Jul 20, 2010

Susan Hubbard - Interview and Contest

Patricia's Vampire Notes welcomes Susan Hubbard Professor of English at the University of Central Florida and author of the critically acclaimed Ethical Vampire Series.  In July The Season of Risks, book three, was published by Simon and Schuster. In the following interview Susan tells us about this extraordinary series and the vampires in it. [See contest details at end of post]


This contest had ended

PVN: You have created a quite unusual vampire world, please tell PVN readers about it.

In my world, some vampires are the good guys. Others are decidedly not. Rather than depend upon blood and gore and sex, my books incorporate references to philosophy, politics, and literature—but they are still scary and entertaining, I'm told, and some readers have developed strong love or hate relationships with the characters. My vampires can choose whether to drink blood or rely on supplements; they have the ability to turn invisible, hear others' thoughts, and see language and numbers in color. They all wear sunscreen, of course. They thrive on raw oysters, mineral water, and a mysterious aperitif called Picardo.

PVN: Tell us about Ariella.

My main character is, her father tells her in The Society of S, "thirteen going on thirty." Home-schooled by her father, Ari knows a great deal about math, science, and the arts, but very little of the "real world," and even less about her family. Does her father really have lupus? And what does he really do in the basement?

Ari's journey to discover who she is, and what happened to her mother, shapes the plot of the first book. In the second, The Year of Disappearances, she moves on to college in Georgia at the age of fourteen, tries to solve a murder, and meets a politician running for the U.S. presidency. The new book, The Season of Risks, follows her complicated romance with that politician and her family's move to Ireland. Identity theft, age modification, and the dangers of social networking are important plot elements.

PVN: Can you give us a preview of what will happen next in the series?

Mayhem. The next book opens in Ireland with a wedding and ends in Florida with a funeral.

PVN: This series has scientific and paranormal elements. How would you categorize it?

The term "speculative fiction" describes the books best, I think. My characters are complicated, three-dimensional figures confronting realistic problems—but they have special needs and powers, and they coexist with vampires, ghosts, and zombies.

PVN: Why is the series named Ethical Vampire?

In my world, vampires fall into three general categories—Sanguinists, Colonists, and Nebulists. Only the Sanguinists are consistently mindful of ethics. They're concerned with how decisions made today might affect the long-term future for vampires and mortals alike.

PVN: What are some of the books that influenced you as a young reader?

I loved a book called Loretta Mason Potts by Mary Chase. It's about an odd girl—an outsider in her own family—who finds an entry into a secret world where she is treated like a princess. Also loved The Secret Garden and The Poor Little Rich Girl. And I devoured the Judy Bolton mystery series; she was a girl reporter/detective, but SO much more interesting than Nancy Drew (too much of a goody-goody for me).

PVN: What is your writing environment like?

It varies. I travel with a laptop computer, which means I write in a range of places. My favorite place to write is my study in Cape Canaveral, which overlooks the Banana River. No phone, and one small TV that I rarely switch on.

PVN: How does teaching influence your writing (or does it?)

My students give me ideas and feedback all the time, and I try to do the same for them. It's great to be able to discuss complicated questions with them. Writing workshops allow us to talk about almost anything as we review manuscripts. I'm rarely bored.

PVN: What are your passions outside of teaching and writing?

Reading, of course. I love to travel, and I like to walk for miles. I collect oddities: visual oxymorons, if you will. Cats collect my husband and me; we take in strays. A portion of the new book's proceeds will go to Alley Cat Allies, a charity that has the long-term interests of feral cats at heart. We support a range of other nonprofit organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife and Save the Manatees.

One more passion: I detest, and cannot tolerate, bullying of all forms.

PVN: How can readers contact you?

More information about the books is available at www.susanhubbard.com and www.seasonofrisks.com
Readers may reach me on Facebook or at thesocietyofs@yahoo.com

Thank you so much, Susan!

Read a review of The Season of Risks


Susan is offering a signed copy of
The Season of Risks to one lucky reader.

Ask Susan a question (only one, please) - 1 chance

You may also:

*Link to this contest on any of the social network sites, including Twitter, or your own web page. Let me know the url:  One chance for each link.

*If you are a Google follower (see sidebar on right): One chance

*If you are a member of the PVN Facebook page: One chance

*If you are an email subscriber: One chance

Contest is open WORLWIDE!

Contest ends July 27, 2010




buddyt said...

I am curious. Have any of your students gone on to become published authors?

If so in what genre ?

The series sounds different and interesting and I would like to try it.


Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

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debbie said...

I would like to know, what is the most unusual thing that inspired you, and what did it inspire?
This is a new series, but it sounds unique from other books. I would like to read it.
I am a gfc follower.

Giada M said...

Great interview! Susan, I'm curious... have you ever kept a dream journal for inspiration?

Thank you for making this awesome giveaway international! :)

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Giada M.

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SandyG265 said...


Why did you choose raw oysters as the food your vampires can eat?

GFC follwer

Tore said...

Great giveaway. The book sounds very interesting. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

Julie said...

Does lore and mythology inspire your work, or do you create your own rules for your paranormal characters?

