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5 questions with Chris Farnsworth — ‘The President’s Vampire’ May 12, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, News.
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Last year in his debut novel BLOOD OATH,  Chris Farnsworth introduced readers to Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who has sworn to protect the nation and its leader from evil. And for the past 140 years, Cade has been the government’s super secret weapon, safeguarding every U.S. president from nightmarish fiends, terrorists and odd things that go bump in the dark. Now, in THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE, Cade is back. And it’s not spoiling things to say something very bad happens to Osama bin Laden in the very first chapter (does this guy know how to launch a book or what?), that Cade  has to battle some bizarre but very smart lizards as he tracks an ancient evil that he’s encountered before. And the conflict is enough to make Cade — the ultimate killing machine — think twice about his original blood oath.

Chris, on book tour right now for THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE, kindly took the time to answer a few questions about the series. For folks in San Diego, you can hear him speak Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, which is celebrating its 18th birthday with a series of authors and book signings throughout the day. And yes — there is birthday cake! (For more info, go to MG’s website for event info.)

And now — a few questions and answers from Chris. (You can visit his cool website at www.chrisfarnsworth.com):

Q. Cade is a monster — but he’s on “our” side. How do you write him so the monster doesn’t become well — the evil monster? Isn’t it in his nature — somewhere — to turn to the dark side?
A. It’s a constant tightrope walk for Cade between good and evil. He has to keep the monstrous parts of himself on a leash, only letting them out when he’s hunting other monsters. It takes a lot of willpower. For me, the trick to writing Cade is that he doesn’t think of himself as a hero. He knows he’s a monster. It requires inhuman control on his part to restrain himself from giving in to his baser instincts, even with the oath backing him up. Fortunately, he’s not human.

Q. Where did you get the idea for Snakehead (lizard) transformations? (I didn’t know you were so gruesome!)
A. I am, unfortunately, a very twisted person. Inside my head is not always a fun place to be. But the Snakeheads were born of necessity: I wanted a monster who could threaten what it meant to be human by its very existence. Fortunately, H.P. Lovecraft had already provided the basic template in his classic “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” He wrote about an amphibious race created by interbreeding between humans and monsters. I decided to insert Cade into the Lovecraft mythos, and have his enemies use the DNA of the Innsmouth families as a weapon.

Q. Cade & Zach: Talk about this interesting manboy relationship. Cade’s always having to bail out his butt. And isn’t Zach a bit overly trusting for a politico? Why does Cade put up with him?
A. Zach serves a lot of important purposes — for starters, he can walk around in direct sunlight. But he also provides a reminder to Cade of what it means to be human. When he needs a check on his vampiric side, Zach is there to show him what he lost when he gave into his bloodlust. As for trust — politics is all about trust. As cynical as people are about politics — both inside and outside the government — it all comes down, in the end, to people keeping their promises. This is why no scandal will topple a politician unless there’s that stink of hypocrisy about it. In politics, we still judge people on what they say they will do more than their actual performance. Zach is a product of that environment. It’s what makes him a good political operative. But unfortunately, he’s learning that the penalties for trusting the wrong person in this world are more than a lost election.

Q. Tania …. C’mon …. chicks want the girl and the romance in this thriller. Will we see more of her?
A. Tania is very much a part of THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE and will be around Cade for some time to come. She views Cade as her property and she gets very territorial about anyone else trying to kill him. She’s also driven to try to find out why Cade has so much more willpower and self-control than any other members of her kind. She’s not sure if what he evokes in her is love or competition, but she’s determined to figure it out. Cade, for his part, finds that Tania evokes feelings he’s not supposed to have. It’s going to make it very difficult when one of them finally has to kill the other.

Q. What’s next? Are you already writing book No. 3? Can you update us on movie stuff etc?
A. Book Three is well under way. It will take place against the backdrop of the 2012 election as Cade has to protect the president from an unkillable serial killer. The movie continues to advance, slowly but surely. A new screenwriter is working on the script, and the producer remains committed to doing it as his next project. Just like everything else in Hollywood, it all happens gradually — and then very suddenly.

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‘Blood Oath’ author: ‘I made it a book that I wanted to read’ May 23, 2010

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, News.
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Chris Farnsworth at a book signing in San Diego.

Chris Farnsworth already knows how things will wind up for vampire Nathaniel Cade in his BLOOD OATH series. “The last scene for each book is written, and I know how it’s going to end,” the author said Sunday at a book signing at the Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. And while he’s not divulging any plot secrets, he is “shooting for a long life” for the series, which launched earlier this week.

Some other thoughts from the former reporter turned screenwriter/author, whose book about a vampire who protects the president and United States against supernatural powers is already moving toward the big screen (CLICK HERE for movie details):

Why his chapters are so short: “It’s kind of the way I think. I want to leave a scene with a good exit or image.”

Where did he get the idea: Farnsworth was reading THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE by Robert Damon Schneck. In that compilation of amazing and bizarre incidents in U.S. history, Farnsworth read that  President Andrew Johnson had pardoned a sailor accused of killing two crew mates and drinking their blood in 1867. He wondered, “What if the president had a vampire?” And then started to build his world of world of spies, subterfuge, politics and monsters.

What did Schneck think? He was “great about it,” Farnsworth said.

Did being a reporter help him as an author? It taught him about deadlines, writing and production. “There’s no such thing as writer’s block when the newspaper deadline awaits,” he said. Working in the news industry also made Farnsworth realize he wanted to spend his time writing about ideas he wanted to pursue vs. a newspaper editor’s ideas.

Where he writes: He’s got a routine. Farnsworth writes and researches at an office near his LA home about 8 hours a day. A good day for him is 20 pages. (Tugging at him:  His “daddy-seeking-missile” — 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Caroline.)

On doing things his way: Farnsworth left the news industry about eight years ago to write novels and screenplays. In between, he sat through countless development meetings about what other people thought his stories should be about. He calls BLOOD OATH his “half-court shot” and said, “If it didn’t work, I was going to be a barista at Starbucks or tend bar.”  But instead, he followed his gut and poured everything he had into his own vision: “I made it a book that I wanted to read.”

Related links:

  • To read a Q&A with Chris Farnsworth CLICK HERE.
  • To read the Washington Post’s review of BLOOD OATH, CLICK HERE.
  • BLOOD OATH makes the New York Post’s “Required Reading” list. CLICK HERE to read.
  • Great profile of Chris and more about the book by The Orange County Register’s Peter Larsen. CLICK HERE to read.
  • Author’s site is HERE. And CLICK HERE for the book site.
  • You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrisfarnsworth.
  • Finally, check out his book tour. It starts in Southern California but he winds his way through a couple of other states. CLICK HERE for book signing info.

    My friend Hieu talking with Chris. (Both worked at OC Register.)

    Me getting my book signed. (Chris and I worked together as biz reporters.)

    Q&A: ‘Blood Oath’ author on his vampire, movie & what part of the novel is true! May 19, 2010

    Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, News.
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    Chris Farnsworth

    Nathaniel Cade. He’s a man’s vamp. A killer in a world of twisted and freaky monsters — but you want him to succeed because he’s all that stands between you and evil. Cade is the creation of Chris Farnsworth, a journalist turned screenwriter/novelist who this week released his political thriller BLOOD OATH. Cade is a very special secret agent — a vampire who has protected every U.S. president for the past 140 years. The novel is a fast read, full of action, grisly deeds, political intrigue — and even a tiny bit of vamp romance. (OK — in full disclosure, I received a reviewer’s copy of the book and also worked with Chris as a business reporter a zillion years ago.) We asked Chris to talk about his vampire, movie deal and some of the intriguing characters in his debut novel.

    Q. OK — First off, how does it feel to be living your dream? Because it’s been a long road from journalist to screenwriter to novelist!

    A. It’s all still very surreal to me. The book is on shelves, and people are actually buying it, and I still have trouble believing it’s actually happening to me. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 5 years old, before I even knew what that meant. Now it feels real, even though I’ve been writing for publication for almost 20 years.

    Q.  What was the inspiration for your vampire?

    A. According to an obscure newspaper clipping, President Andrew Johnson — the man who followed Lincoln into the White House — pardoned a sailor accused of killing two crew mates and drinking their blood in 1867. I read about this in the excellent (and well-titled) THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE byRobert Schneck. It got me wondering: what would the president do with a vampire. And suddenly, the idea of a vampire secret agent, working for the Oval Office for more than a century, opened an entire world of stories to me.

    Q. The vampire hero has been hot in movies and books for quite some time. What concerns — if any — went through your mind as you were writing your vampire story and why did you think it could succeed?

    A. I worried about vampire fatigue. It’s easy to be seen as someone just leaping on the bandwagon  to make a quick buck. That’s partially true, of course, but I also wanted to honestly tell an interesting story. Cade and his world are fascinating to me. I was pretty sure other people would find it fascinating as well.

    But I can’t deny that the movie poster didn’t appear to me in my wildest dreams. There’s something very appealing about an idea like this — one that can be summed up so perfectly: “There’s a vampire working for the president, and he’s been fighting the supernatural for over 140 years.”

    Q. What part of the novel is true?

    A. President Johnson really did pardon that inmate, and the papers really did call the inmate a vampire. Aside from that, it’s all fiction. (Of course, if I’m in on the cover-up, then you’d expect me to say that.)

    Q. Why did you make Cade such a stand-up vamp? (He only drinks animal blood etc.)

    A. Cade was raised Christian — specifically, Calvinist. It’s a very unforgiving theology, and at the time he was human, it made fundamentalism look like New Age peace and love. He knows he’s damned. There’s no way to change that. He still believes that this is the plan, and he will do whatever he can to save others from the same darkness that claimed him. It’s this self-loathing that continually battles with his own arrogance, along with his oath, that keeps him stuck so fast to his principles.

    Q. Ghouls, vamps, spies, terrorism, traitors, politics — all of these threads run through the novel. Do you have a fave genre?

    A. I really don’t. I spent most of my school years reading literary fiction, but I’ve always kept a stack of genre books by my bed, too. For a few years, as a reporter, I read nothing but non-fiction. My favorite books range from spy novels to domestic dramas to sci-fi to fantasy to journalism. More and more, I subscribe to the idea that you should read everything that strikes you as remotely interesting. It’s the only way to keep your mind active and alive, and to find new ways of telling your own stories.

    Q. What creeps you out the most in the book?

    A. I am surprised how creepy I find the inner workings of my own mind when they come out into the light. I’d probably have to say, the section where Konrad deals with his sometime-girlfriend Nikki. I’m somewhat troubled at being able to imagine a person that cold and apathetic about the horror he can inflict.

    Q. In your vampire world, vamps usually don’t have sex, but Cade is the exception here. Ever think about him hooking up with a human down the road?

    A. Cade will probably never hook up with a human. He remembers the good parts about being human — which is why he and his sometime lover, Tania, still engage in sex and other human activities. But he can’t escape the contempt of a predator for his prey. Even though he’s sworn off human blood, humans are still food to him — not love. As he says in the book, “You eat steak. Does that mean you want to have sex with a cow?”

    Q. Ever read any of the other vamp books out there, such as the Anita Blake series, Sookie Stackhouse or even Lestat? If so, what’s your favorite?

    A. I’ve read a ton of the vamp novels, even though I try to avoid them while actually working on my own manuscripts. I’m impressed with many. I liked Anne Rice’s series, laughed a lot at Christopher Moore’s BLOODSUCKING FIENDS, and enjoy most of the other fang-based books, too. But my favorite has to be the Joe Pitt books from Charlie Huston, about a deliberately amoral vampire living in New York, making his way between the rival vampire clans.

