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Angel of Vengeance: Exclusive Interview with Author Trevor Munson

Angel of Vengeance is the novel, unpublished at the time, that inspired the vampire TV series Moonlight, which starred, Alex O'Loughlin as vampire P.I. Mick St. John. With the novel being published this week by Titan Books, V&S caught up with author and Moonlight producer Trevor Munson.
In Angel of Vengeance, L.A.-based P.I. and vampire Mick Angel has been hired by a beautiful red-headed burlesque dancer to find her missing sister. The apparently simple case of a teenage runaway is soon complicated by drug dealers, persistent cops, murder, and Mick’s own past. Mick must learn the hard way what every vampire should know – nothing stays buried forever, especially not the past.

Angel of Vengeance offers a new twist on the classic Dracula vampire tale and blends it with Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled P.I. detective fiction. Munson, who admits to a long love affair with vampires, explains it was his aim to create a story with a new and fresh way in to the vampire mythos. “Blending the two genres I loved best by creating a blood-sucking Philip Marlowe, who was turned in the forties, and continued on as a living anachronism in the present day, seemed like it held a lot of potential to be that story” – a story, as it turned out, that CBS loved … and after creating a lighter, more romantic version … ultimately hit the TV network even before it was published. Now, for the first time, fans will have the chance to read Munson’s original- a much darker tale than that depicted in “Moonlight.”

What follows is an exclusive interview with Munson.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: Is this novel pretty much the one you wrote prior to Moonlight becoming a series or was the novel adjusted because of the show?

TREVOR MUNSON: When I went into the original pitch meeting, I had to be very clear that I wanted to keep the underlying property, because I wanted to publish it and write novels based on it. The final deal was that it had to be that novel, so I wasn’t able to make adjustments. It’s very different from the show. The Mick character has a different name [Mick Angel rather than Mick St. John], but he’s the central character. Thematically it’s the same. There’s a Coraline in it, and there’s one mention of Beth as a little girl, but other than that it’s pretty much a standalone novel. I think that fans of the show will nonetheless see certain thematic similarities. This version of Mick is darker and grittier, but still a version of Mick they know. Other than that, it doesn’t reflect the show in any way. We really used the novel as a jumping off point for what the show would eventually become.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: Bearing that in mind, what’s the set up of the novel?

TREVOR MUNSON: Mick is much more of a loner; his most misanthropic self. He’s been stung by the world, and essentially he’s still a private detective, that’s how he makes his money, and he also uses that as an opportunity to find predators and people who he feels match the predatory types he’ll go after for his blood. No women, no children and no innocents still holds true, but it’s much darker, grittier, it’s more of the Los Angeles underbelly. If he is going to evolve into the Mick in the show, this is kind of an earlier point in his existence where he has not yet decided to try and reclaim his humanity. Or perhaps he tried in the past and it stung him and he’s still in that holding pattern of waiting until he feels he can try and do it again.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: Are there vampires on every street corner in the novel’s world as was the situation in the TV show?

TREVOR MUNSON: No. In the world of the novel, Mick has heard of other vampires in Los Angeles, sometimes he’s heard things about vampire covens. Obviously he’s a vampire, so he knows they exist, but he doesn’t really know any of them personally. It’s actually something I’d like to explore in future novels, the uncovering of what the vampire underworld in Los Angeles really looks like. In the novel he does end up encountering some other vampires, but at the outset he’s pretty unaware of that whole world.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: When you do future novels, do they have to be strictly related to the book, or can they utilize elements of the television series?

TREVOR MUNSON: My interest is going ahead with my original vision. I wouldn’t necessarily mind having characters I liked a lot – like Josef – but I don’t think I would be allowed to anyway. Anything I’ll be able to do will be predicated and built on the world of the novel that I created. I don’t know for sure, because we’re going through the process of finding out if I’m even going to be able to write sequels. If they let me do it, I’ll know a lot more as to what I can and can’t do. I think I’m only allowed to deal with my world and I can’t build it around the show in any substantial way. The way I look at it is that I loved being a part of the show, loved seeing it happen, but if that’s not a reality for now, it would be nice to continue the character’s life in some form.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: People have two views of vampires: the romanticized type or the creature of the night. How do you view vampires?

TREVOR MUNSON: I think Mick is kind of a combination of things. If you just keep doing the same thing, that’s the least interesting thing I can think of. People who are resistant to vampire mythology changing, I don’t even know why as a creative person you would even begin to do something that is completely built on what somebody else did and stick exactly to that. I think that’s the antithesis of what you want to do as a creative person. I think the whole angsty thing is an evolution of the monster version of the vampire. With my character, that’s sort of where I started out. I wanted to do a vampire who was a traditional monster and figure out ways to make him heroic. And in doing that, he has to have some feelings about what he was. On the one hand, I like a vampire that has to feed on human blood. I don’t like the out that they can feed on animals – just seems like a very easy way around the situation, making him a good guy. I wanted to make it somewhat more complicated than that. In my mythology, vampires have to feed on human blood. You couldn’t get a blood transfusion from a horse, so you can’t feed on them and be sustained. The very nature of that made it more morally complex. Suddenly Mick who does have to get his blood somehow, but hates what he is, doesn’t want to view himself as a monster, has to figure out how to do all of that within the context of having to sustain himself. Then the idea of a sort of self-loathing vampire comes in. I think it’s an interesting evolution. This character kind of bridges those two things in a way that I find interesting.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: Assuming you have the right to go forward with further adventures, what kind of direction do you want Mick to go in?

TREVOR MUNSON: I have some ideas. Initially I had titles for the other novels , even though I didn’t necessarily have stories. The second one was called Guardian Angel, and that’s how we got the idea for the show. When Ron Koslow and I were talking about ideas, I mentioned to Ron the first book is called Angel of Vengeance and in it the character saves this little girl from his wife, and it’s the thing that forces him – in a Of Mice and Men moment – to realize that his wife is a monster and she has to be destroyed, because she’s going to continue to do this. It’s what sets him on his moral trajectory. I was thinking that in the second novel it was revealed that he was kind of looking over this girl from a distance and maybe intervened at times when there was danger in her life, but she never knew about him beyond the fact that he was a mysterious man who saved her as a child. But as an adult they had some sort of realization and romance. I told Ron about that and we realized that Coraline could not be a regular love interest because she’s so dark and femme fatale-like. He said, “I think that could be the basis of the show.” So that was the basis of the second novel and I’d still like to do something like that. Rather than having the whole origin story set in the ‘80s, he saved the girl in the novel in 1947, so the romance would have to take place in the ‘60s or something like that. I had two other titles called Angel of Mercy and then a final novel called Angel Dust, and that would be it.

VAMPIRES & SLAYERS: That’s it? How can you do that? Franchises don’t end.

TREVOR MUNSON: [laughs] You often you find yourself sucked back in no matter what. Mick is a great character and I really enjoy getting in his mindset, and I could actually see myself writing more if there was an audience for it. I was just trying to be realistic. That’s why I decided to start writing books and then selling to the Hollywood marketplace instead of just writing scripts and letting them do whatever they want with it. At the end of the day, no matter what happens with the script, I will have a version that I can show to the world and say, “This is my vision. This is the piece of art that I set out to create.”
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