Andy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath, novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. He co-founded video game developer Naughty Dog and co-created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He started numerous companies, has been lead programmer on video games that have sold more than forty million copies, and has written two novels including The Darkening Dream, a dark
historical fantasy that puts the bite back in vampires.
The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.
Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.
1913, Salem, Massachusetts - Sarah Engelmann's life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex's elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah's own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah's continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel's Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.
Freaking awesome. I've read Andy's other book, Untimed (which I'm doing a review on in one week) and just like that one, he totally nailed it. This book is creepy and realistic! I mean, it is a TOTAL possibility! Well, if it was 1913 and religious idols materialized! But still!
I love how Andy develops his characters. It allows the reader to really connect. This aren't just words on a piece of paper. No, you feel for each one, even the freaking horse!
The world that Andy has created is full of surprise, mystery, and scary ass creatures! I mean, I'm a big vampire girl, but these ones are not the kind I'd like lurking anywhere. I think I've read more vampire books than any other topic (especially because vampires were the topic of my masters thesis), and Andy has created a special vampire. Spooky and just plain evil.
The blending of legends is a great read too. Bravo, Andy! This is a great debut book!
I highly recommend it for my vampire loving readers and those that like books that touch a darkness while trying to keep to the light.
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Did you always want to be a writer? If not, then what?
I’m a lifelong creator and explorer of worlds. As far back as first grade I remember spending most of the school day in one day dream or another. I had a huge notebook stuffed with drawings, story bits, and concepts for an elaborate Sci-Fi/Fantasy world I cobbled together from bits of Star Wars, Narnia, and Battlestar Galactica. By fourth or fifth grade not only was I loosing myself in every fantasy or Sci-Fi novel I could, but I was building Dungeons & Dragons castles and caverns on paper. Then from 1980 on the computer.
Since third grade I’ve read rather obsessively, so I was naturally interested in writing. I began fairly seriously in ninth grade. In high school, I won several national literary awards for my short stories and I was an editor and contributor to our high school literary magazine. In college, despite being a diehard science guy, I took creative writing classes (sometimes I was the only guy) and submitted stories to Science Fiction and Fantasy magazines (not that they ever bought any!).
But my video game career (which I also started in high school) didn’t leave me much time for writing until recently.
Do your readers contact you? If so, what do they say?
Fans contact me on a daily basis, usually with thanks and questions. I try to answer them if I can. Fans are great!
For aspiring writers, what three pieces of good advice would you give them?
Read, read, write, write, edit, edit, edit. And hire good professional help too. Friends and family can give you a sense of how the book reads, but they can't usually tell you how to fix anything serious. I've read a lot of half-decent Indie books on my Kindle that are at their core good, but just need some serious tightening and polish. Hell, I've read plenty of big-six bestsellers you can say this about.
Do you have a favorite of your own books?
Currently, Untimed, my time travel novel. But probably, most writers think their most recent is their best – or their worst . Untimed is a YA time travel novel that chronicles the crazy adventures of a boy no one remembers, who falls through a hole in time and finds himself lost in the past. It’s very different with an extremely immediate first person present voice (in this book the only thing anyone can hold on to is the present). It rocks. Seriously rocks.
How do you balance writing with your life?
Life steals from writing. But seriously, unless something distracting is going on I try to have my butt in the chair by around 10am (after working out) and more or less keep it there until around 6pm. If drafting new prose I try to do about 2000 words a day. I write, then I do a polish pass. If I had to rewrite significantly during that pass I’ll do a third sweep to cleanup.
How old were you when you wrote your first book and what was it about?
I’ve had a lot of story ideas over the years, and some I even made into video games, but the first novel I finished was The Darkening Dream:
1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, a Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.
Where do your ideas come from?
I get very inspired by my own sense of “cool.” This can mean cool scenes, cool characters, cool dynamics, cool symbolism, cool turns of phrase, whatever. As I read and watch media obsessively – and by obsessively I mean 200 novels a year and about four hours of long form film/tv a day, I don’t sleep much – I’m constantly looking for interesting moments and archetypes that can be reinvented and repurposed. Nothing is ever new in the world. I also read a tremendous amount of history and in both of my novels I used facts about the history and the historical places and times to guide the story. Sometimes it’s useful to have concrete possibilities like this to give you structure. The magical systems in The Darkening Dream are largely like that. I’ll have a practical function in the plot they need to accomplish, then I’ll dig through historic occult books looking for something that is synergistic. Sometimes it goes the other way.
