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An Interview with the Author
Below you will find a selection of questions that have been asked by various interviewers and bloggers for their readers. I hope you enjoy them and find them enlightening.
What inspired you to write the story of The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall?
I have read and enjoyed vampire stories all of my life and the idea of writing my own story has been around for a long time. I actually wrote my first ‘spooky’ story when I was still a child. However, the decision to actually write a book came after surviving two major heart attacks in the same weekend. During my recovery, I began to consider my own mortality and realized how short life can be and how quickly it can potentially be over. I came to the conclusion that if I really wanted to write, now was the time to begin … not next week, next month, or next year … and that was five and a half years ago. When I decided to begin my story, I followed the advice of Anne Rice to “write the kind of story I would enjoy reading, and then other people would enjoy it too.” I began to look at and consider the best traits of all the characters of all the books I have enjoyed over the years and soon “The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall” was born.
Why did you choose vampires and Charleston?
I wanted a setting in South Carolina with a lot of history so it seemed only natural to pair Charleston with vampires and the two seemed to mesh perfectly together and would be ideal for a paranormal love story. Charleston and the surrounding Low Country both are both old and romantic at the same time while being replete with an abundant history of ghosts and the unknown, so combined with the lore of Vampires they just seemed to be made for each other. I began to think more about how the two could play into each other, came up with an initial idea and built on it from there.
What do you think causes people’s enduring fascination with vampires?
There are so many fascinating aspects to the vampire that would make them attractive and I believe that each of us has our own special and deeply personal reason for being drawn to them. By nature the vampire is and always had been extremely sensual … there is also the eternal life and never growing old part of them … and of course their dark side is especially alluring to our own human natures. Perhaps their most appealing aspect though is their ability to have anybody or do anything, without the possibility of either rejection or punishment for their actions.
What is the target audience for your writing?
I chose to write “The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall” for the new adult/college age reader because most of the books I have read in the vampire romance genre are either in the young adult/high school or adult age range. There just didn’t seem to be anything set in that transitional age range. I wanted something that would fill in the gap between L.J. Smith and Anne Rice.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about writers in general?
Sometimes I think the public in general thinks being a writer is a life of ease … all we do is live in a fantasy world and write our stories. They have no idea how much blood, sweat and tears actually goes into developing and growing a character and their story. They’ve never been woken up at two in the morning by a character that suddenly decides to share a major part of their story, then have to get out of bed and get a draft of it down on paper. After that you’re awake for the remainder of the night!
What do you find to be the most challenging thing about being a writer?
There are two issues facing me. The first, since I am asking my reader to suspend what they know to be reality for an ‘alternate plausible reality’, the question that is often the foremost in my mind is “Is that possible, does it make sense and will it be believable?” I find myself asking that and then attempting to find a workable solution around any obstacles. As long as my reader says to themselves, ‘That’s possible, I believe that could happen’ then they will remain engaged with me. But, once I take them beyond the pale to the point that they say ‘That’s not even possible, I don’t believe that could ever happen’, then I’ve lost them as a reader and they will look for something else that they can believe.
The second is just a large since Vampires, by their very nature, are and always have been erotic. Beginning in 1897 with Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, vampires became extremely sensual. If one understands Victorian English and its nuances, they would find Dracula to be very erotic for the times it was written. Then with the development of the genre in recent years, Vampires are even more erotic now. I think the most difficult part of writing a paranormal romance is that you are beginning with a sensual character, the vampire. It can become quite challenging when you combine that with a romance, and attempt to discover exactly where to draw the line with the sex scenes so that they are sensual but not overly erotic.
So, are there any of those scenes in your books?
I prefer to make the love scenes a ‘fade to black’ to leave something to the imagination. However, there are one, perhaps two steamy scenes in each of the books of The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall. The thought provoking part of writing a love scene is fitting it into the story so that it is a part of and flows with the story and are not just tossed in as a sex for sex sake filler scene. Writing the various love scenes can be difficult because you have to consider each character and their personality because just as in real life there are some things that one character will do that another would not. I want to always keep it fresh and not ‘cut and paste’ old ideas from one scene to another.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing a female protagonist?
I think the most challenging part of writing through a woman’s eyes is having to stop and think about what, how, and where she would say something. Sometimes just getting Katelyn and Lexi’s perspective correct, not only as a woman, but as a young woman with limited life experiences, was extremely thought provoking. There were plenty of special times when I had to stop and think and ask myself would/should she really do this or say that? Fortunately, I have a lot of female friends of all ages that I was able to call on for advice and answers.
How do you pick names for your characters when you are writing?
I try to use names that fit the time period of the actual character. For instance, James, who was born in 1725, was a fairly common name during that time period being the name of several British Kings. Katelyn and Lexi are more modern names and plausible for young college aged girls born in the early 1990’s. The best way to name a character is once you identify the current age of the character, subtract that age from the current year to determine when they would have been born. Then do a search for popular baby names around that time and choose one you like.
Who is your favorite character in the book and how would you spend a day together?
