Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Author John Gets His Teeth into Vampires; an Army Veteran and One-Time Mr Universe Contestant Has Turned His Hand to a New Discipline, Writing Vampire Novels. as His Series of Books Are Published He Speaks to RUTH LAWSON

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Author John Gets His Teeth into Vampires; an Army Veteran and One-Time Mr Universe Contestant Has Turned His Hand to a New Discipline, Writing Vampire Novels. as His Series of Books Are Published He Speaks to RUTH LAWSON

Article excerpt

TO say John Madderson's career choices verge on the unusual would be a huge understatement. The grandad-of-two joined the army as a fresh-faced teenager and was enlisted into the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers where he served for 12 years and became a platoon sergeant.

When he returned home after being posted abroad for many years he set up a number of businesses to keep himself occupied.

But unwilling to tie himself down to one job, he soon turned his love of keeping fit and bodybuilding into something more serious and went on to compete for a host of top titles including Mr Universe.

Now, the 65-year-old retiree - he was born in Blyth, Northumberland, but now lives in Walker, Newcastle - is settling in to life as an author following the release of his first collection of vampire novels. The Vampire Hunter series is set in Russia in the 1940s.

He says: "I'm trying to bring back what Dracula was traditionally about but with a new twist.

"When I first started writing about five years ago, I was just doing a single book, but it became a bit too long and that's how it turned into a series of novels. I really wanted to reinvent the story of Dracula and traditional vampire stories, not like any of the stuff that's popular now.

"The characters in the books are vampires, but they're still human and in some cases they are goodies," John explains. "General Joseph Beck is a German soldier and he's the main character throughout all the books.

The name of my villain is actually Alucard, which is Dracula in reverse." John wanted to merge the worlds of soldiers and vampires in his debut novel because he believes there were powerful stories to be unearthed.

"The first book starts in 1943 during the German retreat from Russia, it was such a horrific time for them," he says. "The second, third and fourth books follow the characters right up until 2012." Inspiration for the story came as he flicked through a book documenting the Second World War.

"There were photographs of soldiers on the retreat from Russia," he says, "including one of a soldier knee deep in snow who couldn't have been very old because he didn't have any stubble and his face bore all the marks of impending death. I still often wonder if he ever made it back to Germany.

"That's how the idea for the book came to me. It started from a true event and I tried to incorporate the vampire side of things."

John also had to overcome a lifelong struggle with dyslexia to see his books through to completion. He says: "I can read and spell, but I struggle with reading for a long time so that's why I had lots of proof-reading done on the books. I just made sure I kept going until I was done."

Through the whole process he has had the support of his family, including wife Sylvia and their only son Lee, 44, both of whom have read each installment of The Vampire Hunter series. "I've sent the books to friends all over the world and all my family have read them," adds John.

He believes his life could have been one long book full of interesting tales and one story that caught the hearts of many, including the local press back in the 1960s, was how he and Sylvia came together. …

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