Tuesday, March 4, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Donald K. Chapman
1. When/why did you decide to become an author?
When I was in fifth grade, my teacher suggested I enter a story I had written for a class assignment in a local writing contest run by the library. I was chosen as a winner for elementary fiction and thought I just might have a talent in this area. I continued to pursue it throughout middle and high schools and then attended the University of Evansville that, at the time, was one of only a few schools to offer the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. It's been a dream of mine to write novels and I've worked toward that since high school.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy today?
I read a lot of fantasy as a kid, from Tolkien to Eddings to McCaffrey. I also read a lot of Anne Rice; I love how full her writing feels. I've lately been working my way through Shakespeare's complete works and trying to take in as much as I can of his language and turns of phrase.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel The Blood And The Life?
I've been fascinated by vampires for a long time. Of all the "classic" horror monsters, the vampire is the most interesting to me. I was in the early stages of thinking about writing a vampire novel and wondered what would be the effect on a vampire if one drank from a human with a blood disease. This led me to the image of a vampire stalking Jesus (I was working for a church organization at the time) and wondering what would God's blood do to a vampire? Ultimately, instead of having the vampire stalking Jesus and drinking His blood, I decided the stalking of Jesus would be the beginning of the story instead of the end. It's an origin story for vampires and the classic European vampire myths, but as a backdrop to what Feranos is going through.
4. Why did you choose to include Catholic imagery instead of a less theological approach?
Vampires, at least in the classic European sense, and Christianity have long been connected. Feranos begins his life as a vampire at Calvary and so my vampires and Christianity are linked. Everyone also knows vampires (depending on the myth) recoil from the sight of a crucifix, but why? I decided to answer that question and since in the time periods of my novel the Catholic church was the only church in Christianity, that's the one I used. The stately rituals and history of the Catholic church also lend themselves well to a vampire coming into contact with it and discovering what it's all about. Vampires without the religious aspect are not as interesting to me; to have a creature such as Feranos thinking about his relationship with God and is he separated from God is another layer to explore.
5. What vampire novels do you, personally, enjoy?
Many of the classics. Bram Stoker's Dracula is fantastic. Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire is one I read in middle school that got me thinking about vampires as characters and not just creatures. I enjoyed Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian.
6. Will you ever write another vampire-based novel in the future?
As of now, I don't have plans to write another one. Feranos' story is complete and I feel I've said what I wanted to say and dealt with the issues I wanted to deal with in "The Blood and the Life," but "ever" is a long time and I don't rule out revisiting Feranos' world or a new one.
7. You were born in Colorado, educated in Indiana and England, and currently reside in Colorado. Did your travels influence Feranos' travels in your novel?
Very much so. Having the opportunity in college to spend a semester abroad in England had a profound impact on me, widening my view of the world and giving me an appreciation of various cultures. I did a lot of traveling in that semester, so a bit of that wanderlust probably made its way into Feranos' character. In his travels, I tried to make what he was seeing and experiencing as real as possible, since seeing an ancient building or site is much different than reading about it or seeing pictures of it. Walking through an area where History happened makes one appreciate it much more than just reading about the area.
8. Is there any symbolism to Feranos seeing reincarnations of the same woman all his life that you didn't allude to directly in the book?
9. Is there anything you're currently working on that you can share with KSR?
I am currently working on a fantasy novel I've been working on in one way or another since high school. It's the story of a prince of an island country that has decided it doesn't want majyk who is suddenly banished from the island into the greater world that still has majyk and him having to face what he has been raised to dislike. I also have a historical romance I wrote during NaNoWriMo this past November waiting for me to revisit it after I finish the fantasy.
10. Would you like to see The Blood And The Life made into a film one day? If yes, who would you like to see portray your colorful characters?
I have mixed thoughts about that. One the one hand, there are some scenes I think would do very well in a movie and I would want to see brought to life on the big screen, but on the other hand I'm not confident the story would be handled correctly. I haven't given much thought to whom I would want as my characters. I would probably want unknown actors who can be seen as the characters rather than as actors portraying the characters.
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
With a few novels under my belt, I would love to be able to devote all my time to writing. I have an image of sending the kids off to school and sitting down to work on my novels for most of the day, doing research another part of it, and focusing on writing.
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
I'm really not sure. Writing has been a part of me for a long time and I can't see myself not being able to write; probably something creative.
13. Were you concerned at all that people would take your Biblical symbolism as blasphemy and get the correct view of your book?
Definitely. I worked hard during the writing to get the biblical aspects of the book right, as well as making it clear that I wasn't trying to change what is depicted in the Bible or say it didn't happen, but to use that as a starting point and to see those events from a different viewpoint. I consulted a former Catholic priest as well as a Baptist pastor (for different reasons, of course!) to make sure I had the details right. I wanted to make sure that whatever was being said about the Bible's events or Christianity were the characters' viewpoints and not my own.
14. Underneath the blood and religion, the love story between Feranos and Alina takes precedent and shows a softer side of a killer. Is that a theme you might want to explore in the future?
Love is what makes us who we are, so love stories are always included in what I write, whether it's a main theme or a minor one. The historical romance is one where that is a main part of the plot. Whether I return to writing about a killer, I can't say now, but the idea of a killer having that side of his personality makes for a more interesting character. I'm always looking for something in a character that takes him or her beyond being a "villain," let's say, and to a more fully-realized human (or non-human) being.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
The storyline and subject matter of The Blood and the Life may make it seem like I'm a dark person, but I'm really not that dark; I don't enjoy horror movies all that much. I'm a romantic, at heart. I can enjoy Godzilla movies as well as Shakespeare. Thank you for the opportunity of this interview!
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