The Last American Vampire
In Reconstruction-era America, vampire Henry Sturges is searching for renewed purpose in the wake of his friend Abraham Lincoln's shocking death. Henry's will be an expansive journey that first sends him to England for an unexpected encounter with Jack the Ripper, then to New York City for the birth of a new American century, the dawn of the electric era of Tesla and Edison, and the blazing disaster of the 1937 Hindenburg crash.
Along the way, Henry goes on the road in a Kerouac-influenced trip as Seth Grahame-Smith ingeniously weaves vampire history through Russia's October Revolution, the First and Second World Wars, and the JFK assassination.
Expansive in scope and serious in execution, The Last American Vampire is sure to appeal to the passionate readers who made Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a runaway success.
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|Publisher:||Grand Central Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Seth Grahame- Smith
What is your earliest memory of writing a story?
My mother went back to college to finish her degree when I was seven or eight. I remember her bringing home a pile of these blue examination books little notebooks with lined pages for me to scribble in. I set out to make each little book its own story. One, I remember, was about a stuffed clown that came to life at night.
When and where do you write? What does your workspace look like?
My producing partner and I have an office where we work on our film and television projects. I'm typically there, Monday through Friday, at my desk, surrounded by framed photos, vintage movie cameras, and collectable toys, writing with headphones on and movie soundtracks blaring. On the weekends, I work in a home office. I think it's important to treat writing as you would any other job. Rain or shine, sick or healthy, "feeling it" or not, you show up and do it.
When creating a variation on the life and work of a figure like Jane Austen or Abraham Lincoln, how do you research them as subjects? How do you immerse yourself in the past in which they lived?
As absurd as the concepts are, I try to be authentic. I begin by reading as many examples of their writing as I can. With Jane Austen, the biggest challenge was mimicking her very particular rhythms and constructions, and capturing the way people spoke in Regency England. With Abe, I read countless letters and speeches, again trying to capture his voice. I also read several Lincoln- centric books, including Gore Vidal's Lincoln and Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, to learn more about the character of the man and predict how he would react in the ridiculous situations I put him in.
There's a line oft-quoted online from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: "I fear that a life of death has made me numb to both." Has writing horror with a sense of humor changed your views of life and death? Has it made you more or less numb to their prospects?
I think becoming a parent changed my views on life and death more than writing. My wife and I had just had our first child around the time I wrote ALVH, and a lot of those new, powerful paternal feelings were reflected in Abe's journal entries about his sons. When he becomes a father, Abe realizes that there are fates worse than his own death namely, any harm befalling his children.
The Last American Vampire is something of an epic in scope, spanning the Reconstruction era to the late 1930s, with an enormous cast of famous characters. Would you have any interest in one day writing a story of comparable size set in the present day? What stories of now lend themselves to your themes of eternal life and grand adventure?
I'm not sure. Epic is easier when you're writing about vampires. There are authors who do scope much better than I do. David McCullough could write about making breakfast and make it feel epic.
Aside from your own, what are your favorite horror stories?
Wow. Leaving aside Stephen King, who would take up about fifty spots on the list, some of my favorites are Something Wicked This Way Comes, NOS4A2, House of Leaves, Hell House, Ghost Story, and The Haunting of Hill House, to name a few.
In terms of comedy, are there particular writers (or performers) who are a discernible influence on you?
It sounds like a copout, but the truth is, everyone from Buster Keaton to Patton Oswalt. I grew up during the so-called "Alt Comedy" boom, and I'm a huge fan of sketch and stand-up. I listen to Marc Maron's WTF podcast religiously. I think some of the best emerging comedy writers and directors are working for sites like Funny or Die.
Having seen your own work adapted for film and "in development, "what does the average moviegoer not understand about filmmaking? What would surprise them about the process of creating a film?
How slowly the process moves, and how many voices there are in it. When you write a novel, it's just you and your editor. It's as pure a distillation of your intent that you can get. You're in charge. In film, the writer is a servant of many masters: the studio, the director, the producers, in some cases the actors, all of whom have a say in the script. There are also other considerations economics, competing projects, release dates that are totally beyond your control.
Is there a genre or type of writing that you've not attempted but would like to try your hand at? What haven't you yet done that you want to do as a writer?
Absolutely. Part of the challenge of having success in one area in my case, "mash-ups" is that it begins to define you. Fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter might be turned off if I suddenly came out with a quiet character study devoid of bloodshed. That said, you can't approach a book thinking about sales. That's for other people to worry about. You have to write what you're most excited about in the moment, whether it's sci-fi, or fantasy, or horror, and hope people respond to it as much as you do.
What is the best advice you've received as an artist?
Never do anything for the money, and never, ever read the comments section.
January 13, 2015