S.M. Perlow is the author of the dark fantasy series, Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose. A longtime entrepreneur, he’s now focused on writing fiction, where his creativity can be both fantastical and deeply human. He loves history and traveling, and brings elements of each into his novels
Find him on Twitter: @smperlow
On the web at: http://smperlow.com
Talking with S.M. Perlow
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Sci-Fi & Scary: Your new book, Choosing a Master, involves two different factions of vampires. Can you tell us a bit about them both?
S.M. Perlow: First off, thanks for inviting me for this Q&A! I’m excited about the book, and am excited to be answering these questions.
Choosing a Master is the first book in the series, Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose. In the series, there are Spectavi Vampires and Sanguan Vampires. Physically, both are the same. They only rise from their coffins at night, they can live forever, they’ll heal from most any injuries, and they have superhuman strength and speed. But there are two big differences between them.
First, Spectavi vampires are all part of a single, unified, worldwide organization. They work to protect humans from Sanguan vampires who prey on unwilling mortals, or at the worst, drink mortals dry and leave them for dead.
Sanguans, on the other hand, aren’t part of any official organization. They’re free and on their own. Some follow the law and some don’t.
Second, another hugely important distinction is that Spectavi vampires drink factory-made synthetic blood to live, while Sanguan vampires drink the blood of humans.
Sci-Fi & Scary: How did you choose the name Spectavi for the vampires in Choosing a Master?
S.M. Perlow: Spectavi comes from a Latin word, Spectare, meaning “look at”, “see”, or “watch”.
The book takes place in 2006, but the Spectavi, under the leadership of Edmond Duchart, have been protecting humanity’s interests since the Dark Ages. The Spectavi have watched over humanity, ensuring it hasn’t been oppressed by Sanguan vampires and their superhuman abilities.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What made you decide to set the book in New Orleans? Do you think natives of New Orleans will recognize their city in Choosing a Master?
S.M. Perlow: New Orleans has an energy to it. It’s palpable. And especially at night, in the French Quarter, the constant supply of people makes it the perfect place for one of my characters, Ethan, to search for the cure for the woman he loves. It’s also a dark city, and a diverse one, which fits the events there.
New Orleans is also very different from cities in France, where a large part of the book is set. I enjoyed writing about the Old World with all its history, and juxtaposing that with the New World, across the Atlantic Ocean.
I do think natives of New Orleans will recognize their city, especially the vibrant French Quarter.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Your book is written as each chapter being a POV from one of the characters. Did you write certain characters chapters in spates, or did you do it in the order found in the book?
S.M. Perlow: I wrote the chapters in the order found in the book, the first third while visiting New Orleans, and the French portions drawing on my experiences from trips there.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What was the hardest part of writing Choosing a Master?
S.M. Perlow: Choosing a Master is book 1 in the series, Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose. But before I wrote Choosing a Master, there already was a book 1.
I wrote Alone, as the first book in the series, back in 2011. I thought it was a great first book in the series, and along with its sequels, Lion, Hope, and War, I loved the story as a whole.
But I had long wondered if I could start the series off even better. I’m confident I have, with Choosing a Master. Alone is now book 2 in the series.
It was an interesting challenge to write without giving anything away from Alone, or the other books. Instead, I had to write to provide an even stronger foundation for Alone and the rest of the series. I believe I’ve accomplished that.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Vampires play a strong role in most of your fiction. What exactly is it about them that inspires you to write about them so much?
S.M. Perlow: In a lot of ways, my vampires are more human than humans.
A human might live eighty years or a hundred, but a vampire can live hundreds of years, thousands, or forever. Vampires face many of the same dilemmas as humans, but the consequence of their choices and actions can stay with vampires for lifetimes that span the millennia.
Most humans crave companionship—a husband, wife, partner, or good friends. But vampires who drink mortals’ blood don’t merely crave it, they need that human connection.
My vampires do have superhuman strength and speed. Yet those are human abilities, simply taken to an extreme. Likewise, that my vampires will heal from almost any injury is an extreme. People heal, just not like vampires.
So vampires are not exactly the same as humans, but in some of the most fundamental ways, they’re even more human than humans. They’re humans to extremes.
Those extremes, and all they make possible in romance, action, and lifetimes stretching back through ages of history, make vampires fascinating to imagine and write about.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Outside of your books, of course, who is your favorite vampire in fiction?
S.M. Perlow: Lestat de Lioncourt, from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Especially in her older novels, I love Lestat’s rebellious attitude, how he wrestles with big questions (like what is his place in the world?), and how he demands answers, however hard they are to achieve, whatever the cost.
And I have a second place: Selene from the Underworld movies. She’s strong, she’s beautiful, she knows how to fight, and she seems consistently smarter than her foes. It’s a powerful combination. My one disappointment with Selene is that we never get a fully fleshed out backstory for her. I want to know how she got to be the way she was. It takes more than brief flashbacks for that. Especially as my series goes on, I make every effort to avoid that pitfall for my characters.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Do you think the vampire subgenre is yet recovered from the sparkles that Stephanie Meyer dusted over it?
S.M. Perlow: I certainly hope so. My vampires are darker. They don’t go out in the sun, and they most definitely do not sparkle!
Sci-Fi & Scary: How long did Choosing a Master take to write from initial idea to final draft?
S.M. Perlow: My initial ideas go back farther, but from first keystrokes on a blank page on my laptop to final version ready to be sent out for formatting, about 9 months.
Sci-Fi & Scary: How did you get the idea for Choosing a Master?
S.M. Perlow: As I mentioned, I had been wondering if I could write an even stronger beginning for Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose. I had also been kicking around a few different ideas for storylines in the series, but none of them felt like a complete novel on their own. In the end, I was able to combine some of those different ideas into the story that ended up becoming Choosing a Master. I’m really excited about how it turned out.
Sci-Fi & Scary: If you could collaborate with any author, who would it be?
S.M. Perlow: My first thought wasn’t another author, but I would love to work with an illustrator to turn Vampires and the Life of Erin Rose into graphic novels. I’ve always thought the series, with all its action and vivid scenes, would work well in that format. It’d be fun to make that happen someday.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What are you currently working on? Anything you can tell us about it?
S.M. Perlow: Lots of planning at the moment. I have ideas for novels later in this series, I have a high fantasy series that will need a next book at some point, or I could go in a completely new direction. Nothing concrete to report, but I’ll always share the latest on my webpage (smperlow.com) and in my newsletter.
Choosing a Master
“Like the blood of God…”
In New Orleans, a passage from a Renaissance-era book is Ethan’s only hope to save the woman he loves. He’s a vampire, so he can live forever. Ellie, however, is mortal, ill, and running out of time.
“If Sanguan vampires drank synthetic blood, like Spectavi vampires, the world would be so much safer for humans.”
In the Spectavi laboratory where synthetic blood was created, Vera is making no progress with her current projects. But for her devotion to the Spectavi cause—and their leader—she will go to any lengths.
“She would hold me when she bites, and at least while she sips my blood, I wouldn’t be alone.”
In a nightclub in France, John has an unusual encounter with a gorgeous vampire, but his love for a mortal woman forces him into a devastating choice.
Reason or passion, good or evil, duty, love, or pure pleasure—in a world with two vampire factions at war, choosing the right master is everything.