Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, 100 Miles and Vampin’! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the novel’s premise?
CT Phipps: 100 MILES AND VAMPIN' is the sequel to my previous novel, STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON. Both are novels set in the UNITED STATES OF MONSTERS setting, where vampires and other supernaturals came out during the 2008 Financial Crisis. The Straight Outta Fangton books follow Peter Stone, a poor black vampire who works the graveyard shift at a gas station, as he tries to navigate the complicated world of undead politics.
This book has Peter Stone finally get a chance to prove himself to the ruling vampire elders. He just has to do one job: protect the world's most famous vampire romance novelist while she's visiting the city. Unfortunately, less than 24 hours pass before she's dead and he's the primary suspect by the undead community. Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to get out of the coffin.
BD: Vampire stories have had quite an impact a variety of entertainment mediums, falling into various genres from horror to drama and comedy. What inspired you to tell this comedic vampire tale, and why do you feel that vampires adapt so well to comedy?
CTP: I was a huge Vampire: The Masquerade gamer in my high school years and was a massive Anne Rice fan. I never really lost my appetite for the undead, and you can look at my DVD collection to see Interview with a Vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Salem's Lot, True Blood, and Forever Knight; however, there was something off-putting about how the vampire gradually lost some of its edge (or "bite"). They were romanticized to the point of people forgetting they're supposed to be cursed and damned souls.
BD: Were there any previous creators or works that impacted your approach to the story?
CTP: I think 100 Miles and Vampin' and Straight Outta Fangton draw a lot from Joss Whedon's work. I love the combination of humor, horror, and social satire which seamlessly blended all into one. I’m a big fan of Clerks, as well, with Kevin Smith’s seminal work providing at least a little bit of the inspiration. There’s something humorous about the idea of a vampire who can’t get a better job because he’s always having to sneak off to do something else in the night.
Mostly, I knew how I wanted my vampires to be which is both cool (to an extent) but fundamentally cursed. The powers don’t outweigh the costs of the hunger and other disadvantages. One element I’ve noticed in a lot of modern vampire stories is people take away all the weaknesses of being a vampire while leaving the strengths, making them like superheroes with fangs. Not mine. It sucks to be a young vampire and have to flinch every time someone says Jesus.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in working on this latest book, and what do you hope that readers will take away from the story?
CTP: 100 MILES AND VAMPIN', like all of my UNITED STATES OF MONSTERS books, is a product which emerges fully formed from my head like Athena. I just love vampires, the idea of them having a society, and the dark gritty world they must inhabit—while also having a character who can't shut up with his snark and backtalk. As for what I want my readers to take away from it? Well, two things. 1) I want them to believe vampires can be scary, cursed monsters who still have a lot of cool factor. 2) To be incredibly entertained.
BD: Do you foresee expanding this story into subsequent novels?
CTP: Oh, absolutely. The UNITED STATES OF MONSTERS world already has another series. This is THE BRIGHT FALLS MYSTERIES which starts with I WAS A TEENAGE WEREDEER and AN AMERICAN WEREDEER IN MICHIGAN. They follow the adventures of titular weredeer, Jane Doe, who lives about 30 minutes outside of New Detroit in the shifter-filled town of Bright Falls. I plan to continue the STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON series for at least two more books with the next one being called VAMPIRZ4LIFE. Peter is such an incredibly fun character to write that it’s very easy to write his adventures. I also love the world building which I’ve sketched out for how the planet has changed thanks to the public appearance of supernaturals.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CTP: I've just released a fantastic new anthology called BLACKEST KNIGHTS, which I was both an editor as well as participant in. BLACKEST KNIGHTS is a collection of stories which all follow a dark fantasy protagonist who used to be a great hero, only to have something happen that put them on a dark path. I got to work with many awesome authors like M.L. Spencer, Ulff Lehmann, David Niall Wilson, Jesse Teller, and more.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about 100 Miles and Vampin’ and your other books?
CTP: It's available for pre-order from Amazon.com right now!