Q&A with Nephylim – Part 1

[WARNING: This post may contain spoilers.]

Nephylim is the author of To Have and To Hold, and Hostage. She has graciously agreed to speak with me about herself, and her writing.

Q. Tell me a little bit about yourself

I’m a 46 year old mother of two. My daughter is 24 and has been in a relationship with her girlfriend for 5 years. They have been living away, attending the same university but they are back with me for a few months before they move on to the next stage of their lives. Having them here is wonderful as it is sometimes a bit isolated here. My son is 10 years old and an old soul.

I am a committed pagan, very spiritual but not religious. I trained as a Druid for 15 years, tried a bit of Wicca and Satanism but they were all too dogmatic for me. I don’t do rules very well, so I just make it up as I go along now. I celebrate the wheel of the year but that’s about the only thing that isn’t totally organic.

I am a vampire and yes, I do drink blood when I can get it but not very much, we’re talking less than a thimble full. It’s hard these days because of the dangers of blood bourne disease and I worry about the younger vampires because they are less careful. I don’t eat meat becasue dead blood doesn’t have life force so is no good. Sometimes it helps psychologically though. I am an eclectic vampire which means I can take life force from natural forces as well as blood although blood is always best. It’s not the taste it’s the feel of it, the way it makes you feel.

I am a lawyer specialising in Family Law and have been all my working life. I used to be a partner in a large firm but it was a relief to take a step back, firstly because my health isn’t good(I broke my back in 1997 and it has been a long haul to get back to ‘normal’ and I still suffer from arthritis in various places… and of course there is the epilepsy but that’s under control now too) and secondly because it involved too much bureaucracy and too little law. I now work 4 hours a day in a town near where I live and I have never been happier.

There has been no one in my life for 4 years and sometimes I get lonely. I live in the Welsh Valleys which are populated mostly by ‘rugby boys’ total chav city. There is no one here who understands the beauty of a sunrise, or does spells of healing or believe let alone accept the vampire side of me. Meh… I’ve waited long enough for my true love what’s a few more centuries and another life.

I believe totally in reincarnation and remember some of my past lives. This has been problematic in that I have destroyed two relationships in this life longing for my true love in all the previous ones. I wear a locket around my neck at all times which is for him and him alone.

I suppose you think I’m completely insane and I probably am but that’s my life and, at the moment at least, I’m happy in it.

Q. What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. Sometimes I read something in someone else’s work which sparks an idea and I go on to write my own story. Not that I steal anything because mine are always very different. I remember reading a vampire book… it might have been Twilight and I decided I could write better vampires so I went and did it.

Another story started with a mannequin in a shop window. It wasn’t about the mannequin it was about the chain of thought that led me from it.

Sometimes a person or a thought; a dream or a concept; a snatch of conversation… I am a listener and I listen to the way people speak… on trains, in waiting rooms, on the road etc etc. And of course there are my clients. I have a never ending stream of inspiration from their lives.

Sometimes someone really stands out for me and I think… I really have to write a story about them and then an idea will come and I’ll fit the person into the story… not the person themselves but the character and the way they make me feel.

I am constantly thinking of my stories, talking to the characters, playing out scenes in my head. If I can’t ‘see’ them I don’t write them. I write on the train, in waiting rooms, when I am supposed to be working.. anywhere and everywhere. Fortunately I am a fast typist so it takes no time to put the written word into the computer.

Yep… just about anything really.

Q. What are your favourite books?

My all-time favourite writer is Storm Constantine and I love all her books. The Grigori Trilogy is my favourite but the Wreuththu (Which I can never spell) comes a very close second

I also love Terry Pratchetts Discworld series, especially the witches. I want to be Granny Weatherwax :)

I like some of the classics. Thomas Hardy The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure are up on my list but I think that the Austens and the Bronte’s are crap and I don’t like the style of Dickens

I adore some Shakespeare plays.. Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest are my favourite.

I like the Anne McCaffrey‘s Pern series and I love to read fantasy and science fiction. There are loads of odd books that take my fancy and I wouldn’t be able to tell you the author if my life depended on it. I like mainly dark stories and I don’t read froth or romance. if I were locked in a room with a stack of Mills and Boon I would prefer to eat them than read them.

Q. What is the most thoughtful feedback you have received from a reader?

Hell, how do I choose. There has been so much. The most thoughtful feedback is the most constructive I think. FortyTwo gave me so much feedback on To Have and To Hold that I made a file for a re write which I haven’t got around to using. He did the same with Enigma II and I worship him as a beta. Centaur is the sweetest person in the world and encourages me so much as do Quonus. Rush and Cia are the best beta and editors in the world and are so encouraging but are still quite harsh with me when I need it.

The most fun feedback is the comedy stylings of Ara, Agaith and Phana… the threads with those three and the cats are hilarious and I smile when I see a post in the forum before I ever read.

Rilbur and Anyta Sunday have taught me some grammar stuff that I didn’t know and which I use in my latter stories but not the first few and Jamie De Valen has given some awesome feedback too.

[Editor’s note: Rilbur is Phoenix’s regular editor.]

Actually there are so many people who leave useful reviews that it would be impossible to list them all and those above are just the ones who pop to mind. I love it when someone posts a review saying … I didnt like because… you could have been better because… I think that this section didn’t work because. Quonus was really useful in Hostage for pointing out inconsistencies and details I’d missed.

Umm… ramblin now I guess LOL

Q. Do your characters represent anyone in your life?

Some. Some of them represent parts of me. I deliberately wrote Daniel Owen in Dangerous Liaisons as the me I would like to be and quite a few characters represent the naive, childlike, playful side of me that tends not to come out very often.

There is one character which is totally based on someone… their character and the way people relate to them and not the story that is woven around them. I have, belatedly, asked for permission to do that and I won’t say any more as I would not want to reveal their identity. I think this is the favourite character I have ever written…vmaybe he is slightly second to Silver but it’s close. Maybe that’s because the character is based on a real person or maybe becuse of the person it is written around, if that makes sense.

Other than that, no. The characters come completely out of my tortured mind :)

Q. What’s your favourite cereal?

I don’t really like cereal. I do like some museli if there are a lot of nuts in it and I like porridge in the winter. I am not a breakfast person though. I have two cups of coffee before I leave for work and a cereal bar with coffee when I get there… hmmm… I suppose my favourite cereal is cereal bars then :)

Q. What made you want to become a lawyer?

Nothing. Like everything else in my life it just kind of happened. I didn’t go to university straight from school because I was too shy… yeah I know crazy isn’t it??? If I had gone straight from school I would have done an English degree. I worked in a bank for about a year and I did the Institute of Banking exams part of which was law. I hated working in the bank with a total vengeance and I packed it in to go to university. It kind of made sense to do law and so I did. At the end I was offered a job and I’ve been lucky to be able to move on from there :)

Q. What do you think of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer? How does it compare to your views on vampires?

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I have been told that I can’t say that I hate something that I don’t actually hate, which is fair enough. I don’t hate the book because that would require far too much energy. I am totally indifferent to them. I don’t think that they are very well written. I don’t like any of the characters… except James and Jasper and I think the storyline is too weak to even be called a storyline, although it does get stronger in the later books. The films don’t help because I don’t find any of the main characters attractive.

To be perfectly honest I don’t think that ‘traditional’ vampires are in any way close to the reality as I experience it. However, the thought of sparkling vampires is bordering on offensive… don’t really know why.

The reality is much different. For the most part vampires are mostly the same as everyone else. The differences are in the soul… we all live in human bodies after all… vampires, weres, dragons. The reason we have to take in life force is because that body doesn’t feed the soul enough. We don’t get ‘turned’ we aren’t afraid of garlic or crosses, holy water just makes us wet. Unfortunately we don’t have the sexual attraction either. We do have faster hair and nail growth, eyes that change colour and a dark side that is very much on the surface. It’s not easy to admit to being something that most people don’t beleive exist in a way that flies in the face of all the beliefs that othrs have in the things they don’t beleive exist. Coming out is like coming out as being gay in a way except people don’t laugh at you for being gay… mostly.

My own belief for that it’s worth, is that vampires are the descendants of the Nephylim, but that’s controversial even among fellow vampires…. especially among them

Q. Tell us a little about To Have and To Hold, and Hostage?

What can I say? To have and to hold was, I think, the first story I ever wrote that was deliberately gay. I’d found this site and wondered if I could write a gay story. Whilst writing it I found that the exploration of the relatinship between two men, especially with the whole vampire twist was exciting and sexy. The story contains some of the popular myths about vampires but also some of my own truth (of course truth is subjective and not absolute and I suppose could be judged by others as belief). The Malakh are Angels… no the sparkly Christmas ones but the ones who carry flaming swords and kill babies. The Sanhedrin Malakim is the council that rules them. Corrupt, arrogant, power crazy and full of politics.

Hostage was very very different. I had no idea where the story was going when I started. I had the idea of the captor becoming close to the captive from something I was wathing on TV. I mulled it around for a while and then these two characters emerged. I deliberately wanted to present Astrin initially as fragile and helpless and have him grow in strength and character throught the story and to have Rowan as proud and arrogant and gradually become more vulnerable and uncertain. Other than that the story wrote itself as I went along. I really didn’t know what was going to happen from one chapter to the next. I really went on the journey with the boys. I laughed and cried and I really tried to get them together earlier but every time I tried Astrin wouldn’t let me :)

This was the first story that the discussion thread really got going and was fun to read and post in. I think this story will always have a very special place in my heart.

Q. Is there another gay online author to whom you look up to, and if so, why?

There are so many. Comicality was the author who brought me to the site as GFD was the first story I read and for a long time I only came here to read that before I started nosing around and decided maybe it was a place I would like to be part of. The main reason, however that I look up to him is because he is so approachable and downright nice.

I totally worship Jamie De Valen because his story is do detailed, rich, sweeping and far reaching. It is truly epic and filled with awesome characters I have totally invested in. I can’t believe how he writes so fluently yet so epicallly. The story just goes on and on and every chapter adds to the whole and is as fresh and exciting as the one before.

Lugh is one twisted son of a bitch and as such a total idol of mine. Erebi Seeking and Forever Boy completely blew me away when I first read them and have imprinted on some of my work since… and he is so totally sexy too 😛

There are so many others…. Chase, Tiger, Quonus, Anyta, Sagar… most definitely Riley Jerico who is another twisted mind I can totally relate to :)…. I could list and list.

Among the newer authors I have a lot of respect for Agaith, Kavrik,Acedias and DKing23’s Ice Blue Assassin is one of the best stories I have read on here.

Oh god there are so many great stories and authors I respect and enjoy… I hope that no one is offended that I left them out… I will think of loads more as soon as I send this in.

Last but not least is Bugeye. Sam is far more awesome than he realises. I was utterly blown away when I first started to read his work. His stories are like poems and his poems are captivating. He doesn’t write like anyone else I have ever read. In many ways his stories don’t make sense because they resonate not on the conscious mind but on the subconscious emotion. It is chaos theory in written form. It is so incredibly inspirational and exciting I can’t even begin to express the effect it had on me. If only he would actually finish his stories he would be perfect :) I have a hopeless crush on the mind behind those stories.

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