A word in your ear, Ann Rice, Bath, Dracula, Greek Myth, guest posts, HG Wells, House of Lillith, Moonlight, Paul Gallico, Prague, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased), Rose Jones, Rose Senior, Shades, Snow Goose, White Thorn
Our next victim is Rose Jones, author of the Shades series among other things. Rose is currently the fourth and therefore last victim our vampiric interviewer has lined up this year, though there were rumblings of a fifth person who had caught our attention… whether our interviewer manages to catch that person before the end of the month remains to be seen… if not we can leave them hanging in the pantry for next year.
- What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?
I still have notebooks from my Primary School days where I wrote stories about time travel at about age seven. My first published piece was a poem in a school magazine when I was eleven, about rainbows and thunderstorms.
- When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?
I’ve spent too much time keeping my writing to myself. I think at some point to have to publish somewhere, just to stop tweaking and re-tweaking a project. Like a painter, if you spend too much time messing with the composition you can ruin it. Besides, I like to share. Story telling is all about sharing isn’t it? Making some money out of it would be nice too, but that’s not why I write.
- What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?
As a teenager around 13, I wrote two scripts for my then favourite TV show (Randall & Hopkirk Deceased) – I thought I could do as well, if not better than one particular scriptwriter on the show. I think that ever since then my main strength has been in dialogue. I hate writing long exposition and tedious descriptions and I prefer not to dump long words that make you reach for the dictionary! I like to keep things simple and put in just enough to let the reader form their own world from my words.
I think my greatest weakness is dwelling on criticisms and procrastinating too much. Writing is a very personal thing; well it is for me; but I have learned to harden myself to at least constructive criticism. We need to understand how others see our work and it’s an important part of the writer’s journey. We can’t grow unless we learn and we can’t learn unless we can accept criticism. Procrastination is something I’m still working on!
- Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?
I live in a small town between Bristol and Bath in the UK. I haven’t really used my home environment as inspiration, but I have used past experiences and places where I have been on holiday. Sometimes I pick a location just because I want to get some spatial awareness of it for a project – such as Prague for my current project, White Thorn. I’m looking forward to seeing if it got it right in Savannah, for my Shades plotline. As a geographer and a historian I think it’s important to maintain spatial continuity and research your material well enough to avoid the major faux pas. Quite often I find that researching a place or a time gives me ideas to advance the story I’m working on. It’s one of the good reasons to side track and procrastinate!
- Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?
Difficult question as there isn’t just one. As a child I absorbed the Greek myths and Arabian Nights and the various fairy stories. I also loved the Trigan Empire strips, which probably spurred on my interest in Science Fiction – along with Thunderbirds and Star Trek. My favourite book is probably Paul Gallico’s The Snow Goose and my favourite Science Fiction book is HG Wells’ The Invisible Man. When I write SF, it tends not to be hard science, but soft, psychological issues. I like using mythology and SF to play with ideas that plague us in the modern world. It gives you a different perspective.
- What drove you to write about Vampires?
I’ve always been interested in mythology and the supernatural and I went through a phase in my youth where I read everything I could about ghosts and spirits. Liminal spaces and metaphysics fascinate me. Playing with ideas in fiction is a way to try and get a handle on these slippery issues.
As for vampires, I woke up one morning with a cracker of an idea involving a character who might be seen as one. I wrote it down real quick as the detail of dreams tend to vanish like a will o’the wisp and it’s still in my box of futures. It’ll be a cracker when I finally get round to it, but it still needs a lot more work.
I was never really interested in vampires in fiction though until the short-lived TV series Moonlight. I enjoyed the different take on the genre as I was never into horror and gratuitous bloodletting. This is still the case. In my opinion, there always has to be a reason for someone to behave the way they do. When the show was cancelled, I decided to try my hand at writing in the genre with a similar sympathetic vein (!) and in the process of research, got stuck in to all the vampire fiction out there to see where mine might fit and to try and provide something different. I read the good, the bad and the atrocious, the classical and the modern, but in the absence of much ‘factual’ evidence, I found out how writers had manipulated the mythology for their own purposes. I have now followed suit and done the same myself.
- What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?
It’s the lure of immortality and how we might cope with it. It’s how we deal with otherness and the scope of time. In some areas, like the JR Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood, and its knock offs, it’s definitely the sex. For me it’s how you cope with desire and how you learn to fit in with a world that is different from you. The genre appeals to young adults because for teenagers, it’s a time of change in their lives, of feeling alienated, of having feelings and emotions they might have difficulty controlling or expressing. They also feel as if they’re immortal.
I personally like the vampire novels that have a historical flashback element. You can see the past through their eyes, as well as their present. A previous favourite show/film was Highlander, which did this really well. The immortals in that are similar to vampires, but they’re not bloodsuckers. Another current favourite is the Outlander series (books and TV – no vampires, but the person out of time trope and the history hopping is similar)
- In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?
In the literary realm, I still don’t think you can beat Dracula, but Marcus in Ann Rice’s books, rates up there, as does Yarbro’s Count St Germain. I also like Matthew in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, Henry in Blood Ties and the Charlaine Harris books (but not the TV series). TV it has to be Mick St John and Eric Northman (So sue me, I made an exception to the True Blood, but then he was my favourite in the books too).
- What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?
Are we talking vampires or me here? As Mick St John said in Moonlight ‘perpetual coolness is the vampires’ curse’. I just dress for comfort, but try to be quirky where I can. Sexiness – that’s none of your business! As for sexy vampires, it’s Mick and Eric for me.
- How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?
They’d definitely kick ass whoever they were up against. After all, some of them have managed to survive for thousands of years. My male protagonist is a newbie, but he’s learning and being taught by the best. He has a conscience, but that’s not going to stop him surviving and protecting the people he loves.
- Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.
White Thorn is the third novel in the Shades series, the first two being Shades and House of Lilith. The first two books interweave the story of the main protagonist and his associates with the story of the characters they play on the TV show they are making. This means that you get two completely different novels between one set of covers, linked by the actors. This gave me an opportunity to write two different versions of the vampire genre. Flashbacks with a difference! In the third book, my protagonist is still acting, but the Shades TV series is over, so the storyline is concentrated just on the problems he has to face in real life. I am hoping to eventually write the story of the film he is making, but it will be a standalone Noir novella.
At the beginning of this third novel, my protagonist, Alex Keating, is still coming to terms with the fallout from events in House of Lilith, as well as with his new life as a vampire. The story picks up from the end of the last book which ended with him and his ancient vampire wife, Lilith going to visit the others of her kind. He then comes back to a new filming project and has to get back to pretending he’s a normal human. He and his assistant, Annabel, go off to Prague to film a cold war drama.
Alex hopes that his life will settle down after the excitement of his first year as a vampire, but it seems trouble can be found in Eastern Europe, not least from his mortal co star, who seems determined to get him in her bed. The filming does not run smoothly and he is running out of blood supplies, due to delays on the production and a rogue vampire who seems to have an agenda of his own. This results in Alex being staked by a vampire-killing priest and rescued by another of his kind who is known for writing historical fiction. Together they hunt for a vampire serial killer who is murdering women in the city. Alex finds that real life seems determined to overshadow his acting yet again. The denouement of the story happens with a fight to the death on a rain soaked night on the roof of St Vitus Cathedral. There are flashbacks in this novel, but this time they give the reader the back story of the serial killer.
Rose has been putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard all her adult life. She lives near Bath, UK with her ‘rocket scientist’ husband and a house full of books and quirky stuff. She considers herself to be a recorder of moments in time and is a keen photographer as well as a writer. The picture for the covers of her books were taken by her. She has a Masters in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and a love of all things mythological, paranormal, really ancient and really futuristic. She loves to travel, both in body and mind. She doesn’t really mind where, so long as it’s interesting and there’s something to learn.
Listen to two of Rose’s short stories as performed by actors from Word in Your Ear in Bath at these links: