Derek Gunn was born in Ireland in 1964. He is married with three children and lives in Dublin Ireland. He is the author of five thriller novels - VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: A WORLD TORN ASUNDER (2006), VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: DESCENT INTO CHAOS (2008), VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: FALLOUT 2009,THE ESTUARY (2009) and GEMINI (2011). He has also written two novellas (THE DIABOLICAL PLAN and THE ISLAND) in his Historical Naval Horror series SENTINELS OF THE SEA. Short fiction by Derek has appeared in many anthologies.
He grew up in Dublin, Ireland and graduated from the College of Marketing in 1986 and The Marketing Institute in 1989. Most of his working life has been in the IT/Telecommunications industry and he currently works for a major global telco as a specialist consultant designing communications networks and solutions for businesses - a job he thoroughly enjoys doing!. His interest in writing fiction came about from being a young voracious reader of great storytellers such as Alastair McClean and Edgar Rice Burroughs. As a young teenager he discovered Stephen King, James Herbert, Graham Masterton and many more great modern genre writers and became totally hooked on horror and adventure stories
In his mid-teens he began writing short stories. College, career, marriage and a young family took all his energy and focus but, around 8 years ago, he took pen in hand, once again and writes in his spare time. What little spare time is left is dedicated to walking Ben and Gerry, his two faithful foot beagles and playing electric guitar with his band.
Visit him at www.derekgunn.com
Hello Derek, how are things with you?
Let’s get some basic quick fire questions out of the way. What three words best describe you?
Sounds like a Dating Website CV. Positive, Committed and Mad
What’s your favourite album?
Of all time that would have to be ‘Dark Side of the Moon@ by Pink Floyd
What’s your favourite food?
Have you ever been mistaken for the American Country music radio DJ Derek Gunn?
Nope, never even knew there was one, though in Ireland Country Music isn’t as big as it could be.
And finally what’s your biggest pet peeve.
Why horror, what is it about the genre that makes you want to write it?
I suppose it has to do with two things; the attraction of rebuilding and the freedom it allows. In horror, at least with those stories set in an Apocalyptic setting, I have a blank canvas to create the story the way I want it. The stories allow me to get away from the normal and create a landscape that is new, terrifying but new nonetheless. The second thing is that horror allows my imagination to run riot. As long as there is a somewhat reasonable basis for the story I can do what I like. The horror audience are prepared to suspend enough of their belief to allow me to have fun with the stories.
Is there anything about the genre and its community that you dislike?
No, I love horror. I don’t like all the stories written within the genre but that is the beauty of having freedom, everyone can create whatever they like. The community is very supportive in general.
What is your favourite horror novel and why?
There are two – Salem’s Lot and The Stand by Stephen King. I love many other books and have read some a number of times but these two stand out. Salem’s Lot for its brooding brilliance set in a small town and The Stand for its sheer scope and King’s ability to make his characters feel like people I know.
I’ve always liked the idea of authors writing a book using another author’s creation. If you could use another author’s character or world who would you most like to write about?
I have waited for years now for Stephen King to write a sequel to ‘Salem’s Lot’ so, if he doesn’t get around to it then I would love to do that. Dean Koontz wrote a brilliant book called ‘Twilight Eyes’ a long time ago. I would love to continue that as well.
This one might surprise you. I read a lot of Science Fiction as well so I would like to write in Taylor Anderson’s Destroyer men series.
And if you kill any character form another author’s work who would kill?
I had a few in mind in George R R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series but he seems to get to them before I do.
I think I first encountered your writing with The Estuary at the beginning of the zombie mania. When you wrote that novel did you have any idea of the impending glut of zombie novels?
No. In fact, I wrote it partly because it was so difficult to get any novels about a Zombie Apocalypse at the time so I wrote my own. There are so many now that some can get lost and there are some really good ones around. Permuted Press have done a great job in building the genre into what it is.
What I liked about your book was the, for its time, unique idea for the source of the zombies. Do you ever look back and wish that you had capitalised a bit more on the zombie genre, and in particular the undead German soldier angle?
I must admit that I do try hard to base my stories on as much reality as I can. ‘The Estuary’ gave a credible reason for the outbreak – I was always careful not to use the word zombie in the story as that’s not technically correct. In my Vampire Apocalypse series the origin there, too, has a basis in fact. I still get a few mails asking when I will do a sequel to ‘The Estuary’. I would love to do one, in fact, I had started it but had to shelve it. The Vampire Apocalypse stories were selling quite well at the time, there was a movie in the works and a comic planned so it just made sense to continue that story line.
Do you think you will ever return to the world of this book?
Yes, I will. I have a number of ideas for expanding on the ‘War’ angle in flashback with a limited outbreak in 1944 as well. I will come back to it, just not certain when that will be.
Let’s talk about HMS Swift, where did you get the idea for the book?
I love Historical Fiction and read a lot of Bernard Cornwell, Ken Follett and others. I was asked to write a short story for a Permuted Anthology so I wrote ‘The Diabolical Plan’. This introduced the characters of the HMS Swift and the story received a number of good reviews. My wife loved the story and suggested I write another one so I began another short story for a different anthology. I have a problem with short stories, well I have a problem with the ‘short’ part of it anyway. ‘The Island’ grew to be a novella of some 25,000 words so was unsuitable for the anthology – I had to write another story for that but that’s another story. After writing it many people wrote to me asking for more so I planned out a novel and that became ‘Crimson Seas’.
How much research did you do for the books? Was it important that you got any historical facts correct?
The problem with writing historical fiction is that you have to get the facts right. I did a huge amount of research, and still missed a number of things that my editor picked up. The stories are first and foremost horror and supernatural, they just happen to be set in a very interesting part of our past.
The second book in the series sees our intrepid sailors facing off against an island of vampires. Where you ever tempted to put in any nods and winks to the vampires of your Vampire Apocalypse series?
No. The HMS Swift is set in a time when the world was still significantly unknown but firmly rooted in our actual history. I have taken liberties, yes, but each fact is correct, timelines are correct and some of the strange occurrences have a basis in fact. It may not have been vampires but do we really know for sure?
If they were to set sail again, what foe would you like them to face off against?
Oh they will set sail again. I have the first few chapters written, but again, shelved while I finish book five in the Vampire Apocalypse series. They will face dark forces as the war closes in on them that will make the current stories seem like a Sunday cruise.
I’m sorry to say that The Gatekeeper is a novel of yours that passed me by. I’m very intrigued by the premise of basing an apocalyptic novel on an old Irish myth. Could you explain the roots of the story and in particular the root myth on which the story is based?
Umm, where do I start? I love this novel and it passed a lot of people by, unfortunately. However it has been given great reviews by those who did read it. During my research I found many references to myth that I thought was based on other country’s myths. ‘Excalibur’ is based on an Irish legend, the Holy Grail was reputed to be hidden in Ireland and the ruins in New Grange are the oldest man-made structures in the world. With these facts buzzing around my head I had to write something. I started it very much like a detective story with a touch of Dennis Wheatley to add spice. Rather than have the hero save the day I wanted to allow the Gates to open and Hell to pay a visit, so that’s what I did. The legends are all accurate, as much as legends and myth can be, and I check out Trinity College for any demons every day as I pass by – just in case.
Graham Masterton has made a career on writing stories based on ancient myths and legends, are there any myths and legends you would love to write about?
Graham Masterton is one of my favourites you will not be surprised to know. I still buy every book by him. The Devils of D-Day was one of the first books I ever read and it set me on the course I am on – so it’s his fault. His books still stand up today as some of the best in the genre.
I haven’t finished writing about legends and myths though. I have a sequel in mind – just need the time to write it.
So let’s talk about your brilliant series of vampire novels, but first off how about some general vampire questions.
Dracula in the latest Sky TV series. I was gutted to see it was not renewed – do we really need another series of CSI?
Sparkles or no sparkles?
I really don’t like sparkly vampires. However, fair play to anyone who can get that many people to read their work.
You are one of the few authors writing about vampires that still keeps the flag flying for proper old school vampires, are you like myself saddened at the taming of the once proud beasts?
Absolutely. The reason I wrote the books in the first place was because I could not find anything I wanted to read. Salem’s Lot was in the past, Robert McCammon’s excellent ‘They Thirst’ was also gone and all I could find was Anne Rice or teen fiction. It was a poor time for vampires. My wife was sick of me complaining that I couldn’t find what I wanted and she told me to write one myself – so I did.
