Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview with the author of The Division of the Damned Richard Rhys Jones

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

Hi, my name is Richard Rhys Jones, Reggie to my friends and I hail from the wind bitten hills of Colwyn Bay, north Wales. I'm the wrong side of forty, the right side of fifty, married with two children, one cat and currently live in Salzgitter, Germany.

Horror is my genre but vampires were always my favorite monster. I always knew that if I was going to pen a book, then I would definitely include or write about ‘the children of the night’.

I watched all the Dracula movies as a kid and I read Bram Stoker’s classic three times. When I finally bought a computer and went online I visited every vampire folklore site I could find, it really flicked my switch.

I’ll admit to being a tad disappointed at how the new era of sparkly, romance vampires have changed the scene; the haemovores in my book are ugly, savage beasts that definitely do not glimmer in daylight. However, the tradition of the vampire is as fascinating to me now as it was when I watched my first Christopher Lee film.

Please tell us about your latest release.

"The Division of the Damned" is, broadly speaking, about Himmler sending a squad of SS to Transylvania to raise a division of vampires. The Nazis have a serum for the Count's soldiers against the sun, but in return they must fight for the Third Reich.

The Third Reich and vampires always seemed to go hand in hand to me. Both themes hold dark, Gothic edges that manage to inspire sinister thoughts, and yet the real trick was fitting them together seamlessly.

The idea for the story suddenly clicked into place while I was at work. The German colleague I was teamed up with had an accent I didn’t quite recognize. At first I’d placed him as being from Bavaria but the more we worked together, the more I was convinced he wasn’t German. Finally I asked him.

His family originally came from Transylvania, he told me. Siebenbergen, (the German name for the area) has a large German speaking community. A German colony in Transylvania, it was perfect. I had my link and the rest was research and history.

I also slipped a lot of other things that have interested me over the years, and welded them into the story. Sumerian and Biblical mythology, Lilith, Teutonic Knights, werewolves, the Concentration camp system, the Eastern front; you name it, if I'd read a book on it, I lodged it in there and the result was The Division of the Damned.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

I think if I have a favourite character, it's one of the SS called Rohleder. A survivor of a flame thrower attack, he's horribly scarred and very cynical. However, his mutilated outer shell conceals an inner core of compassion and a comically dry outlook on life. I had Rohleder fall in love, which was very hard for me to write as I generally stay away from such goings on when I read. The woman of his affections, a refugee who had witnessed the horror of the Eastern front herself, looks past the disfigurement and falls for the man inside. I'm quite proud of what I did there and I really feel that, regardless of how cheesy it may sound, I struck the right balance in their relationship. I won't put down what happens though.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

Ah, a fave scene, now this is tricky. It would have to be the climax of the story. The SS, who turned their backs on the Reich when they realized that the Dracyl really was a vampire and not a figment of Heinrich Himmler's imagination, have ridden to fight the vampires with silver swords and bullets stolen from Wewelsberg castle. They gather under a tree that has mythical connotations in both Christian and Sumerian legend to do battle. Unfortunately it all goes wrong and it's up to a young lady to save the day. Does she, doesn't she?
I'm not saying.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

I haven't the time to answer this question, we'd be here all week. I LOVE research and for this story I really went to town. Lilith, who I'm sure your readers know about, was a new entity to me. She figures a lot in my book and, to be honest, doesn't quite receive the recognition she deserves for her part in the story.

Then there's the confusion of the hung Jesus myth, which I wrote about in my Blog not so long ago, (
The list goes on and on, and it was all stuff that I love.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book? How does this world differ from our normal world?

In my world, vampires are real. They have an agenda and are willing to use man's folly and vanity for their gain. I have the victims of the Third Reich being used as food and soldiers for the Count's army. Himmler deciding the war is lost on the basis of one photo sent by the SS squad and Russian regiments being decimated by blood crazed demons.

I have Lilith, who writes an ancient tome called The Book of Blood at the same time the prehistoric Mesopotamian city states where blooming into civilization. The Book of Blood is the path the vampire bloodline takes to escape the curse of the Sumerian sun god,
Finally, in my world mankind is protected from the apex predators by an ancient curse, but one that could have been broken on the Winter Solstice of 1944.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

The drums! I play the drums in a Hardcore/Metal band called Due Vengeance. It's nothing serious; we're all just shift working dads who find it hard to let our earlier passions go. But instead of growing old gracefully and turning to the Blues, we decided to stick with Hardcore/Metal.

I also write the lyrics for a band called Gods Will Be Done. They're a Thrash Metal outfit, (so don't expect subtle prose) and I'm very proud to be associated with them. Their drummer is brilliant, I mean it, the guy has eight limbs or something. They call him Spiderman.

What was the last amazing book you read?

Well, it wasn't a vampire one!

"Run" by Blake Crouch had me gripped from the start to the end.  A great read, lacking sadly in the blood sucking department.

The last great vampire book I read was Vigil by Craig Saunders.

What can readers expect next from you?

