Vampire writer, Tony-Paul de Vissage, talks about his latest release, The Night Man Cometh
AUTHOR: Tony-Paul de Vissage
BOOK TITLE: The Night Man Cometh
PUBLISHER: Class Act Books
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I was born in Georgia, and am of Huguenot French descent. The original family name was “de Vissage” so that is the one I use as my pen name. Only child, so spoiled and pampered but at the same time, lonely because I had no siblings. College educated. I’ve done stage work, been a doctor’s assistant, and done other assorted occupations. Not much else to tell.
I’ve never wanted to write about anything other than vampires, and I like to say that the reason is because I was kidnapped by a trio of nightstalkers who got lost on Savannah Beach and were so intrigued by the fact that I didn’t fear them that they asked me to become their biographers. The actual truth is that my mother was a moviegoer and dragged me to the cinema at least four times a week where I was exposed to various genre of films, including Dracula’s Daughter. That one stuck with me. I was intrigued and at the same time, slightly repulsed by the idea of a creature living while also dead, and when I decided to start writing, I homed in on what I remembered from that particular movie.
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
The Night Man Cometh is a traditional vampire tale. It begins in the time of the Black Death and goes from there to the far-distant future. I decided to forego having my story just set in the present. After all, if the vampire is immortal, why shouldn’t he go past the current time into a future one?
Damian la Croix chooses the bite of an Undead over dying of the Plague and attempts to take his best friend and his sweetheart with him. Things go wrong however, and his beloved Antoinette perished, leaving Damian to walk his path through the centuries alone. Along the way, he meets many whom he tries to entice to follow him, but in one way or another, he always loses them to the True Death. Nevertheless, he never wishes for his own demise, or regrets his choice. He’s a vampire and wouldn’t be otherwise. He simply is sorry that he can’t find someone brave enough to accompany him.
How long have you been writing?
Only a short time. Since 2006.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
From the time I was small, I’ve scribbled stories in my near-illegible writing, in notebooks, and on loose leaf paper. Being from the South, I was inundated with ghost stories and tales of “hants” for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I can recall, sitting outside on Hallowe’en. We’d build a bonfire and sit on an old felled tree and tell ghost stories while clouds scudded over the moon and the wind blew through the pine trees skirting the cornfield. (And if that doesn’t give an atmosphere ripe for writing a vampire novel, I don’t know what does!)
My first novel was Dark God Descending, currently out of print but soon to be re-released. I was reading The Encyclopedia of Gods, which had a section on Mayan and Aztecs gods and goddesses, and when I saw that there were quite a few who were equivalent to vampires, I thought, “Why not write a novel about a Mayan vampire?” So I did. It got some pretty favorable reviews, too.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I just think about it for a few days. Get the characters straight in my head—name, rank, and serial number, so to speak. Then, sit down and start pounding the keyboard.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
The plot, most definitely. Usually just an inkling which suddenly begins to grow until the entire story has blossomed.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
In The Night Man Cometh, it was definitely Damian I felt sorry for. Here is this guy who’s escaped death, intending to bestow immortality on his betrothed so they can be together for eternity, and something goes wrong, and he’s left alone. Not only that, but every time he thinks he’s found someone to take her place, that one dies one way or another, too. I was beginning to think the poor fellow was going to be solitary forever. In fact, in the novel, Damian has one section where he rants and raves about his phenomenally bad luck with women. Here he is—handsome, rich, young-looking—and he can’t get a girl! He likens his life to a very bad soap opera.
Since Damien is a traditional vampire, I refused to have him be filled with angst about his Undead condition. No wishing he could again be human and mortal, nothing like that. He wanted to be a vampire, and he got his wish, and he wouldn’t change it for anything. He just doesn’t like being alone. Eventually, the reader should start to feel a certain sympathy, even empathy, for him.
Well, he’s vampire, so he’s supposed to be inherently evil, and he does do some pretty horrendous things in the story, but with each century that passes, he gets another chance, and eventually, it starts to look like, “Here we go again…”
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding time to write it.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
It takes anywhere from 2 weeks (yes, really!) to a couple of months to write a book, considering the length of the story and what type of research I have to do. In Night Man, since it encompassed so many different eras, I was continually looking up clothing styles, social etiquette, types of weapons, and various historical events to incorporate into the story to give it an “authentic” feel.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
Since most of my heroes are usually foreign (to begin with), I generally have them spouting off in their native language once in a while, so I try my best to make certain I have them saying what I intend for them to say and not something completely different (even if no one attempts to translate it). So far, I’ve had quite a few invectives in French, German, Romanian, Hungarian, and even Transylvanian.
Describe your writing space.
Just a computer desk loaded with screen, Mac Mini, a ZIP drive, copier, several empty coffee cups, a hand-made clay cup filled with pencils, and a stack of paper which is held down by Batty, my Beanie Baby vampire bat. Over my desk is a map of the world in case I need to check out the location of a country or some other geographical item. I also have a bookcase filled with reference books, such as a thesaurus, a couple of dictionaries, a Bible, the aforementioned Encyclopedia of the Gods, The Encyclopedia of Faeries, The Pill Book, Dictionary of Film and Movie Terminology, Bound editions of Marvel Comics’ Tomb of Dracula, a set of Laurel Hamiilton’s Anita Blake graphic novels, Bulfiinsh’s Mythology, and The New Classical Handbook.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Eat. No, I joke. Believe it or not, I like to read (while I’m eating). I have a Palm Pilot e-reader, and I load it with novels and when insomnia strikes, I sit in bed and read or play Solitaire or Free Cell on it. I like mysteries, horror, and anything that has snappy repartee or satire in it. I also like to watch TV, especially shows on the SyFy channel or series like Fringe, The River, Supernatural and those two new ones…Once upon a Time and Grimm. If it’s paranormal, I’ll watch it at least once. I held out on The Vampire Diaries for a whole season because I was afraid it would be a Twilight knock-off, but once I tuned in, I was h*o*o*k*e*d! That Damon…he’s my kind of vamp!
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Bram Stoker, of course. I’ve read some of his other writings besides Dracula, and while I think it’s the best of them, he could weave a pretty good tale that didn’t have a vampire in it, too. I imagine it had a lot to do with his being associated with the theater in his working-life. I like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden. Who knew Chicago was such a paranormal place? It gives New Orleans a run for the money! Harry’s exploits show how to walk that fine line between normal and supernatural. And I like JD Robbs’s Eve Dallas series about police work in a future New York. It’s a pretty good idea of what police work may be like only a score of years in the future.
In one way or another, they’ve helped me to write what I do.
What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
I think paper books will always be with us, even if they end up becoming rarities in a museum or items only the rich can afford just to be able to say they own a “real” book, but I’m certain, for inexpensiveness and convenience, the e-book is also here to stay. It’s much easier to put an e-reader in a hip pocket or purse than it is a hardcover, or even a paperback. I take my Palm with me whenever I know I’m going to have to sit and wait. It’s the size of a cell phone.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?
At the moment, I’ve only two on the market: Vampires are Forever and The Night Man Cometh. Vampires are Forever is also a traditional vampire story, but it has a dash of irony and satire in it to keep it from being routine. They were both released by Class Act Books.
I’ve two or three which are being considered by publishers, and I just signed a contract for an (so-far) 8-volume vampire series called The Second Species. (Plenty of Transylvanian expletives in these!) The first three books are finished and are scheduled for Jan-Feb, 2013.
What is your marketing plan?
The usual…any way I can use the Internet to put my books before the public eye.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
If you’re serious about being a writer, then develop a thick skin and keep on keepin’ on.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a website, A Splash of Scarlet, where I post guest blogs, book reviews, and trailers: http://www.tony-paul.com/
I’m also on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/505918625
Youtube: YouTube Link for Night Man: http://youtu.be/VAo8JOhrjqw
I contribute now and then to various writers’ loops, also.
Blurb for The Night Man Cometh:
Limousin, France, 1249… The Black Death rages and Faith is abandoned in the search to survive.
Limousin, France, 1249: Damian, son of le Marquis la Croix loses his soul as he willingly chooses the kiss of a sansmort rather than perish of the Plague. Welcoming his Undeath with open arms, Damian seduces his betrothed Antoinette and his best friend Armand into the darkness also but something goes wrong and Antoinette perishes at her beloved’s hands. Through Mankind’s long centuries, many women and one man cross his path, respond to his enticements, and have to make the choice…for when the Night Man Cometh, Death is never far behind.
The Night Man Cometh…
A return to the traditional vampire, who never apologizes for what he is.
“There.” It was an ordinary door, looking much like those in the rest of the apartment, though it had a wide, curved utilitarian handle rather than a doorknob.
“And you say he’s been in there for nearly a week?”
“Five days, sir.” The valet nodded.
“With no nourishment other than wine?”
