A. F. Stewart, Author of Once Upon a Dark and Eerie

What is your book about?

My latest book is a collection of short fiction and poetry, Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… It’s a mishmash of drabbles, flash fiction, short stories and poetry written in the genres of dark fantasy, sci-fi and horror. It’s also my first foray into publishing a manuscript exclusively as an ebook. You can find it on Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/28423) among other online stores.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I really hope there is very little of me in my characters since many of them tend to be immoral, vicious, bloodthirsty killers, or unwise enough to get themselves into situations where they are maimed or killed. Well, maybe they share my odd sense of humour.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My Scottish/Celtic heritage has influenced my writing quite a bit, since I use that history and culture in my stories. And being Canadian, I grew up reading as much British history as I did of Canada’s past, so that’s probably why good old Britain keeps finding its way into my books.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I don’t keep much of a writing schedule. I basically write when I feel like writing or when I have time, although I do try and write something every day even if it’s just a paragraph or a line.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got two books simmering at the moment. I’m still working on my musical wizards fantasy novel, Song of the Wind and Sea. I had to fix some kinks in the plot, but things are getting back on track. I’m also working on a short dark fantasy novel, Ruined City, which has an unusual format. The story of a cursed city is told through twelve separate, but interconnected, short stories.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

I do have the target audience of fantasy lovers, but I think anyone who likes a nice dark psychological tale of mayhem would like my books. Even with vampires, wizards and an occasional ghost thrown in the mix.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

The most difficult part is writing the middle section of the plot. I’m great at churning out beginnings and endings, but I always have to work at writing the stuff in between.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

For me, the easiest element of writing is the dialogue. I rarely have a problem with the flow of dialogue. Possibly because I can hear all those character voices whispering in my head.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yes. Things keep coming out of my head on to the page. Of course it has to be polished and edited and tweaked, but I seldom have trouble working out the problems and the plot points. I only had one instance so far where I had major writer’s block.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Currently, I have probably a dozen or more short stories and book ideas bouncing around in my brain. Some of them are being written and some are still germinating.

What do you like to read?

I like fantasy, science fiction and mysteries best, but I read anything that looks interesting, from general fiction to romance to historical fiction.

What writer influenced you the most?

I think that title would have to go to Ray Bradbury. He’s not my favourite writer (that credit juggles between Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay), but his lyrical writing style impressed itself on my mind more than anyone I’ve read. And Harlan Ellison probably snuck his influence into my mind as well.

What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

Don’t treat it like one big ad campaign. Book promotion is more than promos and emails saying “buy me”. You need to interact with the public, give them free excerpts, contests, discussions, answer questions, and get them interested in you and your book.

Have you written any other books?

Yes. I have a dark fantasy vampire novella, Chronicles of the Undead, two other fantasy short fiction collections, Passing Fancies and Inside Realms, two books of poetry and two slightly humorous, non-fiction books about action movies.

Where can people learn more about your books?

The best place to learn about my books is either my website, http://afallon.bravehost.com/, or my page at Goodreads.com, http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/838705-a-f . You can also check out my blog, http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/,  or my Twitter feed, http://twitter.com/scribe77

See Also:

  • The Vampire Eleanor de Burgh from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart
  • Henri Forain, a Vampire from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart
  • Henri Forain, a Vampire from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

    Bertram: I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Forain, I think. You claim to be a vampire?

    Henri: It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance as well, and feel free to refer to me as Henri.  As for my claims, I make none.  I am a vampire.

    Bertram:  Do you really expect me to believe that? Isn’t it more probable that you are suffering from delusions?

    Henri: I realise the concept is difficult to comprehend for those with diminutive minds, but that does not make me delusional.  Your inability to accept does not alter the truth.

    Bertram: What is the truth?

    Henri: How many times must I repeat myself?  I am a centuries old vampire!

    Bertram: When did you become, ahem, a vampire?

    Henri: I was born in France, in the year 1527.  I have been a vampire since the year 1557.

    Bertram: How did you become a Vampire?

    Henri: I came from a reasonably well-to-do family, two parents, two brothers; we were wine merchants in the Bordeaux region.  I became a vampire when I met a woman; she made me a very seductive offer and I have never regretted anything.  I consider choosing to be a vampire the true moment my existence began.

    Bertram: Interesting. How do you justify this existence? Don’t you have to kill to feed?

    Henri: Of course I kill, that is part of the pleasure. But, many men kill; at least I have better reasons.

    Bertram: What has been the worst thing that you have done to another person? 

    Henri: I truly do not believe your readers wish to hear such terrors.  I am quite fond of playing with my food.  Repeatedly, and intensely.

    Bertram: Oh. Perhaps we better avoid that subject.  Have you ever harmed someone you loved?  Have you loved?

    Henri: Yes, I loved the woman I spoke of, the sweet one who brought me to my destiny.  And yes, I’ve harmed her; we have delightfully harmed each other quite often.

    Bertram: Ah, yes, well; perhaps on to the next subject.  What is your religious view of things?

    Henri:  I have no quarrel with religion, though I hold no beliefs myself.  When one lives through the conflicts caused by religious differences, you cease to put faith in doctrine.

    Bertram: What about other aspects of faith? For instance, do you think redemption is possible?

    Henri: I have no idea. I have no interest in it.

    Bertram: What do you believe is your responsibility to the world?

    Henri:  My responsibility is to myself, the world is capable of destroying itself adequately without my aid.

    Bertram: What is the most frightening potential deformity or defacement you can conceive of?  What makes it so frightening?

    Henri: Being mortal.  It is weakness, my existence is far superior.

    Bertram: I never had any desire for immortality. But each to his own, I suppose.

    Henri: I must be off about my business. If you wish to know more about me, you can find me at Squidoo, whatever that is.

    The Vampire Eleanor de Burgh from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

    Bertram: Who are you?

    Eleanor: I am misunderstood.  Your human idea of vampires is so limited, you still insist on portraying us as evil for merely surviving.    I have lived for centuries, through years of your history, watching and learning.  I have adapted to changing culture, always with impeccable taste.  The parties I used to throw in Paris were the toast of the city; even a Dauphin attended one.

    Bertram: What is your story?

    Eleanor: I was born in 1291, in England.  My life was typical of the time, married off young to an older man.  My life was under the total control of a rather abusive husband, until I choose to embrace life as a vampire, and became liberated.  I had to kill my husband to achieve that, but I did enjoy that piece of sweet revenge.

    I fled to France to avoid any messy accusations of murder, and lived there for several centuries.  I met Henri Forain there, in 1556, and fell in love.  At the time it seemed a wonderful thought to turn him, and we would live forever as vampires; alas the romance did not last.

    Bertram: Do you embrace conflict?

    Eleanor: Not as a rule, I prefer to settle things amiably. I much prefer seduction to conflict, but I am not adverse to violence when the situation is in need of it.  It is very unwise to cross my wishes, very few individuals try.

    Bertram: How do your enemies see you?

    Eleanor: As a killer, I would suppose, at least the ones that still breathe.  Not entirely untrue, but still a quite harsh description. 

    Bertram: What are your achievements?

    Eleanor: My greatest achievement is surviving:  my husband, war, fools, death, even my relationship with Henri.  I am also well read, quite musical, and the perfect hostess.

    Bertram: Do you have any special strengths?

    Eleanor: Immortality, strength, speed, all the usual vampire enhancements.  I am also very good at lying.

    Bertram: Do you have any special weaknesses?

    Eleanor: Do you honestly think I’m going to enlighten you on that topic?  Do not be absurd.

    Bertram: Do you have any skills?

    Eleanor: Oh many.  I paint, embroider, cook, play the pianoforte and the lute. I also have skills a lady does not discuss in an interview.

    Bertram: What do you want?

    Eleanor: Blood.  Preferably warm.

    Bertram: What do you need?

    Eleanor: Blood.  Oh, and perhaps a few more pieces of expensive jewellery for my collection.  Money is always welcome as well; a lady must pay the bills.

    Bertram: What do you regret?

    Eleanor: Not killing my husband sooner.  And turning Henri into a vampire; he caused a great deal of trouble over the years.

    Bertram: What is your biggest disappointment?

    Eleanor: Henri, I wish he had been a better man and vampire.  I truly did love the man, in the beginning, but he changed as the years passed and became such a displeasure to me.

    Bertram: Has anyone ever failed you?

    Eleanor: A long list of men, most of them are dead now.  Some of them were even tasty.

    Bertram: Has anyone ever betrayed you?

    Eleanor: One or two souls; they did not survive to do it again.   As I said, it is unwise to go against my wishes; it can even be fatal.

    Bertram: Have you ever betrayed anyone?

    Eleanor: Yes, but they were only human; mere food.  I do not feel guilt over betraying the trust of prey.  And there was Henri, but he deserved it.

    Bertram: Do you keep your promises?

    Eleanor: Sometimes, when it suits my purposes.

    Bertram: Are you honorable?

    Eleanor: No, quite the opposite.  You are a fool if you trust me.

    Bertram: Are you healthy?

    Eleanor: I do not age, I do not become sick.  I am far better than healthy, I am flawless.

    Bertram: Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

    Eleanor: Becoming vampire certainly defined, and enhanced my life.  I highly recommend it.  There is nothing quite so sweet as the taste of blood after a good chase.  And a lady never has to worry about aging.

    Bertram: How do you envision your future?

    Eleanor: Endless and decadent, full of poor souls to feast upon. I have nothing else to say to you, but if you insist on knowing more about me, you can get the information here.