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Anonymous said...

yes, Carol, several of my students have gone on to publish--mostly literary fiction. Steve Cushman has two novels, and Juan Martinez has published several short stories, including two in Glimmertrain.

susan said...

Debbie, I once met the devil in Glastonbury, England, which inspired a scene in The Society of S.

Bethany C. said...

I love that you take in kitties; I wish we could take in more. How many do you generally have at one time?

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susan said...

Glada, perceptive question! I always keep a dream journal. Most of my fiction-writing begins with a dream.

susan said...

Sandy, I have a great fondness for raw oysters--and describing how they taste was a real challenge, when I wrote The Society of S. Oysters have become a staple in the vampire diet, and I begin to worry that there are too many of them in The Season of Risks!

susan said...

Hi, Julie,

Yes, lore fascinates me. Virtually every culture has its own vampire myths, and I used a Japanese vampire tale in The Season of Risks. But I also depart from vampire conventions in many ways. My vamps can go out in sunlight, can hear thoughts, can turn invisible, and see language and numbers in color.

susan said...


We have five cats at the moment. Sadly, we lost two members of our cat family this year. The vet bills are amazing.....

katsrus said...

Hi Susan. Does music inspire any of your writing? I love finding vampire books that are differant from others. Yours sounds really interesting.
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Sue B

susan said...

Hi, Sue,

Yes, music is important to me and to the books. Two Fridays ago I was a guest on a local FM radio show, and the host asked me for a playlist of songs that inspired my writing. The list included songs by Dead Can Dance, Joy Division, Damian Marley, Ancestral Diet, Magda Pucci, My Bloody Valentine, and Caethua.

Susan Blexrud said...

Just when I thought I knew everyone in Orlando who writes about vampires...HELLO, Susan!!!
I'm a UCF grad (Journalism)and a published writer of paranormal fiction. I'll be in Orlando on October 9 to give my presentation "Writing About Vampires" at a Central Florida Romance Writers of America event. Would love to meet you when I'm in town. I'm fascinated by your ethical vampires as well as some of your early reads. Say hello to Joan McCain for me! I'm a PVN follower, and I'll post to my Facebook! Here's my question...Is there no end to this vampire craze?

Ladytink_534 said...

If you could have your characters visit another author's (or TV/film) world where would you like them to go and who would they visit while there?

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susan said...

Hello, Susan,

Small world! Email me--we'll have to meet when you're in town.
As for your question: vampires are eternal, after all ;-)

susan said...

Cool question, Ladytink! So many enticing options..... But my charcters' first choice would be to "come out of the box" on The Colbert Report. :-0

Sandy Rainey said...

Hi, Susan. Your books are among my absolute favorites. In a genre that's become dismayingly cookie-cutter in nature, you are a total original. My question is this: Sometimes I have seen your books classified as young adult literature. Do you think of them in that way? Was that your original intention?

Thank you for keeping my interest in vampire books alive (undead?)!

Sandy Rainey

susan said...


Thanks so much for the kind words.

I didn't have a particular readership in mind when I wrote The Society of S. Two editors were interested in the manuscript--one wanted to market it as YA, one as general fiction--and I decided to go with the second one, not entirely for that reason alone.

Since then, the books have been published in more than fifteen countries (I truly can't keep track). In England and in Germany, they were marketed as Young Adult fiction; I'm not sure how they were marketed in Spain, Taiwan, Russia, and elsewhere.

Book clubs in middle schools, high schools, colleges, and senior centers alike have read the Ethical Vampire series. I'm very happy to have a diverse readership.

all best,


catslady said...

Have you ever considered another genre or a blending of genres?


Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Patricia and Susan!

The mythos for your series sounds fresh and new.... Did anything spark this idea? (interest world and a class society to boot)

Please enter me!


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Meredith said...

So why are your vampires so different than the blood, sex, and gore types? What influenced this decision? I think it sounds very original.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

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Aik said...

Hi Susan, I'd like to know some of your favourite books - have they inspired you in your writing?

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aikychien at yahoo dot com

susan said...

Hi, catslady,

If you're referring to the traditional genres (poetry, fiction, nonfiction): I haven't tried blending those genres, although I have graduate students who are experimenting in their theses with mixing poetry and fiction, for instance.

If you meant genres such as romance, historical, sci-fi, and so on: yes, I consider my latest books a blend of literary and horror/gothic elements--what Margaret Atwood calls "speculative fiction."

Good question! Thanks.


p.s. And two of my earlier novels, written as satirical novels of manners, were marketed as "chick lit."

susan said...

Dottie and Meredith,

Your questions seem to both address something that's hard for me to define--that is, what influences provoked the books' take on society and vampires.

I've always been fascinated by "outsiders," people who don't identify with, and live outside, a social mainstream. And I'm fully committed to fostering understanding and tolerance. Vampires are wonderful metaphors for outsiders, and using them as characters in an otherwise realistic fictional world let me explore some of the tensions of our own world.

Hope that makes sense. And thanks for asking good questions!


susan said...

