Happy Friday the 13th and welcome to Lit Witches’ first Freaky Friday, where we’ll discuss texts that are dark, sexy, and otherwise subversive. Today we’re talking with Sara Dobie Bauer, author of the short story Forever Dead.
Even centuries didn’t prepare Dario for Zach Mede and a love that took his vampire heart by storm. But loving a mortal holds dangers of its own. A mortal can be murdered … and murderers are everywhere.
Allison: In Forever Dead, the world knows vampires exist and the story hinges on the conflict that produces. What made you want to write about a world in which vampires and humans are openly struggling for power?
Sara: Isn’t someone always struggling for power in this world? Someone is always against someone else, whether they are Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, male or female. I simply made vampires another subculture, fighting for equality, because let’s face it: no matter how different we are, we deserve to be treated equally.
Allison: This is one of the things I like most about Forever Dead. It’s fun, scary and sexy, but it’s tackling some big emotional/political issues with grace and without “pushing” an agenda. In other words, it’s truthful and real. I think good fantasy grounds itself in the deeper reality of people’s everyday struggles.
Sara: Exactly. I mean we’re not all super buff homosexual vampires (unfortunately).
Allison: Right? That would be so great.
Sara: I would be such a homosexual vampire slut. But back to reality …
Most of us have been in tumultuous relationships. Dario and Zach love each other, even if they’re loath to admit it. They love each other, but their relationship is in serious conflict as one of them is being hunted. Plus, everyone has to die—even vampires, in certain cases—and I often wonder: what happens to love when the one you love goes away?
Allison: Even though this is ostensibly a love story, your main character Dario is still pretty scary. He’s not trying to drink animal blood or wallowing in guilt about the humans he consumes. He seems comfortable in his vamp skin. Lots of authors in the genre equate love with humanity and that seems to result in guilty-acting vampires. Dario is a vampire rights activist in love with a human, why isn’t he brooding in the corner over his lost humanity?
Sara: Ha. I know you’re talking about Louis in Interview with a Vampire. I never liked Louis. I was more of a Lestat girl, which is probably where Dario comes from.
Allison: We can be in the “I heart Lestat” club together. From Lestat to Damon Salvatore, I’m drawn to the big bad sexy vamps. That’s not to say that I hated Angel or that I don’t appreciate some of the tamer blood-suckers out there, but the bad-boy, slightly scary ones give me the shivers–in the best possible way.
Sara: We should make “I Heart Lestat” t-shirts!
Allison: I would wear mine everywhere.
Sara: Seriously, I’ve always been a huge fan of anti-villains. The most obvious, perhaps, is Hannibal Lecter. I mean you root for that crazy cannibal!
I like bad boys who own their badness. Dario isn’t afraid of his own bloodlust. He doesn’t feel bad about attacking Zach (who inadvertently ends up being the love of his life). Bad boys can love. Going back to Lecter, he obviously cared immensely for Clarice. Dario cares for Zach.
Dario hasn’t lost his humanity; his humanity has merely changed. He is a villain to love, and I love that. I relate to monsters that embrace their own monstrosity, because no matter how much we deny it, the darkest parts of ourselves are often our favorite parts.
Allison: YES. I’m really into reading stuff that tackles the idea that we’re all little monstrous in some way. Embrace the darkness, I say.
Sara: Embrace it but also exorcise it. I’ve often said that if I didn’t write (and work out religiously), I would be a psychopathic murderer.
I did a photo shoot as Marla Singer (of Fight Club fame) as a form of exorcism. I’ve always associated with her smoking and self-abuse. In the words of Tyler Durden, “At least she’s trying to hit bottom.” If not for the people who love me, I would be Marla. Playing her in character was very cleansing … as was playing a murderer in a short film. My screenwriter friend told me, “I have this role that’s perfect for you. She’s a psycho who murders her neighbor over a Frisbee.” (In hindsight, was that a compliment?)
Allison: I’m going to go with yes, totally. I agree about writing-as-exorcism; most of my own writing is about getting the spooky stuff in my head someplace where it does me, and hopefully other people, some good.
Sara: Even though we writers write because we HAVE TO, we also write to make other people feel not so alone. I’ve had many people come up to me and say, “I feel like you wrote this for me.” That is the highest form of compliment.
Allison: I know you’ve got another vamp-story brewing. Are the characters in Bite Somebody: A Bloodsucker’s Diary living in the same world as Zach and Dario, or is this a different world altogether?
Sara: Bite Somebody is a novel written in diary form, and it is nothing like Forever Dead. Bite Somebody is comic-romance set in a world where vampires are still “in the closet.” Yes, the lead character, Celia, is a vampire, but she’s awkward and totally unsure of her new vampire tendencies. She falls in love with the smell of her neighbor but has no idea how to approach him. Her antics are laughable and embarrassing. Whereas Celia is a blundering innocent, Dario is villainous with a soft spot for one man: Zach Mede. Forever Dead is violent, erotic, and filled with shadows. In contrast, Bite Somebody is hilarious, light-hearted, and cast in the light of a moonlit beach.
Allison: I’ve gotta say, I like the idea of vampires on a moonlit beach. Count me in. Thanks so much for talking with me about your work.
Hunt Sara down:
Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer and prison volunteer in Phoenix, Arizona, with an honor’s degree in creative writing from Ohio University. She is a book nerd and sex-pert at SheKnows.com, and her short fiction has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Stoneslide Corrective, Blank Fiction, and Solarcide. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize. Read more about Sara at http://saradobie.wordpress.com or on Twitter.
Allison Carr Waechter is a voracious consumer of all things vampy. If she woke up undead, she’d bite you post haste and abuse her newfound power. For now she satisfies that urge by writing about a mentally ill vampire who’s in an epic fight with his sister. If you’re worried about how that’s going you can check in on her at http://acwaechter.com or on Twitter. (And she does not look half as cool as Sara, but wanted to show you this picture of her dressed as a steampunk pirate princess. As you do.)