Stuart Conover (SC): First thing’s first! I’d love if you could share with my readers what your upcoming vampire vs vampire tale ‘The Coven’ is about?
Angie Gallow (AG): I wouldn’t call it ‘vampire vs vampire’. While that is what we see as the highlight of the story, it’s an illustration of the vampire/witch hunts that were conducted throughout Europe during the 1600s and well into the early 1800s, where clergyman raided graveyards, searching for corpses that carried signs of being ‘undead’. The story upped the ante, by using vampires as a weapon against their own kind. And what we see in the story when the conspiracy is found out by the protagonist, Sebastien, is that he understands that if they allow this war to break out, that’s the end; the end of them and their kind. And while there are few vampires in ‘their’ world, Sebastien knows they need to stick together in order to carry out their existence because once humans find out about their existence, they’re likely to join in. So, Sebastien is basically saving all vampire-kind, both from themselves and from outside forces.
SCL What kind of vampires are we going to be seeing in your novel?
AG: The unconventional; I tried to make as real as possible because we have a deaf vampire (who is my favorite), an interracial vampire couple, and a psychotic half-breed vampire. They’re very abnormal in term of what people would expect to see in vampires; they all don’t have ‘abilities’ but the ones that do have abilities that match their personalities; I tried to make them believable while trying to make them unique.
SC: What inspired you to use Victorian England as the tone of the story?
AG: It just felt right. Something about Victorian England, the creepy back alleys and whatnot. That, and where I built the coven; it’s behind a wall that can’t be seen unless you’re looking for it; the pieces were just there.
SC: What research did you use to help set the mood and location?
AG: I researched the language being used at the time and social interactions because I’m a character-driven writer so those things were slightly more important because I wanted them all to speak and interact properly for the time. One can look at pictures of Whitechapel (East End) London and tweak what you see for your writing because pictures are stories within themselves so I used a lot of pictorials for the setting.
SC: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
AG: I read a lot. My mother was an avid reader and my grandmother was a librarian so it was partly in my blood. I just remember having stories to tell and writing them down; I’ve yet to stop.
SC: Do you write full-time or part-time? (If part-time add in: When do you fit in your writing?)
AG: I would say full-time; I wrote The Coven while I was out of school on Christmas vacation so I just took those 4 weeks and got it out.
SC: What are your ambitions for your writing career? What do you have planned for the future?
AG: I want to write scripts; plays. I want to see my writing acted out at least once in my life. I have more novels in me that I will get out, but if I could get something on stage, that would be incredible!
SC: What is your ideal writing environment? What helps get you in the mood and mindset for writing? More specifically what does your writing process look like?
AG: I’m the ultimate goth in the sense I do my best writing at night. I can’t write when it’s light out or people moving around because I need to listen to my story and the character’s dialogue. My writing process is weird because I don’t write long-hand; I simply can’t. I just sit down in front of my computer screen and say, ‘Okay, voice, whatcha gotta say?’ and let the story be told, as I see it being told. If I don’t know what’s happening, I wait until I do; take a day or two off and come back. I’ll edit what I wrote before and start the next chapter. No special gimmicks or tricks.
SC: Do you have any advice for other writers who are writing in or who want to write in the genre?
AG: Read the genre. End of discussion. If you don’t know what the genre is about, what the stories are suppose to do, and how you feel as a reader during and afterwards, you won’t produce the same writing or effect. Don’t do what everyone else is doing; write the story that you always wanted to read because I can promise there are more people who want to read that same story.
SC: What was the inspiration for you to write in the horror genre?
AG: I was a horror kid; if it was spooky, scary, gory, or creepy, I was in. I was exposed to Hitchcock more but I read the books my mom read, like Anne Rice and Stephen King, and that did it for me; it was just something I gravitated toward.
SC: Who are your three favorite authors or books that you would recommend to readers of your work?
AG: Wow, tough. The Masque of the Red Death by Poe, anything by Guy de Maupassant, and Coraline by Neil Gaiman; I don’t care what anyone says, the book is scarier than the movie on all accounts!
