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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Geek Pride speaks to author A. S. Chambers

Fans of author A. S. Chambers have long been fascinated by the character Nightingale: a vampire who appears in several stories set in the world of paranormal investigator, Sam Spallucci.  Hence, their anticipation of Songbird – the first story to focus on Nightingale – which is due to be published in July.

Since her first appearance in The Casebook of Sam Spallucci, readers have loved the enigmatic vampire Nightingale.  Songbird tells of Nightingale’s rise from poverty as an orphan on the streets of Victorian England, through to leading the Children of Cain, a society of vampires.

Along the way, Nightingale suffers at the hand of a sadistic parish priest and his wife, before being rescued by her vampire father and subsequently travelling to the Wild West to track down her missing brother, Justice (yes, that is his name, poor lad).  The book has already garnered excitement amongst Chambers’ readers and will be available for pre-order through a Kickstarter campaign.

Launched on Monday 27th May, the campaign reached its target in just six hours. As well as the novella, other items will be available as rewards.  These include a taster book of the world of Sam Spallucci with The Case of the Belligerent Bard, as well as Sam’s first outing in The Casebook of Sam Spallucci.

There are also limited edition A4 prints of the cover art for Songbird, which was designed by the talented digital artist Liam Shaw.

How many Sam Spallucci books do think there will be?

I’m currently working on Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls, the fifth Sam book (sixth, if you include the short story The Case of The Belligerent Bard). I think there are going to be about five or six more which are solely centred around Sam, but that doesn’t mean that the story will end there. Sam’s universe is constantly expanding and heading towards the apocalyptic “Divergence” which will be tackled in the two novels Fallen Angel and Beyond, before plunging into the Divergent Lands trilogy, set after the event itself.

Basically, I need to get a move on and get them written!

When did you realise Nightingale was so popular?

She had always evoked a certain fondness from the readers in the short stories that she appeared in, such as Family and Nightingale, but she (and the other vampires) really hit the ground running in the fourth Sam Spallucci book, Dark Justice.

I think I absolutely nailed their characters here because I’d spent so much time playing around with them beforehand. They come across as very complete and easy to relate to, even though they are paranormal. I think readers love Nightingale because she is so human in her outlook. She is a recent mother and has had leadership thrust upon her at a young age. At times this makes her appear very vulnerable.

Where did you get the inspiration for the character?

I’m not entirely sure. Certain characters in my books I can say, “Oh yeah, he was a chap I sat next to on a bus who just looked like a serial killer,” or “I once knew a priest who got up to all sorts of stuff that you would never believe.” With Nightingale, she just evolved.

I always had a mental image of Ezri Dax (from Deep Space 9) in my head when I was writing her, so I guess her physical image stems from there, although there is a good dose of the lass who played the ghost in the last season of Being Human too. As far as her personality traits go, I think they evolved with the situations that I placed her in. She responds in a kind, caring manner. In her early years (such as the Family short story) she is very naïve and innocent. By the time that we come across her again in Dark Justice, she is having to stamp down on more rebellious elements, such as the hot-headed Tigress.

What inspired the Children of Cain?

In Sam’s universe the murder of Abel by his jealous brother Cain led to the birth of two paranormal groups. The Children of Cain were born when a fallen angel gave Cain a chance to pay penance for killing his brother by turning him into the first vampire. He was left with the instructions, “Find the Eternals. Protect the Twins. Await the Divergence.”

The blood of Abel that he had spilled was eaten by an insane wolf. This became the first werewolf in the Bloodline of Abel and, rather than pursuing noble ventures, the bloodline inserted itself into society, accruing wealth and power.

As the series has expanded, has setting it in Lancaster presented any challenges?

Definitely. I first started writing the series back in 2011. A lot happens in a city over eight years, especially architecturally. For example, I refer to the abandoned Williamson works down on the quay in Shadows of Lancaster. These have now been demolished and replaced by a housing estate, which is actually a reflection of what has started to happen in Sam’s world.

Also, sometimes places just don’t have the properties that a writer wants. An example of this is the Roman Catholic Cathedral. I had intended to set a climactic scene there in Shadows of Lancaster. Sam was going to be deposited on its roof and have to face off against an angry grotesque. I then remembered that the roof on St Peter’s is pitched. There was no way that Sam could walk up there, let alone fight. So, I had to move the scene to the St Mary’s Priory on Castle Hill. Hence a difference between Sam’s Lancaster and the actual Lancaster was born. In the books, the Priory has a number of grotesques; in reality, there are none.

Why release Songbird as a kickstarter?

This is in part down to Amazon doing away with Createspace and simplifying their publishing arm in KDP. With Createspace, you used to be able to set a date for publication some way in the future. This meant that you could promote it and have people pre-order. KDP weirdly does not offer this option for paperbacks, only Kindle versions.

As a result, you feel like you are dumping your book into a market that does not expect it and it can easily fall flat. I decided to use Kickstarter as a way to get around this and have a place where my readers could pre-order the book. It also meant that I could offer bonuses, such as the awesome art by Liam Shaw, and pick up some new readers.

What has been the response so far to the kickstarter?

Phenomenal! I reached my target within six hours of launch and, as we speak, it is standing at over 300%. This means that I have already covered my publications costs before the book actually goes live. I will certainly look at doing the same for future publications.

What does the future hold for Sam Spallucci?

Lots of things, not necessarily nice for the poor chap. Sam Spallucci: Troubled Souls should be out this autumn and will see him whisked through time. He will be tracking down a Victorian serial killer who resurfaces in modern day Morecambe, as well as being transported to the “Divergent Lands” in a crossover with the future title Fallen Angel.

After this come the books Bloodline, Fury of the Fallen, Dare the Dragon and Lux Eterna. He will be battling werewolves, dealing with the reappearance of an ex-girlfriend, sparring with the fallen angels Asherah and Asmodeus and coming face to face with a dark power who has constantly stalked his dreams.

All details about Nightingale and A. S. Chambers can be found at http://www.aschambers.co.uk/

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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