Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 14 (November 2006)
- Welcome to my newsletter, "News from the Crypt," and please visit
Carter's Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror,
fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires
and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for
vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link
labeled "Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe." For my recommendations
of "must read" classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm
of the Vampires:
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog:
The e-zine STRANGE HORIZONS (www.strangehorizons.com) has just
published my article "Taming the Beastor Not: Night Journeys with
Weyland and Hannibal." This is my attempt to make sense of Clarice
Starling's behavior in HANNIBAL by comparing her relationship with
Dr. Lecter, portrayed metaphorically as a psychic vampire, with the
relationship between literal vampire Dr. Weyland and psychologist
Floria Landauer in Suzy McKee Charnas's THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY.
Fallen Angel Reviews (www.fallenangelreviews.com) gave my erotic
romance vampire story TALL, DARK, AND DEADLY a four-angel
review! "The characters' time together cracked with lustful tension
and emotions. . . . I highly recommend this book to any vampire
romance lover with a broad sense of humor."
In honor of Halloween, below you'll find another excerpt from my
Silhouette Intimate Moments vampire romance EMBRACING DARKNESS.
Linnet and Max (who, unknown to her, is a vampire) are trying to get
information about the murders of her niece and his brother, who
belonged to a blood-fetishist group led by a sinister woman named
This month's guest interview features Rowena Cherry, founder of the
Alien Romance Blog and winner of the 2006 award for Best E-Book:
Fiction from USABookNews.com for her novel MATING NET:
1.What inspired you to begin writing?
I can think of a lot of things that inspired me. My books (FORCED
MATE, MATING NET, and INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL) are the product
of forty years of stray thoughts, real life adventures, dreams,
fantasies, surreptitious manwatching, eclectic stuff I've read,
documentaries I've seen on TV, and people I've met. All filtered
through my perspective and warped by my strange sense of humor.
If I were to identify which of the four main elementsMilieu, Idea,
Character, or Eventare most fascinating to me, at least in FORCED
MATE, my answer would be "Characters!"
Most characters are made up of at least three people I've met or
literary characters I've studied. The English mercenary, Grievous,
for instance is part proud ex-military Dorset janitor, part Enobarbus
(Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra), part six-foot-nine inch SAS ex-
boyfriend whom I used to think of as OO6.9.
Then, there's the "Who" inspired me. Before we left Germany (I'm
English by birth, but I married an American who worked for an
international auto company) a publisher of an American automotive
magazine empire told me that I ought to Write, based on my Christmas
letters to friends and family, which were somewhat creative.
For instance, just as we anthropomorphize when we attribute human
motivations and behaviors to animals, I attributed avian motives and
behaviors to my husband's approach to courtship and setting up a home.
The idea of writing an entire novel seemed daunting, but once I
eventually started, I wrote about 500 pages! I had the literary
equivalent of verbal diarrhea, and a tendency to leave noticeable
info dumps in unsubtle places.
Having been on RITA-award winning author Linnea Sinclair's workshop
panel with super agent Kristin Nelson, I now know that agents shudder
at the thought of having to read a 500-page manuscript from an
One of my problems in trying to write a page-turner, is that I do too
much research. I might research 50 pages of background about where my
hero went to university, why heor she-- chose that particular
college, what he/she studied, what clubs and societies he/she joined,
and I should only use five lines of it.
I must have read at least ten library books about tracking, and
survival, and wilderness living (and hunting) as background, and I
was able to weave a lot of it into INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL
without (I hope) making the book read like a text book on how to
survive being shipwrecked or unexpectedly lost in the woods.
However, I do think and SURVIVORMAN, Les Stroud, seems to agreethat
my novel would be quite a good choice of reading material for someone
who loves a wilderness lover.
I like to impart some uncommon knowledge in my books tell a reader
something that might be useful one day, along with the entertainment.
2.What genres do you write in?
I write alien romances, which are categorized as Futuristics if
published by Dorchester's LoveSpell imprint (in which case there is
more romance and less science) or Science Fiction Romance.
My choice of genre has everything to do with what interests me, my
sometimes Orwellian ethicsI am greatly influenced by Eric Blair's
essay WHY I WRITE--, and the Dorchester house guidelines.
