Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?
It’s a divine comedy in any number of senses.
What’s was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?
A couple of triggers, I imagine: I’m a great fan of hard-boiled fiction — Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler through Robert Parker to Lee Child. I’m also a romantic (in both senses of the word). In the 90’s I wrote a godawful novel (manuscript long since lost) about the Oldest Vampire as Christ’s brother, what his life might be like 2000 years later, and what if he wanted to “turn human?” What would his great-great-great-grandchildren do, especially the ones helping run the Vatican? And, like many, when life’s not going the way I want it to, I find the hand of God sneaky and manipulative even when all’s well that ends well, as any divine comedy does.
Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?
No. Our hitman and his voice took it where it was meant to go, as often happens in first-person.
Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?
I love Italy and the Christian iconography I grew up with, love to play with it in fiction, and don’t think vampires have always been given a fair shake, and in another lifetime would love to meet the Oldest One’s Sienese girlfriend and give up being a hitman for her. (She’s no Buttercup, but true love is true love.)
What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
Some Vatican history, geography and staffing, but that was back in the 90’s for that godawful novel. Nothing for this story. What I hadn’t lived by visiting and exploring, imagination — and the heart — took care of.
What is the appeal of vampire fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?
I’m absolutely no expert on vampire fiction (for that, ask my good friend Patricia Geary), but I suspect Christianity flipped to its dark alter-self (in communion we do drink blood, and we’re promised immortality, so in one sense vampirism is communion and immortality but without God’s grace, right?) plays a role in the attraction, as does the neo-Romantic gothic feel of it. Beyond that I’m not sure.
What are some of your favorite examples of vampire fiction, and what makes them your favorites?
For some reason all of the vampire fiction I’ve read in my life — and again, there are writers who’ve read ten times what I’ve read (and it shows in their fiction) — is, in my memory, a single story without authors. I’m not being coy or puckish; I mean it. Whoever’s telling it will keep telling it until a great voice says “Stop!” but that won’t be for a while, I’m sure.