Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Immortyl Revolution with Author Denise Verrico

Say hello to a fabulously interesting guest today on the VBT, Denise Verrico, auteur extraordinaire on the topic of ... yes, they’re here again ... vampires! But not just ordinary vampires. Denise has created the kind of spine-tingling mythology in her Immortyl Revolution series that makes a reader want to embrace her dark and enticing world of the undead.

Denise is an East Coast native. She has loved vampire stories since she was a little girl and a fan of the Dark Shadows television series. She is an avid reader and fan of sci fi and fantasy of all genres. Denise also enjoys anime, manga and graphic novels. She is a big movie buff. Her favorite TV series of all time are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Her favorite rock group is Queen, but she also loves The Beatles, The Who, and David Bowie. Her background is in the theatre and she was a member of the Oberon Theatre ensemble in NYC for seven seasons, with whom she acted, directed, wrote plays and designed, She attended Point Park College in PGH PA. She currently resides in Ohio with her husband, teenaged son and flock of seven parrots.

Cara Mia, Book One of the Immortyl Revolution

Vampires Mia and Kurt become involved in a deadly mission to harness the power of immortality. Mia Disantini is a vampire whose greatest desire is to walk in the sun again. She is enslaved by her charismatic master, Ethan, and plunged into an ancient, unenlightened Immortyl culture. As Mia struggles for the freedom to live as she chooses, she is trained as Ethan's Bird of Prey. Soon she becomes the pawn of their powerful, enigmatic elder, Brovik, in his deadly games of deception and intrigue against his rival, Gaius, concerning their forbidden science experiments. When Mia is cast out by Ethan she joins forces with Kurt, and together the lovers steal fire from the gods and deliver it to Genpath Laboratories. The company CEO Lee Brooks deceives and imprisons the pair. While held captive, Mia calls upon the aid of Dr. Joe Ansari. The couple is hunted for their crime and time is running out. Will Mia and Kurt escape with their lives and succeed in their mission before their Immortyl enemies harness the power of immortality for evil purposes?

Let’s find out more about Denise and what makes her vampires ... er ... tick (maybe not the right word!).

Fiona, I’m happy to be your guest today! I want to remind your readers that on July 15th I will be drawing for a free autographed copy of my book. Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. I’ll post the winner on my blog, website and Facebook page. My question to the readers is this:
Who is your favorite literary, film or TV vampire and why?

Denise, the question you've been asked a thousand times, I guess: Why vampires? I know you've been crazy about them since a kid, but what was the initial attraction to something that should have scared you at a young age, and how has your love affair with these creatures of the night grown and deepened as you embraced more adult themes in life?
As a child, I was attracted to their power and invincibility. Vampires were like really cool superheroes to me. Also when I was a kid, most heroines were blonde and helpless, where female vampires were usually brunette and strong. I guess I identified with them. As an adult, one begins to understand the drawbacks and moral implications of having to drink blood to survive. To me they are the perfect metaphor for man’s inhumanity to man, especially for those people who hurt children.

What influential writers/movies cemented this passion?
The television show Dark Shadows was the first time that I ever saw a vampire represented in a sympathetic way. Actor, Jonathan Frid played the vampire, Barnabas Collins. He portrayed Barnabas as sophisticated and debonair. He could also be scary. Although I wouldn’t have put it this way as a child, his air of regret over his condition touched me. Of course I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and saw a lot of vampire movies as a kid. These were the horror variety. I loved monster movies of all kinds. In my twenties, I discovered Anne Rice and loved her Interview with the Vampire. Some people find Louis whiny, but I find him a decent man who is thrust into a nightmare. He’s trying to make sense of his circumstances and retain his humanity. That’s admirable. Lestat, on the other hand, embraces his vampirism and doesn’t spend a lot of time looking back. He’s more fun. I like both of these takes on the condition. I also enjoyed the book I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, which is a sci fi look at vampires. In this story vampires outnumber humans and only one man is left to battle them. The twist is that the hero is actually seen as the monster. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite paranormal show of all time. I like how Joss Whedon strikes the perfect balance of humor, horror, romance and drama. My current favorite is Being Human on the BBC.

What appeals to you most about sci fi? Favorite writers or themes?
I love how science fiction and fantasy build new worlds. Science fiction and fantasy take on big questions, setting them outside of the mundane world and putting them into a place where people can look at them more objectively. An author can also take a remote scientific possibility and run with it, long before theory becomes reality. In sci fi, you can clone dinosaurs or engineer androids that want to be real live boys. Maybe one can capture the secrets of immortality from vampires.

Ursula K. Le Guin is my favorite author in science fiction. Her stories are strong on character, and I love the detailed societies and subcultures she creates. In The Left Hand of Darkness she explores an alien race that is neither male nor female. I always find discussions of gender interesting and deal with the idea in my books. In some of her work she deals with slavery, another subject that fascinates me. I love Dune by Frank Herbert because of all of the multi-layered worlds with all the various subcultures and religions. Time travel stories are fun. I watch a lot of Doctor Who these days. I’m into good space opera. Star Trek and Firefly are two of my all time favorite sci fi series. I haven’t read any Steampunk yet. It looks interesting.

