In the ten years since finishing Kings of Infinite Space, I have often flirted with prequels and sequels and other unrelated ideas for new novels, but nothing grabbed me and said, Here’s a story!
It’s ironic, therefore, that Suzie and the Monsters started as an attempt at vampire erotica while stuck bored in a hotel room in March this year. I expected to give up very quickly. (I really should give credit to A Female Vampire, which has its moments although I doubt I’ll ever finish it.)
I spend altogether too much time thinking about vampires, and sometimes I feel like a grumpy old man complaining about all these newfangled inventions, but I’m not really. I am drawn to the essential conflict of light and dark that you get in a really good vampire tale, and sometimes also in a good assassin tale (Luc Besson’s Nikita and Leon, for example). It’s true that I’m a lot more flexible in my enjoyment of vampires in film and television, but even there I want the vampires to be more than blood-drinking zombies. I’ve watched and enjoyed some extremely low-budget nonsense over the years, while glossier stuff can be tedious – 30 Days of Night was excellent, but the sequel (Dark Days) was dire (which was a shame because Mia Kirshner could have made a fantastic vampire queen, given a decent script).
Anyway, it was impossible for me to write a vampire story and not take it seriously. What I wanted was a female vampire who didn’t have amazing superhuman powers because I genuinely believe that the more powerful the vampire the less human (and less interesting) the character. Also, I wanted her to drink blood from the source – and not rely on blood substitutes! And not have an urban fantasy environment providing a whole service industry to take care of all the day-to-day details of paranormality.
In other words, I wanted her environment and lifestyle to be as real as possible. As it turned out, she does have superhuman traits, but these give her only a marginal advantage over humans. She still needs to worry about the police or other authorities catching up with her.
And, perhaps controversially, she’s alive! She’s certainly not human, although she looks it, but she isn’t a walking corpse (or shade) with an illusory humanity. She drinks wine and tea, although they’re no substitute for what she really needs. She loves the smell of coffee, enjoys curling up with a good book, finds happiness through dance, and has a large collection of CDs and DVDs.