So – normally I jabber on in here about what I’m up to and share my random thoughts. I’m SUPER excited to change things up today because I have a guest visitor! M.D. Neu stopped by for a chat because we both share an interest in gay supernatural stories! Here’s a Q&A for you to enjoy!
Damian Serbu (DS): As you and I have discussed, we both love Anne Rice and find inspiration from her. In writing The Calling, how do you think she helped to give you a vision for your own story?
M. D. Neu (MDN): Anne Rice is amazing and I adore her. That said, when I read Interview with the Vampire I wondered how a vampire, or vampires, could exist in our world. Don’t get me wrong she does an amazing job, but even back then when I read the book in the 80s I kept wondering if bodies were found drained of blood or someone caught something on film how could they stay concealed. Especially if the bodies piled up. Now, fast forward to today and it would be impossible to get away with it. One video uploaded to YouTube or any social media site and the gig would be up. So, there was that aspect of her story I wanted to address in my own work.
On a more positive note Interview with The Vampire gave me my first family that showed two men raising a child. Yes, they are a screwed-up family, but it was still there and that was remarkable. That was the first time I had ever seen a gay couple in a vampire story. Yes, I know it wasn’t every called out, but it was there and I’m pretty sure everyone knew it. Now, even though in my book The Calling I don’t have two men raising a child, there are elements of family that play throughout the book and continue on in the next book, which I will definitely credit Anne Rice with.
The other main factor from Anne Rice that affected my story was the elegance, the beauty, the power, the masquerade, and even the violence. In her novel vampires were more than monsters, they were people, they had character, they were both good and bad and most importantly they had style and I wanted to show that in my novel. Also, her vampires had fun and that was something else I wanted to incorporate. There was a sense of humor (albeit dark) in her book that I adored and again I wanted to reflect that in my novels.
DS: Speaking of Rice, did you find yourself needing to watch so people saw your take on vampires as unique and different, not mimicking her or other authors?
MDN: Honestly, no. First, I made a point to not read the book again as I wrote the story, I wanted to ensure as little contamination on my part as possible. I mean sure there might be bits and pieces that people may go, “oh that is kind of like something Anne Rice wrote.” Or, they may say, “that looks like something from Salem’s Lot.” And that would be more flattering then anything. But, nothing I could write would ever be like Anne Rice or Stephen King. They are a whole other level. I believe, that my story is honestly unique in that I know I haven’t read anything like it before, so I would like to think that my writing is different enough that there would never be that kind of issue. I hope.
DS: Speaking of originality . . . I really enjoyed how you constructed your own vision for a vampire world, with its rules and structure. Did you sketch that out beforehand, or did it organically take shape while you were writing?
MDN: Once I knew that I wanted to write The Calling, I sat down and wrote out the rules of my vampire world. I had to not only write out the rules for the vampires, but also the witches and any other fantastical creature that may or may not be present in the novels. This also included writing out the Immortals, the word I use for my vampires, culture and society. I had to figure out how vampires came to be, how they were structured, what their world looked like. I also had to address other mythical creatures, did they exist, if so what happened to them? What about magic? All these details where sketched out prior to the writing. So, even before I began writing the story I ended up with about 15 pages of notes (not too much, but I also had a list of websites to visit for my info), that of course has expanded as I wrote book two, but I really had to have their world fleshed out before I could start writing the story.
Of course, there were bits that came organically as I wrote. I would get to a spot and write something and think, “wow, that’s cool.” Then I would stop, frown a bit, go back to my notes ensure I wasn’t breaking a rule and then add it to my story notes so I could reference it again if I wanted to. I also would change a rule if I needed to, because I didn’t want to back myself into any corners. I found I needed to be flexible with all my world building, just in case.
DS: It’s obvious that gay authors enjoy vampires because of the theme of the closet – hiding true nature and what that means. Did you find yourself reflecting on that concept as you were writing?
MDN: I would say this probably happened on a subconscious level. I really wanted this book to be more about vampires, good and bad, etc. and not a coming out story or dealing with being gay story. I have one point early on in the novel that I basically have the main character say something to the effect of, “Why does it matter? Why does that have to be the most interesting thing about me? Would you treat me any different?” I think for me this moment is what this story is all about. Being gay is a big deal, but it’s not the only thing we are. There is so much more to use than who we sleep with. Great, we’re gay, we’re part of this beautiful Rainbow Tribe, wonderful, but what else are we? What more is there to us? And that is what I wanted to go for. So, the idea of hiding our true nature, in a closet, wasn’t upfront in my mind when I wrote the story, but I’m sure there are bits that have seeped in.
DS: Many writers make their vampires beautiful, almost perfect, to a fault, which I admit I’m guilty of doing. You didn’t! I find it refreshing how you portray Duncan as somewhat pedestrian and normal as he embarks on this journey. What made you go in that direction?
MDN: Now let’s not get carried away, several of the characters in the story are attractive, I mean Victor, Kirtus and Juliet… wow! Okay. Right. Back on point. So yes, I wanted to tell a story that we could all relate to. Not all members of our Rainbow Tribe look like they have walked off the covers of a magazine and I wanted to, no I needed to reflect that. We are not all beautiful. We come in various shapes, sizes, colors, etc. and I wanted my story to be like that. Our main character, Duncan, can be summed up as average. He’s someone you would pass on the street and not give a second thought too. Which is how most of us are. When it comes to my book’s world I hope people can see themselves in the book and relate to that. I do that with all my stories. I want to show all of us. I want to show that even average people can have an astounding journey, you don’t have to be perfect you can be who you are and adventure will find you. You just have to look for it.
DS: What do you like to read for fun?
MDN: When I have time to read, I love Sci Fi, Fantasy, paranormal books. I love stories that take me to a new world and drop me right in it so I can enjoy and experience it. If they have vampires, even better.
DS: Can you share anything you’re currently working on with us?
MDN: Well, right now I just released my forth novel; T.A.D.-The Angel of Death, which I’m very proud of. People can out more about T.A.D. here: https://amzn.to/2m1B4Nq As, I’ve alluded to already I’ve finished the conclusion to The Calling, aptly titled The Called, which is now with beta readers. I’ve also finished the third book in my Sci Fi series, A New World, which is currently titled; Conspiracy. You can find out more about the series here: https://bit.ly/2mtvljB There are a few more ideas I’m tossing around but I haven’t started working on, but those are in the very early planning stages. People can always subscribe for my weekly updates so they will be kept in the loop on what I have coming up next. I also do author interviews and share other aspects of my life. People can subscribe here: https://www.mdneu.com/contact
DS: Thanks for stopping by for a visit! I enjoyed our time, and I have REALLY enjoyed reading your work!!
More information on today’s guest: M.D. Neu is a queer Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years. Website: http://www.mdneu.com/
NineStar Press: https://bit.ly/2VroALu
Barnes & Nobel: https://bit.ly/2NxRypZ