Our second Vampire month victim is Richard Writhen, the author of three novellas on Amazon KDP: A Kicked Cur, A Host of Ills and The Hiss Of The Blade. His fourth novella, Angel of the Grave, is currently being written. Richard comes to us all the way from New England and will be talking to us about his world building in his blog post later this week.
1) What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?
I had read a lot of early Stephen King and Clive Barker, Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, The Lord of the Rings, as well as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, in the late eighties and when I was about twelve I tried writing a few cute little stories and comics which are thankfully lost in the abysses of time or whatever. I also had two letters published in the Gladstone / EC Comics reprints of the early nineties.
2) When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?
In truly characteristic fashion, I had always toyed with the idea yet procrastinated, but a confluence of events made me become serious after I turned thirty-six. I had been working as a copy-editor for about four years, I was reading the King James Version of the Bible, and I came across an ad looking for blog contributions. And I was like, sure let’s give it a go. A couple months later I felt that I wanted to segue into fiction, so I pitched the idea of a serial to the website’s owner and he was interested. The work later became my first novella and I’ve been serious about writing ever since.
3) What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?
My greatest strength as of now is the internal continuity. I have some pretty detailed notes, though as I get older it may become harder to keep it straight; however, they have specific assistants and editors for that nowadays if I ever find success. My greatest weakness is world building / exposition, but that’s the thorn in the side of every writer, really. It can only be overcome through constant practice, as far as I know; writing more books. It’s very difficult to avoid the info dumps and have unobtrusive exposition, one of the most difficult writing skills. The greatest authors make it either fun somehow or almost invisible, seamless; simply part of the prose that the reader almost sub-consciously absorbs.
4) Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?
I am from Newport, RI, USA. I also lived in NYC for several years. Everywhere I go influences how I depict fictional locations, be it Providence, RI, Long Island, NY, even places where I spent a lot of time in my youth such as Seekonk, MA affect my sense of place and I try to convey that in my fantasy settings. Street names, names on historical buildings … as a matter of fact, I got many names for the first two books in the Celestial Ways Saga from local gravestones, I would just change a few letters.
5) Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?
My greatest? The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpiece, unpublished in his lifetime and left to turn yellow in a drawer somewhere. His depiction of magic is exactly what I’m trying to convey. Its sense of history and antiquity and the manner in which it gives the city of Providence, RI its own personality. That’s another one of my goals with the novellas, to assign a real sense of place to the dark fantasy settings.
6) What drove you to write about Vampires?
I’ve always been a fan of vampire lore. I was quite taken with the Interview with the Vampire Movie, I saw it when I was in college. My first love was Lost Boys, though. I wanted to see it original run but I was still well underage, so when I finally caught it a few years later on HBO or whatever, I was floored. I also like Underworld saga, Let The Right One In, Twilight Saga, Vampire Academy Series, Blade Trilogy and more.
7) What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?
My theory for the past several years has been that the werewolf legends represent man’s struggle with his own animality, and the vampire legends represent mankind’s self-victimization, i.e. man victimizing his fellow man. A lot of what is successful as art and / or entertainment has subconscious roots in age-old social and psychological rhetorical or unanswered questions about the human condition. That’s why it’s never-ending …
8) In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?
Well, Lestat and Dracula are two of the most powerful vampires of fiction. I’d be hard pressed to figure out which one of them is stronger. David from Lost Boys is pretty awesome; Eli from Let the Right One In as well. A lot of the vampires from Blade trilogy are also very epic.
9) What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?
Sexiness? Fashion sense? Prolly Vampirella for both. After her, maybe the trio of female vampires in Francis Ford Coppolla’s Dracula. And of course, I must mention Lina Romay in Female Vampire by Jess Franco, may she rest in peace.
10) How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?
My vampire angle is as yet undeveloped. There’s a nation of vampires, Drackhon, that has fought wars in the past with the denizens of Khlarion, on the continent of Holrud. The vampires’ society and all of that will be revealed further in books to come. So my strongest vampire as of now is probably Debarah, one of the protagonists of A Kicked Cur. He has grotesque physical strength, almost like Edward Cullen from Twilight Saga, so I think he would certainly survive a fight with the likes of Dracula and Lestat, but overcoming them …? IDK about all that.
11) Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.
My latest work is my third novella. It’s called The Hiss of the Blade, and it’s a bleak treatise on the manner in which those in my gothdark world called Cedron first live and then die by the sword. Mercenaries, fled slaves, agriculture and mining magnates, every man is out for himself and much like our real world, the center can’t hold and people wind up dying … or worse.