Q: Isme - The Book Slooth
A: Heather Brewer
1. Did you write the supernatural elements in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod as an allegory for the bewildering journey through high school?
I set out to write a story about a boy struggling with bullying and the usual rigors of school, who happened to have fangs and a thirst for blood. It surprised even me how well those things would match up.
2. Are the experiences of the characters drawn from memories, or observation?
I was bullied from the time I entered Kindergarten, all the way through school. It really shaped who I was and for many years, completely destroyed my sense of self-esteem. In fact, when I set out to write Vlad's story, I did so as a way to deal with the things that had happened to me during my childhood. I had no idea that writing could be so therapeutic.
3. The characters in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod are very lifelike, are any of them directly influenced by people you know?
Absolutely. Bits of pieces of many people I know influenced the characters. Vlad is composed mostly of myself and my son, Jacob. Meredith's obsession with pink and overall girly-ness is due to my daughter , Alexandria. And Henry is the result of everything I've ever heard about my husband Paul's teenage years. Then there are the vampires: Otis is the teacher in me, D'Ablo is the villain in me, and Dorian is everything I've ever wanted to be.
4. Do you think that vampires are particularly relevant to kids today, or do you think that teenagers have always been fascinated with vampires?
Vampires are consistently popular, but we see spikes in that popularity every few years. I'm really enjoying this particular spike, simply because there are no rules to vampires in today's literature. They can be handsome and suave, ugly and evil, or just like the guy next door. And no matter the reason that teens seem to be drawn to reading about vampires, we should all celebrate the fact that they're reading. About anything that draws them in.
5. Does it excite you to know that even though your stories are set in America, they are reaching teenagers from all around the world because of the universal themes?
I couldn't be more thrilled! The very idea that my plans for world domination are working amazes me. And it's all thanks to my Minions around the globe! :)
6. When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 12 years old, I finished reading Stephen King's CARRIE. I'd closed the book and for the first time ever, I said out loud, "That's what I want to be--I want to be an author." It was a very, very long road for me after that. After all, nothing--especially dreams--come true without a lot of hard work. But I'm living proof that anyone can do anything they set their hearts on. No goal is off limits for anyone. If I can do this and be successful at it, anyone can.
7. I have recently written a short story that I would like to pursue further. Is there any advice that you have acquired in your time writing that first time writers could keep in mind when attempting their first novel?
First off, congratulations! Not everyone can say that they've completed a story, so that in itself is an enormous accomplishment. After all, the hardest part of writing is following through to "the end". When writing a first novel, I think it's very important to get the story on the page as quickly as possible. Don't worry about typos or going back and making it perfect the first time out. I call this my "crap draft"--it's error-ridden and awful, but you can't fix a blank page. Sit down and use my full-proof formula to writing a book: butt + chair = writing. Finish it, then fix it. Also, give yourself a set word count for each day and then stick to it.
8. I often hear that people declare their love for the main character (usually a vampire) in the vampire novels; did you develop any feelings for Vlad when you brought him to life?
I've been enormously attached to Vlad from the beginning, but only, I think, because he's an extension of myself. In many ways, Vlad is my voice of reason. I often tell people he lives in the back of my skull.
9. Do you think that YA Novels are a good way for teenagers to understand what they are going through? Did this influence the messages in your book?
I thinks books help us to better understand the world we live in. Plus, they help us understand that we're not the only person having gone through a particular situation. We're not alone. And somehow, we'll find a way out of the muck together.
I don't intentionally put messages in my books, mostly because I don't think that teenagers are reading books to learn a particular lesson. I think they're looking for escapism and enjoyment, pure and simple. The rest is really just gravy.
10. Humour plays a big part in your books, did the humour come from your characters, or you?
I have a very quirky sense of humor and make my family laugh quite a bit. The funny parts of the books are all me. If Vlad gets the fangs, I can at least get the laughs, y'know?