Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview with Andrea Zuvich, author of The Stuart Vampire

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Andrea Zuvich to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her latest release, The Stuart Vampire. 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Andrea. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about The Stuart Vampire. 
Thanks, Erin, it’s great to be here! The Stuart Vampire centres around Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, who is the youngest brother of King Charles II. His story begins in the 1650s, but the story begins and ends in the late 1800s. There are lots of big questions: If you had the opportunity to have immortality, would you take it? Would you become a monster? Would you be able to live with yourself, with your conscience after killing so many people? Henry’s journey from human to vampire leads him through a variety of situations and he is so many different things: Victim, Murderer, Plague Doctor, Begetter, Lover, Vampire.

What inspired you to blend paranormal lit and historic fiction?
History is everything to me, but I have always enjoyed vampire stories. Sometimes people think that the Victorian age is the most suitable for vampires, and I think that’s largely because of the popularity of vampire novels and serials in the 18th-century. There was Polidori’s Vampyre, the penny dreadful series for Varney the Vampire, and then, of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I also was quite a big fan of gothic novels, especially Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk, and I tried to write The Stuart Vampire in a similar style to that. I figured that a Gothic novel would be ideal for Henry.

Of all the Stuarts, why choose Henry, Duke of Gloucester as your protagonist? 
Poor Henry is always forgotten because he lived only twenty years. History lovers know all about his older brothers, King Charles II and King James II, and how both were womanisers and party boys and Henry was just as handsome and desirable as they were, so it just made sense to make him my protagonist. Henry deserves to be a hero, but the length of his life simply does not  allow that, so that is why the supernatural element was crucial. As a vampire, he can keep living, keep experiencing things and we can go along for the ride.

Griselda is very intriguing character. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the Contessa di Cuorenero? 
Griselda, Contessa di Cuorenero is an extraordinarily beautiful vampiress from the Renaissance. She will do anything, absolutely anything, to stay young and beautiful forever. Her vanity is her great flaw. I feel a little sorry for her because she is so incredibly vain and so is, in effect, unable to love anyone other than herself. She forms an obsession with Henry because Henry reminds her of her former husband, Adolphe de La Fontaine. The circumstances surrounding what happened to Adolphe directly impact Griselda’s relationship with Henry.

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing?
Ooh, my favourite scene was in the last chapter, Retribution, where one of my characters is able to engage in a bit of vengeance. I really can’t say any more about it except that it was most satisfying. Other than that, I did enjoy the Begetting scene in the vaults beneath Westminster Abbey. I was very happy that I found a 17th-century artwork of a crypt, which is what I have on the back cover of the paperback version, because it is exactly the sort of image I had in mind when I wrote that scene.

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author? Why was it troublesome and how did you work through it? 
There is a gang rape in one of the chapters and that brutality, the cruelty of such an act was quite uncomfortable for me to write. But I believed it was necessary for the character and so I pushed myself to continue it. It is, after all, a horror story and my point is that not all horrors are supernatural, they can be realistic and terrifying. Whilst Henry is aghast at the atrocities he commits as a vampire, the human perpetrators of this horrible deed are not plagued by remorse. It begs the question: who is the real monster?

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on?
Griselda. I had a whole storyline for her regarding her time in Purgatory, but it had to be removed from The Stuart Vampire because it was taking away from the focus on Henry’s experiences. He - and Susanna - are the main leads of the story. 

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why?
Susanna because when we meet her, she has suffered enormously at the hands of the villagers and for her to remain such a good person in spite of those sufferings, well, the girl deserves a drink at the very least!

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast of actors to play the primary roles in a screen adaptation of your work, who would you hire? 
I wrote the character of Susanna with Holliday Grainger in my head, so definitely her for Susanna. Griselda would be Emily Browning because she has that sort of Renaissance beauty going on. Henry, hmm, Henry would be an unknown actor - whoever looked like the real Henry and could act!

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process? 
An idea for my historical novels usually springs from my research. I give lectures around the UK about the Late Stuarts, and sometimes one historical figure or another just captivates me. From that moment on, I get a little obsessed and try to learn as much as humanly possible about that person (from their letters, first-person accounts of their behaviour, etc.) and then I form a timeline of historical events. At this point, once I have all the known historical facts together, do I add my imagination. I try to fill in the gaps with educated guesses as to what may have transpired in the blank spots in history. And then it is write, write, edit, edit, write, and polish.

Who are your favorite authors? 
My favourite writer is William Shakespeare, but for novels, my favourites are: A.S. Byatt, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy, Caleb Carr, and Rosalind Miles. It was actually the latter who first got me interested in historical fiction.

What are you currently reading? 
I’m currently reading (well, listening to) the wonderful Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert. I have been in love with classic literature since I was a little kid.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
I am a history geek, so I am happy traipsing around stately homes whenever I can. Also, I play classical flute, piano, and sing. I am a big fan of Baroque music, which is good because in my line of work I need to be very well acquainted with that music! Most importantly, I love to read. These days, however, I’ve been forced to listen to audiobooks more than reading books because my eyesight is deteriorating rapidly - and I’m not yet thirty. My uncle went blind so I’m trying to avoid that.It doesn’t help that I do a lot of primary source research in dimly-lit archives where I have to read scrawly, faded handwriting.

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
Milky latte coffee for me! In truth, I love both coffee and tea - and both were introduced to England in the 17th-century! (as was hot chocolate! Mmmm…)

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? 
My big problem is I have too many projects on the go and not enough time (or good enough vision) to pursue them all. I have some long-suffering fans, who have been waiting for my novel on William & Mary for a few years now! I have been trying in vain to get publishers interested but they are reluctant to take on 17th-century ideas at the moment. I have a Rupert of the Rhine series I would like to do, several non-fiction history books about the Stuarts, and I am working on ‘Anthea’ - a novel of a fictional Restoration actress (this seems likely to be published first). Thanks for having me!

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Andrea (aka The Seventeenth Century Lady) is a 17th-century historian, historical consultant, and historical fiction authoress. His Last Mistress – a biographical fiction novella about the Duke of Monmouth and Lady Henrietta Wentworth was published by Endeavour Press, London in 2013. She received double BA degrees in History and Anthropology from the University of Central Florida, and continued her History studies with the University of Oxford and Princeton University. Zuvich has been filmed for NTR television in The Netherlands, talking about William III, and was recently on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing Queen Anne. She was one of the original developers and leaders on The Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace, London. Zuvich lives in Windsor, England.

Website ❧  Facebook ❧  Twitter ❧  Goodreads

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“An intriguing historical with a darkly gothic twist, I enjoyed The Stuart Vampire and would recommend it to anyone with a taste for period horror.” – Erin Davies.

“Once again Ms. Zuvich brings the setting to life, she paints a vivid picture of the Restoration period – intertwined with drama & romance.” – (Amazon Review)

“A great mix of historical fiction and vampires -what’s not to love?! I really enjoyed this book,I liked the unique blend of fact and fiction!A fascinating time period anyway,with the added bonus of introducing vampires into the Stuart line it kept me hooked until the end! The author obviously knows her Stuart and 17th Century history and facts were woven in amongst the drama of a secret darker world of evil,all happening during the time of the plague in London.The book was full of great descriptions of this time,I could almost smell it!! Would definitely recommend this book.” – (Amazon Review)

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Format: eBook
Publication Date: October 31, 2013
Released by: The Seventeenth Century Lady
Length: 238 pages
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Crossover

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Check Out All the Stops on Andrea Zuvich's The Stuart Vampire Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, October 14
The Stuart Vampire Launch Party
Wednesday, October 15
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, October 16
Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Friday, October 17
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, October 20
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, October 21
Review at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, October 22
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, October 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

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