Title: Dead Camp (Dead Camp #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Sean Kerr (Extasy Books)
Publication Date & Length: January 1, 2016 – 260 pgs
Eli is an ancient vampire with an ego the size of a planet and a sex drive to match, but his tumultuous past left him broken, so he hides from humanity and cowers from love, left to endure the crushing guilt that haunts his every waking moment. Even his best friend Malachi, a ghost who is hopelessly in love with Eli, remains unaware of all that transpired in London. Malachi can never know the truth.
When the Angel Daniyyel pays an unwelcome visit, Eli must face his secrets, secrets that he has tried so long to hide. To make matters worse, a chance encounter with the most beautiful man he has ever seen shatters his beloved isolation, pushing him into the world of the living once more. Something about this strange man seems so familiar, but Eli can’t even remember who he was before he became a vampire, never mind explain the unwanted emotions the enigmatic stranger ignites in his dead heart. So Eli has a choice—return to the world that ruined him, or continue his self-imposed exile with no hope of salvation.
Three prisoners had died in my block that night, two elderly and one young man not old enough to grow pubes. It sickened me. Never, in all my years, had I witnessed such a callous waste of human life. And then to see my fellow prisoners undressing the dead, striping their cold stiff bodies before my unbelieving eyes horrified me even more, and I clung onto Jakob’s broken body for dear life. All around me the clunk of bodies against wood and concrete. My eyes tried not to see and my ears tried not to hear.
A cold clammy hand gently caressed my arm and I nearly shot off my shelf in shock. I didn’t scream. I refused to scream.
“My friend, I’m sorry, my friend, but you must undress him. The rubbish men will be here soon and you must strip him of all clothing before they take him. Please, you must do this for him—they will be less kind than you. Do you understand?”
“Why? Why must we do this?”
“His clothes are of value, my friend. They will be re-used for the next intake.”
“And what of his body, what will become of Jakob?”
“You don’t want to know, my friend.” His whispered words made every hair on my body stand on end. A sound outside caused him to return to his unsavoury task with renewed urgency. “Quickly, they are here.”
What followed felt like a dream. I had undressed many a man under many circumstances, but that was a first. Already poor Jakob stiffened, and it pained me to hear and feel his bones crack as I gently prised his pale thin body from the clothes. I whispered my apologies into his unhearing ears and I hated my eyes for glancing across his pale dead flesh.
I had to free them, all of them. That place, that death camp, it had to end.
I lifted his dead naked body into my arms. Emotion, so alien to me, invaded the shrivelled blackness that was my soul, and I knew my eyes betrayed my grief.
Emotions made you weak. Emotions made you vulnerable, emotions hurt. And I was hurting. The passing of that human, that mortal man I had known for less than a day, had brought back that affliction from which I had been running from for so very long.
I had only opened my heart to the world again but for the briefest of moments.
And already I felt pain.
Gideon hurt me. He made me feel unloved, unwanted, he made me feel ugly.
How I would crave for his touch, how desperate I was for his love, to feel the thrill of his fingers upon my bare flesh, to feel his attraction to me, to feel wanted. But all he ever did was refuse me. Every time I tried to touch him, he turned me away. He was not in the mood, he told me to come back later.
Come back later.
But later never came.
I carried that pale body into the grey wet misery of morning. The sun was trying desperately to penetrate the thick layers of brooding clouds that clung stubbornly over the camp, but the sun was losing. Rain dripped incessantly from the skies, melting the remaining snow into a muddy slush. Grey skies, grey ground, grey people. The camp drained the colour out of everything. Welwelsburg was like me, a vampire, sucking the life out of everything it encountered, sucking away hope and dignity, leaving nothing but pale grey husks clinging to the brink of existence.
Two men stood next to a large flatbed trolley. Dead, naked bodies lay crumpled in a pile on top of the trolley, legs and arms sticking out at all angles like some grotesque starfish. I saw children amongst the corpses.
Pale white flickering figures surrounded the trolley. Insubstantial wisps of lives spent before their time. The rubbish men looked at me expectantly but I could not move for the sight of those spectral beings and I clutched Jakob’s dead body tightly to my chest, unwilling to relinquish my charge. If I put him on that trolley then he would be dead, another lump of cold meat on the pile. He deserved more than that.
