Derrick Ferguson: Who is Tracy Angelina Evans?
Tracy Angelina Evans: That kid you saw get picked on at school, but never really paid much attention to, ‘cos she seemed to strive for invisibility.
DF: Where do you reside and what do you do to keep yourself in cheese and crackers?
TAE: After “serving time” in South Carolina for almost 33 years, I am now residing in San Diego. Cheese and crackers are in abundance, since seven of her roommates are birds.
DF: Tell us something about your background.
TAE: I was born in Asheville, NC in 1967, but moved to Duncan, SC at the age of 13. My entire family were artists of some sort, but most were in love with writing or music.
DF: How long have you been writing?
TAE: Between the ages of 4 and 7. I was told by my paternal grandmother to go draw flies. Taking her literally, I began to draw flies, then flies in spider webs, and then I had to give a reason why they ended up in such a horrible position. The writing of such a terrible tragedy was my first attempt.
DF: What are your influences?
TAE: Music is my primary influence. As for writers, Clive Barker is at the top. His work is what eased me into the idea I’d always wanted to share: The Monster Is the Beautiful One. Tolkien’s obsession with language is what drew me to him. Others include Carl Jung, Stephen King, Salvador Dali, Leonard Wolf (in particular), Russell Hoban, historical mysteries about the Cathars, the Great Mortality, the Dyatlov Pass, and a variety of “expert” books on Shamanism, prophecy, divine madness, and alchemy.
DF: What is your philosophy of writing?
TAE: It’s kind of Quantum theory, I guess, since I lean toward the science that thought cannot happen without having happened before or happened in complete reverse. That would certainly explain the similarities of Vampires from one culture to another. But, to take it a step further, your mere thought of a thing brings it into existence. It may seem to be fantasy to you, but in some spot in the multiverse, someone if fighting a real fight, and probably losing, against a spectre calling himself Cadmus. Probable? Don’t know. Possible? Maybe. I’m not a Physicist. The Vampire books I’ve written aren’t typical horror fair; rather, I consider recycled Faery stories, and folklore from around the world, with the added luxuries of electricity and social media. Trying to combine the ancient and the modern is why I never give an actual time that anything in the books happened. Also, I deliberately moved around the dates of actual events in our reality, so it would be difficult to place the narrative of the story with a calendar of any sort.
DF: What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
TAE: Both! No, it really depends on what the story is wanting. If I can outline it, I try to remain to true to that, in typical Virgo fashion. But there are many times where I’ve seen the story go off the rail and refuse to budge. This can be rather painful, especially when it involves Cadmus Pariah being needlessly cruel. One of my editors, Jill Rosenburg, gave me the title of “method writer,” because I tend to go too deep, feel too much, and leave with wounds that may not heal.
DF: How do you use social media to promote your writing? What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Tracy Angelina Evans?
TAE: I try to mention it and sample it as often as possible, everywhere I linger online, and do so in all social formats all at once, or at least close to it. Our Internet is no longer a giant web, or an endless sea, it’s grown to the proportion of universe itself; as a result most everything gets lost in the miasma. The more a worf, a phrase, or hashtag comes closer to the surface, the more like it will be to get noticed.
Anyone who grows weary of Hemingway’s Iceberg Style of writing may enjoy these. Those interested in Vampires, not so much the American version, but the earlier European version may appreciate this. George Gordon Lord Byron’s groupies may also love Thiyennen. Folks who like to read a book or story, then get to say near the end, “So this is why that happened! Well, hootdang!”
So, yeah, I’d like to think I had an audience. That would be great! But I have no such delusion I will ever be a subject at the dinner table. That’s okay. The books were as much for my own understanding of the Great Ineffable as they are for others’ enjoyment, horror, or WTF moments.
DF: Two more questions before we get to discussing your trilogy. First; why the obsession with Shriekback and where did it begin?
TAE: Oh, where there is a story and a half for you. I’d heard the name of the band over the years but growing up on the buckle of the Bible Belt with few record stores around, and even less money with which to buy them, I remained tight to my Electric Light Orchestra roots. It was only until after cable finally made its way to my area that I finally got to see MTV, before it became the joke it is today. I began collecting music videos, a lot of which would be more prevalent at night. Since I was working 1st Shift at BMG, I would ask Aunt Tudi is she’d put my tape on record before she went to bed. One night, after taping the Cure’s ‘Lullaby,’ which I been dying to have, she decided to leave the tape recording as she watched the video.
When I got up the next morning, she told me she got the vid I had wanted, but she also had a video I may be interested in, because it looked a little like “that Fellini movie you like so much.” She was referring to Satyricon. So ‘Nemesis’ was the first song I intentionally heard by the band. It turned out years later, that I’d been listening to them four years before I saw ‘Nemesis,’ because one of my first VHS movies was the first Hannibal movie, Manhunter.
