Good morning, Alex. Thank you for talking with us today about your Michael Alexander/Kari Logan Novels.
Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always known you wanted to write?
For me, it wasn’t so much about knowing that I wanted to write as much as it was something I did. When I was 11 years old, my family left the United States on our 50-foot wooden sailboat for a two-year tour of the South Pacific. Since the sea passages were long, I had plenty of opportunity to read. The first leg of our journey, where we sailed from California to Tahiti, took 25 days. I soon ran out of the children’s books my parents had brought along, so I found myself reading novels written for grown-ups. Between the ages of 11 and 13, I read books like James Clavell’s Shogun and Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. Books were one of the few forms of entertainment available while we were at sea, so I became enamored with the idea of the story. At first, I started by keeping a journal, as I’d received one as a going away gift. Later, I started writing plays, which my sister and I would perform with homemade puppets on a makeshift stage we built on my grandfather’s bunk in the main cabin.
As I’ve aged, I’ve always been writing or creating something. I have kept a personal journal off and on for years, and I’ve also written some poetry, a few short stories, and my own music. Writing a novel was always something I wanted to do, but the idea seemed daunting. Despite having filled probably a dozen journals over the years, I wasn’t sure that I’d have enough to say about any one subject to write a novel-length manuscript. A number of years ago, I started a blog. When I shut it down five years later, I realized that I could come up with plenty to say on a single topic, and that was enough to convince me that writing a novel was something I could achieve if I put my mind to it.
Your character Michael Alexander seems pretty laid back for a vampire. Tell us about him.
Michael is definitely not your typical vampire. In his younger days, he certainly behaved much more like the archetype, where his life was focused on feeding his desires for blood, lust and material possessions. He was very hedonistic and self-absorbed, so he underestimated the danger posed by those upon whom he preyed. A near-death experience, followed by some completely undeserved mercy, served as the foundation for his transformation. In that experience, he learned that humans could be so much more than a source of food, sex and wealth. He learned that he was capable of developing feelings for the people around him.
Now living in the modern age, Michael focuses more on the simpler pleasures in life, while at the same time not taking himself too seriously. He’s managed to create a quiet, comfortable arrangement for himself. He lives in relative obscurity, directing a software team in Mumbai that develops games for mobile phones and devices. Although he has tried to create a “normal” life for himself, he’s also bound by the need to hunt for blood. His past experiences, combined with his awareness of modern forensics, have made him very careful.
As much as he tries to maintain his middle-class life, it’s soon upset by the appearance of Kari, the cute redhead that moves in next door, and Bruce, a ghost-obsessed stalker who wants to be turned into a vampire. Although he’s certainly temped to simply eliminate Bruce the old fashioned way, his caution and good sense prevent him from doing so.
What can you tell us about Agnes, the ghost fuels Bruce’s obsession? How did she come into the story line?
Although I deliberately do not mention the name of the town in the story, The Wannabe Vampire is actually set in Lompoc, California, the town where I grew up. Agnes is a real ghost from a local legend. She is thought to haunt Harris Grade Road, the old highway that connects Lompoc with the neighboring communities of Los Alamos and Santa Maria. I grew up listening to stories of Agnes, and as a kid I found her quite terrifying. In the first chapter, I describe the Agnes legend and how Bruce and his sister try to summon her. That part of the story is somewhat autobiographical, though the more embarrassing and persistent parts of the tale never happened to anyone I know.
We only got a glance at Kari’s friends and her life. Will see more of them and Kari’s life in upcoming books?
Yes, absolutely. In book two of the series, titled Shampires, we’ll have an opportunity to see more of Kari’s life. We’ll also meet her family, which creates some interesting situations for Michael, as they soon realize that he is a vampire. Kari’s father Fergus becomes quite an unlikely supporter, not only of Michael, but of the relationship he’s developing with Kari. There are some very funny scenes as Michael and Fergus begin to work out their unusual friendship.
Can you give us a hint of what can we expect from future stories? And when can we start looking for your next installment?
In Shampires, Michael and Kari’s relationship will continue to deepen. Michael will learn what it means to be intimately involved with a human woman and to become part of her family. He will also find himself struggling with a group of what he calls “human vampires.” These are people who believe they require the life force of others, either in the form of blood or psychic energy, in order to live. When this group encounters Michael, they do not realize that he is the genuine article. They simply see him as a rogue from their community who isn’t following the rules. They try very hard to bring him under their control, which doesn’t work out so well for any of them.
In the third book, which is yet untitled, we’ll see both Michael and Kari’s pasts catch up to them in different ways. Kari’s abusive ex-boyfriend will be released from prison. Michael, after centuries of believing he is the only one of his kind, will finally have the opportunity to meet his people. Both of these situations will force them to explore what it means to be a vampire and what it means to be human. These challenges will put each of them, and their relationship, to the test.
Shampires is scheduled for release in late October, just in time for Halloween. The third book in the series I expect will be available Spring 2013.
Thank you Alex for stopping by today to talk with us. We look forward to seeing more on this series real soon.
See our review of The Wannabe Vampire.
Alex Taylor was born and raised in Lompoc, a small town on California’s Central Coast that is not too different from the one described in the Michael Alexander/Kari Logan novels. A long-time vampire fan, Wannabe Vampire is Alex’s first novel.
When not writing vampire stories, Alex enjoys camping, blogging, reading, and playing with parrots. Alex’s first RV was very much like the one Kari owns, but this is a total coincidence.