SC: It looks as if you honed your writing at Columbia College in Chicago (Yay fellow Chicagoan!) Has any aspects from the city been a major influence on your writing?
AG: I love cities with a rich history and Chicago definitely has one so I knew I wanted to set this story in a major city during the time when it was coming into its own; hence, Victorian London. Seeing a city in its dawn, like Chicago during the 1900s, gives it more character than if it were set in modern times; you have much more to work with.
SC: Do you have any other information for my readers who may be interested in finding out more about you or your writing?
AG: Just keeping looking out for the next novels; I’ve got quite a bit more in me so I’m not stopping just yet.
After a gruesome betrayal, vampire Sebastien Vilmont is flung into a whirlwind cat and mouse game when his traveling party is ambushed by an opposing group of bloodthirsty vampires. Maurice, the leader of Sebastien’s coven, makes the decision to not only wage war against the opposing vampire clan, but a clerical organization known as The Diocese Club who wishes to exterminate all vampire-kind.
Trying desperately to protect the secrecy of their coven’s location below the streets of Whitechapel, London, Sebastien finds himself at odds with Maurice in his desire to not engage in all-out war with the renegade Catholic faction. At the same time, he must also battle the other vampire coven to guard their anonymity from humans. In doing so, Sebastien is forced into choices and alliances he might not otherwise have made.
Set in the tone of Victorian England, The Coven is a thrilling and horrific journey through the seedier workings of the vampire underworld, and pious ideology of The Diocese Club.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Angie Gallow was born in Chicago and currently attends Columbia College Chicago. This is her first novel.
Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of The Coven by Angie Gallow to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!
An Excerpt from The Coven by Angie Gallow…
London – 1910
“Tell me again,” Maurice Sorel paced his office furiously. “What happened?”
Sebastien Vilmont leaned against a polished end table. He was battered, covered in dirt and grime. His trousers were grey in patches from colliding with the ground; his blouse held tears and was spotted with drying blood. He wiped his mouth with one hand while the other hand held him against the table.
“I told you. We were ambushed,” Sebastien claimed. He had taken his hand away from his mouth and looked at Maurice. His deep jade eyes glowed behind the roaring fireplace. He and Maurice studied one another before Maurice turned away to his desk where a crystal bottle filled with red liquid awaited him. Maurice lifted the plug from the bottle with nervous hands and poured the contents into three matching crystal glasses. He passed one to Sebastien and the other to his son, Alaric, as he stood at his friend’s side.
The office door was locked and the three men stood alone. The stillness lingered heavily on the room. Sebastien watched Maurice sip from his glass as he moved in circles reminding Sebastien of a caged panther. Sebastien leaned forward to relieve his frame from the ache careening up his spine as he leaned against the table. The crackling fire was soon the only sound in the room before Alaric eased forward.
“There must be something you’re not telling us. Please. There were supposed to be more with you.”
Sebastien pressed his lips together and locked eyes with his old friend. They had known one another since they were small boys, causing mischief and conjuring grand adventures. Alaric eyed his friend intently as his eyes coaxed out the answer. Sebastien knitted his brow. The story he had shared with them earlier of how he had arrived was not what he had experienced.
Upon his arrival, Sebastien claimed that it was merely an accident; an unfortunate event that chopped the traveling party from twenty to merely seven. Maurice finished his drink and turned to Sebastien with hard, demanding eyes. Sebastien saw the disappointment growing in the man’s hazel stare. Maurice would hold him accountable and make him suffer for something that was not Sebastien’s doing. Sebastien leaned forward and stood straighter while he eyed Maurice.
“I did nothing wrong.”
“Then explain!” Maurice barked. His voice echoed off the walls and Sebastien’s eyes angled downward towards his shoes. Those very shoes that ran and led his party away from a massacre; the very shoes he stood in were now calling him a coward. He looked up in an attempt to hide his shame.
