Interview with Greg Wilkey, author of “Star Blood”

The Author:

ImageGreg Wilkey is the author of the Mortimer Drake series. He was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1971. He developed a love of stories and adventure at an early age. He has always loved to read and write. He graduated from college with a degree in education and began a career in teaching world languages in 1993. He spent the next 15 years as a classroom teacher of Spanish until moving into school administration in 2007. He has been married for 20  years to his wife, Alicyn. He makes his home in Chattanooga where he and his wife are the proud pet parents of three spoiled cats.

The Book:

ImageMortimer Drake is a teenage boy living in River Turn, TN. River Turn is a city right on the border of Tennessee and Georgia. Mortimer is a typical young boy in middle school. He hangs out with his friends, plays around in his free time, but when it comes to grades, he is very serious about his work. He’s an only child and he enjoys spending time with his parents.

​Of course, there is one thing about Mortimer that is anything but typical…he is not 100% alive.  His mother,  Marian, married a 925 year old Greek vampire named Alexander Drake. This union between mortal and immortal was forbidden and feared by both the living and the undead. Poor Mortimer…he had no choice in the matter. The night he was born, everything in both worlds changed. ​​

The Collapse of the HOPE movement brought a renewed sense of unity to the world. For the first time in recorded history, humans lived side by side with creatures of myths and legends to build a new life fueled by optimism. Vampires are joined by their preternatural kin – merfolk, fairies, and werewolves – to pave a new path for life on Earth. But this feeling of faith and hope is short-lived. Mortimer and his friends must now a face a new enemy from somewhere beyond the stars that threatens to destroy all life on the planet.

The Interview:

Q. “Star Blood” is the fourth in your popular Young Adult fiction series “The Life and Undeath of Mortimer Drake.” How has Mortimer grown and changed throughout the series?

A. Mortimer’s journey throughout the series has been difficult. I wanted him to truly struggle with the stress of growing up. You know, all that stuff that we go through – pleasing our parents, making friends, fighting, falling in love, going to school. But I used the supernatural setting as a backdrop for all of that. As Mortimer grows and matures, he has to learn how to survive in both a human world and a preternatural one. He endures tremendous loss and suffers enormous tragedies that take him from a naive 14 year old boy to a young adult of 19 on the verge of manhood (or vampire-hood!)

Q. If someone new was checking out the series, would they need to start from the first novel, or would “Star Blood” work as a stand alone?
A. To really understand Mortimer’s world, readers need to read the series in order: Growing Up Dead, Out of the Underworld, Hope Against Hope, and Star Blood. Mortimer is taken through very specific events in each book that ultimately make him who he is by the end of the 4th book. Many of the characters in Star Blood are introduced in the earlier books.
Q. The cover art shows an alien presence behind a troubled-looking Mortimer, and “Star Blood” seems to connect with this alien theme. Would you say that “Star Blood” has elements of science-fiction, as well as horror and suspense? Is this a new frontier for Mortimer Drake?
A. Oh yes, there is a very strong science-fiction element in Star Blood. In fact, there are subtle hints to this alien presence in the other books as well. When I set out to create Mortimer’s world, I knew that I wanted to take my vampires and other supernatural creatures to a very different place. These aren’t your garlic-fearing, wooden-stake vampires. No way!
Q. Speaking of cover art, you’ve worked with the talented Ran Valerhon, and a lot of Anne Rice fans are familiar with him because of the parody series of famous scenes from “Interview with the Vampire” where he replaced Claudia with Honey Boo Boo. What was it like working with him?
A. Ran Valerhon is an amazing talent. Once my books began to move and I started gaining a steady following of readers, I knew I wanted to make some changes to my books. As a loyal fan of Anne Rice, I had seen Ran’s artwork on her Facebook page. I thought the work was exceptional. I had a few e-mail correspondences with Ran about the vision I had for my series, and that was it. He took it from there and produced four beautiful covers for my books. I think he really captured the feel and mood of Mortimer’s journey. I could not be happier with Ran’s work and I hope to work with him again.
Q. Anne Rice, who redefined vampire fiction for a generation, and is the best known woman in horror fiction since Mary Shelley, has publicly endorsed your series. How do you feel about such high profile support from a famous voice in the genre?
A. I am still in shock! Truly. I have been a fan of Anne Rice’s novels since I was in high school. I read Interview with a Vampire in 1985 and fell in love with her vampires. I have since read just about every book she’s written. To have her public support and praise is a dream come true. I remember when I first posted on her Facebook page and asked her permission to share about my work. I did not expect a response, but I thought I’d try. When she said yes, and then began to show true interest in not only my work, but the indie community as a whole, I was just blown away. Through Anne Rice, I have met some fantastic people that have helped me with my writing career. She is an amazing, gracious woman. I feel very blessed to have her support.
Q. You have done it on your own as an independently published author. What were the factors in your decision to take that route?
A. I am still seeking traditional publication. I think we all want that. I send out query letters and synopsis of my work all the time. Rejection is just a painful reality in publication. I decided to self-publish when I realized that the digital book market was growing and very indie author friendly. I loved Mortimer’s world, and I wanted to share his adventures with others, so I began to read and research the pros and cons. I hesitated for a long time before I decided to do it. I didn’t want to make a mistake and ruin my chances to be recognized by the traditional publishing houses. I am happy to say that so far it’s been a great experience. I have sold over 6,000 books, and I have gained a loyal following of readers. I am very glad that I made the decision to indie publish.
Q. What advice would you give to other independently published authors who might be reading this interview?
A. Like with anything else, don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep submitting. It’s all about the journey. I have made so many mistakes. I did not hire an editor before I published my first few books. I would never do that again. I hired Todd Barselow, another Anne Rice Person of the Page, to proof and edit my books. He is an extremely talented and professional editor. I would recommend that you get your best product ready before you launch it out there. I have learned that people will read your work. Some will love it. Others will not. Be prepared to take the accolades with the criticisms. You can learn from both.

Where to Find Greg Online:

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on June 25, 2013.

One Response to “Interview with Greg Wilkey, author of “Star Blood””

  1. Another great interview with Greg! Thanks, Sumiko! ^_^

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