The Story Behind My The Last Vampire 2015

 photo TheLastVampire_MED_zpspxa3wzjf.jpg

The story of how I came to write, publish and re-release my end-of-the-world vampire love story The Last Vampire again twenty-three years after its initial release is a long strange tale. What’s new, though? Looking back over my forty-four year writing career most of the origins and journeys of my twenty-three published novels are all pretty strange. Ask any author who published in the 1980’s to now and you’d get a lot of the same bizarre accounts. Publishing back then-and now-was not for the faint of heart.
In the beginning, as all authors had to do before the eBook publishers, Amazon and the Internet, I dealt with the old legacy (traditional publishers) the slow-frustrating-time consuming old-fashioned way through snail mail, editors and agents. Sometimes between the writing, scouring for a publisher, getting a contract with that publisher, getting the manuscript ready to go on the book shelves and what you had to put up with during and afterwards could be enough to drive any sane writer crazy. I mean…it all took so long. So tedious and soul-killing at times. Oh, the stories I could tell. Well, but not here anyway. This is the story of one book.
I started writing The Last Vampire, oh, I guess, around 1990 or so. With the help of Dean Koontz (I sent him a letter asking for advice on how to get a better publishing company and deal and he and his wife, who did the actual talking though Dean must have been nearby by the way the conversation went, answered by kindly telephoning me one rainy fall night) I’d gotten my first agent in 1990. She’d already sold my fourth book, Vampire Blood, to my new publisher Zebra and I had begun work on my fifth novel, The Last Vampire. I know, I know. Another vampire novel?
But as I began writing it I realized it wasn’t going to be just another vampire novel. This book would be a saga about the end-of-the-world, about personal courage, the destruction and fall of society and about what humans-and vampires-would have to do to survive in the new merciless world after earthquakes and anarchy had taken their tolls. I wanted to transcend the vampire novel genre. Or, at least, try to.
I even threw in a little inside joke on the other top horror writers of the day by using their names for the other bloodsuckers in the ruthless vampire gang my main character goes to war against. Stephen. Dean. Anne. Chelsea. Peter. And so on. Hmm, though, no one ever got the joke…or never told me if they did. Oh, well.
I’ll admit it now because it’s so many years later, I’d also used the book as a sort of therapy to deal with an increasingly frustrating situation I was experiencing in my real life at work. Age discrimination. My new art director thought I was too old, I was forty-two at the time, to be a senior graphic artist, didn’t have but a two year college degree instead of four (but I’d been doing the actual job 13 years!), and had been making my life on the job miserable. He’d openly demoted me; was overworking me. Besides my regular workload, he put a couple younger artists over me who bossed me around. I spent half my day doing their copying duties and being their gofer. One of the artists, a woman, was openly condescending and cruel to me. So humiliating. I guess I got even by writing about it (imagine, my main character was a graphic artist, or used to be before the world fell apart) and killing the art director off in the book; then, for good measure, destroying the whole city of St. Louis (where I worked), the Arch, splitting the Mississippi River and decimating the Poplar Street Bridge as well. What fun I had! It was great therapy.
Well, between working full time as a graphic designer, raising a son, keeping a husband happy, and being there for my large family I struggled to finish writing The Last Vampire. Got it done and Zebra paperbacks brought it out in 1992 with little fanfare. I’d had the usual over-worked disinterested editor. I had to fight hard for the integrity of every word. And I hated the cover. A kneeling woman (supposedly my main character vampiress) in a blindingly white snowy background. So bland.
I thought it was the best thing I’d ever written. I truly believed in it and its story. It was my baby and I hopefully shoved it out into the world and…nothing.
It was long before the Internet, emails, blogs, web review sites, and editing on the computer. I didn’t know how to promote. I was too busy living my life. I left that up to my publisher. That’s what an author did in those days. Apparently, they didn’t know how to promote either. I never got one review that I knew of and never any feedback besides the dismal royalty statements, which never made any sense to me anyway. What in the heck were those huge amounts taken out for returns anyway? The book didn’t sell well, they said. Too bad. So sad. Go on and write another one.
Which I did. Witches. It originally came out in 1993 and did very well.
Over the next twenty-three years I went on to write and publish many more books, novellas and short stories–twenty-three novels, two novellas and twelve short stories in all. In 2012 I came completely and fully into the twenty-first century by going into self-publishing. Since 2012 I am my own publisher (I never have to put up with a publisher’s whims and foibles ever again and I am so happy!) and now have eleven self-published books; by May 2017 I will have gotten all my novels back from my last publisher and will self-publish every one. It’s a new world and I am so thrilled to have lived to see it, even if it is at the end of my career.
And The Last Vampire? It’s finally come into its own after all these long years. After wrestling it away from my last awful publisher, I self-published it in 2015 with an amazing new cover by Dawne Dominique and put it into eBook, paperback and Audible audio book. Most of the reviews have been glowing. People seem to get it, love it and it was even a FINALIST for a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARD in the horror category. I didn’t win the final award, but being nominated one of the top three was honor enough for me. I’m humbled, vindicated, thrilled. Now to just get those last eleven books under my control and all will be well.
And so plays out the roller coaster life of a writer. Advice for a beginning writer? I’d say never lose hope, never give up and never stop writing.
Written this day of October 9, 2015 by Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of 23 novels and a 2012 & 2014 Epic EBook Awards Finalist for The Last Vampire and Dinosaur Lake.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s