Please welcome Author Brian Patrick McKinley onto the Road to Hell. Brian is the author of ANCIENT BLOOD: A NOVEL OF THE HEGEMONY.
Now, it’s time to create a little hell and get to the good stuff by revealing all of Brian’s wicked secrets while on the Road to Hell. LOL Yeah, you wish! ;-D
Grab your favorite drink, sink your teeth into something decadent, sit back, relax and enjoy getting to know Brian…
GRACEN: Tell me three things about yourself that we cannot find on the internet or in your bio?
BRIAN: I’m a role playing geek, I have acted in and directed community theater, and I compulsively watch HGTV and Food Network.
GRACEN: What hobbies and interests do you participate in when you’re not writing?
BRIAN: I have a regular Dungeons & Dragons game that I play on Fridays with friends. Other that that, sadly, most of my time is spent either working or doing writing-related things. Most of my hobbies work toward my writing in some way.
GRACEN: Do you have any writing quirks or certain things you MUST have or do before beginning the writing process?
BRIAN: I like to write to music in someplace that’s private, but that’s just my preferred method. I’ll sneak a few paragraphs while I’m at work if I can or anywhere else, so I don’t really have any rituals or special quirks. I do prefer privacy, though, because sometimes I’ll speak dialogue aloud while I’m working on a scene and act things out, so I get embarrassed if someone catches me doing it.
GRACEN: If you were plotting to take over the world, how would you do it?
BRIAN: My vampires already have. (laughs) But if I really wanted to take over the world, I’d support the Republican Party and get their help to use obscene amounts of money, blackmail, and influence to increase people’s dependence on corporations here and around the world. Eventually, when a few of the largest corporations have bought all the smaller ones, they merge, and you’ve got a tiny corporate board of directors essentially controlling everything. Everyone worries about the government becoming too powerful, but they forget that modern mega-corporations completely transcend world governments and some have more money than most governments!
GRACEN: If you could make one statement that the entire planet would hear and remember, what would it be?
BRIAN: Stop letting governments and corporations take more and more of our freedoms away from us. Fight back!
GRACEN: What genre do you write and why that genre?
BRIAN: I’ve been told that what I write is Horror, but I’ve often had difficulty accepting that label because my goal isn’t to scare people. I like to make people think, but I suppose some of my ideas are frightening and the consequences they lead to are often horrible, so I guess it fits. I suppose I write the type of books that I like to read. I like stories that involve interesting characters confronting aspects of themselves. For me, writing is an intensive and difficult process, so I need to make it worthwhile. I want my stories to be entertaining, but I can’t write fluff. Others do that better than me, so I need to concentrate on giving voice to the characters in my head.
GRACEN: For those who are not yet familiar with Ancient Blood, can you please give us some details about the book and/or series?
BRIAN: Ancient Blood is intended to be the first book in a series featuring the Hegemony, which is what I call the council of vampires who secretly control the world. In the first book, we meet Avery Doyle who is a modern guy that is totally into the current trend of vampires. He reads vampire novels, watches shows like Buffy and Angel, loves vampire movies, and has researched the folklore. So, basically, he thinks he knows everything there is to know about vampires and, secretly, wishes that he could be one. He’s kind of a loser and vampires are the epitome of everything he thinks he’d like to be: mysterious, slightly tragic, seductive, beautiful, and powerful. As luck or irony would have it, he meets a real vampire named Caroline and falls hard for her. Eventually she makes him into a vampire, too, but they get captured by Caroline’s Creator Sebastian and taken back to his private island estate. This is where Avery discovers that being a vampire sucks. (laughs) Pun intended. The vampires of the Hegemony already have all the blood they need, so they worry about feeding as much as we worry about what we’re having for dinner. They’re rich, they have people to do the dirty work for them, so they spend their time building up and holding onto their political power because that’s what protects them from their fellow vampires. See, in my world, the biggest danger a vampire faces is their fellow vampire.
GRACEN: Do you have any new stories in the works and can you tell us a bit about it/them?
BRIAN: I have three stories coming out in the Mystic Press anthology Misery Loves Company in December. Two are about a character named Faolan O’Connor, who is the protagonist of my next book, Drawing Dead, which I’m finishing up now. The other is a story called The Chermasu which features a new take on werewolves and is from a novel I intend to go back and finish soon. There will be a sequel to Chermasu called Monsters in another anthology from Mystic called In the Darkness … When the Light Fades.
GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with one word or brief phrase, what would it be? Please delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they’ve finished reading your story.
BRIAN: I like the sound of “Paranormal Realism.”
GRACEN: What, in your opinion, makes your story unique and what makes it stand out from other stories in your genre? Think of this as a pitch to convince readers to pick up your books.
BRIAN: I’d like to think that a major aspect that separates my work from others in the same genre is the level of believability I strive to put in every story. I try to deal with the world as we know it, rather than create a fantastical setting that justifies my story. To me, a story with fantastical elements that is grounded in the reality that I see every day is more effective. I did scientific research to try to create a vampire that was as biologically plausible as I could; granted, a real scientist or doctor could probably poke holes in my concepts, but it was important to me that they hold up an intelligent reader. I don’t discount the possibility of the extraordinary, but it still has to be grounded in some kind of realism for me. I want readers to be able to believe that the events of my novel have actually happened.
GRACEN: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
BRIAN: I wish I had a really cool story to share, but I don’t! I do most of my research through reading books or looking stuff up on the internet. I was going to say that I drank blood, but no, nothing bizarre. Sorry!
GRACEN: Of all your books, which character did you have the most fun creating and why?
BRIAN: Probably my current protagonist, Faolan O’Connor. I love that classic gangster period of the 20s and 30s, so the chance to create my own gangster was irresistible. He started off as a villain in another story, but he was so charismatic and funny and likeable that I couldn’t keep him contained to one story. I was also afraid that the reader would start to like him more than my heroes, so I created a series for him. There’s a little of my late father in his attitude, my grandfathers, and various other older people I’ve known and respected throughout my life.
GRACEN: If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters in real life, who would it be and why?
BRIAN: It would probably have to be Avery from Ancient Blood. He’s a lot like me and we have a lot in common, so I know we could hang out and watch movies or talk and we’d have a great time!
GRACEN: Which of your characters would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?
BRIAN: (laughs) Probably any of the others! Most of my characters are manipulative assholes and sadistic, bloodthirsty psychopaths! They’d kill me or worse!
GRACEN: If you were interviewing yourself, what is the one question you would ask yourself and please give us the answer to that question?
BRIAN: Wow, that’s probably the toughest question you’ve asked. There’s so many funny or silly questions I could use … I’m going to ask myself: What is my favorite novel? And my answer is: That’s a very tough choice, but I’m going to say Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It’s a fantastic read and there’s not a wasted or uninteresting character in the entire novel. I found the main character fascinating and what can you say about a novel in which the author makes you cry for a man who murders whole families and wish he could have a happy ending? Not to mention that it’s Hannibal Lecter’s first ever appearance. It’s a brilliant work!
GRACEN: Thanks so much for joining us, Brian! It’s been a treat getting to know you better!
BRIAN: Thank you. It’s been great!
EXCERPT: (any heat level as this is an 18+ site)
Wilkes smiled and went to the cages, dragging a ten or eleven-year-old girl out and bringing her back. The girl squealed through her tape and squirmed in her bonds and I felt my heart sink as I noticed something else.
A sharp pang of hunger.
Wilkes snickered as he set the girl down in front of us. “Best watch yourself, boy, looks like this one’s a fighter!”
“Well, though one begins moderately, Major, one must still learn.” Sebastian smiled and Wilkes laughed like a good little flunky while he cut the bonds on the girl’s wrists and ankles. She scrambled away from him and into Caroline’s waiting arms.
I kept my eyes away from her as much as possible. When I used to see moments like this in vampire movies, they always seemed overdone and melodramatic, but this was the first time I understood what it meant to feel a deep, predatory hunger for another human being. The fact that she was a young, naked girl was the worst part; it made me feel like a child molester on top of everything else.
Sebastian closed the gate to the passage and then he, Wilkes, and the rest of the soldiers went back upstairs. Caroline made soft, reassuring sounds for the girl while she wept and I tried to look at other things or just closed my eyes and wished fervently that I couldn’t smell the girl so near, so clean and young and soft.
I could resist it, of course, and somehow that was the worst part. I think that if a Vampyr’s hunger for blood was the kind of irresistible supernatural compulsion you see so often in books and movies, it would be easier to live with. Something that’s honestly beyond your control doesn’t cause you as much shame as something that you know you can fight if you’re strong enough. Most modern Americans have never actually starved; we can be hungry at times, but food is usually easy to come by. So we eat, often to the point of excess. Like I did when I was human.
It’s a hard habit to break as a Vampyr.
I imagine that the hunger is similar to how addicts feel when confronted by their substance of choice. The more you try not to think about it, the more aware of it you are. You can have every good reason not to do it, but if you don’t have something physically keeping you from the object of your desire, then it all comes down to willpower. When was the last time you were so thirsty your throat burned and you didn’t take a drink from a glass of water sitting on the table in front of you?
“My insurance didn’t scare him,” Caroline said. “He’s planning something … something big.”
I just nodded. I didn’t trust myself to speak because I could feel my mouth watering and my canines pushing down again. As my injuries healed, my body cried out for fresh energy to feed it. Energy it knew was readily available.
“Avery, look at me.”
I didn’t want to; I knew it would make it worse to see the little girl lying there against Caroline’s chest, but after a deep breath, I turned and tried to stare into her eyes—only her eyes, because there was safety there.
Caroline looked worried, but with an underlying sadness that could only come from understanding. She nodded and said, “Give me your jacket.”
I slipped out of the denim jacket I’d been wearing and gave it to her, grateful for something else to think about. Caroline wrapped the little girl up in it and gently settled her sleeping form down onto the floor beside her. With the temptation removed from my view, it was a little easier to concentrate on what she was saying.
“Now do you understand that physical force and bold attempts aren’t going to be enough to get us out of here?”
As much as I still wanted to entertain fantasies of pumping Sebastian full of machine gun fire, I’d realized by that point that it wasn’t gonna happen. I nodded.
“Good,” she said. “Because I do have a few ideas about how we might, but they depend on both of us playing The Game, as they call it. We have to make Sebastian believe that we’re submitting to him. We have to be allowed to move around when the Gathering occurs. I can’t go into much detail now, but I need to know that I can count on you to follow my lead even if it’s difficult.”
I think I sensed, even then, that this wasn’t a small thing she was asking. So I didn’t just toss off the immediate “of course” that was my first reaction. Instead, I looked into her gorgeous green eyes for the love that I knew was there and, when I found it, I leaned forward and kissed her. “You can always count on me. I swear.”
Even concentrating on Caroline’s scent as we held each other, I still felt the smell of the girl’s skin tickling my nose and the throb of her tiny heart teasing its way into my ears. Caroline sensed this somehow and removed one of her earrings. Vampyrs should always carry multiple items that will allow them to draw blood if they don’t have their canines sharpened (as neither Caroline nor I do). You’d be surprised what you can use, if push comes to shove.
She gave me the earring and, as delicately as I could, I pierced one of the smaller arteries at the bottom of her neck. I handed the earring back to her and bent to drink. While I did, she punctured my neck in the same way and put her lips to the wound. This is probably the one major advantage a starving Vampyr has over a starving human, this mutual-cannibalism we can perform. I guess it’s a little like having sex while freezing just to generate bodily warmth, but among Vampyrs, this is considered the purest form of lovemaking. It didn’t have the climactic intensity of sex, but it was a warmer plateau, like riding that pre-orgasmic moment forever. Or, for those of a more gastronomic bent, imagine eating the best chocolate sundae you ever had and never reaching the bottom of the dish and never losing your appetite for it. It made me feel close to her in a way that was impossible with any other form of verbal or physical expression. At that moment, we were literally one being, one system circulating its life between our separate halves.
We fed and kissed and comforted each other for the rest of the night. When sunrise came, we fell into our daytime hibernation coma holding each other. We never touched the girl.
But I would have, except for Caroline. I know in my heart and in my soul that I would have broken sometime during those hours and torn into the flesh of that beautiful, innocent child to get at the blood I wanted. I’ve lived with that every night since.
I suppose that was Sebastian’s first lesson.
His second, I’m sorry to say, came the next night when we woke: the girl lay on the floor just as we’d left her, but the blood from her slit throat had soaked into the fabric of my jacket and pooled on the stones around her. Caroline wept with a visible fury. I was pissed off and sickened, of course, but I was also still hungry and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a secret, cowardly part of me was relieved to have the option taken from me.
I try to live with that, too.