Tag Archives: Bram Stoker

Writing: The Storm of 2013

writing, writing contests, short fiction, stories, competitions, horror, SF

To write or not to write; there is no question. Creative Commons: http://freshink.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

I’m rather late to a sum up of 2014 (hahaha, I’m an idiot. This is why everyone needs an editor. I meant uh, 2013, because it really was that busy.) and it’s because it was one of the busiest years I’ve ever had. I barely had time to think or write on this blog. Hence, while I hoped to get out all of the Tesseracts 17 interviews within two months of its October release, it took me till January. And that’s how last year started; editing the 450 submissions for the anthology. I also participated in Women in Horror month in February, by posting interviews with Canadian writers or horror.

I had made a vow to have a rough draft of my ever languishing novel done by April but that was thrown to the wind. Along with the editing I also did a bit of other freelance editing around a full time job that went to double full time in April. That meant I was pretty worn out when I came home. I’d also injured my shoulder and was in unendurable pain that hit high levels in August. Using a mouse and typing aggravated it as well. So I had to add in physio on top of all that.

demons, anthologies, horror, fantasy, Demonologia Biblica

Available through Amazon. This is my favorite cover.

I then threw in a trip to Europe (Germany, France and England) where I also attended the World Fantasy Convention at the end of my three weeks. Luckily my shoulder was better enough to survive the trip. But guess what, I volunteered to be on the preliminary jury for the Bram Stoker awards (the major horror award in speculative fiction) and I was suddenly reading in every spare minute I had. It was probably around 50 entries in all . I hope to do some book reviews here at some point of the books I read.

So let’s see, there was editing, and copy editing, and reading, but was there writing? Why yes, there was writing and works being published. In fact, I had a pretty good year in published pieces, though a couple of publishers are in bad graces at the moment for not paying on time nor sending me my copy of the book. (More on that soon if I don’t hear from them.) Here is a list of works that came out last year:

  • “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” in Demonologia Biblica by Western Legends Publishing
  • “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” in Deep Cuts by Evil Jester Press
  • “The Book With No End” in Bibliotheca Fantastica by Dagan Books
  • “The Highest Price” in Artifacts and Relics by Heathen Oracle
  • “Gingerbread People” in Chilling Tales 2 by EDGE SF & Fantasy
  • “Tower of Strength” in Irony of Survival by Zharmae Publishing
  • “The Diver” in Readshortfiction.com (free under literary)
  • Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast by EDGE SF & Fantasy, co-editor with Steve Vernon
  • “Heart of Glass” in Polu Texni¬† (includes an interview and is free to view)
  • “Illuminating Thoughts” in Polu Texni
  • “Father’s Child” in Polu Texni
  • “Don Quixote’s Quandary” free in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
writing, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, anthologies

The Book With No End, is in this anthology out from Dagan Books.

I should also mention that I launched for Chizine Publications and Sandra Kasturi the Vancouver branch of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. We began quarterly with three readers in April and then again in July and October. The new one is coming up on Feb. 12th, at Tangent Cafe in Vancouver, with speculative authors Ray Hsu, Geoff Cole and Noah Chinn. It’s free, so if you’re in town come out and enjoy some tales.

Somewhere in all this I did have a social life and I did sleep… I think. I also completed, by the very last day of the year, the rough draft of my novel. After so many stops and starts, it was done. Of course I have a massive rewrite to do but at least the plot and character arcs are down. So, yes, it was a very busy year and very productive.

CZP, Chizine, dark fiction, women in horror, Canadian writer, female authors

Colleen hosts the Vancouver ChiSeries, funded in part by CZP.

I’ve also found out that I made it onto the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot for my short story “The Book With No End.” The Stokers are the top dark fiction awards for the genre and rank with the World Fantasy Awards, the Hugos and the Nebula. I will eventually write about the process for getting on the ballot because it’s a bit confusing. The Stoker prelininary ballots are a mix of recommendations from the membership and the jury. Once the membership votes, there will be a short form final ballot and then I believe another vote. I’ll find out if I make it that far.

Works to come out at some point soon in this year are “The Collector” in Cemetery Dance. I’m promised it will be very soon and I’ve been waiting over five years so it will be nice to see that one show up. Bull Spec also promises to publish my poem “Visitation” soon. I’ve also just learned that I’ve sold three poems to Burning Maiden and I’ll be featured in the next edition. Those poems are “Tea Party,” “Medusa” and “As I Sleep.”

So what’s in store this year. Obviously more writing and rewriting, and we’ll see. Some irons are in the fire but until I have an answer everything is just a dream. ūüėČ But we all should dream, shouldn’t we? May you all have a productive year.

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All That Vampire Stuff

It’s that time of year again. Actually it’s that year. Well really it’s that decade. Okay, okay it’s that century. Bram Stoker published Dracula a little over a century ago and it changed the face of fantasy and horror for all time to come (so far). Now Stoker didn’t really create vampires per se. Blood sucking, soul stealing creatures have existed in various cultures for many centuries. Rusalkas (Russian), lamias (Greek), succubi and incubi, dhampirs (Balkan) and sirens are just an example of creatures that take something permanent from you, often through seduction. They might devour the person or parts of them. Even the Rom (Gypsies) had vampiric beliefs, which also could include inanimate objects.

So vampires are not new. Using blood to rejuvenate in some way also has been around for a long time, whether it was drinking it or bathing in it. The notorious serial killer Countess Elizabeth of Bathory killed so many young women that, like Vlad the Impaler, a myth began that she bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth. She was pretty much placed under house arrest for the rest of her days (nobility did have some privileges).

In the world of writing there have been many many vampire novels, and even more numerous short stories. Goethe and Lord Byron were just a few to tell tales and poems about vampiric lovers returning from the grave. The¬† 19th century saw quite a fascination with vampire tales and Stoker’s book was just one of many.

Books of note in this century include John Matheson’s I Am Legend and John Shirley’s Dracula in Love. A man discovers he is Dracula’s son and it is a somewhat trippy, hallucinogenic tale that is at times extremely gruesome and not really romantic, given the title. I’ve read some vampire books, but not all¬†and one included a nearly annihilistic version of vampire hunters. There are too many tales to list but the Barnabas Collins TV series was of early note in vampire fiction, as well as the movie The Hunger.¬† Anne Rice probably began the more modern trend of eroticizing vampire fiction with strong gothic undertones in Interview With a Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and subsequent novels.

There have been many spinoffs and tales, which have included a subgenre of occult detective books, where a vampire is the detective. The Dresden Files, by Harry Butcher, the Anita Blake series by Laurel K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris’s books,¬†and the Angel TV series are just a few in that aspect where often the vampire tries to retain his/her humanity, or the detective’s partner or lover is a vampire.

So when Twilight came along it was just another vampire movie and book. I haven’t read the book so I cant judge on the treatment of the vampire in that tale before Hollywood got hold of it. But from the movie these vampires have no problem with walking around in daylight though they avoid direct sun, because it seems that they sparkle. Perhaps for this young adult novel it is a metaphor for being an angel or a higher power and I wasn’t quite clear if all vampires sparkle or just the good ones who eschew drinking of humans. But the tale, a human falls in love with the noble vampire who won’t make her/him immortal, is nothing new. It’s just got the dreamy guys and a new batch of people to feed it to.

Everyone who writes a vampire tale may throw a twist into it. Some vampires are affected by crosses, or any religious icon that has true belief behind it, by garlic, by sunlight, by none of these. Their powers may only be longevity, or fast healing, speed, strength, flying, shapechanging. Vampires vary, yet overall the seductive aspect that lures humans is that the vampire is immortal but you must take a life or drink blood to attain this aspect.

The media, like the tweenies that Twilight is aimed at, is all over Twilight like Dracula on Mina. As if it hasn’t happened before, they say, what is with all this hype, or “we see a trend in Twilight and movies like it.” The vampire tale is a subgenre of horror or fantasy or speculative fiction, depending on how you want to categorize it.¬† The trend is not new, but like many fads, it¬†fluctuates. A fad runs about a two-year lifespan so this too will die down, yet like a vampire, the tales of such immortals do seem to endure the test of time.

Notice the fangy V.

Notice the fangy V.

As a writer, I too have not been immune from writing a few vampire tales. “Hold Back the Night” was about a servant of Kali whose human lover is burned by a possessive husband. “Lover’s Triangle” is a tale about a Gypsy woman¬†in a¬†slightly different future who is lured by her vampire lover’s touch. And “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” is about a vampire’s fall into deparavity or discovering something about his own humanity. The latter is due out in Evolve in March 2010, through Hades Publications and the anthology looks at worlds where vampires are known of by humans.

Will I write more vampire fiction? Possibly. I have a couple of other unpublished stories. I didn’t set out to write any but it just happens and the juxtaposition of immortality at a terrible price is always an interesting premise for tales. I haven’t yet written a werewolf tale but have written a mermaid story, “The Fishwife.” Maybe at some point I’ll work my way through many mythic creatures.

http://www.edgewebsite.com/future.php

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Dracula’s Descendant Brings New Tales

stoker-2L-book-areaFinally after a hundred-plus years there is another Dracula book, a sequel; Dracula: The Un-Dead. (Dutton Books, $26.95 USD) You might be wondering how this is significant as there have been many Dracula books and even more vampire books, a subgenre all of its own. Well this one is different, written supposedly by Bram Stoker’s¬† great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker. In the family tree end of things this is Bram’s brother’s son’s son’s son.

Bram had a fair number of siblings (6) and it doesn’t seem that all of them wrote, nor any of them achieved his notoriety. But there is this penchant in fiction these days for the descendants of great writers to suddenly lift the pen and write a sequel to a story, as if the blood that ran in the veins of a great writer has been distilled down the decades to make more creative geniuses. If this were indeed the case, it would be a surprise that anyone took up any other profession but the successful careers of their parents: lawyers begetting lawyers, painters begetting painters, murderers begetting murderers.

But of course we have individualism and of course there is no guarantee that a relative will have the same talent as their ancestor. Yet we’ve seen sequels to Dune written by Brian Herbert, to Lord of the Rings by a Tolkien relative, to a few other great names with relatives getting involved. And sometimes there have been sequels but not by a writer’s descendants but someone else given free rein in the established territory (the sequel to Gone With the Wind for example).¬† Yet the publishing world loves its marketing gimmicks as much as any big business. And maybe it helps…for selling.

However, I’ve not read the book yet because it’s was launched Oct. 13, a nice spooky date, coinciding with the Hallowe’en month and the unlucky number of 13. When you look at the cover you see that it is written by Dacre Stoker (large letters) and Ian Holt (smaller font). Check out the bios for Stoker and Holt, you will see that Stoker is a past world class athlete and executive director of the Aiken Land Conservancy, a Canadian citizen living in the US. Holt, on the other hand is a writer, who (surprise surprise) has written previous Dracula based novels and screenplays. Just like the books that William Shatner has supposedly written it will be a case of maybe Stoker supplied a few ideas and Holt did the writing, knowing he’d have the Stoker name to pull in the sales. A sweet deal all in all.

From the website’s own pages http://www.draculatheundead.com/index.htm:

Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker’s own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of Stoker family members, Dracula The Un-Deadbegins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula “crumbled into dust.” Van Helsing’s prot√©g√©, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of “Dracula,” directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself.

¬†The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents’ terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined.¬† One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down.¬† Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?

¬†Stoker’s characters had Victorian sensibilities and not so shadowy personalities as this sequel seems to indicate. But like all those comics with the dead superheroes that somehow get resurrected, perhaps Dracula is back. Or maybe not. I won’t be rushing out to read this and it will be up to each person to make their own decision as to how good a Dracula story it is. I just don’t place any faith in a descendant carrying the torch of former writing glory even if supposedly this is from some notes of Stoker’s. Of course, those notes could be as simple as: Dracula=evil, Harker=just and good, Mina=corrupted by evil. I’d love to see what these notes were and having those published in a book could be far more entertaining.

And of course, it’s no surprise this book is being looked at to make a movie. In fact, it started as a screenplay idea and then supposedly Dacre said it was best to start as a novel. More revenues no doubt. As to what Stoker thought of himself as a character in a Dracula sequel and whether or not he’ll be rolling in his grave? Well, we’ll just have to sit beside the mausoleum where his ashes are and keep the garlic away to find out.

http://io9.com/5361879/bram-stokers-descendant-pens-official-dracula-sequel

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