Author & Book Spotlight - David Nelson Bradher
The Vampire Sonnets:
The story of Tristan Grey, a 19th Century Londoner, who is seduced and turned by Lady Nina, leader of the Chelsea Clan. But things aren't always what they seem through the eyes of a fledgling immortal. What sets this project apart from the countless other vampire tales in the marketplace currently is that these are written in sequential Shakespearean sonnets (200+ as revisions draw to a close). Publication date, 10/22/10.
D.N.B.Thank you. It’s great to be here. Well, I’m a native and resident of Raleigh, NC, and a ’89 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A. in English). I’m a former tennis pro, and I’m the middle son of three. Athletics has always been a passion in my family, so I grew up playing tennis, football, baseball and basketball. I think writing sort of swooped in and took the place of those sports when my competitive playing days were over, and I’m lucky to come from a family of athletes and artists. My dad was a creative writer, but he was also a newspaper columnist. My mom’s family was rife with artists and writers, as well.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
D.N.B.Probably the strangest quirk is how The Vampire Sonnets came to be. I wrote a single sonnet that, based on the image of the sun being a “portal to flame”, became a vampire poem. I framed it such that the character, an anonymous vampire, is so immersed in his activities with a serving wench that he’s foolishly oblivious to the arriving dawn. Because of that sonnet, a friend suggested that it would make a good story. So, not liking to do things the easy way, I set out—unintentionally—to finish the episode. Writing in verse takes a little while longer to say things sometimes, so the story is finally finished…in a mere 193 sequential Shakespearean sonnets.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
D.N.B. I think part of me always knew. I hated school, but whenever I had a write a short story, I relished the opportunity to delve into the creative aspects of designing a plot, giving depth and breadth to characters, and knitting every aspect into one cohesive (hopefully) story. Reading my dad’s short stories always prompted me to write my own, but it wasn’t until he fell ill in 2001 that I actually set out to express myself in the cathartic medium of poetry. As I said before, the birth of The Vampire Sonnets was more or less an accident, but if it hadn’t happened with this one, I think my readings of Don Juan, by Lord Byron, has struck a match in my mind that was bound to burn through at some point in time.
K.S. What genre do you write?
D.N.B.I write primarily in poetry, and in traditional forms, to be exact. There’s no one topic I gravitate to, and The Vampire Sonnets was my first foray into the paranormal genre. A lot of my earlier writings dealt with grief and the conflicts we all wage internally, though, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I ended up creating a monster with identity and guilt issues. It makes for rich writing when you have a protagonist who is more gray than black and white, and when you throw in the element of the supernatural, it truly raises the stakes…so to speak. I mean, writing about an immortal slipping out at dusk is a hell of a lot more visual than a character walking around the mall, buying jeans at The Gap, and then stopping for a Dr. Pepper and a soft pretzel at Auntie Annie’s kiosk.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
D.N.B.I think I’d have to pull in several sources for the credit, or the blame. Early on, my dad’s stories got the wheels turning, but the engine probably came from the Romantic era poets, like Lord Byron, and also from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allen Poe, and Lord Alfred Tennyson. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In the Rye had an indelible effect on me at an impressionable age, as did Herman Raucher’s Summer of ’42. It seem that anyone who effectively wrote a good coming of age story had my ears and eyes fixed appreciably on their work.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
D.N.B.They love it, and it’s been nice to sort of take the journey with them. I know my dad is proud that I’ve taken after him a bit, and with his background, he can appreciate the nuances a bit more than most. My older brother, Charles, dabbles in writing, as well, and my younger brother, Scott, is a voracious reader and serious film aficionado.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?
D.N.B. I think the biggest surprise was how well traditional poetry, or rhyme and meter, lends itself to a vampire story. There’s a certain formality, or elegance, to the traditional vampire, and using formal poetry to tell the story really enlivens the tale, I believe. Take an instance in a vampire’s hunt, complete with alleys, shadows, and a comely lady in a bodice, sprinkle in some metrical verse, and you can create a quotable passage for anyone who enjoys poetry OR vampires. If they enjoy both, well, that’s a bonus.
