I’m really trying hard to to go all squeeing fan-girl here. Wanna know why? Adrienne Barbeau gave us a really awesome interview!!
You might know Adrienne Barbeau from films like The Fog, Swamp Thing, Escape from New York, and TV shows Dexter, Carnivale, and most recently, General Hospital. She’s done tons of voice work on cartoons, video games, and movies, and she’s continually adding to her resume!
Her first book There are Worst Things I Could Do released in 2007, and since then she’s published two vampire novels set in Hollywood (I LOVE them, and I don’t give out raving reviews often!).
Anyway, so we were offered the chance to talk to Ms. Barbeau a little bit about her life and her awesome varied career. I’m excited to be able to share this opportunity with all you faithful followers of Rites of Romance. Enjoy!
You’ve done so much in your life! You’ve starred in television, movies, voice-overs, musicals, and plays over the years. What made you decide to try your hand at writing?
It’s hard to explain without sounding like a nut case, but I’ll try. In 1998 I lost my best friend to breast cancer. She was a film editor and we’d met on the first day of pre-school for my older son, Cody. In 2002, on the first day of pre-school for my younger boys, I met a woman who looked just like my deceased friend. She was a film editor and she had breast cancer. It was such a bizarre occurrence that I asked her out for coffee to get to know her better. During our conversation, she mentioned a writing class she had attended. I knew immediately that I was supposed to take that class. I’d never written before, except for myself in a daily journal, and I’d never thought about writing for anyone else to read, but I believe my dead girlfriend was telling me that was what I was supposed to do next.
So, of all the things to write about, why did you choose vampires?
A female vampire gave me the opportunity to write the kind of character I’ve been playing in my acting career since I first did Rizzo in the original Broadway production of Grease. I tend to get cast as the strong, ballsy, take-no-prisoners kind of gal. What could be stronger than a vampire?
Are the characters in your books based on real people (other than the obvious!)?
There’s a lot of me in Ovsanna, or a lot of me the way I’d like to be. And of course, you’ll recognize Tom Atkins from all his film, television, and stage work. And I’ve got Orson Welles, and Charlie Chaplin, Tyrone Power, Mary Pickford and other stars as the Vampyres of Hollywood. As for the less obvious ‘roles’ – I think you could say yes. They say “write what you know” and what I know are the denizens of Hollywood, or their types, at least.
Did you find yourself doing a lot of research into the mythology of your villain, and the undead actors?
I did a lot of research when I was deciding which well-known actors would work as vampires. I wanted my choices to be as logical as possible. Since vampires don’t age much, well, mine don’t, at least, it wouldn’t work to use a famous actor who’d died in his seventies or eighties. And I read everything I could about vampire and werewolf mythology. I found myself thinking, “well, no, I can’t write that because a vampire only does such and such” – as if the encyclopedic information was scientifically based and not mythology!
So far, how does your writing career compare to your acting/singing career? Looking back, would you have started writing earlier in your career had you any idea how fun and productive it would be?
Well, acting comes easiest to me, probably because I’ve been doing it since I was 15. And I love it, I always will. Singing, not so much. I love to sing, but it definitely takes second place to acting. And once I started writing, all thoughts of performing my club act just disappeared. I’m not sure I think of writing as fun, but it’s satisfying, and a way for me to create on my own, without being dependent on anyone else to give me the opportunity.
Do you think the fans of your acting have and will follow your writing?
I hope so. I know when I see something written by someone I’m familiar with I’m more inclined to at least pick it up and read the inside cover. And when they find out it’s satirizing the movie industry, they might be more inclined to think I know what I’m talking about.
Do you think your roles in unusual shows like Dexter and Carnivale have inspired your writing? By the way, I loved Ruthie!
I loved Ruthie, too. What a fantastic role in a brilliant series. That was one of my all time favorite jobs, for so many reasons, not the least of which was the writing. And you’ll definitely find Ruthie’s influence in Love Bites. If it weren’t for Ruthie, I doubt SuzieQ would be a snake dancer. And Dick Nixon, her diamond back boa, is a dead ringer for the one I danced with in Carnivale.
You’ve earned the title of ‘scream queen’ over the years. Do your experiences in horror films reflect in your Vampyres of Hollywood series? How cool is it to know that horror greats like George Romero and Rob Zombie have read your Vampyres books and like them?
It’s incredibly cool! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to hear from George and Rob that they honestly loved the books! Remember, writing is a new journey for me and I truly didn’t know what the response to Love Bites would be. It’s the first novel I’ve written on my own and, although my memoir was a best-seller, writing fiction is a whole other animal. Rob was one of the first people to read Love Bites and when he raved over it, I began to believe that maybe I’d done okay.
And yes, since my lead vampire is a ‘scream queen’ in her daily life, you can be certain I drew shamelessly from my experiences in Hollywood.
How big of a thrill was it to see your first book hit the LA Times bestsellers list?
Right up there on par with giving birth to my three boys! Well, maybe a little less, but you get the idea.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
If I’m on a deadline, I write anywhere: at the beauty salon, riding in the car, by the hotel pool on a family vacation, and most often, sitting in my car in the parking lot of the soccer field while I’m waiting for my boys to finish practice.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is my biggest supporter. My kids could care less.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could do it at all!
Do you have any advice for other writers, both ‘newbies’ and old-hat?
I really don’t. I’m way too new at this to be telling anyone else what to do.
Can you tell us a little about your latest release or upcoming books? We’d love to hear what’s coming next!
I just joined the cast of General Hospital and I haven’t had a minute to settle down to think about what I might write next. A lot of people are asking for the third book in the series and I do love writing Ovsanna, so that’s a definite possibility. Maybe Vampyres of Daytime!