Friday, January 28, 2011

Guest Blog and Giveaway with John Hartness

Let the snark begin! Or why my vampires aren’t sexy

by John G. Hartness

Let’s talk about characters for a few minutes, shall we? When I decided to write a vampire novel, I knew I was going to need a couple of things. First, I’d need vampires. But I’m no good at writing sexy, brooding vampires with perfect hair. Probably because I’m not particularly sexy, I don’t brood, and my hair leaves a bit to be desired. So since I couldn’t write the typical vampire characters, I thought I’d go in the complete opposite direction. And in the meantime, I could adhere to that great advice all writers get all the time - “write what you know.”

Well, what I know is geek. I’ve been one almost all my life (there was probably a week or two in college when I was cool, but I missed it), so I’m pretty familiar with what it means to be a geek. I’ve collected comics for decades, and even spent a short stint working in a comic shop. I own all the major flavors of gaming console, and have played a LOT of video games in my day. And I own every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and X-Files. So my geek street cred is pretty good.

So it only made sense that my vampires would be geeks. And since I’ve been an unabashed smart-aleck since I learned to talk, they would have to be snarky, too. And since the best comedy duos have historically been a pair of guys, one short and fat and on tall and thin, I figured I’d steal a page from the Laurel & Hardy handbook and put that stereotype back in play.
So Jimmy Black and Gregory Knightwood came about that way, from me mining comedic history coupled with my personal history, and that gives them dialogue that almost writes itself. I borrow from a lot of comedy traditions with these guys, especially the old tradition of having the fat guy look dumb and really be the smart one, while the “leader” of the pair stumbles along.
But if I’ve learned anything from reading years and years of Spider-Man comics, it’s not just that “with great power comes great responsibility.” It’s also that a superhero without a great cast of supporting characters is kinda boring.

So first I looked around for a love interest, someone that Jimmy as the narrator could fixate on, pine after and generally stumble towards. Kinda like Xander and Buffy. And since my guys needed a good source of cases to work on, putting her in the police department seemed the logical next step. And as a female police detective, she would be tougher than any guy, and self-confident enough to resist the vampire mojo. Which would make Detective Sabrina Law at once baffling and all the more attractive to my main character.

Then I needed a wise old gypsy woman, or in more modern parlance, a Giles. Obviously Father Mike isn’t a gypsy, or a woman, but he serves the same role in the narrative. He’s a little bit of a Jiminy Cricket, a conscience for the boys, but more to the point he’s a researcher, a font of knowledge, and also serves as a constant reminder of their lost humanity, since he was their friend in life. Now every time the boys see Mike age, they remember that they never will, so their friendship with him is a double-edged sword for both of them.

Now if this sounds like I put together a cold, calculating plan in creating my cast of characters - well I kinda did. I knew going into Hard Day’s Knight that it was Book #1 of a planned five-book series, and if I didn’t at least have a rough idea of what these people were like ahead of time, there was no way I’d remember it three books in. I can barely remember to tie my shoes some days, so I had to make a plan (I wear loafers a lot, it helps). I don’t know exactly what happens in Books 3-5 yet, but I know where someone dies, where someone has a crisis of conscience, and how they eventually get through it. And who knows? If I keep readers interested, I can keep telling stories about my snarky, geeky vampires for years and years!

Blurb for Hard Day's Knight-
Children are missing.

The police are stumped.

Halloween is coming, with an ancient evil on the horizon. The vampires are the good guys. This is not your ordinary fall weekend in Charlotte, NC. Vampire private detectives Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood have been hired to keep a young client from being cursed for all eternity, but end up in a bigger mess than they ever imagined. Suddenly trapped in the middle of a serial kidnapping case, Jimmy and Greg uncover a plot to bring forth an ancient evil into the world, and enlist the help of a police detective, a priest, a witch, a fallen angel and strip club proprietor to save the world. This unlikely band of heroes battles zombies, witches, neuroses and sunburn while cracking jokes and looking for the perfect bag of O-negative.


John G. Hartness is a recovering theatre geek who likes loud music, fried pickles and cold beer. He’s been published or accepted online in several journals including The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, cc&d, Deuce Coupe and Truckin’. He can be found online at and spends too much time on Twitter, especially after a few drinks. His first novel, The Chosen, is an urban fantasy about saving the world, snotty archangels, gambling, tattooed street preachers, immortals with family issues, bar brawls and the consequences of our decisions. He followed up The Chosen with Hard Day’s Knight, a new twist on the vampire detective novel and the first in a planned series of five books. John has been called “the Kevin Smith of Charlotte,” and fans of Joss Whedon and Jim Butcher should enjoy his snarky slant on the fantasy genre. His next novel, Back in Black (and Blue) is due out in the spring of 2011.

Would you like a print copy of Hard Day's Knight

I Have 1 Copy for 1 Lucky Reader

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To Enter Leave a Comment On This Post

Winner TBA Next Wednesday


LadyVampire2u said...

I really like the fact that you made your characters different from the norm. And since this novel sounds a bit like Jim Butcher whom I also read and enjoy, I would certainly love to read this book.

LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

SandyG265 said...

I like that John's vampires aren't the typical tall, dark, and sexy vampires.

Lisa said...

I like the difference here. I love when someone does something different

BLHmistress said...

My fascination for vampires isn't just about the brooding sexy ones though I haven't lately read too many that weren't lol but I really like the difference and this book sounds fantastic.


writtenwyrdd said...

Just based on John's article here, I want to read his book. I love his voice, and nerdy vampires are much more cool than the broody, beautiful ones with perfect hair and Armani suits. Please enter me in the contest.

debbie said...

I love the idea that the vampires aren't beautiful, but have geeky qualities. It gives a different attitude and character to them. I would love to read the book.

Indigo said...

Geeky vampires? That actually sounds intriguing. I'm definitely looking forward to reading a vampire of a different breed. Thanks for the opportunity! (Hugs)Indigo

laceyinthesky said...

Thanks for hosting this! Count me in!

laceyinthesky at live dot com

<a href=">Lacey in the Sky with Books</a>

Estella said...

Nice! Something different in the vampire world!

kissinoak at frontier dot com

booklover0226 said...

I've ready many vampire books but Hard Day's Knight is putting a totaly different spin to anything I've ever read.

I'm adding this book to my must have list.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

donnas said...

Sounds like a great new take on the vampire and supernatural world. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to reading it.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Karen said...

Thanks for the giveaway! (:


Julie S said...

This book sounds really good, and I like that it's a brand new series that I can get into.


JenM said...

Great post. I have to say, I wasn't initially all that interested because vamps have been done to death, but after reading this post, I'm in. Geeky vamps modeled after the Buffy series? Absolutely!

jen at delux dot com

Mary said...

I really love that the vampire in this book are different from other vampires. It makes reading a new book interesting when you don't know what to expect.

rita said...

Okay, I admit that I'm Team Edward, but I like the idea of a geeky non-perfect vampire. Since I'm not, you know, perfect or anything.

If I don't win, I will buy! Is it available for Kindle? Never mind, I'm going to Amazon to check.

Tore said...

Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book.

Danielle Gorman said...

Ooh, this looks like a good one. Definitely would want to read. I like that the characters are different than the norm.

stacey said...

I love that your Vampire is Diffrent.Sounds like a great book