R.T. Truehall is the author of Not Dead; here is a link to her website:
Q: What is, Not Dead about?
A: Not Dead is—in a nutshell—about vampires. It centres around two main characters: Ellison and Ulysses. Ellison is over 800 years old and can control people’s minds. Ulysses is an idiot and delivers pizza for a living. Not Dead is the first in a series featuring these two, and in this initial book the reader is taken through the story of how Ulysses becomes a vampire
Q: Why a vampire book?
A: I like vampires. I mean, who doesn’t? But I just got a bit sick of them being so perfect all the dang time. It’s one or more of the same old chestnuts every vampire story: they get super strong and beautiful, they’re charming and irresistible, they’re always cool and scary. I got to thinking what would it look like if a vampire was a bumbling fool? What if they were terrible at being a vampire? That’s when Ulysses was born.
Q: How is it different from other vampire books?
A: Well, for a start, when one becomes a vampire, it takes time. It’s not an instantaneous thing; it’s like a creeping disease. Also, there is no guarantee the new vampire will be any stronger whatsoever, and they can’t suddenly fly, or run ridiculously fast. They don’t have fangs and they don’t all hunt. They don’t burst into flames in the sun, they’re not allergic to silver and holy water will only make them soggy and irritated.
Q: What makes Ulysses worth reading about?
A: Ulysses is worth reading about because he’s you and me. He’s not a Hollywood stereotype. He’s a completely average guy: not particularly good-looking, not particularly smart, not particularly talented at anything, actually. He’s clumsy, easily distracted and lazy: pretty much the polar opposite of what one would expect a vampire to be. Ulysses is what happens when the average Joe is given immortality, and doesn’t have even the slightest inkling of what he wants to do with it.
Q: What have you done to promote your book?
A: Well, I published through Austin Macauley, so they do their thing. I figure every little bit helps, though, so I’ve been working to boost my Instagram and Twitter presence also. I recently ran a giveaway competition on Goodreads, and Austin Macauley were gracious enough to foot the bill for the prizes, which was awesome. I have an author facebook page as well. I’ve also been reaching out to Instagram and Twitter book enthusiasts and offering them a copy in exchange for a review.
Q: You are a Peer Support Worker in the mental health sector. What does your job entail?
A: A Peer Support Worker (also known as a Lived Experience Worker) is someone with a lived experience pertaining to the field in which they work. So, for me, that means I support people with mental illness in their recovery, sort-of as the embodiment of what they can achieve. It doesn’t mean they have to aspire to be anything like me, or model their recovery like mine; everyone’s is different. My job is to show them that you can slip down to the depths of despair, but that there is always hope for a way back out. I’m very passionate about fighting (and eventually eliminating) the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Q: How did you end up getting the job?
A: Actually, a friend recommended it to me. I’d not heard of Peer Support Work before, so I had to Google it. I was like ‘I can make a LIVING out of my mental illness?!? Where so I sign?!?’ So, I applied for the job, knocked their socks off with my charisma and enthusiasm, and the rest was history. Sadly, a lot of people still don’t really know how to utilise the skill set of a Peer Worker properly, but the industry is slowly getting there.
Q: What has been your most frustrating work experience?
A: The most frustrating thing when working in Mental Health is when you come across people who are full of potential, but they can’t see it. As a worker, you can have all the strategies in the world in your tool kit, but all you can do is show people how to use them. Sometimes, they do, and you can guide them through the process, and they develop skills to better deal with their mental illness. Sometimes, they won’t try. Those are the days it’s hard to go home and feel like you’ve made a difference. But, as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but ain’t nobody gunna make that beast drink.
Q: What trends in literature do you like?
A: I’m really loving the bookish trend on Instagram. I was afraid that as the technological realm grew, people would be steadily less interested in physical books, until they were just a quaint memory. But there are so many users who are absolutely mad for books! They take these beautiful photos, post them and thousands of people love them! It gives me hope for the future.
Q: If a vampire came to you to be treated for his addiction to garlic, what would you do to help him?
A: Hm. Very interesting question… let’s imagine that this vampire is from a realm where garlic is harmful to him, but he loves it like a smoker loves that first ciggie in the morning. Let’s say his name is Logan. It would go something like this:
I was sitting on my chaise lounge with—as my Scottish friend would put it—my legs ‘in a basket’, sipping a too-hot black coffee, wincing each time. I heard the crunch of gravel as someone approached my front door, though there was a frantic, scattered quality to it and a hunched figure lurched past the window onto my porch. I put my coffee down as my visitor hammered on the door.
He threw the door open, but remained on the porch. He was red as a beet, and blistered. He hunkered under a blanket, clutching it, white-knuckled.
‘Well? You just gunna stand there? Waddaya want?’
‘You have to invite me in.’ His eyes darted.
‘No I don’t, and you know it.’
‘Yeah’ he shifted from foot to foot, ‘but I like the tradition.’
‘Are you kidding me?’
‘No… please… invite me in.’
‘Ugh. Fine.’ I waved my hand in a grandiose gesture across my living room. ‘You are cordially invited to entre my home, mister vampire.’
He sprang in, slammed the door and leaned against it, eyes closed, panting. I picked up my coffee again and took a sip; it burnt my lip. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Logan. Can we close the blinds please?’
‘Stay there.’ I got up, closed the blinds, fished a towel out of the linen closet and spread it on the couch. ‘Sit on that. I don’t want any blisters oozing on my couch.’
He grunted, shuffled over to the towel and sat. He studied the floor.
‘Well? What is it? I’m busy.’
‘I need help… your help… please.’
‘Yeah…’ he looked up, ‘I can’t stop… I love it.’
I felt my face scrunch up in distaste. ‘You serious?’
‘How long have you been a vampire?’
‘Why can’t you stop eating it?’
‘I’m Italian. My Mother cooks everything with it.’
‘You should be trying to wean yourself off human food, Logan. Surely you know that.’
‘I know, but she’ll be so sad if I stop eating her food.’
I rubbed my forehead and let out a long sigh. ‘Do you only eat it when she cooks it?’
He sat up straight, looked at me and let the blanket fall from his shoulders. He was covered in blisters, and most of his head was bald, featuring new and old scabs, amongst sparse clumps of hair.
‘Because it reminds me of my old life. I’m lonely.’ His eyes were a dull shade of green-grey, and he began to cry as I watched him.
‘Logan, you do know that garlic makes you so much more susceptible to sunlight, and it hinders your immune system. It’s going to take ages for those blisters to properly heal if you keep eating it, and going in the sun.
‘Where is your maker?’
‘He dumped me.’
‘Because I’m useless.’
I sighed. I was just getting used to living on my own, and enjoying my space. ‘You need to detox, Logan. Away from your Mother.’
‘I live with her.’
‘Not anymore. Down the hall, first door on the right. There’s a bed, and clean clothes in the cupboard. Towels are in the linen cupboard in the hallway. Have a cool shower, get dressed and then we can chat. You’ll be ok.’
Why are you helping me?’
‘Cos someone helped me. Now get in that shower, you reek of garlic.’
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.