US and Canadian residents will be able to purchase Angel of Vengeance tomorrow, the original never-before-released novel that inspired the vampire TV series “Moonlight.” (The UK edition will be released at the end of March)
Written by Trevor O. Munson, the co-creator, writer and producer of “Moonlight” (the CBS series which attracted 7 million viewers and still retains a loyal, devoted fan base and cult following), Angel of Vengeance offers a new twist on the classic Dracula vampire tale and blends it with Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled P.I. detective fiction.
We speak to Munson about his unique take on vampire lore and his writing influences, in this exclusive interview:
What makes Los Angeles a great setting for noir fiction?
Ask Raymond Chandler. In terms of a setting for noir fiction, LA is like no other city. On the surface, Hollywood shimmers with the money, glamor and glitz of the entertainment industry, but when you peek beneath you quickly catch a glimpse of the desperate bottom-feeders that populate the town’s dark underbelly. Every day, thousands of people stream into the city from all over the world with dreams of being discovered and making it big, but many of them fall through the cracks. These are the sorts of people that guys like Philip Marlowe and Mick Angel come into contact with as they follow leads and attempt to uncover secrets others want to keep hidden.
Angel of Vengeance redefines and explores classic vampire lore, such as the ability to turn into a bat and seeing a reflection in a mirror. How did you approach creating your unique spin on vampires?
My basic approach in redefining classic vampire lore was to attempt to “noirify” the vampire mythology. I wanted recreate the rules to reflect the themes you see repeated over and over in noir storytelling. This is why I had Mick take his blood with a needle, and sleep in a freezer to stave off his slow decay.
Other changes came from just wanting to make more sense of classic rules, such as the idea that vampires are unable to see their reflections. It didn’t make sense to me that a body with mass wouldn’t cast a shadow, or reflection, so I altered it so that Mick can see his reflection, but when he does, he always sees the inner monster inside. Thematically this worked for a story where the main character views himself as a monster and generally hates what he is.
Finally, I also departed from the general mythology by having my vampires actually have to die in order to turn. In many current vampire tales, (Moonlight included) vampires are turned by being taken to the brink of death and then being fed the blood of their sire. In my novel, however, I wanted a more defined death process. As a result, I came up with the idea that the vampire bite transmits the infection, turning the bitten person into a carrier until the time of their death whenever that may be. Then, after a period of incubation, the vampire rises again as a member of the undead.
Vampires continue to be a popular literary subject. How do you explain their popularity and continued relevance?
I think the idea of breaking death’s hold, and living on indefinitely as a beautiful and powerful being is understandably alluring to many of us. How cool would it be to have the time and resources to learn, do, see, and experience everything our world has to offer?
Personally, however, I see vampires as beautiful tragic creatures, who make a Faustian bargain to give up their humanity in order to become immortal. It is this trade-off that interests me most. It seemed fertile ground for discussing what it means to be human by exploring the the cost of immortality and how a person might feel about what he has lost in the process.
What influenced Angel of Vengeance?
First and foremost: “The Lost Boys”. I instantly loved this movie and saw it three times in the theater the summer it came out. Equal parts scary, fun, and funny, it was what created my initial interest in vampires.
More specifically, I got the idea for creating a hard-boiled, noir vampire in 2005 after rereading “Dracula” and following it up with a Raymond Chandler novel. At that point, I had wanted to write something about vampires for a long time, but felt it was only worth doing if I had a fresh way into the mythos. The character of Mick Angel, a sort of blood-sucking Philip Marlowe who was turned in the forties and who now finds himself unwilling or unable to get in step with the modern world in which he now lives, seemed like it had the potential to be that.
What are the differences between Angel of Vengeance’s Mick Angel and Moonlight’s Mick St. John?
In many ways the things that underlie and motivate the two characters are the much the same. Both Mick’s are loners who hate what they are and want nothing more than to reconnect with their lost humanity. Part of turning into a vampire is turning into a greater predator. Both versions of Mick miss the emotions and senses from when they were alive.
The main difference for me, is that Mick St. John has Beth in his life. Because he saved her from and chose her over Coraline, his femme fatale first true love, Beth serves as a sort of lifeline to Mick’s lost humanity. As a result, she is the only one he’s ever met who allows him to feel similar to how he did when he was alive, and despite it’s inherent difficulties, this relationship gives him hope for the future. In contrast, Mick Angel at least in this first book, has no Beth, and is far more cynical and despondent about his situation.
If there had been a second season of Moonlight, where would the story have taken Mick St. John?
It’s hard to say exactly what my co-creator Ron Koslow and I would have done if we had been able to write a season two. We had a lot different ideas, but no specific plans. In the long course of the series, however, we had hoped to eventually bring the question of whether or not Mick would ultimately turn Beth to a slow boil before ultimately answering it.