Patrick C. Greene was raised in the rural mountains of Western North Carolina, where isolation and late night monster movies fueled an already fertile imagination. Excelling in English composition classes, Greene began writing horror short stories, complete with illustrations, and selling them to classmates as early as fifth grade. Delving into film acting, Greene learned the craft of screenwriting and then made the switch to fiction prose, scoring a publishing contract and glowing reviews with his first novel Progeny. He’s currently promoting the release of his latest novel, The Crimson Calling.
Welcome to Blogcritics, Patrick! Tell us about The Crimson Calling.
Olivia Irons is a young lady fresh from a stint in the military, still reeling from the loss of both her child and lover, who is approached by a strangely alluring man named Vargas. The strange figure reveals himself to be a vampire, one of the last few hundred remaining on earth. And while his faction seeks peace with mortalkind, there is another growing sect who would prefer to subjugate us as slaves – and food.
Vargas introduces Olivia to the world of the modern vampire, asking her to lead them against his evil brethren while keeping a grave and potentially world-shattering secret from her.
What was your inspiration for it?
Two separate sources came together actually for The Crimson Calling. My wife Jennifer is not a horror fan but the one genre exception is vampires. When we first started seeing each other she introduced me to the Kindred series and we enjoyed other vamp flicks together, such as Shadow of The Vampire and The Vampire’s Kiss, though both of those films challenge the boundaries of the vampire concept. She was drawn to the tragic romanticism I think.
The other source was my affinity for kung fu films. Sometimes, the characters therein are capable of truly superhuman feats of combat, but of course, films force the action to remain within the confines of their budgets, so I was able to let my imagination run wild in imagining these insane fights between immortal creatures.
Crimson’s heroine Olivia is very vulnerable, almost still a child in some respects, forced into adulthood far too early. She’s more or less forced into immortality as well, so we have a bad ass vampire of nearly limitless combat capacity who is also an emotional wreck just beneath the surface, and that’s what made her so interesting and enjoyable to write.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
There was some upheaval, some changes. I was getting settled from a move, starting a new job, dealing with an extended bout against depression. It was actually helpful to have the book distracting me from these issues but at the same time I had to push through the barriers. Writing when you’re on the edge emotionally can add passion and intensity to the project, no doubt, but it can also effect the focus. It became a balancing act and quite frankly, I hope I never have to write in that condition again.
Did your book require a lot of research?
A good deal, yes. I wanted to bone up on the vampire myth, past the image we have from movies. Like bigfoot and UFOs, it turns out that most cultures have some version of vampire lore. People were scared out of their minds over vampires. Angry mobs formed and unearthed graves, that sort of thing. Very interesting, so I tried to work some of that in and also connect the various legends. There was also some geographical research required, to capture the feel of being far up in the Balkans. Fortunately, there are some really good video and photographic references online.
How do you keep your narrative exciting?
Like many writers I start with an outline but in my case, I will tend to stray wildly from it on a mere whim, shocking even myself by going in, if not the opposite direction to what would be reasonable then certainly a direction where there isn’t a clear path or egress. So I paint myself into a corner. With blood.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Fairly so, but once I sit to write I do tend to goof around for a little while. But once I’m knee deep in the latest, I really want to get back into that world and bring it to life. Seeing the conclusion in the near distance makes it all the more exciting; it seems like I get a second wind. The later drafts might not be as exciting to write, but by then there aren’t as many problems to solve so I feel I can just have some afterplay with it, if you will, and add some spice.
What do you love most about the writer’s life?
Since I’m seriously introverted, I like that I can work without having a lot of people or distractions around. Don’t get me wrong; I like interacting with readers and other writers but I’m not one of those writers who can sit down in a coffee shop and get a lot done. I prefer to be in control of my environment a bit more, or at least have it predictable.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
My advice for any kind of artist is to do it, or it will kill you.
George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Comments?
I really hate to take part in that “writing equals misery” mindset because, one, I have a pretty good time with most aspects of it, and two, there are certainly more painful and crippling pursuits. The comparison of writing to a “demon” might be pretty reasonable though, especially in my genre of horror. We are said to either overcome or learn to live with our demons, so that means we need them doesn’t it?
Photo and cover art published with permission from the author and publisher.