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Exclusive Interview with Best-Selling Novelist Tanya Huff


Vampire Fest is thrilled to have as our guest Tanya Huff, author of the best-selling Blood books that inspired Lifetime's much-loved vampire series, BLOOD TIES.  Huff hails from Canada and is also known for her short stories and numerous other novel series, such as Keeper's Chronicles, The Smoke Trilogy, and The Confederation Novels.  She recently released her newest urban fantasy novel, THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM.  Huff graciously spent some time chatting with me about her evolution as a writer, BLOOD TIES, and the powerful allure of vampires, including her own highly appealing creation, Henry Fitzroy.


VF: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a professional writer, or was it something you decided after you reached adulthood? 


TH:  I was always a storyteller and I wrote continuously but the arts weren't something that was even on the radar in my family.  Until my generation, we were farmers or factory workers, occasionally construction.   It wasn't until I was in university -- studying forestry as it happens -- that I realized people could actually make a living writing. 


VF: Your Blood books debuted in the early nineties, starting with BLOOD PRICE, and led to Lifetime's popular and still much-loved BLOOD TIES series.  What prompted you to start writing about vampires?  Were you a fan of the genre and/or vampire legends before tackling the undead yourself? 

blood price tanya huff

TH: Back In the '80s I was working at an SF&F bookstore -- Bakka Books in Toronto, currently Bakka-Phoenix.  I'd had three books published, CHILD OF THE GROVE, THE LAST WIZARD, and THE FIRE'S STONE and my partner and I wanted to move out of the city.  So I needed a book that would get me a mortgage.  I'd been noticing that vampire fans were very loyal to their sub-genre and would buy anything in the hope of finding something decent.  I figured if I wrote a good vampire book then they'd be happy and maybe I'd get enough sales to convince a bank that I could be trusted with their money.


And that's exactly what happened.


VF: Every writer of vampire fiction needs to figure out which traits they'll borrow from myths and legends.  For those unfamiliar with your Henry Fitzroy character, what are his particular strengths and weaknesses as a vampire? 


TH:   I essentially kept every traditional trope I could justify.  Opiates can lead to more acute senses and the need for blood is essentially an addiction so Henry's strong and faster and with enhanced sight, smell, and hearing.   He has the whole Prince of Darkness ability to bend minds because primal terror directly effects the response of the hindbrain… okay, in all honestly, he can mostly do that because it's sexy. 


Because very powerful characters have to have equally powerful weakness or they're boring, and because the electromagnetic field of the earth changes when the sun rises, he "sleeps" in the day.  We all know that there's danger in ultra-violet light so Henry just has that ramped an eleven and literally ignites in sunlight.  A stake through the heart will kill him but it'll kill pretty much anyone -  he heals very quickly but all that's required is trauma so massive his heart gives out. 


He has a reflection because I couldn't rationalize a change in physics.  He can't fly because gravity's pretty much a given.  And he doesn't turn into a bat because that's just… well, dumb.  Although having Dracula change into a multitude of bats in BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA at least took care of the conservation of mass problem.


VF: Henry is based upon the real-life son of Henry VIII.  How did you decide to take a historical character from British royalty and turn him into a vampire that eventually shows up in modern-day Toronto, Canada?


TH: I was reading a book on the Tudors and I came across a description of the death of Henry Fitzroy.  He'd been a perfectly healthy seventeen-year-old and then, suddenly, over a very few months, he grew pale and wan and finally died.  Modern forensic pathology suggests it was probably tuberculosis but it certainly sounded like he ran into a vampire to me.  (One of the theories at the time was that he'd been poisoned by Anne Boleyn.)   I felt I could use him because he's not a particularly well known historical figure.  Also, there's a good reason so many vampires come from the upper classes -- it's a lot easier to get out of a tomb than it is to dig your way up through six feet of soil.  As for showing up in Canada, well, we are a Commonwealth country.


VF: The Blood books are set in your native Canada, a country not often associated with vampires.  What do you enjoy most about entwining your own local world with fantasy characters?  What makes Canada a unique setting for vampire stories?


TH: I set the books in Canada because that's where I live.  It's the ethical, cultural, geographical world I know and it's fun to look at that a little sideways.  To peer into the shadows and see something looking out at you.  As far as unique… well, even in Toronto the sun sets before 5pm through most of December and January.  Go further north and the nights get longer…


VF: Did you get to be involved with the BLOOD TIES series when it was filmed? 


TH:  Randy Zalken and Paul McConvey at Kaleidoscope Entertainment were absolutely wonderful about keeping me involved as things developed and later, Peter Mohen, our brilliant show runner, brought me in as a creative consultant and asked me to write an episode.  Then, later still, I got to go out to Vancouver to not only watch that episode filmed but have a background part in it.  (I’m the person being arrested in the police station in Stone Cold.)  I can't say enough good things about all the people involved in BLOOD TIES -- production, crew, and cast. 


VF: What was it like seeing characters born within your own mind turning into living and breathing people on the screen?


TH:  It was totally cool.  When I write Blood stories now, and I've done two so far this summer, I see Christina and Mike and Kyle -- that's how terrific they were.   One of the great things about the casting was that Christina Cox was someone I'd thought would be a great Vicki back when I used to watch her on F/X: THE SERIES.


VF: Kyle Shmid's portrayal of Henry Fitzroy on BLOOD TIES has certainly cemented the character's status as a heartthrob.  Do you have any theories about why we're so attracted to vampires?


TH:  Generally, I'd have to say because they're young, beautiful, powerful, mysterious, and they'll be that way forever.  They'll never grow old, they'll never die, they'll never become that overweight shlub on the couch more interested in the ballgame than in us.  When they want us, they REALLY want us.  Also, as a species, we're kind of stupidly attracted to danger.


Specifically, well, you've seen Kyle right?  He brings all that youth and beauty and power and mystery to the screen.


VF: Your list of published work extends far beyond the Blood series.  Tell us about your latest novel, THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM.

tanya huff the enchantment emporium

TH:  THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM is a stand-alone urban fantasy about a young woman who inherits her grandmother's junk shop in Calgary, Alberta, and finds that not only does it come with some interesting extras -- like a young man who's remarkably tall for a Leprechaun -- but when they said "things are happening in Calgary" she never assumed that would include dragons.


VF: Do you have any other vampire tales in the works?  Will we be seeing your Blood books heroine, private investigator Vicki Nelson, again?


TH:  I've written two Vicki Nelson stories this summer (QUID PRO QUO and NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO) for two separate anthologies and there may be one more.  I’m not sure if I'm going to go with Vicki or Tony for the last one.


VF: Thanks so much for joining me at VampireFest.com, Tanya.  Congratulations with your past successes and good luck with your newest release.


TH:  You're very welcome.  Thank you so much for inviting me in.


You can learn more about Tanya Huff, her fiction, and her signings at http://andpuff.livejournal.com.

 

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