The differences that seem to make one version of FORCED MATE a Love
Spell futuristic and the other a (soft) sci-fi romance are small
details, and do not change the basic story. It's whether or not one
uses words like "astrophysics"; whether or not one discusses the fact
that there is yeast in urine (in the context of recycling cuisine and
deep space bread); whether or not one mentions the fact that all
breeds of dog evolved from wolves, and speculates that the same thing
could happen with bipeds That sort of thing.
When I decided that I did want to write fiction, my first thought was
to write Regencies and Georgian Historicals. But, as a former
teacher of History (as well as English) I didn't want to take
liberties with real historical figures. I felt no such inhibitions
about Darth Vader types... or indeed in expanding broadly on Erich
von Daeniken's theory that all our ancient gods and mythological
heroes were aliens.
3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL is already on sale for pre-orders at
Amazon, I am told, and will be in bookstores on January 31st 2007,
which will be in perfect time for Valentines' Day booksignings.
I sometimes describe INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL as a survival
romance, but it is also an alien djinn romance (or alien romance).
It takes up the story right after the climactic duel at the end of
If Tarrant-Arragon thought that his sister would stop being
embarrassing and annoying if only she had the right god in her bed,
he was wrong.
Just because Martia-Djulia was happy to be swept into bed for a one-
night-stand with a guy who looked a bit like a scarred Fabio does not
mean that she is going to react politely when a stranger with a
perfect face, a sinister goatee, a bald-shaven head, and a bad limp
is frogmarched up the aisle for the alien equivalent of a shotgun
3.What are you working on now?
KNIGHT'S FORK is the working title. It's supposed to be
Prince `Rhett's story, and at the moment I am finding out everything
I can about sword fighting. Just this week, a local sword master
showed me his callouses and some of his best moves on the strip.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Enter contests for the advice you will receive. Write gracious and
positive thank-you notes to your anonymous judges, even if you don't
particularly agree with what well-intentioned critics are telling you.
Start your future mailing list early (always with the consent of your
correspondents) so that you will have friends when you need them when
you are getting the word out about your forthcoming release.
Lock in your own name for your website before you become famous. You
do not want to have to be www.theofficialyourfirstnamelastname.com.
Say "thank you" often and as graciously as possible.
And with that, I would like to say a big Thank You for your time and
interest today to everyone reading this, and to Margaret for giving
me this delightful opportunity to talk about myself and FORCED MATE
and about my January 31st 2007 release INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL.
6. What's your website URL?
Some books I've been reading:
VARIABLE STAR, by Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson. Since Robinson
is a devoted fan of and heavily influenced by Heinlein's work, he was
the perfect choice to complete this novel from Heinlein's extensive
outline and notes. The author's Afterword, which describes how the
unfinished novel was discovered and the project undertaken, was
almost as interesting to me as the story itself. Heinlein apparently
began this work as an early YA novel ("juveniles," as they were
called at the timeactually, many of Heinlein's "juveniles" feature
protagonists old enough to make their way in the world on their own,
so the contemporary marketing term "YA" seems more appropriate to
me). After abandoning the project, he later incorporated some of its
elements into published books, notably TIME FOR THE STARS, to which
VARIABLE STAR shows strong resemblances. The hero, Joel, has his
world turned upside down when his fiancée reveals that, instead of
being an impoverished student like Joel himself as he'd assumed, she
is the heiress of one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the
solar system. She tearfully apologizes for deceiving him for so long,
and her reasons make sense, but Joel, naturally, has trouble
adjusting to the shock. Worse, he learns he is expected to relinquish
his dream of becoming a professional musician and submit to being
groomed as successor to his fiancee's grandfather, Conrad of Conrad.
Being a Heinlein hero, Joel, of course, doesn't leap at this
opportunity for wealth and privilege the way most people might.
Instead, he signs onto a colony ship headed for the stars. As a
native of Ganymede, he has one useful skill in short supply on Earth,
hands-on experience with farming, so he's snapped up despite his
ordinariness in other respects. I give the book a high rating for
dialogue, character growth, interesting exposition, and exciting plot
twists. But, then, I've always enjoyed both Heinlein's style and
Robinson's, so the blend would appeal to me no matter what the
subject. What we get with this novel isn't so much a pastiche of
early Heinlein but, rather, a Spider Robinson novel based on a
Heinlein plot, which is fine with me, since I'd rather read a new
Spider Robinson book than a rediscovered Robert Heinlein juvenile. If
you're a fan of either of these authors, you won't want to miss this
LORD OF THE BEASTS, by Susan Krinard. I've enjoyed Krinard's werewolf
novels, and I like the universe of this book, too. It's a sequel to
THE FOREST LORD, but you don't need to have read that romance to
appreciate this one, the story of half-human, half-faerie Donal, son
of the couple in the earlier book. Since he can communicate with
animals, he has become a country veterinarian. When Cordelia, a
wealthy young lady who keeps a menagerie of exotic animals she has
rescued from abusive owners, tries to hire him to cure her beasts'
unexplained malaise, he takes a dim view of what he considers her
frivolous demands. But of course he soon discovers her strength and
integrity and becomes attracted to her, and vice versa. Meanwhile, he
saves a girl named Ivy from the streets of London. He mistakes her
for a pre-adolescent child, but in fact she is an almost-grown young
woman of seventeen. Cordelia offers to take Ivy under her wing.
Donal's constant companion Todd, a lesser faerie creature called a
hob, resents the loss of Donal's attention to these two females. Thus
Todd is vulnerable to the appeal of a noble faerie who discovers Ivy
is her half-mortal daughter, whom she had presumed dead. Eager to get
rid of Ivy, he lets himself get seduced into maneuvering secretly
behind Donal's back. Cordelia's rejected suitor, favored by her
ailing father for what turn out to be sinister reasons, adds further
complications to the plot tangle. Misunderstanding, danger, and near-
heartbreak end, as one would expect in a romance, in fulfillment, but
with plenty of twists along the way. A charming subplot involves a
surprising love affair for Todd.
MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING, edited by P. N. Elrod. The title is
self-explanatory, and this anthology is as much fun as you'd expect
from authors such as Elrod, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Krinard,
Charlaine Harris, Esther M. Friesner, and several other distinguished
names in the fantasy genre. Many of the tales are funny, some more
serious. Kenyon's Dark-Hunter tale, "A Hard Day's Night-Searcher," is
more lighthearted than most of the novels in her series, which tends
toward the dark side. Lori Handeland's "Charmed by the Moon," a story
in her series about werewolf hunters, is the most somber of the tales
in the book, as the hero and heroine face the question of whether
their love is real or a magically created illusion. L. A.
Banks' "Spellbound" is an amusing extension of the Hatfield-McCoy
feud, with all the characters African-American (alternate universe?)
and the two young lovers from the rival families under curses that
will detonate with explosive results if they consummate their love.
Another of my favorites is "Dead Man's Chest," by Rachel Caine, a
delightful undead pirate adventure. I was a little disappointed that
Elrod's story isn't part of her Vampire Files series, but I still
enjoyed her "All Shook Up," featuring an Elvis impersonator with an
unusual magical power. If you're a fan of some or most of these
authors, or if you just love paranormal romance, get this anthology
(St. Martin's trade paperback).
WINTERSMITH, by Terry Pratchett. In this new Discworld YA novel,
witch-in-training Tiffany Aching returns, now living with 113-year-
old Miss Treason, who is odd even for a witch. Blind, she sees her
environment through the eyes of mice, ravens, and sometimes Tiffany
(an uncomfortable experience for the latter). During the Dark Morris
Dance performed to mark the transition between summer and winter,
Tiffany recklessly steps into the empty space in the dance meant for
the Summer Lady. The Wintersmith, elemental spirit of winter, falls
in love with Tiffany and decides to become human to win her.
Unfortunately, he has very little idea of what being human means, and
his notion of courtship involves devastating blizzards. Tiffany finds
herself turning into a goddess of sorts, a fate she doesn't want any
more than she wants the Wintersmith's attention or Miss Treason's
soon-to-be-vacated cottage and position as local witch. Granny
Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg weigh in on the crisis, as do the Nac Mac
Feegle, the pugnacious, booze-loving pixies who consider it their
primary mission to protect their "wee big hag" (Tiffany). Even if
they have to face horrors such as books full of words and, still
worse, arcane feminine tactics such as the Pursing of the Lips, the
Folding of the Arms, and the dreaded Tapping of the Feets.
