Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Series: Vampires of Paris #1
It is June of 1923. After serving twenty years on death row for executing five vampires, members of a traveling circus who had killed his wife and son, the 65-year-oldJohnny Durango is pardoned and set free. Now penniless, the former best-selling author of a series of cowboy detective memoirs based on his life as a Pinkerton operative in the Old West, travels to San Francisco to empty his sole remaining bank account. And discovers that he is now worth twelve million dollars, as the result of owning a long-forgotten block of Atlantic-Richfield stock. With his newfound wealth, Durango resolves to travel to Europe and track drown the remaining members of the vampire circus troupe who murdered his family.
In Paris, meanwhile, Columbine Zwellinger (Coco), the Swiss-born young authoress who serves as editor and ghostwriter to her lecherous, syphilitic much-older husband Hugo Urbaine-Damon, is unexpectedly reunited with her long-lost twin sister, the American Zuleika(Zuzu). Both young women are the daughters of a black mother, a former circus performer, and a white Swiss doctor, now mysteriously dead. Zuzu is the freshly discovered sensation of Paris, the “Black Venus”, for her singing and “Negro” jazz-dancing act in the nude. Coco, who has passed for white all her life, envies Zuzu her freedom and longs to emulate it; however, she is constrained by feelings of responsibility for her increasingly insane husband, whom she despises, and Hugo’s mistress Minout, who lives with them.
Though she is unaware of it, Coco is worshipped from afar by her newspaper delivery boy, the fifteen-year-old Willy de Groote. Willy lives with his mother and uncle, Père Rémy, the parish priest, in the presbytery of a nearby church. Uncle Rémy, a former sergeant in the French Foreign Legion, is a vampire-hunter for the Vatican and is training the diminutive Willy to succeed him. Their murder of a predatory horla, a lawless predatory breed of vampire created by the evil Maître du Monde (Master of the World), brings them to the attention of Superintendent Alphonse Jauvet of the Paris Judiciary Police, who sets out to solve the riddles posed by the crime.
On his way from San Francisco to New York City, Johnny Durango is twice nearly killed by Corsican assassins, whom he suspects are vampires; in both cases, he and his newly engaged “secketary”, Emmeline Parry, barely manage to escape with their lives. Once aboard the Berengaria, he embarks on an affaire with a married Frenchwoman, Berthe Hadley, the younger sister of Superintendant Jauvet. Zuzu, making the round of Paris’ night clubs with her many lovers, is introduced to the eccentric Baron Emile Warburg, the wealthiest man in France, and his business partner the Marchesa dell’Ogg, who runs the exclusive brothel, La Bagne Rose, reputedly a club for vampires.
The battle lines between the vampires and the vampire-hunters are being drawn. Willy’s uncle Rémy is shot through the lung by the vampire they have stalked and killed, and lies gravely wounded in his bedroom at the presbytery. Finding the key to a hotel room in the dead vampire’s pocket, Willy burgles his effects and finds a cache of diamonds. With these he plans to rescue Coco from her husband.
Both Warburg and the Contessa do the bidding of the Master, who is the oldest vampire left alive in the world. And the Master, who has been in Bavaria grooming the young horla, Adolf Hitler, has plans for Coco and Zuzu, who are unknowingly doomed by their genetic heritage to become vampires themselves…
Honestly, I think I was just born “telling lies”, as my mama called it.
RH: What is The Vampire Circus about?
Short version, it’s the story of two exotic and glamorous twins, separated at birth and reunited in the Paris of the early 1920s, who are forced into vampirism and then stalked by an unlikely pair of hunters: Willy de Groote, a 14-year-old vampire assassin trained by the Vatican, and Johnny Durango, a wealthy “cowboy detective” from the American West. The villain and episodic style of the 6-12 book epic are taken from the French Fantomas serials of the early 1900s.The idea of the twin sisters was inspired by the complex relationship of the French writer Colette and the American singer/dancer Josephine Baker. The amount of sex they and their lovers got up to was staggering—my first draft read like “erotica”! That wasn’t what I was after, so I subtracted some of the sex, and added vampirism as a metaphor for the contagion of syphilis.
RH: Do you reflect people you know into your characters or do you prefer making them up on the fly?
In this case, nearly every character in the story is based, however loosely, on a real historical figure. I do occasionally use people I’ve known in my novels but not in this one.
RH: Which characters do you think are the most like you?
Probably Willy de Groote, the boy vampire killer, because he’s cold-hearted yet boundlessly romantic. My favorite character, though, is Coco, who is everything I admire in a woman; resilient, self-respecting, brave, and highly intelligent.
RH: What is your next project?
I wish I could say I have a single next project; instead I’m in the middle of a half dozen. Right now I’m working on sequels to the Dead Detective, Moon Bayou, J. R. Rain’s Witch series, as well as two or three novels I’ve written but not yet released. And of course, the next book in the Vampire Circus series, The Vampire Hunters:
At the above link. Or friend me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/rod.kierkegaard
Or email me at: email@example.com
RH: If The Vampire Circus could be a movie, who'd play Johnny Durango, and why?
Oh, I think it would have to be Sam Elliott.
RH: What books/authors have influenced your writing?
The 19th and early 20th Century writers I grew up reading: Dumas, Walter Scott, Rider Haggard, Proust, Machado de Assis, and a host of others.
RH: What is your favorite book?
If I was forcibly put ashore on a desert island with only one book, it would be the Waley translation of Murasaki’s Tale of Genji.
RH: Pen, Pencil, phone, tablet or computer?
RH: What does your writing sanctuary look like?
Like a used book store. With a computer lab. I think there are 5 screens on in here at the moment, all performing various tasks in various rooms.
RH: Where do you call home?
Washington DC. I live 8 blocks from the White House.
RH: Do you prefer paperback or e-books?
I own nearly 10,000 (paper) books crammed into a small city apartment. I’m halfway through the process of replicating them all electronically. I read a book a night, usually on a laptop mounted beside the couch.
RH: If you could be any character of any book (including your own), who would it be and why?
Adam from the Book of Genesis.
RH: What book could you read over and over?
The book I have read over and over more than any other is The Count of Monte Cristo. In times of terrible stress or unhappiness, I reread the novels of Jack Vance for comfort.
RH: What is the one thing you cannot live without?
RH: Is there anyone you'd like to thank?
I’d like to thank you and your readers for your kind interest.
Aw shucks, thank you, Rod. And double thanks for taking the time to answer a few of our questions. It was great getting to know the man behind so many books! -- Erin H.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Known in the US for his comic strip, “Rock Opera”, which ran as a regular feature in Heavy Metal Magazine, he is also the author of two French graphic novel collections, “Stars Massacre”, (released in the US as “Shooting Stars”) and “Rock Monstres”, both published by Editions Albin Michel, Paris.
His first novel, “Obama Jones & The Logic Bomb”, is published by Dogma Press. ”The Department of Magic” and “Family Cursemas (Megamilionnaire Murders, Vol. 1) ” were Rod’s first published works through Curiosity Quills Press in 2011, followed by “The God Particle” in early 2012. Curiosity Quills Press published “Adultery” (Book 1 of the Scarlet Alphabet) in September 2014. In October 2014, Rod co-authored “The Dead Detective” with JR Rain. “The Ghosts of Christmas Present”, a collection of short stories with JR Rain, is scheduled for release December 2014.