Douglas Rees Interview

1. Do you believe Vampires exist?

Well yes, there are some sickly individuals who try to live out that role. As to the superpowered Dracula type, he's a metaphor for syphilis, the disease which killed Bram Stoker. OTOH, isn't high school full of vampires of a kind so common we don't even recognize them for what they are? The kids whose fear drives them together into cliques, and whose arrogance and need to feel "in" makes them a torment to others? That's really what Cody is up against.

2. What other Vampire books have you read? Have you read a series entitled "Vampire Kisses" by Ellen Schreiber?

The only vampire novels I recall reading are manuscripts that a couple of people have sent me over the years. I've never even read Dracula. I'm not familiar with Vampire Kisses. I don't think it matters much, though. The archetype so permeates our culture right now that the challenge would be NOT to know about vampires.

3. If you're not busy writing your next novel what are you doing in your spare time, hobbywise.

I keep trying to come up with a hobby, but there's nothing much I like to do that I'm not already doing. I thought I had one last year: to see all the plays of Christopher Marlowe. I figured that would take me years, since he hardly ever gets produced. Then, they did a magnificent production of both parts of Tamburlaine in D.C. and I couldn't afford to go. SO I figured I'd better find another hobby.

4. Would you ever consider writing a sequel to Vampire High or having it made into a film?

Both those things are on the cards. I'm working on the sequel now. And Chris Columbus swears up and own that he's going to do VH as a musical. But the contract for the option has been going unsigned for six months, so who knows?

5. Do you have any plans of doing any book signings anytime soon, I'd sure like to meet you and sign a copy of your book.

Book signings are almost impossible to get. Stores have to go to a lot of effort to set them up, and they often don't sell that many books when they do them. I've been getting published for ten years, and I think I've had one signing in a book store. Four people came, and all of them knew me. So I'd say the prospects of a signing in Glendale, or anywhere else, are pretty remote.

6. Have any plans for Halloween and are you a fan of the film?

I expect to pass out candy to kids, which I love to do. If they’re little, I praise their costumes. If they're old enough to joke with, I act confused: "Oh. You brought me candy and you don't even know. How wonderful." And they explain how it's supposed to work and I give them some. As to the movie, I don't think I've seen it.

7. What authors inspired you to become the writer that you are if any.

My first literary inspiration in any genre was a comic strip called Pogo, drawn by Walt Kelly. Kelly's wild whimsy, his word play, and his liberalism all helped to form me, even though I was a very little kid, too young to read for myself. Later, as a young teen, I rediscovered him through comic strip collections published as paperback books. In my late teens some of America's greatest humorists became favorites: Perelman, Thurber, Benchley. If any of the three had a direct influence on my it was Perelman, but I don't think you can find much evidence of it in my work. Apart from Kelly, my prose style has been influenced by the best work of second-raters.

In particular, I think, by John Masters, the Anglo-Indian novelist of the 1940-s - 70's whose novels were rather crude, but whose three volumes of autobiography were very witty and interesting. The works of some psychologists has been important to me, especially the writings of Jung. Sometimes knowing the bits and pieces I've culled from various schools of psychological thought has helped me to define characters. There's a good deal of family structures and basic Freudian theory underlying The Janus Gate, for instance. It's important to mention the poets who've had an impact on me: Kipling when I was young, Bly, Crane (Hart, not Stephen) Whitman and Everson when I was older.

8. Are you into the Sci/Fi genre by any chance, if so have you ever watched a TV program entitled Unsolved Mysteries?

I've read a fair amount of SF over the years, though not lately. Like most boys, SF was my first attempt at adult fiction. I especially like Sheckly, Heinlien and Simak. I greatly admired Neuromancer by Gibson, and my all-time faves are Starship Troopers and Paul Anderson's The High Crusade. Since we don't have a TV that's hooked up to the outside world, I've never seen Unsolved Mysteries, though it sounds like my kind of thing. Aren’t' all mysteries unsolved?

9. I noticed you've written several other books, "Smoking Mirror," "The Janus Gate," Uncle Pirate," and "Lighting Time," do you think you're writing style has changed since then?

I think my writing style changes depending on the kind of story I'm telling. I don't see any arc of change you can trace from LT to now.

10. What types of music do you like listening too? Are you into the heavy metal or rock and roll genres, if so have you heard of a thrash metal act known as Slayer?

Straight White Male loves musical theatre. Film at 11.

11. Do you have any future plans as of right now?

I'll have to check with my wife. She plans everything.

12. Would you be interested in reading a book that I've written about Vampires?

Sure. But don't send it until January. I've got to finish up the VH sequel, and I have a puddle of other literary projects to do by the end of the year. If I get VH2 finished early, I'll contact you and you can send your book in December. In any case, 2009 for sure.

13. Have any tips or advice to give to all the new upcoming authors out there?

Don't worry about the odds. They are meaningless. Write from yourself, not what you think editors will like. Write a lot. You need to find out what kind of writer you are and that’s the only way to do it. Read. Read a lot. Reading is the other art that makes you a writer.

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