FACETIME- Revamping horror: Acevedo explains his X-rated bloodsuckers
Like most neophyte fiction writers, Mario Acevedo weathered his share of rejection slips. When his first "action/historical thrillers" found no takers, "I decided to write the most ridiculous story I could think of: a vampire detective investigates an outbreak of nymphomania at a nuclear weapons plant," he says.
"That premise got me a three-book deal," he beams.
And so began the fictional exploits of vampire PI/Desert Storm vet Felix Gomez, capped off with some of the most marvelously lurid titles this side of a '70s flea-trap grindhouse theater: Jailbait Zombie, The Undead Kama Sutra, X-Rated Blood Suckers, and The Nymphos of Rocky Flats.
"The titles are my brand," Acevedo, 53, explains. "Some people have told me that if they're on a bus or an airplane, they hide the covers. Others flash the covers with abandon.
"If they want to flash something else as well," he adds, "so much the better."
Backing up his berserk titles are equally wild and salacious plots and characters that, according to his peers, transcend current genre barriers.
"Both Mario and his riotous Felix Gomez vampire series are a unique and welcome injection into a genre primarily composed of vampires, so that tells you something," says Mark Henry, author of the zombie comedy, Road Trip of the Living Dead. "He's both hilarious and filthy, yet somehow manages to be charming. As soon as I figure out how, I'll steal his shtick and bottle it."
His novels' trademark wildness aside, Acevedo's vampire hero is Chicano, which gives horror fiction a new face, similar to what director Robert "From Dusk Till Dawn" Rodriguez has done in recent horror cinema.
"I figured that since Chicanos are overly represented as criminals and riff-raff, having them portrayed as the bloodsucking undead is a step up the social ladder," Acevedo quips.
But such alterations in an ever-shifting genre like horror aren't the least bit unusual, he says. "The genre encompassing vampires (and zombies, succubi, etc.) has evolved into something beyond the scope of traditional horror– which I define as meaning to creep you out. In many modern supernatural stories– such as mine– the vampire may be a bloodsucking killer, but he's still the good guy.
"And," Acevedo notes, "he's got supernatural mojo."
Aside from their immense, perennial popularity, what's Acevedo's attraction to vampires?
"I lost a debt with a grand master of ancient Chinese magic," Acevedo deadpans. "It was either write about vampires or be turned into a turtle. And turtle soup was on the menu."
What more can we say? Anne Rice, eat (or stake) your heart out.
Mario Acevedo will be on a panel of horror writers, "The Quick and the Undead: Vampires," at 2pm Saturday, March 21, at the Albemarle County Office Building.