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Exclusive: Michael McMillian and Gianna Sobol Discuss Field Guide to Vampires!

Posted on the 20 November 2013 by Tbfansource @tbfansource

Field Guide to Vampires Chronicle Books HBOSteve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires is hitting bookshelves in hardcover next week! Ahead of next week’s release, I attended a book signing at Book Soup in West Hollywood on November 18th. Before the signing I caught up with Steve Newlin’s alter-ego Michael McMillian and Gianna Sobol (Inside True Blood Blog, Jessica’s Blog, True Blood comics). The pair co-authored the book together and they took the time to sit down and True Blood cast members Anna Camp (Sarah Newlin) chat with me about how the book came about, expanding the True Blood universe, and more! and Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby) joined in on the fun for the actual signing as well. Be sure to check out all of the photos following the interview.

When I interviewed Michael at SDCC 2013, he mentioned that you came up with the idea for Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires. What was your inspiration for it?

Gianna Sobol: “I had worked on the [True Blood] cookbooks and I loved working with Chronicle so I pitched this idea of doing a field guide to vampires, doing something comprehensive. The lore of the show is so rich and deep and it really hasn’t been compiled anywhere and I felt that as the show is nearing its end, I thought it might be nice to have an in-world field guide.”

I noticed that a lot of creatures were covered, not just the vampires, werewolves, and fairies (to name a few) and I thought that was so cool because it opens the door to fans like us and also introduces True Blood to people that have never seen it before.

Michael McMillian: “I think the thing that really appealed to me about the whole idea  is that I was a  big fan of monster encyclopedias as a kid. I really loved cryptozoology about “Does big foot exist?, Do vampires exist?” So I thought that tying in the fact that True Blood had such a broad mythology and embracing that falls under the other creatures of Satan Banner.

GS: “And going beyond the show, having fun with it.”

MM: Yeah. There’s a whole world beyond what you see on screen and I thought it might be fun to see what other creatures might be out there.

DSC02664Since the last time we spoke, Steve Newlin unfortunately met his True Death. What do you think he learned after writing it and then coming back to it as a vampire?

MM: That’s a good question. I don’t think I’ve been asked that yet. The place that Steve arrives  by the end of the book is that he’s really found his place in this world. And he feels very confident that he has a spot. I think [the book] starts from a little bit of his back history of when he was a kid and living in his father’s shadow. And it concludes at the point when Steve is at the Authority. Like everything else in the book, it’s a little-misguided. But I think the Steve we end with is happy, at his happiest moment that the character’s ever had in his life.”

Gianna opens up the Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires showing Steve with Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) and Emma (Chloe Noelle) in wolf puppy form in a family portrait. 

GS: “We built the entire book around ending with this,” She says jokingly.

MM: “We wrote the book really before we knew Steve was going to be killed off. So it has this bittersweet ending to it because you have this guy who is like, “And I’m good,” and shortly thereafter he’s not.”

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Do you have any regrets for the character? Do you wish you could have seen him do something more?

MM: “There are so many great characters on the show, not just Steve, that you want to see more of. And it’s always such a challenge when you have a show like True Blood because you have so many fun actors and characters. And you don’t get to see them as much as you would want as a fan. The only thing I wish honestly that I could have had is more scenes with Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse). I didn’t get to work with him in season 6.”

 Yeah! The only thing we did get is the “I Love You Jason Stackhouse!” But in the book we do get to see lots of little doodles representing Steve’s love for Jason. 

MM: “We definitely made up for it in the book for sure!”

What do you think long time fans will appreciate from the book most?

GS :“I think really having the comprehensive mythology of the show in one place. Getting to go back and have a little bit about all of the characters, even though it is written from Steve’s point of view, it really covers Bon Temps and the surrounding characters having this one guide to the show.

Jessica 6x03 Blog HBOYou’ve written and participated in Jessica’s blog, The Inside True Blood Blog, and the True Blood comics just to name a few. What’s your favorite part about getting to do these projects that help enhance the world of the show?

GS: “I really enjoyed expanding the world of show. The show is awesome but it’s only a hour a week for a handful of weeks out of the year. And getting to build out these other characters and world like with the Jessica blog, you get to find out what she was doing in between episodes or during the rest of the episode, where was Jessica, what was happening? To create more lore for the fans I find really exciting.”

I noticed during season 6 that you were able to capture moments for Jessica on the blog that were very dramatic that we didn’t necessarily see on screen. So I appreciated that a lot. It added something that we otherwise would not have gotten because like you said, the show is an hour a week.

GS: “The show’s also gotten bigger and bigger so you get less time with some of the main characters. If you have a favorite, they might only have one scene in the episode. So I’m glad you like it!”

 What are some of the things that you’ve come to appreciate what is the most memorable thing about the True Blood universe coming up on 7 seasons?

MM: “For me getting to play such a fun character is a big part of that. I’ll never get to play another character like Steve again. It was so fun and funny to play. I think more than that, I met wonderful people that I know I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life. Working on the show is something that I’ll always have. Having that time was well spent. It was a gift.”

DSC02654Is there anything surprising that you’ve learned about the True Blood universe having been immersed in it for so long? Anything that shocked you?

GS: I think I was most surprised by the response to the show. Not in world. But the way that the fans reacted to it and the world embraced it and really gave it a chance to grow and become this awesome thing.
MM: Working on the show as an actor, the thing that would always surprise me was that there’s so much heart in it. It’s really funny and it’s this gothic camp pulp fiction of a show. But I was always surprised that there was a way to bring humanity into everything we played in as actors on the show. And I think a lot of that came from the DNA that [series creator] Alan Ball put into the show from the get go. That was always a surprise to me, it really grounded some honesty.”

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Thank you to Michael McMillian and Gianna Sobol for taking the time to speak with me and to Annie Kanter from BHI for working with me to arrange this really special opportunity.

To pre-order your copy of Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires and Other Creatures of Satan, click here.

Image Credits: HBO, Inc. Chronicle Books, and True Blood Fan Source


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