“Wine…and his own specially-bottled blood.”
“There’s no other way out? No windows or any way to let light in?” Dom studied the door carefully.
“Sir, you don’t think…” Jean-Louis stopped, swallowed and shook his head. “We call it a cellar, but it’s just another room in the apartment, specially built to stay cool and dark. For the…liquid.”
“That’s good then.” Domingo squared his shoulders and walked toward the door. “Gracias, I’ll take over from here.”
“Thank you, sir.” Jean-Louis stepped back, turning to the hallway. Just before walking out, he looked back. “Get him out of that, sir. Please.”
Domingo waited until the valet was gone before striking the door with his fist.
“Dami, it’s Dom.” No answer. He waited a few moments, then knocked again. “You may as well open the door. I’ve nothing to do for the next month and I can stay right here until you open up.”
There was silence. Then, he heard a shuffling, the click of a lock and the door slowly swung open. There were no lights inside that he could see but he had no need of any. He could see just as well as if the room were illuminated. Domingo stepped into the darkness. It was cold inside, as well as being dark. The entire room was nothing more than a refrigeration unit, set at 53 degrees, the proper temperature for storing wine. In the back of his mind came the thought, That’s much too hot for blood storage. How does Dami get around that?
Immediately the door shut again. Dom turned. Damien was standing near the door, a very changed Damien. His hair was unkempt and damp, hanging in his face. It looked as if someone had poured something very wet and sticky over it. He was wearing a silk shirt that once had been white but was now wilted and bedraggled, tails hanging out of his trousers, the front splashed with stains of varying shades of red. Both wine and blood, Dom decided, if the stink of alcohol and metallic tang of hemoglobin floating to him were any indication.
“What do you want?” It was asked in a rusty croak as Damien took a single staggering step toward him and stopped. He held a bottle, raising it to his mouth as he spoke. Liquid splashed and spattered.
“I think you know.” Dom dared to reach out and snatch the bottle from him. “That’s enough of that. Good God, Dami, what are you trying to do? Kill yourself?”
“Never heard of a sansmort dying of alcohol poisoning,” came the slurred answer. Damien was so drunk he didn’t even wince at the Name. “Or of too much blood.”
“So you want to be the first? Who knows what a combination of the two might do? Especially if taken in large quantities.” Dom looked around at the room, saw what looked like a walk-in freezer, its door flung wide among shelves built into the walls. So he has a separate freezer for blood. Keeping it at 4-C, he imagined. Both shelves and freezing unit were nearly empty now.” How much did you have stored here anyway?” He glanced down at the floor. “About six dozen bottles, if all these empties are any indication.”
“Seven, but who’s counting?”
“You should be! Do you really think it’s going to help? This…liquid self-immolation?”
“She’s dead, Dom.”
“As we’re all painfully aware.” He couldn’t keep the irritation out of his voice. Give me strength to be understanding! “Humans die all the time, Dami.”
“I could’ve saved her.”
“I didn’t really love her, but…she was Konstancza’s descendant, Dom. I should’ve done it because of that. I could’ve gotten my Stanczi back. Kept her with me this time.” He pulled the bottle from Dom’s hand, slugging down the rest of its contents before it could be retrieved. It overflowed his mouth, dripping down his throat onto his collar. Wide crimson rosettes spread onto his shoulders. “But no. I had to be noble…”
The bottle crashed against the wall as Damien slung it. Shards of glass slid down the wall, trickling to the floor and mingling with the wine.
“I’ve been searching all my immortal life for a woman to love. I thought I’d accepted I’d never find her and then… In Alysse, I thought I had, because she wanted so to live. Instead…” Raising his head, Damien stared at the ceiling. His eyes seemed to glow in the dark with a damp luminescence. “I’m the world’s biggest loser, Dom. Nothing but a damned supernatural soap opera…” He swung his arm wide, intoning in a sarcastic imitation of a holocast announcer. “Welcome, dear friends, to another episode of Damien’s Search for Happiness!…asking the infinitely stupid question, Will our hero ever find someone to accompany him through eternity? And also the very obvious answer: Not bloody likely!”
A low chuckle, so grief-filled it chilled Domingo’s bones floated to him. It ended in a fit of coughing which died in a sob.
“Remember that old joke back in the Twenty-first century? If you’re the girlfriend, wife, or best friend of the hero, don’t expect to last past the First Act? Story of my life, mon ami. Over and over and over… I’m a failure…and it’s taken Alysse’s death to make me finally accept it. For real, this time.”