    Q. How did you come up with the character of Zach? (Why make him so young/a guy etc?)

    A. Zach is the guy I could have been if I stayed on the path I started back in college. Political junkie, hard-working, dedicated, more concerned with results than motives. Also, kind of a prick. I have friends who stuck to the political trenches, and many of them are brilliant. But I realized I was more comfortable watching the game than playing it. Still, it made sense to me that a young cynic like Zach would be the ideal set of eyes to view Cade’s world. He thinks he’s seen it all, and he’s forced to realize he doesn’t even know what’s under his feet.

    Q. Why do you think vampires resonate with readers?

    A. Simple answer: they’re cool. Stay up late, never age, never die, and all you have to do is drink blood? Sounds like a pretty good deal to most people.

    The more complicated answer: we’re scared. Whenever we have trouble facing our fears head-on, we call out the monsters. In the 50s, it was the alien invasion movie. In the 80s, it was the relentless, unstoppable serial killer. And now, we’re dealing with the War on Terror with vampires and zombies. I think we want vamps on our side — again, they’re cool — to deal with the threat represented by zombies — unstoppable hordes of hungry, hostile invaders.

    Q. Will this be a three-book series or are more planned?

    A. I’ve got ideas and outlines for 10 books in the series. I’m not sure how much further I’ll go after that, but as long as people keep buying them, we’ll get at least to number 10.

    Q. There’s lots of talk about a movie. What’s the latest?

    Christian Bale

    A. Lucas Foster’s Warp Films has optioned the rights to the first two books in the series, BLOOD OATH and BLACK SITE. I will be an executive producer and consult on the scripts. Lucas is an amazing guy with a great track record — Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Crimson Tide — and he really gets the material. He doesn’t like to waste time, so with luck, we’ll be going into production soon.

    Q. And if had a say in who could be cast, who would you put in the roles of Cade and Zach?

    A. For Cade, I would love to see Christian Bale. He’s a chameleonic actor who can portray the best and worst in people. For Zach, I always saw Justin Long (The “Mac” in the “Mac and PC” commercials from Apple.) But really, we’re a long way from casting. Anything could happen.

    Q. If Cade, Bill, Eric and Edward faced off, give me order of finish — with the winner listed first!

    A. Cade, of course. He’s simply meaner than all of them. Cade is only really happy when he’s killing something, and he’s a dirty fighter. He’s contemplated moves even other monsters would find unthinkable. Eric would probably put up the most fight, since he’s also got a mean streak, and he’s older. Cade would probably play Bill against him, and then lock them outside during the day before they realized they’d been duped. Edward? I suspect he’d be distracted by some pretty teenage girl.

    Q. What’s next for you? I hear you’re already working on or done with book No. 2. When can we expect to see that?

    A. BLACK SITE, the second book in the series, is off to my agent, and should be with my editor at Putnam within a week. If all goes well, expect it in 2011.

    Q. Finally, you’ve mentioned before that your wife, Jean, kept pulling you back to the computer when you were ready to give up. For aspiring authors, who don’t have a Jean, what advice would you give them when they feel like hanging it all up?

    A. If you don’t have a Jean, you have my sympathies. I would not have made it without her. And as I keep saying, I’m the luckiest man I know. If you’re not that lucky, you can stick to this: it’s possible. Remember, you’re taking a million-to-one shot. That means you might have to miss almost a million times before you hit the target. The path you have chosen is hard. Make it look easy.

    Related links:

  • To read the Washington Post’s review of BLOOD OATH, CLICK HERE.
  • BLOOD OATH makes the New York Post’s “Required Reading” list. CLICK HERE to read.
  • Great profile of Chris and more about the book by The Orange County Register’s Peter Larsen. CLICK HERE to read.
  • Author’s site is HERE. And CLICK HERE for the book site.
  • You can follow Chris on Twitter  @chrisfarnsworth.
  • Finally, check out his book tour. It starts in Southern California but he winds his way through a couple of other states. CLICK HERE for book signing info.

    ‘Blood Oath’ — the president’s vampire — headed for big screen May 18, 2010

    Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment, News, Releases.
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    Movie rights to Chris Farnsworth’s BLOOD OATH —  about vampire Nathaniel Cade who is sworn to protect the president and the United States from supernatural threats —  have been picked up by Lucas Foster, who produced   “Law Abiding Citizen” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

    “Cade has an amazing history, a great attitude and a great set of powers. He is a complete movie figure,” Foster told the Hollywood Reporter.

    Hollywood is saturated with vampire projects, but Farnsworth’s novel “bucks vampire fatigue by focusing on action and bringing in different supernatural creatures,” the Hollywood Reporter says.

    “It’s a big idea and it’s an idea that in the wrong hands could have been cheesy,” Foster said. “He did a very good job of making the reader, and me, buy it. It’s the right tone between thriller and improbable fantasy.”

    Foster also has picked up the rights for the second book in the series, BLACK SITE, which Farnsworth is still writing.

    To read the rest of the Hollywood Reporter article, CLICK HERE.

    BLOOD OATH, which was released today, has received strong reviews:

    • To read the Washington Post’s review, CLICK HERE.
    • BLOOD OATH makes the New York Post’s “Required Reading” list. CLICK HERE to read.
    • Great profile of Chris and more about the book by The Orange County Register’s Peter Larsen. CLICK HERE to read.

    Finally, check out his book tour. It starts in Southern California but he winds his way through a couple of other states. CLICK HERE for book signing info.

    The buzz about ‘Blood Oath’ & the president’s vampire April 14, 2010

    Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, Releases, Reviews/summaries.
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    Chris Farnsworth, a journalist buddy turned screen writer/novelist, received a great review from the Washington Post’s Elizabeth Hand on his soon-to-be-released  political thriller BLOOD OATH, about a vampire who has protected every U.S. president for the past 140 years.   Here’s a snippet from the article:

    “Such incursions by the Dark Side are not confined to the distant past, of course. Christopher Farnsworth’s taut thriller Blood Oath (Putnam, $24.95, forthcoming next month) is an irresistible page-turner that makes one realize that, no matter how tough the War on Terror may be, at least it’s not the War on Horror. Farnsworth summons his talents as a scriptwriter and journalist to spin a complex and unnervingly realistic tale in which vampire Nathaniel Cade, a Secret Service agent sworn to protect the president, is far less of a monster than his human colleagues at the CIA and FBI. The supernatural elements here are dazzlingly clever. With its labyrinthine plot and byzantine layers of government deceit, “Blood Oath” is a 21st-century riff on themes explored in such classics from America’s first Paranoid Age as “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Cade is a wonderfully idiosyncratic character: a Christian renegade from the Vampire Nation who attends AA meetings to help him resist the lure of human blood. And as an added bonus, readers finally learn the truth behind the failed assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and that  mysterious 18 1/2 -minute gap in the Watergate tapes.”

    Hand reviewed two other vamp books in her roundup:  A.E. Moorat’s QUEEN VICTORIA: DEMON HUNTER and Seth Grahame-Smith’s ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. To read the complete article CLICK HERE.

    Q&A with BLOOD OATH AUTHOR! We’ll have a Q&A with Chris  on the blog next month after his book is released May 18. If  you have questions, send ’em to me!  Also, check out his book  site HERE. And he’s got a fan site on Facebook HERE.

    Coming soon: A vampire who works for the U.S president December 17, 2009

    Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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    Chris Farnsworth, a journalist buddy turned screen writer/novelist, just snail-mailed me the uncorrected proof for his new political thriller BLOOD OATH. Yah! He was inspired to write the novel when he came across an obscure fact about President Andrew Johnson: he pardoned an accused bloodsucker in 1867. Chris then penned his story about a very special secret agent — a vampire who has protected every U.S. president for the past 140 years. More on this story and hopefully a Q&A with the author before the book comes out May 18! CLICK HERE to read the LA Times preview by Geoff Boucher.

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