Travis Luedke Feature

Travis LuedkeI’m back after a brief hiatus and am beginning 2013 with the January interview. This time out I’m featuring a buddy of mine, Travis Luedke, another very exciting writer in the vampire genre.

Travis is the creator of a new vampire series, Nightlife. It follows the lives of a vampire couple as they move from one city to another around the world. I read the first of the series Nightlife: New York over the Christmas holiday and was very highly impressed.

Vampires, strippers, escorts, night clubs, gangs, pimps and corrupt cops, the Nightlife of New York is never boring.

Is she a beautiful blond guardian angel as he imagined, or something else entirely? When Michelle saves Aaron’s life she shares the benefits of her blood (after getting him shot accidentally). He awakes a changed man, living in a purgatory of eternal night, never to see the sunrise again.

Nightlife New York by Travis LuedkeMichelle drags Aaron through a hardcore learning curve of vampiric slavery. Forced to adapt to servitude, Aaron is subject to her authority of compulsion. She orders him around like a puppet on a string, a dog on a very short leash. First things first, he must learn to feed properly without creating blood slaves (humans addicted to the powerful drug-like effect of their venomous bite).

And then she puts him to work-a male escort in the sex trade-same as Michelle. Aaron walks a tightrope of strictly controlled feeding regiments and intensely erotic sexual adventures while catering to the neurotic control-freak tendencies of his new master. It’s do or die, Michelle vows to eliminate him if he proves too difficult to control. The real kicker-amidst all these shocking and degrading adjustments, Aaron finds he’s falling in love.

Can he maintain and keep a sliver of his humanity intact? Innocence is a luxury few can afford in the decadent nightlife of New York. In a world where sex, blood, and power over women is so readily accessible, Aaron struggles against the predatory instincts deeply rooted in his new psyche. He must find his way quickly, practicing rigid self-control, or risk the consequences of Michelle’s wrath.

Bio: Travis Luedke is a husband, father, and author of Urban Fantasy thriller, Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, and Sci-fi. He is currently catching a 3rd degree sunburn in San Antonio, Texas, and loving every minute of it. His recent works include “The Nightlife New York”, “The Nightlife Las Vegas” and “BLOOD SLAVE” the first novels in the Nightlife Series.

Hi, Travis, and welcome. Can you tell us who you are and why you’ve chosen this genre?

Travis: I’m just your average guy with a life-long love of horrific, macabre, escapist literature. It started with Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert R. McCammon, and Dean Koontz. I loved these authors all through my late teens. I dipped here and there into sci-fi with Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, Poul Andersen and one of my favorites, Dan Simmons (The Hyperion Series). I even played with Fantasy a bit, L. E. Modesitt and many others. For the longest time sci-fi, fantasy, and horror have been lumped together in libraries and book clubs, so it’s hard not to jump from one to the other.

Where I really “sunk my teeth” in my later years as reader, was this somewhat new category called Urban Fantasy. I read everything I could find, all the YA novels like Twilight, Dresden Files, and the Mortal Instruments series, and I really got into the adult stuff by Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, Sunny, J R Ward and many others.

This became my focus, adult themed Urban Fantasy. I love to read it, and I write novels that I enjoy reading. I write macabre, perverse, violent, and graphic flights of fancy involving horrific yet sexy supernatural creatures.

Wonderful. I love it when I meet people who grew up reading and loving the same writers as me. So we share a love of vampires. What is it about vampires then that you find so captivating?

Travis: I guess the very long lives they live is fascinating, and the passionate nature of their lives. They are seducers, consumers, and yet often they have an intense internal struggle to retain humanity, to become more than just a predator. It’s intoxicating to envision having such power and superiority over mankind. They also have this dark grace and beauty (as I see them). I know that the traditional vampire is monstrous, but I see that as a facet of those extreme moments. They have the capacity to become monstrous, but that’s not entirely who they are.

Yes, I do agree. I have a strong personal bias towards the traditional vampire and am very thrilled to see someone other than myself endeavouring to bring the traditional vampire back. On that note, Travis, what are you hoping to bring to the vampire legend or genre that we haven’t seen before?

Travis: My creatures are of a somewhat unknown origin. In later Nightlife Series novels we will learn the truth about where vampires come from. I have a fairly unique mythology, but you’ll need to wait until Nightlife Paris and Nightlife London to see how it develops.

It’s certainly not a heaven/hell-damned-for-all-eternity kinda thing. It’s more biological, a blood-borne pathogen. Mirrors and crosses and water and silver, none of this really matters. They don’t do daylight at all, don’t even function during the daylight, but that’s simply an extreme photosensitivity.

My contribution to the genre is a somewhat uniquely styled creature, essentially the perfect predator. They are magnetically attractive to humans, their natural prey. The drug-like effect of their bite is so powerful they can reduce a person to an addict, a bloodslave, in a single prolonged bite of a few minutes. People literally need to be bitten over and over again because the experience is like no other. This addiction is physical and psychological, and there is no cure.

The entire premise of the series is highly erotic. These creatures ooze sensuality at every turn. And they perform with supernatural prowess.

And that leads me nicely into my next question. I have always believed vampires to be very erotic creatures, and yours are definitely so. Was this at the forefront of your mind before beginning this series?

Travis: When I first grappled with the idea of the Nightlife New York, I didn’t really plan a series. The idea came to me to write this book, a book I wish had been written for my reading pleasure. As it flowed out of me at all hours of the day and night, I had to face the fact that it would never be a young adult read. It was too gritty, too sensual. So I committed myself to learning how to embrace that aspect of my writing. I began the process of learning how to write sex scenes. That first novel has since been rewritten about six times.

By then I knew I had plans for a series and it would border on erotica. With Nightlife Las Vegas I tipped over the edge into the erotic twilight zone, and I haven’t really ever made my way back to normalcy.

I have to say, honestly, I thought some of the erotica scenes in the first book were tremendous. It is rare for sexual content in books to turn my head, but Aaron’s first occasion out with Michelle where he first samples the blood of a mortal was just wow. I sat there thinking “I wish I’d thought of this” so needless to say I was highly impressed. Trust me, readers, it’s quality stuff. So my next question, Travis, now that you’re making your mark in this genre, are there other vampire writers that you like specifically?

Travis: I would be hard-pressed to find vampire fiction I don’t like. I am a fan of most, if not all Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, and even the old school horror novel portrayals of vampires such as Stephen King and whatnot.

Considering I have your books and I’m about to start reading them, I am certain I will soon become a fan of your work as well.

You’re making me smile now. I sure hope so. Have any other vampire writers influenced you?

Travis: I have taken influences from Young Adult storylines, Adult Urban Fantasy, Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and a lot of Erotic Romance authors. The thing you will find about romance authors, they know how to make readers care what happens next to the characters. They are masters of dramatic interpersonal relationships.

I define my writing as Urban Fantasy Thriller with a splash of Erotica (sometimes more than a splash).

And do you have a favourite vampire book or movie?

Travis: I think it would be a toss-up between one of Anne Rice’s novels in the “Vampire Chronicles” series or one of Laurell K. Hamilton’s earlier novels in the “Anita Baker Vampire Hunter” series. It would be very difficult to call one novel a favourite.
In movies, I think the first Underworld film is a good contender for my favorite Vampire movie, either that or the first Blade film. I like action, sex, violence, drama, matrix-type fight scenes, and all the snarky one-liners you can cram in there. And I’m sure somebody will hate me for saying this, but I really enjoyed the twilight books and films. There it is, I said it, I can’t take it back.

Ugh, Travis, your aura will be forever tarnished. Moving on very quickly then… Tell us something about your series.

Travis: The Nightlife Series is about all the seedy corruption found in metropolitan areas blended with two vampires trying to slip between the cracks of society. You have every kind of excess: sex, drugs, alcoholism, prostitution, pimps, corrupt police, gangs, cartels and mafia. Imagine living in these elements night after night, trying to escape the corruption and the debauchery unscathed. It’s a tale of two vampires against the world, and they have no one to rely on but each other when things get out of hand, as they so often do in the nightlife.

The series begins in New York, where we meet Aaron Pilan. This first novel is his coming of age story. He’s young, naïve, inexperienced, but he will soon learn his way. He changes dramatically as we follow his tale of love, sex, and slavery under vampire master Michelle. Michelle is mostly a mystery, she doesn’t like to talk about her past, she would rather forget what she has seen and done. Michelle is a harsh mistress for Aaron, with little tolerance for misbehaviour. They find love and learn to trust each other through their nightly misadventures.

From New York we move onto Las Vegas where our odd couple quickly become the target of an angry mafia boss and his Colombian cartel connections. It’s the quintessential Vegas experience, drugs, alcohol, ménage à trois sexscapades, and Aaron breaks Michelle’s golden rule, no blood slaves, ever. They adopt a pet, bringing the food home with them. It’s a wild ride of sex, violence, violent sex, drugs, gambling, and all the other naughty stuff that goes on in Las Vegas.

Aaron and Michelle survive Las Vegas, and decide it’s time to get out of town, so they are off to Paris, to Michelle’s homeland. Here we will see some new dynamics developing in their relationship, the mistakes and excesses of Las Vegas have left their mark on the couple. Michelle has to come clean to Aaron and start providing some answers, until this moment he didn’t even know her last name.

Doesn’t it sound good, folks? I’m almost ashamed to admit now that I’ve only read the first book. I will hasten to add though, it is the best vampire story I’ve read in years so take note, readers. If you love vampires, as I do, the Nightlife books will more than satisfy you. Travis, if you were meeting someone for the very first time, what would you say to them to pique their interest in your work?

Travis: Here’s the elevator pitch: The Nightlife Series is sexy and violent, and occasionally violently sexy. A quote from a 5 star review: “If you like your vampires vicious and bloody and your erotica with a plot, this is the book for you.”

That works for me. Sounds a little like Bound By Blood too. Have you drawn any inspiration from anyone in the real world for your two main characters, Aaron and Michelle?

Travis: Aaron’s situation at the start of the series is so heartbreakingly similar to many young men today that are basically lost, falling into whatever relationship lands in their lap. I could walk into any mall in America and given enough time and observation, I’d find dozens of 19-20 year olds who fit that mould. So yes, the lost youth of America inspired Aaron’s character in all aspects.

Michelle’s character was inspired by a novel called “A Year in the Merde” about a British man fumbling through Parisian corporate politics, and chasing after French women. All of a sudden I heard her heavy accent speaking to Aaron, explaining all these shocking things. When I pictured her flippant Gallic shoulder shrug, I knew she had to be a French Femme Fatale.

As the series progresses, there are definitely inspirational moments from characters I met in real life. I have known some interesting people, and there are far more true life situations of corruption, excess, and debauchery in my novels than I will ever confess to.

That, for me, is one of the best aspects of being a writer. I love taking aspects or characteristics from people I’ve met and using them in my characters. Though, I generally write my characters with the face of an actor/actress in mind. If The Nightlife Series makes it to the big screen and you have the power to choose who you want to play the roles of Aaron and Michelle, who would you choose?

Travis: I haven’t given much thought to that, but since you asked I browsed through the 100 up and coming actors and chose Dustin Milligan from “Slither” as Aaron, and Katie Cassidy from “Taken”  as Michelle.

Good choices. Katie Cassidy is a serious hottie, though I pictured Michelle as a little older in my mind. Dustin Milligan would be perfect indeed. In closing then, my good man, is there anything you would like to say to us or share before you go?

Travis: Here in this last week of January the “Erotic Enchants” group at Goodreads has chosen to feature The Nightlife New York as their Book of The Month read. I suggest everyone hop on over to the premiere erotica group on Goodreads with over 3800 members and see what these naughty ladies have to say about the Nightlife Series.
http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/2344-erotic-enchants

Thanks, buddy. Folks, you can find Travis online at:

5 comments

  • Yelle Hughes January 22, 2013

    Excellent interieve. I really enjoyed Travis’s answers. I’ve read the first novel “New York” and Shane you were spot on. I’m ready to move on to the next “Las Vegas” and can’t wait to read Travis’s other book that’s out, “Blood Slave”.

    Thanks, Shane. Even if I hadn’t read the book, you would have sold me on it.

    Respond
    • Shane KP ONeill January 22, 2013

      Thanks, Yelle. It was a pleasure to interview, Travis. He is an excellent writer and I foresee only good things for him. Like you, I must now quickly read the Las Vegas book too.

      Respond
  • Billy Ray Chitwood January 22, 2013

    Very enjoyable…and, very informative. Thanks for both the great questions and the great answers. My compliments.

    Respond
  • John Dolan January 29, 2013

    Good interview, guys. Has a bit of bite to it.

    Respond
    • Shane KP ONeill January 31, 2013

      Ugh, John… even Bruce Forsyth could come up with a better line than that.

      Respond

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