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TOM SNIEGOSKI & JEANNINE ACHESON
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DF Interview: Tom Sniegoski & Jeannine Acheson will make you fear your elderly neighbor in ‘Soul Taker’

 

By Byron Brewer

 

Amarantha is the last of her race, an ancient species that has lived among us for millennia, feeding on the life energies of humanity. Now enjoying a peaceful existence in a retirement community, she continues to consume just enough to survive. But Amarantha has made enemies throughout her long life and an ancient foe thought long defeated has returned and is out for blood, while a newer threat seeks to capture her for their own nefarious purposes! Now Amarantha must do everything in her power to vanquish her enemies and protect the life she has made for herself.

 

From Mad Cave Studios comes Soul Taker, written by Tom Sniegoski and Jeannine Acheson with art by Valeria Burzo. Come and discover this limited series as I discuss it with the scribes.

 

Byron Brewer: Tom & Jeannine, what an unusual story you have here with Soul Taker. Tell readers how it all came together, from inspiration to fruition, for this horror tale.

 

Jeannine Acheson: The inspiration for Soul Taker actually came from a typical weekend afternoon conversation, if you can believe it. We were chatting one Saturday, about four years ago, and Tom had just come home from visiting his elderly mother. I asked how she was, and his response, as always, was “Old.” I remarked, “Wow, what if you went to visit her, she was like ten years younger, and then kept getting younger every time you saw her?” And the germ of Soul Taker was planted.

 

Tom Sniegoski: Jeannine’s off the cuff statement really was an interesting one and I told her as much. She was thinking of maybe doing something with it -- maybe a short story, but I saw something much bigger in the idea and before we knew it, we’d developed the basic idea of what would eventually be known as Soul Taker.

 

Jeannine: The idea kept bugging us; it seemed like every time we talked, another idea for Amarantha or her enemies would come to us, so we wrote everything down. Before we knew it, we had an entire story arc ready to go.

 

Tom: We knew that this idea wasn’t going to let us alone, so I suggested that we work on a proposal together -- plot, synopsis of the series, character histories, etc. -- and before we knew it, we had a nice little package to shop around to prospective publishers and it finally found an amazing home with the folks at Mad Cave Studios.

 

Byron: Introduce us to the being known as Amarantha.

 

Jeannine: Amarantha is the last of her kind, an ancient race known as the Nehmer, who feed on the life forces of humans, taking just what they need to survive. Most recently, “Amara” has been living in retirement villages and long-term care facilities, unobtrusively feeding off the elderly population living there.

 

Byron: What more can you tell readers about Amara’s race and how it has dwelt among humankind for ages? How did she become the last of her species?

 

Tom: Her race is likely where the legends of vampires originated. The Nehmer have secretly lived amongst the human race feeding off the life energies of an unsuspecting population. It only takes a little touch, flesh on flesh, to get what they need in order to sustain themselves. An ancient order within the Catholic Church called the Venatori had made it their holy mission to hunt the Nehmer down, and purge their inhuman kind from the world.

 

Amara has been able to evade them for centuries -- until now.

 

Byron: Can you put a spotlight here on a few of the people in Amara’s life, or characters important to Soul Taker? A little non-spoilery info?

 

Jeannine: Well, even though Amara has tried to keep her distance, people are drawn to her and she does meet someone new at Whispering Palms, her current residence. Rosalie has become a very special friend to Amara, and maybe something more. And then there is Rosalie’s French bulldog, Edward, who is actually based on Tom’ French bulldog, Harvey.

 

Tom: There was a special someone in Amara’s life long ago, one of her own kind, named Ganna, but something happened to her that set Amara’s life on a different path.

 

Byron: Tell us anything you can, without spoilers of course, about Amara’s ancient foe who is out for her very blood.

 

Jeannine: Amara’s ancient foe, the Venatori, was the brainchild of Pope Roland the Vicious (the “Forgotten Pope”). In the fifteenth century, he declared war on the Nehmer, calling them “foul abominations” that needed to be eradicated from God’s world. They have been chasing her kind ever since.

 

Tom: The Venators are the soldiers of the Venatori, bloodthirsty warriors whose sole purpose is the murder of anything that the church deemed unnatural. Accompanying the Venators on their mission are genetically bred individuals called Hounds, who can sniff out beings of the supernatural.

 

Byron: I take it there is another big-bad, possibly holding even more danger for Amara than the Venatori? What can you reveal about this potential foe’s motivation and might that hidden enemy be a part of Amara’s “normal” daily life?

 

Jeannine: Poor Amara! There is another big-bad in her life, yes. She has known, and has had dealings with, Magnes Valente, a centuries-old alchemist who wants the secrets of Amara’s longevity. Magnes’s unscrupulous daughter, Avis Valente, runs Magnes Pharmaceuticals, the “family business.”

 

Tom: Amara is really between a rock and a hard place with these guys! I don’t know which is worse.

 

Byron: Talk about the awesome art of Valeria Burzo.

 

Tom: I first became aware of Valeria’s art on Mike Mignola and Angela Slatter’s Hellboy spinoff book, Castle Full of Blackbirds, and thought her style was pretty unique. I was thrilled that she would be working on our book. Her artwork has really brought Amara and her world to life.

 

Byron: Jeannine & Tom, tell us about some coming projects in which you are involved, as you can.

 

Jeannine: We’ve got quite a few projects in the pipeline, I’m excited to say! Tom and I have a new miniseries available June 5th from Dynamite Entertainment, called Vampirella: Dark Reflections, which is a spinoff from our Vampiverse miniseries. We also have a short novel coming out early next year from Bad Hand Books, called Nira: A Constance Evermore Story. We can’t wait for people to meet this original character, created specifically for Bad Hand.

 

Tom: As Jeannine mentioned, we’ve got lots of cool stuff coming down the pike: a brand spanking new original graphic novel, a few creator-owned comic series, and maybe even a new novel or two... and some of this stuff hasn’t even been announced yet, so mum’s the word!

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Tom Sniegoski & Jeannine Acheson for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Soul Taker #1 from Mad Cave Studios is slated to be on sale July 3!

 




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