If you’re one of the many readers out there sick of the same old blah romantic vampire novels, a reader looking for something a little different, something historical with a touch of adventure and just a dab of romance then you may want to check out Pamela Marcantel’s novel V-Squad. I recently chatted with her on the book and I definitely think it’s something many of you history buffs would enjoy. Check it out:
Can you tell us about your book V-Squad?
In August, 1943, millionaire vampire John English informs President Roosevelt that Nazi-aligned vampires intend to assassinate Winston Churchill and the principal Allied generals before they can complete plans for the D-Day invasion of France. In exchange for safe passage across the Atlantic, English volunteers to raise a group of his fellow vampires to prevent that from happening.
Roosevelt responds to English’s request by providing an OSS operative, Lieutenant Edwina Kelly, to act as liaison between them. At first resistant to working with the undead because of her family’s troubled history with vampires, Edwina gradually yields to the mysterious John English’s charisma. In time he reveals to her his own dark past, his ties to the evil Longchamps, leader of the Nazi vampires, and his real reason for aiding the Allies.
More than a simple adventure, V-Squad explores themes of loyalty, sacrifice, trust, betrayal, love—and most of all, vengeance. At its heart this is a story of a centuries-long yearning for revenge and its companion, justice, in stubborn defiance of an equally implacable evil.
How does V-Squad differ from other novels about vampires?
It’s just really hard to classify in a particular genre. It’s not Horror, or Steampunk, or Urban Vampire Fantasy, or Vampire Romance, and in fact doesn’t have elements of any of those. You could lump it in with Historical Fiction except that I’ve taken some liberties with real history, especially in the flashback scenes that go to the heart of John English’s motivation for going upon his quest. You might even call it Noir Fiction but for the fact that there are spots where it’s laugh-out-loud funny. It really is unlike anything else. I always say that it’s Dracula-meets-The Dirty Dozen-meets-Ivanhoe, costarring ninjas.
Where did you get the idea for V-Squad?
V-Squad actually began in 2008 as a screenplay that I wrote with some input from my brother, an actor and advertising creative. After we finished it, I knew that I wanted to know more about the characters and their story than could be contained within the limitations of a film script, so I decided to expand upon it as a novel. Very glad I did, too, because it allowed me to really flesh out the characters.
As for the story itself, I’m a fan of history, real and alternative, and at one point found myself wondering, what if President Roosevelt had had a battalion of vampires to fight for the Allies in World War II? How long would it have taken to win the war? Probably not very long unless the Nazis had vampires, too. So, what if the good-guy vampires were only a squad instead of a battalion and they were outnumbered? What would they do in order to win? At that point, the characters just presented themselves to me, and I went with it.
Who is your favorite fictitious vampire (other than your own)?
Well, there’s Dracula of course, who really set the standard for all subsequent bad-ass vampires. I also have a soft spot for Louis in Interview With the Vampire, which I still consider Anne Rice’s best novel and the one that I believe will one day be considered a bona fide literary classic right alongside Dracula itself. (It’s already that in the popular culture, though not yet in universities. That will change.)
What is your favorite vampire book, movie, and/or show?
Interview With the Vampire (the book, that is), because it was the first to really humanize vampires and depict them as complex characters, and because it has a lot to say about what it means to be human. Coppola’s Dracula is very well done and somewhat faithful to the book, but even though it doesn’t stick quite as close to the book’s plot, I really prefer the version from the late-1970s with Frank Langella in the lead. I’m also a real fan of True Blood and have watched it faithfully from the very first episode. Haven’t read the Sookie Stackhouse books, though.
But the door prize for full-on scary vampire novel goes to Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, I think because the author so skillfully blended the everyday life of a small town with the supernatural–not just any old supe either but a terrifically frightening one–and depicted vampirism itself as something that could be passed around like a virus. That one kept me awake at night.
What was the last book you read, would you recommend it?
You know, I’m embarrassed to admit that I really don’t read much fiction these days. The thing is, because I write it, I can’t help but hear a literary voice in my head when I’m working, and if I’m reading someone else’s novel at the same time, all too often that writer’s voice ends up in there with mine. Make sense? I want to keep my “signal” clear, so I read as little fiction, vampire or otherwise, as possible. I mainly stick to histories and biographies, stuff that probably bores the crap out of everyone else.
Tell our readers why they should check out your book – in 3 words: (bwahaha)
It’s damned good (and yes, that’s a pun <heh!>).
V-Squad’s plot doesn’t go where the setup leads the reader to think that it will. There are some twists and turns along the way, a big reveal about midway through it, and two unexpected twists at the end. It’s also pretty short, about 270 pages in its print version, and a quick read. And, if I do say so myself, it’s very well written.
Amazon readers apparently love it: http://amzn.to/jnDFCN.
And finally, what other projects are you currently working on? Any goodies we should watch out for?
I’m sticking with my vampire friends for now. I’m currently working on a short story cycle about some of the characters in V-Squad; in total there will be six stories, maybe one or two more, but six for sure. I don’t plan to publish them one at a time, though, only in one volume. I write pretty slowly, so it’s hard for me to tell you exactly when I’ll finish them.
After that there will be a full-blown novel sequel to V-Squad. When that’s done I think I also might be finished with the genre, but who knows? That’s several years down the road, and I don’t like to plan ahead quite that far.
Things change, you know?