Q: Out of all the characters in Shattered Glass, which one do you most identify with and why?
A lot of readers who know me assume I identify with Helen, though she was based on an older friend of mine who had a more serious bout of polio than mine. I identify most with Judy Preuss, the reporter with an open mind who becomes Dick Wells’s lover in the book. I like how her love is tested and how, in spite of everything that happens to her – or maybe because of it, I’ll leave that to readers to decide – she does the right thing.
Q: Shattered Glass approaches the myth of vampires from a different angle. The term ‘alien’ is used. What inspired you to take this path? What does it mean to be alien in Shattered Glass?
I have never been completely satisfied with traditional vampires, though I suspect even the soulless undead would have to adapt to the modern world. When I was writing Glass, I can only recall a handful of well-known writers whose vampire series features undead who were “sorta good” guys. I wanted to do something totally different. I wanted living vampires, vampires who were happy to be what they are, and who did not have all that “lost my soul” angst, so I created the Austras.
As Stephen says about himself in Glass, “I suppose it is only in these times that I must begin the story of my life by telling you that, though I live on blood, I am alive, not dead; I possess an abhorrence of coffins, particularly my own; and I was born, not created.”
He is, therefore, flesh and blood. He is quite alive, but as Glass demonstrates, nearly impossible to kill. Vampires are weak compared to my guys, though the Austras cannot shape shift. They are magnetic and beautiful. They read minds. They control them, particularly if they have a blood bond with the one they wish to control. They do not, under usual circumstances, kill; but if they feel that killing is justified, they relish it. In the past they killed for sport, but they have become civilized as the world has become less barbaric. They can walk in sunlight, though they prefer not to. They live entirely on blood and the emotions contained in it. On the negative side, controlled aggression is difficult for them, so they tend to hide their powers until really provoked – and then they kill. And they have one odd problem, which becomes the source of Stephen’s problem in Glass. They cannot conceive of their own deaths and they are incapable of aggression against each other.
Q: What is your favorite genre to read and why?
I am awfully eclectic, so much so that I am having trouble answering this question. Years ago, it was always romance and science fiction (hence my series). For a time it was historical romance, then horror and thrillers. Today, it is simply books where you just have to keep turning the pages to see what happens next. This means books who have characters I care about stuck in situations worth reading about. Oddly a lot of books, even some of the biggest best sellers, have neither.
Q: What do you think it is about vampires (lore) that fascinates readers?
Vampires are chameleons, and they reflect the era of the writers creating them which is definitely one reason for their longevity. In the 1890s when Stoker created Dracula, there was a lot of social change in Britain, particularly with regards to women’s liberation. I think Stoker may have thought he was writing a thriller, but he tapped something far deeper. Likely a lot of Victorian women were moist in places they never spoke of, even as their men saw Dracula as a creature to be feared and destroyed. It’s also quite possible, that like many writers, Stoker had no idea what part of his own psychology created the Count.
The vampires gradually became tamed over the years with only an occasional throwback to the early killers (think Lost Boys, for example). Today, we have all kinds of vampires – from blood-drinking erotica to young adult vampires who are chaste and a bit too toothless for my taste, but the appeal is there for a wide variety of audiences.
Q: Who is your favorite iconic vampire character and why?
I’ll go with Vlad the great original. I did two novels with him as a character and could easily do two more.
Q: If presented with the same physical difficulties as Helen, would you make the same decision to transform? Why or why not?
Absolutely! For two reasons. First, as noted, the Austras do not need to kill (though sometimes they have to, as Helen discovers in Blood Rites) so their moral compass can be a bit higher than the traditional undead. Second, I am an optimist. I love this world and I think that in spite of its many problems the human race will one day learn to get along, clean up the planet and survive quite nicely. When I think of all the incredible inventions of just my lifetime, and how quickly the world is changing today, I would love to be around to see what life is like in a century or two … or more.
Helen Wells, 19, is a gifted painter, struggling to create a legacy before the illness that left her crippled claims her life. Stephen Austra is a brilliant glass artist, and an immortal. When they meet, their passion is immediate and intense. But as their love grows, Dick Wells, Helen's uncle and a homicide expert on the local police department, begins investigating a series of savage murders committed, he is forced to believe, by something not human. Soon all three will be drawn into a struggle with a dark presence from Stephen's past, one that lays claim to the life of the woman he loves and one that, for all his power, he is helpless to control. This novel, first published in 1989 to critical acclain is being reissued in a special updated -- and uncut -- version, and includes 12,000 words not found in the original edition. It is the first of 6 books in the Austra series.
To see more books in the Austra series visit: http://www.elainebergstrom.com/Ordering-Books.html
Elaine Bergstrom was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the product of 16 years of Catholic education which, she is sure, has strongly affected her work. Her first novel, Shattered Glass, was among the first vampire romances and created a family of vampiric immortals -- powerful, eternal but with some odd constraints on their natures. It was set in her hometown and the church she attended as a child. It was nominated for a Stoker, received critical acclaim and has been followed by four other related novels, as well as Under the pseudonym Marie Kiraly (her grandmother's name), she has written two Dracula sequels: Mina...the Dracula Story Continues and Blood to Blood. She resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she runs a novel writing workshop, freelances as a TV and film critic and writes grumpy old lady letters to her congressmen and local papers. You can get additional information on her books and upcoming appearances at elainebergstrom.com
The kindle edition of Shattered Glass is the "author's cut" version -- including 10,000 words not included in the original paperback.
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Elaine-Bergstrom/e/B000APQK04