M.A. Greene: Hello. I’m M.A.Greene a YA author reaching for publication. You can follow me on my writing journey on Twitter @MAGreene996.
- M.A. Greene: So can you tell us when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Bill Blume: High school. My first real ambition was to write comic books, but I didn’t have the artistic chops for it. My senior year, I wrote a novel called THE DEMON RIDERS. It was really six short stories about this teenage team of superheroes with journal entries by the characters between each story. It was a mess of a book that should never see the light of day, but it indirectly led to one of my earliest short stories getting published, “The Deadlands.” My wife had unearthed the manuscript and had said it would make an interesting YA (this also led to my first serious dive into YA writing as an adult. The first third of the manuscript I wrote turned into that short story.
- M.A. Greene: You should be proud you finished any attempt at a novel in high school! When I was a senior in high school, the first piece of writing I completed was a short story. I one day plan to rewrite and publish it. It must have been good to turn into a short story anyhow.
Bill Blume: Oh, I should clarify. The only concept that survived was the main character of Paul Starnes. The first third of the novel I’m referring to isn’t the one I wrote in high school. Oh, it was really, really bad. The manuscript I drew on for the short story was something I wrote more than a decade ago. Sadly, that manuscript will never see the light of day, because I’m now cannibalizing some of the ideas and one of the characters for an entirely different novel I’m in the middle of writing now.
- M.A. Greene: When did the initial idea for Gidion’s Hunt come to you?
Bill Blume: The idea for GIDION’S HUNT came to me back in 2010. I was in the middle of writing an adult urban fantasy that featured a 911 dispatcher as the main character. It ended up drawing on some not so good things in my life at that time, and the relationship with it became toxic. I doubt I’ll ever return to it, but I was deep into that book when I bailed on it, and I was really frustrated and angry. When I confided in my wife about what was going on, she asked me, “What’s the book you really want to write?” I knew the answer immediately: I wanted to write the best damn vampire hunter novel anyone had ever seen. I didn’t originally think it would be YA, because my intention was to make it as realistic as possible. As I prepped to write the book, making it a YA book actually proved a perfect fit, even as I made it realistic. The idea was to make it seem as if the reader could imagine this hidden society of vampires existing within our world.
- M.A.Greene: So were you a fan of vampire novels and movies long before writing the story?
Bill Blume: Absolutely! I love a good vampire novel and film. DRACULA was one of the earliest novels I read back in high school. One of my favorite vampire hunter books from when I was growing up was VAMPIRE$ by John Steakley. I felt he overpowered the vampires, but I loved that he didn’t make the hunters anything other than just human. That said, I also loved “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.”
- M.A. Greene: How long did it take you to write Gidion’s Hunt from the first draft, then to finish the book?
Bill Blume: In a sense, GIDION’S HUNT only took a few months, but it was written over the course of two summers. Back then, my kids were little (not even teenagers yet), and they would go to South Carolina to stay with my parents for a few weeks. I used that time to take a lot of leave from work and just write. Gidion’s voice comes so easily to me whenever I write him. Even though the book isn’t written in first person, it’s such a close third person, that’s it’s essentially in his voice.
- M.A. Greene: If you’re in the mood for a YA story, watch Vampire Diaries. If you want to watch something more adult, start off with The Originals, even though I’ve only watched a few episodes of the spin off.
Bill Blume: I might do that. “The Originals” is the one I’m honestly more curious about. haha!
- M.A. Greene: I love the close third person narrative the story is written in. You absolutely got having a character’s “voice” be strong in the story. What type of research did you do for Gidion’s Hunt? You give a lot of details how vampire hunters are not only suppose to kill vampires and track them. Also did you do your research before, during or after the first draft?
Bill Blume: I did some research beforehand. The biggest and most useful bit of research came from trying to find a pack structure in nature to mimic for my vampires. I feel like wolf pack structure should be saved for the werewolves, so I eventually ended up using hyenas. It was fascinating. In the hyena world, the women rule, which is why the big villain in the book is a female vampire. Also, male hyenas tend to be more nomadic unless they’re lucky enough to get adopted into a pack, which is rare. This is why I included nomadic vampires as part of the world building, and why most of them are male vampires.
There were also times I went and explored parts of Richmond I feature in my book. I went down to the Canal Walk to choreograph what the opening sequence of the book would be like. I still have the pictures I took for that saved on my computer somewhere.
I did have to research a bit in the middle of the book. I needed to figure out what kind of habits a person who donates blood might need to adopt to compensate for that frequent blood loss. This was applied to my feeders, who are humans that have decided to essentially be servants of the vampires.
- M.A.Greene: Who knew researching about people who donate blood would be something that could fit into a vampire story. I’m sure going to actual places in your book must have helped it feel authentic. Early on we learn that Gidion’s grandfather was a vampire hunter but he keeps the secret of being a hunter from his father. Without too many spoilers can you explain why you decided to have the story go in this direction?
Bill Blume: This, oddly enough, fell into the whole “trying to make it realistic” category. Speaking as a dad, there’s no way in hell I’d ever let my kid do something that dangerous. Grandpa loves Gidion a lot, but he’s obsessed with his mission to kill vampires. I needed an adult mentor to justify Gidion doing this, but I also wanted a healthy relationship with a parent there. I did love that there’s this whole dynamic of three generations of vampire hunters, but they never really openly talk about it. It’s this whole dark history that Gidion’s dad doesn’t want Gidion to ever learn about, and he doesn’t realize Grandpa has gone behind his back to spill the beans and recruit Gidion. It was only after I finished writing the second book, GIDION’S BLOOD, that I realized what I’d been writing about the whole time was how people deal with loss. The Keep family does not handle their loss well, and it makes their lives and the lives of others a mess.
