I want to welcome Janice Gable Bashman and Jonathan Maberry to Books R Us. They are the authors of Wanted Undead or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil. Thanks For stopping by.
Can you tell us what the book is about?
JANICE GABLE BASHMAN: WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil deals with the struggle of good vs evil in film, comics, pop culture, world myth, literature, and the real world. Everything from vampire slayers to paranormal investigators to FBI serial-killer profilers. It includes interviews with folks like Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, Laurell K. Hamilton, L.A. Banks, Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jason Aaron, Fred Van Lente, Peter Straub, and many more; and the book is fully illustrated by top horror, comics & fantasy artists.
JONATHAN MABERRY: Our book starts with good vs evil as a concept and then we chase it through philosophy, religion, politics, literature, art, film, comics, pop-culture and the real world. It’s such a complex topic, one that’s fundamental to all of our human experience, from evolution to the formation of tribes and society. We take a look at it historically, mythologically, in terms of storytelling from cave paintings to literature, we track it through pop culture and into our modern real world.
The book has a real sense of humor, too. We have fun with the topic as well as bringing a lot of information to the reader. Plus the book is illustrated with forty black and white pieces and eight killer color plates. Artists like Chad Savage, Jacob Parmentier, Don Maitz, Francis Tsai, David Leri, Scott Grimando, Jason Beam, Alan F. Beck, Billy Tackett and more.
Who or what was the inspiration for the book and why?
MABERRY: I’ve been researching this topic in one way or another for many years. My grandmother introduced me to a great deal of folklore, and almost all of folklore is tied to some aspect of the struggle of good vs evil. Over the last ten years I’ve written several books on the subject of the supernatural and paranormal. WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE was part of a package of five I sold to Citadel Press in 2005. The four previous books are: VAMPIRE UNIVERSE (2006), THE CRYPTOPEDIA (2007; winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction; co-authored by David F. Kramer); ZOMBIE CSU (2008; winner of the Hinzman Science Award and the Black Quill Award); and THEY BITE (2009; co-authored by David F. Kramer). WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE is the natural conclusion to the series: after delving so deeply into the monsters and things that go bump in the night, I wanted to focus on those creatures (human or otherwise) who stand between us and evil.
And this book allowed Janice and I the opportunity to write about the complex struggle of good and evil from so many different points of view, from biblical conflicts to super-hero battles.
Was it hard working together to write the book?
MABERRY: As it turns out, our collaborative rhythm was harmonious from the jump; and even though we have markedly different writing styles, we were quickly able to find a ‘voice’ that worked for the entire book.
BASHMAN: We each came into this project with our own strengths and that made it easy to decide who should tackle what part of the book.
MABERRY: I tackled stuff that played to my strengths—vampires, comics, pulp fiction, etc. Janice played to her strengths. She’s writing a book on thrillers, so she tackled serial killers, some of the big picture mythology etc. Then we took passes on each others’ work, nipping and tucking until we had a book that reads like it was written by one person.
We’re different kinds of people and different kinds of writers, but now, even I have a hard time remembering who wrote what. It was a wonderful, smooth and easy process. A great deal of fun. Janice even picked up my smartass sense of humor—which means that I may have caused her some permanent damage. On the other hand, she’s an enormously disciplined writer, so I hope I picked up some good writing habits through osmosis.
What advice can you give a new author?
MABERRY: Well, I suggest they follow the two things I did: learn the business and diversify your creative output.
Also, learn the craft. Take classes and learn how to craft good sentences; learn figurative language; learn how to use metaphor and motif; in short, make yourself the best writer you can be. A good writer never stops improving his skillset. Never.
The other thing is…follow the business. I subscribe to www.publishersmarketplace.com, which is one of the very few pay services that’s worth the cost. It provides a ton of information about the flow of the industry, and it sends a daily email that keeps you up to date on virtually every book deal. This allows writers to see what’s selling, who’s buying and who’s representing these works. Each deal listing names the agent and editor, and there’s no better way to tailor a submission list.
One more thing…never EVER rewrite anything until you have a completed first draft. No exceptions. Otherwise, you get into the rewrite twilight zone and you’ll never get anywhere. I learned that from my journalism professor waaaay back in college and it serves me well in novels, short fiction, and everything else.
BASHMAN: In addition to what Jonathan has already mentioned, I’d add that aspiring talent should be persistent. Believe in yourself and your talent and don’t give up. Also, network with others in your field; it’s incredibly important both from a social and a career standpoint—and offer to assist others when they need help and you are able to fulfill that need.
What other books are you working on?
MABERRY: This has been my most productive year to date. Between novels, nonfiction books, short stories and comics (for Marvel), I’ve had something new coming out every month, and often multiple things coming out in a single week.
My latest release is ROT & RUIN, my first young adult novel. It’s set fourteen years after the zombie apocalypse and kicks off a new series that will be released in hardcover by Simon & Schuster. Next up I have my third Joe Ledger thriller, THE KING OF PLAGUES, hitting stores in March from St. Martins Griffin. I also have three mini-series from Marvel in the pipeline. MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER is already running, and it’s a post-apocalyptic existentialist adventure. Very strange, even for me. BLACK PANTHER: KLAWS OF THE PANTHER kicked off in October; and then in January we launch CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA, a five-issue Marvel Event that follows Cap from World War II to present day. And my graphic novel, DOOMWAR, also debuted in hardcover in October.
I’m currently writing DEAD OF NIGHT, a standalone zombie novel to be release by Griffin in June.
BASHMAN: I just finished a proposal for my next non-fiction book; it’s still under wraps so I can’t share the details at this time. I can say that dozens of key players are already on board for the project and it’s sure to be a fun one. I continue to write for various publications, and I’ll also be shopping a young adult novel shortly.
What is your favorite Vampire movie or book?
BASHMAN: That’s a hard question to answer—there are so many good ones out there and so many I still have to see or read. Bram Stoker’s DRACULA is a classic and one I love. The novel informed so many of the vampire books and movies we read and watch today. Of course it didn’t all start with Count Dracula, but he certainly paved the way for what was to come.
MABERRY: There are a million ways to answer that because I’ve seen so many and read so many and love so many. But…let me take a swing at it. For books, it’s a split between I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson (he gave me a copy when I was a kid!), ‘SLEM’S LOT by Stephen King (my vote for the best American vampire epic), and A DELICATE DEPENDCY by the late Michael Talbot (arguably the first steampunk vampire novel).
For TV, I was a huge fan of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL from the first episodes. Love Whedon’s mix of good allegorical storytelling, pop culture sense and superb character development. As for TV movies, THE NIGHT STALKER will always reign. Scary then, scary now. The miniseries COUNT DRACULA with Louis Jordan was also superb.
Favorite all-time vampire film is HORROR OF DRACULA. Peter Cushing will always be THE Van Helsing, and Christopher Lee was superb as Dracula. I also love Gary Oldman’s take on DRACULA in the Coppola film, although it’s just about the only thing I liked about the film (apart from Tom Waits as Renfield!).
I always want to give a shout out to Marvel Comics brilliant TOMB OF DRACULA comic, which introduced Blade and many other great characters and stories.
Who was your favorite vampire?
MABERRY: In print, Lestat de Lioncourt from Anne Rice's books. I enjoyed the series up to QUEEN OF THE DAMNED and the character is fascinating. Coming in at a close second is Miriam Blaylock from Whitley Strieber's THE HUNGER.
On TV, Spike wins hands down. He was the most honorable vampire. Angel may have been more overtly heroic, but he was only a hero because his soul had been returned to him; Spike went out and fought to have his soul returned.
BASHMAN: I like the character Mike in the 1987 movie THE LOST BOYS. At first he’s just a normal guy, but then vampires come to town and he becomes one of them. It’s up to his brother to save him. What I find appealing about this character is that we see both vampire and human qualities in him. He’s not pure good or evil, but a mixture of both. In WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, we explore that whole good vs evil idea as it relates to vampires, monsters, serial killers, ghosts, real people, and more.
What did you think of the Angel Series?
MABERRY: Angel was a great series, one of the few spin-off shows that was every bit as strong as the original. It explored the nature of redemption, heroism, and sacrifice. It had a wonderfully diverse cast of characters and the writers were not afraid to put those characters in harm’s way. Big body count among the good guys…and one of the best endings of a TV series ever. Like Buffy, it stands up to re-watching.
About the Authors-
Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestseller, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner and a writer for Marvel Comics. He has written a number of award-winning nonfiction books and novels on the paranormal and supernatural, including THE CRYPTOPEDIA, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THEY BITE, ZOMBIE CSU and PATIENT ZERO. His latest novel is ROT & RUIN. Visit Jonathan’s website at http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/.
Janice Gable Bashman has written for THE BIG THRILL, NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET, THE WRITER, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and many others. Visit Janice’s website at www.janicegablebashman.com.