I’ve been fascinated by Yvonne Navarro’s work since her vampire novel AfterAge was published in 1993. I didn’t get the chance to meet her until 2010, when we were down in the parlor at the Haunted Mansion Retreat while everyone else was upstairs running around in the dark. She impressed me with her bloody sense of humor. (You can see the interview she gave me after the release of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two here.)
Yvonne is the author of twenty-something published novels and well over a hundred short stories, plus numerous nonfiction articles and two editions of a reference dictionary. Her writing has won the HWA’s Bram Stoker Award plus a number of other writing awards. She also draws and paints and, after finally picking up her brushes with serious intent, has started winning ribbons and selling her artwork. She lives in southern Arizona and is married to author Weston Ochse. She dotes on their three rescued Great Danes, Ghoulie, I Am Groot, and The Grimmy Beast, and a talking, people-loving parakeet named BirdZilla.
A new edition of AfterAge was just published in February. Here’s the description:
The world as humans knew it is gone. Hunted for food by the vampires who’ve taken over the earth, mankind is on the brink of extinction. There are no armies, no politicians, no superheroes. But in a nearly empty Chicago, a few humans refuse to give up. They fight not only to survive, but to find a way to take back their world. While some survivors are captured and bred like cattle, others are more elusive and much stronger and more intelligent than their murderous vampire adversaries ever imagined.
Did something in the real world inspire AfterAge?
Here’s where a huge shout-out and thank you goes to Ann Kennedy, now VanderMeer. Back in the late 1980s, Ann was Buzzcity Press. She put out The Silver Web, a small press magazine. She bought my short story, “Victory’s Ode,” and published it in the first issue. I can’t recall whether it was before or after it was published, but she wrote me a letter about “Victory’s Ode.” She told me she’d dreamed about the story and said I really needed to turn it into a novel. And…voila!
What is your favorite scene in the book?
That’s a tough question. Sometimes I open AfterAge and read a paragraph or two, then think, “Wow, I wrote this. How the heck did I manage that?” LOL I will say that the first scene that came to mind was the scene where Dr. Perlman decides to capture a live vampire and bring it back to his lab to study. It’s pretty… shall we say, suspenseful.
What was your writing process like as you wrote AfterAge?
Ooooh. AfterAge took quite a while to complete. I started it on February 28, 1989 (yes, I do that—keep track of dates) and didn’t finish the final draft until May 15, 1992. From when I started it until July of 1989, I would get up seriously early in the morning—4:30 or 5:00 a.m.—and work on it before I went to work. I was married and often went to Michigan for the weekend, which meant no writing. I tried to write during the evening, but that didn’t go over well. In July, my Practice Husband left me while I was at NECON; one of the issues was my writing. “I thought this was a hobby.” I’d never, ever said that. Anyway, the divorce was unpleasant and the following months were the same; my landlord promptly raised my rent $150.00 a month “to cover all the things he was doing”—you mean those things I was doing while the Practice Husband took off for Michigan every weekend, so I ended up moving in with Dad. What I saw as shameful turned out to be a blessing: my Dad supported me in anything and everything I wanted to do, and I was finally able to finish AfterAge.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
That’s a hard one. I did a lot of promotion, paid for a lot of things out of pocket. Most authors can’t manage that, but I had a pretty good full-time job. Eventually I got to the point where I just couldn’t afford it anymore; at that point, I turned to the publisher, where the editor flatly refused. Even so, I think the coolest thing was the movie theater ad. No, not on the screen. Ha! But back then you could buy an advertisement about the size of a double business card, and it would go in the “Coming Attractions” booklet that people always picked up as they went in or came out of the theater. I put an ad in there that ran for four whole weeks. Every time I saw it, I got a little thrill.
What do you have planned next?
Ah… next. The book I did in the Supernatural universe, The Usual Sacrifices, was fun, but I had communication problems with the studio editor. That was last June. Last fall I was hired to do another movie novelization. Communication between almost all parties was just a nightmare and ultimately I left the project. I felt pretty raw because of it, so I’m taking a break from writing. The people who know me, either in person or via Facebook, know I have an artsy side. I grew up believing to my soul I was going to be an artist (as in drawing and painting, etc.) and I’ve always dabbled (pun intended). In the 1990s I had a number of illustrations appear in small press magazines. In 2009 I took some college courses in painting that actually taught me how to use some of the stuff I’d been collecting in my “studio” over the years. Now I’ve started to get serious about it. My paintings are picking up some ribbons at local galleries and shows. I’ve even sold a couple of things. And you know what? I feel ridiculously happy. I have no doubt, however, that the writing bug is still inside me. Actually, I’d call it more of a virus. No cure.
You can pick up a copy of AfterAge on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore.
Ways to keep an eye on Yvonne: