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Thursday, November 29, 2012

INTERVIEW with Wayne Mallows (author of Whitechapel Road)

Joining us today is Wayne Mallows, author of Whitechapel Road (out now) and Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (coming soon). Before we get into things, let's take a quick look at the first of his Vampyre Tales:

Whitechapel Road is the story of Aremis, a young man living out his simple existence in the South of England in the 1870's, when he is suddenly and viciously attacked and left for dead. After being nursed back to health by his sister, the terrifying truth begins to unfold that he is changing into something most terrifying. Forced to travel to London in search of answers, he starts to realize that his life is forever altered and struggles with what his future will entail. Caught up in a game of deadly cat-and-mouse with a beautiful, but evil, woman, his journey will find him at the center of the most horrific string of murders in London's history

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Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Wayne. For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet had a chance to give Whitechapel Road a read, please tell us a little about yourself.

A: Oh man, that is a tall order for a short space only that I’ve done so many things in my life, none of them particularly amazing, but very much time consuming jut the same. I’ve always been into Halloween and my early years were shaped by TV shows such as The Munsters, The Addams Family and The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.  I stopped going out “trick or treating” at about age ten to, instead, converting my parents home into a haunted house, much to my father’s dismay. These displays became more and more elaborate the older a got, until I had my own house where I would have 20 plus actors and endless props to create a truly horrifying experience.

Back in those days there was no internet or web sites to buy such equipment from so everything I had required my designing and building it from the ground up. Many of the moving creations often blowing up in the garage or backyard before finally being perfected.

After the creating of haunted houses for my own fun, I began working at a number of theme parks as both an actor as an advisor on how to create a scary space for a paying audience. Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto and Skreamers in Ottawa being the latest.

I currently live in Niagara Falls in a Haunted Gothic Revival home built in 1872 and own two Cadillac funeral coaches.


Q: The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

A: I began writing in public school, specifically in grade 8. Sadly, though, being a C average student and my writing, apparently being above my calibre, my English teacher felt that my writing was the work of someone else or that I had copied it from somewhere. This was the same case when I reached high school. It was at that point, thoroughly discouraged, that I gave up writing and didn’t go back to it until I was 37 years old. It was then that I started with a few personal short stories before settling in to create a realistic vampyre story.

Q: Given its rather diverse evolution (or, perhaps, dilution) over the past decade, what was it that compelled you to contribute fresh blood to the vampire genre?

A:  I have always loved the vampyre character but wanted to make it more realistic, more believable. I wanted to create a tale that had within it a feeling that this person, or persons, could be your neighbor and you’d never know. Because essentially the Hollywood vampyre is a fictional creation, the creator of a vampyre story, whether on screen of page, can pretty much do what they like with it. There are no governing factors that have to be followed. They can fly, live forever, turn to mist or become other creatures, the combinations are limitless. The danger in that is the creature itself can become unbelievable, more of a fantasy than something that could have actually existed.

Q: Depending on the author, it can be coming up with a title, that first paragraph, the cover blurb, or something else - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

A: Definitely the title, at least that was the case in Whitechapel Road.  In Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, the second book in the series, I actually wrote the ending to the story right on the heels of Whitechapel Road. It was such a powerful thought that came to mind that I wrote it all down and in the end, I really didn’t alter it all that much from the original creation.

Again, with book three I struggled with the title, but it came more quickly than did the first two, so perhaps I’m getting the hang of it.

Q: Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

A: Absolutely, in fact, the main female vampyre character in Whitechapel Road, a character named Mary, was exactly like that. Early on in writing Whitechapel Road I was having some issues with her character, something that doesn’t often happen to me. I was sitting in my office trying to suss out what the problem might be and quite literally in my mind I heard her say, “Because I’m not like that, stop making me so simple!”

From that moment, I scrapped her whole character and rebuilt her from the ground up. Once I had completed that task, her character flowed so well, it practically wrote itself.

Q: Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Maybe a line or two that sticks in your head and reminds you of why writing is important to you?

A: Oh my, yes, so many in fact. Again I have to say most of what I liked from the things I wrote is the dialog that comes from the characters themselves more so than my words or descriptions within the book.

Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?

A: I had a reader write to me and beg me to tell her what was going to happen in the next chapter because she was so in love with this particular character that she told me if this individual died she wouldn’t be able to deal with it. That was pretty touching, that someone could loves someone I created so much. I was really flattered.

Q: Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?

A: Sadly, I wasn’t much of reader. I found that I couldn’t easily follow the story or get into what was taking place. I guess you could say, that I didn’t feel like I was there in the story.

Q: If we can turn our attention away from the page, your literary career was really launched by your seasonal haunted house productions. Can you tell us a bit about Scream Works/Scareyman Productions and what you’ve been up to lately?

A: Scream Works and Scareyman Productions were all part of the haunted house creations. Currently I do not build any such attractions, life is just too busy. I do however give seminars and coach others on how to build and act for a haunted attraction.

Q: You’re also very active in the ‘real’ haunted house scene, taking part in paranormal investigations across Southern Ontario. I have my favourites from the area, going back to my days managing the Haunted Ontario website, but what real-life haunting sticks with you the most - either for the experience, or for the story behind it?

A: I’ve had so many amazing experiences in this genre, I feel very fortunate to have seen, felt and heard some pretty compelling things. Being pushed whilst in a basement has to be the most intense and unpleasant experience in my investigating life. It was more than a push, but the sound, a growl of sorts that was followed up by an odor so foul I could actually taste it more than smell it.

Unfortunately this was at a private residence and I cannot say much more than that on the topic.

Living in my own haunted home gives me ample opportunity to have an experience or two.  I have seen full apparitions move though different rooms of the house. Smells of cigar smoke and floral perfumes have been smelt in rooms and on the veranda. Sounds of talking in rooms where no one is in as well as walking on the second floor when no one is up there.

Q: To get back to the Vampyre Tales, assuming you had total creative control over the production, who would you cast as the leading roles, were the series to make its way to the screen?

A: Hahahaha, oh man, I get that question so often and it’s so out of my realm of knowledge. I really do not follow film in the sense of knowing actors and directors etc. That having been said I’ve tried to pay better attention to that since I get asked about it quite a bit. So far, the best I could come up with was that of Natalie Portman to play the part of Mary. Beyond that, I really have no clue as to who could play Aremis, the main male vampyre character. If Johnny Depp was a little younger he’d have my vote in a heartbeat. Already having played in the movie From Hell, Mr. Depp is already quite familiar with wandering about the set of Whitechapel and would undoubtedly do a superb job of being my Aremis.

Q: Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work, or are you more focussed on the entertainment value of a good story?

A: Um that’s a bit tough, is there a secret message, mmmm, possibly. I mean, I found doing the research on Jack the Ripper to be most fascinating and at the same time I found more than enough reasonable doubt to cast the one responsible for those murders in 1888 as being a female over that of a male. Perhaps if, beyond a good vampyre story, the readers could take away a different perspective on those killings, then maybe there could be something a little more intriguing for the reader within those pages.

Q: Finally, I know Book II (Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary) has seen some production delays, so when do you expect it to be released . . . and then what’s next for Wayne Mallows?

A: There has been some serious delays in getting Mary, Mary Quite Contrary out there and I’m still hoping before the end of the year. There will be four books in the vampyre tale series, at least that is the plan at the moment. What’s after that, well I’d like to see them made into audio books, that will be a personal goal of mine. I would also like to see the series made into a film or a TV series as well, but that’s sometime down the road. I have to still write the last two, which are only in note form as I write to you this evening.

Thanks again for joining us, Wayne!

Most welcome, and the pleasure is mine.

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For more on Wayne Mallows and his Vampyre Tales, check out his website at http://waynemallows.com/. You can also follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/waynemallows, or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WayneMallows.

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