Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 21 (June 2007)
- 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
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog:
Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com) has just published my "Tentacles
of Love" as part of their "Naughty Nuptials" Quickie series. It was
inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's classic tale "The Dunwich Horror." I
render a lighthearted answer to the question, "Suppose one of
Lovecraft's extradimensional deities sired a pair of brothers similar
to Wilbur Whateley and his invisible monster twin in 'The Dunwich
Horror,' but in this case they're really a couple of nice guys just
looking for love?" An excerpt appears below.
In May I made a "guest editor" appearance in the online SHALLA
MAGAZINE, which also reprinted my ghost story "Residual Fumes." Visit
the magazine here:
Also in May, Amber Quill Press (www.amberquill.com) published my
novelette "Aquatic Ardor," the tale of an undine who seduces a mortal
man to save her lake from ruin but unwillingly falls in love and gains
the last thing she wants, a human soul. Click on their Amber Heat
(erotic romance) link.
Have you looked into my discontinued fanzine THE VAMPIRE'S CRYPT? Just
follow the link on my website for tables of contents, summaries of the
book review columns, and the distributor's ordering page. All 25
issues are still available. Some of the authors interviewed include
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, P. N. Elrod, Elaine Bergstrom, and Suzy McKee
Charnas. Early stories by such well-known names in the horror field as
Bergstrom, Nancy Kilpatrick, and Edo van Belkom also appear within
these issues, including a short tale by Gemma Files that later became
an episode of a horror anthology series on the Showtime network.
Here's an interview with Susan Grant, author of SF romances such as
CONTACT, YOUR PLANET OR MINE?, and MY FAVORITE EARTHLING:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I always loved making up stories and creative writing, but never
writing a novel. It was so far from anything I ever imagined doing
simply didn't register. Then one day back in 1997, I was at the
pediatrician's office, my kids in a double stroller, and I got to talking
with a school teacher there with her kids in a double stroller, and
me she'd written a book. It hadn't sold and was sitting on the shelf
closet, but I was so impressed. I'd never met anyone who'd written a
So, I got to thinking (and this kind of thinking has gotten me into
before) if she could write a book, I could write a book. And that's how it
2. What genres do you write in?
I've written in time travel romance, action romance, paranormal
romance, futuristic, and straight contemporary suspense.
3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
My next one is How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days. It's the 3rd
book in the Otherworldly Men series. It comes out July 24th!
4. What are you working on now?
I'm writing Moonstruck. It's the first in a darker spin-off series--Tales
of the Borderlands--of my lighter, more comedic Otherworldly Men series.
Release date is currently June 2008.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never take the first (or second or third) no for an answer. Keep sticking
your head up, even if it means getting kicked in the teeth repeatedly.
6. What's your website URL?
Some books I've been reading:
THE SNAKEBITE LETTERS, by Peter Kreeft. Kreeft writes informative,
highly readable books of popular theology in the tradition of C. S.
Lewis, whose influence shows up very clearly in Kreeft's work. This
book follows the pattern of Lewis' SCREWTAPE LETTERS, epistles from a
senior demon to a trainee facing his first temptation assignment on
Earth. It contains many incisive reflections about contemporary
American culture from a Christian perspective, such as the observation
that young adults in our society often think of themselves as
individualistic nonconformists while actually terrified of not fitting
into the subculture of their peers. Kreeft differs from Lewis in that
he openly writes within a denominational (specifically, Catholic)
framework rather than the "mere Christianity" that pervades all of
Lewis' theological writings. Kreeft also (perhaps as a result of the
previous point) devotes a lot of space to topical issues, whereas THE
SCREWTAPE LETTERS deals almost entirely with problems of wider scope
that could apply to any struggling Christian in England or North
America in the twentieth or twenty-first century. Hence, THE SNAKEBITE
LETTERS comes across as strongly agenda-driven in spots, so I don't
find it quite so satisfying as its predecessor. Still, Snakebite's
diabolical advice is presented in a wittily satirical style almost
worthy of comparison to Screwtape's correspondence with his ill-fated
nephew Wormwood. If you're a fan of THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, you'll
