GENRE: serial fiction story
When the last outbreak of human vampirism occurred in the narrow oasis of New Mexico’s lower Rio Grande Valley, the oral tradition that had been passed on for centuries had yet again been sadly reconfirmed. Every two decades or so, one or more bloodthirsty ghouls appears and preys upon the vulnerable members of this small but tightly knit community.
As a young curandera, or healer, Lorena Pastore was only twenty-five years old when the last outbreak occurred, and she remembers the shocking horror that spread throughout her beloved community at the time. She erroneously predicted that she would be well into her middle years of life for the next outbreak, but sadly, that is not the case.
After a foolish man commits an egregious violation during a spiritual cleansing ritual, the seven years of peace is shattered. The malignant disease of human vampirism is re-incarnated, and Lorena is forced to flee across the Mexican border with a five-year-old in peril. Nathan’s father is becoming a lethal vampire, and the boy is now hunted—as is Lorena as she takes the child into her care and fights the outbreak destined to destroy her home and people
JDBOOKS has the privilege of an interview with author Dr.DON HILL
Where do you live and is that the setting for your novel?
Although my permanent home is in the state of Arizona in the community of Casa Grande which is located half way between Tucson and Phoenix, I’m originally from the state of Texas. I suppose that I will always proudly think of myself as a Texan. After practicing medicine for 32 years, I’m now starting to wind down my career and am now working as a contracted consultant and locum tenens physician in the specialty of hematology/oncology in the state of Louisiana. I will be contracted to work in Louisiana until the end of January, 2020, and after that, I will see where the wind will blow me next. The Vampiro series is set in the American Southwest and in the neighboring country of Mexico.
How did you come up with premise for Vampiro? Was it something that you experienced?
My first work of fiction was the three-volume DNR Trilogy which was a medical thriller based upon the bizarre and disturbing events that I had witnessed during my long clinical career. This was a cathartic experience for me and I was able to exorcise numerous demons that had haunted my psyche for years. I was not planning to ever put pen to paper again as I had believed my fledging career as an author had come and gone. Despite misgivings, I was enticed to co-author the Vampiro series by a pharmaceutical executive named Tom Cavaretta when I was challenged to scientifically theorize if a malady such as human vampirism could actually be possible. At first I scoffed at the idea because up until that point, I was never a particular fan of the science fiction/horror genre. I eventually picked up the gauntlet and accepted Tom’s challenge because the more I thought about the concept of predatory beings lurking in the darkness, the more I was intrigued with the possibility that human vampirism could indeed be a real phenomenon. After all, if vampirism exists in a fellow mammal that is a lowly bat, why couldn’t it exist as a transmissible infectious disease in a higher mammalian life form such as a primate?
Your novel is a serial fiction story. What drew you to the genre?
Before I co-authored the Vampiro series, I would readily tell anybody who was willing to listen that the thought of human vampirism was actually quite terrifying to me. If I was not prompted by my co-author, Tom Cavaretta, to work on this project with him then I would have considered a horror story to be from a genre that I would have never touched with a proverbial ten foot pole! Unlike the usual Faustian tale about an unwitting individual who becomes of a vampire because he sells his soul to the Devil, the Vampiro series creates a very plausible scenario that human vampirism is a transmissible infectious disease spread by an RNA virus. We contend that the infection is a cyclical illness and that there is a natural avian reservoir for the virus during long periods of dormancy.
Do you think writers need to feel strong emotions in order to write a horror serial fiction book?
Absolutely! An author must have passion for his subject matter or otherwise the writer would never be able to draw his audience into what should be a wonderful and thought provoking web of fiction. Without passion, I believe any author would simply be wasting ink and paper.
In one of my blog pieces, I discuss how to approach writing a novel, but it is mainly targeted towards those who want to write fantasy novels. What advice would you give someone on how to approach writing a horror novel?
Think up a strong and complex narrative with intriguing characters. Remember, human beings are multi-dimensional. The protagonists in any compelling story should not all “good” and by the same token, the antagonists in in any story should not be all “bad”. To take a direct quotation from Volume I of the Vampiro series, “If white is good and black is bad, then all of my friends are gray and plaid.”
Which of your characters is most like you? And why?
In my first work of fiction, the DNR Trilogy, the character J.D. Brewster was clearly crafted after my own life experiences. This character was subsequently resurrected, and he now reappears in the Vampiro series. Dr. Brewster is a junior fellow in the Hematology/Oncology division at the St. Frances College of Medicine in New Mexico. Although he lacked a PhD degree, Brewster was one of the Texans recruited to study a specific case of human vampirism that was admitted to the University Hospital. Brewster has a brutally sharp, acerbic, and sardonic sense of humor, and he is not particularly adroit in dealing with other people. Brewster seemingly holds the whole of humanity in general contempt, and he has no qualms about brewing up a little trouble with the hospital administrators now and again. On more than one occasion he may have been guilty of placing a sharp burr under somebody’s saddle. Despite his cynicism, Brewster finds a like-minded friend in the unfortunate individual who was infected with the vampire virus. On more than one occasion, I have been personally accused of being an industrial-strength smart-ass. Frankly, I am rather surprised that I have made it this far in my life without somebody taking me out to the back ally and boxing my ears! Yeah-I guess in retrospect Dr. Brewster was modeled after me, with his psychological warts, personal short-comings, and all!
Have any of the characters in Vampiro been influenced by TV or movie figures? If so, which one(s)?
My co-author, Tom Cavaretta and I made a conscious effort to take an entirely new and fresh perspective on the subject matter of human vampirism and we wanted to make absolutely certain that none of the characters portrayed in the Vampiro series were similar in any way, shape, or form to other characters seen elsewhere in the motion picture or television media.
If you could give your younger self some advice about the writing process, what would it be?
I would have told my younger self to play more and work less in an effort to garnish a wider breadth of personal life experiences. I believe that this no doubt would have made me a better writer when it was finally time for me to put pen to paper.
What time do you usually start writing and what do you find the hardest part about the writing process?
Every person is different with individual circadian life-rhythms, but I found that my own “creative juices” flowed late at night and in the wee hours of the morning when it was dark, quiet, and scary outside! By ancient Judeo-Christian traditions, the “witching hour” is at 3:00 AM for obvious Biblical reasons. There must be something innately evil about that hour in the early morning, as the darkest and most disturbing intrusive ideas would flood my imagination at that particular time. The most difficult aspect about writing a novel is simply finding the time to do it, especially as this author in question has another full-time job as a practicing physician.
How has writing changed you?
Without a doubt, it has made my life more complete. I have a sense of accomplishment that I never felt in any other endeavor, and that includes my long career as a practicing physician in the field of cancer medicine.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I am still practicing medicine in a technically and intellectually challenging subspecialty of cancer medicine. If I do not stay abreast of scientific and medical publications ad nauseum, I will become obsolete very quickly. Perhaps someday when I completely retire from the practice of medicine I will be able to travel more and dedicate more personal time to noble and charitable endeavors.