Read our exclusive interview with author Trevor Munson, who’s set to publish his never-before-released novel “Angel of Vengeance”. The book first received attention when it served as the inspiration for the CBS cult-classic vampire series ‘Moonlight,’ which Munson helped create, write and produce. “Angel of Vengeance” provides a twist to the vampire genre, as it combines the world of the undead with detective work; it follows vampire-P.I. Mick Angel who has been hired by a dancer to help find her sister amongst the drug world. Munson discusses with us, among other things, where he got the inspiration for the story and why he decided to work on ‘Moonlight.’
Shockya (SY): Your upcoming novel, “Angel of Vengeance”, provides a unique twist to the horror genre, as it mixes vampires with P.I. detective work. It follows L.A.-based P.I.-vampire Mick Angel who was hired by a dancer to find her missing sister. Where did you get the idea for the story?
Trevor Munson (TM): I came up with the idea for “Angel of Vengeance” and the character Mick Angel sometime in 2005. At that point, I had already had a long love affair with vampires, but I’d never written anything in the genre. To me it was only worth doing if I had a new and fresh way in to the vampire mythos. The idea for a hard-boiled, noir vampire story came to me after rereading Dracula and following it up with a Raymond Chandler novel, and right away it seemed like it held a lot of potential to be that story.
The novel that came about is a much darker tale than that depicted in ‘Moonlight,’ the show that eventually evolved from it, but many of the themes that motivate Mick, and the way he views the world remain much the same. The end result is a sort of blood-sucking Philip Marlowe who was turned in the forties and who now finds himself unwilling or unable to get in step with the modern world in which he now lives.
SY: You have said that you’ve had a “long love affair with vampires,” but with Angel of Vengeance, you wanted to add new elements to the vampire mythos. Why did you feel it was time to include new ideas in the genre?
TM: I do love vampires and the whole mythology that surrounds them, but if I was going to throw my hat into the ring, I wanted to try to put my own spin on things. I didn’t see the point of writing anything if I was just going to do what others before me had already done. As a result, my basic approach in redefining classic vampire lore was to attempt to “noirify” (not a word) the vampire mythology. I wanted recreate the rules to reflect the themes you see repeated over and over in noir storytelling. This is why I had Mick take his blood with a needle, and sleep in a freezer to stave off his slow decay.
Other changes came from just wanting to make more sense of classic rules, such as the idea that vampires are unable to see their reflections. It didn’t make sense to me that a body with mass wouldn’t cast a shadow, or reflection, so I altered it so that Mick can see his reflection, but when he does, he always sees the inner monster inside. Thematically this worked for a story where the main character views himself as a monster and generally hates what he is.
Finally, I also departed from the general mythology by having my vampires actually have to die in order to turn. In many current vampire tales, (‘Moonlight’ included) vampires are turned by being taken to the brink of death and then being fed the blood of their sire. In my novel, however, I wanted a more defined death process. As a result, I came up with the idea that the vampire bite transmits the infection, turning the bitten person into a carrier until the time of their death whenever that may be. Then, after a period of incubation, the vampire rises again as a member of the undead.
SY: While “Angel of Vengeance” has never been released before, it served as the inspiration for the CBS series ‘Moonlight.’ How did you react when you found out the network wanted to air ‘Moonlight’ before the novel was even published?
TM: The whole thing was a wild ride right from the start. I signed with my new agency in May, and by August I was co-creating the show with Ron Koslow (‘Beauty and the Beast’) for CBS.
Although my main character and the novel were jumping off points for the show, there were obviously a lot of changes made a long the way. I didn’t have a problem with that because I knew going in that things had to shift in order to be palatable enough for CBS audiences. In the end, I was fine with that because I knew no matter how things changed, I had the novel to point to as my original vision.
SY: You served as a writer, producer and the creator for ‘Moonlight.’ What compelled you to work on the series?
TM: My need for speed. Up until the show came about, I had exclusively made my living writing features. In the feature world 5 to 7 years is not an uncommon time period for a given project to get made, if it gets made… In television, you pitch something in late summer or early fall, and if all goes well, you’re filming in the spring. It’s the Hollywood equivalent of going zero to sixty. When the opportunity came, I had to see what that ride was like.
On top of that, I had long heard about the greater involvement and control that TV writers have over their material, and that definitely sounded worth checking out.
SY: “Angel of Vengeance” has been described as having a darker tone than what was depicted in ‘Moonlight.’ What are the main differences between the two?
TM: In many ways, the show and the book are very different creatures. The book is a much darker and grittier world, but many of the themes of addiction, transcendence, and redemption that motivate both versions of Mick are the much the same. Both are loners who hate what they are and want nothing more than to reconnect with their lost humanity, and both miss the intense emotions and senses from when they were alive.
The main difference in my mind, is that Mick St. John has Beth in his life. Because he saved her from and chose her over Coraline, his femme fatale first true love, Beth serves as a sort of lifeline to Mick’s lost humanity. As a result, she is the only one he’s ever met who allows him to feel similar to how he did when he was alive, and despite it’s inherent difficulties, this relationship gives him hope for the future. In contrast, Mick Angel at least in this book, has no Beth, and is far more cynical and despondent about his situation.
SY: Despite being a fan favorite and winning such honors as the People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama in 2008, CBS cancelled ‘Moonlight’ after only one season. Do you feel the series had the potential to continue, and were you happy with the way it ended?
TM: I definitely think the series had a lot of potential to continue. In many ways, ‘Moonlight’ was at the forefront of the current vampire craze. Although the ‘Twilight’ books existed, the movies hadn’t yet been made. I think if they’d been out things might have turned out differently. ‘Moonlight’ might have served as a network destination for vampire lovers to get their fix as they waited for more, but ultimately, it felt like we were
just a little too early, and people had yet to realize what was to come.
As for how it ended, I think that could have been stronger, but at the time, no one was trying to conclude the series. The common wisdom was that there would most likely be a season two. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be.
SY: Since ending its run in 2008, ‘Moonlight’ has developed a cult following. What is the feeling like knowing the fans still enjoy the series so much?
TM: The fan response to the show never ceases to amaze me. I had no idea how passionate genre fans can be when it comes to something they really like. It’s been very rewarding to see the positive effect the show has had on people’s lives from the friendships that have been forged through a shared love of Mick, to the blood-drives and charity events the fans put on and which made a positive impact on lives in a very real-world way.
SY: With the success of ‘Moonlight,’ are there any plans to release a follow-up to “Angel of Vengeance”?
TM: My publisher has already expressed interest in having me write sequels. Unfortunately, I only retained the rights to my initial novel. I’m currently in the process of seeking permission from the powers that be, to be able to continue the series, but I haven’t received a definitive answer as yet. If all goes well, I’d like to get started on a follow-up to Angel of Vengeance sometime in the next year which I’ve tentatively titled “Guardian Angel”.
Written by: Karen Benardello