Tag Archives: vampire

The Chi Reading Series

ChiSeriesVancouverPoster - July 2014The truth is I’ve been far too busy to blog of late and so my blog has been suffering badly. My day job became overwhelming and has eaten all of my energy. I’m hoping that will change soon. So, in trying to keep a toe over the threshold and into the world I’d like to mention that I’m still hosting the ChiSeries Vancouver, part of the Chiaroscuro Reading series started in Toronto some five or so years ago by Sandra Kasturi and friends. In Toronto, where the wild things are, and there is an abundance of culture and population, the series has run successfully every month.

Cov_TheDoorThatFacedWest_large

On sale at the reading, as well as A Parliament of Crows, and Of Thimble and Threat The Life of a Ripper Victim

Last year, along with Ottawa and Winnipeg, we launched in April, and ran quarterly, with readings in July, Oct. and then in February. The next one would have been May but EDGE Publishing was bringing dark fiction author and vampire aficionado Nancy Kilpatrick in May so we did a reading with Nancy, which included  Rhea Rose and me reading as well. With these readings we had several hurdles to get beyond. One was the venues brought some challenges, and with the new reading for this July 22nd we will be moving to the Cottage Bistro at 4468 (or possibly 4470) Main St. The Cottage Bistro is known for hosting live music as well as several other reading series and is happy to have the ChiSeries on stage.

This is an exciting and very central venue so I’m hoping that many people will come out and enjoy the tales. ChiSeries is free and the readers are TheIncomingTidepublished authors of speculative fiction and poetry. This includes science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, mythical, dark fiction, horror and all subgenres in between. This July, we have guests arriving from Oregon: Alan M. Clark, Kirsten Alene, and Cameron Pierce.

Some people might recognize Alan’s name. He has been a well-known and award-winning artist in the dark fiction genre for a number of years. He was this year’s emcee for the World Horror Convention, as well. His paintings range from thoughtful to disturbing and he has created illustrations for hundreds of books, including works of fiction of various genre,s nonfiction, textbooks, young adult fiction, and children’s books. Awards for his illustration work include the World Fantasy Award and four Chelsey Awards. He is the author of thirteen books, including seven novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. His latest novel, The Door That Faced West, was released by Lazy Fascist Press February, 2014.

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Kirsten Alene’s book will be available at the reading.

Writing couple Kirsten Alene  and Cameron Pierce live in Portland, Oregon. Kirsten’s books include Japan Conquers the Galaxy, Unicorn Battle Squad, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, and the forthcoming short story collection, Rules of Appropriate Conduct from Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2015. Her work has appeared in such places as Amazing Stories of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens, Innsmouth Magazine and The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction.

Cameron Pierce’s ten books include the Wonderland Book Award-winning collection Lost in Cat Brain Land, Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon, and the forthcoming novella The Incoming Tide. His work has been praised by The Guardian, Cracked.com and many others. Cameron is also the editor of three anthologies, most recently In Heaven, Everything Is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch, and is head editor of the popular indie publisher Lazy Fascist Press.

The reading runs from 7:30 until about 10;30 pm on July 22. Come join us or leave me a message here if you’d like to get onto a mailing list for future events. If you’re interested in the other ChiSeries events in the other cities, check out the Facebook pages and the website:  http://chiseries.com/

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Writing: Demographics of Tesseracts 17 Part III

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 will be out in October, with tales from Canadian writers that spans all times and places.

I’m sorry that I’ve been so busy that I’ve had little time to write. In about a month I’ll be on my way to Europe and before that, Tesseracts 17 will be released. We’ll be doing a promo interview session on Bitten by Books so stay tuned for more information there. Plus, a reading is scheduled at Bakka Books in Toronto on Oct. 19 and David Jon Fuller, one of our authors will be reading at the Chi Reading Series in Winnipeg on Oct. 9.

Now, I’ve spent a great deal of time working out the demographics of Tesseracts 17, mostly because I was curious. Should I edit another anthology I would track from the beginning. Here I’ve tried to map the genres of the submissions. This is the most subjective list of all. One, I didn’t track all of the stories  so I may not remember what the story is about from the title and the notes. On top of that, every reader and writer will see a story differently. Is a zombie story a horror story, a science fiction story or fantasy? In fact, it can be any of those and sometimes more than one. And I don’t remember all of the stories that well, so the table has an added inaccuracy.

