Author Interview: Derek Clendening
Hi, Derek. Thank you for allowing me to interview you. We’re pleased to have you here on our blog.
Would you take a moment and introduce yourself to us?
Well, I write all kinds of stuff that will appeal to all kinds of audiences. Sometimes I like to think my work is a sort of social commentary, but not in a preachy way. I present characters in certain situations with certain challenges and present how I think they would react. Also, I like to borrow from many members of our society so I can imagine what a day in the life might be like for them. It’s quite a ride. ;)
How long have you been writing?
Since I was a teenager.
Tell us a little bit about The Vampire Way. What type of research did you do for the story?
Can’t say I did any research for this one. This has more to do with thought, experience and emotion.
I see you’re quite the writer for all things horror. What made you decide to write this type of story?
Initially, I just wanted to write a vampire tale. I was a few months short of my eighteenth birthday when I began that first draft. Then I met with some difficult circumstances and they really helped to shape the final book. Very often, people ask me why I write horror because “there’s so much horror in the world.” The thing is, I don’t feel like I’m creating more horror. I’m just making sense of horror that already exists. The Vampire Way reflects that philosophy.
Tell us a little more about Damien. What makes him tick? How does he find the strength to overcome the obstacles that have been placed within his way?
Damien is driven by a promise he’s made to his father. He also realizes that he has to take care of his sister, so he muscles his way past his initial obstacles emotionally. There’s sympathy for the devil here. Damien isn’t all bad. I’d prefer to let the reader make that decision.
Who is your favorite author and how has he/she inspired you to write?
Stephen King. That might sound like the easy answer, but I’ve always loved his ability to describe the place where he’s from – just as I’ve done in The Vampire Way. Real people have fears, quirks and endless nuances, which all must be considered when creating characters. He does that very well and I’ve always taken those notions to heart when creating characters.
How do you find inspiration when writing your stories?
More often than not, the ideas just come. I might stumble across something that makes me ponder and a story comes from it. For example, just today I was thinking about how I used to work bingo sessions in high school to raise money for the school band. I remember the people who attended the bingo’s for hours, day after day. How could they afford it? That got me thinking and I’m fleshing out an idea from it. Also, some good ideas have been triggered when listening to talk radio.
When thinking about writing new material, do you take the time to outline your story or do you just go with the flow and see where it takes you?
I write out my thoughts, even though I can’t use the notes. It just helps me to express the thought, to get it out of my head, and figure out what to do with it. I structure outlines but I don’t wed myself to them, though. I go where the story should go naturally even if it wasn’t my original vision.
Do you have any tips, or thoughts, that you would like to offer to the blog’s readers?
Well, for those aspiring writers who want to get started, my best advice is to give yourself permission to write. Ignore the quality of early stories. We all have to begin somewhere. Write about something that means something to you – chances are they’ll mean something to someone else, too.
I wish you the best of success with your book, and those to come, Derek. I am looking forward to what the future has to bring for you.
So here you have it, everyone. A lovely interview with the great author, Derek Clendening. We hope that you’ve enjoyed learning more about him.
Synopsis: Eighteen year old Rick Thompson is a marked man. When Damien Masonite comes to his school, he knows something is up. And when his friends start falling to vampire attacks, he knows that he and his girlfriend Laura are next. The quest to understand immortality, true love and undying friendship compromise his safety even more. Can he keep his best friends, his true love and keep his mortal life?
Damien Masonite’s heart quickened when he raised the stake and hammer high above his head and poised himself. He had to kill his father tonight, but he worried that he wouldn’t have the guts.
To him, killing should’ve been easy, but he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking. Watching Dad suffer changed everything he knew about life, but the old man wouldn’t know what hit him if he did it quickly enough. He wouldn’t suffer and Damien wouldn’t have any remorse.
Listening to the rain pelt the roof, his hands shuddered, and he rested the stake and hammer. It didn’t matter if his father was suffering; he knew that he wasn’t strong enough to finish him.
Staring at Dad’s slackened jaw and the sweat streaming down his face, he asked himself how he could be so selfish. Since Mom was staked in Toronto last year, Dad’s life had taken a nose dive; he was feeding less, and allowing his body to weaken.
Closing his eyes, Damien wanted to shut out the nightmare, but the terror enveloped him when he opened them. Certainly no other vampire family would have expected this to happen to them, he thought. Remembering all the times that Dad had sat him on his lap, telling him about the plentiful blood of his youth, he would also tell him about how books and movies had ruined their lives. The entire game had changed and it had forced them to move from town to town. Damien knew that once this was over, he would have to start a new life somewhere new, except this time he would have to do it alone.
What is this feeling? Damien thought. Guilt seemed likely to him, since his own selfishness had allowed the old man to get sick. Whenever they’d fed, Dad had ignored his own needs, leaving the blood for him and Candace, and they had consumed it all, no questions asked. He was sure that if he’d forced Dad to take some blood for himself, he would’ve stayed healthy.
Dropping to his knees, he cupped Dad’s clammy hands.
“Anything I can do to make you more comfortable?” Damien asked.
“Make me a promise.”
“Carry on our name; I can’t bear to think that you’re the last. Only you have the power to make our family powerful again.”
But I’m only eighteen, he thought. He wouldn’t dare say it.
“Everyone knows about us. They think we’re normal then they figure us out.”
Damien knew the sting of rejection all too well, particularly after they were run out of Toronto. Blood was plentiful in cities, but competition from other families was always tooth and nail. Knowing that rural people were never as naïve as they let on, they never managed to stay in small towns for long either. He was positive that if he could have stayed in any school for more than a semester, he wouldn’t have had to depend on family to break up the loneliness.
“What should I do to make us strong again?” Damien asked.
“You’re powerful,” Dad whispered, “even if you don’t know it.”
“But we’re running out of places to go.”
“Try the town I wanted to move to next and you’ll find yourself there.”
Damien stared at his chest and sucked in a deep breath.
“Every town has perfect blood,” Dad said. “I’ve never found it myself, but it’s there for the taking if you look hard enough. Whoever has it can expose you, but their blood can make you powerful again. If you find that person in Fort Erie, drink them dry and convert them.”
“But who am I looking for?”
Dad’s eyes fluttering, Damien worried that he’d be gone before he could tell him the answer.
“I need you to do something important,” Dad said.
“Finish me.” His lungs wheezed as he exhaled a deep breath. “Take that stake and drive it straight through my heart.”
Feeling relieved that Dad wanted to be finished, Damien was also glad that he didn’t have to decide for him. He gripped the stake and hammer then raised them over his head and paused.
“I’ll never let you down.”
Closing his eyes, he pounded the stake into the old man’s chest, and a spray of hot blood struck his skin. Positive that he’d done the right thing, he still dropped to his knees, and buried his face in Dad’s chest to smother his tears.
When Dad’s chest stopped heaving, Damien decided that the mortals were responsible for his pain. Standing tall, he stretched his arm like eagle’s wings, and screamed at the top of his voice. He decided to mourn for Dad before moving on, but nothing would stand in the way of his mission.
The mortals had to pay.
* * *
Fort Erie, Ontario
Sitting slumped on a rock, Damien stared out at the Niagara River, and thought about Dad. Watching the water smacking against the rocks that lined the river soothed him whenever he felt down. It had quickly become his favorite spot. Next, he glanced up at the Peace Bridge and saw that traffic was backing up.
Coping with his pain had been a daily struggle but taking care of Candace and making his own decisions made him feel like more of a man. He’d buried Dad in the back yard, packed his few belongings, hit the road, and hadn’t looked back since. All that mattered to him was his new life in Fort Erie.
“What are you looking at?” Candace asked.
“You’ve broken the rules.” He didn’t turn to face her. “You know that I want to be alone when I’m sitting here.”
Brushing her off was no big deal to him because he was in charge now, and she was to obey his rules.
“You sure this is the right place?” She asked.
“Dad would’ve wanted you to trust me.”
“How do you know they won’t figure us out like they did in Toronto or Hamilton?”
“Look around you.”
Hopping off of the rock, he inched closer to the water, and rested his hands on his hips.
“The mortals don’t suspect a thing,” he said.
“How can you be sure?”
“I just know.”
Instinct had taken him this far and he wanted to keep trusting his gut. They had stayed in an empty house tucked away in the woods and Damien had read that it was haunted. Peace and quiet at last.
“We’ve hardly fed in a month,” she said. “I’m starving and I want to go home!”
“Don’t you get it? This is home!”
She shut up.
“School starts in a week and I’m already enrolled at Fort Erie High,” he said.
“But I wanted to go to school this year!” Her hands were on her hips and her eyebrows were slanted.
“We can’t be seen together. We screw this up, we move again. You want that?”
“At least let me have the first kill.”
“Dad died because of selfish thinking. Now we’re all each other have and we have to look out for each other’s good.”
“Won’t going to school keep you from finding the perfect mortal?”
“He’s out there . . . or she.” He found himself almost hypnotized by the water.
“What happens to us if you don’t?”
He shook his head. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Derek Clendening lives in Fort Erie, Ontario where he works at the public library. When not writing he enjoys reading and is a die hard football fan.
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