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Blood Banks: An Interview with Vampire Huntress Author L.A. Banks

L.A. Banks is one busy writer. She’s written more than 40 novels, including crime thrillers, romances, and paranormal-themed mysteries. Her Vampire Huntress series, now complete with its twelfth novel, tells the life of Damali Richards, a musician by day and demon slayer by night. However, Damali’s story is getting new life—and a new, visual take—in graphic-novel form.

How does the graphic novel fit in with the rest of your Vampire Huntress series?

It’s an epilogue to the Vampire Huntress legend. I have 12 books and it ends with a big, apocalyptic situation. I kept getting emails from people saying, “Yeah, but what about…? I mean, what happened to those people?” This is an attempt to take it beyond the last book. I wasn’t prepared to do a regular text novel, but having the graphic-novel format really allows you to tell short stories in an episodic way. That’s what I was trying to do. It’s very much a strong tie-in to the Vampire Huntress, with all the characters and everything. It’s just going, “The Day After Armageddon…” kind of thing.

Can people read the graphic novel without having read the other novels and still know what’s going on?

Yup. We wrote it that way so that you have enough references to what’s going on. So you don’t have to have plowed through 12 books to get to the graphic novel.

Is this the first graphic novel you’ve done?

Yes, it is. So I’m really excited about it! [Laughs]

Was it your idea to make a graphic novel?

Actually, it wasn’t. The graphic-novel folks came to us. As I was finishing up the series, St. Martin’s Press was looking at different ways to expand the franchise. They started talking to the Dabel Brothers and they become Dabel Dynamite. They were the ones who suggested, “Hey, why don’t you take it beyond comics and go to graphic novels?” I just loved the idea. I was like, “Yes! Let’s do that, gentlemen!”

Did you know much about graphic novels before this?

I really didn’t. I have to tell the truth. I just knew what I liked. I really got into graphic novels from the movie Sin City. I loved what I saw there, and I was like, “That’s a graphic novel?” And this whole world opened up. Since I started writing in the genre, I thought, “Well, I better pick some up.” [Laughs] I know what I like to see, I know what I liked as a kid. I know what I liked when I was a teenager! Because my cousins all had comics and I would swipe theirs.

It’s a wonderful thing to see your books come alive. Or to see your characters! The characters come alive on the page. The first time I saw a rendering Brett Booth did, I almost fell out of the chair. It was just so fantastic.

What was the process of making it?

It’s so different from writing a novel; I had to get used to it. Essentially, I developed a script. When you have 400 pages or so as a novelist, and you have to boil everything down to the comic pages of 22 pages, with maybe five lines per frame or five lines per panel…that’s a daunting challenge! That’s like being a muralist used to painting on the side of skyscraper buildings who has to put something on a postcard. It takes thinking visually. Also, having to put the art directions in. It’s more innovative. Usually when you’re writing a novel, they leave you alone for a couple of months, and then you start the process of going back and forth with your editor. It’s a much slower process. Comics are, “BAM! Turn around, we need it now!” They call you back with, “Is the art right?” There’s all this frenetic activity around comics that I had to really get used to. But the upside is having your fingers in the clay. You get to really say, “This I like. This sequence is…eh, I really want to see them running or jumping.” You have so much hands-on involvement and control of the product.

Did you choose the artist?

No, I didn’t know. I just chose the art I like. They showed me some samples and I said, “Wow, this guy is great.” As it turns out, he’s one of the masters in the profession.

Are there going to be more volumes of it?

I hope so. It’s just like anything else: It depends on what the market response is. If people respond to it, there’ll be more than one. If it’s lukewarm, especially in this market condition, then no. Fingers crossed, toes crossed that people will like it and want to see more!

Do you think there’ll be graphic novels of any of your other books or series?

That’s a big hope. I would love to see the Crimson Moon series as a graphic novel. Because there’s so much cool stuff in there: shapeshifters, werewolves, shadow wolves, all kinds of coven stuff going on along with the vampires and what have you.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

The Vampire Huntress legends were my first big, epic saga. From that, we went to comics and the comics are going to go to graphic novels. The natural extension was that people kept saying, “Hey, I want to know what’s going to happen to the kids and what’s going to happen in the next generation.” Because a couple of my heroines were pregnant at the end. I wondered what my characters would be like as parents. They’re all cool and sexy now, but how will they be if I went through 15 or 16 years and gave them teenagers to live with? That’d put some gray in their hair! [Laughs] So I have a YA called Shadow Walker that will come out in November and is a continuation of the saga, but from a different perspective. It’s the children. While their parents are out hunting, they have to learn their skills. It has been an absolute labor of love. Just so much fun; I can’t begin to tell you about that. Because it was a new slant on my characters. The reason I didn’t want to go past book 12 was because I did not want to cheat my readers in the novel format. I had more than enough for short vignettes. In fact, on my Vampire Huntress website, there’s this thing called Between the Books. That’s original content that’s not in any of the books. I realized I had the capacity to do short vignettes in between thinking up a big project, which would be a novel. Shadow Walker was a fallout of my mind not turning off. I just said, “No more books. I’m done. Book 12, that’s it.” Then I started having thoughts of what the future would be like for these people. The saga continues!

 

-- Danica Davidson