Jack Bauer with fangs? Meet the vampire spy of ‘Blood Oath’


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Through the end of the year we will be previewing some of the intriguing releases scheduled for 2010. We’ll look at films, television shows and comics, but today, it’s ‘Blood Oath,’ the debut novel from Los Angeles screenwriter Christopher Farnsworth.


Now here’s a political-thriller concept with bite: Next May, Putnam will release ‘Blood Oath,’ which tells the tale of Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who has secretly served and protected every U.S. president for the past 140 years.

‘It’s got a bit of a ‘24’ concept to it so some people are describing it as Jack Bauer meets Dracula, or ‘24’ meets ‘True Blood,’ ‘ said Farnsworth, a former Orange County Register reporter who walked away from journalism in 2002 to reinvent himself as a screenwriter. The writers strike undermined his plan to make ‘Blood Oath’ a pure film project but vampire Cade may end up in a darkened theater anyway; there’s already Hollywood interest in the property even though the publication date is months away.

Putnam is planning a series devoted to the adventures of Cade. In the first book, the duty-bound bloodsucker is paired with a new Oval Office liaison, the cocky and calculating Zach Barrows. The two uneasy partners then uncover a grisly plot to use the battlefield corpses of American soldiers as biological weapons. The mastermind behind the plot? An ageless scientist who inspired Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’

The idea for the character of Cade was plucked from the work of Charles Fort, the American writer who died in 1932 after years of investigations into the fantastic and the unknown that led to quite the following. Fort wrote of a man accused of vampirism who was pardoned by Andrew Jackson, and Farnsworth took that long-ago oddity and ran with it.

‘I asked myself, ‘What could the president of the United States offer a vampire?’ and ‘What could a vampire offer the president?’ The answer to both is, well, quite a lot.... It was an idea that just wouldn’t let go of me, I had to exorcise it, to phrase it as dramatically as possible.’

Farnsworth knows that cold-skinned vampires are red-hot in pop culture these days, which he considers a good news-bad news proposition. ‘I’m definitely worried about vampire fatigue,’ Farnsworth says. ‘But then another way to look at it is the way a friend of mine put it: Saying the vampire thing is over is like saying the cop movie or the cop television show is over. There seems to be ongoing interest in it, so...’

Clearly, there is a case to be made for that thinking, with the major commercial success of ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon,’ the ratings of ‘True Blood’ and the critical acclaim for the brilliant ‘Let the Right One In.’ Time will tell if ‘Blood Oath’ finds the genre has enough blood in it for another big success story.


-- Geoff Boucher


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