Splickety editor and publisher Ben Wolf is a name familiar with many in the Spec-Fic industry, particularly among independents. His new book asks the question, "what if a vampire got saved." Always intrigued by vampires in Christian fiction, we asked Ben about his new novel, and whether he's planning on writing more horror in the future.
A Flame in the Dark: Well, let’s get right to it. Blood For Blood doesn’t pull any punches with its faith-based subject matter, and it’s a pretty interesting concept for a book. Can you tell us a little about it?
Ben Wolf: Thanks for having me, Randy. Blood For Blood is the story that explores the possibility of "what if a vampire got saved?" Raven, the main character, encounters Christian faith after having been a vampire for the past century. He chooses to turn what's left of his existence over to God, and God begins to sanctify him and transform him from being a vampire into being a human again.
Since vampires don't have souls, this sort of presents a theological problem. How can God save a soul that is already damned? Is he a God of his promises, a God who can do all things (Luke 1:37)? Blood For Blood explores those questions in a fun, tightly-paced action novel.
AFitD: I suppose there are a lot of interpretations to the vampire myth, i.e., what exactly makes a vampire a vampire. So rather than getting into the spiritual mechanics of just what Salvation looks like for the undead, tell us about yours. How much classical vampire mythology went into writing your character?
BW: I studying a lot of classic mythology and adapted what I could use for the novel. I think Raven and the other vampires in my story are about as close to being "true" vampires (the non-sparkly kind) as they could possibly be. They're traditional bloodsuckers, 10 times stronger than normal men, they can't tolerate sunlight, they can only be killed by a stake through the chest (or by sunlight), they hate garlic and Holy items (crosses, Bibles, other Christian relics) repel them, and the only way to end them once and for all is to cut their heads off and stuff their mouths with garlic--after you've staked them.
It's very difficult to bring something new to the vampire genre because so much has already been done to develop their fictional mythos. That's part of what inspired me to look back at their history so I could assess their traditional existence and give it new (unnatural) life in Blood For Blood. With that said, I did manage to conjure a new facet of vampire lore that I've never seen before (and I've encountered a LOT of vampire fiction and history), so I'm pretty proud of that as well. It's also a key feature of the story, especially with regard to the climax. I love it, and I think readers will too.
AFitD: This is your first novel, and an explicitly Christian vampire novel is quite the risk. So, first, anobvious question: why vampires?
BW: Vampires have always intrigued me. I'm not old enough to have "grown up" with classic horror movies like Bela Lugosi's original Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr.'s Wolfman flicks, and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein movies, but I watched them as a kid and loved them. So the love of these types of stories has basically always been there. (Bonus shout-out to the Creature from the Black Lagoon.)
As for Blood For Blood, I actually didn't come up with the concept. My friend and fellow writer Matt Sheehy was talking about how hilarious it would be if a vampire got saved. He was jawing about how maybe a Christian vampire could help out with a tent revival, and how he'd have to use a hammer and big wooden stakes to secure the tent to the ground. The juxtaposition of the vampire using tools traditionally used to kill his kind to secure a tent to advance the Kingdom of God struck me, and the entire plot for my novel (well, almost all of it) blossomed in my head. I asked Matt for permission and he gladly granted it.
AFitD: How has Blood For Blood been received so far? Indie publishing being what it is, have you been pretty happy with how the book has gone down with readers?
BW: Of the folks who have read it, the response has been amazingly positive. all five-star reviews so far (as of when I'm typing this response) with the exception of one 4-star review, and she only ranked it low because she didn't think it was long enough. The book is 86,000 words, so I'm not sure what she considers "long enough," but whatever. I'm always looking for more reviewers, and I'll gladly send digital versions of the book to qualified reviewers for free if they're willing to talk me up.
Our mutual friend Carla Hoch asked me if I had stirred up any controversy over the book yet. Sadly, no, I haven't. I'm open to ideas on how to do that, though.
AFitD: What’s next for you, novel-wise? With interests all over the speculative fiction map (like many SpecFic readers), are you going to stay with paranormal and horror for the next book or move on to something else?
BW: I've got four other books written and mostly well-polished, but two of them are in a YA fantasy series that I need to update and smooth out before I'm ready to do anything with them. Another is my first novel, which is a supernatural/cyberpunk mashup with sword fighting and other mayhem, and the last one is a historical western. Of all of them, the western is in the best shape, but it doesn't fit my speculative "brand" at all, so it's shelved for now.
As for new projects, I am working on a solidly paranormal idea at the moment. It's an idea that just came to me, and it's awesome, so I know I have to write it. My agent, Julie Gwinn, is trying to sell my other works/ideas at the moment, though, so if one of those hits, then I'll obviously switch gears and work on that instead. Otherwise I'm editing novels and other writings for authors full-time and running Splickety as well.
AFitD: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work, Ben?
BW: If you want more information about me, visit www.benwolf.com. You can find my book on there, information about how to book me as a speaker, and details on what I charge for editing. I'm happily booked through March of 2015 right now, but I'm actively looking for new clients, so I'm happy to review your work and see what I can do for you. I'm not cheap, but I'm very, very good, and I have the references to show that.
If you love flash fiction (or have a short attention span or don't have a lot of time to read) check out Splickety at www.splicketypubgroup.com. We offer three flash fiction magazines available in print or digital format (including a speculative imprint). We've got some holiday deals coming out pretty soon as well, so if you want to get in on a subscription bundle a bit early that includes a digital copy of my book, email the words "Holiday Bundle" to email@example.com.
You can get all three magazines (digitally) plus my novel (also digitally) plus a variety of other goodies valued at $89 for only $19.95. It's a rare thing that we offer stuff like this, especially since the digital subscription to all three magazines is normally $24.95 on its own, so if you want a bunch of free stuff, now's the time.
Thanks for having me on, Randy.