Monday, June 10, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Stavros: Author, Artist, Fangsmith

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

I had a dream.  Back in the early 90’s, while visiting with my then-girlfriend’s father’s in Washington State, I was studying Impressionist painting and poetry.  There was nothing in my world at the time that could have caused it.  But it lit upon me with such terrible ferocity that I woke up at 5am one morning, sweating and excited, and just started writing.  That was the beginning of 15 years of intense research and development.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

I am intrigued by the vampires’ timelessness and variety.  Not their supposed immortality, that’s fiction, but that they have been with us from the very beginning – even before our written languages.  During my research and development for the One Blood series, I discovered stories and references to bloodlust, bloodletting and consumption, and the belief of undead ghouls in almost every country that took shape upon the earth, except a small region in Indonesia, as far back as the oldest oral histories.  That intrigues me.  It sets my brain on fire to think that we, as a species, have grown and developed with the ideology of vampirism since the primordial ooze.

But yet, 99% of Vampire literature and modern culture only goes as far back as the loose-lying threads of Bram Stoker’s inspirations from Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathroy.  It is appalling that some much rich and exciting history is out there, being overlooked for the same ole same old thing.  But! …the variety of fictional vampires, their lore, and intricate histories that have been created from this limited Transylvanian scope is utterly amazing.  It deserves a minute of silent awe. 

You have the Count on Sesame Street teaching children how to do arithmetic and sexy gun-totting, leather-clad hotties to the grotesque horror of Nosferatu and a mute clan ravaging Alaskan villages to Rice’s blood-soaked Egyptian lore and the twisted teen-angst glitter of the Sparkly Ones.  Truly, the breadth and scope of the kinds of vampires that are out there is stunning.  However, there is so much more history that we could draw upon.  Imagine if you will, where the vampire could go if all this wonderful effervescent creativity of so many gifted writers began to dig deeper and look further into our ancient doctrines, religions, and lore than what they think they know.  Wow.  That prospect, right there, intrigues to no end….and I can’t wait for those stories!

So….I started writing some of them. LOL!

Please tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is the second volume of Vampire News: The (not so) End Times Edition.  It’s nonfiction - an annual anthology that attempts to collect all vampire happenings from around the world, from both the fictional and the real.  As far as I know, it’s the only thing like it that combines all aspects of vampire culture.  As an anthology we try to encapsulate the previous year in review, collecting articles, news, quips, art, interviews, rants, blog spotlights, vampire balls, fangsmithing, movies and books that were released, webisodes – we really do try to capture as much as we can, giving the reader an honest look at the who, what, when, and where of vampiredom.

What inspired you to write this book?

I got a call from the Vampire Professor, Bertena Varney, M.A.M.Ed, in late December, 2011.  She had this idea for a “little” nonfiction book, and wanted to call it Vampire News, and was wondering if I would be interested to help in some way.  I immediately, said yes, and began brainstorming.  With a name like Vampire News, I began drafting concepts on how to create a “real” news program, hosted by a vampire.  I pitched her my musings, she dug ‘em, and I got to work creating the imagery of The Vampire News Network; while she started contacting authors.  Since she had the books and film angle fairly covered, I ventured into web serials and real vampire culture, tapping my contacts in that vein.  And what started to emerge as we began putting it together was this wonderful eclectic collection of fictional and real voices that I had not heard before. 

So, this year, Bertena and I, pushed ourselves a little harder. We went further into the concept, drawing upon the epic Mayan warnings of doom and gloom throughout 2012 and produced our greatest collaborative venture to date.  Now, I’m trying to raise production funds so that I can launch Vampire News as a weekly 5-minute webisode series, featuring News in a traditional newsroom setting, yet slightly twisted toward our gothic sensibilities.  The show would widen its base to include all aspects of horror culture, the paranormal, ghost hunting, and real vampirism, going so far as to have a “Psychic Weatherman” that updates us on how the weather effects our psychic abilities and the paranormal realms.  It’s really very cool, actually.  So, I’m trying to raise the production capital necessary to get it off the ground.  And like the cover on the first edition of VN, we will have a Vampire anchorwoman with revolving human guest anchors….that she’ll dig into at the end of every episode.  I mean…it wouldn’t really be “vampire news” if it didn’t shed a ‘lil blood.


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

Yes.  The vampire, simply known as, Z.  From the One Blood series (Blood Junky & Love in Vein).  Her full, formal name is Zia Jean Bell.  She is a hellcat that inhabits my bones and cuts her swagger through each word.  I never know what she is going to say or do at any given moment – which is both thrilling and utterly terrifying at the same time!

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

No, I don’t do for formulas.  I brew tea in the exact way that I allow my writing process to unfold.  There is a process, yes, but it’s not formulaic.  I simply need to trust my process, show up at the computer each morning, and get my ego out of the way.  I’m merely a tool by which the story passes.

What is your favorite scene from one of your vampire books? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

Oooooh, that’s a hard one.  Because, I forget about what I write after I write and edit it.  Really, I’m blond that way.  So, when I pick up one of my books and start reading, I have the vague remembrance of putting time in the chair and typing, but it always reads new and fresh.  Sometimes, I’m blown away.  So, my favorite scenes keep changing with my moods.  But there is this one passage I will share.  It is from Blood Junky, my first novel.  I have just completed a new edit on it for its eBook, which was just released this month, and its upcoming re-release in print, in July.   It is a story that Nsia Bah tells to Linnet and the Vam Pŷr, Dominique De’Paul, after tracking them down in London, in 1774.

            “The story my grandfather’s father told him was passed down from all those who had gone before.  Many generations remembered so that we would never forget why we fight.”  The man’s voice was deep and melodic.

“The sun was low in the sky as the three hunters, Aadii, Bala, and Suma returned home with a gazelle on their backs.  As the sun dipped below the treetops, the hunters reached a part of the Savannah where the grasses grew tall.  Aadii took the gazelle from Bala, who had been shouldering the kill.  They laughed and spoke of the hunt, of their wives and children, of stories their elders spoke, as they waded through the towering grass toward the Marula trees on the far side.  The three hunters thought to camp and build a fire under the protection of the trees and return to the village the following morning.  But as they neared the outlying grove, wild beasts did set upon them. 

A flash of white.  The rustling of movement.   A beast leapt from one of the Marula trees and landed on Bala who was behind the others.  He was taken under.  The grass came alive with his screams as Suma ran toward him.  Even as his death cries filled the dawning night, the edge of the tall grass began to flap in the direction of Aadii.  He cried out for Suma to come help him.  He had given Bala his spear when he had taken the burden of the gazelle.  Bala’s cries grew faint.  There was little Suma could do.  So he turned to help his friend.  Aadii dropped the gazelle, thinking that whatever it was attacking them would go for the fresh meat instead of him.  But it did not.

Suma ran toward Aadii, shrieking to scare the unseen animal as the bending sedge revealed its path.  He threw one of his spears, hoping for a good clean hit.  He missed and the beast kept coming.  As Suma reached Aadii he brought up his last spear, but the beast was faster and ripped Aadii from the sea of green spraying the young man’s blood across Suma’s face.  When the hunter opened his eyes…there was quiet.  Both of his friends were gone and the grass swayed ever so gently in a light, cool breeze. 

Suma knew the beasts were still there.  He could not run, for if he did, he might run straight into them.  He had to wait for them to make their move.  The beasts were in no hurry to reveal themselves and time passed.  They were like no other animal the hunters had faced before.  There was a savage cunning in their attack.  Each advance brought their prey closer to them, instead of driving it away.  Suma was frightened.  He had just lost two brothers of the tribe in the blink of an eye and had scarcely seen a thing.  He began sweating despite the coolness of the night air.  He gripped the thin wooden shaft of his spear tighter as his eyes swept across the tops of the tranquil grass.  Any second now, they would make their move and he would know the face of death.

Again, it was sudden.  One after the other bound from their cover toward him.  In the light of the rising moon, as they glided through the air, he could now see his attackers as clear as day.  Their bodies shone with a white luminescence.  Their long arms reached out toward him, not like an animal, but like a man.  Their thick legs were tucked up to their chests, ready to pounce.  Their bodies were hairless and each had a mane of long black hair that flowed out from the tops of their heads.  They roared…and it thundered as if the heavens itself had cracked.  Suma had never seen men like these before, though he had heard tales of them.  Far to the east where the forest still remained thick against the encroaching desert, a tribe of celestial beings was said to reside.  They were known as Malaika.  But Suma had never heard tales of Malaika hunting men before.

When the beasts sprang from the brush, giving away their locations and the location they intended to be, Suma took off in the opposite direction away from them.  He was the fastest runner of the three hunters and had gained a good distance from the beasts by the time they landed and began pursuit.  But, alas, Suma was not as fast as the Malaika.  They soon gained on him.  He turned ‘round just as one of them leapt at him.  He brought his spear up and impaled the beast through the belly as it landed on top of him.  Both he and the injured Malaika went rolling through the grass, tumbling over one another.  Suma did not waste the advantage he had gained and quickly got to his feet and continued to run.  He ran as fast as he could.  He called on all the gods to carry him, to give him the legs of a cheetah and protect him from the white angels.  When he reached the edge of the grasslands he looked back.  The other Malaika had broken chase.  Perhaps to take care of their injured brother or perhaps because they had enough food from their hunt, or perhaps because they had made the point that they wanted to make.  Whatever the reason, Suma ran. 

He ran all of the way back to the village and told everyone what he had seen and what had happened.  Our elders took counsel with Suma and it was agreed.  We would no longer hunt on the lands past the sea of grass.  There were good grounds to the south and in the plains over the western mountain.  We would hunt in those places more and perhaps the Malaika would leave us in peace as they had done until now.  But it was not to be.  Soon, the Malaika began raiding our villages and stealing our loved ones, taking them into the dark night never to be seen again.”

Nsia Bah leaned against the high back of the chair pausing in his tale to give his empty teacup to Laurel, the servant girl, and to take stock of his audience, the Vam Pŷr, Dominique De’Paul, and her consort, Linnet Pangbourn.  Linnet asked him how he had come to be a warrior in his tribe, and so the tale unfurled under the candlelight and hospitality of the Lady De’Paul.  He was sure that Dominique already knew this story.  She had been silent during their time together, letting her consort navigate the conversation.  Perhaps his great grandfather, Musa Bah, told it to her, or she had heard it from some other source.  Nsia had no doubt that she knew a great deal about his people and the beasts of which his tale told.  Her countenance spoke of a deeper wisdom.  Her eyes were calculating and he did not like it when she looked at him.  None the less, he was delighted to see that the young maid, Linnet, was quite taken by the tale and enjoyed his telling of it.

“For many generations,” Nsia concluded, “we were preyed upon by the Malaika at night and they became to be called the Kula Malaika, Shaytan Khalid.  Which in your tongue translates as cannibal angel, devil immortal.” He turned to the silent and composed Vam Pŷr and nodded.  “You know them as Omjadda, others to the North and East have called them Annunaki.” 

            “That is correct,” Dominique affirmed, finally breaking her lengthy quiet.

“They are our waking nightmare.”  Nsia said, looking down.  “So the responsibility fell to my family and the family of four others to stay behind and protect the village from the Kula Malaika so that our people could cross the mountain to live safely within the center of the great mother.  For over nine hundred generations we have defended ourselves and protected all that we love from these beasts that have hunted us, stolen our women, and sought to disrupt the evolution of Man.

            “Suma was your ancestor,” Linnet said realizing the breadth of the man’s lineage.

            Nsia Bah nodded.  “Yes.”

            “Can I offer you another cup of tea?” 

Linnet signaled Laurel to come remove her cup, uneaten biscuits, spoon, and saucer.  The tall, slender African, sharply dressed in a beige suit cut in the style of the Colonies, declined a second cup of the lady’s hospitality.

            “Then do please tell me Mr. Bah,” inquired Linnet, speaking in a cordial tone, sitting up on the haunches of her gown, “how again you came to be putting a knife to my throat?”

It had happened earlier that night…

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

I went to San Francisco and let a character inhabit my body for two weeks.  It was exhilarating, scary, insightful, brilliant, and psychotic.  I’m just thankful I wasn’t arrested.

What was one of the things that you found interesting while researching this or another book?

That the Annunaki were known to drink the sangreal fluid of virgins.  That’s just gross. 

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

I can only write in the mornings.  I have to get out of bed when awoken, or it will be lost.  I have to have silence, because I hear, think, and feel every single thing that each of my characters experience.  I wind up taking breaks at the exact same times every day, when I’m writing.  They just naturally occur.  And I need to have a glass of tea with me at all times.  It helps to keep me hydrated, because I read everything aloud, and I get quite parched.

What can readers expect next from you?

Well, the re-release of the print copy of Blood Junky, with the new edit, in July, and an upcoming poetry chapbook.  I’m still working on book 3, Blood in Vein, of the One Blood series and hope to have that done very soon.  But it is kind of being delayed by talks with producing Love in Vein as a feature film.  The studio is leaning toward the third book in the series being released around the theatrical run of the film.  So, that’s up in the air.  Besides that, I’m editing Robert Kiser’s book, Havoc: Infection for its upcoming release through Crazy Duck Press, and I’m penning an extreme expose’ about some very personal things that have been going on lately.  It’s not vampire, or even horror related, though it is probably the most horrifying thing that that I will ever write.

Where can readers find you on the web?

I can be found hanging around my blog – Bite Me Really Hard  -

Or, you can accost me to make ya fangs at Kaos Kustom Fangs –

And I am always available for direct download or mail order via the Shop at Crazy Duck Press –

Thank you, Roxanne, for having me…

A). for Diner.
B). on your blog.
C). tied up in a corner!
D). dressed in drag?
E). put on a spacesuit.
F). None of the Above. Write your own _______________________________

: ]

 June 10 Interview
Fang-tastic Books

June 12 Spotlight
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

June 20 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm

June 21 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  

June 28 Guest blog
Fae Books 

Friday June 28/Saturday June 29
Live Interview
Bewitching Book Tours Radio 
12 midnight EST Saturday morning, Friday night Central time 11 pm, 
Mountain time 10pm, west coast Pacific time 9pm, 
Alaska time 8pm

July 8 Interview
Immortality and Beyond – 

July 10 Spotlight and review
penny For Them.... 

July 18 Guest blog
Share My Destiny

July 22 Spotlight Book One
Sapphyria's Book Reviews

July 23 Spotlight Book Two
Sapphyria's Book Reviews

July 24 Spotlight and review
Faerie Tale Books

July 26 Guest blog and review
Escape Into A Book

Vampire News: Tasty Bits To Sink Your Fangs Into!
Vampire News Book One
Stavros & Bertena Varney, M.A.M.Ed

Genre:  Nonfiction Vampires

Publisher: Crazy Duck Press (CDP)
Date of Publication: April 2012

ISBN: 9780982812143

Number of pages: 100

Cover Artist: Stavros

Vampire News Trailer:   

Vampire News: The (not so) End Times Edition
Vampire News Book Two
Stavros & Bertena Varney, M.A.M.Ed

Genre:  Nonfiction Vampires

Publisher: Crazy Duck Press (CDP)
Date of Publication:  Kindle - March 2013     Print – April 2013

ISBN: 9780982812150

Number of pages: 188

Cover Artist: Stavros

Vampire News Book Description:

Collected & Edited by Stavros & Bertena Varney, M.A.M.Ed

Vampire News is a nonfiction annual anthology that collects all the tasty happenings in vampiredom.  Straddling both the real and unreal realms of this most famous and hidden culture, Vampire News is the only anthology of its kind.  Now with the release of Vampire News: The (not so) End Times Edition, this second installment of The Vampire News Network's annual anthology delivers even more undead goodness with just a twist of apocalyptic Mayan humor!  So, whether you love the romantic, dangerous, or traditional vampires, whether you prefer a good book or to wait up late at night to catch the noir classics; or whether you stand anxiously in movie lines, blog, or are a member of a daring vampire community, drink blood, psychically feed, or support famous and up-n-coming authors, get vamp tattoos, make fangs, bite people, go to Cons, or are waiting in the wings of some dark dream, then Vampire News is for You!

With more articles, interviews, essays, and the largest Vampire Timeline ever compiled by man, Vampire Professor, Bertena Varney, M.A.M.Ed, and acclaimed author, artist, and fangsmith, Stavros, have established themselves with a truly delightful tome for vampyre/vampire fans of all ages!  Researched thoroughly with love and dedication, Vampire News features some of the most insightful facts, tips, blips, quips, notes, essays, articles, interviews, art, news reports, weblinks, and radical thoughts from many of today’s leading authors, professors, fangsmiths, enthusiasts, musicians, models, photographers, and fun-loving nuts working within the vampire genre today!  

Vampire News gives readers a unique look at what lies behind the biggest social subgenre of all time.  It exposes the hype and uncovers the real-life world that awaits you just around the corner.  So, enter and step into a world that you may think you know from the people that craft the stuff of nightmares and walk the twilight glade between this world and the stuff of dreams!  We dare you!!!

About the Author- Stavros:

Notorious Poet.  Fool.  Born in Washington DC.  Stavros was a writer and editor for The Independent Underground Magazine.  Raised in Southern Maryland, he fled the Chesapeake Bay to the wilds of the New Mexican desert.  He is a single father of two, whose poetic works have been published in several online and print publications, including Central Avenue, The Sword That Cuts Through Stone, Poets Against The War, Conceptions Southwest, The Mynd, Imagine: Creative Arts Journal, and Bartleby, where he won a specialty award for his poem, Blackbird.

In 1999, he won an Official Selection into the Writer’s on the Edge Festival for his play, The Redline.  In 2001, he created the Poetry Television Project for public cable access in Albuquerque, NM.  All eight volumes of Ptv’s ground-breaking show were broadcast to over 100,000 viewers on a network of regional PAC channels throughout the Southwest and Baltimore.  He helped to launch Unpublished Magazine, sponsored the monthly poetry series, The Word Café, in the Duke city, and produced a political compilation, Poetic Democracy.  In 2007, he released the award-winning documentary film, Committing Poetry in Times of War.

In 2010, he launched the production management company, Organic Ghetto, and released its first imprint, Crazy Duck Press, with his first novel, Blood Junky. Blood Junky received exceptional praise and review, even being called "one of the best vampire novels ever written," by Living Dead Media.  The following year he helped to launch BioGamer Girl, undertook a bigger East coast tour where he began selling his original photographic art, and released two new novels through Crazy Duck Press.  Dead Girl: A Romantic Zombie Tale of Revenge features a stunning full-color cover and twelve black and white illustrations from tattoo artist, Charles Hearn.   Blood Junky’s sequel, Love in Vein, cemented the One Blood series with its continuation of the story, garnering such review as to claim that the book and the series is "comparable with, and at times surpasses, the 'Vampire Chronicles' by Anne Rice."

In 2012, Stavros joined forces with the Vampire Professor, Bertena Varney, M.A.M.Ed, to co-create the nonfiction annual anthology, Vampire News, and officially became a Fangsmith with the creation of Organic Ghetto's second imprint, Kaos Kustom Fangs.  He rounded out the year by writing and editing screenplays for the One Blood Transmedia Project, recording Dead Girl as an audio book, and undertaking his biggest national marketing campaign, The Book & Fang Tour.

In 2013, he and the Vampire Professor released the second volume of Vampire News: The (not so) End Times Edition and is currently working on writing and growing his imprints.   Stavros is also a musician who has scored commercials, film shorts, documentaries, and television programs.

Stavros FB Page:

Author Blog:

Kaos Kustom Fangs:

Vampire News CDP Page:

Vampire News FB Page:

CDP eShop:

CDP Twitter:

Stavros Twitter

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Unknown said...

Thanks Roxanne! Looking forward to the Tour!

Bertena Varney said...

Thank you for mentioning me Stavros! You are awesome and so are your books

Sexy Writer said...

Starvos' books and other creations sound Vamptatic! I cannot wait to sink my teeth into your books! Thank you, Roxanne, for sending me to this amazingly talented author!

bn100 said...

Sounds intriguing

Sarah Fae Graham said...

Loved Vampire News & can't wait to read the One Blood series!

ramalan said...

amazing! real fantastic ..

Denise Z said...

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share with us today and for the incredible giveaway opportunity. Looking forward to more. Looks around and tiptoes to corner and takes out rather large knife. Cuts bonds - shhhhh - be free my friend, be free ;)