Me: I would like to know about your interest in vampires ?
Georgiana: I first got into vampires in my early teens (I’m now 27). I read LJ Smith’s The Secret Circle, which is about witches, and absolutely loved it, so decided to find out what else she’d written. The only other books in my school’s library was the Vampire Diaries, and I really wasn’t sure I’d like it – I didn’t think vampires were really my thing! But I decided to give it a go, and although I’ve since read books that I’d say are technically better, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed reading a book quite so much in my life.
I then went on a bit of a mission to track down similar books, and over the course of the next year or so, read pretty much every vampire book I could find – although this was in about 2001, and there were far fewer options. I didn’t really enjoy any of the others quite as much, although I did love watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Around about that time, I decided that at some point, I would write a vampire book, and I wrote a very brief outline. I then went off the university and forgot all about it. By the time the whole Twilight craze started up and triggered a flood of vampire books, I was pretty much over the genre. I read Twilight itself, but I really didn’t enjoy it. The vampires were just too nice, and fundamentally, too human for my tastes. And then someone lent me the first of Charlaine Harris’ True Blood books. It was a great read and really reignited my interest in vampire books. I was visiting my parents that weekend, so I dug out my old teenage notebook, found the note about the book (which had been lurking at the back of my mind for years) and immediately made a start on finally writing the thing.
There are several reasons I like vampire stories so much. I wrote about that in more detail on my blog here: http://georgianaderwent.com/2013/01/21/why-i-like-vampire-novels-so-much-introduction/
Basically, it’s a combination of the forbidden love, the element of danger, and the history and folklore. There’s something so sexy about a romantic scene featuring a vampire, partly because you know things could go too far at any moment. That said, I’m picky about my vampire books. If they are basically just super-attractive super-powerful humans, I’m not interested. To capture my imagination, they have to do at least some of kill/drink human blood/only be able to come out at night while still retaining some human emotions. I also like to see a really developed mythology.
Me: How did you decide on the setting?
Georgiana: I attended Oxford and absolutely loved it. I started writing Oxford Blood about two years after I graduated, when I was really missing it and wanted to reminisce. That said, I genuinely think it makes a great setting for a novel. Firstly, because it’s such a beautiful place, full of centuries old buildings. Secondly, because it has such strange traditions, lots of which I explore in the book. And finally, it gathers together some of the cleverest young adults in the country, about half of whom are quite rich, and the other half of whom have had to work super hard and defy the odds to get there. It makes them live close together (at my college, at least, everyone had to live within walls for all three years) and puts them under lots of pressure to succeed. It’s a recipe for rivalry, for close friendships, and for romantic tension. All of which combines to practically give you a ready made novel before you even factor in the vampires!
Me: Are some of the characters based on people you knew while you attended Oxford?
Georgiana: The characters who are closest to being directly based on someone are Tom, who has more than a passing similarity to my fiancé, and Adelaide, who is like an exaggerated version of my Mum (for better and for worse). Someone once claimed that first novel are always autobiographical, and while I hope she’s not just a carbon copy, Harriet certainly has a few things in common with me, or at least with me at nineteen.
At the other end of the spectrum, a few very minor characters (usually random Cavaliers and their victims) are named after and broadly based on people I’ve met once or twice.
What I do more often is take different aspects of different people and mix them together to create a character. So Josh, for example, looks like one music student I knew and has the broad personality of another. And there are certain scenes that involve one character, and in reality, something similar happened, but it didn’t involve the person they are based on.
I used to try to hide the fact I’d written these books from university acquaintances in-case anyone took offence, but several people have read them now and love to come up with theories about who is based on who. At least three people claim that George is based on them, which only goes to prove how arrogant some people can be!
Thank you Georgiana for giving a look into what made these books possible!