Marcus Damanda Interview by Pamela Jenewein:
I had the great pleasure of reading and reviewing Marcus Damanda’s first novel, Teeth. An intriguing macabre paranormal filled with bloody gore and grisly scenes,
but oh so thrilling. If you like your horror “messy” read Teeth. However
this is about Marcus so lets find out what he has to say to my line of questioning…
Q: Please tell us about your latest book.
A: My latest book is called Teeth: A Horror Fantasy. It's the story of three people: an
alienated teenager named Nicholas, a young vampire named Alexis, and Frank, a cop in need of redemption. Nicholas is totally
alone in the world--until he meets Alexis. When they fall in love, Nicholas finds himself in the crosshairs of the entire
vampire family, as well as the prime suspect in a spate of brutal killings. Ultimately, the only cop who will believe Nicholas,
Frank, has to bring him to the local juvenile detention center, setting the stage for the longest, bloodiest night in the
history of the small town of Fairview.
Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
A: More books! I'm at work on two right now, including the sequel to Teeth.
Q: How do we find out about you and your books?
A: Amazon is the best place. I've got a detailed profile and ongoing blog there, along
with a bunch of reviews on other books and movies--just look up my name and check it out! If you want to go straight to the
book, you have to type in the whole title. If you just type "Teeth" you'll have to scroll through a bunch of stuff on dentistry.
My heavens--never saw that coming. Anyway, I've also got a webpage on Outskirtspress.com and MySpace, but I don't update those
Q: How many readers contact you?
A: I hear from a few from time to time, and I always answer them. This is new territory
for me, so I'm building my audience. Slowly but steadily ...
Q: Do your fans' comments and letters influence you in any way?
A: Heck, yes. I'm an absolute glutton for both praise and criticism. I have a large box
of rejection letters that I accumulated before Teeth, so there'd be no point in me getting all high and mighty now.
Q: Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
A: Favorite question: "Are your characters based on real people?" Good gravy, I hope not,
at least not in the last book--most of them are having a very hard time, or they're undead. My most useful comments recently
have to do with a collective urging from several people that I should write directly to young adults, which is something I'm
definitely going to do after the Teeth trilogy has a fork in it. The current book may be about kids to some extent, but it's
for adults, like a lot of Stephen King's books. So, that'll be an interesting departure for me, when it happens.
Q: Why did you decide to write horror/fantasy (paranormal) novels?
A: I grew up on it. I used to sneak out of my bedroom late at night to watch forbidden
movies like The Omen and Halloween on HBO when I was a kid. Hope Mom doesn't read this.
Q: How would you describe the genre in which you are writing?
A: Horror is only scary when it's placed in opposition to a totally normal control element,
like a boring suburban town, a down on his luck cop, or a put-upon kid. It's a lot like fantasy that way, and I think the
two blend very well in ordinary, recognizable places and people. Take a school bus full of happy children--then have a giant
wasp attack it, maybe even fly off with it ... Hey, that's pretty cool. I might use that.
Q: Do you have a target audience, and if so, who are they?
A: Right now, I'd say my target audience in horror fans aged 16 and up. Teeth would definitely
get an R-rating, and it should. People who enjoyed Salem's Lot, Nathan's Run, Interview with the Vampire, The Nightrunners--people
who want suspense and unrestrained horror will find themselves right at home. I hope so, anyway!
Q: What would you say motivated you to start writing in this genre?
A: When I was nine, I had nightmares for weeks after watching this little, stupid movie
called Trilogy of Terror. Dad had to camp out in my room. It was pathetic. My friends and I, meanwhile, used to play flashtag
in the woods, and that setting seemed like a great place for a story, so those combined elements led to "Legend of the Maniac",
my juvenile attempt at literary greatness.
Q: Who would you say has influenced you the most?
A: Among the biggies, I've got to go with Stephen King. Of course--no question. You get
that a lot, I bet.
Q: What are your main concerns as a writer?
A: This is going to sound bogus, but I really mean it: pleasing myself and pleasing my
audience. I want people to feel they've gotten a good deal on their time and money when they're done reading something of
Q: How much of your personality and your life experiences are in your writing?
A: There it is! My favorite question! I knew this was coming! In Teeth, none and none,
unless by accident or trick of the subconscious. I had a friend of mine tell me after reading an earlier book of mine that
if I injected myself into my protagonist one more time, he'd stop reading--not just me, but books in general. So, for the
first time, I deliberately worked outside of that device. I hope that answer doesn't disappoint...
Q: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face?
A: Finding time to write with a day job. But I have to do it. If I don't write, after awhile,
I get sick.
Q: When did you first think about writing and when did you submit your first manuscript?
A: I wrote a little fantasy called "Mighty War of the Dragons" when I was nine. My dad
mailed my first manuscript, a kidnapping thriller, without me even knowing. I was fourteen, then. A lady named Barbara Posey
was hired to professionally typeset it, first--coincidentally, she's the cover artist for Teeth. But the kidnapping story
didn't get picked up. Oh, well.
Q: Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
A: I try to do a single-spaced page per day. After that, it depends how long the book is.
The first draft of Teeth was done in four weeks, but it went through several, more time consuming, revisions.
Q: What about your family--do they know to leave you alone when you're writing, or are
there constant interruptions?
A: They've learned. I had to show one family member a clip of Jack Nicholson and Shelly
Duvall in The Shining to make my point, but that cured it. Come to think of it, I don't hear from that family member much
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
Q: What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels? Are they difficult to write?
A: Yes. Boy howdy. You're really saying a lot about yourself, whether you mean to or not,
when you write about love. If you're writing honestly, that is--and if you're not, people will know.
Q: What kind of research do you do?
A: Interviews. Primary sources that can be questioned. I had a very long interview with
Officer Gary Epple before writing the jail scenes in Teeth.
Q: What will your next book be about?
A: Gauntlet of Blood is the sequel to Teeth. The Damworths have to evade angry vampire
assassins as they try to make it to their home underworld sanctuary in Oregon.
Q: Fill in the blank favorites ...
A: Dessert, black raspberry ice cream; Season, autumn; City, Boston; type of hero, flawed
antihero; type of heroine, surprising and non-sterotyped
Q: What do you think of critique groups in general?
A: I'm all about critique groups among writers with similar interests. When I did the workshop
circuit in college, I found out that most academics want to be respected, awarded, and die in abject poverty. So, I guess
it depends on what you're into.
Q: Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
A: Along with King, I love Tolkien, Rowling, Stoker, Twain, Shelly, Lansdale, and C.S.Lewis. Books I love
from other people include: Lord of the Flies, House of Stairs, Interview with the Vampire, Intensity, and The Monk.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
A: I'm a schoolteacher. My big hobby right now is shooting--nothing like the feel of a
warm Glock in your hand. But between writing and teaching, it's hard to find time for much else.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully, I'll have three vampire books and two science fiction novels in my bibliography.
If I can just shoot for the moon here, I see my vampire stuff being picked up by a quality director and turned into a fun,
scary movie trilogy.
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
A: Remember, Grasshopper, you are in charge of your own destiny. If you believe in yourself
and your stuff, yet no one else believes in you, you're still okay. Keep at it. And listen to your critics--not your haters,
but your critics. They're more valuable than "yes" people. Remember, it's not sacred text. Revision is a good thing. And if
the big shots in New York and California still don't want to hear from you after you've sweated and bled over manuscripts
for twenty-two years, take matters into your own hands, make an investment, and let an audience of unknown customers be your