- M.A. Greene: I found the three generations interesting as well. It’s so interesting how seemingly “supernatural” or “fantasy” books can have many layers of depth in them. I appreciate that in stories. Many YA stories have the protagonist learning how to adapt to their new abilities in their hero role in the first book and that was not the case for Gidion. What made you decide to have Gidion already know so many skills as a vampire hunter starting from the beginning of the book?
Bill Blume: Because of the reason you’ve just pointed out: so many stories do that whole “hero trains to learn their powers/skills” element. It can be useful for explaining the rules of the story to the reader, but it also delays getting to the real action. Also, Gidion is a bit of a natural, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s great as a vampire hunter, but in terms of his personal life, it’s something that’s not good in the long run. His father and Grandpa are both evidence of this.
- M.A. Greene: I knew there had to be a reason. I was curious about that from the first chapter. Are you a plotter or a panser?
Bill Blume: I’m a bit of a hybrid in that I’ll do whatever I need to do, in order to get the story written. I pantsed GIDION’S HUNT. I just really knew how I wanted the book to end, and I figured it out as soon as I wrote the scene at the comic book shop. The sequel was somewhat different. With GIDION’S BLOOD, I had to partially outline the first half of the book, because I had two antagonists trying to hunt down Gidion. My outline included all the things those characters were doing that Gidion wouldn’t see (because the whole book is from his POV), so this made sure they weren’t constantly reacting to him and making things too easy for him. After that, I pantsed the rest of the book, but again I knew my ending. I typically know a few key moments in a story that I want to hit, and that’s it. The characters lead me the rest of the way.
- M.A. Greene: I look forward to reading Gidion’s Blood. And when I finish that book hope I can count on an interview for the sequel as well. Are you more interested in writing for Young Adults or other age groups as well?
Bill Blume: Thanks! I’ll confess that when I wrote GIDION’S HUNT, that second book was what I was always writing towards. I had most of the beats of that story planned waaaaaay back in the first book, and there are little nuggets in the first book that take on a whole new meaning after you read the second book. I’d love to do that! And I do love YA as a writer and a reader. I find it’s a more progressive market of books. Too many adult books are mired in some terrible stereotypes that ignore what our present day world is becoming and needs to be. YA is more adventurous and open to experimentation. I’ll out myself and confess that Gidion Keep’s adventures are not without their share of old tropes, but I like to think I included enough new stuff to make up for that and make it fun.
- M.A. Greene: Do you write with music? And if so, how do you select the music you will listen to when writing and what type of music do you listen to?
Bill Blume: I typically write to orchestral music, mostly scores from films. My favorite composer is Marco Beltrami. His score to the film “3:10 to Yuma” is just brilliant. For GIDION’S HUNT, I wrote most of it to Ramin Djawadi’s score to “Clash of the Titans” and Alan Silvestri’s score to “Captain America: The First Avenger.” I listen to music with lyrics before I start writing, stuff that fits the mood, but might distract me otherwise with the lyrics. I listened to Metric’s “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?” back when I wrote GIDION’S HUNT. The last track on that album “Love is a Place” is what I always imagine playing as Gidion returns to school at the end of the book and gets the news of what’s happened (avoiding spoilers here).
- M.A. Greene: Interesting. What are your favorite genres, least favorite genres of books and why?
Bill Blume: Fantasy is my first real love. The first movie I remember seeing in the theater was “Star Wars.” I was four when it originally came out. My parents probably will always regret taking me to that film.
- M.A. Greene: Lol! Why do you say that?
Bill Blume: They do not like the content of my writing. My mom tends to consider most vampire-centric fiction as “garbage.”
- M.A. Greene: Oh I’m sorry to hear about that. Well your not garbage helped me escape the tragic events on the news, so I thank you for writing it.
Bill Blume: Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Gidion’s voice is a blast, because of the humor in it.
- M.A. Greene: I saw your book trailer when I put in Gidion’s Keep in youtube. I liked that it was short and precise. Did you draw the pictures yourself? And how long did it take to make your book trailer?
Bill Blume: Thanks! And yeah, I did almost all of the artwork. I fudged the image of the teacher and found a picture of a teacher at a blackboard and created the silhouette from it. The pic that probably required the most work was the gravesite, and it’s the one I’m most proud of, because both Gidion’s dad and grandpa were made from pictures I took of myself. The one of Grandpa looks funny, because I’m just standing there with my arm hanging out in the air. I had to pay a local teen actor to do the voice, and that caused it to take a long time to make. The images didn’t take as long as you might think, because I have a background in graphic artwork. The trailers (I made four) for the fourth book required months of work. I’m never doing that to myself again, the whole multiple trailers thing.
The length of it I owe to my publisher at the time. Their advice about them was to aim for 30 seconds, like a TV spot. It was a good call.
- M.A. Greene: Finally what advice would you give aspiring writers in regards to staying motivated to finish their story, the publishing journey, or so forth?
Bill Blume: Start with short stories, if you struggle with finishing a novel. There’s something you gain from reaching the end of a story, and short stories will speed up your learning curve. I resisted writing short stories for a very long time. It’s one of my biggest regrets, because I learned so much from the time I focused on writing short stories.
You can follow Bill Blume on twitter at: https://twitter.com/BillTheWildcat