I’m excited to introduce you today to the duo writing team of Harris Gray. I am reading the first volume of their Vampire Vic book right now and will quickly be following it up with the second volume so I may bring you the reviews of them next month. I am liking it so far and am pleased to introduce you to Harris Gray today.
Author Spotlight With Harris Gray
Harris Gray combines the writing talents of duo Allan Harris and Jason Gray. Together, they have written three novels, two screenplays, a Christmas play and a collection of stories from Jason’s younger days. An early version of their novel Java Man was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers contest. Allan is a former guest columnist for The Denver Post and Jason owns Crowfoot Valley Coffee and Crowbar, land of rumor and embellishment.
Their collaboration began in Jason’s coffee shop. Allan wrote and eavesdropped as Jason entertained his customers. One day, Allan found a little yellow notepad waiting for him, crammed to the margins with Jason’s exploits. Allan typed them, touched them up, and called it good; but Jason had other ideas. As their tales converged and became inseparable, Harris Gray emerged. While the two couldn’t be more different in how they think and write, Harris says, “There is something wonderful and incredibly cohesive when we create a story together.” In Gray’s words, “We’re something less than Sybil and more than Siamese twins.”
Vampire Vic, the first installment in the darkly funny and relatable trilogy, launched in March 2013. Readers can add the follow-up, Vampire Vic2: Morbius Reborn, to their bookshelves this fall. Harris Gray also released their standalone novel Java Man in November 2013.
Stay in touch with Harris Gray
A Little Q & A For The Author Spotlight With Harris Gray
Can you describe Vampire Vic in 10 words or less?
Jekyll & Hyde, if Robert Louis Stevenson went bigger, and funnier. Or, Nick Hornby doing Carrie.
How did you go about creating Vic, and making him so relatable to readers in all walks of life?
Sometimes when we’re together we drink beer. It’s okay, it’s a write-off. So we were writing it off one afternoon and marveling at the Twilight craze and wondering, “How do we cash in on that?” On the spot (beer #2), we dreamed up a world of handsome, chivalrous vampire dudes and sultry vampire slayer babes having steamy yet wholesome relations that send a mixed but overall positive message to today’s teenagers.
Vampire Vic2: Morbius Reborn continues the story of Vic Thetherson and his very interesting circumstances. For those who haven’t read book one yet, can you catch them up?
In Book One, Victor Thetherson is a fat, balding, accounting manager vampire. Too polite to bite, Victor drinks expired blood bank blood and gets walked on, at home by his ex-wife and at the office by his slacking staff. Then he bites his admin, Nikki.
To his relief, Nikki does not turn. Better yet, she begins to arrange ‘dates’ for Victor – a sort of Renfield meets eHarmony – where he is able to get a fresh supply of blood without permanently harming his victims. He transforms, kicking ass at work, intriguing his ex-wife Barbara, and becoming the man he always knew he could be.
Readers also meet young Eugene the Vampire Slayer. To get to Victor, Eugene woos daughter Amberly. His slaying attempts are spectacular failures. A mysterious Civil War Soldier promises to teach Eugene how to destroy Victor.
In eastern Europe, Victor discovers that his unique form of vampirism comes with a heavy burden. Victor is willing to pay this price for the rewards he has gained through his transformation…but then a vampire attack on his family brings home the monstrousness of his curse. Devastated, Victor commits to a cure offered by his buddy Tripp and his fellow scientists at the Longevity Labs.
Why will fans of Vampire Vic want to come back for more in Morbius Reborn? What do you think will most surprise them about the second book in the trilogy?
In Morbius Reborn, the stakes are raised. Ha ha! That is such a terrible vampire joke! And nothing like the humor in the book. But it’s true. Like the rest of the world, you have been lulled into complacency, accepting that vampires are simply an entertaining diversion. But now they are popping up in positions of power. And they are evolved and nearly impossible to slay—no stake through the heart for these vamps. Each has a unique, hidden Achilles heel.
Meanwhile, Victor and Barbara’s relationship grows ever more tumultuous as Victor struggles with his curse. Eugene cashes in on his slayer fame and falls in love with their daughter Amberly. As the vampire menace grows, it becomes clear that Victor and Eugene haven’t simply crossed paths; the ancient origins of Victor’s curse and Eugene’s talent for slaying have put them on a collision course, with Amberly at the intersection.
You mentioned Eugene is cashing in on his slayer fame. Can you tell us a bit more about Slayer Investments?
That’s Eugene the Vampire Slayer’s money-making gambit. We entreat you to steer clear of that site, it is a gateway to pyramid schemes that would make Ponzi blush. A total money trap. Unless you get in near the top.
You’ve been a writing duo for over 10 years. Writing a book alone is quite the feat. Can you tell us how you manage to accomplish this as a team?
Usually over beer (and always after a lot of caffeine), we find the tale we want to tell, and then each of us dives in and starts writing chapters. We’ll exchange those chapters, and then realize the story is not exactly the way each of us envisioned.
That is a very creative process. We’ll edit each other’s chapters and hand them back, and write new chapters inspired by what the other guy has written. We’ll read the edits to our chapters and throw wall-shaking fits. How dare he change my poetic pearls of wisdom!?! Then we’ll calm down and realize, Wait a second, that guy is onto something! With each write, swap, edit and wail, the characters grow and their stories become more entertaining.
One half of Harris Gray owns a coffee shop – Crowfoot Valley Coffee. Do you ever troll upon unsuspecting customers for character influence – and if so, do any of them know about it?
We steal Jason’s customers’ lives all the time. We want them to see themselves in our books. Although this can occasionally be mentally damaging for them. When a customer charges into the coffee shop and says, “Tell me I’m not so-and-so,” we’ll deny on each of our mothers’ good reputations that there is any resemblance whatsoever. If that fails, we will each blame the other guy, and his mother if necessary. That’s the beauty of being a writing duo.
We know this is a trilogy – so what’s next for Vic, Eugene, and the rest of your characters in the third and final chapter?
The final chapter of the VV trilogy puts 17-year-old Amberly at the confluence of good and evil, and forces Vic and Eugene into a slaying partnership. This is Batman and Robin, if they wanted to kill each other and neither could agree who gets to be Batman.
Victor continues to seek his best self. We joked earlier, but this is why Vic is relatable. He yearns to be his wife’s hero. Vampirism seems to be the answer; but how do you tell opportunity from temptation? And does taking that shortcut ever become a necessity?
In Morbius Reborn, readers begin to see the world through Barbara’s and Amberly’s eyes. This continues in the third book. Barbara yearns to be passionately in love with Victor, and to protect Amberly. She sees a time coming when she is going to have to choose. In the middle of the escalating human-vampire conflict, Amberly suddenly finds her place in the world, and seizes the opportunity to make a difference.
VVIII is all about choices. And bloodsucking and slaying, 16th century Romania, furries, imprecise drone strikes and that famous scene in the apple barrel. We have an entertaining ending planned for everyone.
By beer #3, we realized we don’t know handsome, chivalrous or sultry. And that teenagers generally mock us. “Write what you know” blurred into write what you are, and by the end of beer #4, we had created a balding, overweight accounting manager vampire who gets queasy at the sight of blood.
Come back next month for my personal reviews for the first two Vampire Vics!