This is L.M. David and today I am interviewing Mark Knight, author of Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key. Since this is promoting Mark Knight’s book, there will not be a blurb as usual in these interviews.
Okay, let’s get started. Welcome Mark to my little space in time.
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.
A. Well, I grew up in America, living everywhere from California to Boston, son of an Irish father and a British mother who had immigrated to the US shortly before I was born. It was while I was still a young teenager living in Massachusetts that I discovered I wanted to write, because I loved strange tales, be it science fiction, ghost stories, or horror. I started with short stories, then novels. Of course, those early ones were dire! But I knew I wanted to be a published author one day. Our family moved to Ireland where I finished school and also completed my first novel, a space adventure. In the early 80s I moved to the UK. Since then, I have been writing novels, screenplays, and the occasional short story. Now I concentrate mostly on Young Adult urban fantasy, which I found to be the most fun to write.
Q. Your book, Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key is a genre that I’m very much into. Tell me about what this book is about.
A. Blood Family was written to be a different kind of vampire book. That was always my premise. I wanted to write about vampires, keeping all the tried-and-tested cool elements intact – the vampire’s strength, blood-lust, etc. – but adding new elements to the lore, especially to what vampires were, their origins. The theory of other dimensions has always fascinated me. What if, I thought, vampires were inter-dimensional creatures that took over the bodies of humans, transforming them and making them into the fanged bloodsuckers we know and love? And what if one of those bloodsuckers then sired a child with a human? That half-vampire child would have quite a life, especially if he knew nothing of his true parentage. Daniel Dark starts off that way, a normal, angst-filled teenager. Then he finds out what he is, and everything changes. That sets him on a quest, and an extremely perilous one, to confront his vampire father and find his birth mother, utilizing his emerging vampire powers along the way.
Q. Daniel Dark is a vampire raised by Pastor Nathan and his wife. Did they know there was something different about him when they adopted him?
A. Yes indeed, they knew exactly what he was – a dhampir, or half-vampire. Pastor Nathan Dark very reluctantly agreed to take the child, at the urging of his wife. In his mind, this was a task sent to him by God. His plan was always to keep the boy from finding out what he was, and also to repress any possible emergent powers. For the first few years of Daniel’s life, Pastor Dark prayed over him, and even brought exorcists in to ensure that his ‘demon side’ never saw the light of day. I don’t think it is much of a giveaway to say that not one of those precautions work!
Q. How are your vampires different than those depicted in other books of the same genre?
A. Other dimensions and astral entities always have intrigued me. I wanted to incorporate that into a vampire tale, whilst keeping all the cool aspects of vampire lore intact – the vampire’s strength, blood lust, etc. I re-imagined vampires as being inter-dimensional beings who, through ritual, possess the bodies of willing hosts, transforming them. That intrigued me enough to create an adventure story around the concept.
Q. Daniel’s father, Dominus, seems like an evil sort. Tell me a bit about him.
A. I knew that with Dominus I wanted to create the ultimate evil, one that seemingly couldn’t be reasoned with or destroyed. When I decided to make the vampires in my story inter-dimensional beings – evil spirits, essentially – I knew Dominus had to be the patriarch, the very top vampire who all other vampires worshiped. A king. But, like all good antagonist’s, he had to have a weakness. And with Dominus, it is his fascination with human beings and especially human woman. While in physical form, he has a child with a woman and the result is Daniel – a half vampire. When we are first introduced to Dominus near the beginning of the novel, he has made contact with his adopted, now-teenaged son and reveals to him the truth of his parentage, knowing that the boy will come looking for him. And the reason? Well, not simply for a father-son reunion, I will tell you that much!
Q. The character Logan DuPris, a vampire hunter, joins forces with Daniel. Why would a vampire hunter do that?
A. Daniel is on a quest, led by several clues which take him to England and to Logan DuPris. She is the daughter of a vampire hunter and paranormal researcher who had a fascination with Dominus and the human cult that worships him. Daniel knows she has become a deadly vampire hunter herself, and can help him track down his birth mother, who has been incarcerated by Dominus. But he is not about to tell Logan who and what he is. Daniel and Logan develop deep feelings for each other over the course of the story. Logan’s hatred for Dominus runs deep, as he killed her father. So Daniel knows he has to keep his identity a secret. But when she finally finds out, well, let’s just say the proverbial ‘stuff’ truly hits the fan!
Q. The Vampire Key is what Daniel seeks. Why?
A. Daniel’s vampire father, Dominus, makes telepathic contact with his half-vampire son near the beginning of the story, and tells him ‘only with the Key, will you find your Blood Family’. But he does not say that this ‘key’ is. Daniel’s quest is to find his imprisoned mother and to confront his vampire father, but he is now aware that there is a mysterious key he also has to find. On the course of his journey, he encounters lots of keys. But which is the right one? All I will say is that there is a master key that Daniel eventually finds, after travelling across three countries, and colliding headlong with horrors and challenges of every kind along the way. But it is not what he expected.
