We recently reviewed the majorly disturbing book, Bent Steeple, by author G. Wells Taylor, in which a vampire pedophile comes to town to wreak absolute hell on its inhabitants, –a couple times. The author G. Wells Taylor was kind enough to give us an exclusive interview, –and, a couple autographed books from his publishers. Check out the interview below:
1. Frankly, I was surprised by the huge similarity to Salem’s Lot, –at least, before I became really involved in the book. Were you very inspired by King’s work?
In my opinion, Salem’s Lot is one of Stephen King’s greatest works. Resurrecting the Dracula tale and re-telling it in small town America was sheer genius. I’ve always regarded the book as a ‘must read’ for horror writers, regardless of your monster of choice.
Salem’s Lot was released at a time when vampires had spent the preceding years haunting low budget movies where the ‘Count’ was forced to endure an endless variety of indignities and impalements. The vampire had lost his human touch and was being thrown mindlessly at shrieking starlets, with all the class and majesty of a rabid dog. The vampire mythology had become two-dimensional from its silver screen associations.
Salem’s Lot rebooted the genre by humanizing the vampire’s victims. I would hope that today as vampires are turned into reluctant heroes by the movie and television industries that Bent Steeple might remind vampire fans that there was a time when the night belonged to monsters.
2. Shortly before I read Bent Steeple, I wrote an article on the theory that maybe the 150 year old vampire + teenage human is part of a subconscious fascination with pedophilia. I sensed that maybe your vampire was throwing this back in the face of pop culture: what’s the deal with your pedophile vampire?
I definitely wanted to throw something in the face of pop culture, but I couldn’t use a topic like pedophilia for shock value. I couldn’t be exploitive. I would have to treat the subject with complete respect and so far readers say I have been successful.
It was a practical problem. A good part of the audience wants to worship, marry or date undead, blood-sucking vampires? How can I scare people like that? Then I realized that pop culture vampire stories tend to revolve around losing one’s innocence. The narratives seem to be about picking the time for the ‘special’ gift to be given or received. Good for the vampire. Bad for horror.
So I thought if people were no longer frightened by the loss of their own innocence, perhaps I could get some adrenaline flowing by threatening the innocence of the truly innocent—children. I thought that treated respectfully, a plot device like this could create a story that would horrify and capture the reader.
There’s more to it. Secrets play a part. And like a classical vampire, pedophiles follow their horrible natures. They are what they are, unable to change. Their evil will poison their victims’ lives, and can reach out to poison other lives too. In the end, I found the subject matter added a depth to the characters and history to the story that I never could have predicted.
3. How do you think readers will respond to the novel; especially considering the soft, heroic, sissified vampires they’re used to seeing in movies and books?
Bent Steeple is a horror story. I think the book will surprise people, but I’m sure it will frighten them too. I think they’ll be entertained, and some will be challenged. I’ve been told they’ll have a hard time putting it down.
4. Who was your favorite character to write about, and which of the characters gave you the biggest challenge?
I enjoyed writing retired conservation officer Arthur Stokes. I just liked the easy speed of his thoughts. And I like the fact that he was one of the few who believed his own eyes.
The most challenging character to write was Fergus. It was tough to fit one of the book’s biggest and liveliest spirits into such a small and unhealthy body.
5. What do you think of the fascination with soft, sparkly vampires? And how do you think this stuff is going to effect the teens today in the long run?
I think the soft, sparkly vampires are a reflection of our cultural fascination with soft, sparkly celebrities. I think it’s a desire to be young and beautiful forever without having to pay any price—not even wrinkles. In the long run, once today’s teens have paid a few of life’s dues, they’ll be able to appreciate the classic vampire’s charms.
6. Do you have any advice for young, aspiring writers?
There have never been so many opportunities for writers as there are now at the dawn of digital publishing. Your hard work will pay off, so do your job. Commit to your stories. On the practical side, make sure you write every day. Hire an editor or beg someone to read your manuscripts over for typos, grammar, etc. Presentation is very important. Oh, and learn everything there is to know about eBooks.
7. What’s your favorite vampire movie? Book?
Favorite vampire movie: Let the Right One In. Favorite vampire book: Dracula
8. Any special messages to your vampire crazed audience?
I dare you to read Bent Steeple.”
Send a message to contest(at)darkness.com if you’re interested in receiving an autographed copy of the book! Say something nice about why you enjoy Vampires.com for extra credit; winners will be chosen at random, so keep an eye open for an email!