For those not in the know, could you describe what the vampires are like in the books?
They are not nice. Vampires are a different species. The biological changes are drastic and these changes force a psychological change as well. I am laying this out in more detail as the books progress and there is a short work called ‘Prelude to the Apocalypse’ that covers the slow descent into madness of a vampire through certain periods in world history. It is worth picking it up – it’s free for anyone who subscribes to my newsletter.
You seem to like destroying the world, why did you set the post in a post-apocalyptic world?
Mainly so that the vampires could take over more easily. If they did exist for this long hidden form us then they could not have huge numbers and they lose out on too much of the day for them to take over completely. Something had to happen to the world to allow them become dominant. I could have used a plague but Global Warming fit the bill. It also allows me to play with the weather in later books.
When you sat down to write the first instalment had you any notion that you would be writing a series of novels?
No, never. I didn’t even think I would complete one novel. I have never written anything before, not even a short story so writing a whole novel was daunting to say the least.
How did you decide on who would live and die along the way?
I have to confess that that comes to me as the scene is unfolding. Sometimes I end up killing a character that I did not intend on killing. Sometimes the time just feels right as the scene comes to life.
Are there any characters that you wish you hadn’t killed off?
No. I believe that the story benefits from a shock sometimes. There is no way that the same band of merry men and women can survive every encounter. That is one thing that I do not like about some series on TV and it’s one of the many reasons that Game of Thrones works. You have to be realistic, even in horror fiction.
We are now at book four, can you tell us what we can expect from this one?
Well, without giving too much away. The last book saw the nuclear plant explode, and everyone’s favourite vampire fall to his death. Well he didn’t die, again, he changed into something even worse. Carter discovers where the humans are and the wind blows a radiation cloud towards the human’s home so they have to leave. Winter is upon them so the humans are in some trouble. There’s loads of action, some surprises and some more characters die.
You must have a favourite hero and villain from the books, who are they and why do you like them so much?
I can’t divulge that, then you’ll know who’s about to die in this book. Be prepared some of my favourites don’t make it.
The books are published by Permuted Press, what does a publisher like them bring to the table?
One thing my books have suffered from is a good editor. Permutes have provided me with one. They also provide a growing community of loyal readers who trust the brand to deliver a good story. These are essential when trying to get noticed in today’s market.
One of the hardest things these days is for an author to get noticed. How do you go about getting your name out there?
That’s a difficult one. I am lucky that my wife handles the website and she updates that regularly enough for people to keep visiting to see the news and blog updates. I must confess I am not a great Twitter or Facebook user so there aren’t too many tweets and updates there. I realise it is a huge facility and I should use it before but I am either working or writing so it doesn’t leave a lot of time.
Reviews are a great way to get your name out so I am happy to do interviews etc as it gives people an insight that blogs and such do not give.
I do whatever Cons I can, though I would love to do a few in the States. We have Eurocon in Ireland this year so I will be there on panels and walking around talking to anyone who will listen – so be warned if you see me coming your way.
Other than that I hope that the stories gather enough interest that people will pick one up and try it. To that end Permuted dis offer the first VA book for free on Kindle so hopefully that will generate interest on the other books.
What’s next for Derek Gunn?
I am already more than half way through the next Vampire Apocalypse novel though I haven’t got a title yet, so that will be next to be released. I will have to see how the HMS Swift book goes when it’s released next month but I would like to do another one of those.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview Derek do you have any final words for the readers?
If you like adventure stories with a little twist of horror and horror stories with little twist of adventure then pick up my books on Kindle or paperback. Thanks a lot.
The entire Vampire Apocalypse series has recently been re-edited, undergone partial rewrites, and has been completely repackaged by Permuted Press, all new in 2014!**
In a desolate world where communications have ceased . . . where the global oil supply is quickly dwindling, vampires rise to rule the Earth.
In this new era of blood and depravity, you are either a slave to the dark masters or dinner . . . either a breeding vessel or a rebel.
Charismatic leader, Peter Harris is the latter. Join him and his band of comrades as they fight to take back and then rebuild a world torn asunder . . .
PURCHASE A COPY HERE