Today's guest on the blog is Damian Serbu, author of THE VAMPIRE'S PROTÉGÉ. Thanks for stopping by!
The Vampire's Protégé is definitely not an angsty vampire novel. Charon is—to put it bluntly—a narcissistic asshole, and despite that I found myself drawn to him because of his amoral nature. You can read my review here:
You did a great job balancing this unlikable character with a compelling story that kept me turning pages. Did Charon write himself, or did you develop the character prior to writing?
I'll answer like a politician: it was a little of both. :-)
He started as a character that I developed. My other vampire novels had certain types of characters, some were emotional and sensitive, some bold and defiant, and some very rules oriented. But I started to feel that they all fit into one of those molds, and I wanted something different. At the same time, I was contemplating my love for famous villains, which dates back to my childhood. I loved Darth Vader. Even at a very young age, my favorite Wizard of Oz character was the Wicked Witch of the West and her Flying Monkeys. That got me to wondering why I never explored such a "bad guy" in one of my books. So wanting to create a new personality based on this personal history led me to Charon.
But once I created his basic characteristics and sketched out the story, the muse took over. At that point, Charon developed some ideas of his own. His inner thoughts came out, some of his personality traits materialized. In other words, like a good villain, he had ideas of his own and wanted me to know that he would be in charge, not me. That mad it all the more fun to explore his world, because he even surprised me a couple times. The sex, especially. He is wild and crazy, and I an decidedly not! My husband read this and wondered, where in the hell did that come from?! Lol.
Charon had to be a fun character to write, because there really weren't any limits to his excess. What were the most enjoyable scenes for you as a writer?
This answer risks having people place me in an insane asylum! You hit it on the head, though, because he was a lot of fun. My other vampires, bound by their own sense of right and wrong as well as the Vampire Ethic, live constrained lives. Not that this is a bad thing! But it was liberating to have Charon cast them aside. When an idea popped into my head, and my little inner guide said, that's not okay!! Then Charon would say either, why not? Or, who cares? So you could go with these insane ideas - it was odd and fun and at the same time uncomfortable to live without constraints when hanging out with Charon.
I loved writing about his thefts, where he just took what he wanted. It started with reading about people stealing major works of art. It always makes me sad, that the world has such intense selfishness, that people take these grand works for themselves and they can't be shared anymore, or someone damages them. But then I flipped it in my head - what if you could steal one for your own living room? (No, I could not do that myself, FYI!!) BUT!! Charon could. So he did.
Even more than that, I loved creating the scenes where he lives with his excesses but has something that guides even him. To explore that line was fun. For example, when he sets off on Halloween to scare the crap out of people with a real vampire, and murder people in the process just for fun, that scene became more complicated when he has his little butler/partner/youngling along with him. Because on some level, though Charon would be loath to admit it, he was watching out for him, too. So he creates this bloody mess and kills innocent people, followed by a tender moment with his main guy. The tension there was fascinating to me.
Another admission: self-righteous people annoy me, especially if they are hypocritical. So they espouse some dogma, and usually it leads to blasting LGBT people, but behind the scenes they are no better than the rest of us. So watching Charon kill off a few of them was therapeutic.
Finally, once he meets Jaret, it was a lot of fun to throw something in Charon's face that he could not have, control, or manipulate. Another vampire with the same powers, and who Charon has the hots for - Jaret teased him and led him on, but then rebuffed him, even as he kept him dangling. I thought it was crucial to frustrate Charon in that way.
This is clearly only the first of Charon's adventures. Are you working on the next part of the story?
Kind of! I have had an outline for the project for a long time. But I didn't want to dive into it until I was sure to have a publisher for this one. Now, I have tweaked it some more and am going to write it, hopefully sooner rather than later.
However, along the way, something else happened. My first three vampire novels are out of print, and NineStar Press agreed to publish the first one, and I hope eventually they will take on the other two. So first we're going backward. If they want to republish all of them, that will help - because Jaret - who played a role in this one with Charon, is actually part of the third novel. So it would help to have those out first, for context.
What draws you to the vampire/horror genre in terms of writing?
I have always loved horror, so that got into my DNA from a pretty early age. Vampires, particularly, always fascinated me. Then in college I discovered Anne Rice, and that hooked me even more. The darker things in life that scare us call to my writing, because you can play around with them in a much different way. I also like to think about vampires because they live without the same kinds of limits that bind us as humans. Without mortality, how might we behave differently? Take away some of our fears and make us all powerful, and how does that change the equation? Horror helps you confront awful fears and ponder why evil exists, while vampires give me a way to cope with that reality, but minus the fear because they can overcome it.
Do you have any other projects in development right now? Is it horror, or something else?
Oops! I answered this above, when I said that NineStar is publishing my first vampire novel. I'll elaborate: The Vampire's Angel takes place during the French Revolution. An American vampire visits Paris, and falls in love with a priest. Through the violence of war and the drama of the priest's aristocratic family, the two fall in love and each confront their separate demons. I am so excited to be releasing this revised, better version! It comes out in February.
Thank you for stopping by today! Where can readers interact with you on the internet?
Absolutely! I try to be active on twitter: @DamianSerbu, I'm on Facebook, and you can also keep up with me on www.DamianSerbu.com
Thanks for having me today! These were fun answers to think about, and to share my thoughts on! Damian