Monday, May 28, 2012

A Blood Doctor and Futuristic Blood Drinkers: An interview with Arshad Ahsanuddin

Today I'm talking with Arshad Ahsanuddin, author of, in his own words, "futuristic-sword-and-sorcery-gay-vampire-soap-opera-supernatural-thrillers."

Picture of a sword enveloped in blue flames, novel cover for Sunset, Pact Arcanum Book One by Arshad Ahsanuddin

1) Tell us about your books.

My books, for the most part, might be described as futuristic-sword-and-sorcery-gay-vampire-soap-opera-supernatural-thrillers, crossing genres between soft science fiction, urban fantasy, and non-explicit gay paranormal romance. Though that’s not strictly true, given that the main characters of Moonlight and Radiant Burn are straight.

The major premise of the books is that Nightwalkers (vampires) and Sentinels (vampire slayers) are the remnants of a technologically and mystically advanced civilization that collapsed about 10,000 years ago due to internal wars. Each side has been trying to destroy the other ever since, though the advances in human society of the present era have forced them to operate in secret.

The everything changed approximately twenty years prior to the start of Book One, when a cure for vampirism was created, which allowed the Nightwalkers to reclaim their souls and become Daywalkers, once again able to walk in the sunlight. The supernatural peoples of North America have declared a separate peace throughout the continent, mystically fortifying the borders to wall out the Nightwalkers and Sentinels that still war upon each other in the rest of the world.

Everything changes again, in 2040, when the Daywalker Nick Jameson spectacularly exposes them all to humanity on national television, when he intervenes to stop a terrorist nuclear plot. This is the point where the story begins.

2) You're a hematopathologist. You specialize in examining blood all day. Did that at all influence your desire to write about vampires?

Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me until after I finished, and I mentioned the project to some of my colleagues, who were greatly amused at the irony which had escaped my notice.

3) Most people aren't blood doctors, yet there's a persistent fascination with vampires, why do you think that is?

Immortality to start with, followed by the lure of violence and evil, even with the possibility of redemption. That was the basis of the vampire mythology at the beginning, and the shift to a social/sexual predator came in later times. They have become a symbol of knowledge, power, strength, and sexuality, wrapped up in a humanoid package that walks silently among us until they strike.

The question then becomes, what can we possibly offer them? I think the genre of paranormal romance developed as a way to humanize these archetypal figures into something that was both greater than us, yet still accessible. A more modern variant is the vampire romance paired with alternate supernatural beings, such as witches, werewolves, or in some cases, vampire slayers. It’s just another way in which the vampire is made more human as we, in the person of the hero/heroine, become less so to meet them on a even playing field.

4) Sci-fi/paranormal romance mixed-genre vampire books centered on gay protagonists are, and this is being charitable, rare. What inspired that combination of elements?

It was a much more conventional storyline at first, when it was just a hobby storyline in my head, inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer in its heyday. Then, as it continued to develop in my mind, I incorporated other elements of fictional worlds I enjoyed, and philosophical concepts and articles of faith that inspired me. It grew organically in my head for over a decade before I wrote it down on a whim.

5) What went into the creation of your protagonist?

He’s a flawed character, unlimited power at his command, but running from his demons, afraid of commitment and love. Part of his journey is learning to grow from his rather shallow beginnings to explore the depths of his heart and find peace and companionship. In the meantime, he’s a catalyst, causing major transformational events in his world and the people around him, inspiring others to love him while he remains both inaccessible and oblivious. Discovering the truth of those relationships is part of the lessons he has to learn, and their resolution is half of the narrative throughout the entire series. The other half, of course, is the action and adventure that seems to follow in his wake.

6) Do you have any authors who have influence your writing?

The authors I would swoon to meet include Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay, two of the most innovative authors in modern fantasy. I can’t hold a candle to them, but someday I hope to gain enough skill to make a decent homage to their work.

7) Can you tell us about some of your other works?

SUNRISE, the second book, tells the story of most the major characters and how they got to the point where the first book begins. MOONLIGHT, the third book, is the continuation of SUNSET, told from an alternate perspective. STARLIGHT, the final book, is the conclusion of the series. Two short stories, "Radiant Burn" and "The Best of Times" fill in some of the gaps in between. I am currently working on two others, which will expand on the stories of some of the secondary characters. A distant future plan is to write a prequel series of novels, which will tell the story of the First Age, and the start of the war between vampires and Sentinels.


Thanks, Arshad.

For more information about Arshad, or for more information about the series, check out his website at and leave him some feedback.

The first book in hi series, SUNSET, is free for download for the Amazon kindle today (5/28/2012).

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