Caleb Roehrig is a writer and television producer originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having also lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Helsinki, Finland, he has a chronic case of wanderlust, and can recommend the best sights to see on a shoestring budget in over thirty countries. A former actor, Roehrig has experience on both sides of the camera, with a résumé that includes appearances on film and TV—as well as seven years in the stranger-than-fiction salt mines of reality television. In the name of earning a paycheck, he has: hung around a frozen cornfield in his underwear, partied with an actual rock-star, chatted with a scandal-plagued politician, and been menaced by a disgruntled ostrich.
What’s a boy to do—in this YA paranormal romance—when his crush is a hot vampire with a mystery to solve?
The only thing August Pfeiffer hates more than algebra is living in a vampire town. Located at a nexus of mystical energy fields, Fulton Heights is practically an electromagnet for supernatural drama. And when a mysterious (and annoyingly hot) vampire boy arrives with a cryptic warning, Auggie suddenly finds himself at the center of it. An ancient and terrible power is returning to the earthly realm, and somehow Auggie seems to be the only one who can stop it.
Only Caleb Roehrig could refresh the vampire trope with a LGBTQ-themed mystery that is both romantic and thrilling.
Tell us 3 random things about you.
- I have double-jointed thumbs
- I’m a black belt in taekwondo
- I’ve seen a polar bear in the wild
On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
It differs, but usually around four to six hours! I try to set a daily word count goal, and how long it takes me to reach that depends on my concentration, stress levels, creativity flow, and so forth. If I haven’t reached my quota after about six hours, though, I take it as a sign that I need to quit for the day and try again the next.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure how interesting it is (sorry!) but I’d say my most significant quirk as a writer is that I have to write every manuscript from the beginning straight through to end—and I cannot let anyone see it until it’s done. Even working from a full outline, I can’t write scenes out of order, or skip parts that I’m struggling with and come back to them later. Only when every single scene is on the page, in detail and in order, can I go back and start fixing things that didn’t feel right; and only then am I comfortable letting anyone else take a look at it!
Can you share with us something about The Fell of Dark that isn’t in the blurb?
In addition to Auggie’s battle against an existential threat to humankind, this book includes: two vampire cults, a coven of powerful witches (who might also be X-Men,) a swashbuckling math tutor, a haunted doll, a statue made out of pinecones, a cameo appearance by Marie Antoinette, and lots and lots of kissing.
What was the inspiration for the story?
In 2019, I was invited to contribute a short story to an anthology titled OUT NOW: QUEER WE GO AGAIN (edited by Saundra Mitchell, it releases in May of this year!) and I chose to write about two boys hiding from a vampire invasion at a high school dance. I had so much fun with the characters, the tone, and the little universe I was building—a world where everybody knew about vampires, and found them to be totally annoying—that when I reached the end of it, I found I didn’t want to stop. So I pitched a full-length story idea to my editor at Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, and the rest is history!
What is the significance of the title?
The title comes from the first line of a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, in which the speaker wakes to “feel the fell of dark, not day.” It’s about depression and insomnia, but the mood he creates is one of almost palpable, growing dread, and it was the perfect fit for a paranormal story about a looming apocalypse.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Ha! Well. I suppose the main challenge is that, both as a writer and a reader, I gravitate towards contemporary fiction; so stepping outside my comfort zone to tackle a paranormal fantasy novel was trickier than I anticipated. One of my greatest inspirations as a storyteller is the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I just assumed that bringing my own perspective to familiar and beloved tropes would be a walk in the park. IT WAS NOT. It took me nine months to finish the first draft, which is incredibly long for me (I wrote my debut in about ten weeks,) but I couldn’t be prouder of the result.
If you had to describe The Fell of Dark in three words, what would those three words be?
Magic. Mayhem. Makeouts.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Okay, I am terrible at this game, but! Maybe Griffin Gluck as Auggie; Miles Heizer as Gunnar; Jordan Fisher as Jude; and Sophie Turner as Daphne!
If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?
The author who first truly made me want to become a published writer myself is Sue Grafton; and although she’s no longer with us, the one time I met her (at a signing for T IS FOR TRESPASS,) I did not get a chance to ask her any serious questions. If I could, though, I would want to know:
- How and when she decided to keep her long-running series of Kinsey Millhone novels set in the eighties, rather than having the time frame move forward concurrent with the books’ release dates, and what research she had to do to keep them historically accurate. (A IS FOR ALIBI was set in 1980 and published in 1980, so it was contemporary; but by the time she released M IS FOR MALICE—published in 1996, but set around 1985—her novels had already become historical fiction.)
- How she came up with what each letter stood for in the titles. (My mother and I read the series together, and at one point we tried to guess what all the forthcoming titles would be. We got them all wrong.)
- WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN IN Z IS FOR ZERO!?
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF