Q: Christopher Farnsworth
1. What are some of your favorite books or authors?
I've got way too many favorites to name, but here's a sampling: William Gibson, Glenn Gaslin, Thomas Pynchon, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, John Connolly, Charlie Huston, James Ellroy, Thomas Thompson, Scott Turow, Vince Flynn, Brad Meltzer, Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne, Ron Rosenbaum, John Sandford, Stephen King, Alan Moore, Tim Powers... the list goes on.
I also just finished Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds, and I was really impressed.
2.You started out as a reporter, how did you get started and what made you switch to book writing?
I actually started out in literature. I thought I was going to be a literary novelist while teaching or something like that. Unfortunately, I found that I couldn't take another day of grad school, and I had to do something to eat and pay rent. I began writing for a local paper, and found I wasn't bad at it. I did investigative reporting, then got to a daily paper -- the Orange County Register -- where I covered business and tech. But I was still typing away on my own projects on the weekends. A friend of mine who was a screenwriter told me that books were a thing of the past, and suggested I write a script. I did. It sold. Then I spent the next seven years trying to sell another one. Finally, when the Writer's Guild strike hit, I couldn't even try to sell a script. I had an idea for a story about a vampire who worked for the President of the United States, and I decided to turn it into a book.
Or, the short answer: I always wanted to be a novelist. It just took me a long, long time.
3. How did your experience as a reporter impact your style as a novelist?
I think reporting taught me to how to write under pressure and to craft a narrative even when there are big holes in your knowledge. I highly recommend it as a way to learn the most effective and quickest ways to get your point across. It's sort of a shame that newspapers are dying. At the very least, they're better at teaching writing than most of the writing workshops I've seen.
4. Do you have any writing rituals that keep you writing or get you started?
The other great lesson from reporting: when you're on deadline, there's no such thing as writer's block. When you sit down at the screen, just start typing. Doesn't matter what. You'll find your way back to the story. But you've got to produce. Otherwise, the blank screen takes up far too much space in your head, and you'll freeze up. Or, as I heard it once, "just lay brick."
5. From Dracula to Twilight, writers have approached vampires in many different ways. Were there any authors/stories whose traditions you tried to include or avoid in Blood Oath?
I wanted my vampire to be scary. He might work for the good guys, but he is definitely a predator, something built to feed on humans. So I went back to the basic Stoker model -- faster, stronger, and smarter than we are. Limited daylight ability. Blood lust. Fear of the crucifix and anything holy, due to the pain those symbols cause.
I was really impressed by Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series, about a vampire stuck in the wars between rival clans in Manhattan. And I have an abiding love for Joss Whedon's TV series vampires, even though Cade came out very different from them.
Without a doubt, the human ones. One thing I've learned from my obsessive reading of Stephen King is that the things that go bump in the night are never as scary as what people do to each other on a daily basis.
7. Konrad Von Frankenstien is like the sum of all modern fears: He's a mad scientist, a genetiscist, an alchemist, a Nazi, a terrorist ... How did you come up with that spin on this classic character?
Back in college, I realized Shelley's Frankenstein makes a lot more sense when you realize Victor is the villain, not the hero, of the book. I wanted to get back to the hubris it would take to create life, and the viciousness it would require to keep at the experiment even after it had gone so horribly wrong. I thought of Sting's excellent portrayal in "The Bride," and also Dean Koontz's take in his own Frankenstein series. But the main thing I wanted to portray was the absolute malice of someone who has convinced himself he has all the answers, and views humanity the same way we look at bacteria in a petri dish.
8. The whole book weaves classic monsters into modern fears. Was that intentional?
I certainly hope so. Sometimes the narrative can get away from you, but I think it's very telling that right now, everyone wants to be a vampire, and everyone wants to fight zombies. Vampires are immortal -- they're the pretty side of undeath -- while zombies are scary and grotesque and mindless. Both represent a fear of death and aging, but they come at it from completely opposite ends. And they both feed on regular, standard-model human beings. When we start to look at ourselves as food in our own fantasies, you know there's a lot of anxiety out there.
9. What monsters do you want to introduce in future installments?
I loved the Universal monsters as a kid, and I've got a good start on them. I would like to play around with the Jekyll/Hyde idea, and I've got more plans for werewolves. And I like the idea of the 80s slasher villain -- the unkillable serial killer -- as an opponent for Cade. We're going to see the truth about aliens, and I'm also going to dip into the water for creatures like the Gill-Man from the Black Lagoon.
Also, in the second book, Cade fights Osama bin Laden. I've wanted to see him get his for some time.
10. If you were president and had the resources to have a supernatural secret agent what kind of monster would you pick? Why?
I'd pick Cade. No question. It's why I invented him. He's incorruptible. And Washington D.C. has a way of corrupting everyone, it seems.
You can find out more -- along with bonus materials, author bio, et cetera -- at presidentsvampire.com
My tour info is at presidentsvampire.com/tour and also on BookTour.com
I blog at my own personal website, christopherfarnsworth.com
And you can get more info on the book -- where to buy, etc. -- from G.P. Putnam's Sons: