Interview ( and giveaway): Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Sustenance (Saint-Germain)

chelseaquinnyarbroChelsea Quinn Yarbro is a legend (she’s been writing for over 40 years, and has sold over 80 books), and her newest Saint-Germain novel, Sustenance, is out today! Please welcome her to the blog, and be sure to enter my giveaway for 2 copies of the book, courtesy of the lovely folks at Tor. Also, note that books 1-3 in the Saint-Germain series can be had for under $3 on ebook:)


Your new Saint-Germain novel, SUSTENANCE, will be out soon! Will you give us a bit of a teaser?
Sustenance takes place from 1949-1952, at the height of the HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) and Senator Joe McCarthy’s powerful attack on domestic communism — most of which did not exist — and its impact on the academic community, many of whom lost jobs and access to publishing. A number of those academics fled to Europe, and come upon a publisher willing to take them on; Saint-Germain’s Eclipse Press is the publisher, and the story revolves around his relationship with the ex-pat academics, reporter, and printer.

For readers that haven’t yet discovered Count Saint-Germain, will you tell us a bit about him, and what inspired you to start writing this series of books?
Le Comte de Saint-Germain was a real man who showed up in Paris in 1743, a rich, cultured foreigner who claimed at one time or another to be three or four thousand years old. He had a manservant named Roger, who said he had met Saint-Germain in Rome when the Flavian Circus (the Colosseum) when Vespasian was Caesar. He was known to be an alchemist, belonging to at least three occult brotherhoods, and often told tales of his history. He wore black and white exclusively, never ate nor drank in public, and had no romantic relationships that could be discovered. He said he kept his youth by drinking the Elixir of Life. It wasn’t much of a push to turn him into a vampire, and to take advantages of his stories of his adventures for four out of the first five books. He provides me the point of view of an outsider to look at cultures and societies in the past, and to tell stories about the lives of women in many historical settings.

sustenanceDid you ever imagine when you started the series, that it would become so popular?
No, I didn’t think it would be so durable; I wanted to see if there was a positive side to the vampire myth, and it seems there is.

How do you keep things fresh after all these years with such a long series? Not only that, but how do you keep all the time lines and details straight?
Since each novel is essentially a stand-alone — you may come to the series at any time and begin with any period that strikes your fancy — I have a new framework to address in each of the books, so that freshness isn’t really problem. In terms of keeping things straight, I have an extensive chronology that I update regularly, and it keeps me from putting my foot in my mouth too often, although I do occasionally screw up; my readers let me know when I do.

How do you think Saint-Germain has grown has a character the most during the course of the series?
While I hope that Saint-Germain reveals new aspects of himself in each book, since my intention is to write about women’s lives, I put my main focus on them, and trust Saint-Germain to continue to be his complex, honorable self.

What is your writing process like, and what’s been one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching the books?
Writing is my job, and I treat it that way. I get up, make tea, feed the cats, and sit down to work. I do email and any other pending business, then start in on the current project — presently the project is Orphans of Memory, Saint-Germain #28 — and work until about 12:30 or 1:00 pm, take a lunch break, then back to work, knocking off around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. I watch the news, get out my current research and read, and either spend another couple hours at the machine, or watch tv. I do my recreational reading in the bathtub. Early on with putting a project together, my afternoons go to research, but the hours are about the same. In terms of research, I always find out interesting things when I do it, some of it more substantial than other. I don’t think any one thing stands out in my memory; it’s all good stuff.

You’ve undoubtedly influenced many people with your work, but what authors or books have influenced you the most?
Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare, and, oh yes, Shakespeare. I enjoy reading the work of my friends and colleagues, and for recreation, I tend to read mysteries and espionage novels. Whatever genre I’m working in, I do not read, so I am way behind in my horror reading; I don’t want to risk cross-breeding with another vision. Let me say that one of the reasons I always go back to Shakespeare is because he did it better than anyone, and if I’m going to have any bleed-through in my work, I prefer it comes from the best.

What are you currently reading?
Currently I am reading Erik Larson’s In the Garden of the Beast. I’ll probably reread Sense and Sensibility when I finish the Larson. And it’s about time to go through Coriolanus again.

What’s next for you, this year and beyond?
This year I will continue to work on Orphans of Memory; I’ll probably finish it toward the end of February. I have two short stories I need to get done before the end of the year. What happens next remains to be seen. There are two portions-and-outlines that may lead to contracts in the spring, and if either or both find homes, I’ll work on them in the order of their acceptance. If there are no contracts forthcoming, I’ll discuss the next step with my agent and my business manager, and proceed from there. I still have a stack of things I want to write before I’m done, and I don’t know what new projects may crop up, beyond the outlines for the next three Saint-Germains.

You recently won the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award along with Ellen Datlow. How did it feel?
It felt grand.

Keep up with Chelsea: Website

*Wanna win a copy? You know what to do, and I’ll pick a winner on or about 12/10. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About SUSTENANCE:
The vampire Count Saint-Germain protects Americans fleeing persecution—and becomes trapped in a web of betrayal, deceit, and murder in post-WWII Europe in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s SUSTENANCE

The powerful House Un-American Activities Committee hunted communists both at home and abroad. In the late 1940s, the vampire Count Saint-Germain is caught up in intrigue surrounding a group of Americans who have fled to postwar Paris. Some speak out against HUAC and battle the authorities.

Saint-Germain swears to do his best to protect his friends, but even his skills may not be able to stand against agents of the OSS and the brand-new CIA. And he has an unexpected weakness: his lover, Charis, who has returned to Paris under mysterious circumstances.

2 Comments:

  1. I have loved every single St. Germaine novel all these years and never get tired of them! Would LOVE to please win the latest, SUSTENANCE, and sustain my Chelsea Quinn Yarbro healthy addiction!

    Thanks so much!

    Amy in NYC – life long love of all things SF & F.
    aharlib@earthlink.net

  2. I have all of the books pictured above. I look forward to reading the new one.

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