Monday 14 April 2008
To compliment the contest I am running to win a copy of 'Staked' by J.F. Lewis here is an interview with the author! I hope you all enjoy reading this and that you will, if you haven't already, enter the contest!


AK: Well I think it is cool that you are happy to do an interview! Thanks!

JFL: No worries. It's an honor to be asked.

AK : Soooo...questions...

Were vampires your first subject choice for a book or was there
something else you wrote about first?

JFL: Actually no, the first couple of books I wrote were a bit more family friendly, if that makes any sense. Those were about a wizard, the familiar who was in love with him, and a foster child that the wizard was trying to protect. No one wanted to buy those, though, and I'd had the seeds of a vampire story milling about on my creative backburner for quite some time. The idea was rather abruptly brought to the forefront by a vampire novel (which shall remain unidentified) that really annoyed me.

AK: Obviously your vampires have the usual traits such as not being able to see their reflections but some of their traits are not the norm. With so many vampire based books out there on the market did you feel the need to make your characters different and to stand out?

JFL: In a word, yes. I've written about it a little in my blog and talked about it on panels, but I got serious about writing as a career when my wife bought me a book (WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maas). While I was reading it, I went back through the vampire story I'd started, trashed most of it, and reworked it with an eye toward making sure that if I used a trope, I changed it significantly or, to steal a phrase from Emeril Lagasse, "kicked it up a notch." So, I guess you could say that Donald Maas gave my werewolves religion. Heh.

Back to the question, though. The major difference between my vampires and, say, the sexy vampires in other Urban Fantasy books is that I wanted my vampires to be monsters and still be people. I wanted vampirism to revolve around blood, but not bloodlines. Becoming a vampire didn't need to be some magic pill that turned everyone into murderous super sexy bisexuals with instant fashion sense and the ability to dance. It had to come with a price. It also had to be very personal. I wanted the kind of person someone was in life to directly affect what kind of vampire he or she became... a sort of supernatural Rorschach test. I also wanted them to have things that they really missed about being human, simple stuff like eating food or being able to do your own make-up.

As a result, Eric had to be a guy who could do what he needed to do to survive and not whine about it.... an average every day Joe who was basically good at heart, but was now trying to deal with being a monster.

AK: Did you find it hard writing from Tabitha's perspective? Being a guy writing as a gal must need a little help? or?

JFL: Yes and no. I relied on a lot of input from the women in my life (and by that I mean my wife, my mom, and a couple of their close friends), but the biggest secret to writing from a female perspective (and the hardest thing for me to do) was to remember to keep Tabitha thinking. She's always plotting, always planning, always has an agenda even if we don't always like her agenda or believe it to be a bit vapid. She's definitely smarter than she lets on.

To me, the key difference between men and women is that (as far as I'm aware) a woman's mind is only truly quiet when she's asleep. Women are always thinking about something. I was talking to my wife over lunch at OmegaCon before the "Writing the opposite sex" panel, trying to explain what I meant and she illustrated my point very nicely. After I explained my theory, she asked "Okay, like what?"

"Well, for example... What are you thinking right now?" I asked.

"Well," she said, looking up at the ceiling for a moment and then back to me, "I'm thinking about the boys, wondering if they are giving Nan and Pop a hard time. I'm wondering if I brought the right clothes for tomorrow...thinking about running down to the store to buy a easel for your table so that we can hang your poster better... and I'm worried about the food for the nine o'clock panel..."

I took another bite of my sandwich.

"Why?" she added. "What are you thinking about?"

"I'm chewing," I answered.

Now obviously that story isn't true of everyone, but I think that on the whole, most men are much simpler animals than women. If you ask what a woman is thinking and she says, "nothing," then she probably just doesn't want to tell you. But if a guy gives the same answer...

AK : I loved the idea that Eric had 'children'. What was the reason behind that?

JFL: It just struck me as something he would do. Eric is always trying to maintain as normal a life as he possibly can. If he were human, if he hadn't been killed, he would have married Marilyn and had kids, raised a family. Since he can't do that, he keeps trying to do the next best thing. Not that it goes very well...

