Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin
For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.
(And NIGHTLIFE hits store shelves!)
Are you ready?
Described as “an action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, NIGHTLIFE pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly,”
“Thrilling, edgy, and scary as hell, Matthew Quinn Martin’s NIGHTLIFE is an outstanding debut and––along with Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels––it’s also one of the most original takes on the vampire novel I’ve ever read.” —Jason Starr, International bestselling author of THE PACK.
“Wait…your book has monsters in it? ACTUAL monsters? Where can I buy it? Like right now.” —Ethan Cross, International bestselling author of THE PROPHET.
Welcome, Matthew Quinn Martin, and congratulations on the release of NIGHTLIFE! So,
Halloween has come and gone; tell us more about what stalks the streets of New Harbor, what’s NIGHTLIFE about?
Jeeze, this type of question is always the toughest to answer––and it’s usually the first up too. You think I’d be better at answering it by now (or at least ducking it). I’ve noticed that readers/reviewers are doing a way better job than I could at describing the book…so let me just drop a few quotes in here: “An incredibly riveting, edge of your seat plot that [is] equal parts spooky mystery and gruesomely tragic horror novel.”––ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY. “The ultimate Vampire book…not your modern, sexy, ‘I wanna get laid by a vampire book’…this [is] some scary stuff.”––WALL-TO-WALL BOOKS . “I don’t think I’ve actually read anything like it before, And I was not disappointed.”––THE BIBLIOSANCTUM. “NIGHTLIFE takes the tired old trope of vampires preying on humanity and give us something new, much fresher and infinitely more interesting by that cleverly simple trick of taking the idea of vampires back to their nastier, much less sexy basics.”––UNDER THE EFFING RAINBOW
I find what often sets vampire novels apart are their origin stories, the mythology that surrounds the antagonists and protagonists. Can you tell us more about where these night angels are from and why they are back?
To be honest, the mythology is exactly the same. It’s what spawned those myths that’s different. The creatures in NIGHTLIFE (at least in the world of the book) are what gave rise to the myths in the first place. Not just the European myths, but those from around the globe as well.
It is a vampire novel so you’re going to get this question a lot: What sets it apart from the thousands of others?
I’ve been jokingly referring to NIGHTLIFE as “not your kid sister’s vampire novel” and I suppose that’s as good a place as any to start. Without throwing too many spoilers out there let me just say that these “vampires” are scary, primal and not anyone you would want to meet––they might make you think you would want to, but trust me…you don’t.
Why do you think there’s so much interest in vampires? What is it about them that keeps us coming back for more?
I think it depends. For some readers the vampire is something to identify with. Immortality, magic powers, sexual prowess, heightened strength, often times limitless wealth and eternal youth. It’s a power fantasy––almost like a superhero with a blood addiction. The best versions of this model are balanced by the toll that this takes on the vampire character––fighting the demon within, the angst that comes with outliving your loved ones, never being able to walk in daylight, coping with being a murderer, etc. Lesser books find ways to dismiss these things––and the worst dismiss them almost entirely.
I’m really intrigued by the concept of the main characters not having to conquer their fear, rather their desires. Is that what vampirism is all about?
In many ways, yes…especially if this desire leads to peril.
Beth Becker, main character, bar tender, already part of the ‘nightlife,’ is drawn into the hunt after the disappearance of her friend, but not everyone would traipse into hell, why her? Is it all about revenge? Why will readers like her?
Pure revenge as a motive can make for some compelling storytelling. Just check out OLDBOY or a solid production of HAMLET. But I think this usually works best in tragedy. It might be in the DNA of good revenge stories.
Of course revenge plays a part in NIGHTLIFE, although perhaps more for Jack than Beth. But ultimately there’s more to it. I do (and have for a long time) believe that altruism is hard-wired into the human condition. When you need to fire someone up to do something difficult, something they might not want to do, the words “we’re all counting on you” can do wonders. At the bottom of it all the desire to protect others is what drives both Jack and Beth.
