Elizabeth Bear, Author of “House of the Rising Sun”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

It’s about a guy who used to be the most famous man in the world, living a life of  — sort of — anonymity — that still has strange echoes of his fame.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

You know, I don’t honestly know what the inspiration was. I just woke up with the idea in my head one morning in 2002, sat down and wrote the entire thing in a day, with lots of pauses to research.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

On one level, it wasn’t challenging at all: it just appeared as if cut of whole cloth. On another, getting the details right was very challenging.

Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I am not sure it is, actually, except in terms of the themes expressed. For me, thematically, all of my stories are personal — they’re all the kind of narratives that give me a strong emotional response — but they’re generally not personal with regard to subject matter. I’m not a confessional writer.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

That would probably give the game away, but let’s just say that I know a lot more about the history of blues, gospel, and rock and roll than I used to.

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?

Not a clue. I’m actually not all that interested in vampires qua vampires, although I use them as a metaphor and plot device fairly frequently. They’re much like any other mythological monster to me — they serve a narrative purpose. I find dragons and kelpies much more personally evocative.

What are some of your favorite examples of vampire fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

I like Steven Brust’s Agyar an awful lot, because it’s a clever and beautifully written character study that, for me, has great pathos.