Bluewood interviews Lila Richards, author of A Different Hunger

Bluewood Publishing: Hi there, welcome to Bluewood. Tell us a little about yourself. What part of the world do you live in? Tell us about your background?

Lila: I live in Kumeu, a village a little northwest of Auckland, New Zealand, where I moved from Christchurch last year to escape the ongoing earthquakes. I work as a sub-editor for the NZ Meteorological service, though I’ve had a variety of jobs in the past, ranging from clerical worker to professional Tarot reader. I have five beautiful grandchildren, with whom I enjoy spending time whenever I can. Apart from writing, my interests include: reading pretty much anything I can lay my hands on, mediaeval re-creation with the Society for Creative Anachronism, and retro fashions, especially from the 1930s and 1940s.

Bluewood: Who are your favorite authors?

Lila: This is a difficult question to answer, as my reading tastes are very eclectic, but among my current favourites are Regency romantic writer Georgette Heyer and 1950s horror writer HP Lovecraft.

Bluewood: What is your genre and what attracts you to that genre, and what made you want to write it?

Lila: I write about vampires. I’ve been fascinated by them for years; they seem to me to be the ultimate outsiders, in that they are sort of human, but sort of not, and although, to survive, they must perform acts that humans regard as heinous, at the same time they must move among humans without revealing their true nature. I don’t subscribe to the ‘evil/good’ paradigm – I think things are much more complicated than that, so my vampires are not necessarily evil, and my humans are not necessarily good…

Bluewood: The question you are probably always asked – how long have you been writing?

Lila: I’ve been a storyteller pretty much since I could write, and wrote my first novel when I was eleven. I honed my skills my telling my sister stories each night to help her get to sleep. There was a long gap in my writing from my late teens to my forties, largely due to lack of encouragement (at high school in the late 1950s and early 1960s, we were actively discouraged from writing fiction, and my interest in describing how a bicycle pump works was limited), and depression.

Bluewood: Does the way you personally look at life reflect in your writing style?

Lila: I’m sure it does. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, which I didn’t discover until my early sixties, but I’m sure it’s coloured my view of life – as well as my interest in writing about life’s outsiders.

Bluewood: What concept or situation about your book makes it so unique?

Lila: These days, there are plenty of books about vampires, but A Different Hunger explores what it is to be a vampire, and how different people react to, and deal with, the transition from human to vampire. And much of the novel takes place during a voyage from Britain to New Zealand in 1875, so it provides a rather cramped environment, with the dangers that presents to the vampires – and passengers.

Bluewood: Tell us about A Different Hunger. What was your inspiration for this book?

Lila: I think my original inspiration was the romantic novels of Georgette Heyer – I love the elegance of those earlier times. I added vampires because they’re another fascination of mine, and the Victorian era seems tailor-made for gothic fantasy.

Bluewood: What is your favorite scene from the book and why?

Lila: I think it’s the scene where Rufus and Serafina, my two protagonists, finally confront and vanquish the evil vampire Viviana.

Bluewood: Have you written other books?

Lila: Yes, I have a second vampire novel, Restitutions of the Blood, due out from Bluewood later this year. I’ve also written two earlier novels, a psychological thriller and a murder mystery whose protagonists are on the panel of a radio show that deals with the paranormal, and who use their own paranormal abilities to help solve crimes. One of these days, I may get around to updating them for publication.

Bluewood: If you could tell us one thing about the Urban Fantasy genre that makes your mind spin with ideas, what would that be?

Lila: The vampire genre is quite extraordinarily varied, from vampires as evil monsters that must be destroyed, as in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the much more ambiguous vampires of True Blood. What fascinates me is the exploration of how to remain true to oneself in the almost impossible situation of being a vampire in a human world, and how being or becoming a vampire affects such things as love and honour.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Lila!