manitou was once of the influences that made me want to be a horror writer.