Interview w/ Paranormal Romance Author Charles O'Keefe, Author of 'The Newfoundland Vampire'

Title: The Newfoundland Vampire
Author: Charles O’Keefe 
Publisher: Penumbra Publishing
Release Date: April 12th 2012
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Horror 
Length:  220 pages 
Source: Author
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Like every other geek alive, Newfoundland native Joseph O’Reily secretly wants to be a superhero. At thirteen he fantasized about being a vampire, and ten years later he’s still fantasizing – but mostly about a beautiful redheaded woman who has eyes only for him. The one thing different about Joseph’s adult fantasy is that, amazingly, it comes true one night when he goes to a local university pub. Cassandra Snow, literally the woman of his dreams, invites him to her place for an evening of personal pleasure. Of course he’s not going to say no. But when strange things start happening afterward, Joseph quickly learns that not all dreams should come true.

Cassandra has plans for him – forever. And those plans don’t include daytime activities. An animal lover and recent vegetarian, Joseph wrestles with all the weird changes he’s experiencing after his encounter with Cassandra. Eternal youth and amazing power come at a price that is perhaps higher than he can afford. The constant hunger for blood and the secrets Cassandra harbors test his resolve and his mental and physical limits. And then there’s the fact that a two-hundred-year-old vampire is after his head – literally.

Joseph’s night vision improves dramatically, giving him a glimpse of the darker side of the world and the terrible evil of vampires who walk among humans. As he tries to balance his regular life with the new reality of his vampire existence, he is determined to hold onto his personal convictions and what he values most A– his humanity. 

Please welcome Paranormal Author Charles O’Keefe!
Make sure to stop by Saturday to read my thoughts on The Newfoundland Vampire 😉

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Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I live just outside of it in Manuels (Conception Bay South).

What or who inspired you to write?  And how long have you been writing?

I was inspired by two big what if’s: What if I had made different choices in my life when I was 23 and what if vampires were real? Those questions rolled around in my head for a long time (about 8 years) but they finally inspired me to write my first novel. I have always enjoyed reading (and creative writing in small doses). I did a BA in English at university and I had a desire to make a mark on the world like other writers before me had done.

I have dabbled in writing since around 13 with stuff like poetry, short stories, journals, newsletters, articles for student newspapers but I didn’t get serious about writing a book until just a little over 2 years ago.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m a traditionalist in that way, I didn’t consider myself a writer until this April when my first book was published.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

“The Newfoundland Vampire”. No problem, “imagine the person of your dreams shows up at a bar, takes you
back to their room for sex, then later you discover you’re a vampire, what would you do?”

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

Commodus: “Knell before me pitiful humans! I have lived thousands of years and watched civilizations come and go. Freedom is a terrible mistake, only through fear and might can any order and structure exist in the world”

Cassandra: “Well hello there darlings, I’m not entirely accustomed to the use of computers and the internet but at least my fingers are free of ink. You may think that being a vampire is all fun and a delight but there is a price to pay. It’s a lonely life and one fraught with perils; I am one of the lucky few who has found a suitable companion to share an eternity with.”

What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?

This is a funny question because the main character, Joseph, is me and many of my thoughts, ideas and patterns of behavior are the same as his. More precisely he is me as I was at 23, so while I think he might not approve of some of the choices I’ve made in my life and where I ended up, I think he would certainly want to hang out with me (we do have all the same hobbies, except drinking blood of course 😉

Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?

Excellent question, while Joseph is wonderful to write as I get to make statements to the world about my beliefs (and have a great time revisiting and revamping memories).  Strangely enough Cassandra speaks loudest to me. When I finished the first draft of the book back in November 2010, it was both a strange and wonderful feeling that Cassandra felt real to me. I just can always imagine how she will react both to Joseph and to events that happen around her. When my contract was signed in September of 2011, I had another feeling that there has to be another book, Cassandra (and Joseph) have more to do and I have more to say through Joseph.

Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

To be honest neither of those things happens with my characters and me. I thought up the story and then fleshed out the characters, so they just go where I lead them. Naturally sometimes this leads to places which didn’t make sense for the characters and this is why having a great editor (Thanks Pat! You’re the best 🙂 ) is so important. It is vital to get as many opinions on your work as possible since obviously you like the story, you wrote it but other people may not.

