Bio: Michael (M.A.) Carson grew up in California before moving at age twelve with his parents and sister to Colorado. His love for writing started in fourth grade, providing him limitless possibilities for creative expression. Throughout school, he bounced between short stories, comic books, and screenplays with imagination and humor at the forefront.
After graduating college, Michael focused on novels, with subject matters ranging from science fiction to superheroes to beauty-sucking vampires. Regardless of the genre, his goal has always been the same: to take readers on a one-of-a-kind adventure and make them laugh along the way.
Your book is a send up of the vampire genre. What inspired you to write Beauty Is for Suckers?
At the time, the Twilight series was blowing up the big screen, and I was struck by how desirable turning into a vampire had become. No mob will chase you with pitchforks. You’ll be beautiful, ageless, strong, immortal, and not even sunlight will hurt you. Sign me up. What if a protagonist struggled with low self-esteem and a poor body image and saw the perfection of vampires as the only way to fix her flaws. Vampires as a cosmetic enhancement. I wanted to create a world where the fantasy elements of immortals and fangs collided with real-life issues of peer pressure and superficiality. I found that the two sides had a lot in common.
Did you always know this would be a funny and unusual book?
Funny and unusual are the two words I hope describe everything I write. I love challenging myself by taking established genres or character types, in this case vampires, and playing with expectations. Vampires are my favorite monster because they can be portrayed in every way imaginable, from bloodthirsty demons, to sex goddesses to bloodthirsty sex goddesses. I knew it would be a lot of fun writing a story where every type of vampire showed up. What would Nosferatu think of Edward Cullen? That scenario still makes me laugh.
Iris isn’t your usual vampire, could you tell us a little about her?
Since high school, Iris has struggled to find her place. She thinks she’s forgettable, invisible, and she puts all the blame on her appearance. If she had a big chest, long legs, and a flawless face, people would notice her. Every vampire she’s seen dusted on reality TV is more perfect than the last; they might be feared by society, but they are her best chance at happiness. Iris moves to L.A. to become a hot California vampire, but the bite only transforms her halfway. She has the fangs, the heightened senses, and the aversion to sunlight, but on the outside, nothing has changed. She can turn others into beauties by sucking their blood, but her looks remain untouched. Since all other vampires are perfect, Iris stands out more than she ever wanted. Now she must find her place, and her confidence, in a world ruled by veins and vanity.
Iris lives in a world where vampires haven’t just come out of the fang closet, they’ve taken the world by storm via reality TV. What made you choose this angle for the book?
In other books and movies, the vampire world is kept secret from humans, but I’ve always liked the idea of fantasy elements existing for so long that they’ve become parts of everyday, modern life. Learning about the dangers of vampires from PSAs in elementary school, or sitting down to watch someone combust into ash on a hunting reality show, are funnier when they’re seen as normal staples of society.
The vampires here aren’t living by the same rules either. Tell us a bit about these vampires.
For vampires, blood is purely cosmetic. They won’t weaken or die without it, but their beauty will fad. A week without blood, a vampire will return to how they looked before they were bitten. Two weeks without blood, a vampire will turn into something far worse.
This plays a big part in Iris and Nolan’s outlook, how did you come up with Nolan?
Nolan has dreamed of becoming a famous vampire slayer like his heroes on TV, and, like Iris, he is also self-conscious of his appearance but for different reasons. He thinks his red hair, glasses, and assuming frame aren’t how a slayer’s supposed to look, so he wears contacts, thick black clothes, and an intimidating fedora that shadows his face. When Nolan meets Iris, he doesn’t know she’s a vampire, and as the two form a friendship, their insecurities bring them together. They help each other, and find strength in each other, but what I love most about their relationship is that the closer they become, the more dangerous it is for Iris. At the end of the day, he is a slayer, and how will he react when her secret comes out?
Who do you think will enjoy Beauty Is for Suckers? Why?
I think most people have struggled, at one time or another, with what they see in the mirror. The pressure to look or act a certain way by peers or the media can be hard to ignore. Beauty Is for Suckers is a comedy, and anyone who enjoys a laugh will get a lot out of it, but it’s also a story of self-confidence. It’s about being yourself and loving the mirror, even if you don’t have a reflection.
This is the first book in a series. What sort of adventures do you think Iris will encounter in later books?
The world becomes bigger and more complicated for Iris and Nolan. The next book takes place six months after the events of the first, and both characters are finding a lot of success in two very different jobs. Because of her success, Iris is given the opportunity to change the way society views vampires forever, but, despite noble intentions, the consequences of this decision will send her on a globetrotting adventure to save the ones she loves. Characters from the first book return in a big way going forward. And one woman in particular becomes the chief antagonist of the entire series. I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say, you should never trust a housewife of Beverly Hills.