Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Vampires Arise

The last few years I have been all tied up with the zombie hordes. They've been damn annoying, too. I absolutely despise zombies and they have a really good way of wrecking a good dream when they show up and start eating everyone. I hate it when that happens. But I've been writing about the cannibalistic dead pretty heavily for awhile now and if I don't write I get "stopped up" and the zombies run amok in my dreams until I wrestle them down onto paper.

In other words, my mind doesn't let me rest until the story is done.

But my first, true love, is the vampire. The bloodsucking undead have terrified and fascinated me for years. I absolutely feared them and nothing my mother or anyone else said could convince me that they were not real. I'm not even sure where I first heard about Dracula, but I begged my Mom relentlessly to let me see the old black and white film when it showed on TV. I think I was around six. She finally gave in. The next morning she found me curled up on my sleeping bag outside her bedroom door with a towel wrapped around my neck.

In fact, for years, it was part of my nightly ritual to tuck my covers up around my neck securely. Now I was just a kid, so I really didn't think about the fact that Dracula or any of his minions could just pull down the covers and have a nice hearty drink.

Of course, what I fear is what I am drawn to it seems. I would watch Hammer films as a kid with a pillow over my face, peeking around the edges, and then screaming at the slightest hint of blood. I finally read a vampire novel when I was a teenager. It was like nothing I had ever read before. It was Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat . I had a healthy diet of Agatha Christie, Victoria Holt, science fiction and classic literature novels before I borrowed that book. I read it in one night and it literally made me sick to my stomach. I just remember I felt like I was drowning in darkness and I felt queasy. Funny how life works out...considering I'm Goth and a horror novelist!

I avoided vampire novels like the plague for awhile, but finally sat down and read Bram Stoker's Dracula and I was smitten. Since I love Victorian Gothic Literature, I read the old classics first and worked my way up to modern times. I was reluctant to pick up Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, but I finally read it and loved it. Though I read all the books that followed up to the novel about Armand, the first in the series held the most magic for me.

The state of vampire novels today actually makes me quite sad. I do love the urban fantasy of the Sookie Stackhouse and Rachel Morgan novels, but the bloodsuckers never quite feel like "real" vampires. I'm not sure what it is, but something just feels like its missing. Most of the other vampire novels are stuck in the paranormal romance genre and I have a rough time imagining a vampire looking like a Fabio clone. I have tried to read a few of these series because I was desperate for a good vampire read. I threw one book across the room and just gave up.

My own vampire stories are rather diverse. My favorite is about Lady Glynis Wright, an English aristocrat who longs for an indecent life as Lord Byron's lover, only to end up the Bride of a powerful vampire. My great love for Victorian literature definitely influenced that novel and its rich in Gothic imagery. The heroine, though, is just great fun and I adore her. She's a bit wily and always contrary. I recently renamed the and I hope to release it early next year.

The second vampire novel is about a modern day girl in East Texas who starts off the story buried in the forest. That vampire novel is very Texan, and very modern, but keeps to the traditional vampire lore. One of the things that haunts the character named Amaliya throughout the story is that she has no reflection and she has to go to great lengths to hide this from others while dealing with it emotionally. Since there is necromancy, zombies and vampires in this novel, I see it coming out after the zombie trilogy.

I'm not saying that my vampire novels are greater than anything else out there, but I am aware they are different. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I like my vampires to be something dangerous and not tame. Creatures that aren't swayed by a beautiful virginal girl's undying love or seeking their long lost soulmate. I adore Glynis because I would be afraid of her if I met her. Despite her courtly manner, she is dangerous. She is a passionate creature that is also a killer. The same with Amaliya. They are both creatures of instinct and great power.

After the zombie trilogy is out, I will be turning my attention to both these novels. The vampire stories I posted on Scribd got my vampire muses stirring around in my head and I have at least one unfinished vampire story that is begging to be finished.

I think posting the vampire stories on Scribd yesterday reminded me that yes I like my zombie tales, but I also write about much more than just the shambling, mindless dead. The beautiful undead with the wickedly sharp teeth and jewel eyes are also lingering in my imagination.

Maybe its just time to look back at what scared me first...and most.

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