My Bookish Ways

Interview: Mark Teppo, author of Earth Thirst

Mark Teppo’s brand new book, Earth Thirst (vampire ecowarriors!!) just came out this week from Night Shade Books, and Mark is also the author of books such as Lightbreaker and Heartland (among many others.) Please welcome Mark to the blog!

Mark, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve been writing professionally for about five years, and for the later half of that period, I’ve been doing creative work full-time. I have a liberally-defined liberal arts degree (with an emphasis in Creative Mythology), and I spent nearly two decades in the tech industry before answering the Muse’s call. I’m the CEO of a transmedia startup that is in the business of building franchises. The first of which is Foreworld (www.foreworld.com).

Earth Thirst was out this week from Night Shade Books. Will you give us a teaser?
It’s an eco-thriller with vampires. That’s the bare bones pitch. It’s about ecocide, genetic manipulation, humanity’s lack of long-term thinking, and what sort of monsters we create in our lack of attention to what we do to the world around us. It’s also a love story.

What inspired Earth Thirst?
I’ve been trying to wrap my head around vampire fiction for many years. I could never quite get it figured out, and the writer has to understand the world building if they’re going to convince their readers of the veracity of the world they’re creating. Vampires are predators, and humanity’s reaction to predators has never been very, well, cozy. We tend to either wipe them out or domesticate them, and I could never wrap my head around how that worked for vampires. Humanity is either a food source or a threat to them.

Additionally, all of the standard mythology for vampires is horribly out-dated, and as I turned the ideas over in my head, I finally started to think about taking all of the pieces of the mythology and re-defining them for a 21st century audience. Once I started thinking about the vampires as true creatures of the earth, the rest started to fall into place.

In your writing, you’ve never shied away from scary situations and themes. What’s something that truly scares you?
Zombies. Especially zombie children. It’s the parent in me. I can’t stomach thinking about them.

What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelanzy, pulp adventure stories, Terry Gilliam, and Bill Sienkiewicz. The latter two aren’t writers, but their visual style has been a huge influence in how I imagine the books I write.

If you could experience a book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Actually, I’ve sort of been doing that with Gene Wolfe’s Books of the New Sun, his cycle about Severian the Torturer. Each time I read them (every half dozen years or so), I feel like I’m discovering another layer to them.

What are you reading now?
Deborah Harkness’ The Discovery of Witches (as well as her non-fiction book called The Jewel House), a couple of Richard Stark Parker books, Miles Cameron’s The Red Knight, and a couple of books that are research for my next big project.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
I haven’t had much free time in the last year or so; much of what would qualify, I spend getting caught up on paperwork and other menial office duties. Once in a while, I will check out for a few hours and go to a movie. I saw Django Unchained recently, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

What’s next for you this year and beyond?
I’m working on editorial and toning pass on the fourth Foreworld novel (which will be out in the fall), and I have some duties on the fifth one as well. I’m also managing the SideQuests, the novellas and graphic shorts that we’re doing for Foreworld in addition to the novels. I have three projects listed in my notebook right now—BLOOD HARVEST, HERE BE MONSTERS, and ANGEL TONGUE—and I’m not sure which one will be the book I’m actually writing this year. It depends on how Earth Thirst is received, somewhat.
Keep up with Mark: Website | Goodreads | Blog

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