It is sometimes said that every person has at least one book in them. Café Wednesday seeks to highlight the special few who know just how much typing is involved in getting that damn book out there.
Last week, I interviewed MCM, author of way too many things to mention.
This week it’s the turn of Seth Gray, the genius behind the sexy vampire serial Dead Boyfriend.
At a mere 20, Seth is one of the younger serial authors out there (younger than my young self, sniff!), but don’t let his age fool you. This guy’s one to watch!
Now, on to the interview.
AMH: Tell us a bit about yourself. When and why did you begin writing?
SG: The first thing I remember writing was a knock-off of Sleeping Beauty on my mom’s old typewriter when I was small. We didn’t have our own computer for a long time, so that’s all there was. As for why I started, I’m not sure that’s something I could tell you. I had stories to tell, and found a way to tell them. There was also something about a dragon and a frog, but I don’t clearly recall that one.
AMH: There’s been a recent surge in popularity of vampire literature. What sets your serial apart?
SG: The most obvious thing would be my serial revolves around gay characters, and my main human character isn’t brain damaged or lacking basic observational skills. I got tired of the useless human stereotype, so I made mine actually good at what he does, hunting vampires. Actually one of my regrets about the series is that we see so little of Regan on the job—a gay man actually competent in his chosen field is a void desperately needing to be filled. But the main thrust of Dead Boyfriend is his relationship with Ira, so I had to start as close to the beginning of it as possible, which means not much hunting for our favorite blond vampire hunter.
I also was interested in using Dead Boyfriend to avoid a lot of vampire clichés, such as the tortured lover or gleeful monster. Ira is neither of those things, thank god. I’m all for vampires being scary again, but what makes monsters the scariest is when they are just like us.
AMH: You mention wanting to avoid vampire clichés. So where do your ideas come from? Is much of your serial inspired by real life events?
SG: That would be a definite no to the real-life inspiration. I actually got the idea for Dead Boyfriend by reading something else and thinking “I can do this so much better.” It’s since become its own animal entirely, and I think the world I’ve crafted for it is different than anything I’ve ever read, and certainly than anything I’ve ever written.
They say you should write the kinds of things you want to read, and that’s what I try to do, and what I’d like to see more of—genre stories that don’t treat their readers like morons. I guess that’s where most of my ideas come from, by asking myself, “If I was doing this, how would I do it differently?”
AMH: That difference is probably what makes Dead Boyfriend so addictive. Speaking of, I asked readers to send in questions. Irk said: “Describe the worst thing Hollywood would do to your story if you became a sellout. Feel free to include George Lucas in this.”
SG: Hmm…well, off the the top of my head, I imagine they’d do a Brokeback Vampire treatment. I.e., they’d play up the Ira/Zo angle, and Regan would be put more in the “other woman” type category. Since the whole point, well not the whole point, of Dead Boyfriend is to further a gay romance, that would be the worst thing I could see happening.
You know, it’s funny, one of my friends asked me about this just recently, and I told her I’d never sign anything that didn’t give me absolute veto power over any of the changes they would want to make. Her response was that I would never sign anything…
AMH: Do you want to be signed, and do you think you’ll keep writing free online serials even if you don’t? The world would be a sadder place without Dead Boyfriend, after all!
SG: Aw, thank you so much!
Honestly? I don’t know. I go back and forth. One thing I do know is that I’m becoming desperately tired of being poor! But then, very few authors make enough to live off of just writing, so I might as well keep doing what I’m doing without all the interference of a big house. I might as well do what I like to do because in all likelihood I won’t reach that many people anyway. It sounds kind of negative, but really it’s quite empowering.
If I was signed there might be whole mess of legal issues that would make it impossible to write Dead Boyfriend anyway, so that’s always something to think about. I think I’d rather just keep on keeping on, and hope my audience grows as the story does. And then, who knows?
AMH: Changing subject, I’d like to talk about your website. You’ve just recently moved from Livejournal to Digital Novelists. What prompted this move, and would you recommend DN to other authors?
SG: I love LiveJournal! In my humble opinion it is so much better than any blogging platform I’ve yet come across. It’s leaps and abounds ahead of MySpace (with less sexual spammers to boot), and much more attractive than Facebook. The built-in community of LJ, and the large presence of writers and fangirls/boys found there, made me think that putting my serial up there first would be a good way to get an audience as I was starting out.
But it was only ever a starting point. There are certain things you just can’t do with LJ, and certain freedoms they just don’t allow. One of those things is a unique domain name. It’s imperative to the webfiction platform to move beyond the perception of an online “vanity press,” to make that leap that makes us seem like a professionals with a legit business operation. That’s simply impossible to do with a URL like “YourStory.SomewhereElse.com”.
Digital Novelists solves that problem, especially for those of us that only know so much about how to set up a website. It’s a service set up by MeiLin Miranda, an internet writer superstar in her own right, that handles all the arcane, esoteric stuff associated with getting a page up online.
I actually was unsure about using the service at first as I don’t perceive myself to be a novelist, digital or otherwise. What I’m writing is not a novel, and doesn’t follow the patterns of one. I am writing a web serial, which I believe is not a different genre of the same thing, but a separate form of storytelling. It’s rather like a movie and a television show. Both are visual media with live actors, but each has different storytelling constraints. Or maybe it’s even as different as live theater and movies, with the much more active part the reader plays.
But for the most part, yes. I would recommend the service to those that are serious about getting their work out there. There is a learning curve, and I still haven’t poked around everything in the admin station, but MeiLin has been absolutely fantastic about helping me with anything and everything I asked her about.
AMH: So you’re all set to go with your new website. Without giving too much away, what can readers expect from future updates?
SG: Pretty soon Regan will be sailing into uncharted territory, both within and without. There are things coming that will test everything that Regan believes about himself, everything that makes him who he is as a person.
And his heart will yet be broken.
AMH: You can’t just leave us like that! Any last words?
SG: Thank you so much for this little interview, it was a lot of fun. Any readers that haven’t tried out Dead Boyfriend, come on by.
Café Wednesday returns next week, and you’ll never guess who our next guest will be….