Hey, folks. I’m Joe, and I’m a vampire – not by choice, mind you, but by accident…a fate-twisting, fang-creating, blood lust-inducing misunderstanding. It started with a group date, a case of mistaken identity and far too many sake bombers, and ended with a ridiculous set of circumstances that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around.
Maybe you can tell: I’m not real happy about it. But I’m certainly not going to let it get in the way of my life.
So I’ve thrown my ranting into a blog. I’m hanging out my dirty laundry in an effort to explain the real deal about being a card-carrying member of the Undead Elite. Believe me, it’s not all satin capes and naked ladies…none of it is, actually. Instead, it’s just one nasty little surprise after another. The truth bears exposing, and I’m pulling back the curtain on all of it. If I can figure out how to keep it from mowing me over in the process, then that’s groovy, too.
And that thing about vampires sparkling in the sun?
That is a bunch of bull.
Joe Vampire… a solid novel. And it’s not so much a novel, really, as it is a… blog. Steven Luna chose to tell the story of Joe Vampire through the words of a vampire blog, and it was all very… brilliant, actually.
I found it to be kind of… gross, at times – the whole vampirism thing (in Luna’s eyes) told from a realistic, man point of view. But it was very real, I mean Joe was this real kind of guy – not some romantic sap of a man – but a real guy and this was a real vampire blog. And I think we, as readers, can take something from the realistic nature of it all. It felt like we could be counted as intelligent people when reading this book, like there’s some guy out there writing this blog that is going through real life like the rest of us, not just being a vampire. Luna makes the relationships work through friends, family, love – and he doesn’t back down for anything. I think he’s an excellent writer.
Which is why I was so happy to get a chance to participate in a short Q&A with him. Friends of Geeks Unleashed, please welcome Steven Luna.
As I like to say, “for the sake of interview material”, tell us something about yourself.
I’m a suburban dude from Phoenix with awesome kids and a fantastic wife who writes silly stories for fun and profit. I like candy a lot. No…like, a LOT. I’ve written since I was a kid, and started writing novels about seven years ago…those were all for middle-grade readers. When I had spotty luck securing an agent, I put writing aside in favor of other creative stuff. Last September, the idea for Joe Vampire came to mind, so I started him up as a character blog before shifting back into novel mode. I self-published him in February of this year, and was picked up by the awesome Booktrope Publishing in March.
Joe Vampire doesn’t follow the myths of any of the vampire stories told before it. In fact, it’s an entirely original take on the vampire culture. So, why vampires?
When I was concocting Joe’s story, I tried to classify “vampire” as more of a circumstance than a mythology, something supremely challenging for my main character to be stuck with, yet also fully ridiculous so he could really dig in and make fun of it. Rather than being a lifestyle or something wholly supernatural for him, it turns out to be an affliction that he’s trying to keep under control. This gave me something to play with that could be treated both sympathetically and humorously. That’s my favorite story mode: characters dealing with difficult situations in a touching and funny way.
What was it like, creating a character – a real person – that so many people can relate to? You obviously must have a great sense of humor to have written Joe. Is he like you? Do you yourself relate to him?
Joe is definitely a voice that I affect, and though he’s not too far off from my own, he isn’t entirely me. His take on life is a little more jaded than mine is, obviously…I’ve never been a vampire, so I don’t have quite the same angle. But the reason for crafting the story in blog-style was to create a study of a character who could totally be someone the reader might know, who’s just writing anonymously about his challenges. The most convincing way I could think to do that was to write a character who was pretty close to me. His humor is definitely my humor – we definitely share the snark – and that made it very easy to just pick a topic and roll with it in a funny way. And a lot of the office interaction in the story – the Halloween parade post especially – is based on actual people and events…might be hard to believe, but all of it is totally true.
What inspires you to write? Do you have a favorite author? A book you read over and over again?
I’m inspired by real people in ridiculous situations with an element of magic or fantasy. I look for those situations in everyday life and spin them off into “what if” territory. Usually they have a humorous edge, and there’s almost always mention of music in some manner in them. For this reason, I’m really fond of Christopher Moore’s humor and storytelling. Oddly though, for as adult as my recent work has been, the majority of my influences are from middle-grade and children’s fiction, mostly because I was so focused on that age group when I started writing novels. I feel like I learn from them every time I re-read them. In particular, I’ve read the works of Frances Hardinge several times; Fly By Night should be considered a classic among children’s lit. And Holes by Louis Sachar and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl never fail to amuse. And everyone should own at least one book by David Sedaris. That guy is hilarious.
What’s next for you and Joe Vampire?
Joe’s got a sequel called Joe Vampire: The Afterlife coming up later this fall; he fires up the blog again and blabs a little more about being an Undead American. And there’s another character I’m working on – a rock star alien abductee – who’ll be publishing his auto-memoir-graphy in spring 2013. Then Joe gets a third act, hopefully sometime next summer, and I just started working on a YA novel that I hope to have out sometime soon as well.
Thank you so much to Steven for the interview opportunity. Please check out Joe Vampire on Amazon. Also, feel free to connect with Steven on his blog, Goodreads, Facebook, or @joevampireblog on Twitter.