It turned out that their music would have a large part in creating the essence with which I wanted to blanket the stories. Between European Classical (mostly Czech in nature), Romani music, South African music, Klezmer, and Shriekback, I had before me a musical Nirvana I really couldn’t explain. But I can say that the ebb and flow of The Relics are very closely tied to Shriekback’s songs. That’s the primary reason a portion of their lyrics are offered as each chapters’ lean-in.
DF: And what are The Tim Roth Tutorials?
TAE: I started the Tim Roth Tutorials as a way of dipping my foot in the video-making process, because I wanted to create lyric videos for Illuminati’s songs, which have so far only been released once via the Shriekback Digital Conspiracy back in the early 2000s. I didn’t know diddly about WSFTP, so this was practice for me. Then it got some attention of some of Tim Roth’s “Hooligans” – his fans – who wanted more tutorials. I think I have around 200 now? I don’t know. When I switched to Mac, I’ve been trying to learn iMovie, so I can continue them, ‘cos it’s a fun hobby, and some folk seem to like them.
DF: Why write about vampires?
TAE: I write about Vampires because I was raised on a steady media diet of vampirism, thanks to watching ‘Dark Shadows’ in my playpen whilst the mother unit toodled about. Then came Shock Theatre on Saturdays, followed by reruns of the original ‘Star Trek.’ Being an only child, Vampires and space men became my siblings. During college, I decided to study Vampiric origins and discovered that every culture describes almost the same thing, when asked about Vampires. The great thing about 30 Days of Night is that it’s the most accurate account of Vampires, according to folklore. Even if they are accurate, they still aren’t my favourite. Neither is the modern, buddy-buddy attitude so many have to day. Vampires do not sparkle.
Honestly, though, I think I write about Vampires for the same reason many others do, if I may make such a bold assumption: I write them because they allow me to be something on paper what I can never be in “reality.” Going to that place where philosophy is uttered whilst a mage-like individual carefully vivisects his victim, because death would just ruin the moment, frees me to be kinder in real life, whatever that may be.
And then there’s this whole legendary vibe, where Vampires come into a story that has nothing to do with them and, if you read between the lines, you can almost sense how some of the earlier legends manifested. Some of the greatest moments of archetypal panic are of the Great Mortality, heavenly events (that we can now explain), even crib death. I believe everything is cyclic, and I believe in the ability to create Tulpas, and when enough energy is focused on one thing or belief, that thing acquires power.
DF: Do you think that popular culture is oversaturated with vampires?
TAE: More often than not, considering the Twilight franchise. But we humans, as a whole, prefer the presence of thought forms in our lives. They’re familiar, they answer questions, especially about ourselves. As such, every generation experiences a saturation of sorts. We need it, to carry on the stories, satiate the monster with the blood of our imaginations. It would be a much more depressing world, if we weren’t afforded that tinge of possibility that the succubus is right around the corner.
DF: What makes your vampires and your conception of vampires different from those we’ve seen recently in books, movies and television?
TAE: Well, they all owe their existence to a race that inhabited the planet before humans ever walked the surface. So the first ten Vampires were of alien origin. There is a science-fiction feel to the books, as a result, as well as a mythic/legendary vibe, especially in the second book, The Blood Crown. Vampires are mostly just like us, some can even withstand the sun. Believe it or not, not all traditional Vampires would perish by sunlight. One, called vrykolokas, from Greek legend, would often go to his job after he’d died, and go home to his family. There were just those inconvenient times of drinking so much blood, he’d turn ruddy and look like a barrel. That gave him the name “drum-like” – vrykolakas. I haven’t been reading or watching much Vampire media in years, because I tend to soak things up and I don’t want to inadvertently steal something from someone else.
DF: Give us an overview of The Vampire Relics Trilogy.
TAE: The Vampire Relics Trilogy concerns three sacred objects that hold the entire nation of Vampires (the Great Hive) sway. Each book is named for a relic and, even though it is the relics that drive the story, it is how the character behaves during and after the hunt. More about the origins of the relics, the Vampires, and their maker comes to light with each book.
DF: Did you conceive of The Vampire Relics as a trilogy right from the start? And if not, when did you know it was going to be a trilogy?
TAE: The Chalice was supposed to be one book, ending with the imprisonment of then-villain Kelat. At that time, in 1987, it was my attempt to come to grips with the idea of “soul mates,” how so many people find a kind of psychic completion when they meet that one, the one who finishes your sentences or shares memories of things that never happened to either of us. This was when I started reading A Dream of Dracula by Leonard Wolf and Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. Those books, combined with my life-long fascination with Arthurian legends, along with learning about “alternative” religions, where a cup was the most sacred of tools to have on an altar, because the cup represented the feminine force, life, and immortality. I left it open-ended, not because I was planning on writing another book, but because I thought I might one day revisit those characters.
