I’m so excited to have the awesome Kim Newman on the blog as part of my Scare-a-Thon series of interviews! Kim has a brand new edition of Dracula Cha Cha Cha (Book 3 of the Anno Dracula series) out, and he was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.
Please welcome Kim to the blog!
Kim, you’re the author of over 20 novels and your newest book in the popular Anno Dracula series,
Dracula Cha Cha Cha, is out this month! What can we look forward to in this installment, and what do
you enjoy most about writing this series?
This is the third book in the series – the second, The Bloody Red Baron, was set during World War I and was consequently fairly grim and bloody, so I wanted to relax a little in the third, which is set in Rome in 1959 at the height of the social whirl seen in La Dolce Vita. It has a murder mystery and a little more supernatural business than the earlier books, puts Dracula into a different role (exiled Prince) and picks up the stories of several of my continuing characters, at a later point in their careers. It’s also got Hamish Bond, vampire secret agent – who is enormous fun to write. To sweeten the package, there is an additional novella, ‘Aquarius’, set in swinging London in 1968, which fills in a historical gap in the series. I enjoy playing with other peoples’ toys in the series (mostly, Bram Stoker’s, but a slew of other pre-existing characters from history and fiction show up) and the challenge of creating an alternate, fantastical world which is still recognisably our own.
Would you say that vampires are your favorite “creature of the night?”
They’re definitely the most versatile. Which is why the sub-genre is a constant.
What’s one of the main differences you see between British horror and American horror?
I think horror’s too big and diverse a genre, ranging from subtle ghost stories to rip-your-guts-out gore, to be easily characterised in national terms. Certainly, there are specifically British and American voices in horror, but it’s not easy to make generalisations. The stereotype might be that British horror is more polite and refined, but just as British tabloid newspapers are more vicious than American equivalents, there’s a whole school of British mutant vermin paperback horror which makes the average Stephen King seem genteel.
You’re certainly a big influence on other writers, especially with dark and chilling subjects. What’s
something that truly terrifies you?
The usual things – disease, despair, loss, death. I tend to write more about things that annoy me – prejudice, totalitarianism, hypocrisy – than things that frighten me, which isn’t to say that these things aren’t scary.
What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
Raymond Chandler, R.L. Stevenson, Michael Moorcock, Philip Jose Farmer, Stanley Ellin, Richard Condon, Fredric Brown, Cornell Woolrich, H.G. Wells, Nigel Kneale.
What are a couple of your favorite scary reads?
To push a few lesser-known books – Marc Behm’s The Ice Maiden, Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Vampire Tapestry, Brian Stableford’s The Empire of Fear, Robert Graves’s Antigua Penny Puce (not scary, but creepy in its own way), George Gissing’s New Grub Street, GK Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday.
In the 80s, you wrote plays and musicals. Do you still enjoy going to the theater?
Yes, though I don’t get to it often enough. Recently, I’ve been doing theatre work again and have fallen in love with it anew. I’ve a play on in London in Oct-Nov – something I co-wrote and script-edited called The Hallowe’en Sessions – and my radio play ‘Sarah Minds the Dog’ is getting a live performance in New York this evening (as I write). The Hallowe’en project might well become an annual thing.
For a time you worked as a film critic. What are some of your favorite films?
I still work as a film critic. My top ten list for the Sight & Sound once-in-a-decade poll included Celine and Julie Go Boating, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, Citizen Kane, To Have and Have Not, Notorious, Mulholland Dr., 2001: A Space Odyssey, Duck Amuck, Apocaypse Now and A Canterbury Tale.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Lying about, reading comics, seeing friends, watching old movies – most of which, I admit, feeds into my professional life.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events?
My next novels are Johnny Alucard, another in the Anno Dracula series, and An English Ghost Story, which is exactly what it sounds like. I’m going to spend some time next year working on a couple of as-yet-unannounceable comics projects.
Keep up with Kim: Website
Purchase Dracula Cha-Cha-Cha: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
About Dracula Cha-Cha-Cha:
Rome. 1959. Count Dracula is about to marry the Moldavian Princess Asa Vajda – his sixth wife. Journalist Kate Reed flies into the city to visit the ailing Charles Beauregard and his vampire companion Geneviève. Finding herself caught up in the mystery of the Crimson Executioner who is bloodily dispatching vampire elders in the city, Kate discovers that she is not the only one on his trail…