Trusting a Vampire with J. I. Radke

September 10, 2015

Trusting a Vampire2

Ladies and gents, mortal and immortal, masters or mistresses—yes, even sacrificial lambs—whet your appetite and pull up a seat… The feeding hour is nigh!

Radke here with the release of DEATH AND THE MAIDEN.


Wow, I’m beyond thrilled to be here, finally opening the door on this world. DEATH AND THE MAIDEN was the second full-length novel I ever wrote and the obsessive days and manic nights spent on this hold a really special place in my heart. This trilogy, with DEATH AND THE MAIDEN as the first installment, was the defining moment for me as an author—it was the moment I thought, “Yes, I can write a book. And I will.” Little did I know it would not be the first to be published, and in all honesty, there was part of me that thought it wouldn’t make it there. At all. Ever. End of story was end of story.

DEATH AND THE MAIDEN’s origins are kind of funny and maybe a little cliché. But if I had to trace one key inspiration, the spark that lit the flame, it’d be Interview With the Vampire.

Yes, yes, I know, like I said, we’ve all got our clichés. ;)

I remember the two months consumed by DEATH AND THE MAIDEN and its prequel like this: a Los Angeles apartment complex called “The Palazzo” with lion heads carved in its courtyard fountains, lots of scary movies, lots of, fascinating vampire folklore anthologies, Schubert and Vivaldi, the Robert Downey, Jr./Jude Law Sherlock Holmes, very little sleep and way, way too much caffeine.

See, it went sort of like this—when I was 16, I saw the movie with Pitt and Cruise. I was in need of something good to read, so I picked up the book next (and consequently read through half of my junior year classes). At this point, I never imagined I could write a book, myself. I wrote fan fiction, of course. And through countless nights staying up way too late, me and my partner in role-playing crime co-conspired to make this intricate vampire crossover idea that was not only really fun but really worked. So well, in fact, that when we hit the end—and we didn’t usually hit the end on anything, because we wanted to keep ideas going—I thought, “No, I have got to write this down.”

So I did, mostly. The first half. As a fan fic. And it went nowhere. It just sat on my computer because I was too scared to put it anywhere and fail the genre, fail the mythology.

Then the VC series took me hostage for good. When I was 17, while moving to Los Angeles, I saw The Vampire Lestat at Wal Mart and thought, “Why not?” Needless to say, I devoured it on the road trip. And I never stood a chance of escaping the rest of the books. See, when I write something, I like to read something with the same tones and atmosphere, to really stimulate me and get me in that place. So Anne Rice’s books—not just her vampires, but her other works, too—have always been my go-to when writing horror or gothic fiction.

That’s the history of DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, but it’s still unfolding. The second volume of the series is in the last stages of work right now.

I studied a lot of different vampire mythologies, too, trying to build and expand on my own once I picked DEATH AND THE MAIDEN back up. And I had a lot of fun making the mythology in DEATH AND THE MAIDEN unique in very particular ways—the sacrifice system, the science, the creepiness—but chiefly, when it came to sex. Because my vampires were going to have sex, damn it. In a perfectly vampire way.

So I leave you with some of the most important questions I asked myself when writing DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, questions I still ask myself:

What about vampires do you find sexy? What about them is scary? Would you trust one?


Death and the Maiden at Dreamspinner Press

One Response to “Trusting a Vampire with J. I. Radke”

  1. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    I find Vampire very sexy and the way they seem to be able charm or I suppose “Thrall” you. Scary if they only think of themselves and their pleasure. Trusting a Vampire well it depends on what they actually want from you.

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