ED- The Eerie Digest is proud to introduce a fellow writer from Virginia, Scott M. Baker, to our legions of readers. Scott, you originated from Boston and, like me, chose to come to Virginia to make it your home. What inspired you to take up the pen and become a writer?
SB- Writing has been in my blood as far back as I can remember. When I was a kid, I had a small notebook I used to jot down short stories in. I was also a huge monster movie fan, so when my father brought home an old manual typewriter (I’m dating myself here) from work, it was only natural that I set myself up in the family room and created my own weekly monster magazine. Talk about cheesy. I’d type out stories and movie reviews, cut out pictures from books and old magazines to paste in, and even provided the art work for the covers. Sure, it had a circulation of only one (my mother), but it ignited the passion. That was forty years ago, and I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since.
ED- Tell us of your childhood and your fascination for the horror genre.
SB- I was a typical Monster Kid. I had all the Aurora monster models, watched Creature Double Feature on WLVI 56 every Saturday, and was an avid fan of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Across the street from my house was the Park Theater that ran double features on the weekends, and whenever they showed a monster movie (usually Godzilla films), me and my friends would be there. I lived, ate, and slept the stuff. I was fortunate that my folks indulged me rather than worried about me being a weird little boy. My father drove me all over Boston buying the models, the mags, or the 8mm movie versions of my favorite monster films. But my mother inadvertently had the greatest impact on my being a horror author. I read a lot of the classic literature (Stoker, Shelly, Poe) and was a huge Sci-Fi fan, particularly H.G. Wells. One Christmas, my mother bought me a horror novel by a new, unknown author thinking I might like to read something different. It was Graham Masterton’s The Manitou. I read it over the holiday break and was hooked on the genre.
SB- I had gotten my BA in Modern European History from Salem State College and my MA in Soviet Studies from Tufts University, so after college I resumed my writing and opted to talk about what I knew. I wrote a couple of thrillers (which were very amateurish) as well as a techno thriller about North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening to use them against the United States. The manuscript was well researched since I had nuclear weapons engineers, naval aviators, submariners, and tank crews reviewing it for me. My agent shopped it to several publishers, each of whom loved the manuscript. Unfortunately, this was right after 9/11, and the market for that genre had dried up overnight. That’s when my friend Renee urged me to go back to my true love — horror. So I wrote a few short stories, mostly about zombies, and eventually developed the idea for The Vampire Hunters trilogy.
ED- We understand that you had also written a number of short stories as well. Can you give us some details about this aspect of your writing?
SB- The short stories were invaluable to my development as a writer. Not only did they allow me to experiment with the genre and find my style, but they gave me enough credibility that book publishers were willing to take a chance on my vampire series. I urge anybody thinking of breaking into writing to start here. My first story was “Incident on Ironstone Lane.” It’s about a washed up horror author who finds new inspiration by torturing a home intruder who he catches molesting his wife. Since I’m a huge zombie fan, I wrote a few living dead stories. “Rednecks Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” is a humorous look at how a group of hunters handles finding themselves at ground zero of a zombie apocalypse. My favorite zombie stories are “Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly,” in which an alcoholic mall Santa battles zombie reindeer, and “Cruise of the Living Dead,” in which a zombie outbreak threatens a cruise ship at sea. In late 2010 one of my short stories, “Dead Water” (about a zombie outbreak aboard an oil rig) was published as its own chpabook. Links to these, and my other works, are available on my blog.
ED- You have now been dabbling in one of our favorite subjects….Vampires! ….and have been producing a trilogy of stories based it. Tell us about the first book in your series titled, ‘The Vampire Hunters’, and the main protagonists in it.
SB- I love writing about vampires because it’s the ultimate good-vs.-evil story. The protagonists in The Vampire Hunters series are Drake Matthews and Alison Monroe, two former cops drummed out of the Boston Police force for brutally killing a serial killer who happened to be a vampire, and who now work for a powerful anonymous benefactor to kill off a nest of vampires in Washington D.C. My hunters differ from most of the others in the genre in that they don’t have special slayer powers, or are half-human/half-vampire hybrids, or carry hi-tech weaponry. Drake and Alison are ordinary people battling the undead, which makes the stakes (no pun intended) that much greater. My vampires hark back to the old Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee models, which is part of my Monster Kid upbringing. They don’t glitter, have souls, or are filled with angst for the terror they cause. They are pure evil, and they enjoy their decadence. I purposefully made my vampires integral parts of the story with backgrounds and motivations. You might not like them, but you’re definitely intrigued by them.
ED- Who is the publisher of ‘The Vampire Hunters’, and where can our readers find it?
SB- The Vampire Hunters is available in e-book format from Shadowfire Press (http://shadowfirepress.com). I’m indebted to Michael Barnette of Shadowfire Press for giving my big break. Pill Hill Press is the publisher of the trade paperback editions of the book, and the books are available either directly from the publisher (www.pillhillpress.com) and Amazon.com. .
ED- Your second book in the series just came out and it’s title is ‘Vampire Hunters: Vampynomicon’. What is the theme behind the book, and how does this fit in with the first novel?
SB- Where the first book introduced the hunters and developed my concept of vampires, in The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon I delve more deeply into my vampire mythos. The novel centers around the search for the Vampyrnomicon, or the Book of the Undead, which went missing during the Spanish Inquisition and is now located in the vaults of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Legend has it that whoever possesses the book can either establish a vampire nation over mankind or destroy the undead once and for all. I also introduce Chiang Shih, the Master vampire, and her coterie of the most evil vampires known to man. They come to Washington to find the Vampyrnomicon, but to get the book they have to face off against the hunters.
ED- Is the book available for our readers now, and where can they find it?
SB- Yes, this book is available in e-book format from Shadowfire Press and as a trade paperback from Pill Hill Press or at Amazon.com.
SB- The reviews for The Vampire Hunters have been extremely positive. Fangoria magazine called it “a gut-wrenching, fast paced horror thriller” and gave it three out of four skulls. Colleen Wanglund of Monster Librarian described the book as “portray[ing] vampires exactly the way they should be…. [as] the nightmare tales of ancient folklore.” And the blog A Splash of Scarlet said The Vampire Hunters “is a fast-paced, furious, bloody good story and should fulfill any and all your vampire-tale needs.” But for an old Monster Kid like me, I practically did the Monster Mash when Peter Schwotzer of Famous Monsters of Filmland called it “simply fabulous vampire tale” and compared my book with Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain.
ED- You have a third title coming out in this trilogy. When will it become available, and can you give us a sneak-preview on the story?
SB- In The Vampire Hunters: Dominion, the Vampyrnomicon is finally unearthed after the hunters solve a series of cryptic clues, but its discovery leads to a vampire apocalypse. In Washington and epic struggle between humans and the undead to see who will hold dominion over the world. For this book I pulled out all the stops, adding a few more hunters and numerous vampires to the mix. If you like the action in the first two books, you’ll love The Vampire Hunters: Dominion. I also tie up all the loose ends by explaining the origins of my vampires, revealing the identity of the anonymous benefactor, and resolve the sexual tension between Drake and Alison. This book is currently available as an e-book from Shadowfire Press and will be published as a trade paperback by Pill Hill Press on 1 October 2011, just in time for Halloween.
ED- We also understand that Zombies are another fascination of yours, and you have even written a book about them. Please tell our readers all about it.
SB- Rotter World was recently accepted for publication by Permuted Press and should be released sometime in 2012. The novel takes place months after vampires steal a virus that transforms humans into zombies and release it on mankind, turning most of the world into the living dead, but with the unintended result that the zombies also wipe out the vampires. The last remaining vampires join forces with a small band of humans in southern Maine to try and survive. Their uneasy détente is put to the test with the arrival of Dr. Compton, the creator of the virus, who claims to have developed a vaccine against the virus. The catch is the formula is located in an underground facility in Pennsylvania. The quest to recover the vaccine strains the relationship between humans and vampires to the breaking point and confronts them with dangers none of them had ever conceived of.
ED- What other books and genres do you have in store for our readers?
SB- My current project is called The Walking Monster, which is based on a Native American legend about a creature that stalked New Mexico preying on humans. It’s my homage to the B-grade monster movies of the 1950s that I’ve loved ever since I was a kid. It’s a bit of a departure from my previous stuff in that I keep the gore and violence to a minimum so it reads more like something from that era. I’m ion the process of researching a manuscript about OSS officers in World War II who must stop Hitler from fulfilling his pact with Satan to grant the German Army victory on the Eastern Front in return for establishing Hell on Earth (think Nazi zombies). I also have several other concepts bouncing around inside my head, but have not fully developed any of them just yet. I can say that one is a possible sequel to Rotter World.
ED- Scott, we want to thank you for your interview with The Eerie Digest, and I know that our readers insatiable thirst for the Vampire genre will have them seeking out your works to read them. We wish you much luck and ask you to keep in touch with us so that our readers can follow all the newest books that you will surely have in store for them.
View the trailer for The Vampire Hunters at http://www.scott-m-baker.com/vampirehunterstrailer.html