The ghostly figures turned to look at me, each one knowing me, seeing me, seeing me see them. And they smiled at me. Cold shivering prickles erupted across my skin as their eyes took me in and they were such kind eyes, such trusting eyes. A figure pushed its way between them, its shadowy form brushing gently against the others as it came to stand before me.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Sean Kerr author of Dead Camp. Hi Sean, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Hello! Well, I’m a 46-year-old gay man living in Cardiff, Wales, with my partner of 27 years, Derek. Oh, and our two cats, Rita and Harry, and a load of tropical fish! I have worked in retail most of my life, and for the past 11 years, I have been running my own Interior Design business in Cardiff with my fabulous business partner, Jayne. I am a huge sci-fi and horror fan, Doctor Who being my first love in television, Alien my first love in film.
Sigh. How I would love to write for both of them, but that is never going to happen, so move on lol.
Working for yourself, and trying to pay yourself, is not easy. Bit like being an author then lol. In an ideal world, I would love to see our shop run by someone else so that I could spend my days writing, but again that is just not going to happen. I love the design industry, I love working with fabrics and blinds, and helping our customers to create a beautiful home, but at the same time, I do not want to spend the rest of my life tied to our store. The recession hit 3 years after we opened and it has been a struggle, but we survived, and Jayne and I are proud of our achievement.
Writing has always been my passion. I never thought, never in a million years, that I would be published, and here I am with two books out, and I am now busy writing my third! When I started this series of books two years ago, I wrote to every agent in the Artists and Writers yearbook, and then some, well over 200 emails and letters, and I have a huge pile of ‘no’s’. I was on the verge of giving up. I knew my book was a bit fruity, I knew my book was contentious, but it was something I really wanted to write, and I loved every minute of writing it. Just when I thought there was no point in pursuing Dead Camp, I started to write something else, but then I thought I would try contacting some publishing houses direct. I contacted 6 publishers, and within two weeks had 3 offers of a contract! To say that I screamed a lot would be an understatement. I signed with the wonderful Extasy Books, and boy are they fabulous. My editors, cover designer, all of them, just wonderful, talented, incredibly supportive people, and I feel mighty privileged to be with them. I owe them everything, for making my dream come true, and I hope that we will be together for very, many years!
Dead Camp is a series of books, all with different stories that tell one big saga. As a gay man, I wanted to write it from a gay perspective, so all my characters are gay, well, except the odd one or two…spoilers sweetie. The series of books start during World War 2, and as they progress, you will find yourself in Victorian London, the Crucifixion, and then back to the downfall of Hitler. It’s a complex story, and every character is linked, even if they don’t know it. Book 1 & 2 are out, and I am currently working on book 3, which has been the toughest write so far. This book is proving particularly challenging because of the subject matter, but I think I have just broken the back of it, so now, with a bit of a push, I can finish the first draft.
When all is said and done, Dead Camp may contain Vampires, Ghosts, Demons and Angels, but ultimately, it is a story of a father’s forgiveness, and tolerance of that which is different, in a roundabout sort of way. I know the very last page of the very last book, it is there, in my many, many notes, and all I can say is, have a very large box of tissues at the ready!
1) Tell us something no one else knows about your characters.
Eli and Malachi are a mixture of me. Always horny, bad tempered, subject to extreme highs and lows, full of secrets, and camp.
Something no-one knows about Eli? Eli once committed a sin that changed the course of human history. Phew, that’s a big one, think I need to sit down. No, don’t ask, spoilers sweetie.
Something no-one knows about Malachi? If he existed in real life, his boss would have been Bram Stoker. And that is a real fact lol!
In my original draft of Dead Camp, Bram Stoker appeared during a particular chapter, but during the second pass of the book, I decided to change him for another historical figure. Others have used Bram Stoker, better than I could ever hope to do, so he had to go. I am still a bit sad about that, because the way he was to be used was quite clever, or at least so I thought at the time, but when I read it, he didn’t work, and the character I replaced him with did, both on a story level and a historic level.