Is Cara Mia your first book or have you written any short stories etc?
It’s my first novel, but I’ve also written plays that have been produced. I majored in theatre in college and worked with The Oberon Theatre Ensemble, a company in New York for seven years. My first produced play is entitled, Attempting Fate. I also directed the production. I’m still passionate about the theatre, but I’m too busy writing fiction these days to do any acting or directing. I’ve written a libretto inspired by the songs of Freddie Mercury that I’d love to produce someday.

On your blog you have an in-depth mythology (for want of a better world) that encompasses characters and ancient family lines. Did this kind of 'world creating' come easily to you? Do your characters 'create' themselves in a way?
Wow. Good question. It took a long time to develop and a lot of research into history. However, I love that kind of research. I’m kind of a history buff and love to create characters from time periods I’ve read about. I decided to make my vampire culture male-dominated, like many ancient societies. It’s tough to be a woman in a world like this and it gave my heroine a lot to fight against. The oldest example of the Immortyl culture is centered in India, but the world of Immortyl Revolution encompasses values from many other societies like ancient Greece. I also see vampires as similar to wolves, predators who cooperate to ensure survival. Immortyls are also highly territorial.

You could say my characters create themselves. They come to me, start to speak and demand attention. I do a lot of thinking about whom these people are and their beliefs. It’s not like I agonize over it. This part of it is fun for me. Since they are different aspects of my personality, many of them share characteristics of mine. The chief elder keeps parrots like me. Mia was an actress. Cedric, in book three, is a big fan of rock and roll.

I have often wondered this: can one do any research with this kind of paranormal fantasy, or is it all a product of your imagination; would you need to do outside or factual research?
Well, Immortyl Revolution features sci fi vampires in an urban fantasy world. I did a lot of reading to come up with a plausible biological reason for my vampires. There are no magical powers in this world. You won’t find any werewolves, angels or wizards in the Immortyl Revolution series. My vampires are mutated human beings who must drink blood to survive, but they also must eat food and drink water. They avoid the sun because of a cancer caused by ultra-violet light that can kill them. They are sterile and can’t have children. They are, however, virtually immortal. We age and die because our DNA makes less and less perfect copies as we get older. Our bodies are genetically programmed to do so. I won’t give away how my vampires become immortal, but it’s discovered in the books.

As I mentioned before, if one is dealing with people from other times, it makes sense to find out all you can about that time so you can find out what makes this character tick. Also, to create an alien world within our world, the writer should be aware of politics, world events, geography, architecture, art and so many subjects. I’ve researched many religions and mythologies to give me a jumping off point to create my vampire mythology. The imagination needs food to grow and research provides that food.

Tell us about Book Two, Twilight of the Gods.
In this book, Kurt becomes a charismatic revolutionary leader over the sewer rats, feral child and teen formed vampires. Although Kurt is beloved by his followers, Mia is disliked by many of them. Both of them deal with the challenges of leadership, love affairs and impending war with the house of Gaius. There is much more of Kurt’s struggle in this book. He’s a reluctant leader, but driven by his strong desire to right wrongs. Having observed his master, Brovik for fifty years, Kurt realizes the dangers of power and worries that he will become someone he doesn’t want to be. He wants to believe the best of those who follow him and often turns a blind eye to treachery. Mia, on the other hand, is more cynical than Kurt and sees potential threats to his position and the revolution. Their relationship is strained when Kurt forms an affectionate bond with Arturo, an oddly timid vampire.

Is there going to be a Book Three?
Fearful Symmetry is almost finished going through my critique group. It’s set in India and is told from the POV of Cedric MacKinnon. He’s an adept of the ancient arts or temple artist/courtesan in service to the Immortyl cult of the goddess, Kali. I wanted to tell this part of the saga from within the Chief Elder’s court, to get the perspective of the ruling class as observed by one of their servants.

There are so many writers in this genre—why will you stand out from the rest?
Gosh, I hope I’ve created something original. Lots of authors have done sci fi vamps and vamp cultures before. The heart of the series is the sewer rats, the lost boys and girls who are victimized by their masters. I’m moved by the plight of their real-world counterparts who are trafficked and enslaved by human monsters. Hopefully people will come away from reading my stories thinking about conditions in our world that allow women, kids and young adults to be treated this way. Like Mia, I have a big problem with the strong preying on the weak.

Gag question: what are you afraid of in the world of vampires - bats, the dark, coffins, dungeons, people with big teeth....?
I love bats. They’re essential creatures in many eco-systems. They eat pounds of harmful insects. I like the nighttime and do most of my writing then. Dungeons would be uncomfortable and slimy. Being shut up in a box would terrify me. I’m very claustrophobic. No coffins in my world, thank-you!

I've learned a lot today about this 'other world.' Thanks for being such an interesting guest, Denise.
Fiona, it’s been a pleasure talking with you and your readers! Don’t forget to comment to be entered in the drawing.

You can connect with Denise on Facebook or on her web site where you'll find fun stuff like excerpts, character profiles and an Immortyl Lexicon. Click here to purchase an author-signed copy.
Cara Mia is also available in trade paperback and multi-format e-book, including kindle at the following sites: Amazon and Borders.

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