|P. N. Elrod Flexes Her Literary Muscles|
With four vampire series currently in print, P. N. Elrod must be considered the Nineties' premiere chronicler of the Undead. But neither the lady nor her creations conform to anyone else's notions of proper post-mortem behavior. And that's where the fun begins.
Crescent Blues: Over the past ten years, the name P. N. Elrod has become synonymous with "vampires." You've recounted the undying adventures of four creatures of the night: Jack Fleming, Jonathan Barrett, Strahd and, with Nigel Bennett, Richard Dun. Other than the fact they each have the strength of ten and probably are fantastic kissers, what's so fascinating about the breed?
P. N. Elrod: Aw gee, and here I'd hoped my name would be synonymous with the term "hot babe."
"Probably are fantastic kissers"??? Heh, you need to read those nookie scenes again!
Anyway, you've already answered the question. Vampires are cool. They're rich, young, worldly, possess great bodies, dress well, and have the best lines. Everyone wants to be cool or hang with someone who is so it can rub off on them.
Crescent Blues: In Bloodlist, you introduced readers to Jack Fleming, a fundamentally decent guy who's first job as a vampire is to solve his own murder. This was something very new in vampire stories--a vampire protagonist who was neither evil nor angst-ridden. How did you come up with the idea of a vampire who's a good guy?
P. N. Elrod: He was inspired by a character I did in a role-playing game. I was playing The Shadow, but he wasn't flexible enough for what I really wanted to do with the guy. As The Shadow was a near-supernatural character, I joked that he must be a vampire, then got the idea of making up an original character who really was a vampire. I flipped through a list of reference books in the game rules for inspiration in choosing a name and combined Ian Fleming with Jack Chalker. It's a lucky name. I've always believed that.
The opening chapters of Bloodlist are pretty much the opening moves of that second gaming session. Months afterward the character was still in my head, yearning to have more action, and I thought it was past time that I stopped dicking around and get serious about my writing and do a novel. Eleven months later I had my first rough draft. (I write a lot faster now. It comes with practice.)
I am NOT the first to have a good-guy vampire. That ground was broken by Quinn Yarbro, Fred Saberhagen, Lee Killough and later James Parriott. Some thought I'd taken the idea from Lee since she has a vampire cop -- who also predates Forever Knight -- but I didn't read Bloodwalk and Bloodlinks until my third book was out. I wrote to let her know this, and in doing so made a new friend.
I was also worried that someone would think I took the detective vampire idea from Forever Knight as the Rick Springfield pilot aired about three months before Bloodlist hit the racks. But I was safe from the stigma of plagiarism since I'd signed that contract about 18 months earlier. Whew!
And yes, I am a great fan of the show. It's wonderful.
Crescent Blues: What kind of reader reaction did you get?
P. N. Elrod: I'm still selling the same books 8 years later. The reviews have been 4 stars all the way on them all. The fan letters have been wonderful. I'm doing something right.
Crescent Blues: Was Bloodlist your first book?
P. N. Elrod: Yes.
Crescent Blues: Why did you choose to write under your initials instead of your name?
P. N. Elrod: There is still an unfortunate bias on the part of some readers who think anything written by a woman is not worth looking at, particularly in "traditional" male literature like the hard-boiled detective genre, hard s/f or adventure.
I heard of one guy who sneered at and would not touch any s/f with a woman's name on it. He was absolutely shattered to discover the true gender of his favorite writer, C.J. Cherryh. I'd say he deserved it. Too bad he's limited himself, as he'll never know the fun of reading Lois McMaster Bujold's Hugo-winning series or Elizabeth Moon or Anne McCaffrey or the other greats.
Besides, just using initials takes up less cover space, meaning they can print my name in larger letters!
Crescent Blues: The first Jack Fleming book in several years, A Chill in the Blood, was released earlier this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the book?