Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Damian is giving away an eBook copy of his book The Vampire’s Angel with this post – comment below for a chance to win!
Today, Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published The Vampire’s Angel, The Vampire’s Quest, The Bachmann Family Secret, The Vampire’s Witch, and The Vampire’s Protégé, as well as Santa’s Kinky Elf, Simon and Santa Is a Vampire with NineStar Press. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.DamianSerbu.com.
Thanks so much, Damian, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
DS: Damian Serbu is a pseudonym. I was trained as an academic historian, and for eighteen plus years worked as a history professor. Under my given name, David Settje, I have published several academic articles and three history books. My primary field of research is in twentieth-century U.S. religious history. I thought it best to have a definitive separation for publishing gay speculative/horror fiction. My pen name keeps these very different arenas separate from one another.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
DS: Chill out! Which, of course, is a lot easier to think in retrospect than to accept at the time. I worried too much. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself regarding perfectionism and sales. I would stress to my younger self to let life come to me more, accept reality, and enjoy the moment. I would encourage myself, uplift myself, and let “me do me” without concern so much for what other people thought.
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
DS: Lol – that’s when all the best ideas occur! I often wake up in the middle of the night with them. I keep post-it notes and a pen beside my bed to write down the thought. If I don’t write it down, I keep myself awake because I want to remember it and worry it will disappear. Once on the note, I can go back to sleep. Funny – sometimes I wake up and can’t read my writing, so I’m convinced my most brilliant moments are lost forever. Through the day, if something pops into my head I send myself a text – again so I recall the idea when I get home and can write it down or outline it for the future.
JSC: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
DS: I am now a full-time writer. Since being able to focus on my writing, I think it provides two things. First, most obviously, I get more writing accomplished. My volume has increased, as has the speed with which I can finish a project. Also, I have a lot more time for publicity. I struggle with getting the word out, in part because I’m shy and in the past because of time constraints. Now I can carve out the space to give publicity better attention, and to look for new outlets for sharing my work.
JSC: What are your favorite parts of publishing?
DS: I still get a thrill when the hardcopy arrives in the mail for the first time and I can hold my novel in my hands. I’m old school in how I like to read, so the hardcopy feels like an exciting accomplishment – the exclamation on the publishing process. I also like seeing the cover art for the first time, after the artist creates it. I can be very visual in nature; seeing the manifestation of my story in art form is fascinating and thrilling. Finally, I enjoy the editing process. I know a lot of writers think I’m nuts for that, but I like to know professionals are helping polish my presentation to make it the best possibly experience for readers.
JSC: What’s the funniest or creepiest thing you’ve come across while researching for one of your stories?
DS: OMG – a recent discovery is one of the nuttiest I’ve had in a long time. Back story: I grew up knowing my great grandfather immigrated to the United States from Prussia for political reasons in the 1800s. I was reading some background material recently when I found out the intensity of the political persecution. My great great grandfather and great great grandmother were targeted for their activities. After my great grandfather and two of his sisters arrived in America, his parents were assassinated! Yikes! I never knew that part of the story. Those in America had to help their youngest brother, who was in hiding in Prussia, escape to the United States afterward. I don’t know how or when, but that story needs to make its way into a novel sometime because I am haunted by the notion. Such darkness must lurk in my mind and lead me to write horror!
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes in The Vampire’s Witch. What makes them tick?
DS: One thing that hovers in the background but never gets clearly identified is Jaret’s insecurity in The Vampire’s Witch. Jaret is the main character. We see him deal with loss and adversity throughout the novel. And he can come across as impulsive and brash. He is quick to feel wounded and lash out in anger. But a lot of those traits stem from not knowing himself. In fact, I am currently writing the fifth book in my vampire series, The Vampire’s War. In addition to the action plot, regarding the said war, the novel has Jaret see his insecurity and begin to come to terms with it. In The Vampire’s Witch, a reader may sense this characteristic but it never gets pointed out explicitly.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write, and why?
DS: Simon the Elf, in Santa Is a Vampire. I love Simon because he’s a sarcastic smart ass. I literally laugh out loud at him, which is a joy to write. He makes horrid situations amusing and embraces life despite the hardships he faces as an enslaved elf to a vampire.
JSC: What fictional speculative fiction character would you like to spend an evening with, and why?
DS: I would love to meet Armand from Anne Rice’s vampire novels! I have loved him since I first encountered him in college when I read Interview with the Vampire. And his subsequent appearances, including the novel named after him that provides his backstory, entice me all the more. I find his unique character complicated and alluring. He wears so many emotions on his sleeve. He can be caring and fierce. Independent and needy. He is my favorite literary character of all time.
JSC: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
DS: Not the future – I think that would creep me out! As a historian, the concept of visiting the past entices me. I would love to view how people reacted to various events as they happened, to see for myself what I have learned about in history books. I find the more I learn about the past, the more the knowledge humanizes the people who lived through it. Seeing them up close and personal would intensify that learning experience for me.
The Vampire’s Witch welcomes you to the world of vampires, witches, and magic.
Jaret Bachmann’s life spins out of control after a handsome stranger, Anthony, saves him from an attack along the bike path on Lakeshore Drive. His estranged high school sweetheart stalks him, the enraged ghost of his ancestor destroys his family, and his bike path savior-cum-lover abandons him after learning Jaret is a powerful witch, all of it sending Jaret into deep depression.
Struggling to find his way afterward, Jaret searches for comfort in the unlikely friendship of a secret vampire community. Over time, Jaret’s friendship with the vampires strengthens and he forges a new family connection.
But he and Anthony are estranged and though their souls are entwined, their hearts are another matter.