It’s a hot and steamy summer in New York. You could fry an egg on the sidewalk and melt your brains on the subway platform. There’s a crime wave involving blood banks, a philosophical parrot and all too many super-friendly dog-people in Tompkins Square Park. Willie is hanging on to what’s left of her equilibrium until she realizes that the man living next door is a vampire. [Tweet this!]
Written in journal entries, emails and voice mail messages — the contemporary versions of the dairies and letters that told the original Dracula story — Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet is a visit to the comic corner of the dark side.
Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet is the second in the Candy’s Monsters ebook series of novellas inspired by the classics of horror.
And onward to the interview…
What prompted you to write this book or series?
After I wrote a mystery inspired by “Frankenstein” — “The Mary Shelley Game” — writing a “Dracula” novella seemed inevitable. That’s how my Candy’s Monsters series began. “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” is a dark comedy with some supernatural/paranormal aspects. I’ve never been a color-inside-the-lines writer and so nailing down the genre is always tough for me. I’ve described “Bram” as a Vampire Un-Romance and that seems to be the right.
Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?
That’s a great question. I think of the plot and the characters as dance partners exchanging lead and follow at unexpected moments. [tweet this!] I try to create stories that are true to the characters, but I’m not interested in writing pure character studies. Even in my shortest short stories, I want the storyline to be strong.
What makes your book unique?
In my Candy’s Monsters series, I think it’s my use of familiar classics. My goal is to transform stories that are part of our culture into something that is peculiarly my own. Because I often use something magical or fantastic (weird, supernatural, paranormal, etc.) in my fiction, I’m careful about my real life/real world facts. I double-check details about the settings so that when I integrate the fantastic into the mundane, the seams aren’t showing.
Many of the places in “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” are real New York City locations. My protagonist visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art, strolls around the East Village with the dog character, rides subways, dances Tango at a Ukrainian Restaurant, and ponders the statues in Tompkins Square Park. A reader from Australia happily described the “tour” of New York that is the backdrop for my story.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
I plan, but sometimes when I’m writing the characters take the plot in another direction. These spontaneous character-driven detours usually make it to the final draft.
How did you develop the names for your characters?
Character names are very important to me. In “Bram” nearly all the characters — including the parrot and the dog — have names drawn from Bram Stoker’s original story.
How did you decide on the setting?
I have to know my setting because, in many ways, the setting is a character as well as a backdrop for the story. I’m working on a haunted house idea right now and I’m preparing with some research so I can find an appropriate location for this particular house. In “POED” — my third Candy’s Monsters — I’ve set the story in a completely fictional institution over looking the Christopher Street Pier on the Westside of Manhattan. Although the building does not exist, the history of the building, as recounted by the Poe-like first person narrator, is plausible because it’s grounded in the actual history of the city.
As a New Yorker, I’ve found entirely too many “mistakes” in books, movies and TV shows set in my city. Nothing breaks the magic spell faster than these obvious errors. I try to get it right! I’m lucky that my city offers a wide variety of settings. I also love to travel and have friends from all over the world. There’s nothing like having a native to help verify details when describing a scene in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, London, Washington D.C., etc.
I’m working on my fourth Candy’s Monsters novella — a 21st Century Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’m also focusing my paranormal energy on short stories, trying to find a voice that will reflect my desire to set the magical in a credible, contemporary setting. Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally find that perfect balance and I’ll write a full-length paranormal novel!
Check out Candy’s blog, Candy’s Monsters, here.