Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie on Crusade

The latest from New York Times bestselling authors Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, Crusade is the story of a cell of resistance fighters in a world where vampires, The Cursed Ones, have taken over.

Byrt: With vampires, it’s a crowded field these days – did you find that at all daunting when you sat down to write Crusade? How much were you affected by all that has gone before?

Nancy: It seems to me that the appetite (sorry!) for vampire fiction continues to grow. I think that it’s become a subgenre all its own, and I say hurray! I can’t get enough of it myself. (Maybe that’s what drew me/us to write Crusade in the first place.) At any rate, loving vampires as I do, and having written so much about vampires already (I’ve written tons of material for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), I loved writing about them just as much. Plus, witches! Debbie and I love writing about magick!

We try to show that it’s not just crosses and stakes that affect vampires, but all symbols of faith. But sunlight is not the vampire’s friend, nor are wooden stakes, fire, and decapitation. Our Cursed Ones need to drink human blood–no living off rats for them!

Debbie: When I was in high school I first read Dracula and it really helped shape my view of vampires. I’ve read a lot of other vampire fiction since then, but I am still drawn to those classic elements: the evil, the romance, the stakes and decapitation. Part of me is actually a little disappointed that the Cursed Ones in Crusade don’t turn into bats! We do have a great joke about that in the first book, though, how people really aren’t sure what’s true and what’s just fantasy about vampires

Byrt: With a vampire story comparisons are inevitable – what comparisons do you appreciate? What comparisons drive you nuts? What is the most common misconception about Crusade?

Nancy: Nothing really drives me too crazy, except the comparisons of Antonio to Edward. Before Edward, there were Angel and Spike, and before them, there was Lord Ruthven, and many other soulful vampires. I did a lot of research on vampires for various classes during college (I have the best major!) and the field is full of sexy semi-good or good vampire men.

Debbie: It has surprised me how many people are shocked by the fact that the vampires in Crusade are evil. There’s been a great deal of vampire fiction lately that has shown them in a much more sympathetic and romantic light and people just assume that Crusade is going to be the same way. It’s not.

Byrt: You’ve mentioned you were inspired by resistance fighters in World War II – was there any particular region or story that inspired you? How much did research factor in?

Nancy: France and Spain are the “foreign” countries we have used most in Crusade so far, and Antonio was a Maquis. For myself, I watched the Guillermo del Toro trilogy of films over and over–The Devil’s Backbone; Pan’s Labyrinth; and The Orphanage, two of which take place during or just after the Spanish Civil War.

Debbie: For me what I found very inspiring were those people making the radio broadcasts to get the truth out there and to give hope to the people who were living under such terrible fear and danger. In Crusade we have our own Voice of the Resistance urging people to fight back.

Byrt: Did the history of the Crusades also play a role? Or was it just a title choice?

Nancy: We thought of the Children’s Crusade, (which is pretty much a legend), where European children were said to have marched to the Holy Land in the 13th century. In the world of Crusade, the world has fallen to the vampires in part because the governments of various countries couldn’t drop their hostilities and mistrust of each other in order to combat their common foe. It has been left to bands of young people to work together–or try to!–to save the world from the Cursed Ones.

Debbie: The Crusade series is about a holy war. The big difference is that it’s a war people of every religion and belief are waging against the Cursed Ones. It’s a holy war meant to unite humanity instead of fragment it.

Byrt: Why did you chose the particular nationalities you did for the team? Will we be seeing more countries and faiths in the future?

Nancy: We wrote a short story in The Eternal Kiss called “Passing,” which was the genesis of this series. Although we’ve changed a few of the nationalities, we wanted to emphasize that Spain had welcomed everyone from all over the planet. The vampires are everyone’s problem. We wanted to show that multi-culturalism, although we do have 4 Europeans (English, Irish, Spanish, and Danish.) We add more nationalities in Book 2.

Debbie: When we wrote the Wicked series we set a lot of its roots in France. We made the choice this time around to set the roots of Crusade in Spain. We wanted to showcase an international team, people from different cultures united in a single purpose. Because the university where they train is in Spain, it made sense that a lot of the students who trained there would be coming from all over Europe with a few people (like Jenn and Eriko) traveling even farther. That means in the first book we have hunters from 3 continents forming the core team. And yes, more countries and faiths will be woven in in future books.

Byrt: Jenn actually seems stronger on her own than when she’s with the team – are her confidence issues going to continue to crop up in the next book? Or has Jenn turned a corner?

Nancy: Jenn’s going to continue to grow. Sometimes it’s harder to blossom in front of people who know you. I used to be on a speech team in high school and we had the right to ask our own team members to leave the room when we were competing. So I get why it’s harder for Jenn to focus on her own strengths when the others are around.

Debbie: Very perceptive! Yes, Jenn is much stronger when she’s only worrying about herself and not trying to compare herself to the others or worry about them getting hurt. She will continue to grow and realize her own strengths and be able to act upon them regardless of who is around.

Byrt: As a writing team, how do you figure out who is going to write what? is there a push and pull, creatively? Or is it more pass the baton?

Nancy: We work up the outline and then we start working. Debbie usually starts and I revise her chapter. Then I write my chapter and send everything back to her. We never look back and we never compare drafts. What is in front of us is what it is, period. If we want to change something or go in a different direction, we call each other or email. We work together beautifully. If ever I had to prove the existence of magick, it’s that I get to work with Debbie Viguié.

Debbie: And Nancy is just the sweetest person and the greatest coauthor ever!!! She is so talented and incredibly generous. When we’re working out plot points we start riffing off each other and it ends up being something totally amazing and different than what either of us would probably have done by ourselves.

Byrt: What’s your favorite thing to do when you get stuck while writing?

Nancy: Go to Disneyland!

Debbie: Go to Walt Disney World!

Byrt; LOL. Can you tease a little about what’s coming up next in the Crusade series? And what other projects are on the horizon?

Nancy: The stakes will raise. We’ll find out more about what Aurora’s up to. And sadly, someone important will die. We have three Crusade books contracted. We’ve also sold The Wolf Springs Chronicles to Delacorte, and the first book, Unleashed, will come out in December of 2011. I have another book in the Possessions series, titled The Screaming Season. And another book for Penguin, probably a thriller like Pretty Little Devils.

Debbie: I’m in the middle of my Psalm 23 Mysteries series which are mystery/thrillers. I also have two other thriller series coming soon, one from Hachette which deals with vampires and another from NAL that deals with witches.

Byrt: And lastly, what books are you reading right now? Anything you’d recommend?

Nancy: I just finished reading Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman. It was very weegie! And of course Deb’s Psalm 23 Mysteries!

Debbie: Nancy’s Possessions series is really spooky, I’m enjoying reading them.

Thanks again to Nancy and Debbie for stopping by the Bookyurt!

For more on Nancy and Debbie, you can find their respective websites here and here.

(And Bookyurt’s review of Crusade is here.)