Raymond Villareal is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas School of Law. His debut novel, A People’s History of the Vampire Rising, is the storyof what happens when society is completely upended, revealing the true nature of humanity. The film rights have already been optioned by Hollywood.

Stay Thirsty Magazine had the opportunity to visit with Raymond Villareal at his home in San Antonio, Texas, where he writes and practices law, to discuss his first book.

STAY THIRSTY: In your debut novel, A People’s History of the Vampire Rising, you chronicle the terrifying aftermath of a global vampire uprising. How did you arrive at this story for your first book and where did your fascination with vampires come from?

RAYMOND VILLAREAL: A love of vampire books and vampires! I’ve been into vampires ever since I was a child eating Count Chocula cereal. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, I always wanted to approach that genre with something different. I can’t compare mine to those extraordinary books but I wanted to do something meaningful like those novels within the context of how we view people different from us.

STAY THIRSTY: You use a disease, a virus, as the mechanism that spreads an epidemic of vampirism. Pandemics are always a concern where disease can be transported worldwide in just a matter of days. Was your purpose to terrorize your readers or to instruct them?

RAYMOND VILLAREAL: I found that in order to keep the story more based in reality than mythology, a virus would be the best way to represent the spread of vampirism. And I thought it would keep the terror in the forefront because I believe all of us fear disease and how it is spread especially every year when flu season starts up again.

STAY THIRSTY: Is vampirism another way for you to remark on the global spread of nationalism and nativism that is showing up in political elections all over the world? Does the eventual domination by vampires represent a coming new political reality to you?

RAYMOND VILLAREAL: I think vampires and the concept of a virus that changes humans are great metaphors for how we view those of us who do not resemble the majority. There are many segments of our population that are different from us and how do we view them? As enemies or something new to understand? I wanted to stay away from the mythology and focus on what would happen if a new species was created. How would our current laws adapt to something so different to us. How would the court system? Do we seek to destroy or coexist? I think all segments of the population fear being dominated by another segment.

Raymond Villareal

STAY THIRSTY: Why do people keep reading books that scare the hell out of them?

RAYMOND VILLAREAL: I wish I knew! Why do I keep scaring myself reading these books?! I think people love to put themselves in dangerous situations and the safest way to do that is through a novel. It’s a great escape from reality.

STAY THIRSTY: Are the institutions of government and social order that have flourished since World War II at risk of being torn down in the next few years? As an attorney, do you see the possibility of a world that is no longer guided by reason but by authoritarian figures that no longer require lawyers?

RAYMOND VILLAREAL: I believe that there is a risk of governments engaging in activities that do not follow the rule of law flourishing in many democratic countries. As an attorney, I have always believed that the courts were a necessary institution of defense to ensure that laws protecting citizens could not be ignored or defied by authoritarian figures in and out of government. And I do fear that people in power are no longer being guided by reason but by other motives that ignore what is right and what is wrong but are guided by the pursuit of power and wealth. But I am also hopeful that these figures and their actions come and go at times in history and are normally replaced by people who want to see a more open and just society.


All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.