Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest: Jon F Merz

It's sort of been Jon F Merz week here at VampChix, and with good reason.  Jon's latest is an exciting action/adventure vampire novel that I'm sure you'll all want to check out.  We reviewed it in the below post, so do keep on reading to find out a little more about the story.  Jon is giving away a copy of THE KENSEI to one lucky commenter, so show him some love in the comments!  Now here's Jon...

Another Vampire Novel?

I know, I know...yes, THE KENSEI, my latest novel out this past week from St. Martin's Press is another vampire novel.  But it's also unlike any other vampire novel you've read before.

But let me back up and explain: from a very early age, I've had this love/hate thing with vampires.  The very first nightmare I can ever recall was of The Count from Sesame Street.  I was feverish, woke up in the middle of the night screaming my lungs out.  I was maybe three years old?  Four?  I can't recall the exact age, but from that moment on, I was fascinated with vampires.  They scared the hell out of me, but I was drawn to their power and what they represented. 

Growing up, I studied the legends, read the books, watched the movies ('Salem's Lot, believe it or not, was one of my favorites).  And throughout it all, I spent a lot of time wondering if they could be real.  Was there a way for these creatures to exist among the rest of us.  The question never found an answer, per se, until I started writing.

In about 2000, I wrote a short story called "Past Imperfect," that combined my love of espionage thrillers with the short horror stories I enjoyed reading.  It was a classic case of the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial with the whole "you got your espionage on my horror, you got your horror on my espionage."  But I dug the story, the character, and the idea of what it could represent.  So did the people who read it over on  And they all thought it should be a novel.

I debated.  There was already a glut of vampire novels on the market.  Did there really need to be another one?  And all of those novels seemed to cover pretty much every aspect of the mythos that there was.  What was I going to bring to the genre that was different?

The question that had haunted me growing up - whether or not vampires could exist alongside humans - came back around.  I recalled reading about early humans drinking the blood of mighty animals they'd slain thinking it would give them the beast's powers.  What if, I thought, there was a race of early humans that hunted other humans and drank their blood?

All right, maybe.  But what was it about the blood that they needed?  From my study of martial arts and East Asian philosophy, I decided that drinking the blood enabled them to extract the life force energy (ki in Japanese, chi in Chinese) and gave them better-than-average strength, a lot of immunity, and the ability to live longer than normal humans.

I felt I was on to something.  My main character, Lawson, was a Fixer - part-spy, part-commando, destined from birth to defend his people and protect the Balance - the secret existence of a race of living vampires.

From there, it was off to the races.  Lawson's Fixer Service became a fully-fleshed out organization modeled on human covert operations agencies.  My own background gave me the experience and ability to make Lawson's world and his espionage activities extremely realistic.  And my almost thirty years of martial arts experience enabled me to create fight scenes that literally exploded off the page.

I was intrigued at what Lawson could do for the genre.  But my first publisher mishandled the series and the result was that after four books, Lawson was homeless.  I still believed that he could be great and so I kept looking for a new house and a new editor who got what he was and what he could do.

Fast forward to late-2009 and I struck pay dirt with Daniela Rapp at St. Martin's Press.  She fell in love with the series and knew what to do with Lawson.  After an eight year hiatus, Lawson returned to stores this past week in his 5th installment, THE KENSEI.  Given the absurd amount of time that has passed, we made sure reading books 1-4 is completely unnecessary.  THE KENSEI is a complete standalone novel.  And if sales of it are good enough, the first four books will be reissued (with some much-needed editorial revisions!) along with more installments besides.

Along with that, I've launched a production company with one of my best friends, Jaime Hassett to bring Lawson to the small screen with THE FIXER TV series.  We begin shooting the pilot in the next few months and the cast we've assembled is fantastic.  I'm looking forward to Lawson finally getting out there in the way I always believed he should.

My favorite part about writing a vampire series is that Lawson is the antithesis of what you'd expect in a typical vampire tale.  He hates drinking blood; he's morally conflicted about his job and the society he's a member of; and his brand of sarcasm is without peer.  As others have said, he truly is James Bond with fangs.

If you haven't experienced Lawson before, I invite you to check out a free short story, INTERLUDE, over on my website.  And I'm also running a free serialized Lawson adventure throughout 2011 in the pages of my newsletter, which you can also sign up for on my website at

I hope you'll also come join me over on Facebook and Twitter.

