Apr 21, 2009

Alex Bledsoe - Interview and Contest

"He's been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives between two big lakes in Wisconsin, writes before six in the morning and tries to teach his two sons to act like they've been to town before. He's published more than fifty short stories on topics as diverse as big-game hunters, mermaids, modern witches, Victorian gentlemen and country musicians."

The quote above comes from Alex Bledsoe's own internet site. Bottom line, IMHO, he's a nice guy, an interesting guy, and a terrific writer! His latest work Blood Groove(Tor, April 28, 2009) is a not-to-be-missed vampire novel.

Today he answers questions from PVN. After reading the interview look for contest information. One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Blood Groove.

PVN: What attracted you to vampires?

: At a visceral level it's the power over us mere mortals. More philosophically, it's fun to envision a consciousness that has developed past the normal human life span. Is nihilism the inevitable result? Does depending on other beings, at the level a vampire must, alter your perspective on what you once were, and currently are? Freed from the constraints of time and biological change, what morality even applies to you? Questions like that fascinate me, and I hope come out in the story.

PVN: What are the attributes of your vampires?

: Stephen King said, apropos of writing "'Salem's Lot," that the brick wall he kept running up against was "Dracula," because it really *is* definitive. Because of that, my vampires have the abilities Stoker gave them, but the twist is that they don't fully know the extent of them; after all, how many of us understand everything about how our own bodies work? So there are still some surprises.

PVN: Baron Rudolfo Zginski - what an interesting fellow - describe this character.

: I wanted to use the Dracula archetype, so I needed an aristocratic, Old World, Eastern European vampire figure. I'd invented Zginski for a short story many years ago; when I began plotting the novel, I realized he fit perfectly with what I wanted to do, which in high-concept terms was "Dracula Meets the Lost Boys."

Zginski's primary characteristic, and his greatest weakness, is his arrogance. It's not so much based on his disdain for others as on his certainty that he is simply better, smarter and stronger than anyone else. He had these qualities as a mortal, and becoming a vampire just amplified them. And the thing is, he *is* smarter and stronger than almost everyone, but that "almost" keeps tripping him up.

PVN: What sort of research did you do for this book?

: I'm old enough to remember the Seventies pretty clearly, and I was 12 in 1975, the year in which the book is set. Most of my research involved locking down whether or not things I recall actually happened before or after this date. Teresa Nelson, the Memphis contact for About.com, was invaluable in helping me verify this. I made one deliberately anachronistic choice (if you spot it, it means you were there), but otherwise tried to get everything as accurate as possible. The trickiest part was recreating the attitudes, which were on the cusp of the feminist and civil rights movements becoming truly mainstream. Lip service was paid to equality as a concept back then, but the reality--especially in the South--retained a lot of the old status quo.

The older historical bits, particularly Zginski's plan to turn a profit on the Irish Potato Famine, required old-fashioned grunt work. Luckily, I enjoy that sort of thing.

PVN: Will there be a sequel to Blood Groove?

: There will be. It's titled "The Girls with Games of Blood," and it puts Zginski between two vampire sisters who have been feuding over men since the Civil War. It will be out in the spring of 2010.

PVN: What authors inspire you?
Alex: In vampire fiction, my taste runs to the classics: "Dracula," LeFanu's "Carmilla," and the long-winded but absurdly fun "Varney the Vampire." In horror fiction I'm a long-standing fan of H.P. Lovecraft, especially "At the Mountain of Madness." In more general fiction I admire Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Andrew Vachss, Ross Macdonald, Robert B. Parker, Charles de Lint and William Faulkner.

PVN: Describe your writing day and what your writing environment is like.

: I'm a stay-at-home parent, so my writing day revolves around my one-year-old son. When he's napping I'm chained to my laptop, and when he's awake, I'm usually editing something with pen and paper. It's a bit chaotic, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

: Anything else you would like to add.

: Blood Groove comes out on April 28th from Tor Books, and on unabridged audio from Blackstone.

PVN: Alex, thanks so much for this interview!

The contest portion is closed.
Now for the Contest information:

One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Blood Groove

For a chance to win do one (or more) of the following:

*Comment on any subject from the interview. Each comment on a different subject counts as an entry.

*Ask Alex a question. Each question counts as an entry.

