Q & A with Jerry L. Wheeler
Today, I welcome to the page renowned editor, author, audiobook narrator, and all-around queer lit mensch, Jerry L. Wheeler. The author of the vampire novel Pangs, out now from Queer Space, a Rebel Satori Press imprint, Jerry is also the editor of many short story collections and many novels including three of mine. I cornered Jerry for a quick Q&A about Pangs, vampires, and all things that fuel his creative brain.
Congratulations on Pangs! What was your ‘elevator pitch’ for the novel?
I’d known Sven at Rebel Satori Press for years, so when I fired my previous publisher, we were commiserating, and I asked if he wanted to see Pangs, which I had been preparing for a while. He asked what it was about, and I said “talent vampires.” The next thing I knew, he was asking me to send it in. Those two words together are very intriguing.
We’ve seen vampires feed on all kinds of things over the years, from blood to dreams. Where did your idea of vampires who feed on talent come from?
My love of music and utter lack of anything approaching skill at it.
We were all saddened by Anne Rice’s passing last year. She was a big influence on me as she was on many. How about yourself, and who else’s vampires influenced you in writing Pangs?
When I was growing up, I was already well acquainted with vampire lit, so the subject was sort of old hat by then. However, I could see Rice was revamping (see what I did there?) the genre, and it was about to experience a resurgence. There’s a lot of Lestat in Warner, but there’s an equal amount of Christopher Lee, whom I always see as Warner in the movie in my mind.
I love a good dance between a protagonist with a conscience and a lover or confidante without one. What made you want to explore that in Pangs?
From tales of knighthood on down, the idea of a moral code for beings who must kill for whatever reason has always fascinated me. And since I was creating a being who was not strictly a vampire, I could mix ‘n’ match traits and attributes at my discretion. That came in handy.
You’ve edited countless short story collections and almost as many novels including three of mine. How do writing and editing interplay for you, and how do you approach editing your own work before submitting it, having that skill set?
I’m not of the “get it down and hone it later” school. I pretty much edit it in my head before it goes down on the page. Once it’s there, I don’t change it fundamentally in rewrites. I’ll tinker with it, but not much. I always like to say I write slowly, but I write for keeps. Once it’s submitted, I’m inclined to listen closely to my editor because I’m too intimate with the material, unless the advice sounds wonky to me. And I’ve been doing it long enough to feel that.
Finally, if you were a vampire and could choose what you feed on, what would it be and why?
Blood, of course. It’s convenient, sustainable, and comes in four delicious flavors. Call me a traditionalist.