|Author C. David Belt|
Today’s author interview is with C. David Belt. Usually I do interviews with romance writers, but it’s not a fast and hard rule. So here is something different for everyone. I hope you enjoy.
Here’s a direct link to my author bio: http://www.unwillingchild.com/author.html
The Children of Lilith is the story of the world’s first and only unwilling vampire. Set in present-day Utah, it’s the story of Carl Morgan, a decent LDS man who loses his wife and children in an automobile accident. Then he witnesses the murder of his wayward sister at the hands of the beautiful and mysterious Rebecca. When the police can’t find the killer, he goes searching for her. He finds Rebecca, but she takes away everything. She transforms him into the world’s FIRST and ONLY unwilling vampire. Vampirism is a choice, and you’re choosing to become a serial killer, because you can only survive on HUMAN blood, not animal blood. Carl is unwilling to murder to survive and he really doesn’t understand what has happened to him. He’s found and mentored by Moira MacDonald, a two-hundred and seventy year-old Penitent (repentant vampire). She teaches him how to survive without killing, how to stay true to his temple covenants (in spite of his condition), and how to get justice for his murdered sister. But to Moira? Carl’s very existence as an unwilling vampire turns her world upside-down, because Carl is an impossibility. In the 6,000 years that the Children of Lilith have walked the earth, there has never been an unwilling vampire, because eternal damnation cannot be forced on someone: they must choose it, just as Moira did. And yet, there’s Carl. If he can exist somehow, there must be something about Moira’s condition that she doesn’t know. Is it possible that, after two and a half centuries of searching for redemption and repentance with no hope, perhaps there might somehow be a way back? Meanwhile, Rebecca’s vampire Master, Michael, plans to unleash a wave of new vampires on the city. Carl and Moira must stop him before countless innocents are slaughtered.
1. From your blog everyone will know you are LDS. How does being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints coincide with writing about vampires?
Great question! I first read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” when I was nine and have reread it many times since (the latest being this year). While I have always enjoyed a GOOD vampire story, there is one aspect of the popular vampire mythos that bothers me intensely: involuntary eternal damnation. (OK, well, THAT and the fact that so many contemporary storytellers make vampires all about sex.) The whole concept that simply being bitten by a vampire forces you to become one, i.e., the idea that you have NO CHOICE in the matter, never sat well with me. However, we ARE affected by the choices of others. You could walk down the sidewalk and get hit by a drunk driver. The driver’s rotten choices have now changed your life. Does that mean that it was God’s will that you be crippled? Of course not. Does that mean that God has abandoned you? He will NEVER abandon you. Perhaps you receive a priesthood blessing and are healed. If so, wonderful! However, that isn’t always the case. The person who chose to drive under the influence of alcohol has taken away choices from you. Does that mean that you have NO choices anymore? Of course not. You simply have different choices. What is important is what you choose out of the options that you have. Do you become bitter? Do you curse God? Or do you choose to do the best you can in whatever circumstances you are?
In my mythos, vampirism is a CHOICE. And whatever your reason for choosing it (e.g., love, lust for power, immortality, etc.), it is a deliberate decision to become a serial murderer, because you can only survive on human blood (not that animal blood copout that we see in so many books and movies). It has never been forced on anyone, not in 6,000 years. Well, not until now…
2. Your main character, Carl, is LDS; do you write exclusively for the LDS market?
In most vampire fiction, the imagery is Catholic (or some distorted version of Catholicism): vampires fear the cross, the host renders their coffin unusable, holy water burns them, etc. I’m simply framing my story in an LDS setting, with LDS imagery. I tried very hard to keep my mythos in conformance with the scriptures and LDS doctrine. However, I have a number of fans who are not LDS. As I say in my author’s note for the first book, “The doctrines of my faith figure prominently in this novel. I make no apology for writing from the premise that what I believe to be true is, in fact, true. If you are not of my faith, I hope that you can enjoy this work with the understanding that it is set in a world where the doctrines of my faith are the truth. I believe them to be true. You are free to believe that such a world is fantasy.”
3. Will your novel appeal to a wide range of people?
In The Children of Lilith, you will find action, mystery, romance, drama, fantasy, pathos, heartbreak, tragedy, and triumph. And, yes, vampires. There is something for the military and aviation buff. There is something for the history fan. There is something for the theologian. (Imagine being able to talk to someone who has been around since the days of Adam…)
4. There are a lot of vampire stories/love stories on the market. How does yours differ from everyone else’s?
As far as vampire stories go, I went back to the original Hebrew vampire myths. Using the premise that Lilith and her Children have been around for six millennia, they would not necessarily conform to the notions that have grown up around vampires in the last couple of centuries. For one thing, anciently, vampires are depicted as having feathered wings (centuries before anyone thought of putting wings on angels). I abandoned all the silly stuff that made no sense scientifically, logically, or scripturally: my vampires do not fear the cross, CAN cross running water, CAN enter your home without permission, CAN be seen in a mirror, CANNOT change shape (i.e., cannot become a wolf, a bat, or a rat, or turn into mist), The biggest concession I made to modern vampire-lore is the fangs: their canine teeth do extend and retract to become fangs when feeding. They do burst into flames in direct sunlight. But the biggest difference is that they must choose to become a vampire of their own freewill (except for Carl, that is) and that they must consume HUMAN blood to survive. One unique aspect to my mythos: vampires are driven to corrupt and seduce the innocent, while at the same time, they are compelled to murder the truly evil before they might have a chance to repent. The urge to kill the wicked is almost overwhelming…
On the romance front, this would be considered a wartime romance. Carl and Moira are thrown together under horrific circumstances. Time is very short. Death is imminent. In fact, death is PROPHESIED. But rest assured: Carl is determined to keep temple covenants and remain chaste no matter what happens. And as for Moira? She’s been alone for 250 years, but she is also determined to live the principles she believes to be right.