AK:Are you as forgetful as Eric?

JFL: Eric's bad memory is my bad memory blown way out of proportion.

AK :I love the T-shirts 'Welcome to the Void'! Did you come up with the catchphrase before the city name? or vice versa? and are the T-shirts for sale anywhere? ;)

JFL: Thanks! It was the original title for the book, but I was asked to change it. I'm not sure what it was about that title that people didn't like, but I'm happy with STAKED as a title. I thought up the city name and the catchphrase virtually in the same instant, but I *think* the city was
born a few picoseconds earlier than the catchphrase.

I *do* hope to have the t-shirts available "soon" but I have to find the right place first. I want them to look right and be affordable, but at the same time, I can't really afford to order them in bulk from the place that made the ones we have, at least, not until I get the advance for the sequel to Staked. Also, apparently I need a business license or something. As soon as I get it all worked out, I'll post the purchasing details on my website and at my blog.

AK: Did you have to spend some time in strip clubs and with strippers to help write this story? ;)

JFL: Actually, I don't know if I should admit this, but I've never been into a strip club before or seen a stripper in action. When I used to work at the Lion & Unicorn (a now defunct comic and games store here in Birmingham) one of our customers was a stripper and I think I may have asked her a few questions at one time or another, but mostly I just made the Demon Heart work the way I wanted it to and trusted that any foul-ups on the reality side of things could be excused by its true purpose being a source of food for Eric.

With the understanding that a strip club is where people pay to see other people take their clothes off, I didn't need to know much else. I might have had more research to do if I wanted to go into detail about the running of the business, but it was more important to me to figure out how many strippers Eric would need in order to exclusively feed from them while not damaging their health. Thanks go to the Red Cross for answering that question for me, by the way.

AK: What does the future hold for Eric and Tabitha? More books? More werewolves? or will they come up against other paranormals?

I've turned in the manuscript for the second book. It's tentatively titled ReVamped (for reasons that will be obvious to readers of Staked). ReVamped answers many of the questions about Rachel (Who does she work for? What is she after? Is she really Tabitha's sister?) and it goes into more detail about how Eric became a vampire, in fact, to be honest, all the clues are in there by the end of ReVamped, so it could be puzzled out.

As for the plot, in ReVamped, the largest problems are other vampires and a soul-stealing demon who has something Eric wants. There is also the plot against Eric, of course. There is always a plot against Eric... he's so fun to plot against. ;)

AK: Any other projects in the works?

I'm working on the third Eric/Tabitha book. I'm roughly a third of the way through that one. I'm roughly the same distance in on another Void City novel featuring a member of the Mage Guild. I'm polishing up the finished first draft of a novel in an Epic Fantasy series about carnivorous elves. I've submitted a comic book proposal that involves reinventing Devil Dinosaur as a shape-shifting red-head (not sure Marvel will let me do it though). I've also started a short story called America's Next Top Monster...

AK: Those are the questions...I hope they are ok! I am pretty new at the interview thang ;) I know you mentioned your upcoming projects and the new Eric/Tabitha books in our emails but I wanted to add them as questions for my readers to get the full scoop ;)

JFL: They seemed fine to me. If you have any follow up questions just send them/it my way.

AK: Thanks for popping over and making a comment on the blog. I look forward to getting your answers and posting them.

JFL: You're welcome.


I want to thank J.F. Lewis again for taking the time to answer my questions and to wish him luck with his future novels that I will be pre-ordering as soon as they are avaliable! I have to say that ReVamped sounds like it is going to be better than 'Staked' and I am really curious about 'America's Next Top Monster'.

Please take the time to visit J. F's website (link on the sidebar) and also buy the book or at least put it on your wishlist and enter the contest before Friday!!!

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posted by Unknown at Monday, April 14, 2008 |


At 23 April 2008 at 16:44, Blogger Cheryl

Great interview. I have interviewed a few authors myself at my blog


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