Hello to you all. It's time to flap your fantasy wings and crack out the garlic in our second fantastic interview. I'm delighted to be able to introduce Alex Foulkes, who is the author of a dark, funny series called Rules for Vampires. Ghosts Bite Back is the second book in the series and will be published later this year (Sept 2022 by Simon and Schuster). We thought we would ask the 'jammy' author and school librarian some questions on how to keep Vampires at bay and how she 'staked' a claim in writing horror fiction. We hope you enjoy this 'bleeding' marvellous interview; did you like what I did there? Enjoy!
Rules for Vampires is your first children's book, do you think Vampires actually have rules?
Yes! Vampires actually have loads of different rules throughout literary history - too many to include in one book. If you added in every vampire rule out there, you would have a very long story (and one that would contradict itself!) When I was writing Rules for Vampires, I wanted a clear set of Vampiric Laws to govern the world. I chose my faves and added a few of my own. My favourite Vampiric Law is probably concerning vampires beingunable to enter uninvited, which I think is one of the coolest vampire limitations.
Would your younger self enjoy reading this book and why?
The character of Leo is actually based on myself when I was eleven, as well as children I've worked with in my time as a school librarian and a teaching assistant. I was a weird sort of kid andRules for Vampires is definitely a very weird story! When I was a young reader, I definitely wanted something with a bit of bite, lots of fight scenes, scares and laughs. This has been my checklist forRules for Vampires.
Are there any books that you have read that you think may have influenced your writing?
Oh, absolutely loads. A stand-out series is definitely Lemony Snicket'sA Series of Unfortunate Events, mostly for its gothic tone, amazing villain and eerie, unsettling atmosphere. I read these books growing up and absolutely wanted to be Violet Baudelaire! I think these stories have stayed with me all the way through to adulthood.
How do you think Sara Ogilvie's illustrations add another dimension to the storytelling and did she also illustrate the wonderful book cover?
Sara Ogilvie absolutely did illustrate the spine-chilling cover forRules for Vampires! Her artwork takes this story to another level; her imagining of these characters and this world is so rich, so fun and so detailed. When you pick up a copy ofVampires, Sara brings you into the Dreadwald in a way that words on their own wouldn't do quite as well. She's seriously magical. Her work on Leo in particular added additional depth to the way I now write this important character. I think it's because I have Sara's strong picture of Leo's design in my head as I write her.
I read somewhere that "World Book Day would be your Jam." What would be your perfect World Book Day?
Hahaha! World Book Day isindeed my total jam - you've been on my author website! Fangs so much! World Book Day is an important day to librarians everywhere and I am no exception. My ideal WBD would definitely be in school, with lots of dress-up and fun activities. Of course an open, busy library. And - most important of all - sharing stories. Reading together. Talking about books. Of course, reading is forevery day, but WBD is such an amazing celebration of reading for enjoyment, why not make a point of it? Discussing our favourite reads is so important.
Ghosts Bite Back will be the second book in the series (published this September 2022). What can readers expect in this book and is humour a key role in this story?
If readers have enjoyedRules for Vampires, they will find thatGhosts Bite Backis even BIGGER, even GHOSTLIER, with oodles of fights and laughs and chills. I wanted to take everything I loved about writingVampires and turn it up to eleven forGhosts. Leo and Minna are facing some serious danger in this story! In spite of this, humour is absolutely still a key element toGhosts Bite Back. I find that, no matter what I write, having a lightness and a sense of fun is always important.
What is the best thing about being a published author?
The best thing about being a published author... is going into schools, libraries and bookshops and meeting readers. It's absolutely the best thing in the world. I also love talking to aspiring writers and hearing about their creativity and writing journeys.
What question were you hoping I might have asked? (Please could you answer from the perspective of one of your characters in the book)
I have spoken to Rodrigo, Leo's spidery roommate, and he had this to say:
"You must want to know what it's like being the secret TRUE HERO of this story! Of course Rules for Vampires should have been called Rules for Spiders, as I am clearly the most important character on the page. My chapters are clearly the best. I'm working on being included in EVERY chapter of Ghosts Bite Back, as I think this would improve the story eightfold.
"I've found fame tricky to deal with, ever since Rules for Vampires came out. Paparazzi chase me at every turn. Please understand - I know I am a big deal and you want to put me on the cover of every magazine - but I am just a humble spider. So humble."