When and why did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Define writing. Like all little kids, I made up stories about my toys and acted out adventures about cowboys or army men or Star Trek with other kids. Mostly, I wanted to make up stories about the monsters I’d seen in old Universal movies. I was usually the instigator of what we would today call free-form role-playing scenarios. I’m told J.K. Rowling did much the same.
I first applied pen to paper in high school. I wrote a couple short stories and even started a sword & sorcery novel. I finished it about a year later, but I now cringe at the thought of it. But who knows? Maybe upon re-reading it, I’ll find some salvageable bits.
After a gap of about a decade, my interest in parapsychology and the occult suddenly inspired me to create my own comic book, Cassiopeia the Witch. Intended as a one-shot, I eventually produced like 43 issues as a self-published digest. I even contributed to several full-sized comics before giving up on drawing.
I had another drought, of a few years, producing very little. Then, with a stable work schedule and more free time, I decided it was time to write the stories I had always wanted to write… stories about the monsters I had loved as a kid.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
Horror is my life. I’ve always loved horror stories about monsters from when I was five or six years old and saw the 1944 “House of Frankenstein” for the first time. But horror is much more than just thrills and chills. Horror stories allow authors to explore subjects forbidden by society. Before Stephen King wrote “Carrie”, there were not many popular works about destructive mother-child relationships. Motherhood was viewed as a sacred institute.
On a similar note, Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) once said, “I knew I could get away with Martians saying things Republicans and Democrats couldn’t.” And Gene Roddenberry’s Mr. Spock did exactly that.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
Thanks to Universal Studios, people today have an image of Frankenstein’s creation as a lumbering hulk with the mind of an infant. Mary Shelley’s character never lumbered. Yes, he was big and strong but he was agile. He’s described as leaping from boulder to boulder. That’s not lumbering in my mind. His body metabolized food more efficiently, so he needed less food, not more. In four years of existence, the Monster learned to speak and read and presumably knew French, German, and English.
On the other hand, some pastiches show the Monster as a simple-minded saint with the soul of an innocent child. I would point out he’s responsible for the deaths of six people in the original novel, one a five-year-old child. He’s no saint.
I went back to the source when I adapted the Monster for my stories. I showed him as both sympathetic and ruthless, as he is in Shelley’s novel. Once I decided he would be intelligent, it became obvious he would be able to solve his own problems. It would just be a matter of time.
What have you written so far?
To date, I have six books published by DDP: my Legend of Dracula trilogy and my Legend of Frankenstein trilogy. Actually, I intend a fourth Dracula book and three more Frankenstein books. Both series crossover to some extent but any of the books can be read on its own.
The Frankenstein series moves chronologically; Book I is followed by Book II which is followed by Book III, etc. Conversely, the first three Dracula books are not divided chronologically but thematically. Vampire Wars directly follows Dracula’s rise to the top of the Undead hierarchy. Brides of Dracula principally tells the stories of three countesses: Elizabeth Bathory, Mircalla Karnstein, and Ulrica Dolingen. Dracula Arisen tells the origin of Vlad Dracula and the events leading right up to Stoker’s novel with some other adventures thrown in.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
I generally like to plan things out. I’ll start with an idea then make a list of the actions that occur in the story. Taking that list, I expand it into a rough outline, adding twists and complications. Then I take that outline and expand each line into a scene and fill in bits of action and dialog. Some editing, and it’s a story.
Did you make any marketing mistakes that you would avoid in the future?
Well, I certainly won’t use a title like Brides of Dracula again. It’s just too generic and was even the name of an old Hammer film. I was even surprised by how many books and even games are titled “Vampire Wars”.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Have you read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus? Have you ever wondered what happened afterward? The novel implies the Monster intends to do away with himself… But does he?
My books follow the Monster on his newfound quest. Along the way, he tangles with mad scientists, grave robbers, witches, and ghouls.
Unlike some pastiches of late, I do not feel the need to utterly trash the original material. I use that work as a jumping-off point, but remain truthful to it. After all, Mary Shelley does NOT show the Monster destroying himself. Maybe she had a reason.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Obviously, the Monster of Frankenstein is my favorite character in that six-part series. Otherwise, I would not spend so much ink on him. He is the consummate outsider, with human emotions on an unparalleled scale but never able to fit into human society.
My favorite character in the Legend of Dracula series is the Baron Vordenburg. Only alluded to in Sheridan LeFanu’s backstory of “Carmilla”, he is a classic hero in that he is sworn to destroy Dracula, no matter the cost. But he’s also a man blinded by his love for Mircalla, whom he can see only as a victim.
Who is your least favorite character and why?
I can easily say Dracula is not my favorite character in his series. Vlad Dracula was a psychopath and a sadist, and while I might admire his determination and cleverness, I can honestly say I do not like the man. I mean seriously, he shoved poles up people’s butts and ate lunch while watching them die. And this is the national hero of Romania??
What role does research play in your writing?
I love history and all related fields such as geography, politics, royalty, heraldry, and OTHER. A few reviewers have said I impart too much information. But I really don’t think I’ve included anything that can’t be either skipped over or researched, should the reader wish to learn more. And I hope my readers do want to learn a little more about all the subjects I discuss.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
I love all the classics of horror: Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Bram Stoker, HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and more. I also enjoy the classics of epic adventure such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, Beowulf, Le Morte de Arthur, Westward Ho!, Paradise Lost, the characters of Robert E. Howard, and The Lord of the Rings. Heck, I’ll read most anything if it’s good. But how much of this material is influential? I may find Lovecraft’s stories fantastic and consider his Mythos to be the basis for all the great horrors, but I hope I never end up writing like him. Honestly, I have little doubt that the biggest actual writing influence came from the comic books I read as a kid; titles like Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, The Tomb of Dracula, The Demon, and Swamp Thing. I like to keep things moving and not spend pages describing someone’s feelings about a sunset.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
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The Nightmare of Frankenstein | Monster of the World | Monster of the East | Vampire Wars | Brides of Dracula |