WINTERSMITH displays Pratchett's usual inimitable blend of hilarious
satire, witty language, and genuine emotion. The passing of Miss
Treason manages to be both funny and touching within the space of a
few pages. (Since witches always know the time of their death in
advance, they customarily hold the funeral and wake before they die
so they won't miss the fun.) The Feegles are given the job of
fetching Roland, son of the local baron, to fill the role of Hero and
rescue the real Summer Lady in order to clear the way for Tiffany to
set the tangled myth to rights. Their attempt to teach the bookish
teenager how to wear armor and wield a sword in one lesson provides
another funny sequence. And Tiffany's critique of the romance novel
the Feegles supply to give her advice on the art of love is not to be
missed. (The romance author sets the story on a sheep farm but
obviously doesn't know a thing about sheep.) However, the really
irresistible appeal of the Discworld books, for me, lies in the
language. There are some authors whom I admire but would never aspire
to imitate, because their subject matter and style are too different
from mine. There are others I admire and wish I could write like, and
among those, a few whom I might hope, after years of practice, to
emulate successfully. Then there are the incomparable wordsmiths who
make me feel I ought to turn off my computer for good, because
compared to them I shouldn't dare to call myself a writersuch as
Terry Pratchett. (Fortunately, the feeling goes away after a while.)
Excerpt from EMBRACING DARKNESS (copyright 2005 by Margaret L.
Linnet walked up to the front stoop feeling less confident
than she had when arguing with her exasperating co-conspirator. She
would probably squeak like a mouse when she tried to spin some
plausible excuse for her visit. But she wasn't about to back down
after making bold noises to Max. No doorbell. She knocked.
The door opened to the length of the chain. The young man
peered through the crack. "Yeah?"
Might as well state her mission straight out, before he got
impatient and slammed the door in her face. "Can I please talk to you
for a few minutes? I'm Linnet Carroll."
He didn't look hostile, but he didn't relax either. "Should I
"I'm Deanna's aunt."
"Oh, my God."
"You knew her, didn't you? Please let me in." Somehow she
kept her voice from shaking, even though her pulse raced.
"What do you think I can Okay, all right, come on." His
hand trembled as he unhooked the chain. Now that she saw him up
close, she noticed a tattoo of some kind of bird on his forearm.
She slipped inside, watching his face as she said, "I have so
many questions. I just need to talk to one of Deanna's friends."
He flushed. "I didn't know her that well. We hung with the
same crowd, that's all."
"Nola Grant's crowd, right? I went to her house, but it was
"Yeah. We haven't gotten together since" His voice trailed
off again, with a stammer that sounded almost guilty. For what,
Linnet wondered? Failing to warn Deanna against Nola, or something
Hovering near the door in case he suddenly remembered he
hadn't refastened the chain, she surveyed the living room. An
entertainment center covered an entire wall, with a couch that looked
like a garage-sale bargain on the opposite wall. A leather jacket lay
on the floor, and newspapers spilled off the edge of the couch. A
full ashtray on the scarred coffee table accounted for the smoke in
the air. "Since Dee and Anthony died?" The man flinched at the
question. Linnet decided to go on the offensive. "Can you think of
any reason why Nola would murder them?"
He backed away as if she'd aimed a gun at him. "Nola didn't
"Then who did?"
The door behind her swung open. Linnet jumped. In the heat of
the conversation, she'd forgotten about Max lurking outside. He
darted around her so fast her head spun, grabbed the young man, and
shoved him onto the couch. "Linnet, lock the door," he growled
without looking at her.
Shaking, she fumbled for the doorknob, closed and locked the
door, and hooked the chain. The man didn't even try to fight off Max.
Instead, he gibbered incoherent phrases that conveyed nothing but
"Shut up." At Max's quiet command, the man fell silent. "You
will be quiet and listen. You will not speak or move unless I order
you to. Is that clear?" The man nodded. Though he slumped, with his
arms limp at his sides, his eyes stayed wide open. "Good. Now sit
Linnet couldn't help retreating a step when Max walked over
to her. "You hypnotized him somehow." She'd never heard of any form
of hypnosis that worked so fast, with no soothing chants or shiny
"More or less." His hands skimmed up her bare arms to settle
on her shoulders.
Recalling the vertigo that swept over her each time his eyes
captured hers, she said, "You tried to do the same to me. But you
"So I've concluded. Very intriguing." One of his hands crept
from her shoulder to her neck. His cool fingers on the flushed skin
made her shiver. "But I don't want you to hear my conversation with
our host, so"
She felt pressure on the side of her neck. Gray spots
clustered before her eyes. *He's strangling me!* The gray thickened
to black. With a sensation like a rapid fall in an elevator, she
tumbled into the blackness.
-end of excerpt-
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Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
Mundania Press: www.mundania.com
You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...
"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter