Interview with Drew Stepek on Knuckle Supper
“Yeah, I suppose we’re vampires, but more importantly we’re junkies and gangster motherfuckers.”
Knuckle Supper brings horror back to the vampire genre. It tells the story of drug-addicted gangster vampires who tear a man to pieces in the first few pages of the book. It’s a blood-drenched story that reflects the darkness in the human soul.
The book brings attention to the horror in the real world. One of the main characters is Bait, a twelve-year-old victim of prostitution. Sex trafficking in the United States is an issue that most people are not aware is happening. These are girls (and boys) who are beaten, raped, and forced into prostitution, and are, essentially, slaves. Knuckle Supper is helping to raise awareness about this atrocity.
Vampires.com was also able to interview Drew Stepek about his book:
What made you decide to write the book?
There were several factors involved. Most importantly, I got really angry because the horror isle at the local bookstore has been hijacked by Paranormal Teen Romance. Being a huge fan of horror fiction (since I was old enough to read), I am constantly reminded by what has become of the genre (mostly vampires) every time I enter a bookstore. Personally, I don’t see any point in writing a novel (horror or otherwise) that was created from some bogus template of commercialism. Let’s be honest, Knuckle Supper will NEVER sell a billion copies and on top of that I don’t see people wearing “Team Heroin” or “Team Meth” shirts any time in the near future. It simply not that kind of book. I suppose it’s more of a graduation book. The teens who loved those books so much have grown up now and their literary tastes (I hope) have gravitate toward more classic, realistic stories. Think about it as if you listened to nothing but The Backstreet Boys for your entire life. Maybe it’s time to pick up something by the Sex Pistols.
By no means is Knuckle Supper my way of capitalizing on a trend. It’s more of a rejection of the trend. On top of that, I want to read a badass vampire story. Don’t you? Frankly, I don’t like vampires anymore because they’ve become something extremely vanilla and the more books that pop up on our shelves, the more of the same thinking is perpetuated. That’s not writing. That’s coloring book. Horror authors have to be outlaws. I remember the first time I picked up a Barker novel and I was like, “WOW! This breaks pretty much every single rule of the genre and that’s why he is one of my favorite authors. He really defied convention and even his more conventional stories like Damnation Game or so far out there. In the late 80s no one could touch the guy. With that in mind, I stripped the vampires mythos down and rebuilt one piece at a time. If at any point in the book I felt like I was doing something that was conventional, I threw it out. That being said, don’t think I just wrote the book to write something unconventional. I think that readers will find some deep and interesting questions raised about humanity and the price that it carries. As a society, we have fallen into this downward spiral that’s never-ending… pimps, prostitutes, rapists, gang bangers and drug addicts. I hate to use clichés, but people really are, “born into it.”
How did you come up with the idea for it?
Well, like I said I had this built-up distaste for vampires (that has only gotten worse). Originally, my next project was supposed to be a sequel to Godless (my first novel) but I couldn’t really find a way to start it because I wasn’t really in that place in my life anymore (the book is mostly about my struggles with bulimia and personal addiction). So, during the holidays in 2007, I was watching re-runs of a British TV show called Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace on Adult Swim. One of the main characters, Dean Learner (played by the brilliant Richard Ayoade) said, “Cool it, Sanchez or you’ll get a knuckle supper.” It was a phrase that just spoke to me. I immediately grabbed a composition book and wrote the first kill scene at the beginning of the book. Then, over the course of the next two years, I wrote and developed this world in the book.
Did you hear about Children of the Night before you started writing it?
I had heard about Children of the Night because I knew Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) was really involved with it. However, I didn’t think about the partnership until early last year. I asked my co-screenwriter (Dionne Jones) to find a charity to form a relationship with that made sense with Knuckle Supper. Considering Bait’s situation in the book, it was a perfect fit. Even the name lends itself to the book. Anyway, I contacted my publisher and they reached out to Dr. Lois Lee at Children of the Night. From there… well, things took off and the original relationship that was originally $1 from each digital download expanded to 10% of the hardcover profits. In June, I started doing awareness drives for Children of the Night on Facebook by giving away Xboxes and Kindles (gift certificates and Knuckle Supper shirts as well). It was amazing how many people responded and acted to the whole program. Then, in July, I donated a bunch of computer equipment to Children of the Night’s learning center. It was the first time I had ever gone inside the “home” and I was just blown away. They have done such a crazy job at making the environment a happy one. Sure, I was shocked that I was standing in front of a bunch of kids (when I say kids, I mean kids… no one I met was over 13) but even though I normally would have been shattered, they all smiled and thanked me. That’s what Knuckle Supper is about… trying to help end these perpetuated wrongs. I was heartbroken with a smile on my face.
Ten percent of the proceeds from Knuckle Supper will go towards the Children of the Night organization, which relies on donations to continue helping these children. Their mission statement is: “Children of the Night is a privately funded non-profit organization established in 1979 and dedicated to rescuing America’s children from the ravages of prostitution.” Their website is www.childrenofthenight.org.
They also have a 24 hour nationwide hotline 1-800-551-1300 operated by trained staff to help counsel and rescue victims.