Friday, January 3, 2014

The Popped Kernel

As I stated in my last post, To Touch the Sun and the Sentient/Feral Vampire Series grew out of a whim. While I was reading vampire fiction (Ann Rice's series, and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson being particular favorites), I never had a burning desire to write a vampire novel. Many people do and they populate whole series with their takes on the genre. I never had a character in mind to write about. You need to understand that one character and create a universe around him or her and I didn't have one.

So I continued looking for homes for my other novels: Asian dragons, comic westerns set on other planets, teenage assassins able to kill with their minds. You might say I'm eclectic when it comes to my writing. I write to the story that comes to me, not to a particular genre.

It was this search that led me to at last try a vampire story. I'd been in touch with an agent who liked what I sent him though not enough to represent it (the dragon novel came close but he said the market wasn't there). So I went over some of the authors the agency had represented and noticed that they had a vampire series in their stable. This was 2008. Working in a library and seeing all the books coming through, I saw how big the vampire genre was. So I figured "Why not give it a try?"

In 2004, while talking to a friend who is also a local author about how frustrating it was to get my fiction published, he suggested I try doing a nonfiction project. He'd been working with Potomac Publishers writing a book for their "Most Wanted" series. He suggested I write a book for the series. And he gave me his editor's email: The brass ring for writers!

That's how my book Chicago's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Murderous Mobsters, Midway Monsters and Windy City Oddities came about. A book I've been told was one of the more successful in the series. For years I'd stuck to fiction never even considering writing a nonfiction book. By the time my friend had suggested it, I guess I was ready. I finally understood that sometimes you have to zigzag a little to eventually get where you're going.

That was the philosophy that convinced me to try my hand at a vampire novel. And by this time, I finally had a idea for a character even though it was a kernel of an idea. I'd been joking with someone about an "evil chef" character. I don't know what made the chef evil, it was more the notion of the chef with the adjective before it that caught my attention and made me file the notion away. When I tried my hand at vampire fiction, the evil chef became a vampire chef and I decided to jettison the evil part altogether. From there it was a matter of evolution. He was the owner of a restaurant at which a female cop patronized and the two would eventually fall in love. In the meantime, there'd be some killings in the city that would help throw them together.

I hadn't figured at that point, what ethnicity the vampire chef would be. I did want him to be something other than Eastern European or British. I wanted to make him an ethnicity that isn't often seen in these types of stories. But I was stuck on an ethnicity, and I still didn't really have a handle on his personality, which halted the progression of my story.

And then I watched "Main Hoon Na".

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