WU student Romualdo Chavez publishing vampire book

Regina Budden

For many Washburn University students, rolling out of bed in the morning for class is enough to call the day successful.

But senior psychology major Romualdo “Romi” Chavez’ resume lists much higher accomplishments: in the midst of college life, he has managed to write a book.

“It was very, very hard. I won’t lie about that,” said Chavez of his book, which has just reached publication.

The book, “El Vampiro and the Curse of the Feathered Serpent,” is available from the publisher Xlibris, and will be available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com in the next three months. It tells the story of a boy, Malachi Diaz, who becomes a vampire, and it is the first of three books Chavez said will cover Malachi’s first year as a vampire.

Chavez began writing in high school after taking a creative writing class. He said that his biggest inspirations have come from reading, and at the time he was interested in the vampiric literature of Anne Rice. Her work inspired him to not only continue reading the genre as it hit pop culture, but to become one of its writers.

Citing Stephenie Meyer’s success in her vampire trilogy, Chavez said his book doesn’t share the same genre as most others.

“It’s not so much a love story, it’s more horror,” he said. His list of influences includes friends and family, but many elements of his stories are taken from other authors such as Stephen King and Tom Holland.

“El Vampiro” has had a long evolution. It began with a roughly outlined plot, which Chavez carefully researched online until he had completed his first draft. The second draft followed much later, after he was enrolled in college, and it was harder to refine because of his busy college life. Chavez recalls a semester or two that he didn’t even touch the manuscript.

“Not most people want to spend a couple of hours at a computer and just type away,” said Chavez.

Another issue was that Chavez’ original thoughts were for what will now be the second book of the trilogy.

“I started at the end and worked my way backwards,” said Chavez. He said the original draft involved a lot of information that was disjointed and sometimes lacked originality. “It sounded too typical. I had to shake things up a bit.”

That is no longer a problem for “El Vampiro,” which seems to lack one single genre. Besides being about vampires, Chavez said the book has a college-level sense of humor, a lot of character psychology, aspects of horror and a deep theme of Meso-American history. Chavez can understand why vampires are a new favorite genre.

“From a writer’s standpoint, you can do so many more creative things with a vampire,” said Chavez. “You can say things, you can do things that you normally wouldn’t do with regular characters. It’s just that whole mysterious factor to them, that darkness within ourselves that we don’t acknowledge. It’s good to write about from a psychological standpoint. It’s a good release.”

After graduation he will take a year off and then continue his education in psychology in the hopes that someday he will have his own practice. Turning writing into a career will always be in the back of his mind, though.

“I don’t want to be overconfident,” he said. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

In spite of the hard work and long hours spent writing the book, Chavez said that wasn’t the hardest part.

“The biggest issue was just the whole trying to find a publisher just because if you’re not careful they’ll take advantage of you,” said Chavez. “You have to do your homework.”

Chavez is ready to rest for now and enjoy his accomplishment, but his reprieve will be short. He is excited to start work on a sequel. After this experience, though, he has an inspiring message for aspiring writers.

“Ultimately, you just have to hang in there and do it,” he said. “There’s nothing better than writing that very last sentence and having it be ‘THE END.'”