Stephanie: Christopher and Michael, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion! Please tell me about your book, “Bloody Mary.”
Michael: The story centers around Carakas, an alcoholic vampire. He’s constantly in search of heavy drinkers to bite in order to maintain his pickled state. He falls in with Rudt, a corrupt and opportunistic police officer who wishes to rise through the ranks by eliminating those who stand in his way and who sees Carakas as the perfect, if unwitting, accomplice to help him.
Despite his best intentions to simply have a good time, Carakas constantly makes trouble for himself and his friends. His antics bring unwanted attention from Mantis, a beautiful but vicious fellow vampire who carries a special loathing for Carakas and from Vanessa, a mysterious hunter who comes to town suddenly and who has motives all her own.
Stephanie: What an interesting premise for your story. What inspired you to write this story?
Michael: What we find interesting is to click together disparate elements to come up with a premise ripe for drama, for laughs, for good story, basically. So, combining vampire lore with the trappings and traditions of drinking opened up many fun situations to explore with these characters. We were able to mesh together elements of police procedural, courtroom drama, and sex farce in addition to classic horror elements and even managed to squeeze in an intervention scene and a riff on a Shakespeare speech. The book was a hoot to write and, we hope, for readers to enjoy.
Stephanie: Those are certainly a lot of different elements to it and I can see how that would be fun to write. Is this your first published story or are there others?
Christopher: Michael published speculative short fiction with Far Sector several years ago and I’ve written as a freelancer for Digital Photographer, Mac|Life, and other magazines. Together, we’ve also written several screenplays, but “Bloody Mary” is the first novel for both of us.
Stephanie: How long did it take to write, “Bloody Mary?”
Christopher: You would think that two writers collaborating would make things go quicker, but when two people come from the same family of world-champion arguers, it really doesn’t work out that way.
Michael and I debated over every line in this book. So, while we probably could have written “Bloody Mary” in a few months, it took closer to a year. Ultimately, though, it’s a good thing. We’re each other’s toughest editors and while the process may not always be pretty, we simply don’t sign off on anything until it meets both of our standards.
Stephanie: I don’t think I could write a book with my siblings. We have such different reading taste and writing styles I’m sure. We probably wouldn’t agree on anything! Lol. That was great that you were able to do so. Who designed your book cover?
Christopher: We’re control freaks and pretty shameless about it. We chose indie publishing because we wanted total control over every aspect of our book — not just every word and every comma of the story itself but also the cover design, the type design, everything.
The concept for the cover came from our mother, actually. She has arthritis and, during one particularly bad flare up, she showed us her hand and proclaimed with oddly gleeful pride “Look how gnarled and awful this looks!”
I was half-joking when I suggested that she act as a hand model for our cover, but she loved the idea, so we staged and shot the cover photo a few days later. I’m not sure if she intends to get an agent and look for more hand-modeling gigs or not.
Stephanie: I’m a bit of a control freak myself. When the time comes that I’m ready to publish, I will want to self-publish as well. Do you currently have any book projects in the works?
Michael: We are currently working on two very different novels. One is aimed at young readers, which is a departure for us, and is a science fiction tale set 100 years in the future. The other’s a serious horror novel set in present day. Such dissimilar projects allow us to avoid any kind of writers’ block since we work on what we are in the mood to write at the time, and so can switch gears if we ever get stuck on one project and go to the other. We’ve done this before and what invariably happens is that one project begins to gain a momentum of its own and pull ahead. And then we focus on that. Once we’ve finished, we return to the other project and it seems fresh, ready and waiting for us, just where we left it.
Stephanie: That’s wonderful! Sounds very interesting. When I write my mood changes at times or the characters are wanting to do something different than what I want them to do. So my writing process gets a bit chaotic at times when you have several stories that you are working on. Which I’m bad about doing. What is some of the promoting you have done for your book?
Christopher: We’re still trying out many promotional avenues to figure out which suit us best and which get the best results. We threw a nice launch party for friends and family, many of whom acted as early readers for this book or have helped in other ways or on other, earlier creative projects.
We’ll be running annual 99-cent Kindle and Nook sales twice a year on the two holidays most appropriate for this book – Halloween, for obvious reasons, and St. Patrick’s Day, the only holiday devoted purely to drinking.
And we hope to do well as people begin gift shopping this coming Mother’s Day because nothing says, “I love you, Mom” like a book packed with booze, violence, and unholy creatures of the night.
Stephanie: Where do you see self-publishing in five to ten years?
Christopher: There will be a meeting in the middle, I think, between the traditional and independent publishing models. Traditional publishers are going to have to adapt to the new landscape, relinquishing more control to writers and supporting them more from the beginning or else risk extinction. Writers who pursue the independent publishing path, however, will need the support of professionals, many of whom currently work in traditional publishing or have in the past, in order to be successful.
Both writers and publishers need to remember that, ultimately, it’s readers who determine their fate. And right now is an awkward time to be an avid reader because sorting through the wilderness to find quality material can be difficult. Readers need trustworthy tools to find good books, tools like IndieBRAG, objective critics who are open to both house-published and indie-published books, and social media and its awesome word-of-mouth power.
Stephanie: I agree with you, Christopher. I really feel that traditional publishing will have to make some serious changes in order to keep up with the ever growing industry of self-publishing. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Michael: Quit aspiring and just be an author. There’s nothing stopping you. Leonardo Da Vinci said whatever exists in the universe, whether in essence, in act, or in the imagination, the artist has first in his mind and then in his hand. What this means to me is that the entire world is a writer’s plaything, to shape in their imagination in any way they see fit, and therefore have unlimited material.
Stephanie: Fantastic advice! What is your favorite quote?
Christopher: “What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?,” a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream.
~Robert M. Pirsig, author, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
“When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
Hardcopy and Kindle available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Bloody-Mary-Christopher-Dack/dp/1463708637/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363992526&sr=8-1&keywords=dack+bloody+mary)
Available for Nook at Barnes and Noble (Available for Nook at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bloody-mary-christopher-dack/1107929394?ean=2940014345941)
Watch for our new website, coming soon at dackbrothers.com
Christopher Dack grew up in Springport, Michigan. Educated at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he holds degrees in Political Science and Rhetoric. He also has a Master’s Degree in English from Eastern Michigan University.
With brother and co-creator Michael Dack, he co-wrote and co-directed the independent film, Sleep(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359992/), an award winner at the East Lansing Film Festival. Along with his other brother, James Dack, he photographed and co-authored the book Wings: An Illustrated Celebration of Michigan Wolverine Helmets (wolverinehelmet.com). He has also published more than 40 nonfiction articles on photography, cinematography, computer science, and writing in publications such as Shutterbug, Digital Photographer, Pro Digital Imaging, Mac|Life, and Writers’ Digest. Bloody Mary is his first novel. He counts as creative and intellectual influences Robert Pirsig, Trevanian, Peter Weir, Eddie Izzard, Suzanne Collins, the Coen Brothers, Christopher Nolan, Pink Floyd, Roald Dahl, and Dr. Seuss.
Michael Dack was born in Springport, Michigan. He attended Western Michigan University and Spring Arbor University. He holds degrees in Education and in Music Theory and has composed works for symphonic band and for orchestra. Together with brother and co-writer Christopher Dack, he has written several screenplays which have been honored by the Nicholl Fellowship, Slamdance, and Austin Film Festival competitions. He also co-wrote, co-directed, and scored Sleep (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359992/), an independent film which took honors at the East Lansing Film Festival. His short fiction has been published by Far Sector. Bloody Mary is his first novel. Among his influences, he lists F. Scott Fitzgerald, Annie Proulx, Don Delillo, Joss Whedon, Neil Simon, Jane Espenson, Peter Weir, David Sedaris, William Carlos Williams, and Joseph Heller.
Christopher and Michael, it was a pleasure to interview you! Thank you! ~Stephanie
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