Interview time! Yay! I was lucky enough to chat with the wonderful Caroline Barnard-Smith, author of a new vampire book titled Jinn Nation, on her novel, her vampire loves and more. Check it out!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
By day I’m a wife and new mum to a beautiful red head called Isobel. By night I’m a dark fantasy writer who’s always had a big yen for vampires and was excited to create my own. I’ve always wanted to write so when I went to university and discovered that full-time education actually meant a few lectures a week, I did. I wrote a short novel called The Tunnel Prophecies and because I love fantasy (and probably because I was reading The Lord of the Rings at the time), I populated it with every fantasy character I could think of. Consequently, it turned out to be a bit of a shambolic mess but even though it will never see the light of day beyond my hard drive, I’m proud of that strange little book; it was the first novel I’d seen all the way through to the end and to a 20 year-old university student, that seemed to be no mean feat. Hopefully my novels have become better since then.
Can you tell us about your book Jinn Nation?
Jinn Nation is the story of Dylan and Christa, two lost people who find each other in a jinn bar in the middle of the Arizona desert. Dylan believes he is the last vampire in existence, a fact he finds very disturbing, while Christa is on a mission to forget her somewhat traumatic past in England. They set out on a road trip together in a stolen RV, killing people at random whenever Dylan needs to feed like a demonic Bonnie and Clyde. All good things must come to an end though and after a blazing row in New York, the couple go their separate ways to discover the truth about themselves and maybe save the world from a maniacal jinn goddess intent on remaking the earth in her own hellish image.
How does Jinn Nation differ from other novels about vampires?
Well for a start, none of my vampires sparkle. They’re not vegetarian or full of angst either. Dylan doesn’t apologize for what he is; he hunts when he’s hungry and he enjoys it when his chosen victims run and he gets to give chase. Most importantly, he revels in his vampiric abilities instead of railing against them as so many modern vampires seem to do. He’s immortal, he’ll get to see the next great civilization rise and fall, the next huge leap in technology, maybe even the first colonies on Mars, and instead of filling him with dread, horrified at the thought of living so long, this prospect fills him with joy and pity for the ordinary humans who will never be able to experience the same.
Where did you get the idea for Jinn Nation?
The vampire Dylan first made an appearance in my debut novel, Dunraven Road. Somehow he wriggled into my brain and when his kin came to a nasty end at the conclusion of the book, I found I couldn’t bring myself to see Dylan meet the same end. Thus Jinn Nation is the story of what Dylan did next, and how he learned to cope without his vampiric support network.
What is one thing you would like people to take away from their experience of reading Jinn Nation?
I’d love readers to come away from Jinn Nation thinking, “Finally! Someone’s given Dracula his balls back!” I like to think that if Dylan ever came across a shiny, big haired vampire who refused to drink blood and instead spent his afterlife stalking spotty high school girls he had no intention of ever fanging, he’d punch him square in his pouting face before tying him up and force feeding him some still warm human blood.
After receiving criticism for making my female characters seem a bit weak and girly in Dunraven Road (well, they would seem weak and girly next to an ancient female vamp who yearns to be worshipped as a goddess and views humans as little more than talking cattle), I tried really hard to make my heroine, Christa, more of a no nonsense, fearless butt kicker, so I hope readers also think that I’ve succeeded in that.
Given the current vampire craze, people feel especially attracted to vampires, why do you think that is?
Well, there are two different schools of thought on this one. On the one hand you have the fans who want to be the girlfriend of a vampire. They’re attracted to the whole Romeo and Juliet ‘I love you, but we’re from two different worlds’ thing. Their favourite literary vampires will fall in love with young girls at first sight and will constantly fight against the ‘curse’ of vampirism, usually having learned to live without drinking blood. Then on the other hand you have the fans who actually want to be a vampire. They’ll think that having to kill people and drink blood to survive is a small price to pay in order to be young, beautiful and strong forever. They’re attracted to the freedom and the ability to stay up all night drinking and scoping out attractive prey without paying for it in the morning. I’m definitely in the latter group ;)
What is your favorite vampire book, movie, and/or show?
The book that inspired me the most was Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. That was the first time I’d seen the vampire portrayed as an anti-hero instead of an out and out villain and the idea completely enthralled me. My favourite vampire book though is still Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite which I first read when I was 18. I just love the way she can make the most vile or horrific things sound poetic and beautiful, I’ve rarely found another writer like her. As for TV, I was a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan back in the day. I was a bit of a geek, actually; I could probably still quote large chunks of my favourite episodes…
Tell our readers why they should check out your book – in 3 words: (bwahaha) Vampires with balls!
And finally, what other projects are you currently working on? Any goodies we should watch out for?
I’m hoping that Dunraven Road will be available as an ebook in the very near future. I’ll also be releasing a couple of short story collections towards the end of the year, one of them showcasing my vampire stories (naturally!)
Stay tuned for a guest post by Caroline!