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?

Yes aside from Joseph’s, who is me as I’ve discussed, a bunch of other characters were based on my friends. One the villain’s is based on a friend too (at his request). As to real events, yes there several chapters where Joseph does things that I did (without the benefit of being a vampire of course ;). The D&D chapter in particular is almost exactly how my all-time favourite session of role-playing went.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Another excellent question! I’ve never thought about it until now. I like to write with wordplay, vivid details (you might say gory), suspense, emotion and a good dosage of sensuality and sex. I was flattered when I put my writing in a website and it came out as being most similar to Vladimir Nabokov’s.

How did you come up with the title?

I’m not into complex or mysterious titles, so I figured I’d just keep it simple. Joseph, despite whatever else he may be, is most certainly a Newfoundland Vampire, so I went with that. I also thought that with the words “Newfoundland” and “Vampire” in the title I was bound to attract people both locally and away (like most any author I want people to buy my book).

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Hmm well, I suppose it would be to think about the choices you make, every action (bad, good or none) has consequences either to you or to the world and the people in it.

Do you have plans for a new book?   Is this book part of a series?

Yes and yes. Book 2 will not take place as much in Newfoundland. I do plan to write at least three books (so yes it is part of a series) so we will see how it goes.

How did you come up with the title and cover design?

The title I have already discussed. I was fortunate enough to have a large amount of input into the cover. I just thought of one of the most beautiful sights in nature and for me that is a blood red sunset. Here in Newfoundland it happens so rarely (we have a lot of fog and cloud cover) that I always try to watch it and even take a picture. Then I just thought about what the book is about, obviously Joseph and Cassandra are the focus, so they are o
n the front. Then I wanted to show how personal the book was and how beautiful Newfoundland is. So my editor came up with the great idea of me taking pictures of places where important chapters were set and I went with it (I love to take pictures as well).

Who designed the cover of your book?

I’m not entirely sure, someone at Penumbra Publishing. Whoever they were they did a great job and I’ve very happy with it (I suspect Pat may have had a hand in this as well 🙂 ).

Where do you see yourself in five (5) years?

You just keep coming with the tough ones huh? 😉 Well in 5 years, I’d like to have at least 3 more books published (maybe one non-fiction) and have writing as a steady source of at least partial income. I’ll probably still be working at my parent’s business but I hope that I’ve have more time to concentrate on my writing. Like most people, I hope to stay healthy and lead an even happier and fulfilling life. I also hope to have my house paid off by then and have a little more financial freedom.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?

Sadly, most of the author’s I really admired are gone (like Hemmingway, Tolkien and Jordan). Therefore, among the living I would really like to meet Stephen King. Not because I love everything, he has done but because I think, he has made some wonderful characters and I do admire all that he has accomplished.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why?

“Dracula” by Bram Stoker because I loved how vampires did not just explode in the sunlight (or start to sizzle) that always seemed such a cop-out to me.  He made Dracula a complex character and gave him so many cool powers.

“Interview with a Vampire” by Anne Rice, because I loved how she made her vampires sensual and blurred the line between good and evil, also Lestat is such a cool character and Louis, well I’ll admit that Joseph certainly has some similarity to him.

“Winter’s Heart” by Robert Jordan because this book has some of the best action scenes I have ever read. Jordan goes a little off the rail sometimes with minor characters and seemingly never-ending plot threads but for me no one could write small or large-scale battle scenes like him.

“The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley because it showed me how important it is to have strong female character in a book and how wonderfully she wrote this epic tale than spans almost 100 years (and almost 1000 pages) but is never dull for a second.

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?

I have really gotten into ebooks lately, I never liked hardcovers but with that said there is nothing like the feeling of a book in your hands and the satisfaction of adding it to a real bookshelf when you are done, so paperbacks, at least for now.

Are you a self published (Indie) Author or big trad published?