K.S. What inspires you?
D.N.B. People inspire me. A lot of my characters are gleaned directly, or indirectly, from loved ones. The reality of my relationships helps me to paint a picture in my mind of how I want a character to react in a certain situation. For instance, Supriya, who is based on the great love of my life, Carol, has a sweetness and a wisdom that allows her to look at life, and situations, completely different. I drew on her qualities when writing about her relationship with Tristan Grey, the protagonist. I’m also drawn by conflict, specifically internal conflict, and writing characters of depth is very satisfying, and cathartic, to me.
K.S. Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?
D.N.B. The Vampire Sonnets is the tale of Tristan Grey, a 19th Century Londoner, who is targeted, seduced and turned by Nina, a beautiful raven-haired vampire, and integrated into the Chelsea clan. But things aren’t as simple as they seem to a fledgling who vies to retain his humanity against the force of the needs of a vampire. What sets this apart from other vampire stories in the marketplace is that it’s told in 193 sequential Shakespearean sonnets. Here is an excerpt, a three-sonnet set, from near the beginning of the book:
Chelsea was lovely in the summertime,
Mild and romantic to the ones who sought
The brightness of a light and airy clime
Where love was oft pursued (and often caught).
It caught me, too, but not as I intended.
In fact, fair love meant less to me than lust,
And love affairs, as they began, were ended.
My distance grew with each and every thrust
Until the night I chanced upon a tart
Whose parch could not be sated from a glass.
She craved the rhythm of a waning heart
Where death, and so much more, would come to pass.
She held me with the fierceness of her eyes,
And told the first, and worst, of many lies.
She said, “Intriguing men, like you, arouse
Crude urges and impressions in this harlot,
Whose needs eschew the white of wedding vows
For something of a different color—scarlet.”
I studied her, and said, “I hold correct
Your apt assumption that I’m less than pure.
My saving grace is wit and intellect;
My virtues, I’m afraid, are less secure.”
She laughed, and countered, “My criteria
Does not include your assets, or their worth.
I keep no notes, no adversaria,
On those I’ve found, and loved, and lost on earth.
My plans for you, dear man, span far and wide,
Shared best in privacy. Let’s step outside.”
The alley was secluded, dark and damp,
A perfect spot, I thought, for privacy.
No passersby, no radiating lamp;
Only seclusion for the tart and me.
She was aggressive, kissing with a force
That forced her teeth to scrape across my lips.
I slurred, “You want me?” “Yes,” she hissed. “Of course,
Proved by the moisture on your fingertips.”
She pulled me close, and whispered in my ear,
“This bond is one I doubt you’ll wish to sever.
Soon, you’ll be mine…eternally, my dear,
And I’ll be yours, a part of you forever.”
The sting was sharp. I fought, but soon gave in.
When she looked up, blood trickled down her chin.
K.S. Beautiful!!! Where can we buy your novel?
D.N.B. The best place to buy it right now is at www.nelsonpearlpublishers.com. It is available at selected independent stores, and will be soon at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders.
K.S. Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
D.N.B. Yes, I’m just now getting everything up and running, but the blog will be available at www.nelsonpearlpublishers , and I’m on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/davidnelsonbradsher. My Facebook group page for The Vampire Sonnets is http://www.facebook.com/the+vampire+sonnets#!/group.php?gid=47383438565, and I’m on Twitter, at http://twitter.com/#!/David_Bradsher.
K.S. Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
The best advice I could give an aspiring writer is to find your niche. Write what you know, don’t be afraid to experiment, and believe in your product. While it’s very important to listen to those who know the business, know what sells, and how to sell it, stay true to yourself and to your vision. Above all, be persistent.