Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Interview and Giveaway - with Clay and Susan Griffith
Welcome to our interview with the wonderfully creative authors of the acclaimed Vampire Empire series, Clay and Susan Griffith. Please read on for a giveaway of the third book of this trilogy, The Kingmakers!
1. How do you two split your writing duties? Are there certain scenes
that you write and certain scenes that Susan writes?
Typically we approach a big project, like a novel, by outlining in as much detail as we can, down to the chapter level if possible. Then we divide up the chapters. If it’s feasible, we let each author focus on sections that feature what they do best. For example, Susan is stronger on building relationships and creepy mood and action sequences; Clay is better at politics and humor and dialogue. But the bottom line is we hand chapters back and forth so many times, by the end, even we don’t always know who originally wrote what.
2. Was is challenging writing from different points of view throughout
Actually, it was pretty simple. We love getting in the heads of different characters. We have a natural 3rd person style that dips in and out of various characters throughout a scene. We used it liberally in THE GREYFRIAR, but with THE RIFT WALKER, we decided to experiment with restricting the changes in POV a little more, and we actually found that challenging. We have a pretty good handle on what our characters think, and we find it interesting to see different viewpoints on the same information.
3. What was it like saying "good-bye" to your characters in Vampire
Empire, especially Garreth and Adele?
It was difficult. We were thrilled to bring the trilogy to a conclusion that we felt was
worthy of the series, but we’ve lived with these people for over a decade in one way
or another. Adele and Gareth were always significant, and many of the supporting
characters came to have a gigantic life of their own too. As the project was drawing to
a close, part of our feeling was, “it will be good to move on to something new.” But as
soon as it was over, we began to be overwhelmed with that weird feeling of “wonder
what so-and-so in Vampire Empire would do next?”
4. What inspired you to create the world Vampire Empire is set in? The world building is quite unique and different from other steampunk/vampire worlds. There are highly descriptive places in the Vampire Empire world - The Kirkyard, Cesare's castle, Adele's residence, etc.
Much of the world came from Clay who is a historian and specialized in the 19th century, particularly the colonial world. We wanted to create a wildly new 19th century map but with familiar 19th century attitudes. We think it’s different from other steampunk worlds because we never set out to write a “steampunk” novel. A lot of steampunk takes the Victorian Era and pushes it into technological overdrive. Our version was to take that era, tear apart its geopolitical structure and deprive it of some of its technological inputs, and see what could happen. We’ve also traveled to some areas in the novels, like Edinburgh and London, so many of the details are from our memories. We’ve sadly never have been to Egypt but would love to go someday.
5. Was it difficult to write a complex character such as Garreth - living between worlds, yet not belonging to either?
The trick is to let him show his complexity over time in small, unique ways. The
great thing about Gareth is he is very enthusiastic about certain aspects of his life, and
somewhat disturbed by others, so his moods change. He seems so sure of himself, and
comfortable in his skills and abilities, but there’s an undertone of uncertainty. And
while he is an old soul in many ways, he has the questing spirit of a young person. He is
endlessly fascinating to us.
6. The ending of The Kingmakers can be interpreted as open
ended. Is there a chance we will hear from Garreth and Adele in the
Never say never.
7. The transformation of Adele from wide-eyed teenager to an
empress responsible for her people was remarkable. Was her story
arc determined from the beginning? How did you develop her into a
loyal, self-thinking, powerful woman with a high moral sense of duty?
Yes, Adele’s arc was the core of the trilogy from the beginning. VAMPIRE EMPIRE is
really her story. And we’re very proud of Adele. She represents the type of character we
love; a fundamentally moral character who is challenged in their morality by the vagaries
of the world. In terms of writing Adele, the worrisome thing about her was the balancing
act. In order to develop, she had start off as naïve without being stupid, unprepared
without being clueless. She had to learn quickly without suddenly turning into an all-
knowing superheroine. We wanted readers to see Adele in Book 3 and think of how far
she had come, but if she wasn’t an interesting character from the beginning, nobody was
going to get to Book 3. We’re happy with how it turned out.
8. Who was your favorite character to write in this series?
Clay: Colonel Anhalt is fiercely loyal retainer who is hard to write in today’s world where all motivations are treated with suspicion and loyalty is equal to naiveté. Senator Clark is a big loud direct man who is a delight to write. I think every scene he is in is better because of it.
Susan: Simon was a lot of fun to play with. Such enthusiasm and a genuine longing for adventure. You know it was hard for him to watch his sister rush off and explore. And, of course, The Greyfriar. He was my Scarlet Pimpernel, full of heroics while remaining true to his heart, risking everything for the woman he loves. I do love a good
9. What are you two working on now?
We can’t really talk about what we’re doing quite yet. But hopefully soon. It’s going to be fun and exciting.
10. What are some of your favorite or most influential books?
Clay: Dracula by Bram Stoker (not surprisingly); The Long Good-bye by Raymond Chandler; The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Susan: Moonraker’s Bride by Madeline Brent; The Crocodile on the Sandbank by
Elizabeth Peters; The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, and The Shadow
series by Maxwell Grant.
Many, many thanks to Clay and Susan Griffith for this interview! If you haven't yet read The Greyfriar, I urge you to pick up a copy. This series is one of my absolute favorites and I cannot wait to see what the Griffiths come up with next!
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