I found as I was starting to list the stories that I couldn’t just say “fantasy.” That’s far too broad a genre umbrella, so I started to list what type of fantasy.  Some of these are tropes more than genres. Was it fairies or mind control or shape shifting?  What about the steampunk wendigo story? Fantasy and SF or just fantasy? And yes there were a few themes that showed up more than once. While the wendigo stories could fit under the subgenre of mythic creatures, they are a specific type of beast, like zombies and vampires, and because there was more than one, they deserved their own heading. Interesting to note, of the three specifically Canadian mythic beasties (wendigo, sasquatch, ogopogo–and there may be more I don’t know about. Maybe Steve can fill in others from the opposite coast) only wendigo appeared in the submissions. ,You, dear reader, can add up the numbers yourself, because yes, I’ve probably spent over a dozen hours on all of the demographics.

This table could have been bigger or smaller. For instance, tales involving gods got shoved under mythic beings/other creatures. I didn’t single out the three tales that involved wine though you’ll read Claude Lalumiere’s tale of wine in the anthology. There were Western flavored tales and hillbilly talk, several brutish husbands with chickenshit wives (these were too cliche), cartoons, historical/alternative histories, Jewish and Asian fantasies, dragons, winged cats, chickens and cows. Yes, even vengeful cows. We do have a historical fantasy with Patricia Robertson’s beautiful tale, and a couple end of the world stories. If anyone is interested I will break down the stories in the anthology into the genres I think they are. It would be interesting to see how Steve would classify them.

The table is read from the left column first. So if I thought a story was predominantly bizarre or metaphorical with a dollop of descent into madness, it went in the left-hand spot for bizarre. If I thought it was descent into madness with a dollop of bizarre it would go into the left-hand spot for madness. Rhea Rose’s story fits in that second category. I’ve colored the table to differentiate the categories: yellow=SF, green=fantasy, blue=horror. So Rhea’s story is colored horror.

WordPress is not easy for inserting tables and spredsheets,  so I’ve attached it. Click on  Genre chart and you’ll be able to see the list. Remember, the numbers won’t match the original demographics because I didn’t include the poems, nor about 35 stories where I couldn’t remember if they were SF, horror or fantasy.

I’m done with the demographics and will be starting to put in short interviews with the authors that will probably span the next few months. I’d like to say I’ll get two in a week but it all depends on time. So in the meantime, enjoy the demographics and look for Tesseracts 17 in October.

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Writing: I’m a Rock Star

Okay, really I’m not but I’ve received a rock star review, the creme de la creme in reviews that have been good so far. Now a review is really just one person’s opinion, whether informed or not but it’s so nice to get reviews. I’ve written stories for anthologies before where it seems no one noticed, either my story or the anthology/magazine. And yes, I’d rather get a bad review than no review at all. But of course I’d rather get a good review.

From the first story I ever published (I was publishing poems before that but really, no one does reviews of poems unless you’re Margaret Atwood) the media has changed. Or I should say the supporting media has changed. It was magazines, newspapers and trade journals at first and then with the proliferation of the internet there were a host of sites, blogs, web pages, where people could leave their opinions. There were more forms of marketing as well, and now with social media like Facebook, it has made the word of mouth aspect much larger. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise how many reviews that Evolve is getting. However, other stories that have come out in the last year or two have not received the same response.

I attribute the number of reviews to two things: one, vampires are popular, even before the sparkly shiny Twilight vampires, even before The Vampire Lestat. Two: Edge’s marketing strategy. I actually don’t know all of it for the publisher but they have been setting up readings and signings across the country and obviously giving out review copies and spreading the word through digital media.

Now all of these things do not a good review make or even guarantee reviews, but Evolve has been receiving a majority of favorable reviews, and likewise my story is mentioned in most of those reviews and again mostly in good regard. So I’m stoked. I’m a pretty small pea in the speculative fiction pod so it’s good to get mentioned. The icing on the cake was the Barnes and Noble review by Paul Goat Allen (and I’m really curious how someone ends up with that middle name) who loved my piece.

Colleen Anderson’s “An Ember Among the Fallen” was simply a visionary masterpiece, envisioning a world ruled by “vampirii” and where humans were nothing more than mindless cattle kept in pens and fed specific diets to enhance the vintage of their blood. The vampire’s scripture, The Book of the Fallen, forbids “cruelty to or treating cattle as more than the meat and blood for which they were bred.” And in a wildly indulgent society where essentially anything goes, the one lone taboo is having sex with an animal, especially a hominid. The punishment for being a “meat mater” is nothing short of death. After an emotionally draining dinner party where a male vampire, Buer, realizes that he has lost his ex-girlfriend forever—a curvaceous vampirii named Camiel—he gets drunk on bloodwine and  does the unthinkable: he plays with his food…

It’s rare to ever have a story called a visionary masterpiece and this might be the only time so I’ll take it. He also encourages me to write some sort of bloodsucking novel. If only it were so easy. I have one novel written and unsold. It’s not about vampires though there are a few in there. And I have a second, unrelated novel that’s been long in the works. But perhaps he has something: vampire fiction is immensely popular and I could probably sell such a book. I’ve somehow managed to write several vampire tales. “Lovers Triangle” takes place in a future time, and “Hold Back the Night” takes place in India with a member of the cult of Kali. I have another story that’s not sold that deals with a vampire but not as the main character. So perhaps I should see if I can become the next Charlaine Harris or Laurel Hamilton.

In the meantime, here are a host of new reviews on Evolve. As well, there is a short interview with my alter ego up on Alison Tyler’s blog to do with my story in Alison’s Wonderland: http://alisontyler.blogspot.com/ (Sept. 15th entry). Oh and if you live in Greater Vancouver, I’ll be reading at the Vancouver Public Library on Sept. 27 at 7:00 pm with three other Evolve authors: Rhea Rose, Sandra Wickham and Mary Choo.

Barnes & Noble Review

http://mondovampire.blogspot.com

http://templelibraryreviews.blogspot.com

http://anovelapproachto.me/book-reviews-2/

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Writing News For August

In the last two months several of my pieces have finally been published. In a way, this is delayed reaction because the pieces were “bought” a long time before this. However, sometimes publishers have a long lead time to publication and other times as in the case of both poems published there are other issues, such as computer meltdowns.

In March, my story “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” came out in Evolve, an anthology published by Edge publishing. Any review is better than none, as far as I’m concerned and the comments on my story have been good overall. A reading is scheduled for Sept. 27th at the Vancouver public library and there will be more details as soon as I learn them. http://www.edgewebsite.com/

Country Connection, published by Pinecone carried my poem “Bones of the Earth” in issue #60. http://www.pinecone.on.ca/MAGAZINE/current.html It came out in July. My poem, “Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” just came out in Witches & Pagans #21, by BBI Media. The magazine deals with neopaganism and this particular issue deals with gardening. The poem itself is one of my Greek revisioning poems. http://www.witchesandpagans.com/ There are many different poetry markets and I’ll send  my poetry or fiction to any market that will pay me.

Also, “A Taste for Treasure” came out last month in Alison’s Wonderland, an erotic fairy tale anthology through Harlequin Spice. eHarlequin.com This tale is based on one of the more obscure Grimm’s tales of which there are many. So overall, it’s been a pretty good summer for me. White Dwarf, our local speculative bookstore (and the only surviving one) reports that the book is selling quite well and even men are buying it because the cover is not too gooey romantic. That’s good news.

I still have “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” to come from Cutting Block Press, and I’ve just resold my story “Lover’s Triangle” to New Vampire Tales, which will be published by Books of the Dead Press. It’s a reprint anthology and this story, my second ever sold, will be seeing its third reprint. Not bad for one story.

In the meantime, I’ve finished my draft of my Mary Magdalene story which is going through a title change. I now have the second draft to do after getting comments from a couple or readers. It shouldn’t take a lot to make the changes, polish it up a bit and then send it out on the submission wheel. I have big hopes for the story but sometimes the stories I love the best are the ones I never seem to be able to sell.

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The Grisly Quest For Body Parts

I’m working on a story that involves research into some ancient Christian practices. And I’m reminded yet again about the weird human penchant for bones.  When people die we either bury them in dirt or burn them. Some places like Cuba and New Orleans, which have little dirt due to high water tables, bury their people in above ground caskets where there is less chance of a body floating away or unpleasantly moldering in a hot climate. Most cultures inter their dead one way or another.

But along with the ritualistic aspects of burying the dead comes the adoration, idolizing and power of those people  who gained fame and notoriety.  Ancient Celts would save the heads of their enemies, as an honor to the fighter and for the power that would be imbued to them. Drinking from skull cups (kapala) has been done as part of ritual, to honor the defeated person, or for power to pass onto the drinker in Hindu and Buddhist cultures, Celtic, Chinese, Scythian, Rus, Bulgarian, Uzbek and even Lord Byron. Shrunken heads of the Amazon also fall into this except the skull bone was removed.

People have a grisly fascination with that which supports us but yet remains invisible until we die. Bones. The early Christian church was no slacker in this regard. Any body part of a sainted individual was ready for demolition and salvation in a reliquary. Finger bones, skulls, leg bones, you name it. If it could be found and sanctified the churches and monasteries would hang on to such a reliquary to make each of them special. Never mind that the vaunted saint might not rest easy when their bones were scattered far and wide. Funny that we’re very touchy about our dead getting proper rites and their remains being undistrubed…unless their saints. Then it’s a wholesale grabfest for every pious group.

Of course any place that boasted of owning the used hanky, holey sock, or toothpick of a saint would have a chance of getting more believers to view the grisly religious tourist attractions. Of course this wasn’t just the Christian religion, with the Vatican being the biggest repository of weird sideshow bits of dead people. Buddhists often used the skull cup and other beliefs have their body parts too.

Of all the prized possessions it seems people have sought the head most of all. Coinciding with this research I’m doing CBC was talking about the stolen heads of famous musicians like Beethoven and Haydn. It was a pretty popular sport in the 1800s to dig up a grave and grab the head of a famous poet or composer. In some cases the macabre quest was for science. What had made these people so great? In some cases it was for grisly rewards. Own the head of Marie Antoinette…yours for $100,000. And in some cases it was for that nebulous religious aura. I touched the finger bone of St. Peter and therefore I’m blessed, I’m closer to heaven, I will get that X that I prayed for.

Whatever the reason, we are similarly repulsed and drawn to aspects of the dead. Don’t look at a corpse, and  bury the bones, but oh wait if it’s got some power, well then I will touch it, look at it, revere it. Humans are very odd, at one point fearing everything to do with death and the dead and at the other end, eternally pulled to and fascinated by it. Look at vampire fiction. There is a crossover with the dead and the living; and zombies, though not as sexy as vampires, are definitely gaining mainstream time but usually in  a more campy way. But in the true essence of humanity our natures our dichotomized by our logic and our beliefs and I’m sure in the future we’ll continue to see body parts revered in some way or another.

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Book Review: The Sweetest Kiss II

Continuing from yesterday’s review of The Sweetest Kiss, published by Cleis Press.

Ciara Finn’s “Advantage”  is set in a club where people go to be morsels for vampires and is not book_imagethat different a story from aspects of Buffy and Angel. It also has a few awkward descriptions, such as being bound with handcuffs but the character strains against ropes. The play of masochism on the human’s part and the cold, alieness of vampires comes across very well although this is not as erotic as the other stories.

Maxim Jakubowski writes a raw and sensual tale that manages not to be explicit. “The Communion of Blood and Semen”  is well crafted, and delves into the feelings and the fall into a desire too strong to resist. Of all the stories, this is one of the rougher ones in a physical sense (yet there is more violence in some of the other stories). It brings out a subtle balance of a relationship and is a true tale, as opposed to just a scene, of human/vampire lust. I found it staying in my mind a long time.

“Nightlife” is more a scene than a true tale. Madeleine Oh writes well but her story of a vampire fellating a dwarf man with a giant cock (who is Toulouse Lautrec) does little to arouse and is too short to be intriguing in the outcome. It’s a bit cliché and I was wishing that perhaps Toulouse’s paintings were influenced or his penchant to attend brothels increased after this encounter.

Evan Mora’s “Takeout or Delivery” is about James a vampire who adapts to the new world, leaving vampires in capes behind. It is two tales; the first part is about his beginnings with Lilith, two creatures of lust finding each other. The second half is how he uses Lavalife to get women, drink them, wipe their memories and do it again, especially with submissives. He is still a creature of lust and loves the modern world. Although witty, I didn’t find the tale particularly new.

“Devouring Heart” is the only lesbian tale in the book and Andrea Dale presents a heartbreaking tale of love and how far a lover will go to keep a partner. There is a good use of metaphor between the title and the relationship and this is one of the few tales that ends sadly, yet I have a tender place for this as one of my favorites for evoking that aching sense of love and love lost.

Michelle Belanger moves us farther away from the real world or a world of a century ago with “Wicked Kisses.” Here there is a vampire temple and the Scarlet One, through contest or lottery is chosen for a special ritual. There is a certain timelessness in it and I would have almost have said it was in the past except for the description on the Scarlet One’s gown. It is sensual and luxurious in detail and very like a dream or a drug-induced state. The sex isn’t with the vampires. Or is it?

“Fourth World” is not the only story in this anthology that takes place in a different locale but it is the only one in Thailand. Lisabet Sarai builds good tension with a sinuous, beautiful woman in full control of two men. She doesn’t bite them nor reveals fangs but slowly slices them with her nails while riding them, lapping their blood. She seems a truly animalistic, sensual predator. The outcome isn’t known but we can guess where it goes.

“Turn” also takes us into more of a ritualized act with the line between demon and vampire being very thin. The character summons him so that she can change. Nikki Magennis’s story is the roughest of all the tales with the sex more like being forced than sensual and as the vampire comes he drinks his summoner’s blood, completing a circle of taking and giving life. Very interesting and a raw, less romantic take on vampires.

Kristina Wright’s “Cutter” is about Evie, a distressed woman who lets her pain by slicing her arms and thighs. She meets a vampire who can scent her blood and pain. A very interesting twist on the tale where this vampire might just be her salvation and healer.

Like “Cutter” the last tale, “Once an Addict…” twists the meaning of vampire. And like some of the other tales in this book  A.D.R. Forte draws a parallel between human and vampire needs or a symbiosis that can take place. This story goes back the farthest in history, but is modern with the vampire helping the addict ancestor of an ancient bloodline to get off of drugs/alcohol. Symbiotic, they hunger for each other. It’s about blood and lust, yet this is the least sensual of the stories though it has a strong plot.

The tales in The Sweetest Kiss span time and countries, just as vampires would through their long lives. There are twists on the relationship of the dominating vampire. There is masochism, sadism, domination and submission. There is addiction, fear, hunger, as well as love and salvation. What one person finds erotic is not the same for another. I would say this anthology deftly gives a taste of something for everyone. The writing in most cases is of a very good caliber and tales range from those little pieces to get off on to those tales that have meat to sink your teeth into. The Sweetest Kiss successfully delivers eroticism and bite.

http://www.cleispress.com/index.php

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Book Review: The Sweetest Kiss

Cleis Press sent me a couple of books to review recently. I was hoping to get The Sweetest Kiss: Ravishing Vampire Erotica read and reviewed by Hallowe’en but I received the book too close to the date.  This review will be posted over two days as it is far too long for one posting.

The two things you can expect from a title like this is that the stories will be erotic and vampires will be involved. Other than that, who knows, but because it’s erotica instead of horror I would expect few people to die as that is sometimes counterproductive to erotic thoughts. If this was erotic horror, well there could be more deaths by alluring vampires. And that’s permanent deaths, not the ones that turn a human into a vampire.

sweetest-kiss-cover Edited by D.L. King, I was a little surprised to see there was no introduction. Perhaps it  was thought that the title covered it all but there may be a premise attached: is it present day or past, are vampires hidden or known about, do they all follow a certain vampire trope (turn into bats, no reflection in mirrors, crosses burn, garlic bad, etc.)? I’m one of those people who tend to read introductions to most books, possibly because I am a writer. As it was, I’d say that the vampires are fairly classic though there is variation on powers from story to story and most take place in the last two centuries.

There are nineteen stories but only two by men well established in the field. There are so many erotic writers that I’m certainly no expert on them all but Thomas Roche and Maxim Jakubowski have long standing reputations. There is only story that is homosexual (lesbian), and another that could be. Again, perhaps this was the thrust of this particular anthology, a mostly hetero anthology for the straight people. It’s common for publishers to market to certain demographics. As I began to read I found, that like foreplay, the first two stories built in sensuality to the full on sexual bite of the third.

The book opens with “Midnight at Sheremetyeo” by Remittance Girl. It is a simple tale, not really new in plot, of a vampire who breaks the rules that keep them from being hunted down. She takes a very tasty boy sexually and for feeding. The tale is  succulently worded.

Thoma Roche’s “Wait Until Dark, Montresor” oozes with atmosphere and reminds me of Tanith Lee though I’m not sure if that’s the style or the character herself, a vampire who writes erotic vampire mysteries. Perhaps a bit of both. Second person is hard to do successfully, but it works in this cautionary tale, vividly describing the idolization of a vampire and famous author. A mystery is strung out nicely with a slow reveal as opposed to a sudden bite in the dark.

“The Temptation of Mlle. Marielle Doucette” by  Anna Black is the first period piece set during the French Revolution. The thing about the longevity of vampires is that a certain timelessness can enter stories. The young Marielle must choose between her beliefs, execution and revenge through a repulsive (to her) yet strangely alluring temptation. This tale has the first truly descriptive sex scene though it is strangely lacking in other details.

Lisette Ashton’s “Kiss and Make Up” has the actual Dracula and his girlfriend who have picked up/made a new vampire boy of their own but it’s for a game of turnabout. Dracula absorbs the personality of the person he drinks so he gets kind of a high or in this case, a philosophical bent on the world. Interesting take but there are some awkward euphemisms for sex like,  “His length sputtered and pulsed.” Yowch.

Sommer Marsden manages a short pithy, hot and erotic story in “The Student.” Although not that original a tale with a college student (there are a few in this book) who is too sassy to take anyone’s warnings of dread about an old house, her actions bring about a truly erotic sensuality  in a reluctant encounter.

One of my abolute favorites in the anthology was “Red By Any Other Name” by Kathleen Bradean. A woman who is a dom tries to bring a vampire to submission. But is he truly feeling it or playing at it and can she truly be a dom without succumbing to her own fear? The tension is twofold, with fear and eroticism. The vampire chants words for red that echo in her head: Strawberry, cherry, candy-apple. It is well done and memorable with vividly excellent writing.

The most ephemeral or spiritual piece in the book is “Enlightenment.” Amber Hipple’s story has no real time or place and almost no corporeality with the ebony black man/vampire(?) referred to as “my dream, my mystery” and her intent seems to be that it remain untethered and dreamlike. There is little to really say vampire here except in the changing into smoke but there are undertones of the Eros and Psyche myth here that fit very well.

“Blood and Bootleg” takes place in 1922 Connecticut and it’s hard to tell if the language fits but it’s good enough not to jar. Teresa Noelle Roberts’ use of language feels a bit awkward with the woman thinking “yikes” when she’s bitten. Even for the period that seems a bit…light, especially when the vampire is then described as ripping out her throat, which makes me think of huge chunks of flesh and bloody gore spattering everywhere. Not particularly erotic biting. Overall, though, the eroticism is good.

G.B. Kensington does a deft turn with a human who takes the vampire when he thinks he’s taking her. This vampire uses sex to lessen his blood hunger. This is a common enough thread through the book where tying the eroticism and the bloodlust together cannot be missed. Will the vampire lose control and will it be the little death or the big death? “Fair Play” has a good build up of emotion, pent-up hunger and lust.

The rest of the review tomorrow.

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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 protégé, 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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Book Review: The Very Bloody Marys

Very Bloody Marys

Very Bloody Marys

I’ve owed M. Christian this review for a very long time and since it’s not timely with the release (2007 by Haworth Positronic Press), then why not a review in time for that holiday shopping list? And a huge mea culpa–I didn’t realize it had been that long. I still owe you.

From the title you might think this is about drinking, or murderous monarchs. If you thought one of these, you’re close to the heart of the matter. But really it’s both, about bloodthirsty vampire queens. Some are not so much queen as just murderous gay vampires. If you’re familiar with M. Christian’s work, you know he’s a prolific writer, and his writing includes erotic tales straight, gay, lesbian, etc. He’s very versatile. So I confess to thinking this book would be about gay vampires with  a lot of erotica thrown in. Though it has sensuous details this is more the tale of a gay vampire trying to gain experience as a detective. It’s a murder mystery with the supernatural thrown in.

While vampire detectives are not necessarily new, a gay vampire detective is. Valentino is thrust into the crime scene on a personal level, since his mentor is missing. And the crime scene: Vespa scooting vampires are killing the folks of San Francisco and risking the outing of all vampires, who tend to live by a code so that they aren’t hunted down. Coupled with mentor Pogue’s disappearance, Valentino has two mysteries to figure out.

The book opens with three different beginnings as Valentino tries on his authorial voice. This sets the tone, and gives this character high twinkiness. Valentino is a flamer, vapid and vain. The character was so irritating and flittythat I nearly put the book down, but his way in the world was intriguing. I think M. Christian might have cut it down a bit but then I realized there is a good reason about a quarter of the way into the book on why Valentino is acting this way. He comes to discover what’s been done to him and his personality deepens as it’s unlayered.

Valentino relies on other supernatural help and Christian’s writing uses some very descriptive phrases. For being an undead guy, Valentino is vibrantly alive and given to over verbosity that doesn’t stop in describing his zombie driver: “One time–big shudder here–I had caught a look at his eyes, two puss-filled boiled-egg eyes staring, unblinking, straight ahead, and didn’t sleep well for a week.” Of course that should be pus-filled not eyes with cats in them, but I blame the publisher for not putting a proofreader on it or maybe they did and missed it. There are very few typos, which is a good thing.

You get a good sense of Valentino’s world as he sees it. “Finally, the Brass Ass of the Great Emancipator (Abraham Lincoln) led me through silverfish heaven to a narrow doorway between the piles…In it was Saul, tarnished silver hair, rainbow sweater unwinding in spots into primary colors, brittle bones showing where unwinding yarn couldn’t hide it, eyes like bleached robin’s eggs, Indian blanket in his lap hiding the bones I knew weren’t just brittle but also didn’t work, and, because of those legs, an ancient wheelchair.”It took me a moment to realize he meant realbones, not bony legs; the visual setting is very concrete.

Much of Valentino’s descriptions go into overdrive, with buckets of adjectives. They hit their height when he’s talking about his lover, Julian. “Oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian–beloved, adored, venerated companion, compadre, mate, playmate, partner, betrothed, idol, best friend, love, lover–oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian…” A bit much? Yes, but then this is the turning point for Valentino.

Events pick up with dire and catastrophic discoveries. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say the Very Bloody Marys are brutal, relentless, sociopathic, fashion sensitive vampires. As the fog clears from Valentino’s eyes he finds his world isn’t as he suspected. Sure it still has a few supernatural beings but all is not what it seems. He still richly describes things but there is a darker vein now to the vampire detective’s perspective. “The inky blackness didn’t so much as run as steadily walk out of that doorway. A pooling, a billowing, a smoking, and then up and into arms and legs and a wide-brimmed hat pulled down over hooded eyes.”

When  Valentino runs into Ombre, even the supernatural shade notices something has changed though the gay vampire tries to hide it. “It’s just that you seem different somehow. The flippancy is still there, that much is clear, but it’s like something else is missing.”

And Valentino has changed on several levels. In the process of discovering what has happened to Pogue, being threatened with permanent annihilation and in stopping the brutal gang, he earns his wings. He solves the mysteries, stops the Marys and finally grows up a bit after 200 years. M. Christian wraps up the tale in a very satisfying and unpredictable way. It’s one of the many bright spots in the story; very little is predictable. You won’t see this as another tired take on the vampire trope. It’s refreshingly bright and if not a complete happy ending, one with suitable revenge.

If you’re looking for a good, fast paced read, or if you like mystery or fantasy or gay fiction. Or if you just want something different and new, this book will be as satisfying as a vampire’s first drink of blood.

The Very Bloody Marys, M. Christian, 2007 Haworth Press Inc. ISBN: 9781560235354

M. Christian’s site: http://zobop.blogspot.com/

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