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A Long Time Dead: An Interview with Author Samara Breger

Intimacy and transformation are at the heart of Samara Breger’s new novel, A Long Time Dead. The Victorian-era romance follows Poppy, a newly-turned vampire, and the mysterious Roisin, who held her throughout those early, painful days of metamorphosis. The two quickly fall in love, but their opposing personalities, dark secrets, and the complexities of their world threaten their happily ever after. Beautifully written, full of Gothic angst, and unapologetically queer. A Long Time Dead is a fantastic addition to your reading list.

To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I was in girl scouts. I had to be like 7 or 8. I had just learned about swear words and I was very excited about them. Our activity that day was stamp collecting, and we were sorting through these big piles of stamps on our tables. I had already collected my Princess Diana memorial stamps, so I didn’t really care about the stamp pile. Instead, I focused on the troop moms meandering around the tables. I waited until they were all in earshot and I said, “Jesus Christ, I need that stamp!” All at once, they turned their heads and yelled, “Hey!” I felt a surprisingly potent rush of power that day. I still love swear words.

Tell us about A Long Time Dead and the story world you've created.

A Long Time Dead is a gothic romance featuring sapphic pining, spooky locales, and a good amount of humor thrown in. It takes place across several decades and several countries, all in 19th-century Europe. The focus is primarily on two vampires, one recently turned and one who is centuries old, trying to be together while destructive forces are tearing them apart. There is a diverse cast of characters, some really fun scenes, and a whole lot of blood.

What inspired the idea for your book?

The thing that really interests me about vampires is how they choose to spend their very long lives. What compels one to hole up in a creepy castle and another to go to high school over and over? In my opinion, everlasting life seems like an existential horror. I really wanted to play with the idea of vampires—famously unchanging creatures—being forced to change. That was what inspired my characters, and everything fell into place from there.

What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?

Writing a historical involves a lot of googling. It’s not just getting the big, obvious things right, like making sure historical events are in the correct order. It’s the minutiae. Being aware that the words “creepy” and “spooky” were in use in 1837, but not “yucky.” Figuring out where a Victorian lady might have purchased a dress or a stove or a sex toy. Learning about the makeup they used and what it smelled and tasted like. Now I know a bunch of fun facts!

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I’ve always wanted to write about queer women because I like us best. As for the gothic vampires, I just really love gothic literature. It’s so dark and dramatic and moody. Gothic vampires have long since made the jump from queer-coded to blatantly queer, so I’m not doing anything groundbreaking, I’m mostly happy to join the party already in progress.

What does literary success look like to you?

I try to keep it simple: it’s people reading and enjoying my books. If I were to dream big, it would be to have a waitlist for my books at local libraries.

Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?

Yes! I’m writing a Victorian spiritualist ghost romance, as well as a 19th century New York romance based on some very intriguing criminals. So far it has bar fights, river pirates, and hiding from the law.

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