Today I am interviewing Vivian Shaw, author of the new paranomal fantasy novel, Strange Practice, first book in the Dr. Greta Helsing series.
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DJ: Hey Vivian! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Vivian Shaw: My pleasure! I’ve been writing books since I was probably about eleven years old, and I’ve been an active fanfic author since the early 2000s, but this is the first time I’ve ever been actually published and I could not be happier. I’m the daughter of a couple of British scientists, born in Kenya, and we moved around a lot chasing the postdoc funding when I was little, but we moved to Maryland in 1987 and I’ve been here ever since. I have a BA in art history and an MFA in creative writing, and I live in Baltimore with my wife, the author Arkady Martine.
DJ: What is Strange Practice about?
Vivian: The very short version is this: Dr. Greta Helsing sees dead people, from ten to four on weekdays and by appointment, at her Harley Street clinic. Dead people and other individuals who might not generally be considered people at all: mummies, were-creatures, banshees, barrow-wights, ghouls, etcetera. Greta inherited the practice from her father, and she’s just pretty much getting on with things and living her normal supernatural-adjacent life when a new threat emerges – a sect of murderous monks apparently intent on dispatching both the quick and the dead – and she and her friends (and patients) have to figure out how to stop the monks if she wants to save both her practice and her life.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Strange Practice and the series?
Vivian: Well, directly, the source material: Varney the Vampyre, or The Feast of Blood; John Polidori’s The Vampyre; and the somewhat-apocryphal story of the vampire of Croglin Grange. (Dracula and Carmilla both showed up in a previous draft, but they’ll be part of this universe later on.) I read a fantastic book called Prisoner of Vampires, by Nancy Garden, when I was just a kid – and that not only introduced me to a lot of more esoteric vampire stories but did a little bit of what I’m doing here, bringing together the various classic tales into a coherent and cohesive single canon. Stylistically I think my main influences are and always have been Mervyn Peake, Robin McKinley, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman. Continue reading