Q & A With Tara Moss
Can you tell our readers what The Blood Countess is about?
The Blood Countess begins when my new heroine Pandora English arrives in New York to live with her great-aunt, whom she has never met. She soon finds that her great-aunt is unnaturally youthful and never seen without her black widow’s veil, and most surprisingly she lives in a strange, haunted mansion in a mist-wreathed suburb of Manhattan that doesn’t appear on maps. Things are not what they seem, to say the least, and Pandora soon discovers that her late parents kept a big secret from her.
The vampire genre is very popular right now – what makes your vampire book different and stand out from the rest?
The Blood Countess is not a ‘vampire book’, but rather a first installment in a paranormal series featuring all kinds of mythical and ancient figures and monsters. I have drawn on my love of ancient Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythology and early folklore and supernatural beliefs for this series, and set those ideas in a contemporary, supernatural New York. In this new series, anything is possible. For this first novel I also drew on the legend of the real life historical figure, Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is known in some circles as the first female serial killer. She was a noblewoman in the 1600s who was convicted of murdering hundreds of her servant girls. Legend has it she bathed in their blood to stay young forever. I tried to imagine what she would be up to now if she had succeeded…
Vampires are popular in fiction at the moment, but really, there has been an interest in the supernatural since pre-historic times, and of course a belief in supernatural forces was once a strongly accepted part of cultures around the globe. Vampiric creatures can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt with the worship of Sekhmet, ‘The Scarlet Lady’ or ‘Blood Lady’, and even the red-skinned Yara-ma-yha-who of Aboriginal folklore. There was a genuine, widespread fear of vampires and revenants (the walking dead) in the middle ages. This monstrous archetype has deep roots in the collective human subconscious in fears of evil, disease, sexual immorality, mind manipulation and the question of immortality and what price might be paid for it. What fascinates me most is the way beliefs about the supernatural used to be an accepted part of everyday life in cultures around the world, and many similar beliefs popped up independent of each other.
Where did Pandora come from?
I always identify with outsiders, and Pandora is in many ways the ultimate outsider. She is an orphan, she was labeled the ‘weird kid’ in her claustrophobic hometown, and she arrives in big city New York without knowing anyone. She is inexperienced, but smart and resilient, and we get to see her grow and grapple with the exciting and fantastical. The very same things that make her different and labeled her the ‘weird kid’ back home are the things that make her special in this new world she finds herself in. She has a unique connection with the spirit world – a connection she is only just beginning to understand. I like writing strong female characters – characters I can relate to.
How many more Pandora adventures can we look forward too?
The second novel, The Spider Goddess, comes out next year, and I imagine there will be at least 6 or more in this series. Pandora has a lot of adventure ahead of her.
What is on your bedside table right now?
I always have a few books on the go, for research and for pleasure. I’m reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Violent Exposure by Katherine Howell (whom I am about to interview for my author show on 13th Street
Congratulations on your pending new arrival – how is your writing world going to change once you become a mother?
I plan to continue writing full time after the birth of our first child. Thankfully, my husband and I are both writers and we work mostly from home, so we will juggle things as best we can as a team.
When you are not writing, what is your favourite thing to do?
I love great conversation, and I love to read. I also love to try new things, like rock climbing or race driving or taking a photography course. Life is too short to live the same day twice.
Which author makes you snort with laughter?
I don’t ‘snort’ terribly often, I’ll admit, but Charlaine Harris really is delightfully fun to read. If you haven’t tried her Sookie Stackhouse series, give it a try. Jeff Lindsay’s darkly funny Dexter books are also very funny.
Apart from your own, which authors novels do you own all of?
I have so many books, I can’t be sure of all the authors I own full up-to-date collections of, but I am confident I own every Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Patricia Cornwell and Charlaine Harris novel, every Edward Gorey illustrated book and every David J Skal and Jean-Paul Sartre book. I also have every Oscar Wilde novel, but that’s easy. He only wrote one full novel – The Picture of Dorian Gray.
If you were most like a character in any of your books, who would it be?
There are aspects of me in many of my characters, particularly my leading ladies Mak and Pandora, but I am not really any of my characters or vice versa.
What’s the next book we will find on our shelves – Pandora or Mak?
The second Pandora English novel, The Spider Goddess will be out next year, and then it will be Mak’s turn. Her sixth novel will be out late 2011 or sometime in 2012. Happy reading… x