Gay horror writer Damian Serbu has been setting the mystical terror world aflame with his stories of ghosts, vampires and fantastical wanderers. His Vampire’s Angel series and first novel, Secrets in the Attic, have been getting a lot of literary attention, of late, and still this talented creator took a moment to answer a few questions for this exclusive Big Gay Horror Fan interview. Read on, my caped wonders and monster lovers, read on!
BGHF: So, Damian, what drew you to the trembling world of horror – A hatchet faced gym teacher with Dracula fangs – An uncle who looked like HP Lovecraft – What?!?
DS: Ironically enough, nothing horrific like a haunting or evil ghoul chased me down the hall and trapped me. I was just drawn to the escapism. My warped mind works that way – that the more frightening and horrific, the more I fall into the darkness of it and enjoy myself. – I know its cliché, but looking back the idea of being in the closet and dealing with that as I grew up played a part, too. Horror was empowering to me because I identified with the monsters more than the victims or innocent people. Even before I got into “horror,” I grew up liking the Wicked Witch of the West. My sister and I used to play Flying Monkey. So while our peers ran around terrified of the monkey scenes in the “Wizard of Oz,” we thought the monkeys kicked ass. Same with Star Wars – loved Darth Vader. So why not like the vampires, murderers, and spirits once I started reading horror novels and watching horror movies? They had no fear – which obviously lurked in my mind as something desirable because I so feared myself. Then I came out and that fear disappeared, but thankfully the love of horror stayed with me!
BGHF: Wonderful story, my friend. Was writing always a goal of yours or did some strange dark occurrence (or light twist of fate) draw you to it, midstream?
DS: Writing was always a part of me, but I focused on nonfiction until about half way through graduate school. My academic training is all in the field of history – I earned a doctorate in history. But my love of the horror genre meant that even as I dealt with reality in my studies, speculative fiction swirled around in my head. Stories would pop up, and I’d think, that would make a great novel. So one day I just decided to get the stories onto paper. It was strange at first and took a while to transform my writing from the colder, objective world of history to the imagined world of horror.- In answer to your question, maybe it was some doppelganger in my head that planted the stories and forced me to write about them. They could no longer be contained. Writers and artists talk about the muse taking over, and that certainly happens to me. I’m writing along and the story takes hold – probably a ghost, now that I think about it. I’m probably plagiarizing everything I write; stealing the whole damn thing from an angry spirit who is using me to communicate to the outside world.
DS: Secrets in the Attic was inspired by a dream I had about three or four times while I was a teenager. In the dream, I was exploring my grandfather’s house and saw his ghost in the attic. He was friendly, and smiled at me. But suddenly I’m running through the house and calling for my family to get out of there. Then Gramps’ ghost chases after my family as we try to drive away. I always woke up as his spirit slammed into the front windshield of the car.- It’s a great example of what I said earlier – that these stories lurked inside and wanted out. Because I always thought that would make a great scene in a novel. So I wrote an entire story revolving around that nightmare! – That novel took longer than my novels do now, because it was one of the first that I wrote. I had to revise it a lot, to knock the academic in me out and learn to write fiction. The outline of the story came quickly then the laborious process of communicating it took place. From the first time I started writing about it until it was published was probably ten years.
BGHF: Wow! So, how did you go about inventing the world of your successful Vampire’s Angel series?
DS: Two things influenced that series. My academic training, so I set the first two novels in the past – The Vampire’s Angel during the French Revolution and The Vampire’s Quest during the 1820s in America. That gave me the settings, the events, the world around the vampires.
The vampires were inspired by the idea of a double closet – that of sexuality and that of hiding their nature. And I could empower the gay characters with their strength and complete lack of fear. Yet I could also humanize them with their emotions and longings. – It became the perfect blend of wanting to teach people about the past but also give into the dark world of vampirism. Though I must warn you that the third in the series, The Vampire’s Witch (scheduled for release next spring), is set in contemporary America. OH! And Jaret, the main character in Secrets in the Attic, will be in it, too.
BGHF: Cool! Is there a character (or characters) that you most like to write in the Vampire’s Angel series?
DS: That’s like asking if a parent has a favorite child. Even if you had one, you wouldn’t say it out loud!
Honestly, I really do like them all. I relate to Xavier’s longings and emotion. But I love Thomas’s brash behavior and total lack of fear; his inner resolve and will to get what he wants. The character that calls to me more than I ever imagined is Catherine, Xavier’s sister. She has a magnetism that draws me to her over and over and over.
DS: LOL – this is such a common question that people ask. I never know what to say to it! I typically turn it back on them, and ask what they have in mind. My mother is a HUGE Adam Lambert fan and thinks that he would make a perfect Thomas. For director – how about Joss Whedon?! About the actors . . . Listen, I’ll just lay it on the line – I would think with my penis on this one and not give any thought to acting credentials or ability or how they would fit a character. So let’s just use Leonardo DeCaprio, Ryan Reynolds, Chris Hemsworth, Hayden Christensen, and three or four hot young gay actors, to support their being out in Hollywood.
BGHF: Perfect! Tell us a bit about your upcoming book Dark Sorcerer Threatening. That sounds like another series, no?
DS: Dark Sorcerer Threatening is set in a magical kingdom in the distant past. The king and his magicians use sorcery to conceal their land from the rest of Europe, because it’s a kingdom of men loving men. It contains a love story, so has a strong romance element, but someone is using dark magic to try to kill the king and possibly expose the country to the Catholic Church so it can be destroyed. Lots of wizards in this one! – I’m actually not sure if it’s a series. Right now, it stands alone and I’m not working on a sequel. But I didn’t know that the Vampire’s Angel series would be a series after I finished the first one, either. So we’ll see. It’s up to the ghost who’s making me write, anyway.
BGHF: And those spirits can be temperamental! Lastly, any words of advice (IE: Never piss off the sister of a master vamp) or other projects that you’d like to tell us about? And thanks! This been better than having a chat with the spooky ghost of my grandfather – any day of the week!
DS: You should chat with your grandfather, though, because there might be a movie or novel in it for you! – I’m currently writing a pirate novel – about a warlock who ends up on a pirate ship. And I have a top secret vampire project underway. I’m totally paranoid to say much about it too far in advance, though, because I know someone would steal it and make millions while everyone would then accuse me of being a copy cat.- Advice: don’t fear the monsters. Read about them, learn about them, and become like them. It may scare away your friends and family, but it’s a lot more interesting world that way.
BGHF: True, Damian! Thanks, again!
Be sure to float into the bloodily magical world of Damian Serbu at www.damianserbu.com – and Big Gay Horror Fan is always performing vampiric deeds at http://www.facebook.com/#!/BigGayHorrorFan, as well.
And until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan