Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Diane Hunter about her writing and her recently released Oh Great, Another Vampire Book, a wholly original and Charmingly eclectic urban fantasy. (Read the review here.)
Diane Hunter is the author of Oh Great, Another Vampire Book. Each installment in the Oh Great series will be a playful rendering in a different genre, each lending an absurdist lens to culture and ideas. Her approach to each book explores the darkness of human nature as well as the light.
Hunter holds degrees in Psychology and English. She gains inspiration from comedic writers such as Mel Brooks, John Kennedy Toole, and David Lynch. She’s a big fan of Frank Herbert and Philip K. Dick.
Previous work, published as D.A. MacQuin, includes a sci-fi series and a collection of short stories. She lives in Massachusetts. To learn more go to dianehunterauthor.com or visit her on social media.
Facebook: Diane Hunter
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Yes. Writing is absolutely therapeutic, especially in the arena of self inquiry. When I do free flow of consciousness writing, it’s often surprising how things previously not considered occur to me. A window into the subconscious. The Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, talked about this in relation to circumambulation; circling around the self to examine something from various points of view. This practice helps with insight and organizing thoughts, allowing for compartmentalization.
Free flow of consciousness writing also speaks to a fundamental truth that life, and the stories we create, are not always linear. Through struggle or adversity one can create momentum in another direction. Also, as a general writing tool the practice spurs inspiration as one idea organically leads to the next.
What are your favorite books?
Some of my favorite books are A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, VALIS by Philip K. Dick, and Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Each book features different flavors of a protagonist enduring absurdity, with a good measure of darkness thrown in. (One could make the same argument for the authors themselves)
I love the comic interplay among the New Orleans oddballs of Confederacy. VALIS taught me years ago that sci-fi can be bold in cosmic inquiry as it relates to Christian gnosticism. This, from a classic Philip K. Dick protagonist who’s darkly funny as he questions the nature of reality. Johnny in contrast is written from the point of view of a WWI soldier recovering in a hospital after having his arms and legs blown off. Since much of the narrative occurs in his mind, it inspired my own take on extreme interiority as an aesthetic.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Solitude. I get super excited by things that inspire me, but there’s an unspoken mandate to keep it all to myself. As a full time mom with three small boys, my lifestyle is not conducive to prattling on about ideas. In a way this is good because I have an aversion to the idea of talking about projects in lieu of manifesting them. I recently learned from Dr. Andrew Huberman’s neuroscience podcast that some people get a dopamine rush when they talk about ideas to the extent of losing motivation to do them. I avoid this! So I persist with reading, research, and writing in solitude, running the risk of tunnel vision. If you’re an extreme introvert, there’s always the struggle to maintain perspective.
What inspired the premise of your book?
I wrote Oh Great, Another Vampire Book in 2019 mainly at Starbucks. One morning I was thinking about my favorite graphic novel, The Watchmen by Alan Moore. I’m fascinated by Doctor Manhattan— the blue guy who floats in the air and controls the atomic structure of matter. This makes him god-like. Since the cultural divide was in full force by 2019, my mind went on a tangent of what ifs. What if there was someone who could do this now? And why not throw vampires into the mix? If vampires are real, then everyone’s notion of history would have to be reframed. Hence vampires became the perfect vehicle to explore history since their long lives entail they’ve witnessed much of it. There have been a lot of vampire books, but not necessarily one focused on the socio-political reaction to them in the media. The absurdity of the title and premise appealed to me.
Tell us some more about your book.
It’s a book of ideas rooted in the notion of a new god. My “god character” is a beautiful young woman named Sara Fielding. She studies journalism at Boston University. When she joins a dating app as part of a sorority initiation, she ends up meeting and falling in love with a vampire named Roman McClary. He eventually reveals there’s a war brewing between vampires and humans. Hence, they decide he should sire her since vampires are favored to win. After he tries to turn her into a vampire, she gains unexpected supernatural powers. She’s able to converse with God, who tells her he’s upset with everyone for wrecking the planet. This is why God lets her take over for a while, giving her cart blanche to run the planet as she sees fit. So there are three components to the book: a new god, vampires are real, and the media reacts in this strange inflection point we find ourselves in.
Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
The original concept was to explore the current state of our polarized culture. Then it evolved into something else, in particular as it relates to Authoritarianism. There are disturbing aspects of our cultural divide like cancel culture, reflexive insults, and censorship. One gets a sense there are good intentions on the part of people in support of these. Yet it reminds me of the quote, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
I made Sara a freshman in college because I believe her generation more often bandies about concerns over gender pronouns, toxic femininity, white privilege, and such. Sara is aghast at the insults hurled at her in the media when she reveals her powers to the world and her good intentions of ending the war. But like Doctor Manhattan and another fictional character I like— Walter White from Breaking Bad— Sara’s growing sense of power becomes a gradual descent into losing her humanity. This is what I was excited to chronicle: the slow descent into authority with the intentions of doing good for the world.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Despite the dark themes I just mentioned, I hope readers will laugh! It’s filled with absurd observations on the vampire genre as well as identity politics. I tried to critique along the political spectrum, not positing myself as an ideologue. I hope people enjoy my vampires who influence Sara’s thinking. They all hail from disparate parts of world history. Her boyfriend, Roman, fought in the Revolutionary War and supported foundational ideas like Abolition and the Suffragette Movement. Another crucial character is an Ancient Greek who was friends with the philosopher, Epicurus. He imparts to her the importance of critical thought and the free exchange of ideas.
The ethos of America at its inception— largely inspired by Classic Greek philosophy— is something society should benefit from nowadays. I’m reminded of the quote ascribed to Ben Franklin about having a Republic “If you can keep it.”
What’s next for you?
I’ve already completed Book 2: Oh Great, Another Book About Jesus. In this one you’ll find Jesus traveling around encountering various factions reminiscent of current groups, like Jews for Jesus and feminists (The Real Housewives of Galilee). I had a lot of fun writing stand up bits for a Roman Senator, Lucius Secalius—inspired by Louis C.K. The spirit of Marc Maron shows up too in a morally ambiguous centurion, Marcus Maronius. I hope folks like it!
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