• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

A Vampire Goes on a Journey: Kim Falconer blogs

One of the most riveting Flycon panels, hosted by A Writer Goes on a Journey with Ross Hamilton moderating, was The Evolution of the Vampire. Stephanie Gildart, Pati Nagle and Jeri Smith-Ready discussed the hypnotic quality of vampires and how they have changed over time. From Bram Stoker to Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyers, vampires in literature were compared and contrasted.

Keifer Sutherland is one of the Lost Boys 1986

Keifer Sutherland is one of the Lost Boys 1986

Pati Nagle began with, ‘Handsome film vampires have had a lot to do with it (the changing images) Frank Langella and Christopher Lee. There have also been numerous more sympathetic vampires in fiction. One of my favorites is Joshua in George R. R. Martin’s ‘Fevre Dream’.

We talked about the 1922 making of ‘Nosferatu’ and its reinvention in The Shadow of a Vampire—Willem Dafoe being the only ‘living dead’ ever to be nominated for an academy award. From ‘terrifying’ to ‘sparkly,’ the meaning and purpose of the vampire archetype became clearer.

Willem Defoe plays the character from 1922’s Nosferatu

Willem Defoe plays the character from 1922’s Nosferatu

The erotic nature of vampires was pondered in depth. We could have talked much longer on this! Jeri Smith-Ready said ‘I think vampires, at least since Dracula, have often been connected to sex. He came out of the Victorian era, during which no one talked about sex (but everyone did it, of course). He seduced innocent women–against their will, naturally (wink) and turned them into creatures of very strong wants and needs. Repression has a way of twisting things.’

Kate Beckinsale portrays a gender evolution from female victim to a powerful ‘Death Dealer’ 2006

Kate Beckinsale portrays a gender evolution from female victim to a powerful ‘Death Dealer’ 2006

Writing Vampire antagonists also held the floor. Stephanie Gildart pointed out, ‘The most “evil” beings, to me as a reader, are the ones who could have chosen otherwise and yet still embrace the darkness in them. Humans have a choice. Giving vampires more complexity, making them more human, simultaneously gives them the opportunity of being even more evil.’

For me, the evolution of the vampire is not simply a trend in literature and film. These new images aren’t responsible for the sifting views, rather they are a reflection of them. As our perception of Self changes, our monsters change. The vampire, once powerful beyond our control, is now a creature we can dialog with—be intimate with. Originally, the vampire had no soul—‘In this chest beats no heart,’ Bram Stoker’s Dracula says, but now that’s changing. We are learning compassion for the beast within, and they sometimes love us back. In this way, the evolution of the vampire reflects the evolution of human consciousness.

What do you think? How have vampires changed for you as readers and writers? I’d love to hear from our Voyager authors who traffic in this fascinating mythology!

Kim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette (Quantum Enchantment Book 1), which was published in January by HarperVoyager. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

Advertisements

29 Responses

  1. I’m curious to know if any of us think that vampires can return to the ‘soulless monster’, after being so doused in sexy oils and sparkly glitter.

    Would anyone nowadays take a completely evil monster-vampire seriously, or even be interested in one as the focus for horror rather than paranormal romance?

  2. Good question, Nyssa. My first thought is you can never go back. Once the psyche has gained ground, once we are conscious of a thing, it can never seep back into the collective soup. But then I have to laugh because we all know, ‘Never say never!’

    Perhaps there is a place for soulless vampires in literature and film just like there is room for human characters portrayed in that way–as sociopaths. Maybe one vampire in the coven has a soul–has compassion–and the rest do not, or vise a v. It’s the contrast that makes for a compelling read.

    What do you think? Anyone?

    Thanks for dropping by, Nyssa and can I just say that your work on Flycon –all your insights and contributions and hosting–was absolutely wonderful. You have superhuman powers! How did you pull that off? It was a fantastic event–round the clock.

    🙂

  3. I guess it all depends how it’s written. Maybe vampires have become fascinating in part because they are so often portrayed as the monsters that are still recognisably human… take a few steps further down that path and it’s natural to start investigating how deep that humanity goes. And how being undead would change that aspect. A lot of writers have taken that journey and taken us into the heads, hearts and desires of vampires and their victims but I can imagine that in the hands of someone like Stephen King, say, it’d be pretty easy to take seriously the idea of vampire as soulless monster.

    What about the concept of vampire as “everyman” (or at least, trying to be accepted as such) versus evil monster, as explored in True Blood? I haven’t read the original books, but the Tv series on Foxtel is addictive…

    • Vertigo, you captured something here: . . . take a few steps further down that path and it’s natural to start investigating how deep that humanity goes. And how being undead would change that aspect.

      Being ‘undead’ is part of this evolution. The struggle to comprehend our own mortality — at least the mortality of the body — expresses through relationships to immortals. It’s throughout ancient myth– a struggle between us and the gods. They have something that lasts forever but we have something more because it does not.

      I haven’t seen/read True Blood but I’m interested now.

      Thanks for your insights 🙂

  4. I suppose it’s also that vampires come from humans (in most cases) – they were once like us, and therefore we cannot help but wonder if that thing, that spark, the soul, still lies within somewhere. I do agree, Kim, that the vampire is not just some passing trend, although it IS trendy at the moment, and thus has been reduced to a most basic premise of good and evil in some ways. That, too, has its place. Vampires were conceived of as one of those things waiting for us in the dark, something that religion or superstition could stand against (think of the many ways we know to kill a vampire with a stake through the heart, cutting their heads off, dousing them with holy water … and so on). It intrigues me that in the latest incarnation of vampires – the Stephenie Meyers books + film – there is no mention of crosses or crucifixes or holy water (at least none that I remember). Does this reflect a large part of western society’s secular nature? Or is just that these things have been taken into the mainstream? Or just that Meyer chose not to use those parts of vampire folklore?
    I think all monsters are more interesting if we perceive they have something in common with us – even if just because this means we have a chance to weedle our life back from them, should we be caught in the ultimate danger … humans need hope.

    • “I think all monsters are more interesting if we perceive they have something in common with us – even if just because this means we have a chance to weedle our life back from them, should we be caught in the ultimate danger … humans need hope.”

      For me I also find monsters, or books about monsters much more scary when the ultimate foe is human, or has human elements. Something about being able to relate to it means there’s that psychological connection and recognition that makes a lot more terrifying than if the monster is just a random beast.

      That’s something that came from another panel at Flycon, in fact, that concept of getting under the reader’s skin with familiar concepts. And how that works both ways. So maybe that’s part of the lure or allure of the vampire. Their humanity gets under our skin, we can empathise, but they’re both more and less – depending on which folklore you’re going with. And that can be alluring or frightening, but either way it works.

      I actually missed the vampire panel, I should go and read it. And apologies if this just turned into blather…

      • Vertigo! We were quoting Nat at the same time!

        Clearly one of her quotable quote!

        I agree with your idea here — Something about being able to relate to it means there’s that psychological connection and recognition that makes a lot more terrifying than if the monster is just a random beast.

        So true!

      • 🙂 Am glad it resonated! You’re absolutely right, Vertigo, it is that getting under our skin – and that hint of familiarity and strangeness is alluring … in much the same way, I suppose, that we are attracted to other dangerous things for that feeling of daring or adrenalin.

  5. Sorry I missed this panel. Seemed like a good one.

  6. Nat–that’s something I hadn’t thought of at all. Vampires were conceived of as one of those things waiting for us in the dark, something that religion or superstition could stand against . . .

    The evolution of the vampire could be studied side by side with changing religious practices of the last century. Bram Stoker’s Dracula cursed his god, and God cursed him back–with presumably a much greater impact. Who is the monster here?

    Again there is a feeling of struggle with the divine — our divinity within. Your summation hits the spot.

    I think all monsters are more interesting if we perceive they have something in common with us – even if just because this means we have a chance to weedle our life back from them, should we be caught in the ultimate danger … humans need hope.

    Thank you!
    🙂

    • I love stories about the struggle with the divine – the current season of Supernatural on television is all about the ultimate coming battle and humanity’s role in the fight (if they have one at all – which is another interesting side-though – are we just pawns in the great fight between two powers, or are we an integral part of it?).

  7. Bram Stoker certainly was looking at the struggle between allegiance to or rejection of the divine. Dante’s Inferno as well. Look what happens when we transgress the limits set for humankind!

    It’s so interesting, this idea of being pawns on the chessboard of the gods. The ancient Greek myths portray it that way. Does anyone remember a 1980’s film called The Clash of the Titans? Pre-CGI but you see Perseus, who thinks he’s on a hero’s journey, is really moved about at the whim of the gods.

