Shock interview with a vampire

On the occasion of the forthcoming release ofShock interview with a vampire at Actusf editions, Morgane Caussarieu and Vincent Tassy return to the writing of this four-handed novel.

Actusf: Morgane Caussarieu, you have published several of your vampiric novels and short stories with ActuSF; Vincent Tassy, ​​this is your first publication at ActuSF. Can you introduce yourself for readers who are not yet familiar with your work?

Vincent Tassy: I started publishing short stories in the early 2010s, in which melancholy and vampires already had a good place. My five novels published before this one all have in common themes such as sadness, difference, queer identities and violence. Apostasy and How to say it at night (respectively published by Chat Noir in 2016 and 2018 in large format then by Mnémos in 2018 and Au diable vauvert in 2022 in pocket format) are two vampiric novels both frozen and grotesque, which perhaps already contained within them the principle of parody: going too far, engulfing oneself in limits, putting reality and language into crisis. Shock interview with a vampire explores another form of radicality in my way of writing vampires, of reclaiming what I have read in the genre since my youth: this time, it is about demystification. I can’t say I’ve ever written anything so stupid, but it’s probably never been more obvious. I now leave the floor to Morgane: she loves to talk about herself and her work, which is as jubilant as it is opportunistic and not very inventive. Give him a chance by accepting, for once, to separate the wife from the artist.

Morgane Caussarieu: So unlike Vincent, who only has five short books to his credit, I’ve already written about ten. I started with In the veins (Mnemos, 2012), a very dark and violent vampire novel, more than its How to say it to the night elsewhereand the beginning of my vampiric saga, continued with I am your shadow (Mnemos, 2014), then Toxic Red and Venom (ActuSF, 2018 & 2019). I’m more specialized in fantasy and horror steeped in underground culture, often tinged with black humor. It happened to me to take side steps in youth and general literature. My penultimate novel, Vertebrae au Diable vauvert (2021) is a queer werewolf story in the 90s, which won the Masterton Prize. I also wrote an essay, Vampires and Bayous (Mnemos, 2013), in which I analyzed Anne Rice’s work and her relationship to Louisiana quite a bit, which was clearly a plus for the project we are going to talk about.

Actusf: Two of you wrote Interview with a Vampire, a crazy parody of Interview with a Vampire. Where did the idea come from?

Vincent Tassy: On December 11, 2021, Anne Rice died. The news fell the next day and I wrote to Morgane so that we could share about it: she is one of our major influences. As the discussion progressed, Morgane brought up the idea of ​​writing a parody together. I said yes right away. This disappearance affected us, and we wanted to pay tribute to an author to whom we had the feeling of ” all duty“, in a way. Morgane and I having the same humor (mine being admittedly a little superior) and many common references in this field, it seemed natural to us to consider this tribute in the form of a parody – it’s always a kind of swan song, the parody, the ultimate tribute to a particularly singular and assertive form. During this first conversation, we have already started to improvise sentences mimicking Anne Rice’s mannerisms that we love so much, to exchange ideas – for example, that a whole quarter of the book consists of describing furniture or clothes, idea not retained in the end, I assure you -, to clarify all that there is of kitsch in the vampire Rican, sketch out a plot plan. Ten days later, Morgane, true to her mania for wanting to control everything, came up with a first version of the beginning, and off we went!

Morgane Caussarieu: So, to give you a more honest answer than my favorite writing partner (because he’s the only one I’ve tried this kind of experience with), what happened was that we realized quite early that the AMC series was going to work given the means put in place, and we said to ourselves “might as well ride the wave and capitalize on its success“. What really interests us is the money. Finally, in Vincent’s case, not only, even if he loves money: he thought that collaborating with me would be his only chance of finally winning a first literary prize!

Vincent Tassy: Ill-gotten never profit.

Actusf: What was your favorite part of this four-handed adventure?

Vincent Tassy: Mine. And if not, less seriously: the immersion of two in a project, a fortiori humorous. From the basic plan, we progressed by episodes. We divided passages to write, we each advanced on our side when we had time, and we sent to the other as we went along. The most brilliant was the moment when the other received a new passage just written and we waited for his reactions. Me, I felt like Criquette when she waits for Brenda’s opinion on the ad dedicated to her perfume (1 min 14 s). In short, sharing these intense months of writing with Morgane only strengthened our friendship and confirmed to me its toxicity. And I hope that we will not stop there (I await the results of my complaint).

Morgane Caussarieu: What I preferred was cutting out parts of Vincent’s sentences! Both of us found ourselves in a Lestat/Louis dynamic that was a bit SM so much that we were living our own project. Me, I imposed my points of view by doing emotional blackmail and withholding information (because unlike him, I know the entire work of Rice inside out), while Vincent said yes to everything by in front, while adding sentences on the sly, taking real pleasure in taking pleasure in this situation. Sure, it happened to him to burn pages of the manuscript every time we finished a game.

Vincent Tassy: The “sentences added on the slyare still there. Morgane is convinced she wrote them, it’s very touching. I let her believe it, otherwise she would have angrily deleted them on the pretext that “it breaks the rhythm“. Today, these are his favorites.

Actusf: Which character did you prefer to cover and parody?

Vincent Tassy: Louis, because I love excessive, narcissistic characters who constantly complain about their fate and take great care of their hair. I also loved working on the character of Lestat’s mother, who no longer has much to do with the sublime Gabrielle, but who is certainly worth the detour… To that, without saying too much, I would add the “subtle» parody of Armand that we concocted, and which is quite special, in my opinion.

Morgane Caussarieu: Without hesitation, Lestat. Lestat has always been my favorite vampire because he’s flamboyant, charismatic, rebellious, well-dressed, mega hot, etc., but also because he’s a big bitch full of flaws, flaws that make up his charm, but hey a bit annoying all the same for those around him. He is centered on himself, always in lack of attention, one would sometimes think he was a little erotomaniac to read him, he would make Regina George pass for someone empathetic and deep, and often, he behaves like a five year old boy. The worst thing is that in more than 200 years, he has never thought of consulting and analyzing where his problem comes from, he takes pleasure in his mental state, he is super proud of himself, he has no no intention of changing anything. It was holy bread for a parody, we didn’t need to add much in fact, everything was already there, by reading a little attentively. We just forced the line.

Actusf: What is your favorite scene? And which one do you think readers will prefer?

Vincent Tassy: I like it a lot! Point-blank, I would say the famous scene of the Théâtre des Vampires, but there is also a certain boat trip that is likely to pique the interest of the most romantic. I am silent so that the surprise remains complete, just as the entire novel is both exceptional and essential. A real invigorating walk in vampire lands!

Morgane Caussarieu: My favorite scenes are of course the ones I wrote, and they are certainly also the ones that the readers will prefer. I particularly love the passage where our Louis and Claudia go to the Carpathians to visit Dracula, a small reference to these few chapters in the middle of the book Interview with a Vampire where the original Louis and Claudia visit Eastern Europe to find their kindred and encounter a zombie instead of the Count. In our parody, they are luckier. Well if you want. Count Dracula has lost some of his splendor…

Actusf: What do you like so much about the vampire that encourages you to explore it in all its facets (even humorous, as with Interview shock with a vampire)?

Vincent Tassy: Vampires are beautiful, immortal, ambiguous and often extremely stupid. They have always existed, adapt to all forms and reflect in a complex way the elusiveness of our nature. They concentrate in them everything that makes our humanity, including the inability to improve over time. I like their plasticity, their way of talking to everyone in an intimate way. And since my vision of the vampire was conditioned very early on by Anne Rice, I admit that I also admire their always impeccable styling and the irreproachability of theirskincare routine.

Morgane Caussarieu: Oh, I don’t like vampires, it’s really a retarded teenager thing. I just try to put them in my books when I feel they’re a bit trendy. It worked pretty well for In the veins at the time of Twilightwe will try to do the same again now that they are back on the front of the stage in force.

Zoe Laboret

Shock interview with a vampire – The writing secrets of Morgane Caussarieu and Vincent Tassy