Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?
“Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu” is a riff off Stoker’s Dracula. It’s told from the perspective of Quincey Morris, the novel’s American cowboy. Of course, my version of the tale is different than Stoker’s, and it involves Morris’ Texas homecoming after the events of Dracula. It’s about demons old and new, on both sides of the pond. It’s also a love story.
What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?
When I first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in college, I had no idea I’d encounter a cowboy from Texas in its pages. I’d grown up on the Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee versions of the Count, so that was certainly a surprise. The character of Morris was definitely open-ended, and I was always interested in doing a story about him. Of course, once I published “Do Not Hasten…”, I heard from Joe Lansdale that he had wanted to do a Quincey Morris story for years, but never quite found the hook he was looking for. Other Texas writers told me the same thing. I was glad to get to the idea before those gents did, because I would have kicked myself if I’d missed the chance.
Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?
Boiling down the characters and events of Dracula in 6,700 words was a tough go by itself. Adding another storyline while I was at it became a real challenge. Let’s just say I didn’t have an opportunity to waste words — which is really how things should play in a Western.
Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?
I’m always fascinated with outsiders. There are two of them in Stoker’s novel — Count Dracula and Quincey Morris. Seeing Morris that way appealed to me. So did writing a love story that challenged the boundaries of life and death… something that could make the jump from Gothic to Western. That’s what I tried to do. The way I moved the story across that map was the essential heartache in Morris’ character, which came to me through the lyrics of “Red River Valley.” That’s where I really found him. And for my money, you can’t find a more authentic slice of heartbreak and longing anywhere than you’ll find in that song.
What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
Let’s just say I wore out a copy of Dracula writing that one.
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?
You know, I could give you one of the usual answers for this. Sex and death, walking the razor’s edge between this world and another — all that stuff. But the longer I write, the more I realize that I’m not interested in thinking that way. To tell you the truth, I’m less and less inclined to try and define the spark that ignites my interest. I’d rather just light the fire and let it burn.
What are some of your favorite examples of vampire fiction, and what makes them your favorites?
Vampires tend to be the whipping boys of horror. It’s easy to make fun of the trash, but there’s so much good work — even if you just narrow the discussion to different versions of Stoker’s essential character in print and on film. Let’s just say I love the Hammer Christopher Lee movies with the feral, brutal Count Dracula… and I love Jack Palance in the Richard Matheson/Dan Curtis version… and I love a whole lot of other stuff, too. Matheson’s I Am Legend, King’s Salem’s Lot, movies like The Night Stalker and Near Dark and (yes) two really underrated Universal Horrors: Dracula’s Daughter and the magnificently noirish Son of Dracula (where a Louisiana Bayou femme fatale actually plays the Count for a sap!). I could go on and on.