    The same holds for the Trojan war–it all started with the goddess Eris being excluded from the banquet on Mt. Olympus. She tosses a golden apple that says ‘for the fairest’ and of course Hera, Aphrodite and Athena all try to catch it. The interesting thing is, the gods need the humans, in this case, to arbitrate. They get the mortal Paris to choose ‘the fairest’, which ends badly for the Trojans. On one hand, we are seen as pawns but on the other we are essential to the plot. I thought the film version missed a great opportunity to explore this. Brad Pitt aside, the recent story of Troy seemed ‘humanized’–made to look like a struggle between two kingdoms when the real conflict was on Mt. Olympus.

    This notion is presented through biblical mythology in the film Constantine–from the Hellblazer (DC comics?) series. The emphasis here was on the influencing of souls, as if the divine powers–God and the Devil–were keeping score and we are basically the cribbage pegs. Again it’s a gaming metaphor, don’t you think?

  8. As someone who traffics is this kind of tale 🙂 I have been following this debate with some interest.

    For me vampires part of my reading ever since I read Saloms Lot by Stephen King so many years ago. I have to agree Vampires Suck–Actually, they don’t. And that’s the problem.

    In a way the Vampire his fangs. Dracula was a sexy beast. He seduced the women of Victorian England, turning them into wanton wenches. He was scary and deadly and totally sexy. I watched Buffy and Angel and loved it. But Angel annoyed me totally with his better than good attitude.

    One thing I really felt cheated by in the Underworld movies is the fact you never saw them feed – you never saw them hunt thier prey. A glass of crimson was all you saw. Where did it come from?

    There are things that I like about modern vampires and things I don’t. But I still LOVE a great scary tale and look forward to reading The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan with great delight.

    • Dracula was sexy-erotic! Yes! And very dangerous.

      Tell us, Tracey, how do your vampires compare? No spoilers, of course. I’m looking forward to finding out as I read, but do they use their fangs? Is their erotic nature mingled with their hunger?

      I like that you mentioned the Underworld films. There was a contrast there between the Vampires and the werewolves. (more than the obvious ones) The V’s were ‘civil-refined, glass of crimson and all. But we did see the Lychan feed and fight–their ‘beastliness’ a central theme. The vampires though, aside from Victor’s savaging of Selene’s family 20 years prior, manufactured artificial plasma for sustenance and/or fed on livestock. I think the blood bank was their ‘front’ company that kept the coven in the $Black.

      In this film, the werewolves hadn’t lost their touch . . .

      🙂 Kim

      • Kim, I sympathised with the werewolves more I think, apart form their underdog status (pun intended) they seemed more in tune with their nature.

        In the world I have created in my books I have all manner of creatures – the Aeternus (the name I have given my particular race of Vampires) is just one of them and they definitely use their fangs. It must be human blood, animal blood will not do. They can drink bottled human blood, but I liken it to having a frozen dinner as opposed dining on fine cuisine. The erotic act can be part of the feeding, it definitely is for the Aeternus, but depends on what the vampire wants too. Emotions taint the human’s blood so it taste different, eg, passion makes the blood spicy sweet, fear gives it a sharp tang. If an Aeternus drains a person while feeding it results in death high and they instantly become addicted and the condition is called Necrodrenia. So my bad vampires are called Necrodreniac – they hunt humans, they feed their death-high habit, they spiral into insanity and must be destroyed.

        That is a tiny glimpse into my world of Vampires, fangs and all.

      • Tracey, I can’t wait to visit your world–Aeternus and Necroreniac? And the mood of the human changing their taste? I’m captivated by it all!

        Looking forward to this release!

        🙂 Kim

  9. I’ll add my two fangs’ worth to this topic. I wrote my first vampire (dark romantic fantasy) novel in the mid nineties and submitted it to New York (agents and publishers) and received rejections — “No one wants to read about vampires, but maybe if you write it set in the USA and …” I couldn’t change the premise, but I managed to sell it to a small press publisher here in OZ. Anyway, my vamps are always sexy, dark, “mad, bad and dangerous to know” — that edge of danger … a creature on the edge of out of control. Tracey, would you like for me to read/review/preview your book and interview you — I work on “up and coming’ promotions in the webzine, The Specusphere. Your book/world sounds fascinating. If you’d like to see the sort of feature I do, please look at the one I did for Kim Falconer. if you need the link…I can send.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Astrid. I like your line, always sexy, dark, “mad, bad and dangerous to know . . .”

