Clay and Susan Griffith are the contributors for this week’s Take Five, a semi-weekly series where we ask authors to share five facts about their latest books. A married couple, they are the authors of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire: Book 1, currently available from Pyr Books:
In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the gray empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.
It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.
Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to a man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans
Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar is the first book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, Vampire Empire brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.
Clay and Susan Griffith:
1. We’re fans of the classic pulp characters, like The Shadow and The Phantom. Susan lived in Eddyville, NY just down the street from Walter Gibson aka Maxwell Grant, the author of The Shadow. Their talks at the post office spurred her to read many of his novels and others. Clay grew up reading The Avenger and Doc Savage and Fu Manchu. Is it any wonder that our book has much in common with those thrilling days of yesteryear?
2. As much as the title character of the novel is amalgam of our favorite heroes, the book itself is a merging of our favorite genres such as horror, romance, historical adventure, pulp, and steampunk. Merging so many genres may seem ridiculous, but it keeps our collaboration process fresh and exciting for us as well as for the readers. Writing what you love is just as important as writing what you know.
3. Much of The Greyfriar takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland. The gothic architecture and dark streets and closes inspired the general tone of the novel. We were also married in the beautiful Greyfriar’s Kirk in Edinburgh, from which we take our hero’s name.
4. We’re fascinated by the melting pot the world is becoming, and by the historical process of cultural blending. We have no doubt that more and more cultures will merge as space becomes smaller and smaller. Traveling is so commonplace for everyone that there are no boundaries anymore. In our novel, the great cities of the human states are microcosms of an increasingly borderless world; displaced cultures have been jammed together to vie for their corner of the Empire. Not all are successful, but it’s made the dynamics of the world we created complex and rich with Bedouins standing beside the exiled aristocracy of old northern Europe.
5. We’ve written a lot of comedy and humor, such as The Tick and Man-Eating Cow in comics and Monster Creature Feature on television. We’ve found that comedy has a lot in common with adventure/suspense. Exaggerated characters and action. Pacing. Timing. Set-up and punchline. You’re going for a different response in adventure; a “wow” rather than a “ha”, but the processes for both are similar. And, of course, it always helps in adventure or horror to cut through the tension with a little well-placed humor.