Jasper Kent’s Twelve (US, UK, Canada, my review) hit the stores a couple of months ago to much fanfare – in fact it’s already been through several reprints. In Twelve Kent combines Napoleon’s invasion of Russia with Eastern European-style vampires in an excellent novel that’s part historical fiction, part horror, and part war-novel and ads up to something all its own. While it easily stands on its own, it is also the first book in a planned 5-book series titled the Danilov Quintet that will combine Russian history up to the October Revolution – the second book, Thirteen Years Later, is currently under development.
I’m very pleased that Jasper took the time to answer Questions Five (and as always, reading the author’s bio may help you understand the origin of some of my queries).
If I were going on holiday to Brighton and I can only visit one pub, which pub do you recommend and why?
JK: The Shakespeare’s Head. It has good beer (of the warm, brown variety), serves about a dozen different kinds of sausages (except Sundays – boo!) and it’s within spitting distance of me. It’s not to be confused with the other Shakespeare’s Head, on Spring Street, which is good but not as good.
Joss Whedon, Anne Rice, Steven King, Laurell K. Hamilton, Bram Stoker, and Jasper Kent each walk into a pub with their version of a vampire. What happens next?
JK: I think Anne Rice’s vampires would be a bit snobby about my voordalaki; they’d probably be sitting in the lounge bar while mine were in the saloon, spitting in the sawdust. Joss Whedon’s lot, having lived the past few decades trying to pass themselves off as good, red-blooded American vampires, would suspect mine of being commies, regardless of the geographical and chronological niceties. Dracula would want a quiet word with at least one of my chaps, regarding the unconscionable past behaviour of one Pyetr Alekseevich Romanov. Everyone would laugh at the way Joss Whedon’s creation’s face’s went all funny whenever they were about to bite anybody, with the exception of Stephen King’s, who looks funny all the time.
A fight would undoubtedly break out fairly quickly, in which Dracula would have a certain advantage in not being utterly destroyed by sunlight, but the disadvantage of being vulnerable to a bowie knife, where the rest require a wooden stake. Joss Whedon’s vampire’s might do well since their natural enemies tend to be teenagers and so wouldn’t be allowed in the pub in the first place. My boys would be looking around for anyone French to attack, but if they couldn’t find any they wouldn’t be too fussed.
Luckily, Laurell K. Hamilton’s creations wouldn’t turn up, so I wouldn’t have to reveal I know nothing of her works.
What is the algorithm of Twelve?
JK: The nature of the voordalaki came about by evolution rather than design – intelligent or otherwise. That’s to say I didn’t plan anything much in advance. If the plot requires a particular vampire facet, then they get that facet, and I have to be consistent with it from then on. It’s worked pretty well so far, but by the end of the quintet I’ll be working in a rather tight straitjacket of my own creation.
Does this algorithm allow for vampiric rats in future novels of the DANILOV QUINTET?
JK: As far as I know, for the voordalaki it’s human blood or nothing, so there would be little chance of cross-contamination with another species. On the other hand, that doesn’t preclude an entirely separate but parallel outbreak of vampirism to occur within the rat community. On the third hand, for my vampires the rule is that only a willing victim can be transformed into a vampire and thus the transformees have to be evil in the first place. Since rats are inherently incapable of evil, none could ever become one of the undead.
Why should Twelve be the next novel that everyone reads?
JK: A recent survey