Happy Friday all! I’m thrilled to have David Nelson Bradsher, Author of THE VAMPIRE SONNETS as my first guest of 2011. His book is a refreshing change of pace in the overloaded literary world of vampire stories. This unique portrayal is written entirely in the form of a Shakespearean Sonnet and I for one was intrigued by the form and the flow of the story.
Before I get into the interview with David, I figured I’d share an excerpt to whet your whistle:
An ancient knowledge showed in Nina's eyes.
They glowed with fealty to inhuman ways
that I, a darkling, had to improvise
in order to attract her rarest praise.
She spoke of dealing death, of raping lives;
(each rape would yield the blood that we required).
She said, “The one who kills to feed survives,
and I provide the means for those I’ve sired.
Misfortune trolls the night (with death) to end
whomever dares to tread our measured path,
so be the hunter now—no foe or friend
must slip the application of your wrath.
Our coven's creed is, ‘Kill! Compassion's dead.
When London quivers…paint Her bloody red.’"
JET: Can you tell us a little about The Vampire Sonnets?
DAVID: I’d love to. The Vampire Sonnets is the story of Tristan Grey, a 19th Century Londoner (and carouser) who bites off more than he can chew when he encounters Nina, an ancient vampire, who seduces, turns and integrates him into the Chelsea coven. But Tristan finds himself unready for his new persona, and struggles between both worlds on and off the streets of London. What transpires is the story of half-man, half-monster, and the internal battle he wages with himself, with those he loves (and loathes), and especially, with Nina.
JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?
DAVID: For me, it was probably my inability to let go of the manuscript without thinking there was more I could do. Even now, after publication, it seems I constantly agonize over things I could have done better. It’s one of the drawbacks of being a perfectionist. As far as getting the book published, new ideas are always a challenge, and the idea of writing an entire story in sonnets is definitely a challenge, and getting it past the editor’s desk is an even greater challenge.
JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?
DAVID: I remember this vividly. The moment I turned it in was like breathing after being underwater for two minutes. It was a such a relief to know that it was out of my hands, my meddling hands, and I knew I could actually relax for a bit until I had to approve the ripped proof of the book. I don’t think you realize how tense you are during final revisions until you finish it and the elephant gets off your chest. There were so many moments of satisfaction during the writing of the book, but I don’t think anything hits you more than the end of the journey. Still, I can’t wait to start the next one.
JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?
DAVID: The first author I remember having a real effect on me was Mark Twain, especially Huck Finn. His ability to tell a story, to delve so deeply into his characters, left an indelible mark on me, and it’s a mark that remains to this day. Poetically, Shakespeare is the obvious, and correct, answer, but I’ve also been influenced by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and more contemporary poets like Richard Wilbur, Tim Steele and Jennifer Reeser made me realize that there was still formal poetry in the world, and it was good.
JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?
DAVID: When I was a kid, my best work was when I was able to write a short story, or even an essay. Anything where I could create, outside the formula of academia, inspired and interested me. I’m sure there are teachers out there who would be amazed that I’ve had a book published, at least based on my performance in their classes, but if I was bored, I was detached. In writing, I was given the freedom to go my own way, and that made all the difference.
JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?
DAVID: When it became apparent that The Vampire Sonnets was going to be a full-length novel in verse, I decided that my limited knowledge of vampires wasn’t going to be enough to pull it off, so I decided to integrate myself into the gothic community to determine what I could and couldn’t do. Now, I didn’t dye my hair jet black, only wear black, and paint my nails (all of which I found to be inaccurate stereotypes), I did approach people I probably never would have come into contact with. I found them to be knowledgeable, passionate, and very misunderstand. I’m grateful for those relationships, and they, of course, have and will persist beyond the book. I tried to take their passion and instill it in the book.
JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?
DAVID: Definitely, The Vampire Sonnets. It’s something that grew from a single sonnet into something that took on a life of its own, and to look back at the first few sonnets, and even the first few full drafts, I’m amazed at how far it’s come.
JET: Any advice for the novices out there?
DAVID: The best advice I can give anyone is to believe in your vision. New ideas are scarce, and met with skepticism and fear from a conservative industry, but if you have something new and fresh to offer, be persistent, indefatigable and positive. In most cases, there won’t be a knock on your door. You have go out there and knock someone else’s door down to be heard. All it takes is one, much like love. OK, that sounded really hokey, but it’s true, right?
JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?
DAVID: Oh, paper, for sure. It’s better for the environment, and I need the paper for when I want to write longhand. Besides, I’ve always been irritated by the sound of crinkling plastic…though the cat loves it.
JET: Steak or Tofu?
DAVID: I’m a carnivore, and to me there’s nothing better than a juicy steak, a baked potato, and a salad. Besides, anyone who likes vampires has to like the sight of blood, right? …Right? OK, maybe not…but I do.
JET: Beach or Mountains?
DAVID: That’s a tough one, especially when you live in a state (NC) that has both. I live in the middle of the state, too, so they’re equidistant, but I’m going with the beach. I say that with the caveat that it’s winter, and I absolutely love the beach in the dead of winter, when I can walk out from my place at Emerald Isle and not see another soul on the strand. Of course, ask me in the summer, when the beach is full of tourists and noise, and I guarantee a different answer.
JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?
DAVID: Rock-n-Roll, for certain. In fact, I’ll take it one step further, and say heavy metal. Growing up in the 80’s, complete with a mullet, how could I be anything else. Peruse my iPod, or my CD collection, and you’ll see more Aqua-Netted hair than a salon, and more leather than an S & M convention. To visual? Sorry, that’s the problem with asking a writer such questions.
JET: Classics or Modern?
DAVID: Being a formalist in poetry, I have to say classics. I already mentioned Huck Finn, and Catcher In the Rye, The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Rings are all amongst my favorites. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t enjoy modern lit, too, but most of my influences came during my impressionable years.
JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?
DAVID: This is where I may surprise you. I love, and I mean, LOVE, Cheesy B Rated Horror, and even C rated Horror, in many cases. In fact, my brother and I share an affinity for it, and make it a regular habit to find those types of movies on Net Flix, and we’ve found some seriously hidden gems out there. Dead Snow is one I’d definitely recommend. Scandinavians know how to make cheesy horror.
JET: Zombies or Demons?
DAVID: I know Zombies are all the rage, and I love some of the recent offerings, but you’ve got to give it up for demons. They’re more multi-dimensional, and there’s nothing better than pure evil to spice things up. Much more interesting, in my opinion. I mean, zombies kind of lurch around, devoid of any personality, but demons come at you in so many different ways, and some of them can actually be charming…well, until the eat your face, but you know what I mean.
JET: Paper or Digital?
DAVID: Once again, as a writer, I’m going with paper. It’s in my blood, you know.
JET: Salty or Sweet?
DAVID: Oh, salty. In my food, and in my women. Much more satisfying and interesting. Sweet can be sour, but salty just makes you crave more. Of course, you may have only been referring to food, but my mind works in mysterious ways, so I just went with it.
JET: Coffee or Tea?
DAVID: Here’s one of those that would have been tea a few years ago, but thanks to long writing sessions and a girlfriend who loved the stuff, I have to say coffee. I’m not one of those zombies standing in line for the caffeine shot at Starbucks, but I do like the pick-me-up it gives me, and the imagination can do some spectacular things when you’ve got a slight caffeine buzz.
JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?
DAVID: Up next is MVP, which will interest fans of mythology and football. Anyone who has read The Iliad or The Odyssey, or watched Clash of the Titans, knows that the gods of Olympus enjoy futzing with those of us on earth, and they play favorites, so I thought it would be interesting if the gods were football fans, watching the Super Bowl, and decided to influence the outcome to match their whims. Stay tuned for that. Like the Vampire Sonnets, it will be written in verse, but instead of Shakespearean Sonnets, this will be written in heroic couplets.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. It has been a real pleasure.
Folks, you can find out more about David Nelson Bradsher’s Vampire Sonnets at the following places: www.nelsonpearlpublishers.com or the Vampire Sonnets Facebook Group.
On tap for next week – Annette Blair.