Brought to you by OBS reviewer Vicki.
Be sure to read our review for “Brachman’s Underworld” here at OBS.
Vicki: First of all, congratulations on Brachman’s Underworld! As a fairly new author, is it a little nerve-wracking that your books are being read/reviewed by actual people? Do you have any advice for how newly published authors can handle this milestone?
Vlad Vaslyn: Thank you. I’m honored to have been invited to give this interview!
It was definitely nerve-wracking at first. Artists in any medium pour their heart and soul into a work. They want people to love it as much as they do, and I’m no different. I found myself hanging on every word when reviews started coming in. Every compliment made me feel like Shakespeare, and every criticism made me feel like a four year-old with a Crayon. Luckily most of those reviews were positive, and after awhile I settled down and began to focus on what they could teach me. Where was I weak? How could I improve? What themes and ideas resonated most strongly with my readers? Some of them helped me define certain areas that I improved upon in my second title, Yorick, which I’m happy to say has done very well.
For the debut author, I would recommend getting back to work as quickly as you can. You’re competing with a sea of other writers who want to succeed just as badly as you do, and bringing quality fiction to market takes time. If readers discover your title and really like it, they’ll want more.
Vicki You’re quite clearly a Stephen King fan; can you tell us a little bit about how he has influenced your work?
Vlad Vaslyn: The Tommyknockers was the first book I read that was aimed at adults and not at children. I was eleven years old, I snuck it out of the library on my sister’s library card, and it took me months to finish it because it scared the hell out of me. I was too young to absorb all of the adult themes, but the visceral terror of the unknown in it seduced me. I’ve always been a little bit too curious, and I related to the desire to dig up the bizarre object Bobbi Anderson discovers while walking in the woods one day, despite the fact that something awful could be lurking beneath her.
One of the reasons why King’s books have been so successful for so long is because they invariably ask a very human question: “Isn’t it always better to shine a light into the darkness?” I certainly think it is, and this is a theme I often explore in my own work.
Vicki Have you drawn inspiration from any other authors/genres/mediums?
Vlad Vaslyn: Absolutely! I’m constantly inspired by the works of other authors, and I don’t limit myself to a single genre because each one has something to teach me. My favorite stories are usually cross-genre works that introduce a variety of themes and literary devices, though I’m a big fan of literary fiction as well.
Music has to be a close second as a creative catalyst. Some of my best ideas have come while listening to music and cleaning the house, or while doing some other mundane task. Visual arts can do the trick as well. I often peruse images online to get the creative juices flowing.
Vicki I haven’t read very much in the horror genre but I know that it has been through many incarnations throughout the years. You have a new and distinct voice in horror. Will you continue to write in this genre and what classic horror tropes will you ALWAYS include in your work?
Vlad Vaslyn: I’ll continue to write in the genre, but I’m beginning to find elements from other genres creeping into my work. Brachman’s Underworld and Yorick can be considered horror, but my third title is Science Fiction with a dark edge. My next full-length novel is a Horror/Fantasy/Adventure called Travelin’ Isaac. Both titles explore darker themes, but both are much harder to categorize as strictly horror.
I can’t really say if there are certain things that I’ll always include in my work, because not only does each story demand something different from me, but I’ve also grown as a writer. I have no idea where this path will take me artistically, and there’s a distinct difference between the gory stories I’d write as a teenager, Brachman’s Underworld, and the titles I’ll be producing over the next two years.
Vicki There’s been a little bit of a split-camp reaction towards Delilah. What do you say to the readers who find her difficult to love?
Vlad Vaslyn: Delilah is deeply flawed and emotionally hobbled, so I’d say to give her a chance before condemning her. It’s for this reason that she finds herself in a Purgatory of sorts; she’s just good enough to avoid Hell, but not quite good enough to be embraced by Heaven. Her salvation lies in whether or not she can find her way out of the labyrinth of her own soul. Once she discovers that she only has six days until her judgment, she’s forced to reevaluate what brought her to this point, and she finds strengths and revelations within herself and her past experiences. Is it enough? That’s up to the reader to decide.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that Brachman’s Underworld is a deeply psychological tale that deals with dark and gritty themes though, so it isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s been called “disturbing,” “dark,” “nightmare-inducing” and “intense.” Delilah isn’t a wholly likable character, and she isn’t your typical Good Guy, but if you like darker reads, then I hope that you’ll give her a chance. Even if you don’t come to love her, hopefully you can at least come to understand her.
One of the reasons this book hits so close to home for some readers is because they may be forced to analyze their own knee-jerk reactions about other people, and that can be uncomfortable. The lens of judgment may be turned on them as well as Delilah Brachman as they struggle with her through Other Lowell.
Vicki Out of all your imaginative characters and creatures, who/what is your favorite and why?
Vlad Vaslyn: It has to be Kevin. He’s a regular guy who was dealt a losing hand in life, and yet he keeps on going despite his hardships. He never stops trying to improve himself because he’s certain that it’s the right thing to do, even though there’s no guarantee of a favorable judgment, or even a tangible reward in the end. For years, he’s existed in a twisted version of reality surrounded by the madness of Other Lowell, and yet he’s discovered the strength within himself to stay on a path that he deems to be the right one.
Vicki Without giving anything away, there seems to be potential for a sequel – are there any plans in the works?
Vlad Vaslyn: Not at the moment. Forgive the bad pun, but Brachman’s Underworld really sucked the life out of me! It took a long time to produce, and came with all the trials and tribulations that you’d expect with a debut novel. It’s time to for me to move on to the other worlds that have been calling me, before they can fade.
Vicki Do you have a favourite quote from Brachman’s Underworld that you’d like to share?
Vlad Vaslyn: “We are all moral pendulums.”
Vicki What are you working on right now?
Vlad Vaslyn: My next book is a collection of three Science Fiction novellas entitled Tales of a Darker Dream, due out in the Spring of 2013.
The first story, The Button, is about two brothers who stumble upon an ancient burial mound. The corpse inside is clutching a strange, futuristic cube with a button on top of it. Will one of them press it? What will happen if they do?
The second tale is called Relics. Despite the thousands of worlds mankind has conquered throughout its millennia of space travel, we can no longer procreate, and our vast empire has contracted back down to a single planet. Desperate to find answers before extinction becomes a reality, we reach out for something, anything to save us. At the edge of known space, Daphne has detected a signal. Will it lead to our final destruction, or to our ultimate salvation?
The third story is called Zed Park, and it’s a bloody good time. Also set in the future, it’s about three college buddies who visit an infamous and outlawed theme park reserved only for the extremely wealthy. Zed Park isn’t filled with rides, games, or cotton candy. It’s a dangerous urban labyrinth riddled with booby-traps, puzzles, weapons, and my version of zombies…lots and lots of zombies. Will the boys make it through alive?
Thank you to author Vlad Vaslyn for an amazing interview!