[Princess Pissant, the primal force behind the Another Day at the Office blog, has kindly given Noir Nation permission to republish a substantial part of her interview with noir zombie author Katrina Von Kessel. To follow Princess Pissant on Twitter click here. To follow Katrina Von Kessel click here.]
Today, PP has the rare honor of interviewing up-and-coming authoress Katrina Von Kessel, whose debut novel Blue Bloodbath, Princess Pissant has just wisely used a small fraction of all-the-time-in-the-world to read. And, about that, all Princess Pissant can say is: eat your heart out, Stephanie Meyer! (Or maybe your brains.) You lame gazillionaire with your hackneyed vampire-and-werewolf-meet-cute series . . .
Anyway, please join me in welcoming Katrina Von Kessel, author of Blue Bloodbath, to Another Day At The Office:
PP: Okay, full disclosure – Princess Pissant thought Katrina Von Kessel was the name of a porn star.
PP: Are you not a porn star?
KVK: It is true that my face is known in certain port towns on the Crimea. But no. I am Dutch. Which is, of course, a distinction without a difference. Actually, I’m only half-Dutch. The bottom half. My mother is American.
PP: Can PP call you KVK?
KVK: Bien sûr que oui.
PP: Okay then, KVK is not a well-known porn star, or so she claims; then are you also not that woman who Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock with? (PP cannot think of a way to avoid ending that question with a preposition.)
KVK: I only mingle with film stars when performing in film. Jesse James? Let’s just say, Jesse James wishes.
PP: Because – and here again, I have to be totally honest – while reading Blue Bloodbath, I was thinking, “This broad is one helluva writer . . . especially for a porn star . . . who may or may not be the woman with whom Jesse James cheated on Sandra Bullock.” (There we go.) Okay so Blue Bloodbath is an amazing book, and this is coming from someone who’s not even that into zombie fiction . . . Can you tell us where you got the idea of evil Blueblooded Bostonians turning people into zombies?
KVK: That’s very high praise coming from you, PP. Thank you. As to the idea, if you’ve ever eaten at the Ritz Grill, it’s really not too much of a stretch. All these hushed Brahmin types, intently focused on their bloody cuts of prime rib. The sound of their mastication – the chewing, ripping, churning and clicking of dentures as reddish blood splatters over the white china and buttery mashed potatoes. This was my first inspiration for the book. They used to have a harpist who played the Ritz Grill. She was a stunning & lively blonde as I recall – and I got the sense that all these Brahmin Undead wanted to feast upon her. My working title of the novel was actually called: Devouring the Harpist.
PP: Thank you for defining “mastication”; I was always told that was something that made you go blind. Anyway, are you a Blueblood yourself?
KVK: Actually, my granny – my father’s mother – has claims to some minor nobility. My father is a scientist who was in Paris in ’68. That’s where he met my mother, a Californian who was, well, in Paris in ’68. You get the picture. So, no. I’m European. And an anarchist. And a feminist. As well as being a woman of science. Not a blueblood by any stretch of the imagination. Plus, I live in London, where the idea of being a toff is utterly unbearable.
PP: A toff? Okay, never mind. PP will look that up later. Are you, perchance, a zombie?
KVK: I’m hungry for brains, it is true. I like to moan. I’m cold to the touch. And I was made in a test tube. So, in essence, yes.
PP: Blue Bloodbath takes an erotic and noir-ish – that’s a word, right? – twist on the age-old topic of class warfare; where do you think you fit into the brutally-stratified socioeconomic paradigm described in the book?
KVK: Thankfully, I’m nowhere: I was writing about a very specific sort of social segregation that I saw when I was in the States. And writing as well the very specific sorts of sex that you Americans are so fond of. Although I am a zombie, aren’t I? PP, please pass the brains.
PP: You are starting to creep me out, but okay: your biography describes you as a biophysicist and geneticist. Is the nefarious Dr. Shaw – who unleashes maleficent mayhem through a chemical formula intended to ensure the Bluebloods eternal youth and vitality – based on anyone you know professionally? If so, who is THAT asshole?
KVK: Sadly, my field is littered with righteously creative but complete dickwad misogynists. They are utterly brilliant men capable of the most porcine beliefs and actions. It’s a shame, really. Men of science get a pass, mostly, because they are so “important.” Yes, I was venting a bit of frustration on poor Dr. Shaw.
PP: Where did you come up with the idea for that crazy masturbatory machine? (PP is pretty sure that she would have seen something like that on Katie Morgan’s late night HBO program, Pornucopia, if PP ever watched anything like that, which she doesn’t.)
KVK: Necessity is the mother of invention. Just ask Catherine the Great (or her horse).
