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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A few questions with Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Seth Grahame-Smith made waves last year with his much talked about book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now he's back with another literary reinvention, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Drawing on the style of biographers like Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Grahame-Smith reconstructs the life of our sixteenth president to reveal the untold role that vampires have played in American history.

So many books have been written about Lincoln. Time magazine said that there are more books about him than any other American. Why do you think no one before you knew that he was vampire hunter?

No one had the same kind of access to the truth. As I explain in the book’s introduction, I got my hands on his secret journals. From those I learned that from the time that he was ten years old until his death, Lincoln was a vampire hunter. This is a story that is intertwined in the growth and near death of our nation. I guess it was lucky for me that I found his journals.

As I understand it, vampires killed Lincoln’s mother when he was nine years old, right?

He didn’t discover the cause of her affliction until after she died, but when he realized that his mother was killed by vampires, he swore vengeance.

So, what did he do? Did he just set out trying chop off vampire heads and put stakes through their hearts?

Well, in the early days – you see, there was a learning curve. He didn’t know how to find them or kill them at first. Then He met a vampire name Henry Sturges and was able to train with him. From Sturges, he learned everything about them. He learned their habits and became a skilled hunter

Why did he get involved in politics, then?

The two are intertwined. Abe, as he gets older, the more he learns about just how influential vampires are - even in our government. By 1830, 1840 they’ve cemented themselves as part of the fabric of America. He realizes that the only was he can win is to exert the kind of influence they do.

And that led him to match their political ambitions?

You have to fight power with power. He was just one vampire hunter, who could only kill so many vampires. As part of political machine, he would have that much more power.

Does this mean that the civil war was about vampires, too?

The civil war was really a conflict between two different camps of vampires. The union of vampires believed in coexisting with humans. They believed that they don’t have to enslave humans to live with them.

I don’t want to blow the ending or anything, but did a vampire kill Lincoln, too?

John Wilkes Booth did kill Lincoln but his motives, as I learned, are different from what we thought before.

Seth Grahame-Smith will read at the Atlanta History Center on Wed., March 17 at 7 pm.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Grand Central Publishing. $21.99. 352 pp

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