Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - Exclusive Interview

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - Exclusive Interview
The lauded author talks to us about her upcoming book, Roman Dusk.
Updated: 07-13-2006

The award-winning Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is best known as the creator of the heroic vampire, the Count Saint-Germain, a character who's graced the pages of more than 20 of her books. With her design of Saint-Germain, Yarbro delved into history and vampiric literature, then subverted the standard myth to invent the first vampire who was more honorable, humane, and heroic than most of the humans around him. The world and its mortal inhabitants, not the vampires, are forces of darkness in Yarbro's long-running "historical horror" series.



Staci Layne Wilson / How do you maintain such a level of output? Are your creative fires always just burning or do they sometimes need to be stoked?


Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: Some of it is habit and a routine I've followed for the better part of a quarter century.  There's always something to draw on for work, but that doesn't mean that the metaphoric heat operates at the same temperature all the time:  some days it's more craft than art, occasionally much more art, but most of the time there's a balance.


Q: How do your ideas for Saint-Germain come to you?


CQY: In selecting a locale and a period, it's important that women are accessible to foreigners in the society, or I have nothing to work with.  I maintain a chronology on Saint-Germain so I know what my options are.  Some of the choices are based upon research, some on what the publisher is looking for, and some on what new historical material is available for me to draw upon.


Q: I was really shocked when I read that the Saint-Germain stories have never been adapted for the screen — a movie would be great, but a series might be even better. What are your thoughts on this?


CQY: Twenty years of mini-series would be very nice, and would keep all the books available as well.  But so far, I'm about the only person who thinks so.


Q: Who would be the ideal Saint-Germain for a movie or series?


CQY: Since that would be wholly out of my hands if a film deal ever materialized, I don't dwell on it  --  that way lies utter frustration.


Q: What are your thoughts on reviews — do you read them? If so, how much weight do they carry?


CQY: Most of the time I read reviews; I didn't used to, but it's prudent to do so.  I would like to think they would not influence me at all, since the work they address is finished and I am working on other material; the only impact a review could have would be to make me self-conscious about my present work, and that would be deadly.


Q: What, do you feel, sets Saint-Germain apart from other famous fictional vampires? Why do you — and your readers — keep coming back for more?


CQY: Some academics credit Saint-Germain as the source of the rehabilitation of the vampire.  I don't know that I agree, but I did deliberately push the Dracular version of vampires as far to the positive as I could and still have a recognizable vampire. I don't know why the readers keep coming back, but I'm delighted that they do.


Q: You have covered so much ground in your novels — If you could go back in time to spend some time with Saint-Germain any era, which would you choose?


CQY: I have a fondness for 1st century Rome  --  women's rights, cleanliness, clean water, good food, and reasonably good medicine  --  but I actually like where I am now.  I enjoy writing about all kinds of periods I would like to avoid in actuality.  Same thing about historical people.  I like most of the honchos of Renaissance Florence, but I know they would find me annoying at the least and disturbing at the most, educated women being in short supply at the time.


Q: What would you like your fans to know about your upcoming novel, Roman Dusk?


CQY: Rome of the Decadence, when Roman Dusk takes place, is not the Rome of Blood Games.  The society has changed and the social and political climate is very different.  I would like to think most books can be read as singletons as well as parts of series.  From what my clarity readers tell me, Roman Dusk is quite accessible for first-timers.


Q: It's superficial, I know, but your most recent book covers are absolutely stunning. Do you have input?


CQY: I like the covers, too and had no role in how they came out other than to provide a few sources for things like the style of the period.  I can say anything I like about my covers; in general, publishers pay little or no attention, although every now and then I get to discuss things with the artist or with the art director on a project.  On those infrequent occasions, I tend to like the results.


Q: I heard that you like to horseback ride for relaxation. Do you still enjoy doing that, when you're not writing?


CQY: Until last year I rode fairly frequently, but I've had to give up riding  --  I truly didn't want to, but the arthritis in my knees is too advanced now for me to be safe in the saddle.  I found my Norwegian Fjord a good home, (my previous horse was a Thoroughbred-Quarter-horse cross) and she is very happy where she is now.  I still like being around horses, so I spend time with some of my friends' horses when I can spare a day.


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Visit Chelsea Quinn Yarbro online at her official website.


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