Daven grew up reading Dr. Seuss, the Encyclopædia Brittanica and dinosaur books, never suspecting that one day all of those books would play crucial parts as inspiration for the Vampire Syndrome saga. The simple yet infallible wisdom of Theodore Geisel serving as the model for protagonist Jack Wendell. Encyclopædia research inspired Daven to craft unparalleled levels of back story detail, reconciling science and folklore in ways no “vampire novel” has ever done before. And if that large meteor had not impacted the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, reptiles could easily have evolved into a humanoid form that would bear resemblance to the alien Pure Vampires of Daven’s saga.
Daven accepted the challenge to craft a saga featuring a brave, wise, dignified hero with special needs, which would reach an audience that would never dream of reading a novel like “Forrest Gump.” Like “Gump”, a story where a hero with special needs proves that quick wit and cunning do not equal wisdom. Unlike “Gump”, a story where danger stalks the hero from beginning to end, from Jack’s well-meaning but devious human Vampire compatriots, to the carnivorous alien Pure Vampires that strike fear in the hearts of all human Vampires. Jack struggles to survive and find acceptance in a world where the “human” and the “monster” are one and the same.
Follow Daven on Twitter @DavenAnderson
* How much time are you able to devote to writing?
I write what I can, when I can. Do any of us have “enough” time to do everything we want to do in a given lifetime?
* Tell me about one of your characters and how that character was born.
Jack Wendell was born from all the people with special needs I have worked with over the past twenty years. When I set about to create a “better” vampire novel, one of the writing exercises I referred to was “Imagine all your co-workers as vampires.” When I got to my co-workers with special needs, this exercise became really interesting. Of course, I wished to show my co-workers as the wise and dignified human beings they are. So Jack became a vampire Forrest Gump, a man of simple yet profound wisdom. Great as Winston Groom’s novel is, Forrest never had to face real challenges in his life. Such as being marked for death by vampire law enforcers, who consider “slow” vampires to be a risk to their community’s secrecy. “Forrest Gump” has a notable lack of vampires, aliens, car chases and wife swaps, so I “fixed” all that; creating a book that will attract the attention of readers who would never consider reading a story about a normal protagonist with special needs.
* Why do you write and what struggles have you had in publishing?
What started as a challenge to write a “better” vampire novel has become a vision quest, wherein I can educate the “average reader” about the unique wisdom and dignity of individuals with special needs. A message too few have seen, or taken to heart. To look past people’s exteriors and see the hearts within.
The biggest struggle I had with publishing is that the major publishing houses were lukewarm about Jack, and they preferred to focus on the “Human Vampires versus Alien Vampires” conflict that escalates as the saga progresses. Jack is, of course, a key player (the “pawn”) in this conflict. Without Jack at its core, the Humans vs. Aliens conflict is gutted of its exploration into what makes sentient beings “human”, becoming relatively shallow Hollywood blockbuster material. Which might have been exactly the revisioning the big publishers wanted. I was not game for that.
* What is the biggest reward you’ve gotten as a published author (i.e., personal satisfaction, monetary gain, networking)?
A young man with special needs is now writing his own fantasy fiction, because Jack inspired him. This means more to me than all the money in the world.
After my experiences with the major publishers viewing the elements of a story only as tools to fit their agenda, I am immeasurably pleased that I am signed to an independent traditional publisher, PDMI; who supports authors’ creative visions, and does not hew to major publishers’ formulas for “success”