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 Three: 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:
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.
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!
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.