The Write Way Café welcomes author Margo Bond Collins, who sees vampires, ghosts, and other such things everywhere.
I’ve always known that I wanted to write, for as long as I can remember. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since. I've thought about writing romance on and off for a long time, too—but I didn't actually write a romance novel until just last year.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
When I was living in the Bronx, I was walking home late one night past the (very Gothic-looking) Fordham University campus, and thought how easy it would be for a vampire to leap out of one of the trees hanging out over the sidewalk (these are the kinds of things I think about when I'm out at night . . . )
Why did you pick the setting you did?
I was living there! New York has such a fascinating history—I loved learning about it, and incorporating vampires into that history was great fun.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
My characters are probably an amalgamation of people I know. Although she's much braver than I would ever be, Elle's snarkiness definitely reflects a part of me most people don't see. But no character is entirely based on any one person.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
This was a NaNoWriMo book—I wrote the bulk of it in 30 days, then finished the draft the next month. So I didn't have time for a serious block! Don't get me wrong; I get stuck, like everyone. I do hit writer’s block sometimes. But when that happens, I usually switch over to another project or go for a walk. Sometimes I’ll go back and try to work on editing what’s already done. But I loathe editing and revising. I know it must be done, but I hate it with a fiery passion. So that usually prompts me to go back to writing!
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about vampires, lawyers, and New York City?
About me: Because this was the first full-length novel I wrote (though not the first to be published), the main thing I learned about myself was that I could do it! Until then, I had written only shorter pieces.
About vampires: In my day job, I am a college English professor. Right before I wrote this book, I taught a vampire literature course—so I had just been steeped in vampire lore. My favorite part of that class is always teaching about the "Vampire Scare" in the 1700s in Austria—the newspapers in England wrote "eye-witness" accounts of vampires, and this information probably brought the idea of vampires over to England.
About New York City: There are tons of abandoned buildings that would be perfect vampire hide-outs—and some of them look like castles!
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
I have an office that I use for all my work: academic writing, fiction writing, editing, and online teaching. My desk is against a window so I can see outside. I’m surrounded by books and papers. I write directly on my laptop, but when I get stuck, I sometimes switch to handwriting; this seems to shift my brain onto a different track and helps me get over writer’s block. I write something every day, whether it’s academic writing, fiction, or my blog. Having a dedicated work space makes it easier for me to focus.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
Ha! Never ask an English professor to discuss books unless you want the multi-paragraph answer! Like most novelists, I am a voracious reader in my field, which means that I read all kinds of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction. But in addition to being an urban fantasy writer, I have Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature. This means that any time anyone wants to talk books, I have more than my share to say!
In early British literature, I love the classics—but especially the stories with heroes and monsters: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Knight’s Tale. I love Shakespeare’s plays, but my favorites to teach are Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream because each is such a great example of its genre. Hamlet’s tragedy seems virtually unavoidable, and Midsummer’s comedy hits all the high (and low!) points.
In my own sub-specialty of eighteenth-century British literature, I love the early novels written by some of the first women to make a living writing in England, such as Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Delarivier Manley. Behn’s 1688 novel Oroonoko tells the story of a king who became a slave and found the woman he loved in the process, only to kill her and their unborn child to save them from slavery. In Haywood’s Fantomina (1724), a young noblewoman sets off on a sexual adventure full of disguises and intrigue. And in Manley’s The Wife’s Resentment (1720), a young woman takes revenge against her unfaithful husband with a gruesome murder. These early novels influenced later gothic tales, with virtuous damsels in distress and monstrous villains out to destroy them.
I think these various loves in more traditional literature—monsters, heroes, strong women, and gothic settings—are all parts of what have influenced my love of urban fantasy, paranormal fiction, romance, and horror. I love seeing many of the same tropes and ideas in more recent publications that influenced earlier works, as well.
What are you working on now?
Piles of things! I am, of course, working on the sequel to Legally Undead. I'm also working on sequels to Waking Up Dead and Fairy, Texas. I have a three-book romance series, the Hometown Heroes series, coming out with Entangled Press in the next year, so I'm finishing up those books, as well (that series kicked off with Taming the Country Star in June). And I have lots of other plans, but I try not to think about those yet!
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
Yes! I would love to try my hand at science fiction—I love the fact that it extrapolates what could happen and then makes it all seem so beautifully real. Plus, science fiction often deals with heroes and monsters and huge social issues, and what could be more fun than that?
Legally Undead Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XRDeparqVE
About the Author:
Margo Bond Collins is the author of a number of novels, including Waking Up Dead, Fairy, Texas, and Legally Undead. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.
Connect with Margo
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/margobondcollins
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin @MargoBondCollin
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins
Be sure to add Legally Undead to your Goodreads bookshelves: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18366353-legally-undead