Q. In Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key, are vampires living among humans or is their world hidden?
A. Both! In Blood Family, real vampires are powerful, malevolent spirit beings from a different dimension. They are immortal. They cannot be destroyed. They love to feed off other beings and exploit them, and often go to other realms and realities to experiences new sensations and ways of feeding. Possessing the physical bodies of willing human hosts their way of partaking of the sensations of our human world, be it sex, dominance, or the drinking of blood –which they crave once they’ve possessed a human being. The ‘willing hosts’ are often cult members who are aware of the vampire’s hidden realm and their desire to cross over to this world. They allow themselves to be taken over, and once they are – they change. Fangs. Great strength. Long life. The vampires of popular culture. That’s how it works; in my world, anyway!
Q. What does Pastor Nathan Dark do after learning he has raised a vampire child?
A. He knows from the very beginning. When we first meet Daniel, he is seventeen. Pastor Dark is certain he has successfully suppressed the boy’s vampire powers. Daniel is lazy, uncommunicative, and somewhat surly – but no bloody-fanged killer. Everything changes when Daniel’s true father makes contact and tells Daniel who he really is.
Everything changes for his adoptive father, Pastor Dark, as well. His biggest fears have been realized. He blames himself and descends into a kind of madness, and vows to destroy Daniel.
Q. With the market filled with vampire stories, what would readers find unique about Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key?
A. I hope that my take on vampire lore is what makes this book different, the fact that vampires are inter-dimensional creatures that possess the bodies of willing hosts.
What appeals to me most in stories – especially fantasy stories – is when it is wrapped around a very real-world setting with characters who have very down-to-earth lives and problems. In Blood Family, Daniel starts off as a lazy seventeen-year-old who smokes weed and has major father issues. These things factor into the story and are great contrast to all the paranormal elements, as well as making the whole thing seem more ‘real’, like it could actually be happening. I think readers will relate to characters more when it is like that.
Q. What was your favorite part in the book?
A. That is a difficult one, as I only write scenes and situations that excite me; so I guess in that way every part is my favorite! That answer is a bit of a cop-out though. I really enjoyed introducing vampire hunter, Logan DuPris. She doesn’t enter the story for quite a few chapters, but quickly establishes herself as the book’s secondary protagonist. She is English, from Devon, and a few years older than Daniel. Some has seen some horrifying things in her life which has turned her into a kind of vigilante. She was great fun to write as she is very no-nonsense and cynical, always firing out quips and fiery dialogue. Logan and Daniel start off engaging a lot of verbal sparring, but end up very close friends.
Q. If your book were being made into a movie, who would you get to play the lead role?
A. I have been told that the image of Daniel on the main cover artwork for the book looks somewhat like Thomas Dekker, who starred in Heroes and Sarah Connor Chronicles. If a film were to be made, it could be Thomas or another talented, up-and-coming young actor. Not necessarily a known name. Just as long as he can capture who Daniel Dark really is, I would be happy.
Q. If you could become a character in your book, who would you want to be?
A. Easy one, it would have to be Daniel. As the author, I poured a lot of my own personality into the protagonist, into all the characters but especially to the hero. You see things through the protagonist’s eyes. I know Daniel the best.
Q. As a writer, what is the hardest part about writing a book? The beginning, middle or end?
A. I think it is the beginning. You want those opening lines to make an impact, to grab people. I plan the book from start to finish, but as to how that book opens, well, I can make several attempts at it. It is definitely the hardest part.
Q. Will there be a sequel to Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key?
A. It was to be a one-off, originally, but as I created the mythology and background, I saw scope for further adventures. I have already started writing the second book. Really, this first novel is just about Daniel discovering who he is, and the powers he has locked inside. Many of my Young Adult stories are about that. The second book will present even greater threats and show Daniel becoming more confident as a powerful dhampir.
Q. What advice do you have for writers who love writing about vampires but hesitate because the market has been inundated with this type of storyline?
A. The market is saturated with vampire stories because people love them, and always will. I would say to create the best vampire story you can, one that you would love to read and haven’t seen the like of before. Keep all the elements of vampire tales that keep people coming back – the mystery, the powers, and the coolness – but add something new to the lore. Think about it and think about it until your eyebrows rise and you say to yourself ‘now that would be an interesting thing to put in a vampire story!’
Well, that is the end of this interview. Thank you Mark for stopping by and I wish you the best with Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key.
Mark Knight grew up in Massachusetts, USA. Settling in the UK, Mark continued to write novels of differing genres, including horror and television scripts. Mark has worked on scripts for Hollywood’s Little Slices of Death production company and one for Illusion Studios, for which he has recently signed an Option Acquisition Agreement. He also won several short story competitions, and has had his work featured in published anthologies. Mark concentrates now on Young Adult urban fantasy novels.