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I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Andy's debut novel, The Darkening Dream, and getting some inside perspective from Andy himself.
Blurb from back cover:
An ominous vision and the discovery of a gruesome corpse lead Sarah Engelmann into a terrifying encounter with the supernatural in 1913 Salem, Massachusetts. With help from Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant, Sarah sets out to track the evil to its source, never guessing that she will take on a conspiracy involving not only a 900-year vampire, but also a demon-loving Puritan warlock, disgruntled Egyptian gods, and an immortal sorcerer, all on a quest to recover the holy trumpet of the Archangel Gabriel.
Relying on the wisdom of an elderly vampire hunter, Sarah's rabbi father, and her own disturbing visions, Sarah must fight a millennia-old battle between unspeakable forces, where the ultimate prize might be herself.
I've always been a huge vampire fan and I've read and watched a large percentage of the oeuvre. But also as a history buff I wanted to write a supernatural story that was more grounded in real history and legend. I'm always thinking, "that could have been so much better if they didn't make up the historical backstory" so I started with the villains. What kind of ancient evil creatures might still be around? What do they want? And what legitimate human reason would they have to destroy the world (Buffy-style)? I don't exactly answer the question in TDD, because the motives of 5,000 year old baddies should be mysterious. But trust me, they have a plan, and the sheer audacity of it will literally shake the foundations of the heavens.
What aspect of this story did you find most challenging to write?
The endless re-reading and careful editing is quite tedious (although I do a lot of it!). Sitting down to read the entire book again for the 50th time takes some serious will power. But overall, I’d say the hardest part was trying to balance my desire for prose minimalism with the need to “tell” the reader what they are supposed to know/feel. Ideally, one doesn’t tell them much of anything, but instead shows and implies. I love when a beat subtly betrays the emotions of a character, but at the same time, not all readers pick up on these niceties. My style is much closer to hard boiled early or mid twentieth century writers than it is to the type of melodramatic prose sometimes found in today’s YA hits (Twilight, here’s looking at you!).
The Darkening Dream contains a lot of different religious viewpoints and questions about God's will, right, and wrong. Is there an overriding message or moral you want readers to take away from this story?
The book has a bunch of themes, but one of the overriding ones is the relativity of belief. Each religion, and even esoteric belief structure, has its own lens through which to view the world. I wanted to envision a system that made real the myriad magical and supernatural ideas people have historically held. But how to properly envision a world in which vampires, the Archangel Gabriel, witchcraft, and Egyptian gods all exist? Many writers might just toss them together arbitrarily, but I wanted to find a framework consistent with traditional mysticism. Having read hundreds of religious and magical texts I have identified numerous consistencies in the thought patterns of the esoteric mind. I have a more extensive write up on my magical researches here.
It's always fun to know: Who's your favorite character or who did you enjoy writing the most?
My 900 year-old vampire. He’s just so deliciously evil and fun to write. Al-Nasir, as I affectionately like to think of him, is mid-upper management, like an undead Executive Vice President of Acquisitions. I wanted a personage of exceptional age, power, and menace, yet also no CEO or CTO level player — even if he has aspirations. Al-Nasir has been sent west from Europe to Salem Massachusetts. This is no small thing for a vampire, particularly in 1913. A steamship is a dangerous place for the daylight challenged — especially if they have a habit of snacking on the crew. But come he does, under mysterious orders from the loose cabal of occult baddies with whom he works. Al-Nasir finds things. And with the patience and tenacity only the dead can muster.
Finally, I'm sure any dark fantasy lovers who read this book will want to know: Do you intend to write a sequel?
I do have a sequel planned. I even outlined a big chunk of it. I don’t want to include spoilers on the first book here, so it’s hard to discuss, but let it be said that The Painted Man’s ambitions with The Horn are but the tip of the iceberg of his larger and even more nefarious plan.
http://andy-gavin-author.com about my writing
http://the-darkening-dream.com my current novel
http://the-darkening-dream.com/amazon the book’s Amazon link
http://the-darkening-dream.com/sample free sample chapters
http://untimed-novel.com my second novel, available soon