Touring the blogosphere this month of February is fantasy author A.F. Stewart. Her book, Chronicles of the Undead, tells the story of three generations of one family and their dark connection to the realm of vampires. Visit the author’s blog at: http://www.squidoo.com/undeadchronicles
Q: Thanks for this interview. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
A: Well, I’m a writer of fantasy stories and poetry primarily, and I publish my books independently. I’m still a novice at this whole business and it has definitely been an education trying to learn it from scratch. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it, though.
I’m a single woman from Canada and live on the east coast of the country, in Nova Scotia. I’m a self-professed sci-fi/fantasy geek, action movie buff, and a fan of comic books. I like to draw and paint, mostly landscapes, as a hobby. My other hobby is collecting: comics, sword replicas, and movie collectables.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
A: I’ve always written poems and stories, but I actually would have preferred to be an artist. Alas my artistic talent did not extend far enough, so I went with my other creative outlet. I wrote my first book several years ago (an opus of King Arthur, still badly in need of editing), and have been attempting to pursue the career of an author ever since.
Q: Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
A: My latest book, Chronicles of the Undead, is a bit of a departure for me as it is in the horror genre, rather than fantasy. I have written the occasional horror short story, but never tried writing the genre in a book.
Chronicles is a novella, a classic vampire tale set in 18th and 19th century London, written entirely as diary entries with no dialogue. The book exposes the secrets of Samuel Harrington, his son Edmund and Edmund’s daughter Charlotte, as they deal with the tempting influence of the vampires who infiltrate their lives. Chronicles of the Undead is an intimate portrayal of family, weakness, the lure of evil, and how one selfish act can have horrific consequences.
I was inspired to write the book because I wanted to explore the original aspect of the vampire, one of a predatory evil. The romantic, dreamy portrayal of vampires seems to be the prevalent one these days, but I think their evil nature is far more fascinating.
Q: How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
A: I had to do a lot of planning with this book, but I didn’t use outlines, as is my usual practice. It was more of a free form channeling of my characters, writing diary entries as I was inspired. The biggest struggle I had was writing the character of Edmund Harrington, he just wouldn’t behave; I had to change his plotline three times before it finally worked.
Q: Did your book require a lot of research?
A: Yes. I had to research vampire folklore and mythology for the background of my villains, and then I had to do extensive research on the customs of 18th and 19th century London. I had to explore the city layout of the time, the history of the London coffeehouse, the when and where of historic events, and the social structure of two centuries. The strangest thing I had to check were the diary dates, to ensure the entries didn’t contradict with holidays or Sundays.
Q: Who is your target audience?
A: Chronicles of the Undead would probably appeal most to readers who like classic horror or paranormal dark fantasy. The rest of my writing is aimed at people who like a good tale of fantasy and magic.
Q: Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
A: My muse generally tends to be most annoying, popping ideas into my head any time of the day. If she ever refused to inspire me in might be a nice vacation.
Q: Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
A: I generally don’t write the first draft of a book in order, but skip around from chapter to chapter. I usually start with the beginning, and then I might write the ending, or a key plot point, editing as needed until the draft is finished. Then I start on the power edits, ruthlessly cutting anything that doesn’t work and polishing the prose.
Q: What type of scenes give you the most trouble to write?
A: Romance scenes. I am the most self-critical when I write those scenes, probably because I don’t use my romance writing skills very often. I’m more comfortable killing off my characters than letting them live happily ever after.
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