Tag Archive: Anne Rice



Book review time again.  Today I wanted to share with you my review on what I consider one of THE best  collections of vampire stories ever compiled.  It covers some of the earliest vampire tales known and finishes with more modern ones from the 1980’s.  With the many takes on vampires we see these days from Anne Rice to Stephanie Meyer, I thought it might be interesting for you all to check out some other takes on the vampire genre done by other authors over the decades.  So without further ado, allow me to introduce you all to…

 



THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever found. Part of the reason is that it covers authors who’ve touched on this subject as far back as 1816 and goes up to 1984. There are a number of familiar names in this book like Clark Ashton Smith, Sheridan Le Fanu, Tanith Lee, and August Derleth to name just a few. But what fascinates me the most is seeing how the vampire legend is explored. We meet the legendary “Varney The Vampire”, the seductive and dangerous “Carmilla”, as well as Stoker’s missing chapter from Dracula which was released as a short story several years after the novel itself was published. I understand in some later printings, it was put back into the novel where it belonged. Alas my copy of Dracula is one of the ones without it, so finding this missing chapter in this collection was a treat for me.

 

The first 2 installments in this collection: “Fragment of a Novel” (1816) and “The Vampyre” (1819) were of particular interest to me since their creation were the direct result of a bet made between the poet Percy Shelley, his wife Mary, Lord Byron and John Polidori. The four were spending a summer together and during a particularly boring rainy night they all agreed to a little contest. Each was to create a full length horror story within a certain amount of time. These 2 stories were the entries by Byron and Polidori respectively. Neither is fully finished. In fact Mary Shelley was the only one to complete her story the legendary “Frankenstein”. 

 

Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” is another brilliant piece in this collection. Published in 1872, it predates Stoker’s more famous “Dracula” by a few decades. Considered a ‘lesbian’ vampire story since both the victims and the antagonist are women. But it’s here where we really find one of the first demonstrations of the sensuous behavior that has been built upon by so many modern writers of vampire fiction. Yet, it is not love or real affection. I’ll quote a passage from the story so you can see what I mean.

 

“…the vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling passion

of love, by particular persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible patience and

stratagem, for access to a particular object may be obstructed in a hundred ways. It will

never desist until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victim.

But it will, in these cases, husband and protract its murderous enjoyment with the refinement

of an epicure, and heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship. In these cases

it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent. In ordinary ones it goes direct to

its object, overpowers with violence, and strangles and exhausts often at a single feast…”

 

So here we see that alluring nature that is so eroticized these days. But clearly in this passage we see that clearly there is no real affection for the victim at all. It’s fascinating to see how one idea is singled out and made romantic, while the consequences are ignored these days. However, I cannot criticize modern writers for this. Every author wants to put a different spin on an old legend and this can be seen throughout this collection.

 

We have “Luella Miller” by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman in 1902. No blood letting here, but the title character definitely has a kind of vampiric nature, willing or otherwise. She is almost a sympathetic character in some ways. 

 

Later we find C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau” in 1933, where the author takes us on a science fiction journey to another planet where we meet a vampire-like being, who also shares some resemblance to the legendary Medusa of ancient Greece.

 

There’s also the legendary Fritz Lieber’s offering “The Girl With The Hungry Eyes” from 1949. Or August Derleth’s 1939 “Drifting Snow” where we meet a pair of Snow Vampires. 

 

For almost a century authors have been putting their own spin on this famous myth and many will continue for years to come, myself included. 

 

I give this collection a full 5 STAR rating and highly recommend it to any fan of the genre.


Okay, in my last entry I disclosed I was working on a vampire novel.  Now this is a genre that has been done and redone so many times it’s unbelievable.  And almost every time there are new twists and turns added to it that they barely seem to resemble the traditional vampires that Bela Legosi and Christopher Lee made legendary in Hollywood.  Today we have vampires that just totally ooze sex appeal, can sparkle in daylight instead of turning to dust, can have sex and produce offspring, are either monsters or saints, etc.  And they are still as popular as ever in spite of all the changes to the original legend.

Now I’m not just talking about Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.  That was not the first vampire story.  There were many others. If you ever get the opportunity check out “The Penguin Book Of Vampire Stories” and you’ll see ones that predate Mr. Stoker’s work by quite a few years.  But in that collection you’ll also meet other kinds of vampires: snow vampires, ones who hide inside portratis, aliens on different planets, etc.  In this collection there are creatures of all sorts and shapes that are still called vampires.

This brings me to today’s subject.  How can you breathe new life into a genre that has been written about so many times over?  Well that’s up to the writer.  As in the case of Anne Rice, Stephenie Meyer and others, they tweek the original vampire concept to suit their story ideas.  Sometimes they provide and explanation about why their creations don’t adhere to all the old legends, sometimes not.

So, you may be thinking, “Okay Allan, how are you going to ‘tweek’ the vampire concept and make it fresh and different?  What changes are you going to make to the traditional weaknesses and rules?”

Here’s my answer.  All the traditional rules of garlic, being welcomed into a place, avoid sunlight, shape-shift, control minions, etc. will be in effect.  So where am I making the change?  Simple, my vampire is NOT undead.

At this point I’m sure a number of you are thinking if he’s not undead then he can’t be supernatural.  So how can all those limitations and vulnerabilities still apply to him?  That’s where the creative writing process comes in.  All of these things will be addressed in the story.  And it won’t just be about a biography about my vampire.  There will be dangers.  The internet allows people access to a lot of information.  And this story will be taking place in modern day.  So there will be suspicious townspeople, cops on the hunt, the threat of discovery, a ghost, and villains (human and otherwise) to be battled.

So there you have it.  A new take on a much used subject.  But instead of changing all the rules, I’m working with them and making new reasons for why they apply.  And in doing so, I’m hoping that a number of you are already really intrigued and are looking forward to checking the story out when it’s ready.  If this is the case, then I’ve succeeded in breathing new life and interest into a genre that has been worked and reworked many times over.  And it can be done with so many other genres such as fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, you name it.

So what genre or legendary creature/being have you thought about working on?  Is there one close to your heart that’s been done a lot already?  If so, how can you make it new and interesting?  Are there rules for how it behaves or can be dealt with and what are the explanations behind it?  Is there a new way to approach these things?  Give us a new spin on it that still makes sense and intrigues us.

I’d love to hear from you and so would other people who read this blog.  Leave comments below and tell us a little about what you are working on or have in mind.  Be careful not to give your whole idea away.  Just leave tantalizing hints that will get us revved up to check your work out as soon as it’s ready.

Until next time,  keep writing.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: