Scot Savage was born in Chicago, IL and now resides in Schaumburg, IL where this story takes place. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a B.S. in Computer Science. Scot is a web systems analyst and a licensed locksmith, yet still finds time to satisfy his passion for writing.
Eric Bieche was born in Santa Cruz, CA, but grew up in Kalispell, Montana. He started college at Montana State University, but finished his Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University with a double major in Math and Computer Science. He currently lives in Elgin, Illinois. In his spare time, he enjoys being an amateur photographer, reading, playing video games, and watching Science Fiction/Fantasy movies.
Now that I’ve introduced these fabulous individuals with a bit of background, let’s get to know them as authors.
Michele: What makes your novel different from other vampire stories?
Scot: We always stressed in our marketing this is “a vampire story with a different spin.” We’ve taken the liberty of re-writing the traditional rules/legends/lore about vampires. Some of them remain true: a vampire’s immortality and their special abilities such as mesmerism, bat transformation or turning into a mist. Others are false: vampires cannot be kept away by garlic and they can cast reflections in mirrors. Some are half-truth distortions of the facts: vampires being inheritably evil when, in fact, they actually can be virtuous, malevolent or somewhere in-between. Vampires still require blood to sustain them, but don’t need to feed as often as folklore describes, nor are they required to kill their victims to feed.
The young vampire, Roger Sparks, featured in the novel actually enjoys being a vampire, living in the moment (usually with reckless abandon) and kicking butt when needed. In our novel, our vampires do not lament and sulk about their curse. We also dispense with the over-used cliché of a vampire falling in love with a human—unable to decide whether to turn the other into a vampire or become human again themselves. Other authors have presented this admirably, but you won’t find it in our novel. As a matter of fact, you will find no romantic subplots in this novel, as we wanted to avoid the trap in which the villain kidnaps the hero’s girlfriend to give him a disadvantage (I do that in some of my other novels). Even as a kid, I grew tired of the cliché of the hero having to waste precious time rescuing his loved one before resolving the greater conflict. Our heroes may date, but they do so on their own time, not during the novel. Instead, we wanted to get to the heart of the adventure, investigate the crime, get to the action and stay on target until the exciting climax.
Besides featuring super-natural evils, our detective hero, Maxx Shadow, must confront dangers of the mortal world. For example, Maxx explores the very real perils of rail hopping. His is also in conflict with a rival gang of hobos who are the enemies of the hobo minions of the main antagonist, Ruby of the Rails. Although the rival gang of hobos lacks the supernatural abilities of Ruby’s hobos, they are just as vicious and deadly.
Michele: How did the two of you meet and what made you decide to co-author a novel?
Eric: I met Scot at Nielsen Media Research in May of 1999, shortly after I graduated from Northern Illinois University. He was a programmer in another group and I had the opportunity to work with him on several projects over the years.
We started to hangout outside of work and shortly after that, he let me read a short story that he wrote many years ago called The Little Boy and the Curse of the Chicago Cubs. That was my first opportunity to read one of his works. I really liked it and several years later, we started going through his other works such that we would edit them for content and obvious spelling and punctuation errors.
As I was soon to find out, Scot is a prolific writer, having written many works. My personal favorite is a book entitled World's Title Fight. Just prior to getting sick in 2009, he started telling me about an idea he had concerning detectives and vampires. Not everything, but just enough that I was hooked on the concept and couldn't wait to read and edit it after he had it written.
Scot: In September 2009, I was hospitalized with a heart infection, which led to an artificial aortic valve replacement. Along with my wife, Nicole, Eric faithfully came regularly to visit me. With a new concept for a novel, Eric sat at my bedside and helped put together an initial outline. With this project, Eric went above and beyond the duties of copyediting, coming up with ideas and resolutions of his own. As a result, I offered Eric co-authorship if he was willing to do a bit more additional work. He gladly accepted and the rest is history.
Michele: Did you choose the genre, or did the genre choose you?
Scot: In this case, the genre chose me. After twenty-six years, I wanted to get something published and scratch one of many things off my Bucket List. Since vampire genre is hot and still will be for more years to come, I decided to “jump on the bandwagon.” I had figured if any work I completed had a chance to be published this one would be it.
Michele: What was your inspiration for this novel—a person, a place, an event?
Scot: In April of 2000, while channel surfing, I caught a show on the A&E Network Investigative Reports hosted by former CBS Chicago anchorman and highly respected journalist, Bill Curtis. This particular episode was entitled Blood on the Tracks which focused on the dangers of rail hopping especially to those who were weekend thrill-seekers rather than experienced hobos. A majority of the episode highlighted a serial-killing hobo, Joseph Silveria Jr. aka “Sidetrack.” Silveria is now serving two consecutive life sentences in an Oregon State prison. Silveria had confessed to five murders, but it is believed he committed dozens more before being apprehended.
I found this sub-culture to be very fascinating. For the most part, hobos are just folks that have given up on regular society and want to live by their wits and be left alone. However, there are a few bad apples, which lump them all in a negative category. The world of rail hopping is a modern day Wild West, with the criminal hobos able to get away with their crimes because they are phantoms. They have no identity, and since they own very little, they can easily skip town at the drop of a hat, leaving everything behind to avoid arrest. Since trains pass through isolated areas, criminal hobos can easily dispose of victims in areas where no one will find them for years, if they are found at all. There were accounts of college students rail riding during a summer break never to be heard from again.
The segment on Silveria inspired me to write a novel about a serial killing hobo able to commit his atrocities and get away with them because he has no connections to his victims—just an unknown, faceless bum whom most ignore, never noticed and who is able to disappear like a breath in the wind on a moment’s notice.
Michele: How did you develop your characters and their motives in your story?
Scot: Roger Sparks was a character I created in the 1990s and played in a fantasy role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade. He was basically an all-muscle-live-in-the-moment vampire who enjoys a good brawl. He left the planning and strategy to his more intellectual, less combat savvy vampire companions.
Maxx Shadow was also based on a role-playing character from the Dr. Who Role-playing Game created by a friend of mine; however, I changed the name and the physical traits of the character. Wanting to avoid romantic subplots, I made Maxx somewhat physically unappealing with a slight facial disfigurement to reinforce his lack of female companions.
The Shadow/Sparks team-up is inspired by the Green Hornet TV series from the 1960s. Shadow is the Van Williams/Britt Reid/Green Hornet figure who makes the plans while Sparks is the Bruce Lee/Kato counterpart who mops the floor with their adversaries (not to take away from Shadow who is a decent scrapper in his own right for a mere mortal).
Several of the evil hobo characters such as Slouch and Hooligan are based on the traits and motivations of the real life railway serial killer, Joseph Silveria Jr. aka “Sidetrack” as well as other nefarious hobos in my research.
Michele: If you could be any of the characters in your novel, who would you be?
Eric: I think that I'd be Maxx Shadow. Of all the characters, he goes through the most change and growth. It's interesting to see how he evolves throughout the novel.
Scot: It might be interesting to be Dan Patch, Maxx and Roger’s spiritual advisor. He is a being, known as a Sage-Sentry, who is borderline between the natural and supernatural. He constantly reincarnates into a new body after he dies, sometimes a different gender or not even human at all (he claims to have been the world-renown harness race horse of the same name in the early 20th century), yet still retains the memories of his past lives, unlike us mere mortals who have no recollection once we reincarnate.
Michele: I understand Have Vampire, Will Travel is the first novel in a series. Are you afraid the series will become dull or difficult to write after a while?
Scot: Although each novel will have an overall arc and tie-ins to other upcoming novels, we plan to write each Have Vampire, Will Travel as its own stand-alone adventure without it being necessary to read any previous or subsequent novels (although we hope people will read them all). There is no pre-determined number of novels in the series. In the event the series becomes dull or difficult to write, we will just simply end it with the last novel. However, we will continue to write the series so long as there is an interest. We are not afraid if something becomes dull because we will just have to find something else fresh to write about.
Eric: Scot answered this pretty well. I don't think that it will get boring since there have been several times where we actually come up with idea fragments for future books. In addition, it's cool that we have an overall arc that will be teased about in the background of each story.
Michele: Are there any books or authors that have inspired you in your writing?
Scot: I have been influenced by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series as well as Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné Saga. Other authors include Stephen King and Marc E. Roger’s Samurai Cat. Marvel/DC comic/books and graphic novels have had some influence on my writing as well.
Eric: My favorite author is RA Salvatore and most of the series he's written. My favorite is his Forgotten Realms Drizzt series. I have all of those books and most of them are autographed. It's my "go to" series if I don't know what to read.
Michele: Have either of you thought about writing individually?
Scot: I have self-published individually. I’m sure Eric might want to try to write one solo and he’ll have my full support if he does.
Eric: At this time, I'm very content at being Scot's sidekick. If he asks me to help write something else that would be great. Until then, I'm very happy getting to play in the world of Maxx Shadow.
Michele: Many of the authors I speak with don’t necessary enjoy reading the same type of novel as those they write. What types of stories do you enjoy reading in your leisure time?
Eric: I enjoy reading Fantasy, Science Fiction, and History.
Scot: I enjoy mysteries, true crime, detective, science fiction, fantasy, suspense, humor, light horror and an occasional biography.
This concludes our interview. I want to thank Eric and Scot for being my guests today. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and will be able to meet them in person one day soon.
On Sunday, April 28, 2013, Eric and Scot will be holding a Book Release Reception from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Elgin Public House Pub (Pub 217 located in the upper level) at 219 East Chicago Street, Elgin, IL 60120 (847-468-8810). This event is open to the public. A free parking garage is located just across the street for the convenience of the attendees. No RSVP or invitation is required to attend. All are welcome and please bring your friends.
To pre-order Have Vampire, Will Travel, go to the True Grit Publishing website at http://www.truegritpublishing.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on how to pre-order an autographed copy directly from both authors (or to ask questions, check updates or post comments), visit https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Have-Vampire-Will-Travel/198595470182549 or email request/message to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.