"Her hands began to shake as she looked down wide-eyed at the blood-soaked cotton that covered her." London emerges from the Blitz, and every corner of the city bears the scars. In the East End-a corner fairing worse than most-thirteen year-old Beth Wade endures this new way of life with her adoptive family. She also suffers the prejudice against her appearance, an abiding loneliness and now the trials of adolescence. But with this new burden comes a persisting fatigue and an unquenchable thirst that ultimately steals her into unconsciousness . . . What happens next is the start of something Beth will fear more than the war itself. She begins to change in ways that can't be explained by her coming-of-age, none more frightening than her need to consume blood. The family who took her in and the former best friend who's taken refuge in their house can never know. Aware of the danger she poses to everyone around her, Beth has never felt more alone. But someone else knows Beth's secret . . . someone who understands just how different she really is. He alone can decrypt her past and explain her future. But he's been sworn to destroy her kind, and as Beth grows ever more dangerous, he's forced to take sides. Can Beth keep all of the secrets? Can she trust a man sworn to kill her? And can she stop the vampire within from taking her humanity?
Thank you, Mr. Evans
Is it necessary to reinvent the vampire myth?
Is anything truly necessary when it comes to entertainment?
We—as in the human race—have this remarkable ability to imagine. It is arguably what drives us to achieve greater and greater things. When it comes to storytelling, I believe the stories we—the individual—choose to tell we do so because we are passionate about relaying an idea. We think up a tale, and if we feel it is one worth sharing, that’s what we do. In that respect, we feel it is necessary, even if others do not.
The story I’m telling I’m doing so because I think it is a great idea. I think—to my mind—it is something not done before, something exciting, and as such something to entertain. Interestingly though, I don’t think of my story as reinventing the vampire myth. I think of it as explaining it. But that is purposefully my mindset. Whilst it is obviously a work of fiction, when I’m actually writing it I think of it as being real; as having happened. Maybe this is the same with all authors of fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal fiction. Either way, hopefully this has helped in relaying that realistic quality to the reader.
As such, if readers think I have managed to pull it off, if they genuinely think I have reinvented vampires, then I am truly flattered.
To answer the question more directly (and as I see it nicely leading into the next one), with so much vampire-related media around, I would say any break from the norm is a good thing. One could then say that I should not write about vampires at all, that that would be a break from the norm, but it appears vampires aren’t going away anytime soon. Moreover, as I’ll go into a little more in the next question, this was never a ploy to “cash in” on the vampire frenzy.
Having in view the books array about vampires how easy or hard it is to write an original story?
As hinted at above, I didn’t just jump on the bandwagon. The initial idea for the story came to me over a decade ago, roughly fourteen years. This was way before Twilight, or even the dream that Stephanie Meyer had on which she based the book. At that time, the most recent “popular” book that I knew of involving vampires was Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire”, the first “Blade” film was the only thing vampire on the big screen while Buffy was the only thing vampire on the small.
Since then it’s been nothing but research and development as far as my story is concerned, putting the pieces together to create the most realistic vampire story I could. It really was never a case of creating an original story, it was more a case of hoping no one else had the same idea and got to the finish line sooner.
I have ideas for other stories. I’m very excited about a couple of them. But at the moment NSFD and “The Cruentus Saga” is the only story I have that involves vampires. And that only came about because I had an idea that I thought would be good.
At present I have no intention of writing a zombie story. But if tomorrow I wake up with a good idea that I think is original and that I think would be good, then that will be on the cards.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t consider “vampires” my genre. I don’t rack my brains trying to think of an original story that involves vampires. It just so happens I had a good idea for it, that’s all. Don’t get me wrong, I love vampires, but if an original idea had never come to me involving them, I’d be writing something completely different now.
I read your article about prologues. Can you, please, tell the readers why they should read the “prologues… and epilogues”?
Ha! Well, first off, thank you for reading the article.
Yes, the eternal debate of the prologue (and epilogue). This question refers to one of the main reasons the how-to guides suggest you don’t use either, that being that they simply won’t be read. I can quite imagine readers frantically flipping pages, ignoring everything until they see the magical words “CHAPTER ONE” because all they want to do is start reading the book.
But, if the book has a prologue and is used properly, the impatient reader could be missing out on an awful lot.
Taking my prologue as an example, I couldn’t just name it “Chapter One”, for the flow of the story from what would then be the first chapter into the rest of the book simply isn’t the same. My prologue stands apart from the rest of the book, but is essential to it. It divulges certain details which will heighten the readers’ enjoyment of the book, prepare them a little bit for what is to come, presents the book’s first mystery and sets up things for further down the line. It does all these things, yet is so distinctly separate from the beginning of the book it couldn’t be called “Chapter One.”
Yes, the book can be read without the prologue, and it will make sense, but the experience will be so much more fulfilling if the reader starts from page “1” and not page “14”.
What are the challenges of creating a believable world having in view the time framing of the series (1941 - 2023)?
With this series, the challenge isn’t so much creating a world, but recreating it. Of the five planned books, only the last is set in the future, in a time that we cannot reference. The fourth book will be easy to write in terms of the era, for it will be the present day. However, the first and second books in particular, being set during the Second World War albeit almost entirely in London, are the ones requiring most research.
Realism has always been of paramount importance to me in the development of this series. Yes, I am creating a new world, but it has to exist inside the one we inhabit. It has to abide not only by its laws of physics and understanding, but also its history. In order to make the world I’m creating feel real, the actual real elements of the story have to be spot on.
The first book took so long to write due to the research I did into London during the 1940s. I had to get the feel of the place right, but I also had to get people’s attitude and behaviour right, too. Amazingly, there may well be some actions or words of characters in the book where readers will think “like that would’ve happened”, but those are the bits that are most likely based on fact. There are things that happen in the book, like the tea vans coming around after an entire block of houses has been reduced to rubble, that seem surreal and unbelievable to us now, but actually happened then.
I think, then, it’s perhaps human behaviour that is the hardest thing to get right in creating a believable world, not necessarily the world itself. And to an extent, human behaviour is what the novel is about.
To be credible, a female action character requires certain features. What are they in your opinion and how Beth exhibits them?
Uh oh, this seems like the kind of question I could get all kinds of nasty comments about if I put a word wrong.
To be honest, I don’t know. When I first came up with the idea for this story, the protagonist was a boy, not a girl. It was just what felt natural to the story. Did I find it hard writing a female character? In some ways yes, but in other ways no. Of course, I wanted to get Beth right, she is a teenage girl and as I’ve already harped on about, it was important I made everything seem real, and that goes for Beth just as much—if not more so—as everyone and everything else.
But she’s a person. Her own person. I wrote her, and when I went back to do another draft, she might say or do something that would make me go “that’s not Beth”, and I’d rewrite it. But that’s how I write all characters, male and female.
It’s just important for me that the characters are human (which is kind of ironic as Beth is a vampire). I don’t really think in terms of “she’s a female so she must do this” or “he’s a male so he must act like that”. To a large degree, I let them dictate who they are and how they act.
Having said that and taking a step back, I guess Beth is stubborn and independent which helps her stand up and take action. But she cares for her family and has a good moral compass which is what calls her to action. Yet, as I’ve said, she has other human qualities, too, and responds to situations as humans might. She can get sad, she’s capable of self-pity. And where she does exhibit frailty, it’s not so much because she’s a girl, but because of what she’s going through and the effects of it.
In terms of making what she’s capable of believable, again for the sake of realism I couldn’t just put it all down to her being a vampire—at least, not so blatantly. She’s a bit of a tomboy and that comes out most notably in school, where she’s better and more at home on the sports field than in the classroom. She’s full of energy and enjoys using it, not being one for just sitting around, which is why it’s so devastating to her when that drive starts to fade.
I hope that answers the question adequately. As I hope all questions have been.
About the author:
MARK D. EVANS was born near London, England. He graduated university with a degree in something not even remotely connected with writing and went on to become a successful consultant. Then he threw it all away to chase his dream of being an author, via a considerable amount of travelling. Today, his life largely resembles that of a nomad, and he can currently be found typing away in a tiny flat in north London, sustained by coffee.
He is the author of two short stories, one of which made it into a Kindle Top Ten.
His latest work is his debut novel, No Shelter from Darkness, which is the first book in his series, The Cruentus Saga.