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Interview: Thomas Emson, author of Skarlet and Maneater

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After reviewing Thomas Emson's novel Skarlet last month (you can read the review here), I asked Emson if he wouldn't mind an interview. Luckily, he agreed and has been most gracious in answering my questions.

After reading Skarlet and reading the excerpt from Maneater, I was struck by what might be a shared world in your novels. As a roleplayer, I was exposed to the "World of Darkness" setting from a company called White Wolf back in the 1990s which had a similar approach to a shared setting for a variety of creatures from the dark. The first two series of game books they published were for vampires and werewolves, which is why the parallels struck me. Have you considered doing crossovers between your own series? Or do you consider them to be linked?

I don't think I would do a crossover – I can't see Laura Greenacre doing battle with Kasdeja and Kakash. I regard the novels to be linked in so far as they take place in real settings. Both Maneater and Skarlet exist in a modern Britain that is real. There are scenes in both books which take place in London, the same London, but there would be no reference in one novel to the other. What I try to do is put very unreal monsters into a very real world and see what happens. I don't want the characters in my real world to be comfortable with monsters, I don't want them to know they exist and then make an effort to live with them – having vampires and werewolves appear on your street would be utterly shocking and unexpected.

In addition, I'm quite fascinated by the resurgence of urban fantasy these days in the fiction market. I'm an avid reader of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, another author who mixes magic and the supernatural worlds to create a compelling setting. Do you have plans to expand beyond your The Vampire Trinity and Maneater series? If so, what might be on the horizon for your fans?

I have an eight-book deal with my publisher Snowbooks, and the books include standalones which are not part of The Vampire Trinity or the Maneater series. After I hand in Prey (the sequel to Maneater) I'll be writing Zombie Britannica – I think you can guess what that's about. There's also a Jack the Ripper novel called Pariah, and a book about a massive shopping mall in London where terrifying creatures dwell. That'll be called Colossus.

Your blog at Snowbooks is a great way to share yourself and your work with the community a bit more. You talk quite a bit about your writing process or rather the results of that process, such as when new reviews are posted, or you have new drafts done and some of the challenges you faced while writing them. What kind of a process do you follow when writing?

I'll spend a week, maybe two, planning. I'll do a scene-by-scene outline and then sketch out the main characters. But I get impatient and want to start writing. I aim for between 8,000 and 10,000 words a week. I don't set myself a daily word target because I think if you do that, and miss a day, it can put you off. With a weekly target, if you miss a day you can catch up. I'll race through the first draft. I began Prey on January 12 and completed the first draft on March 20 – just under 10 weeks. Of course, it's a mess. I've veered off the outline. New characters have popped up. The second draft is the difficult one. It means cleaning up the mess of draft one, chiseling away until you've got the shape of something. That should take four-to-five weeks, and then I'll do another draft, just a polish. It usually takes me five-to-six months to complete a novel.

On your website, you also mention that it was your exposure to Steven King's Salem's Lot that created your ambition to become a writer. What other authors or books do you look to for inspiration? And do you find much time to read while writing your own books, such as Prey, the sequel to Maneater that you're working on now?

I do read a lot, but not often in the horror genre. It's maybe that I don't want things popping into my head from other books. However, I'm reading Jeff Long's The Descent at the moment, which is horror, I guess. I love it, it's fantastic. I've also recently read Joel A. Sutherland's debut novel Frozen Blood. He's a Canadian author who I think is going to do very well. I've read a lot of Clive Barker over the years. The Books Of Blood are astonishing. The Rats by James Herbert was a novel that made an impression on me many years ago. Now I enjoy Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin books and the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser, and I'm a big fan of Elmore Leonard and Michael Connelly.

What's in store for us in Krimson? Any hints as to what's on the horizon for our vampire hunters?

I think Jake Lawton's going to find himself in dreadful danger. I've only got a vague idea of what will happen, so vague, in fact, that it boils down to: More vampires unleashed on Britain, Jake and allies battle to defeat them. I've got a lot of work to do, as you can see! I know that Kardinal, the last book in the Trinity, will take us to Babylon in modern-day Iraq. And our heroes will confront the most terrifying vampire of them all.

Again, I want to thank Thomas Emson for agreeing to answer my questions and turning around this interview so quickly as he finishes up Prey. I for one look forward to his future books and need to go read Maneater before Prey is released so I'm caught up!

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About Fitz

Fitz is a software engineer and writer who lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his family and pets, trying to survive the chaos!