When I wrote a little drabble on my Live Journal about Cadmus interrupting Kelat as she meditated in what she thought was a secret temple, that gave rise to the second book of the Relics, The Blood Crown.
DF: Is it accurate to say that The Vampire Relics began with Cadmus Pariah? Who is Cadmus Pariah and why does he fascinate you so?
TAE: The stories that came to light in the three books were, some of them, decades old. In the first bones of the story, Kelat was the antagonist, the image of beautiful evil so reviled by her hero brother Thiyennen, who happened to be a Vampire himself. Character-building and story construction began in 1987. I knew what I wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how I could tell it. Also, I was very uncomfortable making Kelat out to be the antagonist, based upon all I’d then read about Goddess worship and attempts of the patristic tribes to wash any shred of history she had from human brains then and forever. I wanted to mart of campaign. But I was without a villain again, so the story and its mythologies lay dormant for almost three years. When I listened to ‘Deeply Lined Up’ by Shriekback in 1990 that was the last straw. It was that song that gave birth to the Pariah.
But it’s Rob Dougan’s ‘Clubbed to Death’ that has consistently aided in defining the character. That piece possesses a quiet menace that is only magnified by the piano solo. It’s a song of one-ness and alone-ness, and being perfectly all right with both states. Almost everyone believes that Cadmus was born from one inspiration. True to his nature in the books, he has several parents, and belongs to none of them.
DF: You’ve taken great pains to create an entire mythology for your trilogy. How difficult is it to create a universe?
TAE: A lot of the mythology I used in The Vampire Relics is material I could never make fit into a proper book, and I perceive that “over” story to still be telling else. The mythology was there so the trilogy could be born.
DF: Which book was the most fun and easiest to write? Which one was the hardest?
TAE: The Blood Crown was the most fun, but the parts about what Cadmus does to Faust weren’t very fun at all. Otherwise, it was a joy, because I got to study Orphaeus and Cadmus much more intimately than before. Their travels, to me, took on a Hope/Crosby vibe, so that was a great deal of fun.
The Chalice was the first, and it was the one that hibernated for the coming of the Shrieks into my life. After that, it was written pretty fast. The Augury of Gideon has been most difficult, because “real life” was taking up not only my time, but challenging the belief system from whence the books came. There were some days I struggled with not blurting out what Gideon’s augury really was.
DF: I know you have a deep interest in conspiracy theories. How much of that went into and/or influence you while writing The Vampire Relics?
TAE: The back-story of the Apostate came almost wholly from the arcane legends of ‘The Brotherhood of the Snake’, the Cathars, and the Knights Templar. The man, the human, who brought the curse of blood down on the ten Tarmi, was in the Brotherhood of the Snake, and a student at the Tarmian college of Khemeth. As you can see from just that, conspiracy theories and ancient aliens take up a lot of my time.
DF: What have you got planned next? And where do you see your writing career five years from now?
TAE: Right now, I’m writing what I think will be a standalone book. It will feature Cadmus, of course, as well as Orphaeus,Rebekah, and Mephistopheles. It’ll introduce Cadmus’ rival, Flint. The working title is TAE: The back-story of the Apostate came almost wholly from the arcane legends of ‘The Brotherhood of the Snake’, the Cathars, and the Knights Templar. The man, the human, who brought the curse of blood down on the ten Tarmi, was in the Brotherhood of the Snake, and a student at the Tarmian college of Khemeth. As you can see from just that, conspiracy theories and ancient aliens take up a lot of my time.
DF: What have you got planned next? And where do you see your writing career five years from now?
TAE: Right now, I’m writing what I think will be a standalone book. It will feature Cadmus, of course, as well as Orphaeus, Rebekah, and Mephistopheles. It’ll introduce Cadmus’ rival, Flint. The working title is The Harming Tree, which actually exists, and was a musical instrument of sorts made by Barry Andrews. which actually exists.
DF: What’s a Typical Day In The Life of Tracy Angelina Evans like?
TAE: Get up, if I ever got down. Get down, no matter what state you’re in. Getting down is never a bad thing. Attempt breakfast. Clean the cat box. Follow cookie crumbs and connect dots ~ kind of a synchronistic Yoga to help with sanity-management. Research, research, research. Promote, promote, promote (not me). Read the latest news and let the anger flow through me. Read the latest in space and physics news, and let the wonder flow through me. Try to respond to all communications. Then write, to music. If there’s no music, there is no writing.
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?
Tracy Angelina Evans: Everything you ever imagined might be in that scary closet in your is, is. And it’s your fault for imagining it, in the first place. Rest well, tonight.