2) Have you ever had writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
Dead Camp 3, which I am writing now, completely messed with my head. I can’t say too much, other than the subject matter of the third book is a tricky one, and it has to be played just right or I run the risk of it sounding cheesy. I am just over the half way point, and there is a line that I had to use, a really, really important line that had to finish that chapter. It was there, in my notes, way back at the very beginning, and it had to be just so.
But do you think I could get the story to behave so I could get there? Hell no. Weeks. It took some three weeks to thrash it out. Page after page written, page after page deleted. It has been the hardest thing I have written to date. I can only hope that, now I have broken the back of it, the following chapters may proceed without incident, because I may just lose my sanity!
There is no easy way to overcome writers block. I wrote and wrote, knowing it was wrong, but I had to keep at it, keep thrashing it out until it clicked. Sometimes I could not stand to open my computer, so then I would sit and play my PS4. Fallout 4 is rather good at alleviating writers tension, let it be known lol. The only thing I can say, if anyone experiences the same thing, don’t force it. Write, even if it is bad, because that will help you see what is right. Oh, and know where the delete button is with your eyes closed!
3) What book you’ve written would you like to see made into a movie?
Dead Camp 1 & 2, because those two instalments are really one big, very big story. Yes, I do it too, imagine who will play each role, fantasize over Hugh Jackman’s involvement…. even if it is just those huge wonderful, bulging arms of his. Does anyone know if Chris Prat is free at the moment?
He could so play Eli. And Michael Fassbender as Melek please. And I’m back in the room again.
4) Do you work on an outline or plot or just let the story takes you where it wants to go?
I plan each book out. I have to do it that way, because each instalment is interconnected, and every plot strand and story all lead to the same end. I work out the overall arc, and each plot strand, and which character that involves. I have a box of index cards, and all the cards inside are plot points. I put them in order, and then fill out the details, all on index cards first. Then, I sit down, having established the series of events in each book, and where each book needs to end up to fuel the next, and I write a rough outline on paper. Once I have done my research, and there is a lot of that for this series, I then sit at my lap top and burn my fingers. Things change, evolve, and new ideas make themselves known as I write, but the basic outline and plot has to say the same or it will not work, even if sometimes I reach that particular goal by a slightly different route than intended.
5) Rapid fire questions:
1 – Favorite meal – Steak and Chips
2 – Favorite color – Blue
3 – Favorite ice cream flavor – chocolate, of course.
I think that as I approach that milestone that is fifty, I must be one of the oldest gamers on the face of this earth. Many a day you will find me lashed to my PS4 enjoying a good session of Skyrim. Who doesn’t love a good session of Skyrim?
I love writing—I have done it since I was a child when I would happily write about the latest episode of Doctor Who (Tom Baker in those days) in my schoolbooks. Growing up and becoming a business owner with my friend Jayne left little time to pursue my dream of publication, but of late the desire and the compulsion to put words onto paper have once again dominated my life so that now, my laptop has become surgically fused to my fingertips.
There is something desperately satisfying about telling a story. My fascination with History, Religion and Conspiracy theories have, in this instance, gone hand-in-hand with my love of all things vampire, fantasy, sci-fi and horror. I drove my parents nuts when I was young because that was all I would read about in books, all I would watch on television, but they have held me in good stead, and long may my obsession with the subjects continue, at least, that is, until the day they put me in my own wooden box. And imagination is such a wonderful thing. I once had a rather vivid dream about David Tennant and the Tardis console, but I could not possibly go into details about that here. Let’s just say that my polarity was well and truly reversed.
Dead Camp is just the beginning. I have to check my knickers every day at the thought that this book is now in the public domain. My first book, and I hope the first of many. And to those out there who love to write, who love to transport us to new worlds, or old worlds with a twisted perspective, I say to you keep going. I never thought I would ever see my work available to download, and thanks to eXtasy Books, the dream that I always thought unobtainable has finally come true. So thank you all at eXtasy, I am one happy homosexual thanks to you, and thank you the reader for taking the time to read this strange tale and allowing Eli and the incomparable Malachi into your lives.
And now I really need Skyrim.