I am an Indie author but not self-published. I signed with a smaller publisher, Penumbra Publishing, who is in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

Yes I have already started another vampire book (the continuing adventures of Joseph and Cassandra of course!). So yes the same genre of horror/romance/vampire.

How do you market/promote your books?

I am new to marketing/promotion but I have done everything I can think of. Obviously sending my book to bloggers for review (thanks Anya!) and interviews like this. I guest blog and I have sent marketing info on my book for other people to put up on their blogs (with my gratitude). Facebook and Twitter are natural ones. I have put up over 200 posters around St. John’s, I have done radio and newspaper interviews. I am about to my first book signing and book launch (two separate events). I give out bookmarks, I gave a talk on vampire fiction at a convention (another in the fall), I have sold my book at said convention and I am soon to sell it at a local Farmer’s Market.

Luckily, my job often involves visiting customers and I have sold many copies on the spur of the moment (I even try to maintain a constant car stock for this purpose), on consignment and have a permanent display where I work. I have driven to people’s houses to sell copies and of course hope that people who enjoy it will use word of mouth to help it sell. I also plan to do a blog tour and I use websites like Goodreads, Shellfari and Amazon. I suppose I am rather obsessed with marketing/promotion but being an OCD kind of person, I cannot do anything half-hearted.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?

I think you have to either tap into a market/idea/niche that is popular (like J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter and magic) or come up with someth
ing unique. For example, I think one of the things that made Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books so successful was not just the quality of the writing but the fact that he treated magic in such a new way that many fantasy fans were instantly attracted to it. I think for other people, like Anne Rice for example, they can do put out anything they want and it is guaranteed to be a hit based on their name alone.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer’s block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?

Luckily, I’ve never had the problem of writer’s block. I think because I let my ideas build up in my head for so long that once I am focused on my writing I can easily do two to three-thousand words a week (or more).

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

The big showdown between Joseph, Cassandra and John Snow was something I thought up almost 2 years ago (Chapter 17: Battle Royale). Due to my nature though I had to write all the rest of the book first, so it took me a while to get to it. When I wrote the big climax of the book and put into words all I had imagined, it was a tremendous feeling. I also dearly love to write action scenes and this is the biggest one in the book.  I just saw it so clearly in my head, it was like my own personal movie and when it was on the computer screen, I felt proud and I knew then that I had finished the book (one of many drafts) and that I would never quit until it was published.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?  What has been the best component?

So far I really haven’t had any tough criticism since it’s been published though when I think about the most awkward moment I had was when my uncle, who read it quickly, wondered why I went into such description for one of the sex scenes. I like that scene but it made me realize that I would have to be prepared to talk about it with family members, which is probably much harder than just dealing with someone who just didn’t like it.

(I’m sure you meant compliment here rather than component) Soon after it came out I received a review on Amazon and the person said, “I have now read the book twice. That doesn’t happen very often. The vampires world he has envisioned is interesting, the locations are beautiful, and the pacing is great.” This warmed my heart and made me feel free great =) It’s so rarely that I’ve even read a book twice, so this was an incredible compliment that meant the world to me, I hope this person will be at the local convention next year so I can thank him or her in person.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I enjoy a drink of red wine or beer (sometimes two 😉 in the evening. I also find television and music to be quite relaxing. If it is nice out a walk by the river also does me wonders.

Have you ever read a book more than once?

I can only think of one time (there are plenty of books I love; I just do not re-read them since I’m such a slow reader). I read “The Hobbit” once in high school and then again, for a university course, such a wonderful book, I cannot wait for the movies!

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?

Speaking of Lord of the Rings, yes I think “The Two Towers” was an excellent movie. I much preferred it to the book (where I found the first half very slow).

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/ paperback/ hardcover)?

I am currently reading “Holding Back the Day” by Jamie Wasserman (a fellow Penumbra author). It is in ebook format, though I have several paperbacks waiting to read as well.

Are there any new Authors that have seized your interest and why?

An internet friend, Natasha Larry, has a series called Darwin’s Children that I really enjoy. It has a fascinating (and unique) idea that people are just starting to wake up in a sense and see what the world is really like. In this case meaning that there are those who have moved up the evolutionary scale and have developed super-human powers (the world also has vampires, fairies and ghosts among other creatures). She also does great action scenes and has created some wonderful characters therein. I also love how she shows her characters as not just black and white but also is not afraid to show pure evil and have it dealt with accordingly.

Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?

Joseph receives oral sex from Cassandra early in the book, (I discussed this briefly above). While I like the scene I did not see how it could lead some embarrassing talks for me and I will admit that my esteemed editor did suggest it was a little gratuitous, she was probably right. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you love to write stick with it, ignore anyone who says it is too hard or that you will never be published. Develop a thick sk
in and do not take rejection personally, if you don’t give up you will succeed.

What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?

Luckily I kept the message in FB “perseverance rewards talent” JS Cook (another Newfoundland author) told me that over a year ago, and I took it to heart, she gave me lots of great advice and encouragement. I hope someday to thank her in person.

Do you write under a pen name?

Nope, Charles O’Keefe is my real name.

What are your pet peeves?

I dearly hate traffic, crowds, winter, construction and stupid/ignorant people. Someone not doing what they said they would do also bothers me a great deal.

Cats or dogs?

Cats for sure, I have two of them.

White wine or red?

Red, white wine is a bitter, horrible thing I try never to imbibe.

Coffee or tea?

Neither, I generally do not like any hot liquids. If you are going to drink something it should either taste good, be refreshing or get you drunk (or hopefully all three!).

Favourite food?

Oranges, (only clementine or tangerine though, I have to able to peel them with my fingers), I usually have 10-15 a week.

Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Chocolate but I rarely eat ice cream (I try to avoid all dairy foods).

What are 4 things you never leave home without?

A knife, hand sanitizer, my cell phone and my keys.

Laptop or desktop for writing?

Laptop, you cannot beat the portability.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

My mind works best in the morning. For as long as I am in this house the kitchen table so that I can look out the window when I am taking a break.

If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?

You did not say living or dead so I assume they can be dead. Ernest Hemmingway, Jesus Christ (not because I’m religious, he just sounded fascinating) and William Shanter (always a personal hero of mine).

One of your favourite quotes –

“Of all the things I’ve lost I miss my mind the most”

List 3 of your all time favourite books?

  • The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • 1984 – George Orwell

List 3 of your all time favourite movies?

Braveheart

Return of the King

Pulp Fiction

An actor you have a crush on –

Charlize Theron

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?

The Avengers was an excellent movie, I have seen it twice and would highly recommend.

My name is Charles O’Keefe and I live in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, where I work as an inventory manager. I am married, with two fury feline ‘children.’ I am an animal-rights proponent and vegetarian who believes in helping to save and preserve the beauty and resources of planet Earth. I enjoy lots of hobbies like walking, Pilates, writing, reading, movies, gaming, television, poker – and, of course, vampires (not the sparkly kind!).

It took me over 2 years to get my first novel published but it was worth it! I plan to make "The Newfoundland Vampire" into a series of at least 3 books but less advertising. More about me: I would also describe myself as Agnostic. I have a BA in English along with Masters in education which provided me with a brief teaching career. I am huge music lover and I go to as many concerts/plays/shows as I can afford. I am also an amateur piano player and have recently started to do a little acting. If you want to connect I love to "meet" new people.

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3 comments

    • Maria D on June 29th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Good interview! The Newfoundland Vampire sounds like an interesting book – good cover and lol about your editors advice about that one scene. Good luck to Charles on his new and upcoming releases! I like reading series books best because you really get to know the characters. And yes, we do have to think about who will be affected by our decisions – it’s just harder to realize that when you are young:)

  1. Nice interview, you guys. The book sounds awesome too.

  2. Hi Aine 🙂

    Thanks so much for the interview! The questions were great and I really enjoyed answering them.

    Maria, thanks! I hope you will check out my book. Please check out my website to get more info. And yes it is harder when you’re young to think about the consequences of your actions, even now (I’m 36) it’s tough to not say things you don’t regret sometimes.

    Melissa, thank you 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the interview, feel free to contact me if you’d like more info about my book: thenlvampire@gmail.com

    Charles

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