Well, thank you for the consideration and opportunity. First, the most important thing to remember about the book is that it’s going to be released on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (Real-world print production is always fun.) The book is about a long-lived werewolf suffering from a kind of supernatural Alzheimer’s who searches for missing children or avenges their murder.
2. Who is Alexander Smith, and how did you come up with his character?
Alexander was born a long time ago, when I was in college in 1996 or so. I was in art school and, at the time, we had an annual comic publication. I painted a few pages that is essentially the introduction of Alexander’s daughter: Ana. The germination of the character, however, took place over many years. I’d always been fascinated with werewolves since watching the old Universal films with the wolfman and reading Marvel’s Werewolf by Night comics. Movies like The Howling and the updated Werewolf by Night comic only cemented my fascination. What bugged me about the popular media representation up to then was this completely out of control character who could be brought to heel by a vampire. I built Alexander and his universe as sort of the antithesis of that well-worn idea.
3. How is BLOOD FOR THE SUN different from other vampire stories in the genre?
The main character is a shapeshifter–essentially a werewolf–but the form is barely reminiscent of a wolf, definitely a monstrous half-man, half-animal. The antagonists are vampires bent on using dark magic to secure immunity from the sun. The fuel for the magic is the blood of children and the practice of magic itself is anathema to the two once-human species. Or so it had been believed. Vampires are only similar to what’s expected in that they’re blood drinkers and acutely photosensitive. The origins of the two species are murky, but hinted at in the first book. It’s going to be revealed over time, in the series. I tried to avoid certain expected turns in the “urban fantasy” genre, such as erotica or a definitive love triangle—It’s more horror, detective thriller, noir than particularly emotional. I also wanted to emphasize the tragedy of long life as it pertains to the mind. After about a century, they begin to slowly lose their memories and go insane—but not for the reasons one might think.
4. What kind of research did you do for this book?
I have an entire shelf of Native American history, Mayan history, coal production, world history, guns, and more. Barely any of that directly made it into the book; most of it was used to inform the characters or get a small detail correct. It’s insane!
5. What is your greatest disappointment as a writer? What is your greatest satisfaction?
Shady business practices bug me to no end. Almost anyone can put a shingle out and claim to be a publisher or an agent. Unfortunately, the same can be said for authors. I guess my primary criteria is ‘don’t be an asshole.’ Satisfaction is being published! Especially when it’s alongside authors I admire and in publications I’ve enjoyed. It’s a steep climb, however, once a market has been cracked, you have to keep working at it to break into the next one.
6. Why do you write?
I can’t help it; I love stories. Movies, television, comic books, novels et al. I really enjoy telling stories and I wish I’d dove into it much earlier in my life.
7. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of the self-publishing?
Self-publishing is fine with me. The difficulty with it is separating what we can all agree is quality from those who simply have access to the tools. Taking on your own publishing means taking on the responsibilities of the editor, proofreader, publicist, art director, and others. It’s a team effort, when all is said and done, to get a story to market, into the hands of the right readers.
8. What are your favorite pastimes?
Cocktails, barbecue, movies, reading, exercise, comic illustration, comic strips, retreating somewhere quiet to have a good conversation with a friend.
9. What are your writing habits? Outlines or not?
Write first, outline later. I write in a long bursts; maybe three or four chapters before I’ve gotten something out of my system. Then it’s time to sit down and consider the overall structure. Mostly, I start with a series of scenes that I’d like to see, difficulties and situations for the protagonist, and then come up with a logical structure for the entire piece.
10. What is your next book going to be about?
The sequel, of course! There’s a much bigger picture I want to paint with the overall story. I certainly want to hash out where vampires and werewolves come from, but I also want to explore what it means to be something like this in a modern world where data is being collected around the clock. Discovery is inevitable. So the big question is: what then? I’ve read a few books where the action takes place after discovery, it’s part of the past. I want to get into what happens during and immediately after. Ooooh, the cauldron’s bubbling.