Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interview with the author of The Division of the Damned Richard Rhys Jones The Division of the Damned by Richard Rhys Jones

What inspired you to become an author?

It would be wrong for me to say that I was, "inspired" to be an author. I have always written, since my school days. It was just there, this need to put things down on paper. In school, English language was easily my best subject because I enjoyed it so much.
The compulsion to write fell away when I joined the army, though I did still write funny little ditties about my comrades in arms. However, when I left the forces it returned with a vengeance. I started with poems and song lyrics, then a couple of very short stories, but the step up to writing a full length novel came when I bought my first computer.
I had no excuse now, I had the means to research, write and collate everything in one place at my fingertips, so I set to it. The Division of the Damned is the end result of that process.

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

Actually, a friend of mine came up with it. I had originally decided to call it, "SS Division Vampyr" and was very happy with the title until the same guy appeared at my house with a book entitled, "Operation Vampyr".

I was gutted, the title was born out of the development of the story and to me it was ingrained in the very fabric of my tome. Then Dixie, (my mate) comes along and nonchalantly breaks my world.

Anyway, picking myself up I decided to ask my friends if anyone had an idea for a new title as it was almost as if I had writer's block on the issue! The ideas trickled in and I wasn't really happy with any of them, in fact I was contemplating just going ahead with the original name and to hell with it. Then the same guy who had crushed my idea stepped up with, "The Division of the Damned".

A title was born and a friend was forgiven...

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

Before writing but while laying the plot down.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

Oh dear, this could take some time...

I read for my life, seriously. If I haven't a book to hand I'm lost. Books that have influenced my life sounds heavy, but Mario Puzo's, "The Godfather" changed my appreciation of my family as a twelve year old. A violent, course book that I shouldn't have read at that age, and yet it actually instilled in me a healthy appreciation of what a family means.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker was so important to me that I've read it three times.
Michael Crichton's, "Jurassic Park" showed me the value of good research; how an outlandish idea can be backed up and made to look even possible by the use of little known facts. "Division" is so crammed with information I had to leave a lot out to stop it reading like a school book.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Either Ken Follet or Bernard Cornwall.

Both writers wrap you up in their characters so that you HAVE to know what happens to them. Facts to back up a story are good, but without the human interest, the need to have the reader care for the characters, they're nothing.

Allen Guthrie, an acquisition editor for Point Blank Press and someone who I have never actually read, once put down a piece called, "Hunting down the Pleonasms". This guy's list is pinned on my wall. If you don't know it, look it up on Google, it really is the definitive "quick" guide to writing a good story.

What book are you reading now?

"The SS. A new history" by Adrian Weale. Very well written, very factual and for a Third Reich buff like myself, a must read.

What books are in your to read pile?

Zinnman by Robert Craven and "SHARC" by Paul Rudd. They're both friends of mine so it's a must that I read their work A.S.A.P.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I have a collection of four short stories called "An age of Beasts", (working title, subject to change). They're all based around ancient Greek and Roman legends but they've been changed to give them a horror angle. For example, "The Three Hundred Spartans" are in my book the "The Vampires of Sparta". "The Wooden Horse of Troy" is a werewolf story and becomes, "The Wooden Wolf of Troy". There's also one called "The Bloody Ides of March" about Caesar being a vampire and only Brutus knows, and the story I'm working on right now is about Spartacus and his cannibal army decimating Italy. I've had a tentative nod from Taylor Street, we'll have to see if that crystallizes into something definite. Fingers crossed, eh?

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Of course, gladly. The main thread of the book is that Himmler sends a squad of SS to Transylvania to make a pact with a vampire count. The Nazis have a serum that enables the Count's vampires to face daylight with out burning to a crisp. In return the Count must provide a vampire division that will fight for the Third Reich. This is the scene where they try the serum for the first time and it all goes horribly, horribly wrong.

"We’ll soon find out Muschi," Rohleder answered him, "the sun’s up.”

     He was right. The shadows behind the wall were slowly draining away as the sun’s rays solidly advanced on the test subject. Though still decked in shade, it radiated terror like a lighthouse beacon and despite the fact it was a vampire, the squad now found a waxing pity for it. Rooted to the spot, it pathetically held up its arms to protect itself from the dazzle.

     Reflected off the snow the light was blinding and like a cleansing sword, it swathed its brilliant curtain into the square. With almost a glint it struck the vampire’s head and moved down its face and tunic. They all held their breath as the night was beaten back. No one knew what would happen. Finally, it was completely bathed in the brilliant dawn of the winter daybreak. They still held their breath as it slowly let its arms drop and turned to look at them.

Any compassion they may have felt for it now fell like a cannonball as it turned and, like a gloating python, smiled at them. All inwardly shied away in horror from that reptilian sneer. It looked around to find Rasch and deliberately nodded its head to him.

     Von Struck looked on as it opened its arms to greet the now fully formed sun.
"My God, what have you done Rasch?” Von Struck whispered to himself.

     The Doctor was ecstatic. "Look Von Struck. Look at him. I’ve done it, I’ve done..." but his words fell dead in his throat. Von Struck looked at Rasch who had suddenly stopped raving. His face had dropped and he stood there gaping, half-pointing at the Count’s man.

     The tunic of the vampire was smoldering, but from the inside. The vampire stood motionless looking at his hands that were turning black and starting to peel. Blisters appeared on its face and it threw back its head to scream. Rasch flinched at the unholy shriek it let loose. It was the scream of rage and agony, of panic and confusion. Rasch turned white and sprayed vomit onto his highly polished boots. The men lined up against the wall stood numb and silent at the sight of the immolation. Although they were used to death in all its many forms, they were still traumatized by what had happened.

     Its once white head was now burnt black and then it burst into flame. It made no sound or movement after the first scream and stood immobile and burning like a Celtic Wickerman. Its eyes burst with an audible pop as slowly it started to crumble and break up. The legs snapped first and as it hit the ground, the charred and still burning head came off. The light given off from the fire was now so intense it was impossible to discern what was burning.

Rasch chanted to himself, "Oh my God, oh my God" over and over again.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

The cover was designed by my very good friend Chris Salmen, a tattooist by day, graphic designer by night. He really is a talented guy and has very good rates, (free for friends).

He can be contacted at Chris is a very, very busy man though, please be patient if he doesn't answer straight away.

Thank you for having me here Roxanne, and thank you to your readers for reading my drivel to the end.

Richard Rhys Jones, (Reggie to his friends).

Division of The Damned
By Richard Rhys Jones

Publisher: Taylor Street Publishing

Date of Publication: April 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475155433

Number of pages:298
Word Count: 90.000

Cover Artist: Chris Salmen

Blurb/Book Description:

It was a brilliant plan to win the war.

What if the Third Reich could own the night?

What if they had a Division of Vampires?

And if those Vampires didn't stop?

If they had plans to conquer the whole world?

Even Heinrich Himmler hadn't thought of that. But in Transylvania someone had. And on the Winter Solstice of 1944, the world would be at their mercy.

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Roxanne Rhoads said...

Thank you for sharing, can't wait to read Division. I think it's on it's way to becoming a new classic.

R.R.Jones said...

Hi Roxanne and thanks, again, lol.
That would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.