spreading the talent

Interview with author Rick Pipito about Blood, The Second Helping

When interest in a second novel arose, I became dedicated to the fans.  Of course there will always be questions that I am more than happy to answer.  And so, here we are again with a second interview based on things people have asked me regarding this series of books.  I hope you enjoy and find it informative, and if you haven’t purchased the novel yet, then I hope you consider that as well.  Anonymity has been maintained, so I will not list anyone’s names with the questions or comments.  Finally, if you have not read the book then I must warn you.  There are slight spoilers, though I have kept it as small as possible.  Enjoy and please continue to give me your feedback.

Q1:        Is this book a stand alone sequel or do you need the first book to understand what’s going on?

A:         This is one of the reasons I am doing each chapter of the books as a separate short story.  You don’t need the first one to enjoy the second one by any means; however, for the underlying plot it would be best to read the first book because you may find yourself wondering about some of the characters and why they are the way they are.

Q2:        Why vampires this time around and no zombies?

A:         I feel I have done everything that I wanted to do with zombies.  I don’t want to be perceived as the writer who only does one thing.  I have many ideas and interpretations of things I want to bring to the table.  There have been so many vampire stories and I feel each of them has something to contribute to the mythology of vampires.  My book brings all of it and more to the table.

Q3:        What makes your vampires different than all of the other stories out there?

A:         I find that there are so many things associated with vampires, especially their weaknesses and strengths.  Garlic, sunlight, silver, crosses, water, fire, and a stake through the heart have all been ways of killing them; while super speed, strength, different abilities of the mind, and shape shifting have been some of their powers in the past.  I wanted to put it all in a more realistic setting, so maybe one vampire is allergic to garlic, but it typically isn’t the way a vampire gets sick or dies.  Same goes with sunlight or any of the other weaknesses.  I have also never seen or heard of a story where it explains what would happen if a vampire drank the blood of someone with a disease such as AIDS.  These are all things I try to cover tastefully without overdoing it in this book.

Q4:        What is your favorite vampire movie/story that is not one of your own?

A:         The classic universal movie “Dracula” with Bella Legosi is probably my favorite, but I also enjoy the “Blade” movies as well as the “Underworld” series.

Q5:        What made you do a story about King Arthur?

A:         When I wrote the origin of zombies in the first book as being descendants of vampires, it took place in ancient times.  I wanted to touch on that story more; as far as what happened between the war with the humans/vampires/zombies.  Why does Cain hate the humans so much?  King Arthur is the reason for that.  I won’t spoil how, but I love the background of King Arthur and Excalibur.  There is so much speculation as to whether he was a real person or not.  He is a legend.  It was the first logical choice for me to start at this point in the history of my books, and that is why the chapters are called “Legends” in this book, and not “Incidents” like in the first.

Q6:        How extensive was the research for the Egypt story?

A:         My God, I can’t even begin.  As a kid, I played this game for the Atari 2600 called “Riddle of The Sphinx.”  The mysteries behind Egypt have always fascinated me.  I spent weeks reading the stories behind the sphinx and its temples; as well as trying to figure out a way to have the riddles incorporated.  It wasn’t an easy task putting it to story either, because I had to study a great deal of Hieroglyphics to come up with my own accurate drawings for what was on the walls of the temples.  It was a lot of hard work, but I learned a great deal more about the subject.

Q7:        Are the stories about Vlad The Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory historically accurate?

A:         For the most part yes.  I took all of the key information on their biographies and madethem into new stories.  Vlad and Bathory are two of the greatest influences for vampire stories.  I wanted to tell why this is, but also wanted history books to reflect a lot of what my stories told.  I added to the history and omitted some things, but yes, a great deal of it is absolutely true.

Q8:        Were there any stories that were difficult to write?

A:         Two of them actually.  I love wine and it is beneficial to the blood, so I had to incorporate it somehow.  The winery story was difficult because it is written from the character’s perspective in a diary form.  So it is a journal and not really a story with a climax for the most part.  It was a little tedious trying to make something like that interesting, but I am happy with the end result, and I think you will be too.  The other story was the one about the Seducer.  She has her place in history,l and vampires are very sensual, sometimes erotic creatures.  I went all out.  I didn’t want it to be a complete pornographic story, so it has its moments that are too much for some people.  My mom is one of my biggest fans and critics.  She wanted me to edit out most of the graphic details.  I decided not to for this fact alone.  I wanted it to be a little over the top.  In the end, it was edited about thirty times, but finished tastefully and adrenaline pumping.

Q9:        You did a sequel to a short story in the first book.  Were M.U.T.S. a fan favorite?

A:         The MUTS (Military Underground Tactical Specialists) story in the first book was one of the fan favorites, and a few people asked if I was going to bring them back.  The humor between the characters and the conflicting personalities along with the seriousness of their missions make them an enjoyable special ops group.  There is at least one character most people can relate to personally on the team.  So, in this book I decided MUTS needed to pursue Darius Moon as their next mission.  This is actually a sequel to three stories from the first book.  I was able to tie up a few loose ends with this one and make them face something more threatening than just a bunch of slow zombies.  This team is up against the impossible so fans tend to cheer for the underdog quite a bit.

Q10:        Were the events of “Murray’s Massacre” inspired by any true stories?

A:         Sad to say, but absolutely.  The main character, setting, and the crimes that are committed have all been changed into something original, but there are people out there like this.  I remember seeing a Dateline show on NBC that talked about these goth kids who thought they were vampires.  They were horrible people, and I did a search on the internet when I started writing this book.  It turns out there were many other similar crimes throughout history.  So it is not a vampire story, but it can definitely be classified well with what I was going for here.   

Q11:        Did you feel that doing a story about the 1920s Chicago mob would be difficult because of all of the mob movies out there?

A:         I’m gonna catch hell for this one, but only because of the political correctness of today’s society was it challenging.  Now I say the word “fucking” and it does not cause a stir with most people, but if someone says something like “retard” or “chink” then I’m suddenly insensitive or racist.  Listen, I’m not insensitive or racist and I take offense to anyone who would claim otherwise.  Mob stories and comic books have forever been entertaining to me, and I tried to combine both in a realistic setting with this story.  The most realistic way is to make it so people ‘believe’ in what is happening.  1920s Chicago mobs were not politically correct, and everyone took jabs at every race verbally and sometimes physically.  Sure there is racism present today, but we have come a long way since 100 years ago.  I worried that my character of the don DiAmico, would offend people at first, but I bit the bullet and made him the man he would have been back then.  I just hope that people realize the separation between the character’s perspectives and that of the author.  I may have created the scenarios and characters, but that doesn’t mean I think that way.

Q12:        Did your brother do the artwork again?

A:         Yes.  Dan did the art for the cover and kept to the same watercolor style he used for “Flesh,” but my cousin, Vince, also contributed with the hieroglyphic art for the interior.  I had a few Egyptian writings I needed for the story, and I thought his different style would work well with that.  I’m glad to have them both a part of the project.

Q13:        Will the third book be about something else all together or are you going to do more zombie and vampire stories?

A:         Did you read the book?  Lol. I set it up well for the next novel at the end of this one.  As I said before, I’m not going to repeat what I’ve already done, so yes something altogether new for me.  I’ll give a hint:  Full moon and fur.  It is called “Bones At Breakfast”.

Q14:        How are promotions going?

A:         <long sigh> Everything is an out of pocket expense without an agent, so I’m not getting rich off of it.  It is so hard getting the word out there and I appreciate everyone who has purchased a copy of my works.  I really am trying to establish some sort of main stream publicity so that someone of “importance” in Hollywood or publishing finds it and kicks it up into overdrive.  Even an agent would be nice to find, but like I said $$$$.

Q15:        You have ten short stories in each book.  Was it hard to keep to that number? 

A:         Everything is mapped out ahead of time, and I use all the ideas I come up with, but sometimes I struggle to find 10 interesting plots that will keep the reader on edge.  There are also times when a story has to be cut or a concept because I want to stick to that amount of chapters.  Fortunately those few ideas that have been cut are going to be used in a different setting.  I put them into my graphic novels with sCrypt Comics.  

Q16:        How would you defend yourself if vampires were real?

A:         That’s a scary thought.  Zombies are one thing, but vampires scare the hell out of me.  They are physically superior to us in a lot of ways.  I’d probably try to outsmart them rather than using physical means.  You know, lure them into a trap somehow.

Q17:        Where do you want the series to progress from here on out?

A:         I don’t want to give away any major plot things to come, but I have ten books planned in this series.  I’ve separated it into three trilogies and then a final book that will wrap up the loose ends.  Each trilogy deals with a different antagonist and direction for all the characters, but that is about all I can say right now.

Q18:        What was the biggest challenge with writing this book? 

A:        I’d have to say editing.  I want the stories to flow together, but still stand alone in their own plot.  It all needs to make sense.  For example: How can I have a story about King Arthur that involves vampires and one about a vampire in the 1980s existing in the same world, yet be totally separate from each other in every way possible.  Then they still have to be tied together into the main plot.  I aced English in high school, but I still find myself making stupid grammatical errors as well.  I read each story a half a dozen times once they are complete before I even present it to my editors.

Q19:        Where can I get the book?

A:         It is available through my publisher in softback form at www.lulu.com as well as for the Kindle download at www.amazon.com .

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