*Link to Patricia's Vampire Notes and send me the URL or on Twitter use @patriciaaltner in the Tweet. Each link or Tweet counts as an entry.

Be sure to give me your email information so that I will be able to contact you.

The contest will end Friday April 24 at 11:59 PM ET


tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview, I'm always looking for new authors in this genre to read!

Kimberly B. said...

Hi Alex! Hi Patricia! Blood Groove sounds like a terrific book! I'm especially intrigued by the the fact that Zginski seems to be an "old school" style vampire, and (it sounds like)his arrogance stems as much from who he was as a mortal as who he is as a vampire. I'm a big fan of vampire fiction, and I especially love the immortality aspect of it, but it seems that a lot of vampire characters in recent fiction are centuries old, but think like modern people. I guess I'm waiting for a novel that will portray a centuries old vampire with the attitudes and prejudices s/he would have in the time s/he grew up in. Maybe yours is the one?
Anyway, terrific interview, and I'll be waiting to read more from you!

JKB said...

Hi all!

I'm with Kimberly - I'd love to know the particular paranoias that our friend Zginski has ... about humans.

After reading SEB I'm really looking forward to this, so I suppose I'm going to be reading a horror book - for precisely the fourth time in my life!

Great interview!

Bridget said...

Just posted about this on Win A Book. No need to enter me.

bobbi said...

Hi, Patricia, thanks for interviewing Alex - he's a friend, and a very nice, intelligent, interesting guy. I've been waiting for this book for a while and I can't wait to read it. Nice interview, Patricia. I've always thought a 70's era vampire was a great idea and I am thrilled to see the book on shelves.

Pia Veleno said...

You had me at "Dracula meets Lost Boys". Thanks for the interview. I'm looking forward to this one.

Marie said...

I like that the author took the vampire as set out in Dracula and gave it a twist -- that certainly makes it more interesting in my mind. Great interview!


Unknown said...

Hi Alex, Thanks for this excellent interview. I look forward to reading your work and am glad to hear Blood Groove will come out on audio.

Patricia, thanks so much for having Alex as a guest...you do a fabulous job of choosing your authors and of interviewing them.

Unknown said...

I have an insane attraction to vampires too.


Sophie said...

Alex, vampire novels are never my first choice for reading material, but I really enjoyed and heartily recommended The Sword-Edged Blonde, so I am going to go with the flow, so to speak. In about two shakes, here, of a vampire's fangs, I'm going to make sure that my local library has Blood Grove on order!

And if you would like to take a road trip down to Central Illinois to promote your books, we'll be delighted to have you.

Unknown said...

It is fun to think envision living forever.

Vickie said...


I was 15 in '75, so will be on the lookout for the anachronism.

V Winship at aol dot com

Valorie said...

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why people like vampires so much. I'm still not sure, but it does give me a lot to think about to imagine it in terms of what mortality and life becomes to someone who has infinity at their disposal.


Liyana said...

I agree with what you say about being attracted to vampires. I alos think that it's the forbidden fruit syndrome too.


Alex Bledsoe said...

Apologies for not responding to the questions and comments yesterday; had a minor family emergency that took up the whole day.

Thanks to everyone who commented, and especially the folks who've read my first book, The Sword-Edged Blonde. If you read Blood Groove, I hope you'll drop me a line and tell me what you think.

Vickie, the anachronism I mentioned is so specific to the book's time and place, I'm not sure anyone would spot if it they weren't there; and even then, they might not remember it too clearly, if you know what I mean. :-)

Valorie, I've spent a lot of time thinking about that same question. I think one secret is that the vampire, as a literary figure, can represent so many different things: adolescent fear of sexuality (Twilight), women-defiling foreigners (Dracula), even freedom from society's morals (Lestat). So people who "like" vampires may not all actually be "liking" the same thing.

Thanks again to everyone, and to Patricia for having me!

Patricia Altner said...

Good to hear from you, Alex.

Hope all is well!!

Deborah Blake said...

Great interview, Patricia. Interesting questions. I was also 15 in 1975, so I'll see if I can spot that sucker too. I'm not a horror fan (although I like vamp books), but I loved Alex's first book so much, I'm primed to ready anything he comes up with!

Vickie said...

I meant to say that SWORD EDGED BLONDE is on my wishlist as of reading this interview yesterday. Diggin' the title and premise.

Unknown said...

You've won an award. Stop by my blog to collect it:)

Alex Bledsoe said...

Thanks again for all the comments. If you follow this link to my blog, you can view the just-released promotional film for "Blood Groove":


black_magdalene said...

Alex, you mentioned your old-world vampire's arrogance was his greatest fault, but it only barely stops him from tripping up. That honestly reminds me of Doctor Who. This character is the smartest and most clever and unafraid, &c. &c., but sometimes it leads him into situations where normal people would be very stupid to descend. On the other hand, I would say the Doctor's weakness and most "human" feature is his loneliness. He constantly has to have a companion, a reflection for his own action and consciousness. I look forward to meeting your vampire and seeing his interaction with others.

Unknown said...

Hey Patricia! I absolutely LOVE your blog:) You totally deserve it and more!

Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

Loved the interview! The book sounds really interesting.

Does this book belong under a certain category? Such as just a historical non-fiction? Have any romance? Is it a thriller?

Blodeuedd said...

Yes fun interview :D
My attraction to vampires came from, well yea they are hot, and mysterious ;)

Marissa Tavallaee said...

Hi Alex!
I was just wondering your opinion and Stephanie Meyers' vampire series? Would you ever consider making a movie of your books? Thanks, can't wait to read Blood Groove.

Minding Spot said...

LOVE the interview! Not read any books about vampires in the 70's, so looking forward to this one :)

Cinnamon said...

Fantastic blog! I saw a link posted on Book Reviews by JessI love Bledsoe's thoughts on what attracted him to vampires, especially his comment on the mortality of a vampire. On one hand you have an immortal (depending on the storyteller), on the other hand you have a being that is utterly reliant on someone else for their immortality.

I love that he leaves the ability for his vampires to have surprises. It's a nice change on a subject that has been done before. Frankly, he's got a good point. How long have we been studying biology and we still don't fully understand all the limitations of the human body. The same might be true for a vampire, even if they can study themselves in one generation when we take dozens.

Who doesn't love an aristocratic vampire? Really, that's the way they should be, in my opinion.

I love when authors do their research. There's nothing that turns me off from a book more than a glaring inaccuracy.

Ha! What guy wouldn't love to be stuck between two women? ;)

You know, I've always wanted to read Dracula, really the beginning of the vampire stories for me, but I've never found (or made the time). Wow, writing with a toddler! I just try to read with a toddler and even that's practically impossible!

My question: So humans have the ultimate weakness of their humanity. What would you say your vampires' ultimate weakness is?

Also, I posted a link to this post from my blog A Journey of Books and once the contest is over, I'll add a link to your blog from my Book List section.

Llehn said...

I have a fascination with vampires as well! I was wondering, how do you see your book as a Hollywood production e.g. who will direct it, star in it, etc. Thanks!


Alex Bledsoe said...

Hi, everyone. I'll try to catch up on the questions since my last response.

Black Magdalene: interesing comparison vis-a-vis Doctor Who. One crucial difference is that the Doctor often acts out of compassion, and Zginski never does; well, hardly ever.

Jessica: if the book has a category, it's probably straight horror. It's rather graphic in places, which I hope makes the quieter, emotional moments more affecting. There is an element of romance, but it's dark and a bit depraved, as befits the characters.

Marissa: I've only seen the "Twilight" film, although my wife has read the series. It uses the vampire as a metaphor for aspects of teen sexuality: the fear vs. the attraction. I think for its intended audience, that concept has a powerful appeal.

Cinnamon: For me the vampire's greatest weakness is complacency. The sense that they've seen and done it all leaves them vulnerable to the new and unexpected. It's a tendency we all experience in our normal human life span, so it must be even worse after centuries.

Llehn: I'm not sure about casting, except for Zginski: I think Robert Carlyle would be ideal. If you've seen "Ravenous," you'll know what I mean.

Thanks again to everyone for such awesome comments and questions!


Cheryl said...

Great interview! This looks like a great book to use for my Vampire Challenge. I'll be watching for it. Thanks!

Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

I was thrilled to hear I won this! I was very interested in the book and had already put it on my to be purchased list!
thanks Patricia and Alex! :)

Patricia Altner said...


This is the perfect book for your Vampire Challenge!

Hope you have a chance to read it!

If you like - tell the PVN readers more about the challenge. Send it to me and I'll post it.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a great read
please throw my name in for it