Underneath it All, She’s a True Monster
Redemption details the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating Clarke’s Summit, which is home to a plague dating back to the 1700’s. What attracts you to vampire fiction?
I grew up watching a lot of horror and sci-fi, although it was some time before I got into reading any of the literature. I think the first thing that attracted me to vampire fiction was the story potential in their great longevity, the fact that they are virtually immortal. Another compelling aspect of vampire fiction is the fundamental struggle they represent between light and darkness, good and evil, and how people can be seduced by their desire for power, immortality, and even sexual desire.
In one scene in Redemption, the vampire Lydia illustrates this for us in how she tempts Mike Gaston with the fact that she has remained beautiful and unaffected by age or disease in over two hundred years. I think this is one reason why the vampire genre has grown “softer” in recent decades, with television shows like Forever Knight and films like the Twilight Series: A lot of people want what vampires have – power, beauty, immortality – and they’re doing their best to try and capture these elements while skirting the darker side of the legend. This is a major factor in why I wrote the Descendent Darkness series as I did. To phrase it biblically, vampirism is “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” I wanted to return to the core of the legend: vampires as the living dead, seduced by an inhuman darkness that is at war with the light.
Lydia, an ancient vampire is seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. I found her character to be well developed. What was your inspiration for her character?
First off, I went with a female because females are traditionally the victims in vampire literature, and I thought it would be interesting to depict one as a master for a change. Frankly, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done more often.
As to her character, I drew it from the description Richard Gaston provides of her in Redemption, as one who has turned her back on the light and the image of God. She’s not a victim; she actually chose to be what she is. She is the embodiment of deliberate, calculating evil, a force that feeds on the living world like a parasite. Mike Gaston describes her eyes as “thin ice over deep water,” and this is also illustrative of her character. Her human facade is just that; underneath it all, she’s a true monster, and was even before she became one of the living dead.
This is book three in the Descendant Darkness series. What were some new things you wanted to introduce into your series in this book, and what were some thing you felt had to stay the same?
The original title of this book was End Game, and that sums up the approach I took with it. The first book set the stage and lined up the pieces. The second book set them into motion. The third book is all-out war, a fight to the death. With this one, I had to bring all of the various elements I had established together, intersect all of the characters and plotlines, and resolve the whole mess in a believable fashion. That was the main thing that had to change: I couldn’t run independent subplots anymore. Everything had to mesh.
As for what needed to stay the same, well, the best stories are character-driven, and it was my primary task to ensure that established characters continued to be the people readers had come to know, even though they found themselves in new situations.
Will there be a book 4 in the Descendent Darkness series? If so, what would that story be about and when would it be available?
No, the book series is complete. I’ve told the story I wanted to tell and don’t have anything else to add, although I will miss Mike and Holly. It’s amazing how characters tend to grow on you through the writing process. I originally conceived of the series with a truly dark ending, but as the story developed I found that I couldn’t let it go that way. The characters themselves ended up driving the plot.
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“Now boast to me again, old man. Tell me what strength there is in you to contend with me.”
After twenty-one years, that which the men of Clarke’s Summit feared most has been realized. The evil they prayed would stay buried for eternity has risen, intent on destroying those who imprisoned it and drawing their loved ones into darkness.
In the war between good and evil, victory can be had only at the price of blood. Now as Mike and Richard Gaston race against the coming night, and those they care for most fall around them, they must prepare to offer the most precious blood of all on the altar of their family’s redemption.
Posted in Interviews
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Descendent Darkness: Redemption
A.J. Macready’s Redemption, book three in the Descendant Darkness series, details both the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating the mountains of Virginia. Deemed “America’s Transylvania,” Clarke’s Summit is home to a plague of sorts dating back to the 1700’s and a rash of murders in 1982. Sheriff Stan Pryor finds himself facing a terrifying night of death and retribution in Clarke’s Summit in 2003 when the town is again host to the vile and nefarious acts of Lydia, a vampire of old seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. Richard Gaston, Tom Campbell, and Father Ryan Bennett are left to face Lydia’s wrath.
Macready’s Redemption is as filled with action as it is brimming with rich characters. From beginning to end, readers are left breathless with the anticipation of Lydia’s next move. There are few, if any, breaks between chaotic and harrowing scenes. The energy is high throughout the book, and the meetings between the citizens of the cursed Clarke’s Summit township build to an almost exhausting level.
As a first-time reader of Macready’s Descendant Darkness, I wasn’t sure who to peg as the main character right out of the gate. The longer I read, the more I realized that Macready’s main character is the vampire storyline in and of itself. Though each of the characters is memorable and comes with a strong backstory, no one character stands out as the focus of the storyline. Sheriff Pryor helps to set up the premise of book three while Richard Gaston, his son Mike, and Tom Campbell (the vampire hunters, as it were) work as a cohesive unit to battle Lydia, her heinous attacks, and life-altering mind games. Even Lydia, a vivid protagonist, can’t be pointed out as the book’s sole focus. I found this particular choice in the writing to be quite appealing.
I have always been intrigued by the notion that some aspects of truth are embedded in folklore. That being said, one of my favorite elements in Macready’s writing was the inclusion of excerpts from local newspapers describing historic events and the details surrounding what the town deems the “Clarke’s Summit Blood Cult.” The lengths to which Macready has gone to give his vampire tale credibility are impressive. I found myself as absorbed in the passages from the Shenandoah Observer as I was in the lengthy and involved action sequences.
One of the most striking facets of Macready’s vampires is their ability to manipulate the minds of their victims. Throughout the book, Lydia is able to inject her own words into their thoughts and, essentially, control their actions. These episodes are peppered throughout the plot, and each one brings a chill.
Any fan of vampire stories will find this book appealing and engaging. The author expertly incorporates the backstories of Lydia and the vampire-hunting descendants into this third installment. With side stories paralleling those of the book’s main cast of characters, Macready provides mystery, suspense, and action in one neat package.
Pages: 290 | ASIN: B06XPHDPB6
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The Most Frightening Element
Legacy is the second installment in the Descendent Darkness where families are torn apart, truths exposed and the Gaston family finally learn the dark history of their past. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
The first major point I wanted to drive home was the fact that, at least as far as this universe is concerned, a vampire’s greatest strength lies in its ability to mentally dominate people, to confuse them, and even to turn them against one another. This is a key element of the vampire’s strategy when it comes to trapping the Gastons and their allies. Before they can figure out what’s happening, the vampire already has its pieces on the board and in motion, and they have no idea they’re being manipulated until it’s much too late. I felt that this element gave the story something of a unique twist compared to other works I’m familiar with in the genre.
Once again the beautiful bond between siblings Mike and Holly Gaston continues to grow deeper. What was your inspiration for creating the kind of relationship that Mike and Holly have?
I deliberately tried to steer away from themes that I feel have become overused in the genre. A prominent example of one such theme is the underlying love story. It goes something like this:
- Guy and girl fall in love.
Vampire sets its sights on the girl and tries to make her his own.
Guy sets out to the stop the vampire and save his lady love.
The old Hammer film “Dracula has Risen from the Grave” is a notable example of this basic storyline.
I set out to work the male/female dynamic in a different way here, and the most natural, alternative approach to take was a sibling relationship. You still have a strong bond of love to work with, but it’s different than romantic love and this difference allows you to work the story in ways you otherwise couldn’t. Also, since you’re dealing with two people who grew up together, you have all sorts of potential for backstory, which I make heavy use of in Legacy. In this episode of the story, you see more of what has made Mike and Holly as close as they are. As Holly herself thinks of it, they’re survivors, knitted together rather like people who have been through the crucible of war together.
The supernatural creatures in the story were vicious, twisted souls that were really brought to life in vivid detail. What was your method for creating such scary creatures and scenes?
Basically, I took the most frightening elements of vampires as I’ve seen them portrayed in the past and lumped them together. Also, I removed their humanity. In many stories, especially those that have come out in the last twenty-five years or so, vampires are portrayed as people who suffer from a disease; essentially still human but subject to dark impulses that they can’t control (the TV shows Dark Shadows and Forever Knight are examples of this). In this story, however, vampires are pure, demonic, unredeemable evil, hearkening back to Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Count Dracula, and to the vampires we see in the 1972 film The Night Stalker and the 1979 miniseries Salem’s Lot.
Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?
The third book, Redemption, is the final book in the series and brings the story to a definitive conclusion. The second part of the vampire’s scheme for revenge plays out, leading to a confrontation that many of the novel’s characters will not survive. Readers will find the Gastons pushed to the limits of their endurance. The history of Clarke’s Summit and its curse is fleshed out more fully, and we learn more about the nature of the enemy; there are actually two types of vampires, and the distinctions between them are discussed (this touches on your previous question about how I visualized them for this story, and why they are so twisted). We also see why Mike and Holly are so important in the vampire’s plans.
In short, everything comes full circle. The major themes of this novel are sacrifice and, as the title suggests, redemption.
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Wherever they were when it happened, the residents of Clarke’s Summit, Virginia, knew that something had changed. All throughout the town and its surrounding area, doors were locked and curtains drawn. The night had become their enemy, concealing something darker than itself. A madman’s desperate act of devotion has unleashed a horror in their midst, a fear they had hoped would stay buried forever.
Now, as darkness falls again and his family is torn apart, Mike Gaston will finally learn the truth. The truth of what really happened to his mother and all the others in 1982. The truth behind the nightmares.
The truth of his family’s legacy of evil.
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Descendent Darkness: Legacy
Legacy, by A.J. Macready, is the second installment in the Descendent Darkness series and returns to visit the families of Clarke’s Summit; a seemingly innocent town ridden with the darkest of secrets. Families will be torn apart, truths will be exposed and the Gaston family will finally learn the dark history of their past. When evil comes a knockin’, no family will be prepared for the deadly consequences that occur. Lives will be shattered when the demon that haunts Mike Gaston’s nightmare is finally brought to light. Who is the mysterious woman that has possessed his nightmares?
Legacy– Powerful in name, powerful in nature. Within the first few pages of Legacy, the reader is instantly given a feel as to what type of horrors they may encounter- a creature that can be “stronger, faster, and have greater sensory perception than man” and most importantly- be able to out reason them. And Legacy did not disappoint. The supernatural creatures were vicious, twisted souls that will be sure to give the most avid horror fans the heebie-jeebies.
The clues may be lined up like dominoes but with evil knocking on the door, Ally, Holly, Mike and the rest of the town will be faced with a supernatural presence unlike no other. Questions will be answered and fates will be sealed as we embark on another supernatural roller coaster with the people of Clarke’s Summit. Favorite characters will return and Macready delivers a sequel that will not disappoint. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, then I can promise you- the second one is even better.
The story flits between various families within the town which allow the reader to experience an almost movie like feel when reading the novel. The fear, the passion and the horrors twisted into the plot, created a sense of urgency and at times I genuinely began to feel scared! Much like a horror movie, I found myself mentally yelling at the characters to stay back, or to run away. I applaud Macready’s use of language and skill that created an air of suspense throughout the entire novel. Macready also plays on fears that many of us have had- the quiet darkness of when you are alone outside, the noises you hear when you are tucked up in bed and the nightmares that have you questioning whether they are real or imagined.
Rather than focusing on the romantic relationships, Legacy will draw you to the importance of family ties and once again we are treated with the beautiful bond between siblings Mike and Holly Gaston. Loyal and understanding, this sibling duo will find themselves facing off with vampire style evils who wear faces of those that they least expect.
I would would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thriller/horror style plot line with a big spoonful of supernatural surprises. I could honestly see this novel being turned into a movie and I look forward to reading the other books in the series!
Pages: 173 | ASIN: B017SDSXKU
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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