It’s been a while, but I’m back with some interesting author interviews again! I met Caroline Davis on Twitter. She has a book out called Night Vision: An Oupire Romance. She is a vampire fiction writer who writes about ‘oupires.’ I actually had to google what oupires were as I’d never heard of the word. I read that vampires are mythological creatures, and oupires are the real thing, but it appears that Caroline has worked with completely different info. Let’s find out more about Caroline’s oupires!
I didn’t start out wanting to be a writer, although I became interested in vampires early on through the TV soap opera Dark Shadows. It was while I was at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York that I started writing down my vampire fantasies with another student there. After I left Fashion Institute to study fine art and then library science, I would try my hand at writing vampire stories now and again. To be honest, most of them were abysmal and best forgotten! I had better luck with my nonfiction efforts. An academic article I wrote on the reburial of Native American human remains in New England was published in a regional archaeology journal, a highlight of my academic library career. During my last few years in the library world, however, I finally found time to write fiction again, and so I began work on a story about (what else?) vampires.
What is your book about?
I like to write about undead characters (vampires and oupires—I’ll explain) in situations where unresolved issues from their past come out. My novel Night Vision has what’s really a cold case murder mystery from 1913 mixed in with a love story. Undead characters are great for this kind of story because those involved in the crime are usually still around!
The difference between vampires and oupires in the book comes from the variety of characteristics ascribed to blood sucking revenants in folklore and literature. So, for example, the vampires are alive from sundown to sunrise, but the oupires are alive from noon to midnight, something which comes from certain eighteenth century accounts of Polish and Russian vampire activity. The two groups aren’t always at war, but there is a lot of friction between them and sometimes violence erupts. That possibility is always there, and it’s a problem for the two main characters in Night Vision, since the heroine, Lily Schmidt, is an oupire and her lover, Carl Eckhart, is a vampire.
How did you come up with the idea for Night Vision?
As I mentioned in my bio, I got interested in vampires through Dark Shadows years ago but got involved in other things and only turned to writing on and off. However, during the vampire craze of the early 2000s, it happened that my father passed away. At his wake, I encountered a female cousin, someone of whom I was very jealous when I was a child. I started thinking about writing a vampire story about two cousins, but I didn’t want it to be just a simple novella about how they investigate this supposed “vampire murder” from 1913. So the murder became part of the backstory, and I expanded from there.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Well, I was a librarian so you can imagine that I spend a lot of time on research both in constructing a book and while I’m working on it. For example, in one scene in Night Vision the vampires play a card game, so I needed to find a game they would be likely to play. Eventually I figured out that since most of the characters in the scene are German, they might play a game called Skat. This led to my trying to learn how to play Skat, or at least understand enough of the game to realistically show it in the scene.
Are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I don’t want to write a series with the same characters appearing in multiple books because I like to catch a character at some sort of emotional turning point. Then I want to write about another character who is facing a different issue. However, I do intend to use the preternatural “world” that I established in Night Vision in other books, which might occasionally share a character or two. I also intend to keep the settings in the Northeastern U.S. (Night Vision is set is Pennsylvania) and to work with similar plots and themes going forward.
Do you outline or just write?
I make a detailed outline—the more detailed, the better—because I want to find a coherent way to present the backstory and the clues to the mystery. I also want to be sure that there is plausible motivation for whatever a given character will do that moves the plot forward. Of course, as I write I understand the characters better and then new ideas occur to me and some things get changed.
When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
As I mentioned, I understand my characters better as I go along. But I do start with a fairly good idea of what the main characters are about, basically. It can happen that I understand a character’s psychology, but I’m not sure how to present the character, that I don’t have a clear idea of his or her “persona.” It’s difficult at first, but when I can hear a character talking in my head, I know I’m on the right track.
Do you have any difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex?
Frankly, yes. Although I believe that men and women share the same mental and emotional processes on a deep level, there are all kinds of subtle differences that make it challenging for me to portray someone who is not a heterosexual woman. Just to take a simple case—in my experience most men do not readily admit they are depressed. So, I can have a deeply depressed male character, and I doubt that he’s going to talk about it with a friend the way a female character might. A related problem is that many of my characters were born in the nineteenth century, sometimes abroad, but they have lived through the whole twentieth century into the twenty-first. I go on the assumption that they are not going to be the same people they were years ago, but they aren’t just like people now either. I struggle with these kinds of issues in my writing, but I’m not sure how successful I am in dealing with them.
Music or silence?
This is a fun question. Night Vision has a lot of music behind it, and I even describe a concert in the book. So, yes, I do listen to music much of the time when I am writing, although not always. To write some types of scenes, I need a sharp focus that is better achieved through silence.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, I am writing another book, the working title of which is Blood and Water. The main character in this book, Jan Martínek, is a vampire who, under pressure from his estranged wife, reluctantly agrees to investigate the disappearance of his detested uncle Otakar. Jan holds a grudge against Otakar because, many years before, Otakar made him a vampire against his will and later forced him to marry his ex-wife. But when Jan goes to the old spa town in western New Jersey where Otakar was last seen, he encounters the beautiful descendent of a long-dead medium, a woman with whom he was in love in the late 1890s. Trouble ensues, as they say.
What motivated you to become an indie/published author? How did you break into publishing?
When I first finished Night Vision I tried sending it out to about a dozen agents and a few traditional romance publishers, but, as you would expect, no one was interested in it. It was a particularly bad time to send out a vampire love story because the market for such books was saturated by then, and I was an unknown author with no social media presence at all. So, I put the story aside and worked on the second book until last year, when I was able to retire.
At that point I decided to self-publish Night Vision on Amazon, which took a while as I had to learn to use Kindle Create and make a cover. I finally got the book out last November and since then I have been learning to use Twitter and connecting with other authors. That’s been a lot of fun! Now I’m glad I decided to go the indie route and plan to self-publish Blood and Water on Amazon when it’s finished later this year.
Thank you so much for your explanation of oupires, Caroline! Your story sounds very intriguing, and I hope to read it one day. It’s a pleasure to have met you on Twitter 🙂
You can contact Caroline Davis via the following social media: