Hi Brian! Could you tell us a little bit about ‘Ancient Blood’? What inspired you to write a vampire novel and what do you bring to the genre that’s new?
Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony is the first in what I call “The Order Saga” which, according to my current plan, will span multiple series featuring various characters that all share one universe. Similar to what Marvel is doing with their various franchises and combination Avengers movies, I suppose, though I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Many things inspired me to write this novel and I could probably write a lengthy article just on my inspirations, but I’ll summarize by saying that I wrote it because it was the kind of vampire novel I wanted to read and no one else had written it yet.
I think what I bring to the genre is a combination of an epic scale story that, ironically, features very detailed and multi-layered characters with an ambition to stay as close to the real world we know as I can. There are fantastic elements in this series, but I do my best to work within the world that we know rather than changing that world to introduce the fantastic. Does that make any sense?
What would you say is the hardest part of the writing process for you? Are you the kind of writer who plans their plot out or do you like to dive right in and see where it leads you?
For me, the hardest part is the actual writing! I love the creation, the planning, and even the polishing and editing afterward, but I struggle to make myself sit down and type out all those damn words! By the time I get to actually writing a scene, my mind is so far beyond that, sometimes in another story altogether, so it’s hard to get the actual work done. I’m the type who tries to plan out every detail I can prior to writing so that I have a detailed road map to work from. I still feel free to deviate once I’m in the scene, of course, but all the planning ahead of times makes me confident that I can find my way back to the important points.
Do you write yourself ‘into’ any of your characters? Which of your characters would you say is most like you and why?
There’s parts of me in every character I write. I think there has to be, because you really only have yourself to base a “person” on. You can incorporate parts of other people, too, but that’s usually the surface aspects or the opinions on which you and your character differ. The character who is most like me is Avery, the viewpoint character of Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony: he’s a combination of me and a few friends I’ve known because I needed an “average” person that the reader could relate to as a narrator. He’s not entirely me, of course, since he’s missing certain parts of me that didn’t fit and I’ve added other parts and exaggerated still others. You really can’t capture all the complexity and contradiction of a real person in a fictional character; even in realistic fiction, characters have to have clear motives and be mostly consistent in their behavior. Real people aren’t like that because life is so much messier than fiction.
Are there any other writers who you really admire? What was the last thing you read and would you recommend it?
I greatly admire Stephen King, both for his versatility and talent, but also for the way he doesn’t let his enormous success turn him into something he’s not. He’s still realistic about himself and pretty humble. I’d like to think that I could be like him if I were to have similar success.
I recently became a huge fan of Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt novels, which are a great gritty noir take on vampires. I also love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files both because of the accessible writing and the fantastic world-building.
Finally, do you have any hints and tips for other aspiring writers?
Keep reading, keep writing, and no matter what people tell you about the market, write the kind of books you would want to read. Write what’s in your heart, truthfully.