In THE PENTACLE PENDANT, Stephen M. DeBock’s debut novel, a contemporary werewolf who becomes a won-woman star chamber takes center stage. METAMORPH chronicles the further adventures of one of the characters introduced in the TPP, and explores the question of what happens when Beauty becomes the Beast.
In METAMORPH, a vampire who has slaked his taste for terror through centuries of history’s darkest eras puts a hold on his covert attacks on America in order to pursue a secret vendetta against a beautiful bi-racial woman who has scorned him.
But the woman has a secret of her own. She is a metamorph, a hybrid shape-shifter with the healing powers of a vampire, the heightened senses and strengths of a werewolf, and the needs that accompany both. Needs that conflict with her strong moral code; needs which compel her to conceal her extra-human identity from the mortal man she has grown to love.
METAMORPH combines known history with speculative fiction, a strong female protagonist, and the pitting of a creature of unmitigated evil against a pair of unsuspecting lovers in a complex cat-and-mouse pursuit.
THE BIG THRILL had a chance to talk with the author and find out a little more about his latest effort.
As your series progresses, what changes are occurring to the story and your writing process?
THE PENTACLE PENDANT introduces the contemporary werewolf Claire and her friends, lovers, and associates, as well as the vampire villain, Daciana, who will link TPP, METAMORPH, and the upcoming HEMOPHAGE. The first book’s focus is the local and contemporary; METAMORPH is a thriller that introduces both Daciana’s back story from the seventeenth century to the present and one of her acolytes who has become a modern-day terrorist. He becomes a threat to Rowena, a character introduced in TPP who plays the protagonist’s role in this novel. HEMOPHAGE, now nearing completion, delves even more deeply into Daciana’s influence upon new characters, again dating from the 1600s and continuing into the present day. Persons and events introduced in the former two novels are intertwined with the lives of the new protagonists of HEMOPHAGE.
What drove you to write this second novel?
While writing Claire’s story, I became fascinated by her best friend, Rowena, daughter of a black Marine and his Vietnamese bride. Rowena is smart, sassy, street-wise, and the most loyal of friends. After suffering two tragic losses in TPP, she must pick herself up and try to return to a normal life. But a normal life will elude her, in the form of the vampire terrorist, acolyte of her former nemesis, Daciana. I found it impossible simply to let Rowena go without expanding upon her story.
What attracted you to vampires, shape-shifters, and werewolves?
Back in the 1950s (yes, I’m that old), I collected the E.C. comics Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Witch’s Cauldron. What made them striking was that despite their incurring the wrath of politicians who blamed juvenile crime on their glorification of gore, the stories were really old-fashioned morality tales in which the villain always got his comeuppance, usually in ways more hideous than those he perpetrated upon his victims. I attempted to expand upon that theme in THE PENTACLE PENDANT and its successors.
The vampire is considered a sexy beast, but the werewolf has rarely been portrayed as sexy. (Exception: The Howling.) I wanted to see if I could create a werewolf with sex appeal. Having written what became the prelude to TPP as a short story, I found myself wanting to know more about Claire—her alias, her fabricated back story, her wolf tattoo, her origins. I also wanted to make her a good person with good intentions, but seriously conflicted by her inner wolf’s feral ferocity.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you as a writer?
When I was a high school senior, I entered a Macy’s department store contest to write a twenty-five-word essay on “Why I want to fish in Alaska.” In English class we had been studying poetry, so I wrote my essay in blank verse. The entry won, I enjoyed two weeks’ worth of fantastic fishing, and my poem was printed in the local and state newspapers—which made me a published author at age seventeen.
Did your previous work inspire any of your writing, and in what way?
I became a fan of SWORD & SORCERY in the 1960s—L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, and of course Robert E. Howard—and their works inspired a fantasy adventure novella titled THE BRIDGE BETWEEN WORLDS. A request by filmmaker friends who wanted a vampire script they could film on the cheap became A CROSS TO BARE. (They never made the film, but Gypsy Shadow e-published a narrative version as well as THE BRIDGE BETWEEN WORLDS and some of my other stories.) Both these efforts led to my combining fantasy and horror, as well as romance and adventure, in THE PENTACLE PENDANT and its successors.
Where in your heart has the creative instinct found root and grown?
The left ventricle? Okay, seriously, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I owe whatever skill I might possess to two of my high school teachers: Donald Martin, who taught me to write the bare bones, and Gerald Rich, who the next year—the year I won the Alaska trip—taught me to put flesh on the bones.
Have you ever met a vampire?
I’ve met some bloodsuckers in my day, but none of them had fangs.
Thanks, Stephen. I wish you well with METAMORPH. The exploration of the dark side fascinates us all, and I look forward to reading it.
Stephen M. DeBock is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Presidential Honor Guard during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. A private pilot and former liveaboard boater, his non-fiction has appeared in American Heritage, AOPA Online, and Living Aboard magazines. He also wrote the text for a coffee-table book titled THE ART OF H. HARGROVE. His debut novel, THE PENTACLE PENDANT, features a contemporary werewolf who becomes a one-woman star chamber. METAMORPH chronicles the further adventures of one of the characters introduced in the former book.
You can find out more about Laurence at www.lpobryan.com