Elrod: You're a hard to locate dude!
Fleming: Oh, jeeze, it's YOU again.
Elrod: Yeah, and our mutual agent wants us to play nice together, so I'm going to interview you again.
Fleming: Okay, whatever she says. Her I like. What is it this time?
Elrod: You've got a new title releasing today, remember? People want to know about it.
Fleming: I said everything in the book, they can find out there.
Elrod: You're totally clueless about marketing and promotion, aren't you?
Fleming: What's that?
Elrod: Never mind.
Fleming: Hey, I'm just pulling your leg--
Elrod: You wish.
Fleming: I GOT promotion, ya dizzy dame. Click on this link and people can get a try before you buy sample of the book!
Elrod: Nice cover.
Elrod: Now tell me about the story.
Fleming: Okay, it's DARK ROAD RISING, and it picks up a few hours after the ending of the previous book, SONG IN THE DARK.
Elrod: Do people need to read that one first?
Fleming: They'll get more out of the story if they do, but I wouldn't go twisting anyone's arm over it.
Elrod: So what happens?
Fleming: Well, I have to keep an eye on this guy, Whitey Kroun. He's crazy as a bedbug and doesn't know it, and dangerous as hell, but it's that or--
Elrod: He's a vampire, too, right? Which is what makes him so dangerous.
Fleming: Huh? Oh, yeah, he is.
Elrod: But that's a BIG thing in the Vampire Files universe, isn't it?
Fleming: I suppose it is.
Elrod: You don't have a lot of vampires in the Vampire Files series. There's just you, and that guy, Jonathan Barrett, on Long Island, and now Kroun, and that's about IT.
Fleming: What do you want? Packs of vamps running around like tipsy Shriners on St. Patrick's day? We're a rare breed, and trust me, Kroun is his own one-vamp army. I had my hands full keeping tabs on him and those two creeps from New York who joined the party and ducking Shoe Coldfield, who heard about me and my partner having a donnybrook.
Elrod: Is THAT what you call it? You beat the crap out of poor Charles Escott!!!
Fleming: Pipe down, people are staring!
Elrod: YOU PUT HIM IN THE HOSPITAL, YOU--YOU-- [censored]!
Fleming: Yes, I did that but--
Elrod: Does he die? Did you kill Charles Escott??? Are you going to replace him with Whitey Kroun?!?!?
Fleming: That's--I mean to say--uhhh...NO COMMENT!
Elrod: (fuming) You--you--you--
Fleming: Here's a review copy, read the damn thing and see what happens!
Fleming: I'll even sign it for you, okay?
(Growling, Elrod slams the book on the table; Fleming signs it.)
Fleming: There, I even put in the smiley face with the little fangs. That's my trademark!
(Elrod is still growling as Bobbi Smythe walks up.)
Bobbi: Jack, what did you do to this poor woman!?
Fleming: Trust me, the dame can take care of herself. Elrod, this is my girlfriend, Bobbi Smythe. Bobbi--this is my editor, P.N. Elrod.
Bobbi: (Ominously) We've already met, Jack.
Fleming: Oh, yeah?
Elrod: (More ominously) In the ladies room.
Fleming: Oh. Uh.
Bobbi: That's right. I told her about poor Charles landing in the hospital. And then just when we needed you the most, YOU disappear!
Fleming: THAT wasn't my fault!
Elrod: Humph. Men.
Bobbi: You said it, sister. Men. Come down to the bar and I'll tell you ALL about this guy.
Elrod: Lead me to it. “If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” I stole that from Alice Roosevelt Longworth.
Bobbi: I met her once!
Elrod: Oh, cool! Tell me all about that, too!
Fleming: Hey, now, girls...hey, wait a minute. Ladies...? Ah...nuts. Women.
Kroun: Cripes, you do know how to annoy 'em, kid. You have a gift.
Fleming: You again?
Kroun: I was in the next booth and heard everything. You have got to learn how to handle females.
Fleming: I do all right.
Kroun: Yeah, that's why you're sitting up here with me and the only two skirts in the joint worth talking to are at the bar having a private hen session about your faults. You are your own worst enemy, Fleming.
Fleming: It's that Elrod dame, she gets my goat.
Kroun: TRY being nice, huh? I happen to know she's addicted to chocolate. Surprise her with a box of candy sometime.
Fleming: That would work?
Kroun: Couldn't hurt. Get one for your girl, too, so she won't be jealous. And take your hat off and stand up when you talk to a dame. They notice that stuff. And another thing...
Fleming: Oh, jeeze...
This is one of the easiest introductions I've ever done! If you look up "spitfire" in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll see a picture of P.N. Elrod. You might have to peel the warning label from the entry, but it will be worth it. P.N. Elrod is probably best known for her vampire noir series, The Vampire Files, which has been favorably compared to writings by Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammet. If you've ever read her work, you'll see why!
Pat Elrod tracked down vampire PI Jack Fleming from The Vampire Files at his night club, Lady Crymsyn, which is one of Chicago’s newest hot spots or at least it was in 1938. Through the magic of time travel, she found herself in Mr. Fleming’s favorite booth just before opening time.
Elrod: So, Jack, how long have you been a vampire?
Fleming: Hey, I was a perfectly normal human being for 36 years before I was bumped off, what about that?
Elrod: Uh, okay, so tell us about your human life.
Fleming: It was pretty much the same as what I’ve got now, just a different kind of drinking was involved.
Elrod: Yes, you mentioned in Cold Streets that you liked a tipple now and then.
Fleming: Don't sugarcoat it, Doll face, I was a drunk newsman. I was really good at both jobs, too.
Elrod: Doll face...!
Fleming: Don't get on your high horse, it's a compliment. I'm a man of my times.
Elrod: Clearly. Now about your life as a vampire...?
Fleming: Versus being a regular guy? Eh, it's not so different. I stay up late, but Chicago's got a lot of all-night movie shows. I miss stuff that goes on during the day like baseball. Reading about a game in the papers just isn’t the same as watching one. I miss a lot of my favorite radio shows, especially in the summer since the days are longer.
Elrod: You’re not at all active during the day?
Fleming: When the sun comes up, I’m dead to the world. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Elrod: How did you get to be a vampire?
Fleming: It’s a long story. I tell about some of it in Bloodlist.
Elrod: That would be your first book. You don’t give the whole story there?
Fleming: I give enough of it. I was pretty busy in Bloodlist. First I wake up dead on that beach, then I can’t remember how I got there or who had killed me. Then this guy hits me with his car--busy. Yanno?
Elrod: Busy. Got that.
Elrod: So—you’ve got a new book in The Vampire Files series coming out this September?
Elrod: She did. I think she liked it better than my books. You sure you didn’t hypnotize her?
Fleming: I’m taking the fifth.
Elrod: Anything else on the way?
Fleming: I’ve got a story in that thing you edited, Strange Brew. That’s coming this July. Escott and I solve the case of Hecate’s Golden Eye. I have a short work coming out this month called The Devil You Know. It’s strictly on the Q.T. One of those signed, numbered, limited edition things. It’s only going to be sold on the vampwriter.com website.
Elrod: Getting fancy, are you?
Fleming: I’m only bowing to the demands of my fans.
Elrod: Uh…YOUR fans?
Fleming: That's right, my fans. Next topic?
Elrod: What about your romantic life?
Fleming: Hey, a gentleman doesn't talk about things like that!
Elrod: Sorry, but many of the lady readers are...curious about how you go about things.
Fleming: They'll have to ask my girlfriend. She's never complained.
Elrod: That would be Miss Bobbi Smythe, the chanteuse?
Fleming: She's more than that—she sings, dances, acts, and can swing a blackjack better than Capone.
Elrod: I thought he favored baseball bats.
Fleming: She can swing one of those, too. Better believe it that I stay on her good side! Don't get me wrong, she's the best, I'm lucky to have her. What she sees in me I don't know, but I hope she keeps seeing it.
Elrod: There is also your human partner in your PI business, Charles Escott. He's originally from England and is now a private detective--
Fleming: Private agent. Don't call him a gumshoe, it puts him in a mood. He doesn't do divorce cases is all.
Elrod: I understand he was with you on your first case?
Fleming: Yeah, Bloodlist, the one where I solved my own murder. He was there all right. We got off to a rocky start when he stole my home earth, but what the hell, it all worked out in the end.
Elrod: What does he think of working with a vampire?
Fleming: You'll have to ask him. Why don't you ask me what it's like working with a human? Is there some kind of vampire bias going on here? I have a condition. Would you ask him what it was like to work with a diabetic if I had diabetes?
Elrod: Yes. I would.
Fleming: Oh. Uh. Okay.
Elrod: So what is it like working with Charles Escott? I understand he's a bit quirky.
Fleming: Quirky is an understatement, lady. He drives me nuts. It's bad enough he uses fifty words when ten will do, but he has absolutely no fear—especially when he should. I'm always having to haul him out of trouble.
Fleming: I know, I should talk. I’ll put it this way, we look out for each other, but neither of us makes it easy for the other guy. Then there's his pal, Shoe--
Elrod: That would be Shoe Coldfield who runs the largest African-American gang in what was then called Chicago's "Bronze Belt?"
Fleming: Big guy. Hates surprises. Has a right cross you don't ever wanna meet. He and Escott go way back. They used to be in a Canadian acting troupe--
Elrod: You're kidding!
Fleming: I've seen the posters. Escott's still got some of the company's theatrical gear, but don't talk to him about it. He's got bad memories from that time. I don't like to pry.
Elrod: The heck you don't! What about all that stuff in Dark Sleep?
Fleming: Okay, you got me on that, but go easy on the guy.
Elrod: I will. He's pretty hot. Lots of my friends think he's hotter than you.(note: interview continues in next post)
Elrod: Yeah, it's the accent. I could listen to him read the phone book.
Fleming: Be careful what you wish for, lady. I've heard him, and it don't do a thing for me. Probably just as well.
Elrod: Um...okay. Now as for the other member of your gang--
Elrod: Gordy Weems, known as "Northside Gordy." He's got a bit of a reputation as a member of Chicago's underworld.
Fleming: Which is like saying Capone ran a little distribution business for hooch.
Elrod: You've an odd sort of friendship with Gordy, though.
Fleming: Don't make it sound like that! People will get the wrong idea! But, yeah, Gordy and I have teamed up on a case. He knows everything that goes on in Chicago, and sometimes I help him convince a mug to play nice in the sandbox. Well, I used to, anyway. Not so much these days--uh--nights.
Elrod: Oh, yeah? What do you mean?
Fleming: Nah, I'm not going into that. You'd call it a spoiler. Has to do with what you'd call my "powers."
Elrod: Tell us about those.
Fleming: Jeez, take notes, why don'tcha?
Elrod: I am.
Fleming: What is that gizmo?
Elrod: It's a digital recorder.
Fleming: I thought it was a cigarette box, only I can smell that you don't smoke.
Elrod: Sensitive sense of smell, yes, go on.
Fleming: When I bother to breathe, that is. I like that perfume by the way.
Elrod: Oh. Thank you!
Fleming: You don't have to dump in on, though.
Fleming: It's okay, I don't mind.
Elrod: Back to your powers, wise-ass.
Fleming: Jeez, you make me out like I'm some kinda super guy, but it's part of the package when I woke up undead that night on the beach. I got the night vision and good hearing. And I figured out how to hypnotize people—which isn't polite, by the way—but the best one is being able to disappear.
Elrod: You turn into a mist?
Fleming: No I just vanish. Like this—
Elrod: YOW! WHERE ARE YOU?
Fleming: Right here.
Fleming: Calm down! It's no big deal.
Elrod: It sure as hell IS!
Fleming: I guess so. I've gotten used to it. Sure tires me out, though. I get hungry.
Fleming: Yeah, and you know what THAT means.
Elrod: Is that a trick question?
Fleming: Cool your motor, honey, you're safe. I'll just stop at the Stockyards and top off my tank before I turn in for the day.
Elrod: That's a relief.
Fleming: Not for the cows, and lemme tell you it is HELL on my shoes. Usually I vanish and float in, especially when it's muddy.
Elrod: Why don't you get some galoshes?
Elrod: You pull them on. They protect your shoes.
Fleming: I KNOW what they are, ya dizzy dame.
Elrod: Well, don't bite my head off!
Fleming: You should be so lucky.
Elrod: I’d rather have Escott.
Fleming: Hey—I heard that!
Elrod: We’re done here. Where’s Escott?
Fleming: He heard you were coming and hid behind the bar.
Escott: I most certainly did not. Ms. Elrod, I am Charles Escott. Please pay no attention to Mr. Fleming. I am delighted to finally make your acquaintance.
Elrod: Likewise, I’m sure. Golly, you’re taller in person.
Escott: And you’re far more charming than I was led to believe.
Elrod: Why, thank you!
Escott: I’m sure Jack has some bartending duties to occupy himself. Why don’t you and I go for a drive? It would be my very great pleasure to take you on a tour of some of the locations that have figured in The Vampire Files.
Elrod: Oh, that would be fantastic, Mr. Escott!
Escott: Please…call me Charles.
Fleming: Oh, jeez.