You walk down the lonely path late at night and it feels all too familiar. Maybe you have been here before. Maybe you haven’t. That doesn’t really matter. What does matter to you at this precise moment is that an all-too familiar sense of déjà vu envelops you even as the wind, soft yet determined, whispers solemnly to you that you are in a nightmare. “And nothing is worse than a nightmare – except one you can’t wake up from…”
The above line is, more or less, from the pilot episode of the cult FOX horror-fest, Werewolf, which ran from 1987-’88 before succumbing to low ratings. Werewolf dealt with an average Joe named Eric Cord who is bitten by a werewolf. Quicker than you can shout out Incredible Hulk Redux, Eric sets out on a trek across country to find and kill the original werewolf that began his bloodline, the only way he knows to lift the werewolf curse from his shoulders.
A show which garnered a similarly passionate fan-base was the short lived CBS/USA Network show Forever Knight. This particular ditty involved a tortured vampire by the name of Nick Knight, a veeery old vampire who also happens to work as a homicide detective.
Author Daniel Haynes, long a devout Werewolf and Forever Knight aficionado, refused to allow these two shows to go gently into that good night and, in a mashup worthy of Universal’s Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, set about reviving the two fan favorites into a two book saga entitled Brothers of the Bite and Brothers of the Bite 2. The result for anyone fortunate enough to read the epic storyline was nothing short of dynamic, chilling and captivating. The one caveat? Despite years of diligently pounding on doors and attempting to locate a publisher, the books remain a well-kept and unpublished secret, bereft of an actual distributor to call home. In a sense, the books have become the literary equivalent of an underground club or a really cool bootleg album: Difficult to track down but worth the effort in spades.
In attempting to explain why such an achievement has failed to garner the attention of the various and sundry publishing houses, I decided to kick off a new series of articles about overlooked and neglected gems in the world of film, music, television, comics and literature, the latter of which Brothers of the Bite absolutely qualifies as. Not that I don’t have a dog in this particular race: I’m currently writing a full-fledged book of my own about the making of Werewolf. As a big fan who always wondered what became story-wise of such bonkers Frank Lupo created characters as Eric Cord, Alamo Joe, Janos Skorzeny and Nicolas Remy, Daniel’s two books were the equivalent to me of the Golden Menorah or a long lost Biblical scripture.
I caught up recently with Daniel Haynes to get his take on the success and tribulations of his writing endeavors. Along the way, too, perhaps a little light might be gleaned on just why these two books have remained unpublished and one of the best kept secrets of the horror genre.
VENTS: Tell readers why Werewolf and Forever Knight are so important to you that you decided to continue these fictional worlds in your own writings.
Daniel Haynes: Like thousands of other fans of both series, I simply did NOT want them to end. I felt like there were still FAR too many storylines yet to be discovered for both series and I wanted to expand on them. The characters were/are far too interesting to simply let fade away and, honestly, I feel that the genre has only been relatively recently examined with any sense of serious regard by film and television programming producers, since the end of these two iconic shows.
I would also like to add that I wanted to introduce these beloved shows and characters to today’s generation who never had the privilege of discovering these wonderful gems and the care used to bring them to life, during a time when the genre was mostly portrayed as satire.
VENTS: About how long did it take you to complete your books?
DH: Combined, they were the culmination of a little more than 11+ years of rewrites, plot discoveries, creating additional characters (for pacing and plot advancement) and reviewing the various television episodes for continuity and callback scenes for reference. I wanted to keep the feel of both shows, which required paying close attention to the pacing and run times of the episodes. The original staff writers did a superb job with the time constraints and television codes they had to work with.
VENTS: Tell me about some of the trials and tribulations you have had to undergo while working on these books.
DH: (laughing) Probably the most trying was the proper spelling of one of the character’s name. I also worried about writing scenes and plotlines that hardcore fans might have difficulty accepting for some of their most beloved characters’ story arcs. Otherwise, it was simply trying to prevent writing myself into a timeline “corner” I had to allow for when the shows actually aired and how that time period might have affected certain characters’ (mortal) ages and appearance in conjunction with the advancement of the immortal characters’ personal growth. I fear I may have slipped up in that regard, in one instance, but I also believe that it was an oversight that could easily be missed. That said, the only other challenges were the creation of the additional main characters, their backstorys and their connections to the main established characters. Then there was the naming process of these new characters. A lot of fun, but I had to remain loyal to the fans’ reception of the original characters and create characters that would be equally well received and acceptable to these same fans as belonging to this established beloved universe. Another trial was using restraint to keep from rushing through a chapter, or two, to get to a scene I am excitedly anticipating to write, as I usually prefer writing chronologically, although I have skipped ahead once or twice.
VENTS: Same coin, different side: Tell me about some of the great memories that you associate with the writing of your books.
DH: Oh, that’s easy. Creating scenes where various characters of one series first meet and interact with the characters of the other. It often allows for the insertion of humor, during dialogue exchange, and the opportunity for character personalities to play off each other. I also enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and writing very uncomfortable scenes of heartache and some of risque’ adult content, necessary to progress my particular story.
VENTS: Can you walk us through some of the strategies you’ve used in order to get your work recognized?
DH: Basically, I shamelessly self-promote my work through social media, namely Facebook. I’ve joined fan clubs of both WEREWOLF and FOREVER KNIGHT and promote these sites as I am a genuine fan of both series and love interacting with my fellow fans. I also have shared my novels with a very select few of my Facebook friends and have allowed word of mouth to do its work. I have also shared brief snippets of my books on Facebook to give people a small sample of my writing prowess and to generate renewed interest in these television series. And, of course, there was that great article, review and interview that you wrote, which has garnished the attention of many people who could quite possibly advance my pursuit of recognition.
VENTS: What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
DH: I am currently writing scene notes and dialogue for the third installment of my BROTHERS OF THE BITE crossover series. I am doing the same for a project I began years ago as a fanfiction continuation of the 2010 reboot “The Wolfman”, which was coming along very nicely before I rededicated my attention to the first BOTB novel and also my first original work of fiction entitled ” Legend of Wolf Hills” (at the insistence of a firm that almost published that piece of work). I have also formulated a working storyline for a modern day reboot of the original 1941 “The Wolf Man”, although calling more upon Curt Siodmak’s FIRST interpretation of the script (I even have the perfect cast for it). My more ambitious wish list includes reviving the interest in Universal Studios dormant Dark Universe series. I also have original works that I’ve begun, a few years ago, but haven’t yet returned to; mostly concerning the cryptid phenomena with fictional storylines. I would also like to write a workable script for an actor friend of mine who mostly appears in independent films. ~ I currently am without a computer and am proceeding in longhand with all of these projects.
VENTS: About what time every day do you begin your writing process?
DH: Although I maintain no set aside time frame for my writing, I normally prefer to write during the deep night hours.
VENTS: Do you have any odd sort of routine with your writing? i.e. Do you drink from a lucky mug or wear a particular sweater or hat while writing? We writers can be such oddballs (I know I am, at least)!
DH: Truthfully, I prefer almost absolute silence when I write as I deeply immerse myself in the tales I’m writing and get so entertained that I can lose myself for hours. Difficult now that I have a roommate (an old Army buddy) who is a lady that is the polar opposite of me and we are currently compelled to take up residence in a shared motel room. In this situation, I find that inserting my earbuds in my phone and dialing up extended thunderstorm sound effects on YouTube provides an acceptable alternative. I also usually crack open a tall beer, which I sip on for hours. And an absolute must for me, going back to the second grade (as I’ve been a chronic daydreamer since then), is to have about an 8-inch length of keychain or ceiling fan chain that I can worry between my fingers to manipulate the action of the characters in my mind’s eye. As a kid, I usually used rubber bands, but later found that keychains offered more fluidity which in turn give my visions a more realistic since of animation.
VENTS: You’ve written some brilliant things and the chief consensus is that your Werewolf-Forever Knight mashup is nothing short of inspired and deftly handled. Is there any sort of frustration on your part in the degree of difficulty you’ve so far experienced in attempting to find a publishing home for your writing?
DH: To be honest, I have not aggressively pursued publication of my series due in large part to my blatant ignorance of such a process when the primary characters and established backstories are the copyright property of others. I was/am simply an impassioned fan of both series who started out simply writing a self-entertaining fan fiction romp that I found stimulating. Also, I happen to be aquainted with a few very well known singer songwriters and a high level executive of an international publishing firm who strongly criticized my commitment to the fan fiction genre and insisted I redirect my efforts to original works of fiction, as the publishing firm had in fact obtained a copy of my very first novice “novel” and after providing a heavy amount of editing services did some limited test marketing to book clubs in New York (state) and Seattle with positive responses. Other personal matters, however, came into play in addition to their protest of my fan fiction pursuits that eventually led to a parting of ways where that collaboration was concerned. However, after reading your November 4, 2019 article on my work, I was informed that the same high level official extended a renewed offer to publish my first work and any that her firm found acceptable provided that A) I go back and personally edit it to their satisfaction (as it was my very first foray into commercial literature and even I cringe when I reread my rookie attempt at some grammatical structure, and B) it can NOT be anything close to resembling a work of fan fiction. On a personal note, that glowing review you wrote on my Werewolf/Forever Knight crossover, validating my efforts, gave me a much needed sense of “professional” validation after that. I knew my work was good, but still had questions as to if it was good enough for publication. That brings me back to where do I go from here? I would desperately love to have the original creators and surviving cast members of both TV series to read and evaluate my work and give their feedback. I know I have an inherent talent for writing, I just don’t currently have the knowledge and/or experience to know how to proceed.
VENTS would like to thank author Daniel Haynes for allowing us to do this follow-up interview. I have personally fielded more inquiries about Daniel’s work after the publication of my original article than almost any other piece I’ve ever written. “The truth is out there,” X-Files creator Chris Carter famously posited. So is an audience for Mr. Haynes and his work, I believe. A hearty thanks to Daniel for his willingness to be so candid about his writing and his experiences in shopping his genre-busting novels around.