Author Matt Haig has done what every writer dreams of – his novels have been made into movies, The Radleys was so successful in the UK that it’s now published in the US and many other countries, he’s mastered not only adult fiction but children books as well – and I could go on and on about how awesome he is, but instead I’ll let you read the interview I had with him.
I’m a 35 year old novelist living in the ancient city of York in the UK. The Radleys is my first vampire novel. It has now been sold to over 20 publishers worldwide and is made into a film by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). My previous three novels are also being developed into films. Brad Pitt has bought the rights to make my first novel, The Last Family in England, into a movie. But that’s about mad dogs, not vampires.
Can you tell us a bit about The Radleys?
I wanted to write a very British, very different type of vampire story, which explored ideas of family and human life alongside the bloodsucking and the secrets about ourselves we all keep. The Radleys are vampires from a notorious vampire family, but they choose to be abstainers and live like normal middle-class British people in Yorkshire near where I live. They go to the theatre and have dinner parties but feel ill and wear sun-block etc. Peter, the father, has been a vampire since birth, and his wife Helen was converted after she fell in love with him. The two children, Clara and Rowan, start the novel with no idea that they’re vampires. They don’t know why they’re excessively pale and always wear sunscreen, are always tired during the day, or suffer from migraines on a regular basis. Then, Clara is attacked and herself becomes an attacker, and everything changes.
What got you interested in writing about vampires?
Well, with this story the thing that got me started was a single idea – what would it be like to grow up as a normal human being and be then told you are actually a vampire. Plus, I loved the idea of these parents who were trying to do best for their kids by raising them normally, but actually by depriving them of blood they are making things worse.
What do you consider to be the key elements of a great vampire story?
I think for a good story to work you need two ingredients – secrets and conflict. And I thought being a vampire but hiding it from everyone – even your own kids – would be the perfect source of both secrets and inner-conflict, because these vampires have very intense feelings which they are suppressing on a daily basis. Personally, in the fantasy genre, I don’t think anything has ever come close to the perfection of a vampire. They represent and tap into so many things – forbidden desires, fears of mortality, and that battle of selfish instinct versus duty we all feel.
I saw that you also write children books, which is easier to write – adults or children?
Well, it’s interesting because I don’t really see a big difference. Stories are stories. It’s like trying to categorise your dreams. It’s funny because I wrote The Radleys strictly as an adult novel but in the UK it is being published in two editions – one for adults and one for teens. In the US it’s being published just for adults I think.
Ok, here’s a question I ask all authors I interview: I’ve noticed that most of the authors I follow on Twitter talk about the music they’re currently writing to. What kind of setting/atmosphere do you find most conducive to your writing?
I have so much busy-ness going on in my head all the time (I used to suffer from panic disorder) that I actually like to have music playing as I write. It helps me focus. Love listening to old Cure songs…
Who’s your favorite fictitious vampire (other than your own)?
When I was younger I wanted to be David (the Kiefer Sutherland character) in The Lost Boys. I love those eighties vampire films. Near Dark is another classic.
If vampires were discovered to exist today, do you think our society would accept them or try to destroy them?
I think they would be heavily exploited, and someone would try and make a lot of money out of them. Maybe they could get some good endorsement deals (for sun-block, perhaps). I think, after Twilight, they could probably be accepted. I think if they looked like Robert Pattinson or Stephen Moyer they would be accepted but if they looked like Count Orlok in Nosferatu they’d be killed by armed police units with stakes and crossbows.
What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?
The Greatest Sci-fi Movies Never Made, by David Hughes. It was a very entertaining read.
What did you think of England’s performance in the World Cup? (Haha kidding!)
I think there is something about us English which actually can’t face the idea of winning. We’re a bit like vampires really. We always feel guilty about everything and that doesn’t make for a good winning spirit.
And finally, what other projects are you currently working on? Any goodies we should watch out for?
I’m working on a novel about the last night on earth before a comet hits. And a couple of screenplays too. And possibly some more Radleys stuff, like extending the idea started in the novel of famous people who were actually vampires. Like Lord Byron and Jimi Hendrix.
Find out more about Matt Haig HERE.