5. What is the age group for this book? Thirteen and up? Sixteen and up? In other words, who is your audience?
Thirteen and up. The story is written for adults (and I mean that only in a good sense). However, some of my fans are teenagers. Carl is in his thirties. Moira? Her BIOLOGICAL age is seventeen, but in her time, that was nigh being an old maid. I never get graphic, but the vampires (other than Carl and Moira) are EVIL people who do EVIL things. (If you are willing to murder to gain immortality, what moral restraints would you have?) You know what happens; you just don’t need to know the details.
6. Is there a love story between Moira and Carl?
Yes. Like I said, it’s a wartime romance. The characters may be immortal, but they expect to die very soon. However, you may rest assured that it is a CLEAN romance, suitable and interesting for teenagers and married couples alike.
7. Is it possible for a 270 year old vampire to fall in love?
Oh, most definitely. Moira was engaged to be married when her fiancé followed Bonnie Prince Charlie and marched to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. He was captured and executed by the British. His death and the reprisals that the British took against her and her family are the reasons she chose to become a vampire. But she soon discovered that her revenge came at too dear a price. She soon discovered that she had given up everything. Moira desires to be a mother more than anything. While a male vampire can sire a child with a mortal woman (the child would be mortal), a female vampire is incapable of bearing a child. Moira has spent most of her long life as a mid-wife, a nurse, or a physician. She’s currently a trauma surgeon, but the vast majority of her medical career has been in obstetrics. In other words, she can’t have a family of her own, so shares in the miracle of birth in the only way she can: delivering babies. Since the beginning of her repentance (i.e., for 250 years), she has been alone, living among mortals and avoiding her own kind. When she discovers Carl and finds that, not only is he a Penitent like herself (i.e., a vampire who refuses to murder), her heart opens to the possibility of an end to her loneliness.
8. Where did you get the inspiration to write about vampires?
Like I said, I love a good vampire story. However, the motivation for this particular story is more rooted in agency, choices, consequences, repentance, and forgiveness. One of my inspirations for this story, believe it or not, is the story of Job. Vampirism is merely the framework I used to tell a story about good man forced into a horrific situation. Another inspiration though was an image I got in my head of an assemblage of vampires “ordaining” a new vampire, except I KNEW vampiric conversion must be voluntary and yet the new vampire was being converted against his will. A paradox, I know, but it wouldn’t let me go until I could figure out how that could work.
9. During your travels, did you hear different stories about vampires?
Yes. Korean and Philippino, but for the most part, I learned about vampire myths simply by doing research. I read a fascinating book called, “The Vampire in Europe”. It’s written by a monk, and it is supposed to a scholarly history of vampirism in Europe. I’m convinced the author believed every word he wrote. I also researched the myths about Lilith and the Lilitu extensively.
10. What makes vampires so interesting that you would use them as a focus in your writing?
What fascinates me most about vampirism is that, while they have such fantastic abilities, they are also limited. They can fly, live forever (in theory), regenerate, etc., but a female vampire cannot bear a child. They cannot enjoy (or consume) regular food! They cannot survive direct sunlight. Carl tries to keep his job in spite of his condition. That presents him with unique challenges. He cannot go where he wishes. Moira desires to enter the temple, but she cannot so much as touch the outer walls. (Actually, she did touch the wall once, but she has never been able to repeat it…) Carl wants to be reunited with his dead wife and children, but he’s trapped here on earth, unable to die unless he takes his own life (which would prevent him from being reunited with his family) or dies a violent death at the hands of another. Besides, he is convinced that he is damned—through no fault of his own. The Children of Lilith trilogy is the only vampire fiction I have ever written. That story is told now, so I don’t think I will be revisiting that theme again. A sequel is not possible. A prequel, perhaps… I miss Moira and would love to tell more of her story. My current project is a standalone science-fiction novel with no horror elements.
11. Is your book out, and if not when will it be published?
Volume 1, The Unwilling, is available now as a paperback and ebook. Links are on my website: http://www.unwillingchild.com Volume 2, The Penitent, is available as an ebook, but the paperback should be out in a few weeks. Volume 3, The Prophecy, is available as an ebook. The paperback is due out next May. The publisher is planning hardcover editions of both volumes 1 and 2 to be published sometime this year.
12. Where can my readers and your fans find you book for purchase?
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, or directly from the publisher. All those links are on http://www.unwillingchild.com
13. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your book?
It’s been a fun ride telling the tale or Carl and Moira. I miss them. I wanted to tell a good story. I hope readers enjoy it!
Thank you for your time. Good look with your writing.