I have a collection of four short stories called "An age of Beasts", (working title, subject to change). I took a couple of ancient Greek and Roman legends and changed them a tad to give them a horror slant. For example, the "Three Hundred Spartans" become the "The Vampires of Sparta". The "Wooden Horse of Troy" is the "Wooden Wolf of Troy". I also have one called "The Bloody Ides of March" about Caesar being a vampire and only Brutus knows and the story I'm still writing is about Spartacus and his cannibal army decimating Italy. I've had a tentative nod from Taylor Street, we'll have to see if that crystallizes into something definite.

When they're finished I'll be writing a story about a haunted house in wartime north Wales. I have the idea for a plot and the characters are slowly morphing into shape in my head; I just need to write it now.

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Gladly. This is the scene where they try the serum on a vampire and it fails.

"We’ll soon find out Muschi," Rohleder answered him, "the sun’s up.”
     He was right. The shadows behind the wall were slowly draining away as the sun’s rays solidly advanced on the test subject. Though still decked in shade, it radiated terror like a lighthouse beacon and despite the fact that it was a vampire, the squad now found a waxing pity for it. Rooted to the spot, it pathetically held up its arms to protect itself from the dazzle.
     Reflected off the snow the light was blinding and like a cleansing sword, it swathed its brilliant curtain into the square. With almost a glint it struck the vampire’s head and moved down its face and tunic. They all held their breath as the night was beaten back. No one knew what would happen. Finally, it was completely bathed in the brilliant dawn of the winter daybreak. They still held their breath as it slowly let its arms drop and turned to look at them.
Any compassion that they may have felt for it now fell like a cannonball as it turned and, like a gloating python, smiled at them. All inwardly shied away in horror from that reptilian sneer. It looked around to find Rasch and deliberately nodded its head to him.
     Von Struck looked on as it opened its arms to greet the now fully formed sun.
"My God, what have you done Rasch?” Von Struck whispered to himself.
     The Doctor was ecstatic. "Look Von Struck. Look at him. I’ve done it, I’ve done..." but his words fell dead in his throat. Von Struck looked at Rasch who had suddenly stopped raving. His face had dropped and he stood there gaping, half-pointing at the Count’s man.
     The tunic of the vampire was smouldering, but from the inside. The vampire stood motionless looking at his hands that were turning black and starting to peel. Blisters appeared on its face and it threw back its head to scream. Rasch flinched at the unholy shriek that it let loose. It was the scream of rage and agony, of panic and confusion. Rasch turned white and sprayed vomit onto his highly polished boots. The men lined up against the wall stood numb and silent at the sight of the immolation. Although they were used to death in all its many forms, they were still traumatised by what had happened.
     Its once white head was now burnt black and then it burst into flame. It made no sound or movement after the first scream and stood immobile and burning like a Celtic Wickerman. Its eyes burst with an audible pop and slowly it started to crumble and break up. The legs snapped first and as it hit the ground, the charred and still burning head came off. The light given off from the fire was now so intense it was impossible to discern what was burning.
Rasch chanted to himself, "Oh my God, oh my God" over and over again.

Where can readers find you on the web?

My Blog can be found here:

It's not as regular as it used to be but, let's face it, all things loose their novelty with age. I try to update it about twice a month.

I also have a Facebook page for the book, here:

The Kindle links can also be found on those pages.

Thanks very much for having me and I hope to hear from any of your readers either on my Blog or on the Facebook page.

Division of The Damned
By Richard Rhys Jones

Publisher: Taylor Street Publishing

Date of Publication: April 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475155433

Number of pages:298
Word Count: 90.000

Cover Artist: Chris Salmen

Blurb/Book Description:

It was a brilliant plan to win the war.

What if the Third Reich could own the night?

What if they had a Division of Vampires?

And if those Vampires didn't stop?

If they had plans to conquer the whole world?

Even Heinrich Himmler hadn't thought of that. But in Transylvania someone had. And on the Winter Solstice of 1944, the world would be at their mercy.

Find the Author at:

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Shalini Boland said...

Great interview Reggie. And the book is a great read - a real blockbuster.

Paul Rudd said...

The story is a fangtastic one, it really is. It kept me gripped till the very end.

R.R.Jones said...

Thanks Shalini and Paul, that's very nice of you :-)
And thanks again to you Roxanne, for having me here.

Roxanne Rhoads said...

I have always been fascinated by Dracula too, I love the new twists (even the sparkles) but favor the old fashioned vamps. But there's enough variety to make anyone happy.

I look forward to reading your book, it has definitely hooked my interest.

R.R.Jones said...

Well thank you, I hope it doesn't disappoint :-)

bn100 said...

Nice excerpt and interview.

Mike Church said...

You can't go wrong with Reggie. Always a great read, whether they be 2-line comments, 400-page novels or 10-minute interviews.

Definitely recommend ANYTHING with Reggie's / Richard's name to it.

Great excerpt incidentally. So, I take it the poor chap died??

R.R.Jones said...

bn100, thanks very much :-)
Mike, thanks mate and sadly, yes, he did. However, the good news is that the Count simply took one of the SS squad as a vampire so everyone was happy... except the poor schmuck who was turned.