Harry Turtledove, Author of “Under St. Peter’s”

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

It’s about a vampire under St. Peter’s. Saying more would make the story superfluous.

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

The theme of Darrell Schweitzer’s anthology [The Secret History of Vampires, where the story originally appeared] was a secret history involving vampires. I cast about for one, and eventually found the theme in “Under St. Peter’s.”

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

Getting the detail of what’s in St. Peter’s and what’s liable to be under it right was interesting — I’ve never been there (never felt the need before, being Jewish). Fortunately, I had some good guidebooks.

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

More of it probably stems from my academic training than from my personal life.

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

Research on Rome, Vatican City, and St. Peter’s, mostly.

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?

Well, we humans like to think we’re at the top of the food chain. But what if we’re not? Vampire stories also often involve immortality — as this one does — and sex — which this one doesn’t — and both of those are abiding themes to which vampires give a different slant.