Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw is a fabulous YA novel to sink your teeth into. Whilst it unleashes in April, I was lucky enough to dive into an early copy. Set in New Orleans, a serial killer is on the loose, just as Mina arrives to visit her sister. The result is a novel which is witty and gothic, atmospheric and thrilling.
Mina and the Undead has vampires and friendship and chilling twists and so… I was delighted to chat to Amy about her vampire obsession. She took me on a vampire tour of the United States.
Come take a look. If you dare…
Vampire filming locations
My vampire obsession started in my early teens. Somewhere between Buffy and Interview with the Vampire, I became hooked. I’ve since spent my holidays trying to visit as many filming locations as I can. Allow me to take you on a vampire tour of the United States, starting with a huge inspiration for Mina and the Undead.
Interview with the Vampire
Brad Pitt apparently had a horrible time filming Interview with the Vampire. Shoots at night and in a windowless studio almost drove him to quit, but I’m glad he didn’t. The movie has its flaws, but reading the book as a teen was one of the defining moments in my love of vampires, so I had to check out some key filming locations when I visited New Orleans in 2012. One of my favourites made it into Mina and the Undead, and I’m saving the other in case I get to write the sequel.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the location of Louis’s empty tomb, the place where his brother is buried and Lestat and Claudia pay the tombs a visit. On the day we visited, heat waves rippled over the stone and brick tombs and dust hung in the still air. Walking among the tombs is a sombre and fascinating experience. You can see the place where Marie Laveau, the Voodoo priestess, is rumoured to be buried. Visitors have left offerings to her and scratched her tomb with Xs, in the hope of getting their wishes granted.
Oak Alley was the filming location for Louis’s plantation home. I’ve never visited anywhere quite like it. The plantation home is visible at the end of a long drive covered by an archway of twisted oaks. It’s an incredible sight! You can tour the plantation house, and there’s a slavery exhibit with information about the devastating reality of plantations.
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys is set in the fictional town of Santa Carla, so it’s obviously not one I’ve been able to visit. Since it’s also known as the Murder Capital of the World, I’m not sure I’d want to. Some scenes were filmed in Santa Cruz, which is definitely on my list of places to go. I did manage to find one interesting spot from my favourite vampire movie. On the Warner Brothers studio tour in LA, we got to go in the white church with the distinctive steeple at the front (where Sam and the Frog brothers grab holy water for the big showdown).
In 2010, I visited a few vampire locations, some of them unintentionally. It was a surprise on the Warner Brothers studio tour to stumble across Sookie’s house, with the distinctive wraparound porch, Merlotte’s bar and the lake where some very memorable scenes took place. I think I enjoyed seeing Merlotte’s the most. The forest around the bar is eerie, with the thick canopy overhead trailing Spanish moss and cutting out the sun. It’s easy to picture vampires blurring between the trees and eyes gleaming in the faint light.
2010 was probably when I was at peak Twilight obsession, so I had to visit when we went to Washington State. Forks itself is a quiet little town that probably didn’t know what hit it when Twilight came out. We ate at the restaurants from the movie, posed by Bella’s red truck and even stayed in a themed hotel, but my favourite location was the beach. I still love that scene where Bella and Jacob discuss vampires there, with the evocative music playing and the oppressive forest looming in the background. Even though it was over 10 years ago, I remember being there so distinctly. The sun and salt bleached tree trunks lay there like bones, and the wind whipped around us. The grey sky churned overhead, a dull contrast against the pale beach and dark trees.
The Vampire Diaries
A lot of the early episodes were shot on location in Covington, Georgia. We went on two amazing tours that took us into Tyler Lockwood’s sprawling back garden, onto Elena’s porch, to the Mystic Grill and right up to a variety of ramshackle buildings where vampires once lurked. We went to Covington the same summer as New Orleans, and there’s something about visiting those places in the dreamy heat of a scorching day, where reality and fiction seem to blur more easily.
Buffy theVampire Slayer
When I visited Paramount Studio in LA, there was only an alleyway left as a reminder that Buffy was filmed there. I still enjoyed imagining her stalking down there, Mr. Pointy in hand… The school that doubled as Sunnydale High is still there in Torrance, California, and one day I’m determined to visit!
Mina and the Undead , by Amy McCaw, leaps onto the shelves on the 1st April 2021. Not to be missed!