Acclaimed American author sinks teeth into vampire trilogy

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS,

New Delhi : American writer of suspense Chuck Hogan says he is “drawn to stories of man at his extremes”. He is now busy spooking readers with “The Strain”, a book on vampires that he has co-authored with Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro.

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For Hogan “crime and horror are both genres of existentialism”.

“I am drawn to stories of man at his extremes, of people who find themselves tested, haunted and threatened,” Hogan, who penned “Standoff”, told IANS over e-mail from Boston.

“I believe a writer should challenge himself in his work just as he challenges the characters in his story. Anything less would be inauthentic and dishonest. What I love about ‘The Strain’ is that the journey of the story takes this maxim and multiplies it by one thousand.”

“The Strain” is the first of the widely publicised three-book series, published in India by HarperCollins-India in November. The second book is titled the “The Fall” and the third “The Night Eternal”.

Hogan says he “has never worked on true horror before though he has dealt with crime and thrillers”.

“I’d never published a true work of horror before, and here I was embarking on an epic trilogy with a master of the genre. I probably should have been more intimidated.

“Yet, I felt an immediate kinship with the material, as well as true excitement at the challenge of bringing the story to life, both of which carried me through. Guillermo is a daunting first audience, and yet an incredibly generous collaborator,” Hogan said.

Recalling the nature of collaboration with del Toro, known for making films like “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy”, Hogan said: “Guillermo is an amazing reserve of resource.

“It’s just fun to have him ask a question – say, about why the vampires run hot – instead of cold and he will not only take me through their intricate biology but he will also embroider the account with corroborating examples from the field of entomology, marine life and some arcane facts about the function of human platelets.”

The series begins with a slice out of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. A Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport. It stops on the tarmac. The aeroplane is full of dead corpses and a strange coffin filled with dirt is found in the cargo hold. It ferries in Jusef Sardu, a vampire known as the “Master” to the US from the old world.

A doctor investigates the “virus” that killed them and in the process is introduced to another V word: vampire.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at [email protected])