Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Author of “The Beautiful, The Damned”

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

It’s an odd sequel to The Great Gatsby, only with vampires

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

For some reason, I reread The Great Gatsby every two or three years whether I need to or not. I love F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing and also read a lot of his short fiction. On one rereading of Gatsby, I realized these people were metaphorical vampires. And that was all I needed to write this.

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

I wanted to suggest Fitzgerald’s style in the writing. I followed the structure of Gatsby in the story. To take a novel and boil it down to essential parts, update it to the late 20th century, and add vampires, all the while being true to the original, was a daunting task.

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

Like Nick Carraway, I am a child of the Middle West, a person who has moved away to a land that’s not quite familiar and people who are a bit strange. I have always seen ties between vampirism and alcoholism (and I am the child of two alcoholics). I dealt with that tie in my novel Sins of the Blood, a vampire book, and I deal with it here too.

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?

Vampires are a powerful metaphor. Twilight is really about teen love and sexual confusion. I’m not sure what some of the vampire romances are about (and refuse to think about it). Urban fantasy vampire stories appeal to that line between sex, love, and danger — and the vampire heroes are often alpha males in the old-fashioned romance version. I find vampires terrifyingly creepy, creatures of their appetites who hide that appetite under the guise of sophistication… like an alcoholic, really.

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

I like my vampires old-fashioned. I had a story in Jeanne Cavelos’s Van Helsing anthology, and had to reread Dracula before I wrote it. I liked the book more than I did when I was a teenager. It’s terrifying, particularly the section with Jonathon Harker in Castle Dracula with the women. (Very sensual too.) For something more modern, I think my favorite current vampire book is Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. It’s the first vampire novel I’ve seen in years that managed to capture the sense of dread that permeates Stoker’s classic.