Sebastien had been heralded from his home in Normandy through a letter from Alaric. It asked his friend to complete the task of leading a small group of vampires from Sebastien’s hometown to London. The letter asked that Sebastien remain in complete secrecy and to rally the travelers as quickly as possible. Sebastien found his party, per the details in the letter, waiting for him outside of an inn on the edge of their city; all had been sent invitations to London by Maurice, himself.
Sebastien looked upon the nervous eyes of every traveler, each one not knowing whether to trust Sebastien even after his explanation of what was going to take place from that point on.
Once Sebastien had successfully reassured them, explaining who he was and why he had been asked to lead them, the travelers followed him out of the city without question.
“I got them all to the ferry without an issue…” Sebastien explained. Alaric and Maurice listened to the story with bated breath. “I watched everything. People, where we were, and what we were being told; there was nothing that caused me to suspect a thing.”
Sebastien’s party had vanished below the decks of the ferry with only the porters to notice them as they went about their work. One man, Sebastien recalled, had been watching them closely from the moment they all set foot on deck. The man’s beetle black eyes peered at Sebastien, in particular. Sebastien thought the man was only curious of them or perhaps questioning why so many people were traveling as one across the English Channel in the middle of the night. Sebastien regretted to admit his carelessness, but the man knew who, or rather what, they were.
The party moved through a series of small towns and villages after the ferry landed in England. Sebastien claimed he did nothing but travel with caution. He told everyone to keep away from mortals, speak to no one unless absolutely mandatory, and that they would not tarry in one place for too long. He braced himself as he paused.
“In one town, I can’t remember the name of the place, I had snuck us out of the hotel after midnight. We were barely on the edge of the town and getting closer to London,” Sebastien spoke as though he were trying to remember a pressing dream. He recalled the events with great hesitation, pawing his lips with the palm of his hand as he picked apart his memory. Alaric nudged him to continue. Sebastien snatched his hand away from his mouth.
By the time they had gained a few miles between London and the town they left behind, Sebastien noticed that the group was silently and suddenly being followed. Even though they were travelling under a starless sky, their tracks were being carefully pursued by a group of hooded figures. Sebastien believed the men following them had spread themselves out among the trees that surrounded their path. Their pursuers resembled moving shadows.
Panic washed over the travelers and they all darted out of the clearing. Bushes rustled loudly as the hooded men sprung out of their hiding places. The chaos of the growing chase erupted into a multitude of screams as the scurrying vampires attempted to escape. Yet, for some reason, these men were faster than the vampires, grabbing them in mid-run and flinging them to the ground. Once the vampires hit the ground, a hatchet came down and heads were severed from their bodies.
Sebastien ran with the herd while dodging grabbing claws and swinging hatchets as the chase continued. Sebastien had seen the members of his traveling party being picked apart from foolish acts such as stopping momentarily or trying to hide behind trees and in the darkened brush. Blood coated the grass and spattered against the trees like a piece of haphazard artwork.
Sebastien had been grabbed from behind as his captor snatched him around the shoulders and wrestled Sebastien to the ground. His captor lost his balance as they struggled before they toppled down into a grassy ditch. Sebastien grabbed hold of his attacker’s robe and flung him into a nearby tree. He made an attempt to climb out of the ditch but was caught by his ankle.
The hood of his foe had fallen off, revealing golden hair that reflected in the moon light. The pale hand that grabbed at Sebastien’s ankle matched the other holding a hatchet above him that was ready to land on Sebastien’s head the second he was pulled down. Sebastien was mortified at the sight of his assailant; a fellow vampire was gazing up at him with malicious eyes. With a forceful tug, Sebastien was yanked back down into the ditch.
Sebastien took hold of the vampire’s wrist as his foe’s hatchet came roaring down. The bone beneath the skin crushed and popped as Sebastien’s grip tightened. The hatchet fell to the ground as pale fingers uncurled from around the handle of the axe. Sebastien slashed his attacker’s throat with such force that his head was thrown from his body. Sebastien tossed away the headless corpse and climbed out from the trench. He found his way back to his party and found that nearly all of them were either missing or dead.
Sebastien stopped his story again. Alaric saw the distress across his friend’s face and refilled his short glass of the red liquid. Sebastien sighed greatly and poured the tangy liquor down his throat. He nearly slammed the glass down and caught Maurice’s eyes again. They were softer this time, in disbelief at the details of the story. Sebastien’s eyes asked if he were allowed to continue. Maurice simply nodded his head lightly.
Sebastien had taken count of his company once they reached the outskirts of the great city. He would occasionally stop to look over his shoulder as he was not certain if his party was being pursued. He had finally stopped them on a deserted street corner. He leaned against a lit street lamp and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. It was an expertly drawn map with heavy-leaded pencil with dotted markings to show their way.
He led his frightened party towards their destination until they came to a quiet neighborhood in Whitechapel. They passed through the streets as Sebastien ran his fingertips against the bricks of a wall before his fingers grazed the coolness of a metal door hinge. He took a step back and scanned the bricks carefully before his eyes saw the illusion in front of him.
A heavy door had been camouflaged within the bricks had been made to resemble the color of the graying mortar. Sebastien used his hand to feel for the invisible knocker; its sound echoed throughout the alleyway. The travelers huddled against him, taking the appearance of a scruffy band of carolers.
Sebastien removed a black case from an inside pocket in his jacket. He pulled a thin, black cigarette from within. He lit a match with shaking hands and held it to the tip of his cigarette, inhaled and exhaled a stream of red smoke into the office. It was only moments after that he had been brought to Maurice and Alaric once the pair had realized that the party was short in count from the number of travelers they instructed Sebastien to bring to London.
He turned his head lightly to indicate his story had ended. Maurice was working on his third glass, swirling the liquid back and forth while weighing Sebastien’s tale. Maurice’s brow began twisting in fury before his glass flew from his hands into the fireplace with a sharp yell. The glass shattered and popped as flamed licked the shards; the two friends reeled back from Maurice’s temper.
“All of them?” Maurice demanded, spinning to face Sebastien. Sebastien knew he has referring to the hooded vampires from his tale and nodded. Maurice growled through his teeth, “Unspeakable betrayal!”
Alaric started to speak but stopped himself. His father’s fury was not to be pacified so he folded his arms and bit into his knuckles to keep himself silent. Maurice continued thundering, “Using our own kind against us…” Maurice took a breath, “Those damn fear-twisted mortals using vampires as weapons!”
“Father,” Alaric stated and Maurice whirled to face him, “The Diocese Club has been trying to get rid of us for centuries! They’re just as unknown to the mortals as we are…”
Maurice snapped, cutting his son off, “There is no reason for vampires to slay their own kind! If those priests so desire a war with us, they will have one!”
Sebastien’s mouth felt as though it were suddenly filled with cotton. The Diocese Club had constructed plans to rid the known world of all unholy creatures, including vampires. Vampires were seen as forces of evil; demon-possessed corpses used by Satan to terrorize the living. They were an elusive organization known only to the Catholic Church and the vampires who survived their attacks. Sebastien licked his lips, knowing what would happen should Maurice attempt such a campaign. Having witnessed the horror himself, he spoke, “May I interject for a moment?” Maurice rounded on him, “I think it would be in our best interest not to start something we cannot finish.”
“Beg your pardon?” Maurice narrowed his eyes, “Look at you!” he motioned with his hands, “Look at those who arrived with you!”
Maurice’s attempt to shame Sebastien was futile. Sebastien rubbed his forehead.
“Yes, look at what is happening to us all. The Diocese Club, we have no idea how many there are. We do not have a clue as to what they know of us. And we know nothing of them! How can we fight a war without knowledge of the enemy?”
Maurice eyed Sebastien. “We know our own kind.” Maurice smirked wickedly, “That is all that matters.”