Pierre: Allow me to introduce myself then! Pierre Dominique Roustan. Yes, you readers out there can say it: it’s a cool name. And that’s because I’m cool. I’m a 2nd generation Hispanic, born in Chicago, Illinois, son to a fiery Puerto Rican woman and a tough-as-nails Nicaraguan man. And, yet, you ask why I have such a French name…. Because my dad’s half-French. Yes. It’s true.
Barbara: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Pierre: I’ve been writing ever since I remembered being able to walk. It was one of those things you just couldn’t get away from, you know? My parents had me tested for giftedness, and the results came back showing I was gifted. What gift(s) I had? Wasn’t sure. Didn’t care. So much so that I sometimes omit the pronouns when I write. However, my parents cared, teachers cared, others cared; and they saw something in me. It didn’t take me long to realize that I loved to write—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, anything. I just had this need to fill the white space on a piece of paper with some sort of manifestation of my imagination (that’s a mouthful there), so much so that I followed my heart and earned a B.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Barbara: What have you written before this?
Pierre: I write urban fantasy and thrillers (and sometimes those two genres go together for me). My debut is a fast-paced thriller known as THE CAIN LETTERS. Look for it. However, it wasn’t my first finished manuscript, nor my first project. I actually wrote my first ‘story’ at the tender age of 10, I believe. It was about 20 pages long. The next ‘story’ I wrote landed me a 200-pager. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I think I was a freshman in high school. I then wrote another story that stretched to 300 pages long. Here’s the real kicker, though; the next project I took on actually pulled in about 540 pages…. 154,000 words, and the best part about that was I, initially, thought that was too short!
Barbara: How long did it take you to publish THE CAINE LETTERS?
Pierre: The writing of THE CAIN LETTERS at 74,000 words moved fast. I had learned a lot about storytelling, about pacing, about plot, about character. THE CAIN LETTERS is a culmination of all that I’ve learned.
For those aspiring writers out there, let me tell you: following a dream kills. The good thing, though, is your passion for writing makes you reborn every single time. Through every rejection, every bout with writer’s block, every setback, anything getting in your way, that desire to write brings you back up. Every single time. Let me tell you how dreaming kills: I received over 100 rejections for THE CAIN LETTERS, about 97% of them from literary agents. And those 100 rejections were spread over one year, almost to the day. The middle of March, 2008, was when I finished the manuscript. I just signed my contract with Eirelander Publishing about four days ago—without a literary agent. Funny how time flies.
You never know what’ll happen. I just learned to keep trying. It paid off.
Pierre: Those who’ve followed my blog might know a bit here and there about the book and the characters, but let me paint a picture for you real quick:
Enter: Alexandra Glade who is an auburn-haired, gray-eyed beauty of a woman, black trench coat, turtleneck and tight pants, armed to the teeth with all kinds of weaponry. Think “The Matrix”, “Underworld”, “Blade” with a little bit of sex appeal, and there’s Alexandra for you.
Barbara: Okay, I’m hooked. Please tell us some more about the story. Pierre: With her team, an organization known as the Berith Lochem, Hebrew for ‘Divine Covenant’, Alexandra hunted rogue vampires and other abominations for the sake of God alongside her comrade Kyan Tanaka, a Japanese man bred into the world of a mercenary until he found God. With remarkable resources, the Berith Lochem served the Vatican and other clients looking for a cleansing of some kind. They were like bounty hunters.
Pierre: No longer was Alexandra’s life so linear. Her journey suddenly came upon forks of all kinds. And obstacles. The book, dating way back to the times of the Exodus, revealed the origin. And it was a shocking one. One that would shake the pillars of the world, of faith—The world’s first vampire was the world’s first murderer. Fitting. And terrifying.
Pierre: Yes. It was Cain, brother of Abel, son to Adam and Eve, had struck a deal with Satan to cleanse himself of the guilt, the shame, the despair of a dying world and the mark of banishment on him. The cleansing took away his humanity, took away his soul even—and made him into what was commonly known as…vampire.
Pierre: Could she make such a decision? With her duty,her need to hunt and kill vampires, her fierce vengeance…. Could she reject all of that…. And save a fierce killer like Cain?
Barbara: I wish it were being published earlier. Do you have any sample chapters we can read?
Pierre: I can't attach any sample chapters unfortunately.
Barbara: Where did you get the idea for your novel?
Pierre: I'm quite proud of how I came about the idea. It's very simple: I'm fascinated with vampirism, the whole mythology of it. I'm also a devoted Christian, and the idea of researching Christian theory and merging it with concepts of vampirism interested me. I read up on theory behind the recent bestseller THE HISTORIAN, also common mythological stories involving vampirism and also research in the Old Testament and found that I was onto something. I was definitely onto something for myself given that I'm a fan of "The Matrix", "Underworld" and "Blade" as well as Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE. In seconds, I knew I had a high concept I was instantly satisfied with.
Pierre: I love that question: it pertains to the now. And the now is so important when it comes to the publishing industry. I have to say being a 'reader' for 'recreation' is a whole lot different than being a 'reader' as an 'author' (especially when I'm saddled with heavy edits for the manuscript--it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it). A few years ago, if I were to answer that question, it would be "don't care for eBooks or Kindle, don't want it, don't know what it is, don't care what it is, don't want to know what it is, may I have some macaroni and cheese?".
Now, though, the answer is very different; you see, as an author, I've found myself interested in other people's work--on a literary level, sometimes more than on a recreational level. I have many friends who aspire to be published, who have Microsoft Word files carrying their prized treasures of manuscripts galore for me to read. But you see? I have this problem. It's called my back. And my back doesn't like it when I sit at the chair at my desktop (I don't have a laptop, which sucks) for hours at a time reading a book via Microsoft Word.
Knowing that, the prospect of having a Kindle, reading an eBook, is so much more exciting for me. And for my back. It's that much more convenient, too. But listen.... I'll always be a good ol' fashioned print paperback hardcover reader who loves that fine paper smell and the sweet sound of turning pages. But let's face it--when I write as much as I do, I read a lot more. I mean A LOT more. And the idea of having a Kindle and being able to purchase eBooks for both fun AND work is a very good idea. Don't get me wrong, though--I have my favorite authors (Stephen King, Terry Goodkind, J.K. Rowling, Terry Brooks, John Grisham, Tim O'Brien, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe etc etc.), and those authors deserve a place on the real-life materialistic bookshelf gathering dust until I'm graced with the desire to pull them out and immerse myself in their lost souls of words. But every once in awhile, it's nice to pull out the Kindle, purchase a book and read while on a plane, or on a boat, or on a train. Or anywhere for that matter. Convenience--that's what it's all about.
Barbara: How are you planning on marketing this book?
Pierre: Watch the sweat pour down my face as I even think about such a question. That's like jumping into shark-infested waters with a Super Soaker and thinking I'll survive (little do I know that the Super Soaker's loaded with some kind of shark repellent, thank God). Marketing. Heh. Well, essentially, I'm marketing my book RIGHT NOW, Barb. Facebook has also become an incredible asset to the new breed of authors showing up in the publishing industry today. We're taking an initiative now, you know? MySpace is a great place to market a book as well. There are pages on there specifically for main characters, too. It's pretty awesome. That's something I'll be planning on in the near future, too. I have a video book trailer as well, although I'd like to legitimize it and use original material. Something I haven't seen yet from authors but would like to try someday soon is Second Life. I can't imagine the kind of marketing possibilities with Second Life, creating a virtual 'home' online dedicated to the world you've created for your book. The possibilities are endless in this digital age of publishing. It's looking pretty bright.
I'd still like an occasional book tour, though. Hotels are fun. And so is signing books.
Barbara: How do you feel about critique groups? Do you belong to one?
Pierre: Critique groups are incredibly invaluable. But I don't have one. Unfortunately. I find it not so much of a loss when you have a kick-ass editor. I, however, DO have beta-readers. While they don't provide as much of a 'structure' in constructive criticism and feedback as a critique group can, they do provide direction in how to think about your book. But my honest opinion? You have one super-cool, kick-ass (the term 'kick-ass' is almost a must when it comes to critique and editing) person (a.k.a. editor) to help you with your manuscript, you're golden.
Barbara: Would you please give us an idea of your writing process?
Pierre: Listen up, people: my writing process can only be known by very few cherished souls-- I sit down in front of the computer. I eat chips/cookies/ fig newtons/anything sweet. I drink pop/juice/anything with caffeine. I write until my fingers fall off or until I fall asleep on the keyboard. There you have it