Please join Mr. Crouch and Mr. Strand, two of the novel's four well-known and well-respected authors, now in this very probing, very serious and apparently very full-of-shite interview that I concocted for them last week, otherwise known as The Eleven Questions to Fame Blog Tour. (Why not ten? Because I'm long-winded: so sue me.)
Me: *Ack* Are you serious?? Another vampire story? How do you respond when you hear this? By now, it's a hack topic. How is your story any better or different than the seas of vampiric vomit currently on the market?
Blake: This is actually the first time I’ve heard that :). The short answer is, we wouldn’t have written another vampire book if we all didn’t feel we had something new to bring to the party. Our story is different from what’s out there right now in this sense. For the first time in a while, vampires are being treated and portrayed like what they are…absolute addicts who crave blood beyond all else.
Jeff: “Vampiric vomit” is how we pitched it. We were going to use that as the original title, but then we decided that Vampiric Vomit would make a great name for a punk band, so we changed it to DRACULAS, but then we realized that being in a punk band would involve Joe getting all sweaty, and nobody wanted that, but by then it was too late to change the title back.
Me: I agree. Joe and sweat? It wouldn't even be compelling fiction.
Vampires was a collaborative effort. Collaborations are difficult. How were you guys able to pull this together? What did you do when someone disagreed over how to handle a certain section? Did you get into any fist fights? Do you think you will work together again?
Blake: I am certain we’ll all work together again when schedules allow. This was simply too amazing of an experience not to repeat. And actually, this collaboration wasn’t difficult. Egos were set aside. Sure disagreements occurred, but we handled them like professionals, and the final product is better for it. No fist fights! We had a major disagreement about the end, and it’s all chronicled in excruciating detail in the bonus features, where our emails back and forth to each other are collected.
Jeff: Fortunately, the fact that we all live in separate states kept the physical violence to a minimum. Most of the disagreements were resolved very quickly, because it was never a case of somebody saying “This sucks!!!” but rather “Here’s what I think you should do differently.” There was no instance where we had to go “Majority rules” or anything like that, because nobody was protective of their work. Everybody at some point had the other authors saying “Here’s where you went wrong,” and except for a debate at the very end about the fate of one of the main characters, we never got stuck on a disagreement.
Me: How did you decide who would be included in your project?
Blake: We chose writers Joe had worked with before, who we loved as writers, and who we also thought would be able to successfully take on the massively challenging feat of writing an 80,000-word novel with three other people in eight weeks.
Jeff: Joe invited people, and most of them said “Yes.” We’d all worked with him before on two-author projects, so there were no huge surprises in the lineup.
Me: Would you recommend that everyone try a collaboration at least once in their fiction career? Why?
Blake: Not unless they can shove their ego in the closet, because there is no place for it in a project such as this.
Jeff: Not really...I mean, it’s not something people should try just to have tried it. You really do have to put your ego aside, because you’re going to lose some arguments, and you may never get credit for writing that one brilliant piece of dialogue. I have no idea what the success/failure ratio is, but I’d guess that most collaborations don’t end well. But if you have the same vision for a project, and the collaborators can each bring something special to the project, you can end up with a book that’s much more interesting than what you might have done on your own.
Me: What is the most scathing, hateful and hurtful rejection letter you ever received? How many have you received? Do you keep them?
Blake: A publisher, in response to a sample chapter I sent, once wrote to me, “Too fucking long. Might want to vary your expletives a tad.” Yes, I’ve kept all my rejections from the early days.
Jeff: “This reads like something Joe Konrath would write!” This is a difficult question to answer while keeping up the charade that the four of us are answering together. I assume that Paul has never been rejected, and I have no idea how many Blake has received, but Joe and I have gotta be topping four figures between the two of us. I kept them back in the days of snail mail, but I never got in the habit of printing out e-mails.
Me: What are you wearing?
Blake: Wife-beater tank top and snowflake pajama bottoms. No shit.
Jeff: Leg warmers...and nothing else. Yes, the four of us are sharing them.
Me: Dear God, now I'll be kicking myself for a month for delving into my own brand of horror.
Why crime/horror fiction? How long did it take to finish and whose original idea was it to work together, and choose a topic?
Blake: That’s the fiction we love. Joe came up with the initial title and bare bones premise. He and I developed it a little more and created the cast of characters. Then we approached Paul and Jeff and got them on board and also gave them first choice on the characters they would write.
Jeff: The majority of the actual writing occurred over five very intense weeks. There was a lot of plotting and brainstorming for a few months before that. The actual premise and idea to work together came from Mr. Joseph Konrath.
Me: What piece of advice--not previously given in interviews--would you give to hot, new authors like myself who are just beginning?
Blake: I’ll repeat what I said on Joe’s blog last Monday: “Get a great agent, and try to sell it for a lot of money. Publish short fiction in solid magazines. There’s a lot of bad-mouthing lately about the “gatekeepers” but I think a publishing track record is important, and it should matter to readers. I’m a reader, and it matters to me. Put your short fiction and your novellas and collaborations up on Amazon. Keep your irons in several different fires. The truth is no one knows how this is all going to shake out, so in light of that, there’s really only one smart play…diversify.”
Jeff: NOT previously given in interviews? Does that mean Joe can’t say “SELF-PUBLISH E-BOOKS! SELF-PUBLISH E-BOOKS! FOR THE SWEET LOVE OF GOD, SELF-PUBLISH E-BOOKS! MONEY MONEY MONEYMONEYMONEY!!! [Begins foaming at mouth; is dragged away]”? I don’t even have good stock answers to this question, much less something new and innovative.
Me: And, I see it's time for someone's medication! Did you collaborate on your testimony being given today?
Blake: Nope, this is all Blake.
Jeff: No. It’s a solo effort by Jeff. I didn’t really contribute much to the novel itself, so they’re making me do this interview.
Me: What did you have for breakfast?
Blake: Black coffee.
Jeff: I had a Pop-Tart. I suspect that Blake is a pancakes kind of guy, extra syrup. Paul had an egg with a thin coating of gold, and Joe had beer.
Me: Pop-Tart: man after my own heart. What other profession do you still regret never having pursued?
Blake: No regrets here, Carla!
Me: Thank-you so much, guys. It's been very...um...interesting. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go slip into a hot bath and pop open a vein.
About the Authors:
Jack Kilborn, a.k.a., J.A. Konrath, has written six Jack Daniels thrillers. The seventh, SHAKEN, will be available this October. Kilborn is the author of AFRAID, ENDURANCE, TRAPPED, and SERIAL UNCUT, (written with Blake Crouch) which has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.
Blake Crouch is the author of four thrillers, DESERT PLACES, LOCKED DOORS, ABANDON, and SNOWBOUND, all published by St. Martin’s Press. His short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen, THRILLER 2, and other anthologies.
F. Paul Wilson is an award-winning, NY Times bestselling novelist whose work spans horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, young adult, and virtually everything between. He is best known as the author of THE KEEP and creator of the urban mercenary Repairman Jack.
More book info and how to order your copy today:
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