Thursday, April 17, 2014

‘Redneck Vampire’: Author finds inspiration in dark childhood, guidance of his angels

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 12/2/2013

Edward Mayhan was Goth before Goth was cool, he said.

Tough times early in his life led him down a different path than most youths, he said.

Edward Mayhan was Goth before Goth was cool, he said.

Tough times early in his life led him down a different path than most youths, he said.

“In kindergarten, we were asked to draw something we liked,” Mayhan, rural Quenemo, said. “All of the other kids were drawing flowers and unicorns. I filled in an entire page using a couple of black crayons. The teacher asked me what it was and I told her, ‘That’s a black knight fighting the grim reaper at midnight.’ This is coming from a 6-year-old in 1956.”

After his career as a social worker and guitarist, he retired to the rural Quenemo area, where he said his taste for the unusual has come to life on the pages of his first published book, “Cruelheart Duprix Redneck Vampire Queen: She Smiles — You Die.”

Mayhan, who grew up in Independence, Mo., wanted to depart from the traditional vampire story and create something new with the first of what he hopes will be a series of books, he said.

“I had the basic story in my head,” Mayhan said. “I’ve always admired the ideal of a vampire and the power involved in that. I wanted something that I could base off something that I knew about. I wanted to try something no one had ever done before. I wrote what I knew, such as Southern culture. I have this little attitude with the church, so I thought I’d turn that on its head. I thought I’d mix it all up and it was a kind of a stew at first, but as I wrote, it sort of took a life of itself onto the story. I wanted to get away from the coffins and the castles and all that.”

“Cruelheart Duprix” is about a beautiful vampire-witch hybrid, Cruelheart, who embarks on a journey for revenge through time aided by P.A.U.L., a mutant who Cruelheart frees from a secret government lab. The two seek out Cruelheart’s evil half-brother, Victor, to destroy him, according to an online book description.

The deeper inspiration behind his book, which was published Nov. 6 on, came when two tragedies struck Mayhan and his family, he said.

“I was getting close to retirement age and what triggered the explosion, I suppose, of writing was my daughter and my sister-in-law both passed away from cancer,” Mayhan said. “Of course, it destroyed us. Parents are not supposed to bury their child. We fought depression and everything else for a while.”

Mayhan felt the presence of his late daughter, Mary Jo Stark, and sister-in-law, Jackie Kay Autumn Hasty, as he began writing, he said.

“The more I wrote, the more I felt they were standing at my shoulder guiding me,” Mayhan said. “I felt they were kind of prodding me to, ‘Get on with it Dad.’

“I have a problem with the church at large and have had my own bad experiences with that, but I do believe there is something else after this life,” he said. “I felt like I could write something into this story and create beings that were good and powerful, and they couldn’t die. In a strange sort of way I thought, ‘Maybe I can make them immortal.’ I started to really invest myself in this. I know it is a fantasy and everything, but it is something I felt I needed to do.”

The more he wrote, the more Stark and Hasty became involved with his story, he said.

“One of the characters I based on my sister-in-law, the police lieutenant,” Mayhan said. “I had given her one name to get the thing going. The first time I wrote the character’s name, the computer glitched it on me. I thought, ‘Well, that’s the computer. We are here in Pomona, so we are not exactly in the hub of Wi-Fi central.’ I wrote it back in and again the name disappeared. It was like she was correcting me until I found a name she liked. I finally used her middle name, and my favorite aunt’s name, and I guess that is the name she let me use.”

In his dedication, Mayhan referred to Stark and Hasty as his angels.

During the three months it took him to write the book, Mayhan found different forms of inspiration, and even had a more unorthodox way of taking down his ideas than some modern writers, he said. The Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft fan said he is not much of a tech person.

“I make notes in long-hand. I am not into the tech stuff at all,” Mayhan said. “I would write out my drafts long-hand, and then put them down on my laptop. I am going to struggle with any technology, but my wife, Susan, bought me a new Dell. I have a little studio set up here at the house.”

Though he always has been big on reading, Mayhan admitted it took a lot for him to put his thoughts and ideas down on paper.

“I’ve been writing music since I started playing in the ’60s,” he said. “I was a voracious reader, and I still am. I was always afraid to take on the bigger project of writing a full-blown story. I was much more comfortable with verse, verse, chorus and things like that.”

Mayhan now has plans for an entire series of books based on his Cruelheart Duprix character, he said. While he’s not sure how many books will end up comprising the series, he already has begun work on the second volume.

“I am writing her origin story right now,” Mayhan said. “I am a big history buff. I double-checked all of my dates. It is nice to work history into fiction. [Cruelheart] has this destiny she is not aware of. She is involved in something monumentally cosmic.”

While Mayhan said he doesn’t have the exact numbers of how many copies he’s sold so far, he is glad “Cruelheart Duprix” is out for people to read.

“I’m not asking for Stephanie Meyer or Robert E. Howard to lose sleep over me, but it would be nice,” he said laughing. “We are still in the first 90-day period in the lending library. People can go and check it out. I’ve had family and friends buy it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make money on it, but I just want it to be out there.”

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