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Interview with P.N. Elrod, author of the Vampire Files series

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P.N. "Pat" Elrod is the quintessential Working Writer. She cut her teeth writing game modules for TSR in the 1980s, and in 1990 published her first novel, Bloodlist, which debuted Jack Fleming and the Vampire Files series. Nineteen years later, she has published twenty-three print novels and more than twenty short stories, and edited or co-edited numerous anthologies.

Pat has created several unique and memorable vampire protagonists, including 1930s gumshoe-cum-nightclub owner Jack Fleming, Revolutionary-era Jonathan Barrett, and Medieval despot Lord Strahd von Zarovich. She has co-written three books with actor Nigel Bennett in the Lord Richard Dun series, and revisioned Stoker's character of Quincey Morris. Her lively website includes information for aspiring writers, and she co-facilitates workshops and panels on writing and publishing at conventions. She's now branching out into graphic novel scripts and screenplays.

Outspoken and unpretentious, Pat is an enthusiastic fan as well as a vivid and imaginative author, and freely talks about her inspiration for her own characters and stories in pop culture, from Dracula to The Shadow, pulp mysteries, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dark Shadows, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Pat's newest book, the twelfth in the Vampire Files series, is Dark Road Rising, just released on September 1, 2009. A privately printed, signed and numbered limited edition Vampire Files novella, The Devil You Know, was released on May 20, 2009 and is available exclusively through Pat's website.

You've talked many times about vampire Jack Fleming's origins as a character in a role-playing game. In Song in the Dark you introduced a new vampire character, Gabriel "Whitey" Kroun. He plays a major role in your new book, Dark Road Rising. Where did he come from? Did you know he would take on a life of his own when you started writing him?

Not really. He was just a grumpy voice on the phone in Cold Streets. When I needed a big bad mob boss to come to Chicago to kick Jack around Kroun was the logical choice. Him being another vampire with Jack totally missing that detail was fun to write.

In Dark Road Rising, you utilize the unusual technique of a dual primary point of view, shared by Jack Fleming and Gabe Kroun. How did you decide to write the book that way?

It's not terribly unusual, was the best way to tell the story, and not the first time I have used the device. I did the same thing in The Adventures of Myhr for Baen Books.

I was going to do first-person for both lead characters in Dark Road Rising, but after chatting with other writers (and writing a bit of it) I figured out it would be too distracting to be shifting back and forth in dual first person. So Jack Fleming was first person as usual, and Kroun was in third person. I was careful to put in clean breaks with clear notice on who was in charge of any one scene or chapter. Third person just worked for Kroun. I didn't want to get too much inside his head or it would have spoiled the payoff at the end.

Gabe Kroun seems to be a very deep character with a lot of potential. I'd love to read more about him. Is he going to get his own series, like Lord Richard Dun and Jonathan Barrett?

I hope so. But I'd have to do a detailed proposal for it and right now I'm busy with other projects. His time will come when it's right for him!

You were among the first authors to create "good guy vampires." Now the Twilight Saga and TV shows like Moonlight, Blood Ties and True Blood are making "good guy vampires" a pop culture phenomenon. What do you think about this trend?

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