Today we have the pleasure of talking to Holly Barrington, author of The Substitute. The Substitute is a vampire-thriller where humans and vampires live in peace and harmony... or so it seems.
“The Substitute” is set in an alternate Britain, where Vampires and Mortals co-exist more or less in harmony. However, that may soon be about to change . . .
Emily Brown starts her new job at Pathway Software, and at first everything goes well. She makes new friends there and her bosses are impressed so things are really looking up for Emily. Until her friend is killed. Murdered. The official account said it was a gang hit gone bad, and rumours suggest she had drugs in her possession.
However another, unofficial, report suggests that the bullet wounds were all post-mortem, and the drugs were planted on her in the morgue. It also says that she suffered multiple broken bones, cuts, contusions and…vampire bites. Everything suggests that her friend died a brutal and vicious death at the hands of a number of vampires.
Vampire and Mortal relations are, on the whole, very good. Ever since The Compact, there have been eighty five years of unprecedented peace between the two worlds. But there are some dissenters, the foremost of which are the sinister Circle of Ixiom. And Emily is about to become their bitterest enemy . . . ~ Courtesy of Goodreads
Tell us a little about yourself.Hmmm. This is really hard! There's not all that much to tell as I've lead a pretty uneventful life. I started writing when I was fifteen, and it soon became a real passion. Ever since those early days, writing has taken up a lot of my time, although I do find time for other interests. As well as writing books (well, one book), I love to read them as well. Writing is a way to express myself, whereas reading is my favourite way of relaxing. My other great passion is animals, especially cats (I have 3). Curling up with a book and a cat is my idea of heaven. I volunteer at a local animal shelter, which I find very rewarding. I also love to hike, and it's great to be able to get away from it all and spend a day walking in the hills.
The Substitute is about vampires. I've always loved the idea of vampires. There is something scary yet intriguing about them. Why did you choose to write about vampires?Like you, I've always been intrigued by vampires. Until relatively recently they were always portrayed as evil monsters, but I have always thought of them as being very similar to humans. Vampires are considered to be evil incarnate because they kill humans, but humans kill other species for food, so what's the difference? They are also often portrayed as being evil for trying to subjugate humans, but it's no different to the way humans treat other species, and even other humans. Vampires are essentially humans with sharp teeth.
Is there anything different about the vampires in The Substitute? Can you tell us a little about what caused them to get along with humans instead of hiding from them or just taking over and controlling humans, without giving too much away?
I think the main difference with the vampires in "The Substitute" is the fact that, for the most part, they are happy to integrate with humans. And not just in a superficial way either, because Vampires and Mortals work together, play together and become friends. Some even marry, although this is still quite rare. For the most part there is no real difference between the two groups. Vampires are stronger and have superior reflexes (and sharp teeth), but these differences have little meaning in everyday life. This co-existance has been made possible by removing the one element that has always ensured that vampires and humans are enemies - the vampire's need for human blood. I don't want to give anything away, so you'll have to read the book to find out how I got around this.
I know this contradicts what I said in my previous answer, but I came up with the idea as a result of living in a multi-cultural country (Britain) where the majority of people get on very well. I thought that this would make an interesting setting that would contrast with the events in the story. And just like in our society there are extremists, which is at the heart of the book.
Can you tell us a little about Emily Brown, the main character in The Substitute? What is she like? What should I expect if I was going to meet her in real life?Emily Brown started off as an ordinary girl, nothing remarkable about her at all. Because of the path she chose, out of her love for a childhood friend, she is forced to live a life where danger is ever-present. This has brought out the best in her, and she is now a rather extraordinary young woman. She has shown great courage and fortitude, and has devoted her life to a cause.
However, if you met her you might be rather disappointed. She is a friendly, outgoing, rather personable young woman but there appears to be nothing remarkable about her. A far cry from the action woman with nerves of steel that you might be expecting.
What was your favorite thing about writing The Substitute?My favourite thing was the way that the story evolved, and seemed to take on a life of it's own. I've not experienced this before, only previously having written short stories. At times it seemed like I was watching events unfold instead of creating them myself. Likewise, I felt as though I was actually getting to know Emily as a real person instead of just a character in a book. It was all rather strange at first, but it was amazing the way I became really immersed in the story. I found that I had more freedom to really let my imagination run wild than when writing short stories. I'm really looking forward to writing another book!
Thanks so much for talking to us today, Holly!
For more of The Substitute by Holly Barrington, check out Goodreads!