ML Brennan joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her debut novel Generation V!
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Can you tell us a bit about Generation V in your own words?

Sure! The elevator pitch of my book is that Fortitude Scott has a useless degree, a minimum-wage job, a cheating girlfriend, and a roommate who stiffs him on the rent. And he’s a vampire… mostly. But when a little girl is kidnapped, suddenly he’s the only one who is willing to try and do something about it, so he teams up with a wise-cracking shapeshifter and heads off for a rescue mission that will very likely kill him.

But one of the big ideas that I’m working with in this book is what happens when the hero isn’t super-powerful, and is consistently out-classed by everyone that he is going up against. To me, I found that it resulted in a hero that I found more interesting, because he was having to find ways around situations, or building relationships with other characters who he didn’t particularly have a lot in common with, or sometimes it just meant that he was risking a lot more when he went into various situations, but he chose to do that because of what he felt was the right thing to do.

Vampire urban fantasy novels are popular. What different about Generation V that sets it apart from the others?

I’ve always enjoyed vampires, but as a writer I had a lot of problems with them. I spent a lot of time re-thinking and re-constructing the vampire rules and mythos in my book until they were something that I thought would be interesting and fun to work with.

Describe your vampires. (Are they of the traditional Bram Stoker variety?)

My vampires are pretty different from the traditional mold (Vampire Classic, so to speak). For one thing, these aren’t changed humans – this is a separate and distinct species that had its own evolutionary path, and that has chosen to remain hidden from the majority of the human population. My vampires also aren’t immortal – they have a longer lifespan than humans (just as most apex predators have longer lifespans than the species they largely subsist on), but they do have a lifecycle. A vampire in my world will be born, grow up, have offspring, and ultimately die of old age.

Where I made a lot of changes was in how to keep vampires in check – in almost every vampire mythos out there, the major question I always ask is why vampires haven’t completely overrun the world. So my vampires might be long-lived, but they also have the kind of trade-offs that you see in apex-species in nature – vampires take much longer to reach sexual maturity, and their top reproductive output is far lower than their prey. Apex predators are, without exception, incredible animals. But they are also very vulnerable to changes in their environment. My vampires are like the Florida panther – incredibly evolved predators that are barely hanging in against full-scale extinction.

As for the way that vampires breed… well, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll give a hint – my inspiration for this was when I started thinking about parasites like ticks.

Why has Fort been putting off becoming a full vampire?

Because my construction of vampires has made them a species, with a full biological lifecycle, it’s actually not any part of a choice on Fortitude’s part. Even though Fort is twenty-six years old, he hasn’t transitioned fully into being a vampire – and he doesn’t know when that will actually happen, and he’s really conflicted over the entire process.

How many books do you have planned for this series?

I am currently contracted with Roc for three books, but I do have ideas for more.

What’s next for you? Any other stories on the horizon?

I’m very fortunate to be just starting the edits on the second Fortitude Scott book, Iron Night, which will be published by Roc in January 2014. And as soon as I finish with that I’m going to be working on the third book in the series, so I’m having a lot of fun figuring out where to take the character of Fort.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

I became serious about writing early in college. It was my primary field of study as an undergraduate, and I ultimately pursued it in my master’s studies as well. I have been extremely fortunate in my experiences as a writer to always have had excellent teachers who helped me really understand the value of revision, feedback, and persistence. I spent a lot of time working with short stories before I turned to novel writing, and that was also invaluable to my process.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

Sherri S. Tepper’s Singer From The Sea was probably one of the most amazing reading experiences I ever had – up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever been shocked by a plot turn like the one she has in that book. After I finished that book, I immediately had to read everything else she’d ever written. Beyond that… Brandon Sanderson, Anne Bishop, Patricia Briggs, Sharon Shinn… they were all writers who I return to over and over again. In terms of newer writers, I’m really enjoying Cassie Alexander’s Edie Spence series, and I got a look at an advance copy of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy The Thousand Names, and it really blew me away.

What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?

Well, spare time has been a bit hard to come by lately, but when I do get it, it’s usually spent reading. I’m also a big fan of tabletop gaming, so whenever I have enough people over, I love breaking out games like Munchkin, Puerto Rico, or Settlers of Catan.

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Courtesy of the author, I have a SIGNED copy of Generation V for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends May 31. I’ll draw a name on June 1, and notify winner via email.

Good luck!

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