Do you have a writing quirk?
I don’t really like to plot, which makes me a pantser, see below.
Pantser or Planner?
Personally I find the two different modes: plotting vs. just writing, to use different sides of the brain, and therefore useful to stagger. I can only handle a few days of plotting before I need the release of getting it out there. There really isn’t any rush in writing as good as just pounding out a great scene that’s already gelled in your head, and it’s even better when the scene and characters take on a life of their own and bring something novel to the process. Looking back on it, I realize that as a computer programmer I took this same exact alternating approach (between designing the algorithm and just coding) and that the rush and rhythm were nearly identical.
Do you pick out dream casts for your books? If so, what's your favorite so far?
I don’t actually spend much time thinking about that as I see them as their own people. But… The girl we cast for the cover nails Sarah’s look. A young Rachel Wiess would’ve been perfect. Failing the time warp, perhaps Nina Dobrev, but she’s too tall and by the time it got made too old. Constantine: Christopher Lee for sure, but we can only hope he’ll still be around . And while we’re going for dream cast, I think George Clooney could actually carry al-Nasir. He has the intensity and Nasir sees himself as charming. Steve Buscemi might make a great Parris. Paul Giamatti as Joseph. Chloe Grace Moretz as Emily. And last, but not least, perhaps Anton Yelchin as Alex.
What do you use to motivate yourself to keep writing through the tough spots?
That can be tough, but I like to get things finished. I’m a closer.
Do you create a playlist for your works?
I’m a very eclectic music listener. 70s and 80s rock. Some new stuff (including Lady Gaga and Katy Perry). Lots of classic Jazz (like Miles Davis), lots of classical. All sorts of weird stuff from Ottoman court music to Tibetan monastic chants to medieval Spanish tunes.
Lyrics interfere with serious writing or editing so trance techno is one of my favorite genres for that. Or something spacy like jazz or Tangerine Dream if I don’t want to pound.
If I was picking the soundtrack to the film version of the book I’d use mostly period music. Scenes with the villains might be different. Al-Nasir begs for a remix of Nasirid court music, or sufi music, both are pretty weird and exotic sounding. Instrumental when he’s in normal mode, then blending to an amped up electronic remix when he gets “aggressive.” Parris might have as his tune something like Loreena McKennitt’s “The Mystic’s Dream.” Which if I had to pick a single song that typified the mood of the book, would be it.
What is your current WIP about? (Possible title, characters, setting, etc.)
Right now, I’m writing two more novels and adapting Untimed into a screenplay. The new books are the Untimed sequel and a totally separate short novel that involves old school fairies and iambic pentameter.
Share one sentence from your book, no explanations, just one sentence.
Jeff weighs my dorkiness against Michelle’s cleavage and pushes the door open.
Coke vs Pepsi?
Coke. I hate Pepsi.
Chocolate vs Vanilla?
Vanilla if it’s a cupcake.
Cake vs Ice Cream?
Night owl or Early bird?
Both. I only sleep about 4 hours.
Favorite genre to read?
Fantasy. I read 95% speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc.).
What was your favorite book as a child?
The Case of the Vanishing Boy by Alexander Key.
Do you think we dream in color or that we wake up and remember it in color?
Dream in color.
What's your favorite food?
Lots. I’m a ridiculous foodie and even have a blog about it: http://andy-gavin-eats.com
What type of food could you never live without?
Cheese. Today I made some for the first time. I want to learn how to make Époisses de Bourgogne.
If you meet one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Alexander the Great. Conquering half the world is just too cool to resist.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what would you take with you (limit 4 items)?
My laptop, a coconut powered generator, a satellite modem, and a sun umbrella.
Favorite show growing up?
Battlestar Galactica (the old one). Now it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
I’ve thought about this a lot. Probably I’d be a telepath/pusher like Professor X. The combo of reading minds and controlling them would be totally badass, if horrifically unethical. And I’ve always been keen on having all the information. A vampire wouldn’t be too bad either if I didn’t have to kill my victims, only snack a bit.
What would your superhero name be?
What do you think the future will hold?
Eventually, like Ouroboros. our own technology will consume us. People (or at least the pattern of information that makes up our brains) will go digital and we might leave behind the regular physical universe for a constructed virtual reality. Hard to say. Failing that, we might revert into horseshoe crabs.