I feel like I know all of my characters and love all of them, so it’s difficult to choose just one. But if I had to, I think I would like to spend a day with Charlotte Ann. I am a historian by trade and she is over four hundred years old so she has to have a wealth of information. Although she was born and raised in the early 1600’s she seems to be perfectly comfortable in wherever era she lives in. She has come to know that she cannot remain in the seventeenth century so she has managed to grow, change with and adapt her life to the times. Besides, she’s pretty hot, too … although I might be a little skeptical should she invite me to dinner!
What goes through your mind when reading reviews (positive or negative) of your books?
First of all I am glad that someone took their time to read my book and comment on it. I realized from the beginning that some people will love it, some will hate it, and some will fall right in the middle. As long as a review is constructive, positive or negative, I try to learn from it and grow. But, in the end, whether someone loves it or hates it, it is their opinion and I respect that.
Do you have any advice for other writers and how do you handle ‘Writer’s Block’?
The best advice I can give comes from Anne Rice, the Grand Dame of the vampire genre:
“If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. Ignore critics. Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless.”
I keep that quote close by me and read it over and over if I feel ‘blocked’ and have to remind myself what I’m doing. It usually take me about a year to write a book and so sometimes I have to stop and back away for a couple of weeks and clear my mind. When I do that I will begin reading at the beginning and see just what I do have so far and then it’s easier to go forward. I have been known to be woken up at two or three in the morning by one of my characters who suddenly decides that they are ready for me to take some dictation! I would also add to not be in a hurry to get your book out there – there will be plenty of time to see your name on the cover of a book (probably one of the best feelings in the world) but take your time and make sure that your book is right … because once it’s out there, it’s out there forever, complete with all the bumps and boo-boo’s.
Who do you think should read your books?
Everybody of course! But, seriously, “The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall” is meant for anyone who enjoys a good romance story. Although the books are Paranormal Romance, none of them are overly dark. My intention has been to open a window into the lives of everyday people living their lives day to day the same as you and I, they just happen to be vampires. My desire was to make a way for the reader to follow them as their lives blend together eventually becoming one family. Of course they are all faced with obstacles to overcome as they face new lives and new worlds to make that transition a reality. I think that if someone likes Sookie Stackhouse, Clair from “The Morganville Vampires”, or Bella Swan, they will likely enjoy the story of Katelyn, Lexi and James.
His two favorite authors are Anne Rice and Clive Cussler. He enjoys Cussler's storytelling ability and Rice's attention to detail. He considers Anne Rice, The Grand Dame of Vampire Writers, to be the architect of the modern vampire genre. Her works are the foundation on which current writers continue to build and expand the field. He believes that current writers of vampire lore owe her a huge debt of gratitude for laying that foundation. Clive Cussler, his other favorite author, is the quintessential American storyteller, one who is able to spin a yarn that draws the reader in from the very beginning. Both of them have a way of bringing their characters to life so that you feel as if you personally know them. Veal hopes that his readers will be able to see the influence of those two great writers in his writing as he tries to convey the same believability with his characters.
He has been a reader for most of his life and enjoyed much of what he's read. He has always enjoyed reading about and watching movies on the subject of vampires. He was completely hooked by Barnabas Collins in ‘Dark Shadows’ way back in 1966. After reading all the vampire books he could … Stoker, Rice, Smith, Harris, Craine, Meyer … he decided that if they could write a vampire story, then so could he and he set out to do just that. He decided that a setting with a rich history surrounding it would be ideal for a paranormal love story. Charleston and the surrounding Low Country of South Carolina, replete with an abundant history of ghosts and the unknown, combined with the lore of Vampire stories just seemed to be made for each other. So tying the two together he formed the initial idea and built on it from there. The result of his efforts is The Epic Saga of The Master of Whitehall, a sweeping five volume narrative set in historic Charleston and the surrounding Low Country of South Carolina. His other works include Jennifer’s Ghost, a short story set in beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina and Hannah’s Heartache, a Master of Whitehall novelette, set in Savannah, Georgia.
It has been said that that if you want to write, you should “write the book you want to read, and then others will want to read it too”. That is exactly what he hopes he has accomplished in his own writings. All of his books, Katelyn’s Chronicles, Lexi’s Legacy, Dale’s Descent, Charlotte Ann’s Coven, James’s Journey, Jennifer’s Ghost and Hannah’s Heartache are available at Amazon.com in both print and e-book formats. Should you wish to receive a personally inscribed and signed copy of any of his books please contact him directly for more information. He can be contacted via e-mail or on Facebook .
Rick H. Veal was born sometime during the last half of the twentieth century in the upstate of South Carolina and has spent the majority of his life there. He joined the Navy immediately out of high school becoming an aircraft mechanic. During a six year span he sailed four times around the world and had the pleasure of visiting eighteen different countries. He says of that time that he did about two thirds of everything there was to do and was accused of taking part in the other one third. After returning home he attended The University of South Carolina graduating with a double Associates Degree with Honors. He completed his education at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in History and Education. Since that time he has worked in the education field as a teacher and in various management positions in industry. He is now retired and currently lives alone sharing his home with his ‘daughter’, a seven year old Tuxedo cat who graciously allows him to think he actually owns the house. Her name is ‘Daddy's Pretty Girl’ but she will actually answer to anything except ‘Late for Dinner’.