      Why is ‘bad’ so darn appealing sometimes?

      🙂

  10. Two new Vampire interpretations:

    Why Vampires Never Die By GUILLERMO del TORO and CHUCK HOGAN Published: July 30, 2009 New York Times

    And, Daybreakers a film by Michael and Peter Spierig with Isabel Lucas, Willem Dafoe and Ethan Hawke.

    There are some original ideas in both these new releases.del Toro highlights the eternal aspect of Vampires in his article, relating it to spiritual awe.

    My son worked on the Daybreakers film, (digital FX) creating one of the bat-people–so I’m biased to the max but really, this one has a fresh take. What if everyone became a vampire????

    Has anyone seen or read yet?

    🙂

  11. I think “bad” is appealing, because of the dark side of our nature. We all have it — the light and the dark and sometimes as authors we can explore the dark side through a character who is either the villain or the flawed hero. I find villains fun to write – because they can break the taboos sometimes set in place by genre expectations of heroes, etc. My starlord villain in my latest book was an evil nasty piece of work, but he also had a cynical humour that was — again — fun to write as it made a contrast between hero/heroine and villain.

    • Breaking out of genre expectations of the hero AND the villain allows for deeper exploration of ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ in all of us. It’s about perspective, cultural and individual.

      I’m looking forward to reading your starlord villain!

  12. Question: will vampires ever return to the soul-less monsters…?

    One such was in a Harry Dresden novel I read last night (Jim Butcher is the author). The vampire is glamoured, but when confronted after magical exchanges, she turned into the Nosferatu … a truly chilling moment. And I’ve just finished reading a book by an Aussie author that’s coming out later this year and I’m doing an interview/preview with her for The Specusphere… these vamps (while still human-looking) are not nice. I am also working on a book that has both good and bad vamps … again that contrast between light and dark and a character or two who are both good and bad — they walk that tightrope between succumbing to their nature, or trying to achieve more “humanity’.

    Astrid.

  13. Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I’ll forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  14. I’ve written (and am still writing!) vampire stories. When I read Stoker’s Dracula, more than 20 years ago it struck me that “his soul was the saddest of all…” So, I sat down and began a novel which explored the vampire from all angles. Despite being told by several agents and publishers when I subbed the novel that “no one wants to read about vampires”, I kept to my fangs. My first professional sale was an erotic vampire short story.Without being too flippant, I guess part of the allure in the early days was the debonair creature in an impeccable tuxedo–(ala Christopher Lee)– beneath that sophistication was a monster. But qualify “monster”… from whose perspective. The vampire exists, it feeds on blood; living creatures consume living things to survive. As others have said, identifying the monster within each of us makes us realise that “monster” is only a matter of perspective. The vampire is sexy — the act of biting is penetration. And can we ever go back to the soul-less vampire? I do, in my latest work in progress. He and his cohorts are the villains.I also have that dark side in all my vampires — but some choose not to embrace the dark side — like all sentient beings, they have choices. The vampire then becomes the hero battling human monsters. In my latest string of novellas, I have vamps and shifters and other paranormal creatures– darkness with a lot of subtle (and not so subtle!) humour.
    Kim, thanks for sharing this fascinating blog.
    Best wishes
    Astrid Cooper.

    • Hi Astrid,

      Thanks for posting here. OMG, ‘no one wants to read about vampires?’ We’re laughing at that now!

      Yes, monsters from who’s perspective? That’s the question. And we do all have a choice. Being there for it, as readers and film goers, is part of what draws us in and entangles us in the tale!

      I’d love to see a link here to your work!

  15. Thanks, Kim. “you can read all about it”: books, links, etc via my website. http://www.astridcooper.com
    Another book about vamps by one of my fav. authors (Tanith Lee) was “Sybella” – a horror/s.f. set on Mars. This one came out maybe 20 years ago? I think vampires and other “paranormal” creatures have that edge – mad, bad and dangerous to know. We are always thrilled by the allure of “sexy, dangerous and can I redeem him/her”? story arc/thread. My own vamps are comfortable with their nature and view the world from their POV. One of my readers commented that “these vampires are real — they aren’t misplaced humans, they look at the world from a different perspective”. Oh yes, and my vamps do not drink animal blood either. Definitely only consenting adults. I love this discussion. Best wishes! Astrid.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: