Review: Takers 3: Bloodlines by Chris Davis

We were pleased to learn that Kel was returning and that he’s as stubborn and anguished as ever. To recap, Los Angeles is plagued by humanoid creatures called Takers, which are like vampires only many levels worse. These emotionless monsters suck souls as well as blood, and they can create half-human offspring which must feed on a smorgasbord of blood, souls and human food to stay alive. Continue reading

Author Interview: Chris Davis – Writer of ‘Takers’ (Part three of three)

Welcome back, you Eyeballers. here I present the final section of an exclusive interview with published author Chris Davis, who released an awesome vampire novel called ‘Takers’ last year and is preparing to release its sequel in the next few months.

This interview was released in three parts.

Part One : Writing Process

Part Two: Inspiration and Publicity

Part Three: Today!

Takers Author Chris Davis, vampires, blood, Kel, Interview, writers, Hawaii-Five-Oh

Chris Davis is back for more. Part three of her interview begins today!

Chris Davis resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her cat, Ramses. She has a Master of Science degree in Project Management and is a novelist, aspiring screenwriter and currently stretches her journalism muscle working for Hawaii Five-0 Online. Chris’s first published novel, a bloody twist on traditional vampires called “Takers,” is now available on Amazon and Smashwords and her personal blog can be found here.

Following yesterday’s discussion about inspiration and publicity, today Chris Davis talks about her vampire novel Takers and the challenge of making the urban fantasy arena her own:

Takers Amazon Chris Davis, Urban Fantasy, urban horror, vampires, undead, creature of the night, homoerotic vampires, blood suckers, soul suckers, monsters, fedora hat

Chris Davis' 'Takers' out now!

Takers

Did you have an audience in mind when you started or did it just come to you?

Oh, this is a fun story. My whole life, I never was into vampires. Not at all. Then – once again because of my work with Hawaii Five-0 Online – I sat down and watched the television series “Moonlight,” which starred Alex O’Loughlin. It was good. And it was the first time I actually thought, “Hey. Vampires. Sexy!”

Then I found out it was based on a book called “Angel of Vengeance” written by an insanely imaginative and very nice man by the name of Trevor O. Munson, who also co-executive produced “Moonlight.” So I got the book from Amazon.com, read it in one sitting, and that night, my main character Detective Kel Langston showed up with his black fedora and hand hiding his face going, “Finally. Now come on, let’s write a book.”

So did I have a particular audience in mind? No. Not really. The story is one that wants to be told, and it will find its audience. Of course I think about vampire fans as I’m writing, but it’s not like what’s happened to the vampire genre recently with sparkly soap opera-like characters that happen to have fangs and be undead. My arena in “Takers” is much more noir-like, and based more on mature adult realism than it is on teenage angst. Also, my vampires don’t stop with your blood. (grins)

How do you handle the homoerotic elements? Did you expect it to be a strong element of Kel’s struggle against his inner potential evil? Do you think he’s in denial?

My first, and simplest answer to this is, “What? I like to watch guys get it on.”

But I’ll back up and be serious for a moment. One of the things that I personally find most alluring about vampires as I see them is how erotic they are or can be. To me, the act of sinking your teeth into your victim and drinking their blood – something which of necessity requires some form of physical contact – is a very intimate act regardless whether it’s actually done in a sexual context.

Many authors have swung toward making vampires be all about sex, while others have minimized that aspect and still others have struck a balance between the two ends of the spectrum. While homoeroticism may be frowned upon in broader circles, my goal is not to please the majority of anything or anyone. My goal is to be true to the story Kel wants told and by default, be true to all the characters he introduces us to.

I don’t have any hang-ups about sexuality one way or the other, so writing about men getting turned on by other men – vampires or not – is never something I’ve had to struggle with doing. It’s not like I put it in there just because I thought readers would like it. I do know that from the feedback I’ve gotten so far that they do, which is really awesome since it’s a part of what the “Takers” world is about.

Yes, one of the things Kel fights so hard in the war between his human half and his Taker half – having both sides is what makes him a Half-Turn – is the fact that it takes very little to turn him on, period. This makes him feel more like an animal or a monster than a human being. Anything from the fabric of his shirt sliding across his skin to simply being in the physical presence of his sire puts him into sexual overdrive. It’s one of the many things he has to learn how to deal with and control and, unfortunately for him, sometimes he learns he can’t no matter how hard he tries. In the second book of the “Takers” series, which comes out this May, there are several times he finds that he can’t control his physical reaction, and in one case he acts on it deliberately – and foolishly – much to his later chagrin.

I don’t think Kel is secretly gay or in denial, no. He’s very much the man’s man who loves women and wants women, unlike his Half-Turn buddy Levi, who’s always been gay from the get-go, even before he was half-turned. But Kel is facing the effect his sire has on him, the effect any Taker has on him, the effect that Feeding and being Fed from has on him and the fact that every sense is heightened beyond reason. Being a Half-Turn is like being one big raw bundle of nerves: it doesn’t take a whole lot to make their sexual side want to take over. Along with having to deal with being a cop who swore to serve and protect, but now has to kill to survive, Kel’s got this inner animal who just wants to – basically – screw and kill, and I think it will always be a fight for him to maintain his humanity in the face of what being a Half-Turn does to his body.

Fedora, Takers, Vampire, Chris Davis

The man with the hat. Kel from Chris Davis' novel, Takers.

You write Kel in the first person, was he a strong character to start with?

He’s an insistent bastard. Am I allowed to say that? (laughs) Well, he is. As I mentioned before, he’s the one who showed up telling me we were going to write a book, and when I say “showed up,” I mean it in the same way any writer does who sees and hears their characters. This guy comes around on his own schedule, and boy, when he does I’d better drop everything and get my fingers on that keyboard. “Takers” is Kel’s story. That’s what it was always meant to be, and it’s his thoughts and feelings, his journey through this nightmare of being changed from a normal human cop into a creature who lives off souls and blood. Everything that happens is through the Kel Filter, which is great fun but also a challenge in that I have to make sure the reader finds out enough about all the other characters through Kel, rather than him being so self-absorbed or introspective that you never get much of a clue about what Ray or Levi or Francisco are all about, or what their motivations are.

Which part of Takers was most fun to write? Which was toughest?

Here, this will give you some insight into me: the most fun parts of “Takers” to write are the homoerotic scenes. (grins) As for the toughest, well, I’m trying to remember if I really had any trouble either in the first or second book with any particular part of it. I think the hardest thing to get used to doing in the first book was making certain that Kel described his surroundings well enough from his first person point-of-view that the reader could get a sense of where he was and what he was seeing.

It’s something my editors had to work with me on, because when you become a character, so that you can write in his voice, you don’t always remember that the reader isn’t inside the character with you, seeing through his eyes. So you have to think to yourself, how would Kel describe this, being a man, a cop, a guy in his thirties, a hard-boiled egg, a Half-Turn? You know he’s not going to get flowery or overly descriptive, but you’ve got to make sure the reader knows that the alleyway is covered in all manner of nasty fluids, or that Marta’s house is made out of brick, or what Kel’s Barracuda looks like bumper to bumper.

I think I found that process a little easier in the second book, but one of my editors has clued me in that I still am struggling with that a bit, so here come the rewrites!

How did it feel to finish that first draft?

“It’s done? Seriously? No freakin’ way.” That about sums it up. Once the shock of it wore off, though, I was very happy that I’d actually finished it, and very anxious to know what my editors thought of it because it’s radically different from anything I’ve ever written before. And believe it or not, I was all about, “Okay, when do I get to write my next one?” (laughs)

What can we look forward to in Takers 2?

Kel’s going to find out more about who his sire Francisco is, and why he (Kel) was half-turned to begin with. Questions are going to arise about who’s really in control of the Los Angeles-based Takers, and Kel’s relationship with Ray becomes really complicated. The title of the second book is now officially “Takers II: Family,” and that’s what it’s all about: family, in the many different forms that can take. There are lots of twists, turns and surprises and…of course…more eroticism – homo and otherwise!

Are there already plans for Takers 3? Do you think it will be an ongoing series or a trilogy?

I know with one hundred percent certainty that there is a Takers III. I have a feeling that Kel’s not going to let me off so easy as to leave it at a trilogy, though. I guess that remains to be seen!

And finally…

Any message you’d like to send out to the lovely readers of the Eyeball?

Listen to Jo. She knows what she’s talking about. If she says something’s good, then it’s good. And she’s a damn good writer herself.

Oh, you wanted some sort of witty personal message from me? Well, all I can say is this: I love writing “Takers” and I hope your Eyeball readers will enjoy reading it just as much. And keep your eyes open. One of these days you might actually see my name up on a movie screen somewhere! (grins)

And on those words, space folded in on itself and Chris disappeared leaving only a flurry of printer ink, flashing red lights and strongly smelling coffee splatters. She will return, though, you can be sure of that! Keep an eye out for Takers 2 and thanks for reading.

That was the last part of the interview with Chris Davis, so please check out her book and her blog, and remember you’re always welcome here at the Haunted Eyeball.

The links to the other two parts of the interview are here (part one) and here (part two)

Author Interview: Chris Davis – Writer of ‘Takers’ (Part two of three)

Welcome back, you Eyeballers. Once again I am extremely happy to present an exclusive interview with published author Chris Davis, who released an awesome vampire novel called ‘Takers’ last year and is preparing to release its sequel in the next few months.

This interview is being released in three parts.

Part One : Writing Process

Part Two: Inspiration and Publicity

Part Three will be released: Wednesday 7th March

Takers Author Chris Davis, vampires, blood, Kel, Interview, writers, Hawaii-Five-Oh

Chris Davis is back for more. Part two of her interview begins today!

Chris Davis resides in Memphis, Tennessee with her cat, Ramses. She has a Master of Science degree in Project Management and is a novelist, aspiring screenwriter and currently stretches her journalism muscle working for Hawaii Five-0 Online. Chris’s first published novel, a bloody twist on traditional vampires called “Takers,” is now available on Amazon and Smashwords and her personal blog can be found here.

After yesterday’s discussion of the writing process, today Chris Davis shares her opinion about inspiration and the trials of publicity when you’re an indie author.

Inspiration

Haunted Eyeball: Did you have a favourite author growing up?

Chris Davis: You know, I had several sets of books that I read over and over and over again. Largely it was the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. My favorite book of all-time, however, was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

But while I can tell you what I read voraciously as a child, I have to caution you that I honestly can’t possibly name one single author as having been a favorite, either as a child or now in my adult years, any more than I can state I have a single favorite musician/band. My tastes in books are as ridiculously eclectic as my taste in music, and have been since the time I was able to read. So for me, it’s always been more the book itself (or certain series of books) that I liked rather than all the works of Author A or Author B.

Favourite author now? It’s funny, just a week or two ago, in a group I’m a member of called Tracy Island Writers Forum, there was a lively multi-post discussion on everyone’s favorite authors. If I’m not mistaken, they were geared mostly toward the sci-fi genre (which makes sense considering that most of the members of that particular forum are gathered there because of a television series that leans strongly toward that genre). But I sat there reading everyone’s responses thinking to myself, “You don’t even have a favorite author anymore.” And it’s true, I don’t. Because I’m a hypocrite. I write books that I want people to read, but I don’t often take the time to sit down and read books myself these days. Isn’t that awful?

I think that stems from the fact that between the ages of about seven and twenty-five (give or take), I read – and I’m not exaggerating – thousands of books. And I don’t mean little kids cute books with only four words per page. I’m talking novels the size of Stephen King’s “It” or “War and Peace.” Classics from Shakespeare and Hemingway. Science fiction that bordered on incomprehensible for all its terminology when you’re the tender age of eleven. Fantasies, C.S. Lewis, horror, true crime. Biographies of the famous and infamous. Books based on television series like “Star Trek” or “Murder, She Wrote” or “Knight Rider.” (Yes, I grew up in the eighties, what can I say.)

I spent the first half of my literate years reading every free second of every day until I also started writing, and then it was probably a fifty-fifty split of my time. I think I filled myself to the brim with input, and now I can’t do anything but output. If I sit down to read it’s usually something a friend has given to me either because they thought it was really good, or because they want my opinion or critique.

So modern-day authors? Well…I honestly don’t have a favorite one out in the paid/published novel world.

Favourite type or particular area of art?

Just like my taste in book and movie genres or in music, my taste in art has little to do with a specific style or type. If I see something I like, I know it. I could have an abstract hanging on the wall next to a black-and-white inner city photograph because I like what I like irrespective of whether anyone else thinks it goes together!

Do any TV shows or films inspire you?

Two television shows: “Thunderbirds” and “Hawaii Five-0.” “Thunderbirds” has been a love of mine for about a decade now. There’s just something about the characters and their relationships, as well as the central idea of there being this family who has dedicated itself to anonymously saving the lives of strangers with unbelievably advanced technology at their disposal that makes the blood sing.

As for “Hawaii Five-0” (and we’re talking the reboot that premiered in 2010, not the original series with Jack Lord), what inspires me hands-down (other than the sexy silver Chevrolet Camaro who’s the true star of the show, of course) is the bromance between characters Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danny Williams (Scott Caan). I guess I just have a thing for bromance!

I have to give credit to actor/writer/producer/director Scott Caan’s movie “Mercy” for giving me the screenwriting bug. (Well, either give him credit or blame him for thrusting me into that world, one or the other.) I initially started watching movies containing the lead actors from “Hawaii Five-0” as part of my work as Head News Writer for the website Hawaii Five-0 Online, and “Mercy” happened to be the first one I saw. Not a month later I had my first completed screenplay.

There was something about how the story was told that fascinated me. It was non-linear, it was “real life,” it was a combination of things that it would take too long to explain here that made me say, I want to write like that. I want to do that. So…I’m trying. I call myself an “aspiring screenwriter” still because I have yet to actually get anywhere with it professionally! But it’s great fun.

Other than “Hawaii Five-0,” which shows, films or publications would you love to write for?

(laughs) What, I can’t say “Hawaii Five-0?” Of course that’s my first choice.

Other than that, I really would love to see some of my screenplays come to life, and I would also very much enjoy working with an experienced screenwriter to transform my novel “Takers” into a movie. I’m interested in writing more of my own original screenplays, but I really don’t follow any other current television shows besides “Five-0” simply due to time constraints. I have to choose what to spend my time on, and watching more than one hour of television a week isn’t conducive to my mantra of “Write, write, write!”

Sort of along the same lines, I’d enjoy collaborating with the aforementioned Scott Caan simply because I find the movies he’s written fascinating in terms of how the idea is both presented visually and told as a story. (And I’ll admit, he’s the one I know the most about because of the research I do for Five-0 Online.) I think working with, and learning from, anyone who’s gone out there and written a screenplay, and then actually made it into a movie, would be an invaluable experience because they’re not just the writer selling a script and then going and writing something else. Independent filmmakers know what comes after that script is written, and I think that helps a lot when you’re writing your screenplay because you can foresee things that someone who’s never actually gone through the whole process of making a movie might not know.

I’d also really enjoy working with someone who’s seen success in both books and television, like Trevor Munson (more about him later) or “Hawaii Five-0” Executive Producer Peter Lenkov, who’s done graphic novels. Once again, these men know the whole process, and Trevor especially is familiar with the differences between writing an actual book vs. a television script vs. a movie screenplay. The kind of experience these men and others like them have can’t be book-taught. It’s something you learn by doing, and the insights they’ve gained into what works and what doesn’t, and what types of things you have to think about writing a TV episode vs. a feature-length screenplay are the little things that fascinate me and make me want to seek out people like them. I’ll be honest: one of the original reasons I sat down to watch the new “Hawaii Five-0” to begin with was simply the success Lenkov had prior to launching it. I mean, the guy did “24” and “CSI: NY,” not to mention “La Femme Nikita,” all of which I enjoyed immensely as well-told stories with riveting characters. Who wouldn’t want to apprentice themselves to success like that?

Publicity

How do you think social media has helped writers? Has it made it easier or more pressured to become a successful writer?

Well, for me, social media gets me out there as a writer, period – I’m a novelist, a journalist and an aspiring screenwriter, but if no one reads what I write or even knows I exist, what’s the point? Whether it’s tweeting or Facebooking my latest blog post, or giving people a sneak peek at my new book cover, or getting immediate feedback on anything I’ve written (whether journalistic in nature or fiction), I have people who know who I am thanks to Facebook and especially Twitter. In “the olden days,” people didn’t know who a writer was, necessarily, until they saw a book in a bookstore or on a library shelf that intrigued them, and then they’d read the blurb about the author on the back cover and that’s all they’d know. We Average Joes certainly couldn’t connect with television or movie screenplay writers, nor with their fellow novelists. Now, we can.

These days social media not only brings into the spotlight authors who aren’t already bestselling novelists, but it also allows them to communicate directly with those who read their work. My personal blog at authorcdavis.com gives people a way to find out more about me as a person (if they care to), if through no other way than seeing what it is I blog about. My work on Hawaii Five-0 Online shows off a different skillset, and social media is crucial to the success of websites like that.

I don’t know how other authors feel about social media pressuring them, but I do know that I have an awful lot of fellow authors who follow me on Twitter and whom I also follow, which tells me that lots of them are using it. Personally, the only pressure I face as a writer is whatever pressure I put myself under. If people don’t like what I’m writing, I love that they can tell me in 140 characters or less how much it sucked. If they think it rocked, it’s great fun to get that feedback as soon as they’ve finished the last sentence of the book. For an author to connect with their fans is for an author to find and keep their audience – the people who will keep coming back to their work time and time again. I’d much rather know what people are thinking and feeling about what I write, than get some stodgy report sent to me every six months telling me how many copies of something have sold. It’s personal, it’s real and it’s how I keep my finger on the pulse of whatever it is I’m doing.

What sort of process do you have for maintaining your blog? Frequency of updates, subjects, etc?

There we go with the process thing again. (laughs) My process is that I don’t have one. At all. Generally speaking, I write a blog post when a subject comes up that I want to talk about. At first, I was trying to post one new thing every day, but it’s difficult to maintain that kind of schedule around a day job and with all the other writing projects I have going on at any given time. So once again, I had to choose what to spend my time on, and unless an idea or event presents itself that I feel strongly enough about, I don’t push myself to update according to a certain schedule.

To be continued…

I look forward to see you Eyeballers here again tomorrow, when in the final part of the interview Chris shares some exciting news about Takers 2 and 3, and how it feels to write about the more erotic side of her character’s vampiric nature.