A while back I had the chance to review Trevor Munson's excellent vampire noir Angel Of Vengeance, the inspiration for the CBS show Moonlight, which Munson co-created and served as writer and executive producer on. Although the show was short lived, despite a large and vocal fan following, his characters have found new life with the release of the novel, a grittier and more violent portrayal which eschews the romantic angle of the show for a hard boiled detective yarn with a decidedly undead twist.
I really appreciate that. I read the review and have to say, it was one of my favorites to date.
As for continuing the story, I’d definitely like to write two or three sequels to the Mick Angel story. Unfortunately, I only retained the rights to my initial novel, so I’m currently in the process of seeking permission from the powers that be to write sequels. If all goes well, I’d like to get started on a follow-up to “Angel of Vengeance” sometime in the next year which I’ve tentatively titled “Guardian Angel”.
At this point I haven’t really done too much planning future stories or characters. It would be too heartbreaking to have done it, and then to find out I couldn’t write it. However, that said, the genesis for the Mick/Beth romance in the show, originated from an idea I had for a follow-up novel in which Mick watches over the little girl he saved from Coraline, and ultimately finds himself engaged in a romance with her as an adult. Since that was the plan all along, I’d potentially like to explore that relationship in the context of the novel’s darker, edgier world.
In many ways, the show and the book are very different creatures. The book is a far grittier world, but many of the themes of addiction, transcendence, and redemption that motivate both versions of Mick are the much the same. Part of turning into a vampire is turning into a greater predator. As a result, both Micks are loners who hate what they are and want nothing more than to reconnect with their lost humanity. Both versions miss the emotions, senses and feelings from when they were alive.
The main difference for me, is that Mick St. John has Beth in his life. Because he saved her from, and chose her over Coraline, Beth now serves as a sort of lifeline to Mick’s lost humanity. She is the only one Mick has ever met who allows him to feel similar to how he did when he was alive, and despite it’s inherent difficulties, this relationship gives him hope for the future. In contrast, Mick Angel at least in this first book, has no Beth, and is far more cynical and despondent about his situation.
Admittedly, in the first novel, Mick’s world is relatively contained and focused. I felt that worked for a noir PI novel where the private dick stumbles across the things, people, and events that the clues lead him to. However, if I get to write sequels I’d like to expand his worldview to some degree, particularly in how it pertains to his knowledge of the vampire underworld, but as to exactly what that will mean, or how it will play out, I haven’t decided yet.
My basic approach in redefining classic vampire lore in writing my novel was to attempt to “noirify” (not a word) the mythology. In general, I wanted recreate the rules to reflect the themes I saw repeated over and over in noir storytelling. This is why I had Mick take his blood with a needle, sleep in a freezer to stave off his slow decomposition, and see the world in only black-and-white-and-red.
Beyond that, there were definitely some other works that strongly influenced my work. Although not a vampire tale, the movie “Angelheart” was one them. Anyone one who’s seen the movie will probably not have to look far to notice some distinct similarities to certain aspects of the story that unfolds in my novel. (P.S. It’s no accident that my characters’ first name is Mick, or his last name Angel...)
Another personal favorite vampire movie and influence is “The Lost Boys”. I saw it three times in the theater the summer it came out. Equal parts scary, fun, and funny, it was the one that initially sparked my interest in vampires, and made me want to write something in the genre one day. I watched it again recently and it still holds up.
After finishing the manuscript, I decided the best route to publication for “Angel of Vengeance” was to return to my Hollywood roots by adapting the finished manuscript into a feature screenplay, and work backwards to publishing the novel.
At one point in the process, a potential movie version was looking like a possibility. At the same time CBS began showing interest in turning the novel into a show, there was also interest from a major A-list actor to portray a movie version of Mick Angel. In the end I was convinced by those I trusted that because of the greater involvement and control TV writers have over their material, that exploring the idea of creating a television show was the way to go. The result was that I was paired with Ron Koslow (Beauty and the Beast) to create a CBS pilot based on my book for the 2006 development season.
A HBO version would have been interesting to see, but from the start, the interest was from CBS. To their credit, the execs there were intrigued with the idea of creating a vampire show on their network. They loved my main character and the idea of blending a detective franchise with the vampire world, but they wanted the show feel more contemporary and elegant as well as have a strong romantic angle, so that’s what Ron and I attempted to give them.
Understandably, it being my first time in the television world, I didn’t have the kind of creative control I would have liked. The show went through several different show-runners in the course of it’s one season. If I had more control, I’m sure I would have done some things differently, but I knew going in, that because the of the dark and gritty world of the novel, things would have to change in order to create something palatable enough to air on CBS.
On the whole, however, being a part of bringing “Moonlight” to life, and seeing the effect it had on the loyal fans who supported and loved it was a great experience.
I think the show could have potentially run for a long time. Ron and I had a lot different ideas for on-going stories and character arcs, but no specific plans. Our general vision for the show from the start was to tap into the long histories of characters such as Josef and Coraline in order to sort of “time travel”, and learn more about them by bringing elements of their pasts into the present.
In broader terms, over the long course of the series, we had hoped to eventually bring the question of whether or not Mick would turn Beth to a slow boil before ultimately answering it.
I’m currently developing a new pilot for Sony television along with my co-creator and friend Scott Satenspiel. At present we don’t have a title, but the show is best described as a paranormal “Criminal Minds”.