Thursday, May 18, 2023

Q&A with Samara Breger




Samara Breger is the author of the new novel A Long Time Dead. She also has written the novel Walk Between Worlds. She lives in the New York City area.


Q: What inspired you to write A Long Time Dead, and how did you create your character Poppy?


A: I had been wanting to write something historical for a while, but I didn’t consider vampires until two other writers at my publisher approached me about it. Their idea was for us each to write a vampire novella and release them together.


As soon as they said vampire, I knew I wanted to go gothic romance. I love gothics, even though they scare the absolute shit out of me. I am a lifelong horror weenie, but something about gothic lit draws me in every time.


Poppy has a lot more of me in her than any of my other characters thus far. When the plan was to write a novella, the turnaround was tight, and I didn’t do much character sketching beforehand. A lot of Poppy is me, but me at 20, with my impulsive tendencies turned all the way up.


The story about Poppy needing to bring a friend to the bathroom with her after reading The Monk is pulled directly from my life—shoutout to my friend Jenn for being my late-night bathroom buddy! Poppy’s also got a lot of Michelle and Erin from Derry Girls in her. Maybe a touch of Orla, too. 


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Poppy and your character Roisin?


A: When I was 20, I followed a girl to Paris for love. It ended in disaster, of course, but that intense longing that feels exclusive to people who haven’t yet been emotionally devastated by love really informed the dynamic. I also wanted Roisin to be somewhat annoyed by Poppy, but more so annoyed that she was falling in love with Poppy. Like, “Seriously? With this person?”


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I did so much research, oh my god. I’m sure I still got things wrong, and I kept some things intentionally anachronistic.


The most important thing that kept coming up throughout my research is that there were always queer people. The Cleveland Street scandal, the Bouton and Park case, and, of course, the Oscar Wilde trial really revealed a whole secondary society for queer and trans people in the Victorian era.


Especially with today’s politics, it was both gutting and bolstering to see that we’ve always been under attack, but we have always existed, and we always will.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I made so many changes. I knew it would have a happy ending—it’s a romance, after all—but the path swerved in some surprising directions. I landed in a more horror-ish space than I had initially intended. I had a lot of fun with the bloody, violent, slightly gruesome stuff. Let this be a lesson to all: don’t let being scared of everything stop you from scaring other people!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a 19th century New York romance inspired by Gallus Mag and Sadie the Goat, two possibly-apocryphal gangsters who got in a fight that cost one of them their ear. I’m also working on a Victorian spiritualist ghost romance that has some touches of the Noel Coward play Blithe Spirit.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I put a lot of my love for lesbian vampires in this book. I’m fascinated by the history of the lesbian vampire in books and on film. The more I learn, the more I want to write another lesbian vampire story. Maybe I’ll even bring back some A Long Time Dead characters!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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