I'm holding a special giveaway for those who purchase THE KENSEI.  Simply forward your receipt to me here: and you get a chance to win the sword we used in the book trailer for THE KENSEI.

Finally, I'm giving away a signed copy of THE KENSEI to one lucky winner here at  Simply leave me a comment or question below and someone will win a free, personalized copy of the book!
Thanks for reading - I sincerely appreciate your interest in Lawson and his world.

Best wishes to all,


Derek Tatum said...

It's very strange — yet very cool — to see a series resurrection like this. I think the initial run of Lawson novels were ahead of the curve. Now that the curve has caught up, it is cool that Merz is getting a second chance with this series.

mariska said...

I'm following you and your book around the blogs :)
I'm sold with the reviews. It's a unique vampire story, and i would be very happy to read it !

uniquas at ymail dot com

Teril said...

I loved the trailer and with all the great reviews on it out on the net I cannot wait to pick up a copy.
terilhack at gmail dot com

buddyt said...

I am an International entry, so I hope the giveaway is open worldwide.

I think I have overdosed on vampire/werewolf novels of late but this does sound like something a little different.

I was unaware of the author or his earlier books but his background and knowledge of eastern customs does attract me.

I would like to give the book a read and if it clicks with me, perhaps I can find copies of the earlier books somewhere.

Thanks for the giveaway.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

SandyG265 said...

I've never read a book set in Japan.

sgiden at

Anonymous said...


THE KENSEI is jam packed with fast paced, nonstop action. From the inner workings of Japan's underworld Yakuza, to the blackbelt martial arts visuals, this book has the reader mesmirized from cover to cover. Vampires, humans, organ trafficking, and a little bit of romance provide a balanced mixture of pure entertainment!

Barb said...

I do follow you on twitter just picked it up. I cant wait to read it <3 vampire books. Keep them coming.

Sidney said...

Great cover, interesting concept.

Ron Earl Phillips said...

Good luck with the relaunch of Lawson. Look forward to reading this soon.

tetewa said...

Vampire reads are my favorites and I'm always looking for new authors and their takes on them!

Rain Maiden said...

James Bond with fangs....I'm so there. This looks like something fresh to read. Thanks for stoping by.

Karen in TN said...

Hi Jon,

Would love to get a copy of Kensei

BethBurrowPhotography said...

Hey Jon, I just want to say that I LOVE your work! The one liners are awesome. You make reading a joy and I thank you for that!

Jon F. Merz said...

Just wanted to chime in and say thanks so much for all the great comments. I really appreciate them!

The first four Lawson books will be up on Amazon as ebooks toward the end of the week. I just announced this on a radio show interview, so I wanted to let you all know as well. if you haven't read them, you'll soon be able to.

Thanks again!

Jami Gold said...

Wow, great interview! I'd heard this was the 5th book in the series, but that detail makes sense now. I hope to check this out! Thanks!

skyla11377 said...

Loved the interview. After reading it I went and read the review. I can now say this book will be added to my to be read pile. I love all Vampire stories so I can not wait to get my hands on a copy. I would so love to be entered for a chance to win this book. Are the first 4 books out in paper back or is it just going to be e-book format?


Jon F. Merz said...

For right now, books 1-4 will only be available as ebooks. It really depends on what St. Martin's wants to do next. If they make a good offer for the print rights, I'll probably take it, otherwise I may bring them out myself in a few months in paperback. If The Kensei sells through the roof, there might be a lot of stuff happening around the series (well, there is anyway, but...)

Thanks again for the great comments and questions! You guys rock!

Lil said...

Hi Jon,

I read the review for THE KINSEI in the previous blog post and have been intrigued. Your series sounds really exciting.

FredTownWard said...

Frankly, I feared becoming vampired out, but this concept truly intrigues. Normally I'm leery of starting any series in the middle, but reassurances that reading the first 4 books is not required, have alleviated my worries on that score.

If I win it, I shall review it on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jon,

All I can say is wow! I'm loving this book! It's so hard to put it down and deal with life. Not done yet but I know it has it's place with my favourites and will be revisited often. Great Job!

Sarah said...

This sounds really interesting! I'm definitely going to pick up a copy. I love how this blog keeps turning me on to new books. Good luck with the rebirth of your series!