Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Today you’re in for a treat as I share the interview responses of
Jay Raven, author of The Lazarus Child,
book three in the Blood Riders vampire hunter series.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Blood Riders series?
I was brought up on Hammer Horror films and wanted to reinvent them for a modern audience while staying true to their tone and ways of storytelling.
I had three aims in mind when I wrote the first instalment – Crimson Siege.
1/ To make the vampire truly scary again, portraying them as vicious, powerful predators and not just some love-sick, twinkly, misunderstood poetic teenagers.
2/ To introduce moral ambiguity into the characters so that it was often difficult to tell who were the “Bad Guys” and who the readers should be rooting for – the vampires or the men hunting them.
3/ To test my theory that classic cowboy film tropes could be used in a historical horror context. The Blood Riders stories are set in 19th century Transylvania but could just as easily be playing out against a Wild West backdrop.
What is your writing process?
I am a plotter. I spend the first two weeks of the project sketching out the plot, scenes, incidents, cliff-hangers and main dialogue of the story. This means that when I come to write the novel I have a clear route map to follow. There are so many red herrings, plot twists, unexpected events that the book can’t afford to go off at a tangent too much.
I’m quite a slow writer so if I can achieve 1500 words a day I’m happy. Mornings are when I feel most creative so that’s when I fire up the computer, kicking off at 9am. I spend my afternoons doing something completely different – be it baking, a long walk, or even a little light DIY to give my brain a chance to recharge.
You describe yourself as both a Gothic horror writer and a dark fantasy author. Why is that?
Much of my output is Gothic horror – historical stories that are designed to scare the reader. But with the Blood Riders series I see the books more as thrillers. They feature vampires and a certain amount of blood and gore, but that is incidental to the mystery and intrigue. They are dark and fantastical adventures but not necessarily horrific.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
From the entire series, my favourite is the skilled knifeman Quintz who is the sidekick to the main character, slayer Anton Yoska. Quintz is a dwarf who used to work in the circus and the keeper of Samson, the vampire hunting team’s ferocious brown bear. He is also the character who is most likely to cause problems in the plot as he does and says what he likes.
One of his personality traits that I find most entertaining is his love for expensive, theatrical clothes.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
I find that I’m drawn to villains – they get the most exciting scenes and the best lines. They also get to die in the most dramatic ways possible. In The Lazarus Child, the third book in the trilogy, there are a fair number of bad guys – and girls – causing mayhem and malice. But my favourite would be Austrian vampire leader Baroness Klara Von Schuller – she takes scorn and ruthlessness to a whole new level. And despite being 300 years old has a fascination with modern technology.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
One of the delights of writing the Blood Riders series is getting to choose unusual “atmospheric” names for each of the characters. The books are set in Eastern Europe in the 19th century so I have a wide pallet of different monikers from different countries to choose from – which involves a lot of time on Google.
I look for names that are exotic and mysterious, and a tad old-fashioned, while still being easy to pronounce – and spell! If they start with a hard consonant, it helps – especially for villains. Count Kravnik in Crimson Siege was a classic example of this – the name conjures up visions of pantomime baddies, menacing moonlit castles and wealth and privilege.
One challenging element of this is trying to find authentic sounding female names that are sufficiently different from each other, as there is a tradition for nearly all Romanian girl’s names to end with the letter A.
I see that The Lazarus Child completes the Blood Riders trilogy. Is this the end of the series or will there be more vampire hunting adventures?
Ah, that’s the 64,000 dollar question. I have many plot ideas for the series, but I am still undecided if that is going to be my next major project.
What a cliff hanger ending to your interview – I’ll keep an eye out to see if I spot more in the series in future! Thank you so much for answering my questions, you’ve definitely got me interested in reading the series soon!
Keep reading to find out more about The Lazarus Child – Blood Riders Book 3 and Jay Raven
To save his missing daughter a distraught slayer must venture deep into the heart of darkness
Legendary vampire hunter Anton Yoska is on the edge, tormented by the rumour that the precious child he once thought dead is still alive and lost in a world of monsters.
One creature alone knows for sure what happened to Gretchen, but Terek Modjeski won’t divulge his secret – revelling in the twisted power over his long-time foe.
Despairing and drinking heavily, Anton stumbles from near disaster to near disaster as he puts his team in jeopardy, testing their friendship and loyalty to snapping point.
Only one diabolical solution is possible – to confront Terek in his maximum security cell and force the bloodsucker to end his game of cat and mouse. But making the cunning infernal talk will mean employing brutal methods that go against every code Anton has ever lived by, forcing him to become as much of a demon as the leeches he hunts.
Face to face with the evil, taunting vampire, the desperate slayer takes a decision that will change his destiny forever – sending him hurtling into danger to confront a terrifying truth about his lost child that risks not only his sanity but the future of mankind.
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.
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