The book opens with the interrogation scene of Jack Jackson, twelve years before Beth meets him as the mysterious partner that the back copy alludes to. From the outset we know he’s motivated by the carnage of his family, but how is he changed, what keeps him going?
The Jack we see in the prologue is a very different Jack from the one in the bulk of NIGHTLIFE. Some of that change––and the primary motivation for his near single-minded quest––is revealed late in the book. And still more of it will come out in NIGHTLIFE: AS THE WORM TURNS. Pardon me for not revealing more of it here.
Jack’s got some really cool weapons/defenses against the night angels, can you tell us about any and the research you did to come up with them?
Some of the research I did on improvised weaponry has probably landed me on multiple government watch lists. This is especially true of the final weapon used in the book (hope that’s vague enough)…all I can say on that one is that I was “requested” to remove a lot of the specifics on how it functioned before NIGHTLIFE reached a wider readership.
Here’s an excerpt from NIGHTLIFE: “In the silvery glass, he had lidless black eyes, and his mouth was a brace of needle-sharp teeth. His head was reared back and curved into an S as if he had no spine. His mouth opened wide. Impossibly wide. More teeth lined the inside of his throat. Row upon circular row of razors stretching down for what seemed like forever.” It’s clear that TWILIGHT didn’t play a significant role in your inspiration. What did? In particular what direction did you take from Carl Zimmer’s PARASITE REX?
TWILIGHT (and similar works) were inspirational in pointing me in the opposite direction. I’m not going to cast aspersions on other peoples writing or reading tastes––but a wise man once told me “when everyone else zigs…that’s when you zag.” I saw an opening to do something different with the myths and I went for it.
As for Zimmer’s work, I was first introduced to it via an article called “Do Parasites Rule the World?”…I’m not sure if that article eventually became the basis of the book PARASITE REX, or if it was an excerpt, but that’s where it started. That book (and a few others) gave me a nice firm scientific foundation to base my outlandish fantasies on––hopefully at least enough to make people to ponder the mechanics of it all. However, let me just say to anyone picking up PARASITE REX as casual reading––it’s an incredibly compelling piece of writing, and it will scare the crap out just about anybody (and then have them checking said “crap” for biological hitchhikers).
New Harbor, Connecticut, hmmm…you used to live in New Haven so … how close are the two settings? Does New Haven inspire vampire tales or is it its very lack of an underbelly that inspires a need for one?
Trust me, the city has an underbelly––as does any place where money/power/privilege is so tightly centralized. Taking a wrong turn in New Haven can lead one into some very rough sections.
Anyone who is from New Haven will recognize at least a few landmarks in NIGHTLIFE, but these are more “easter eggs” than anything. New Harbor is a wholly fictional place. A city like New York is mythic enough to set just about anything there. An entire population of elder gods living in the subway…no problem. Angels dwelling in the upper floors of the Chrysler Building…why not? An alien landing pad on the great lawn of Central Park…well you get the point. No one can really know everything about New York, or London, or Chicago, or places like that. But people who live in small cities get to know them intimately. To use them in a fantastical setting would be a bit like writing about someone else’s girlfriend––and giving her a mole she doesn’t have…or pyrokinesis.
NIGHTLIFE mentions an overarching shadow organization, The Division, but never resolves that thread, is it a set up for book 2, NIGHTLIFE: AS THE WORM TURNS? What are you working on now?
Yes, indeed it is…you’ll be seeing a lot more of The Division in ATWT. However, The Division (and an early incarnation of Agent Ross) made their first appearance in a novelette of mine called HAZARDOUS MATERIAL, which was published in Aphelion Webzine. A revised and expanded version of it should be coming out as a “single” in between the two books, and we’ll get another piece of the puzzle there.
Thanks, Matthew Quinn Martin, may your light shine brightly in the dark!
Thank you for having me…and may your Russian Tank helmet…umm…do what it was designed to do!
Matthew Quinn Martin was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. However, it wasn’t until he moved to Manhattan that he realized he was a writer. These days, he lives on a small island off the North Atlantic coast of the United States where it gets quiet in the winter…perhaps too quiet.
Find out more about Matthew on his website.
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