Everyone has heard of vampires. Everyone knows that there are vampire hunters. But what you don’t know is that Gidion is one kick-butt vampire hunter. Here’s what Gidion has to deal with in his first book
Hunting vampires is a Keep family tradition. Dad quit the business over a decade ago when Mom was killed, so Grandpa has been teaching Gidion in secret to take up the hunt. As Gidion closes in on the local coven, he discovers their plans to kill one of his teachers and a girl from another school. One of his best friends might be the key to finding the vampires’ lair… if he can be trusted.
As a Richmond-bound author, Bill Blume is a member of James River Writers and hosts a local writing group at the Urban Farmhouse in Midlothian every Thursday from 6-8 pm. I’m happy to say I am part of that group and have met some amazing people there.
Bill, what inspired you to write your first book? I was about 40,000 words into another manuscript, and everything was working for me. One (BIG) problem: my relationship with that story was toxic. It tapped into a lot of bad things in my life at that time. I even smashed a wooden sword against a tree in my anger at one point. My wife helped me through that time with one question: “What is it you really want to write?” I’d always known the answer. I wanted to write the best damn vampire hunter novel anyone had ever read. That book was Gidion’s Hunt.
It sounds like you already knew what you wanted. How long have you been writing? I got the urge to write back in high school, so that makes it a lot longer than I probably should admit (it’s more than a quarter century). My biggest struggle as a writer in those early days was born from trying to write a novel before I’d really done much reading. Except for comic books, I was a terrible reader until my senior year in high school.
Are you an outliner or pantser? I’m more pantser than outliner, but I’m more of a hybrid. I usually know a few key moments I’m writing to in the book, but I let my characters lead me there naturally. If the characters make it clear they need to go a different plot point than I originally intended, I’m willing to change it. For my second book, Gidion’s Blood, I was forced to outline the first half of the book, though. It’s only told from Gidion’s point of view, so I needed to create a timeline of what would be happening so Gidion would also be reacting to the actions of the vampires hunting him instead of the vampires simply responding to what Gidion was doing. That added a lot more tension to the story.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? It varies a lot for me, but both of the first two books in the Gidion Keep, Vampire Hunter series were written over the course of a little more than a year. That’s somewhat deceptive, though. A lot of that time included periods where I wasn’t able to write at all. For the second book, I even lost a month, because I’d broken one of the fingers in my left hand.
It varies for me too. Sometimes you get a story that just won’t leave you alone and you can write on it for hours on end, then there are the others. Lol. Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? Writer’s Block can come from different places. Sometimes it’s a scene where you’re pushing your characters into doing something that’s wrong for them. When that happens, try to look back and figure out what other paths your characters might take. Odds favor you’ve recently taken a wrong turn in your manuscript. I actually wrote a goofy set of blog posts about that. Just don’t panic. Sometimes the answer is much simpler than you might think. (Blog Posts: https://billblume.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/that-manuscript-is-wrong-for-you/, https://billblume.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/dont-be-a-taylor-swift-writer/ )
What are your hobbies aside from writing? I’m addicted to fantasy football, so much so that it’s tough to write during football season. A co-worker got me hooked on it back in 2009. I now run several leagues, and my favorite is a league with comic book themed teams. There are two divisions, one for Marvel Comics and the other for DC Comics. My son has even owned a team in that league for several years; he takes great pride in beating me when he does. I only play for pride, though. Playing or money would be too stressful.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? I want to visit Paris. While the food would be fun, my real reason is to visit the Paris Catacombs. There’s a whole culture down there, and I’m determined to take Gidion Keep there in one of his future adventures, but that’s a long ways off.
I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. France is so mesmerizing. So, if I randomly gave you an island, what would you name it? And who would live there with you? I would name the island Iridia. The name comes from a kingdom my wife and I created for a fantasy novel that we wrote together (I’m hoping it will eventually get published). My wife loves beaches, so naturally, I want her there. Our kids would get to visit. The list of friends I’d let come there would be too long to write here.
Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten. The weirdest thing? I might be blocking the memory of something, but the first thing that comes to mind is pork cheeks. They are SOOOOOO good! One of my favorite restaurants in Richmond made them, and they were tender and delicious, like little balls of beef stew without the veggies. Some people might consider octopus weirder (I love octopus!), but I think it’s a toss-up.
I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try those. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? Just one?! GAH! I don’t think I can answer that. That’s like trying to pick a favorite child. No way. I suspect the answer would be Gidion Keep, but that feels a bit like a copout. Besides, I already have two teenage children to deal with. A third would be too much.
Do you have any advice for other writers? The most important thing is to get your butt in the chair and get it done. It’s too easy to prioritize your writing as something less than important in your life, but sometimes your time to write needs to get the top spot. I’ve neglected my wife and kids, taken time off from work to write instead of going on vacation. I’m blessed with a family that understands why I do it, and they even encourage me to get out and write sometimes. If I don’t get to write, I can turn surly. They’d rather I go write and come back more pleasant.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? I’m in the middle of two projects. I’m waiting to hear back from my beta readers on a non-Gidion Keep, young adult novel that is an epic fantasy reimagining of Red Badge of Courage. While I loved that book in high school, so many others hate it. That divisiveness makes it perfect for a reimagining. While I await my beta readers’ responses, I’m doing research for another young adult urban fantasy that will be set here in Richmond, but this won’t be a Gidion Keep novel. All I’ll say about that for now is that my research is focusing on schizophrenia.