PP: PP could not help but notice that KVK writes her male characters VERY well – with a lot of realism and insight; is that because, as a scientist, you operate in a male-dominated profession?
KVK: Yes. Men. Well, they are fascinating specimens. Two notches above unspayed lab rats. I think women are naturally more curious about the psychology of men than vice versa. I also think testosterone is easier to capture without use of metaphor than estrogen: in other words, perfect for genre fiction. Enough said. I don’t want to go to PC prison for making inappropriate remarks.
PP: Anybody who reads PP is likely not PC. Further, very few people actually read PP. So consider yourself in a safe environment here at Another Day At The Office. Anyhoo,Blue Bloodbath is, on the one hand, a page-turner but, on the other, highly literary. Who are your literary influences?
KVK: Isak Dinesen, for one, who was an adventurer and brilliant writer: 7 Gothic Talesis my fave. Colette, of course. Jane Austen for telling men where they might well put it. Edith Wharton, the first feminist novelist. And, most of all, my heroine and the most famous of all Zombie porn stars – Maggie Thatcher.
PP: Is this your first book?
PP: Really? . . . Bitch. Okay, how long did it take you to write Blue Bloodbath?
KVK: I did it on a challenge from a male colleague. A zombie novel in six weeks. The rewrite took much longer when the publisher got a hold of it. Their nit-picking drove me crazy. It’s a bloody zombie novel, I wanted to yell. Eventually, I ate their brains.
PP: KVK also writes Boston very well. Have you ever lived in Boston?
KVK: Yes, I have. Beacon Hill is beautiful in the fall and Cambridge is beautiful in the spring. It was a formative time of my life. The Seven’s Pub on Charles Street was sort of my Cheers you could say.
PP: So, there are a lot of rugby players in your novel. Do you think there’s any correlation between ruggers and zombies? (Because I do.) Have you ever dated a rugby player? (I have.) Don’t you just hate their asinine misogynistic songs? How many times did you have to listen to your rugby-playing boyfriend sing those stupid-ass songs to get them just exactly right for Blue Bloodbath? (BTW, You have those guys NAILED.)
KVK: PP, you’re a better woman than I. I was related to a rugger by blood. Rugby players drink pee from a boot and zombies eat brain tissue from a cranium…they are really not so different.
PP: There’s a great deal of high quality literotica in Blue Bloodbath . . . PP LOVES that stuff . . . but it’s uncomfortable to read at, well, the Office. There should be some kind of warning. Just for future ref.
KVK: This is why BBB is on Kindle for now. No tawdry covers. Although I love a good bodice ripper Fabio style cover myself. My publishers were prudes. Next time I want to be published by a Crimean gangster or a Frenchman.
PP: Speaking of the future, will there be a sequel to Blue Bloodbath? PP can totally see this as a series.
KVK: There is. My roomful of lab monkeys is working on it right now! The title is…
PP: What’s next for KVK?
KVK: I’m preparing a monograph in a new discipline: Erotic-Artifactual Archeology. That and having a serious re-think on my current romantic entanglements.
PP: Have the movie rights been optioned yet? Who do you see playing Bizzy Dalton? (I love that name, BTW, and she’s a great character.) What about Trevor and Buzz? Dr. Edward Shaw? I, for one, can’t wait to see the scene where (SPOILER ALERT!!!) socialite Macie Shaw kills a zombie with a fire poker.
KVK: Bizzy Dalton? Who else but Meryl Streep, who just played my favorite zombie, Maggie Thatcher. Trevor and Buzz can only be Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two nice-looking, bi-sexual boys from Brookline. And Dr. Shaw: Christopher Plummer, of course, the Nazi from THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Oh, wait: Is he dead? If so, all the better!
PP: Is there anything KVK would like her readers to know about her, or her characters?
KVK: Blue Bloodbath is like the Beatles’ WHITE ALBUM. If you read the novel back to front, they’re really all nice people.
PP: Do you have a day job? If so, you should quit it.
KVK: I’m a professional student, unless of course I’m visiting a port town in the Crimea. Then I’m working.
PP: Do you ever work out of a Starbucks?
KVK: Once I accidentally went into a Starbucks. I assure you it never happened again. I certainly never composed “literature” there.
PP: Didn’t think so; just curious. Katrina Von Kessel, you rock; thank you for indulging your fan Princess Pissant with this interview. I, for one, cannot wait for your next book.
KVK: Thank you, PP: I am thoroughly charmed.
PP: Well, that’s it, for now, everyone. Everyone? Everyone?
PP is glad to be back in the saddle; and she cannot recommend Katrina Von Kessel’s brilliant novel Blue Bloodbath highly enough. She can provide you the link to check it out on Kindle . . .http://amzn.to/xdldbe