Our second interview for our series celebrating the release of Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire is with Steve Van Samson. Here he describes himself in his own words:
I’m the author of the “Predator World” novels (The Bone Eater King and Marrow Dust) as well as numerous short stories which all tend to be on the pulpy, adventure side of horror, with an eye on character diversity. Aside from writing, I have also sung lead vocals on 2 albums with the band Enchanted Exile and co-host a fun nostalgia podcast on The Dorkening Network, called Retro Ridoctopus!
You can find him in these places:
Facebook: Steve Van Samson
Publisher for press releases: www.roughhousepublishing.com
What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?
Though I didn’t think of it as a form of writing then, when 10 year old me would come up with characters and scenarios to pretend and play through with my friends, I think I was actually world building. Later, I also recall writing down (and improving on) certain weird dreams that I had at the time, for use as fodder for assignments in high school. There was one involving being invited over to a teacher’s house and discovering a pocket dimension beneath their swimming pool. That one was my mom’s favorite.
When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?
I’m just a huge fan of creating and meeting/interacting with new people. Writing allows me to do both in spades. I also really like the idea that by putting out books, I’m leaving something behind that my kids can always look back to and (hopefully) be proud of!
What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?
I love it when long-running TV shows reference specific scenes from earlier seasons. Buffy did this masterfully and so does Supernatural. It’s the sort of thing both that can both reward long-time fans while breathing new life to something they’ve already experienced. Possibly spurring new interest into seeking out and re-watching the old episodes that were just brought up. I try to do the same thing with my writing by always leaving little seeds throughout. Even if these details are glossed over initially, they may just bloom in subsequent readings. I also take great pride in my endings, which my readers consistently point out as being fulfilling and exciting.
I became interested in writing long after college and, unfortunately, do not have an English degree. As such, my grammar and punctuation tend to be a bit on the spotty side. It’s a weakness for sure, but I am always learning and improving!
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 the USA. In a quiet, very old town in Massachusetts called Lancaster. As such, history is all around and I drink it in constantly. As far as settings for stories go, I generally like to write about varied places and people. That said, my story “The Root of All Noise” (which appears in More Lore From The Mythos Volume 2) does actually take place in MA and features many actual features of the hiking trails around Mount Greylock.
Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?
I don’t think there is one specific book, but rather certain authors whom I am consistently in awe over. Somewhere between the no nonsense, everyman prose of Joe R. Lansdale and the fairy-tale magic of Neil Gaiman is generally where I generally hope to land.
What drove you to write about Vampires?
There is a story called “The Hills of the Dead” by Robert E. Howard that I absolutely love. It has the roving Puritan evil fighter, Solomon Kane, travelling to Africa and battling a very unique breed of vampires. Everything about this story was exciting and new to me. Not only was this a very different take on vampires as creatures, but Howard placed them in an atypical setting. These decisions encapsulate pretty much everything I try to accomplish in writing. Give the reader something familiar and a whole lot of “holy crap, I’ve never seen that before”!
What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?
Vampires are a very diverse monster. They can be sexy, dangerous or a combination of the two and no matter what the genre (horror, romance, sci-fi, weird westerns) if one of the characters is a vampire, it becomes a vampire story!
In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?
As much as I love Carmilla, Dracula and Blade, I really enjoyed the Alpha Vampire from Supernatural. Rick Worthy played him as a quiet, restrained threat. As a character who had mastered his beast, but was keeping it by his side rather than in a cage. I really wish we got to see more of him.
What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?
Oh, definitely Selene from Underworld. Who can say no to Kate Beckinsale in all that skin tight leather?
How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?
I would love to see the Bone Eater King take on the Alpha Vampire. And while Supernatural’s Alpha definitely has the age advantage, I think the King’s raw power and size would ensure that he’d keep his crown. Selene would probably take him down though.
Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.
I know we’re doing vampire stuff here, but my latest is actually a bit of a departure. Mark of the Witchwyrm presents a father’s journey through a very cold, very grounded fantasy-type landscape.
Rander Belmorn is far from home. He searches tirelessly for the one man who might be able to cure his dying son, but time is running out. The road has led to a frozen waste at the very edge of the world. But what Rander Belmorn never learned on that long, lonely road was the answer to the last question. The only question. How do you kill a witch?
Mark of the Witchwyrm drops January 2021 from Rough House Publishing!