Q: It's granted that the "Vampire" is a popular creature in fiction. Yet, it seems like such a daunting task coming up with a new "take" on vampires. How did the initial idea come about, in regard to the Kurians and their avatars the Reapers?
There's such a swirl of legend around vampires and their various powers that I had to work more on what to leave out than what to put in. I knew that I didn't want to do the "same old same old" with my vamps, so I settled on the idea of a physically weak but mentally strong creature, the Kurian, who controls a physically strong but mentally weak creation. But unlike the Master Blaster, I thought it would work better if the Kurian could animate his Reapers from a distance. I gave the Kurian all the shape-shifting and will control type powers of the Gothics, and made the Reaper the bullet-absorbing death machine we're familiar with from more action-oriented vamp fiction.
Q: Where did David Valentine come from? (in the sense of how did you come up with his personality). He's the quintessential reluctant hero fighting a terrible battle in a future apocalyptic world, yet the reader can easily relate to him
I use the old definition of heroism, which is someone who sacrifices his own comfort and safety for the good of others. Val's just a basically decent guy in a world gone mad. I wanted him to be kind of quiet and thoughtful, by nature someone who in another time and place would have happily spent his years as a teacher or fishing guide, but he's been forced by the times he lives in to choose sides. There's a dark side to him as well, a terrible heritage that makes him enjoy some of the bloody work he does, and that troubles the decent guy bit of him.
Q: When you were writing WAY OF THE WOLF, did you envision the story as an epic that would grow to 5+ novels?
When I first started working on it I sketched out a dozen plots to tell Valentine's story. Already one of the original stories turned into two books, the Tale of the Thunderbolt/Valentine's Rising arc, so we'll see if it stays at an unlucky thirteen or not. I never envisioned that Ahn-Kha would be as popular as he is with the fans. Right now I'm thinking of giving him his own book at some point.
Q: Of the five VAMPIRE EARTH books, do you have a favorite one? And why?
That's a little like asking someone to pick a favorite child and say why. If pressed, I'd have to go with Wolf, because it was my first published novel, so there's a stronger emotional attachment. But the novel I'm always most in love with is the next one to be written. Of course, once I actually start writing the thing it turns into a love-hate relationship.
Q: Will we ever see an end to the Kurian takeover? Do you have an idea for an "ending" of the series?
I have a very definite end in mind for the series, yes.
Q: When did you first begin writing? What is your background and your influences?
I used to write fanfic even before I knew it had a name as such. I think I did my first story when I was ten or eleven, but I always had a pretty vivid imagination when I would play with my toys. G.I. Joe always had some buddy (usually an animal) and some enemy (usually something from outer space). I loved animal stories like Charlotte's Web (humanity's problem in Vampire Earth is a lot like Wilbur's -- how does one keep from being eaten?) or The Hundred and One Dalmatians.
I moved on to science fiction later, when my dad gave me E.E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark and Lensman books. That's where you get the two alien races at war with humanity as a pawn. Later I discovered H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard -- seems to me it was by first reading the Hyborean Age books as background for games of Dungeons and Dragons and since Howard was such a fan of Lovecraft's I discovered Cthulhu via Conan.
I ended up studying history and political science in college, and I still do a lot of reading in both those subject areas
Q: Which authors do you regularly read?
Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Alan Dean Foster, Fred Saberhagen, Tim Powers, Jim Butcher, John Varley, Joe Haldeman, Anne McCaffrey, Brian Lumley, David Gemmel, S.M. Stirling -- just looking at my most recent fiction purchases there. Most of my collection comes from Golden Age and Second Wave stuff, I've got a lot of Heinlein and Keith Laumer, Leigh Brackett and H.Beam Piper. Then there's the contemporary action-adventure stuff, I'm trying to assemble a complete set of Alistar Maclean, but I also enjoy Wilbur Smith and James Rollins. I like westerns: I own a good deal of Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey. Jeeze, that's kind of a guy heavy list...I also read Laura Anne Gilman and Charlaine Harris.
Q: What are your three favorite horror movies and why?
Just three? Okay, I have to go with Rosemary's Baby just because it's such a perfect story, and the movie went to such extremes to exactly match the book. Gotta throw some zombies in there so I'll go with good old Dawn of the Dead. Nobody does people under stress losing their shit in an interesting manner like Romero. I imagine I have to put in a vampire movie too, so I'll go with Near Dark, which kind of got eclipsed by Lost Boys when it came out. But Near Dark has the most fascinating bunch of vampires I've ever seen on a screen. I feel guilty about this list, though, because it leaves out John Carpenter and Alfred Hitchcock, two directors whose movies I watch over and over and over again, and dozens of other favorites. For example, for a vamp movie I could have just as easily put in Coppola's Dracula or the Frank Langella one, and in zombie movies I liked Savini's NOTLD remake and the more recent Dawn remake a whole lot too. And I'm leaving out so many movies I love, like the 70s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 50s monster movies, Johnny Depp in everything from Ed Wood to The Ninth Gate and From Hell, and so many of the better Stephen King movie stuff like Creepshow.
Q: You've also begun another series of novels, this time involving dragons
Yes. Animal POV stories, as I mentioned earlier. The series is called Age of Fire and it's my attempt to blend an animal story with Tolkien-style high fantasy. It's a story about dragons, and the dilemma they face as they are slowly being hunted to extinction.
Q: What other stories would you like to explore in the future (whether it be another VAMPIRE EARTH novel or a different story altogether)?
I'd like to do a semi-humorous SF story that still blends in some action along the lines of the Retief stories Keith Laumer wrote. I'd also like to plunge into pure grue-dripping horror. Since I was little I've loved the "There's something gigantic and awful running around out there in the desert" typified by Them and Tarantula, and more recently updated by Tremors, but I don't quite have the who, the what, and the why worked out, just the where.