Sunday, February 22, 2009

Change of List

A "Recommended Reading" list has adorned my page since its formation. It consists of Andrew M. Boylan's Taliesin Meets the Vampires, Curt Purcell's The Groovy Age of Horror and Niels K. Petersen's Magia Posthuma.

I've decided to scrap this list in favour of a more generic "Blogs I Read" list. It's not that I've ceased recommending the aforementioned blogs, but I thought I'd expand the list and share the others I read, too...without going to the unnecessary effort of creating two separate lists.

Rather than provide something strictly associated with the field, I wanted to personalise it a bit, to reflect my personal taste. There's also room for the list to be expanded on, in future.

So, as of this writing, apart from the "Recommended Reading" list, I'm also including Ms. LuluBelle's Reading with a Bite and Brian Solomon's The Vault of Horror. They won't appear in order of preference, but in order of whoever has the most recent post.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Motifs in the Movies

I recently discussed literary motifs in vampire fiction.

Now, it's time to focus on vampire movies.

In lieu of my own thoughts, I thought I'd recommend having a read of Christopher Beam's "I Vant to Upend Your Expectations" and Stephen Harrigan's "Standards for Vampires", both published in Slate magazine.

Hi Angela!

I received a comment (Saturday, February 21, 2009 2:06:00 PM) on "So You Wanna Write a Vampire Novel" from paranormal romance author, Angela Cameron.

She wrote:
I'm starting to think that the vampire thing is going to be so overdone before long that I'm going to have to abandon my babies.
I was going to reply to her in comment form, but my response was starting to get so extensive, that I thought I'd reply byway of this blog entry.

So, here goes.

There is a certain amount of ennui attached to the vampire genre, which is probably why a lot of people end up abandoning it.

F. Paul Wilson, author of The Keep (1981) and Midnight Mass (2004) is one example. He was obviously fed up with the genre at one point.

In an interview for Rosemary Ellen Guiley's The Complete Vampire Companion (New York: Macmillan, 1994), he was asked, "How does this fad [that is, the romanticising of vampires in fiction -ed.] affect the writer?", he replied:
The vampire can still hold one of the greatest threats, that of death. To do that the writer must turn to a classical approach. After all, what was Dracula about but good guys versus bad guys. Dracula was more than just a bad guy; he was a force of death, and also represented something worse than death. Dracula also personalized the horror; the vampire set a target. Vampires today drag people into a dark alley, like a victim of random violence. If you make the vampire operate on that level he is nothing more than a mugger. It's less likely that I'd use the vampire again. If Robert McCammon hadn't written me and asked for a story for the anthology Under the Fang, I would never have written Midnight Mass [his contribution was later expanded into the 2004 novel of the same name -ed.]. I think we've gone too far with the vampire, and I can't see how people take it seriously anymore. (p. 99)
The thing about the vampire genre, is that it contains certain motifs which tend to get recycled. Some are happy with that (I know I am), which is how its various subgenres are formed.

Of course, once in a while, something comes along to break the mould, or catches on with the public, and thus we have examples like John Polidori's "The Vampyre" (1819), J. Sheridan LeFanu's "Carmilla" (1872), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), Richard Matheson's I Am Legend (1954), Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1976) and, of course, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series (2005-).

I'm sure I have left some out, but you get the drift.

Each one of these stories created a template for successive writings in the genre (Meyer's is yet to be seen, I think). However, so strong are these "archetypes" (especially Dracula), that subsequent writers find it very difficult to break free of them.

These initial works aren't necessarily original, but they have something about them which creates new milestones. Kind've like perfecting a recipe. They just figured it out. Somehow.

Personally, I don't think writers need to aspire to such milestones. After all, I'm sure pretty much all of the above-cited authors didn't deliberately set out to create the pop culture "monsters" they spun off. They just wanted to share the stories in their heads.

As I mentioned, I happen to like certain motifs. It's what draws me to the field. My literary tastes, in terms of vampire fiction, lean more towards the "old school", "retro" stuff. F. Paul Wilson's Midnight Mass (2004) is a classic example of that. Here's a review I wrote for it on Amazon.

I like vampires that "obey the rules" (even if these aren't necessarily founded in folklore). I prefer Count Dracula over Lestat. And the tropes that go with that implication. Curt Purcell, of Groovy Age of Horror fame, covers this literary preference quite well in "Ancient Horrors, Modern Settings, Modern Readers" and "Blood-Drenched Sacred Soil".

However, as a budding vampirologist, my objection is when certain literary motifs are applied to "actual" vampires of history and folklore. This is the flaw inherent in a lot of non-fiction vampire works.

Anyway, point is, you should write what you love. Write for yourself. If you enjoy certain facets of vampire fiction, then there's sure to be others of a similar bent. If you truly are sick of it all, then there are a billion other avenues to pursue.

Either way, I wish you all the best with your endeavors - whatever form they might take!

Friday, February 20, 2009

About Face!

Since the formation of this blog, I've been using a Blogger layout by Todd Dominey called "Scribe":

My use of it has even been imitated elsewhere:

However, I've decided to cease using it.


Well, look what happens when I try to create a blockquote in HTML code:

I thought I was doing the coding wrong, but when I would attempt to edit it, it appeared as I intended it to be. I also don't have the same problem making blockquotes in my other blog.

So, it's out with the old and in with the new.

I've selected the relatively drab, but more reliable, "Mr. Moto" layout by Jeffrey Zeldman. It'll do for now.

So You Wanna Write a Vampire Novel?

There's a handy guide on how to write a vampire novel over at TV Tropes.

It's pretty tongue-in-cheek, but I'm sure you'll find some useful pointers there.

For more pointer's, you might like to check out eHow's "How to Write a Vampire Novel" which is less extensive. They've even got an article on how to write for tweens.

Have fun!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Easing Up on Imitation

Well, guess who went an got a brand-new name for their blog?

No, not me. TFO!

I guess he saw the light and decided to rename his blog into something that doesn't ape mine (not the first time he's done so).

So, no longer is his blog titled, Diary of a Vampirologist. Now, it's called...wait for it...Journal of a Vampirogist!



Great stuff.

It's still filled with plagiarism, though.
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