Sue Dent - Vampire Novelist

Mississippi author Sue Dent made her fiction debut with the werewolf/vampire novel NEVER CEESE in 2006.  Since its release, NEVER CEESE has been short-listed for a Bram Stoker Award in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel and was voted book club choice for the month of April 2007 at the ACFW (American Christian Writers Association).  The novel's sequel, FOREVER RICHARD, was published January 2009, boasting a book blurb from The British Fantasy Society.  These novels would be a great addition to the personal budget of books for any werewolf/vampire reader. Here's a chance to get to know the hardworking, award-winning writer.

VF: Previous to your novels, your career consisted of selling computers, teaching computer classes, and working as a technical specialist for the Mississippi Department of Natural Resources.  Was the desire to write fiction with you all along, or is it a calling you discovered in more recent years?


SD: I've learned that I'm a creative soul. For most of my young life, I pursued art. Fine Art. I didn't ever feel I was as good as others at it but that really isn't what art is about. I went into college thinking I'd keep on with my art but didn't want to use that to "make a living." I changed my major to computers. Creative itches have a way of overwhelming a person though, and writing became my mainstay. I'd jot down scenes from stories, start stories, end stories--this helped me stay sane. I suppose I always thought I might publish one day but the process seemed too complicated and I didn't have the time to figure it all out. BTW, I still haven't figured it all out.   

VF: How did you become interested in werewolves and vampires?


SD: How does one not? I've always loved vampire and werewolf lore, my first encounter with both probably being that wonderful daytime drama, DARK SHADOWS. Barnabus, Barnabus, Barnabus. Quinton too held my interest of course, but ah, Barnabus. Thank you, Mom, for allowing us to watch a few episodes, although recalling the headless corpse walking around and its head in the case did keep me up on some nights. LOL  


VF: Tell us a little about each of your books.

SD: NEVER CEESE centers around a werewolf who seeks to have her curse lifted. The daughter of missionaries, she knows what it takes to claim her salvation (according to the faith her family follows) and understands that she can't acknowledge what she must while cursed. She is summonsed to an old English castle by an elderly friend who suggests that she work with a vampire who wanted the same thing at one time. 


FOREVER RICHARD picks up where Never Ceese left off. The reason for a series is because I couldn't finish NEVER CEESE in a word count that small publishers might actually look at. My professional editor, Arlene W. Robinson, helped me figure this out. Thank you so much, Arlene. I absolutely couldn't have done it without you. There's even more werewolf storyline in FOREVER RICHARD because so many readers asked for it ("so many readers" number wise, translates to three or four so don't read too much into that. LOL) 

VF: You stated on your blog, http://www.suedent.blogspot.com, that werewolves play a larger role than vampires in your novels, but the current vampire craze keeps bringing your vampires to the forefront.  What do you make of the vampire madness?  And what's it like to be an author in the middle of the craze?

SD: I don't think the current craze brings the vampires to the forefront. I think the constant craze does. Werewolves, I think, just need a little boost with a good story that brings out the same kind of allure many see in vampires. They'll have to stand on their own though--at least that's my opinion.


The vampire madness is simply reflective of society today more than anything else. At this point a lot of readers are discounting good vampire stories simply because they're about vampires. Can't blame them I guess, but bigger publishers are to blame IMO. God help us all if something starts selling well and they get wind of it. I can imagine J.K. Rowling is still sitting back thinking, "What in the world happened?" Of course, I'm sure she didn't think about it long, but still. (As a writer, I don't feel qualified to speak her name. But I did, so there. ;) )


NEVER CEESE actually came out before TWILIGHT, without the wonderful benefit of being force fed to everyone to make sure the target audience got their hands on it. To describe what it's like to be in the middle of the craze would be like describing what it's like to be in the middle of a hurricane. If you didn't get out beforehand, you simply baton down the hatches and try to survive. Trust me. I'll survive.  

VF: NEVER CEESE and FOREVER RICHARD have drawn interest from readers of the Christian market.  How does spirituality play a role in your books?


SD: More specifically the CBA Christian market, which here in the US represents a market that caters to conservative evangelicals only. The bigger market of Christian readers is actually still in the general market and always has been. It was a jaw dropping surprise to me when reviews started coming in from these market readers. Affiliated publishers won't even publish stories about the occult, vampires and werewolves of lore (CBA-affiliated publishers will create their own version of vampires, however, to work that craze element), Halloween, and so many other things. I learned it was the slight redemption theme in my book that drew these readers in. Like I said, it was a huge surprise. 


As far as how spirituality plays a role in my books, I suppose it drives everything about me. I'd never write a story to tromp on my personal beliefs but neither will my work ever be targeted. I write to write. I might've easily written about a werewolf or a vampire who was Buddhist, but I don't know a lot about Buddhism. I'd have to do quite a bit of research.

VF: You're a tireless self promoter who seems to enjoy getting out and personally selling books.  What advice do you have for other authors who don't know where to start when it comes to promoting their work?

SD: Get used to being a tireless self promoter. But more importantly, I SAID more importantly, make sure you have something worth promoting. That's where you start, folks. And be prepared to stay a tireless self promoter for a very long time. If you don't think that's part of the publishing game, then you're sadly mistaken. I can't tell you how many authors who are huge now (meaning making money hand over fist) have said upon having their third or fourth book finally making the difference in sales, "Hey, what's the deal? I've been at this for five years now. Where was everybody five years ago?" They didn't just wake up and were successful. I hope I can say that myself one day, but I may very well die a tireless self promoter. Good thing I like the job. ;)

VF: Will there be more werewolf/vampire books in your future?


SD: I don't see how there can't be. This is looking like it will turn into a series and these characters have a lot of story left in them. I'd love to do a few stand-alone vampire and werewolf books, as well. I've got several other speculative manuscripts already in the works. My current publisher, The Writers' Cafe Press, has me under contract for five more books, but that isn't an exclusive contract, folks, so there's no telling what could happen. 


VF: Thanks so much for joining us…and for planning to make Vampire Fest a part of your fall schedule. 

To learn more about Sue Dent, and to purchase autographed copies of NEVER CEESE and FOREVER RICHARD, please visit http://www.suedent.blogspot.com.

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