Hello, Aikychien,

My list of favorite books is long, but a few come immediately to mind as influences on this series:
Daphne du Maurier's short stories (particularly THE APPLE TREE collection), Somerset Maugham's THE MAGICIAN, Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems, and of course Bram Stoker's DRACULA.

And I should add that when I was ten or eleven, I read Mary Chase's wonderful book, LORETTA MASON POTTS, which haunted me for years afterward.

All of these works blend realism with the macabre.

Thanks for asking!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi, Susan! Nice to see an urban fantasy author teaching the writing craft.

No need to enter me, ladies. Patricia had asked me to post this at Win a Book, so I did. I'm dropping in to let her know it's up.

If we can ever help you, Susan, drop us a line. We're all about connecting books and the people who write them with readers.

susan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Susan. And yes, I'm always glad to find new ways to connect with readers.


misskallie2000 said...

Hi Susan, Enjoyed your interview and all the fun facts about you. I am wondering why you chose GA for your heroine to go to school? I live in GA. Can't wait to read and have put on my wish list.

Thanks for this great giveaway and the opportunity to enter.

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misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

susan said...

Hi there, Miss Kallie,

Well, all three of the books have featured Savannah, and two were partially set in Tybee Island as well, so GA seemed a natural choice. Plus, I wanted to set scenes in THE YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCES in the Okefenokee Swamp, so it helped to have Ari's school near by.

The real answer? I happen to love GA, from the sultry summers to Savannah's squares to the wonderful accents. I wish I had a GA accent--then I could rule the world!

Thanks for your comment.


booklover0226 said...


What is your opinion on book trailers? Do you think they help in book sales?

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Tracey D
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Lisa R said...

Hey Susan,
What are your feelings about ebooks and ereaders? Do you think they will eventually totally replace the printed books?(not in my lifetime!)

I am a GFC follower- Lisa Richards


I a member of the PVN Facebook page-Lisa Ann Richards

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Vyrdolak said...

Question: Susan, I really like your series and your take on vampires. Question: is Ari's school in *The Year of Disappearances* based on a real life academy or institution (or more than one)? It reminded me of Hampshire College, for ex.

I'd love to win a copy of *The Season of Risks,* so:
retweeted, http://twitter.com/Vyrdolak
posted on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/Vyrdolak?v=wall
I'm a member of the PVN Facebook Page

I think that's four chances. :-)

donnas said...

Hi Susan! Thanks for sharing, it sounds like a great book. I just picked up The Society of S and now am super excited to read it.

What is the best part of writing with paranormal elements?

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allisonsbj3 said...

Where do you draw your inspiration from?


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Jennifer said...

I just got 2 of your books, Starting them this week. When you started writing did you picture your books becoming movies? If so, any actors you would pick?

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Jennifer H

Terry Mac said...

I enjoyed your interview.
I am curious though, what first piqued your interest in vampires, and why did you chose to develop them the way you did? (ie. some vampires are the good guys, they can take supplements instead of fresh blood...)

I am a google follower

Also a PVN FB member

And a newer email subscriber.

Thank you for hosting this interview and giveaway. Would love to be chosen the lucky winner and add this signed addition to my library.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Patricia Altner said...

Hi Everyone

I'm posting the following for Susan Hubbard who had some problems with the comment area. My thanks to Susan and to everyone who participated in the contest!

From Susan Hubbard:

Whoa, I see some new questions here. Here's an omnibus response. Thanks for asking them!

First, to Tracey D.: I don't know if book trailers are effective, since this one is my first, and the book is too new to interpret sales figures yet. But I love the video--it was made by the very talented Chris Kridler, who is a pal of mine.

Next, to Lisa R.: No, I don't think electronic readers will replace books. But I'm the sort of person who still prefers vinyl records to digital music and still owns typewriters--though I confess I use them seldom, since computers truly did revolutionize the writing process for me. Reading a book is a sensual event--the smell and texture of the paper matter to me.

Hi, Vyrdolak! Hillhouse is actually based on New College in Sarasota and Warren Wilson College near Asheville, NC--not to mention Summerhill in the UK. But I'm a fan of most "alternative" schools.


The best part of incorporating the paranormal in a novel is the freedom to invent and explore a strange new world. Realism just doesn't compare, once you let yourself experience the nouveau strange!


I get inspiration from talking to friends and strangers, eavesdropping in restaurants, and reading publications as varied as the NY Times, Wired, and an assortment of blogs. On my recent book tour, readers gave me so many interesting ideas to explore--two of them actually gave me books to read. Sometimes, being a writer is like going to a very good party every day. Other times, it's no fun at all, I will confess--it's just hard work.

Jennifer, I can see the books as movie(s), and some interest has been expressed in acquiring the film rights. But I haven't even tried to cast these books. I've done that with other books--including the one I"m working on now--but not these. The characters are so vivid to me that they don't resemble any actors I've seen. I'd love to see what a professional casting agent would come up with!

Finally, Terry Mac: I was always interested in vampires as "outsiders", and I want to see outsiders come into positions of power in order to address political, social, and cultural imbalances.

Many thanks to all of you!



Susan Hubbard
Professor of English
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 161346
Orlando, FL 32816