1. What was your inspiration for SNAP: The World Unfolds?
Like almost everything that’s good in my life, it came from my daughter! Well, that’s stretching the truth a little. I love mysteries and a mystery was the first book I wrote. When I was talking to my son-in-law he said, “Look at the size of the mystery section in a bookstore. Then look at the vampire section. You choose.” And vampires, fantasy, paranormal are all wildly popular.
2. What gave you the idea to blend Hollywood and vampires?
This actually DID come from my daughter. I began reading paranormal/vampire books. Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong (whom I really like) and saw that there was also a strong streak of romance between species, but I still didn’t have context. My daughter said, “Look at Hollywood. Look at celebrities. They only come out at night, they all wear huge sunglasses, they get driven around in limos with tinted windows, they could all be vampires!”
I wanted to write these stories not from the vampires’ point of view, though, but from the point of view of a normal person who interacts with them because of her job. Voila, celebrity gossip media!
3. How did you decide how much of the traditional mythology surrounding vampires and werewolves to use in this book?
This is a tough question. I didn’t want my vampires to just be mindless killers. If your characters are going to have eternal life, centuries of violence and grabs for power day in and day out would get old. After all, all vampires were people, “regulars”, before they were turned. I used a more traditional version of vampires and werewolves—frightening killers that roam in the dark—for one of my vampire families but the main family, the Kandeskys, evolved a different way to live.
But even they only drink blood, including a version of “Bull’s Blood” a Hungarian wine similar to a merlot—only theirs isn’t merlot—avoid the sun, don’t reflect in mirrors.
4. Can you tell us about any research you did into legends about the creatures you used?
In school, I occasionally watched the soap opera “Dark Shadows” and loved the campy style and how Barnabas interacted (confession: I also just saw the movie. Johnny Depp and fun!), but late night movies also showed Bela Lugosi biting a sweet, young thing’s neck. I’ve read Dracula and seen the play, read The Historian. I’ve done a LOT of research on Vlad the Impaler, traditionally the genesis of the Dracula legend and researched “vampire food” and “vampire donors.” I’m no expert, but I keep an eye out for anything new on the topic.
5. The feud between the two vampire families is deeply rooted. How did you develop their back story?
I had the bare bones, the fact that the feud goes back to the early 15th century, but I needed a cause. Finally I decided that the heads of what would become the Kandeskys and the Huszars had to have a falling out because they were so close. It began inadvertently as an almost father and son tiff over territory and lifestyle. After all, the worst feuds are those that began as loves. There isn’t a more implacable enemy than someone who’s love and caring isn’t returned.
I’m writing the full back stories of the major vampire characters now. The first, Plague: A Love Story will be published in June. The second, Danube: A Tale of Murder, will be out by late summer.
6. SNAP is the first book in the series "The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles." Do you have a planned number of books, or will the series be more serial?
The series is turning out to be more serial. Originally, I planned for a trilogy: SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent and SNAP: Love for Blood. Now with the two back stories—both novellas are fitted in between New Talent and Love for Blood—it’s up to five in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles and I have another two more SNAP novels in my head, clamoring to get out. I don’t know now how far it will go. These vampires are addictive!
7. Technology is beginning to affect the vampires in SNAP. Did that aspect present any difficulties when plotting out the book?
Actually, the vampires may be from the 15th, 16th, 17th centuries, but they’ve taken to technology like a fish to water. This curiosity and interest in the world begins in Plague: A Love Story, when Stefan hires Jean-Louis to help him start a business. Stefan doesn’t even know how to read and write until Jean-Louis opens up a whole new universe, and from then on he’s like a sponge. The biggest difficulty is that I want to make sure when I introduce a technology, it’s appropriate for the time. I spend a lot of effort working out the timelines in my head.
8. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write?
The first time I saw the movie “Romancing the Stone,” I cracked up at the scene in the beginning when the novelist finishes her latest, sits there crying in her pajamas and then gives the last can of tuna to the cat. Now this comes back to haunt me. I don’t know if it’s a ritual, but I’ve become too good at ignoring my surroundings. As I was writing Plague, I spent a lot more time in 15th century Hungary then I did washing dishes, doing laundry, and as for floors, HA! And the poor cat just stands next to me and meows pitifully. I’m not a lot of fun when I’m writing!
9. Who are your favorite authors?
There are several whom I always read. Elizabeth George in mystery, Antonia Fraser in biography and history. I loved Barbara Tuchman and reread her often, particularly A Distant Mirror. I like thrillers by Robert Crais and Daniel Silva. I like discovering new (at least to me) authors. Right now I’m reading a mystery by a young Irish writer, Tana French. It has beautifully written characters and I’m intrigued with her internal discussions. I read short-listed Pulitzer and Booker nominees and love to find authors who write out of the box. Currently Hilary Mantel, who won a Booker for Wolf Hall is one as was John Fowles. They stretch the language and pull apart rules for construction.
And I can’t forget Janet Evanovich!
10. Can you tell us about your other books and any future projects?
As much as I adore the Kandeskys, and ooohhh, Jean-Louis, I’m also working on my second mystery. That’s a series (not a serial) with Amy Hobbes, a newspaper Managing Editor, as the protagonist. I’ve gotten some very nice reviews of the first one Edited for Death, (out in paperback and ebook!) and many say they’re waiting impatiently for the next one. It’s started, with a working title of Labeled for Death. I have to do some research on varietals at the Wine Institute in San Francisco and oddly enough I’ve had several people volunteer to help with this!
Thanks so much for having me as a guest!
Thank you to Michele for taking the time to share with us today. I'm sure you're all intrigued by the Kandesy's now, especially Jean-Louis, so pop over to Amazon and get your copy of SNAP: The World Unfolds today.