From the bestselling author of “X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy,” comes the debut of a thrilling dark urban-fantasy novel series. Sixteen-year-old Goth girl Pandora Zwieback has a major problem: she’s just discovered that her New York City hometown is the stalking ground for every monster and ghoul out to raise a little hell, but she’s apparently the only one who can see them.
STEVEN A. ROMAN is the bestselling author of the novels Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1, X-Men: The Chaos Engine Trilogy, and Final Destination: Dead Man’s Hand. His writing has garnered praise from such authors as World Fantasy Award–winner Charles de Lint, Bram Stoker Award–winner Elizabeth Massie, and fantasist and crime fiction novelist Neal Barrett Jr.
His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies The Best New Zombie Tales 2, The Dead Walk Again!, Doctor Who: Short Trips: Farewells, If I Were an Evil Overlord, Tales of the Shadowmen 4: Lords of Terror, The Ultimate Hulk, and Untold Tales of Spider-Man. He also wrote the graphic novels Lorelei: Building the Perfect Beast, Stan Lee’s Alexa, and Sunn, and co-wrote the direct-to-DVD animated short X-Men: Darktide.
In addition to writing Steve worked as a fiction editor, then later as Editor-in-Chief, for ibooks, inc., a New York–based publishing company. Among the many titles he edited during his tenure were: original licensed novels based on Terminator 2, The Transformers, Witchblade, Spider-Man, and Ghostbusters; the fantasies Dragonkin, Moebius’ Arzach, and The Orc’s Treasure; the science fiction series Isaac Asimov’s Robot Mysteries; and the Young Adult SF spoof Britney Spears is a Three-Headed Alien!
Steve’s current writing projects include the Saga of Pandora Zwieback novel series.
First off, thank you so much for dropping by Fiction Fascination to do an interview, Steven. 🙂
Well, thanks for inviting me, Carly. I love what you’ve done with the place! 😀
Tell us a little bit about Blood Feud (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, #1)?
It’s the story of Pandora Zwieback, a 16-year-old Goth from New York City who can see monsters, but who’s spent ten years thinking she’s crazy because of that. She doesn’t consider it a talent, she thinks it’s a sign of mental illness; her parents and her therapists are convinced of it, too. It’s only after she crosses paths with a 400-year-old monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin that Pan comes to realize how gifted she really is.
Unfortunately, just when she thinks the world is a brighter place, she and her parents get caught in the middle of a war between rival vampire clans that are looking for the key to an ultimate weapon—and that key has just been delivered to the horror-themed museum that Pan’s father owns!
Where did the ideas come from to start the series?
The horror comics I read when I was a teen—and Doctor Who, of all things! The basic concept was that Annie was the lead character, with Pan as her sidekick—the same sort of dynamic as The Doctor and any of his companions, only instead of fighting science-fictional aliens, Annie and Pan would hunt monsters out of mythology and folklore. Over time, though, the formula evolved to where it is now, with Pan as the lead and Annie as her supportive mentor. I think it works much better this way!
I loved Blood Feud, I would love Pandora as a friend. Tell us, who is your favourite character?
Well, Pan is my favorite character; she’s kinda like the daughter I never had. 😀 Her father, David, is probably a close second, but that probably has to do more with him somewhat being a reflection of me. The story Pan tells in Blood Feud, of her dad giving her a DVD copy of Watership Down for her fifth birthday? In real life, that was me at a friend’s daughter’s birthday party!
I am so intrigued by Annie, do you plan on writing a separate book for her in the future?
I’m not sure about a novel, at least not immediately, but with 400 years of monster hunting to her name there are plenty of Annie adventures to tell. I do have a few ideas for short stories, so those would probably come before a novel.
Annie actually made her debut in a short-lived comic book series called Heartstopper, which came out in 1995; it lasted only two issues before it was canceled. In it, Annie was more of the “bad girl” type of heroine that was in vogue at the time: sexy, attitudinal, and scantily attired. Looking back on it, I can honestly say it was not my finest hour as a writer—and yet, for this year’s Free Comic Book celebration on May 5, I’m offering the first issue as a free PDF download at the StarWarp Concepts site. Truly, I am a glutton for punishment!
How long did it take you to write Blood Feud?
Blood Feud was really a start-and-stop kind of project. I first pitched it to the book company owned by R. L. Stine—the creator of Goosebumps—back in 1998, under the title Heartstopper (transferred from the canceled comic book). When Stine passed on it, the project sat in a drawer until 2005, when I showed it to people I knew in book publishing, but I could never find a publisher to pick it up, for various reasons, some of them outright nonsensical.
It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally decided I’d just publish it myself, as I’d done for years with comic book projects. Then I really sat down and focused on getting it done, and finished the completely reworked manuscript in early 2011.
So, 13 years from start to finish. Not too long, huh? 😉
Are you working on any writing at the minute?
Right now I’m working on Blood Reign, the sequel to Blood Feud; that will conclude Pan’s first adventure and set the stage for the ones that follow. After that comes the comic book The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, which is scheduled for release in October.
I’m also a contributor to “Bob Larkin: The Illustrated Man,” a blog dedicated to the cover painter of the Pan novels. Bob has a long history as a painter for book covers, movie posters, toy packaging, comic books, and magazines, and the site is dedicated to introducing new fans, and his many old ones, to the broad spectrum of his work. You can find it at http://boblarkin.blogpost.com.
What genres do you enjoy reading?
My tastes are sort of eclectic: Often I’m reading Doctor Who, Ray Bradbury, or Stephen King novels, but then I’ll read something like Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, or one of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser mysteries. I’m sort of all over the place. For nonfiction books I lean toward ones about New York Mets baseball (Pan’s favorite team), New York history, and folklore and mythology (for my monster-hunting reference).
What inspires you to write, Steven?
A need to tell all these stories piling up in my head! 😀
Okay, seriously, inspiration for a story can come from almost anything—a newspaper article, a song, an interaction or even that you observe firsthand. Back in college, one of my professors said it was important to always carry around something to jot down ideas on (this was before long before texting), because you never know when something might spur your imagination. There’s a scene in Blood Feud where Pan, feeling majorly depressed, sits on a Dumpster in the pouring rain—that was based on a girl in a hoodie I once saw from a train; it was such a depressing sight that I immediately felt sorry for her. I never wrote it down, but that image got stuck in my head for years before I made use of it.
So, to all you budding writers out there: Keep watching the world around you. You never know where inspiration might come from.
What are your top three all-time favourite books?
’Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King: This was a book I read once a year in high school and college. It’s King’s modernization of Dracula (he’s admitted to that), and it’s much scarier than Stoker’s. No sparkly vampires in this one—they’re all murderous bloodsuckers!
The Second Greatest Story Ever Told, by Giorman Bechard: It’s a humorous novel about the Second Coming—only this time God sends down his daughter, Ilona, to straighten out the modern-day world. She becomes a New York Mets baseball fan, appears on the David Letterman show, and tries to update the Catholic Church (which the Pope isn’t too thrilled about). It’s funny and dramatic, and was the novel that made it clear to me how a writer can put aspects of themselves into their characters—a real eye-opener that became a major influence on how I approached my writing from then on.
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess: A fascinating, gritty tale about Alex, a sociopathic teen, and how society tries to “fix” him. Burgess plays with the language, inventing words and phrases that, at first, are a little difficult to decipher; but as the story goes on, you’re quickly able to understand what Alex is talking about. And if you’ve ever seen the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation, you can’t help but “hear” Alex’s first-person narration in the voice of Malcolm McDowell, the actor who played him.
When not working what do you enjoy getting up to?
Watching movies, reading, occasionally drawing; I have my own page at DeviantArt, an online artists community, where I’ve posted my work. I’ve been trying my hand at cooking these days—at some point I became obsessed with a TV show on the Food Network called Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which explores American eateries, and I’ve been experimenting with recipes. I haven’t killed anyone yet, so I must be doing something right!
Do you have an interesting quirk about yourself?
I like to throw odd voices into my conversations, usually for humorous effect, but most of them are lame. I’ve been told my Grandpa Simpson voice is fairly spot-on, and my “pirate” and “cowboy” mumblings are decent enough. But my Peter Lorre voice sounds more like Ren from the old cartoon series Ren and Stimpy, and my Irish accent sounds like the leprechaun from the Lucky Charms cereal commercials—now you know why Pan does such lousy imitations!
Where can readers find you? Any of your books?
Mainly, folks can go to the sites for Pandora Zwieback and my publishing company, StarWarp Concepts:
I update the blogs at both sites as often as possible, and what doesn’t make it to the blogs appears on the Facebook pages for each; the links can be found at the Pan and SWC sites.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?
If you’re intrigued by all this talk of Pan, please go to the Pandora Zwieback Web site and download the free introductory comic there—it’ll tell you more about Pan, and includes two samples chapters from Blood Feud.
Give Pan a try—I think you’ll come to love her as much as Carly does! 😀
Thanks again for stopping by Fiction Fascination and taking the time out to do an interview.
Thanks, Carly! I wish you continued success with the site!
Now for the giveaway folks, Steven has very kindly offered a paperback copy of Blood Feud to one lucky person. Open internationally. You know the drill, fill out the rafflecopter.Winner will have 48 hours to respond with a postal address, or another winner will have to be drawn. Good luck Everyone. 🙂