probably find Kreeft's book entertaining and edifying, too.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SEXY KIND, by Karen Kelley. Mala of the planet
Nerak is bored, despite the perfection of her life and the devotion of
her android servant/companion, Barton. Intrigued by her late
grandmother's memoirs of a clandestine visit to a distant planet
called Earth, Mala steals a space shuttle with the intent of
experiencing the sensory pleasures of a more natural world, including
sex with an Earth man. On Nerak, men no longer exist; children are
conceived parthenogenetically from ova fertilized and gestated in
vitro. All animals are extinct. People don't eat food as we know it;
nutrition comes in capsules. In the uncontrolled environment of Earth,
Mala quickly discovers pain as well as pleasure. After the crash of
her spacecraft, she's picked up by Sheriff Mason McKinley, who gives
her refuge in his home, assuming she is an accident victim with
amnesia. She wastes no time seducing him, in accordance with her
original plan. When she stops trying to tell him she comes from
another world, he decides she must be a defector from a tyrannical
government in some exotic country. Meanwhile, the local UFO crank and
a gaggle of tabloid reporters catch on to Mala's alien nature and
start harassing her. Barton shows up to take her back to Nerak, as
commanded by the Elders of their people, and becomes involved
romantically with a friend of Mason's. An entertaining and sensual
story. Mala's "fish out of water" behavior is funny, such as the
incident when she discovers Internet sex sites and orders over $3000
worth of erotic toys on Mason's credit card. Mason's stubborn
resistance to belief in her extraterrestrial origin seems carried a
little too far toward the end of the book. Isn't the weird
malfunctioning of nearby electrical devices whenever she becomes
emotionally or sexually excited a pretty obvious clue that she isn't
quite an ordinary woman? Also, the background of her home planet seems
a bit thin. (To be fair, the story spends very little time there, so
maybe there wouldn't have been room to include much more
worldbuilding.) If Nerak has two suns and therefore never gets dark,
why isn't it too hot to sustain Earthlike (let alone humanoid) life?
With no agriculture, where do the raw materials for the food pills and
medicinal smoothies come from? How does the economy work? We're told
Mala is a sort of therapist, but does she get paid somehow by the
Elders (who apparently rule the world as a benevolent but absolute
oligarchy), or are resources simply distributed to all according to
need? But the book is a fun read anyway and Mala an engaging character.
BENIGHTED, by Kit Whitfield. This novel takes place on an alternate
Earth dominated by werewolves. Ninety-nine percent of the human
species changes into wolves on the night of the full moon every month.
The one percent minority who can't change, derogatorily called
"barebacks," are instantly recognized at birth because they are born
headfirst instead of the "normal" feet first. This birth defect
bestows one vital function on them. They have the job of keeping order
during the full moon night. The narrator, Lola, like all barebacks in
the United States, works for DORLA, the American agency responsible
for policing change-related crime. Although viewed with disdain by the
regular legal system, DORLA employees are practically a law unto
themselves. A trainee under Lola's supervision gets severely wounded
in a lyco (werewolf) attack. Soon thereafter, another colleague of
hers who had previously lost a hand to a lyco is shot to death. A
vicious lyco arrested on suspicion of the crime escapes. Lola,
meanwhile, begins falling in love with a "normal" (i.e., lyco) man, a
social worker who seems to understand the problems she faces. As an
added complication, her sister, with whom she has had a strained
relationship, has given birth to a baby that may or may not be her
husband's. (The conception may have resulted from a full-moon
incident.) Lola helps her sister with her burden as a deserted wife
and new mother, but when the escaped murder suspect threatens Lola,
she's cut off from this family connection for fear of endangering her
sister and infant nephew. The world-building of this novel, including
glimpses of the history of bareback-lyco relations, such as the era of
the Inquisition and the witch-hunt hysteria, is fascinating. Although
Lola isn't a very likable person much of the time, the reader can't
help feeling sympathy for her. Given her life situation, she has every
right to be depressed and emotionally prickly. From the plot premise
and the review I read, I expected something along the line of
Charlaine Harris' alternate universe in the Sookie Stackhouse books.
Be warned, BENIGHTED is much darker than that. I recommend it anyway,
but don't expect lighthearted suspense. Although it has a guardedly
optimistic ending, prepare for a lot of pain and angst along the way.
HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS, by Susan Grant. This
sequel to YOUR PLANET OR MINE? and MY FAVORITE EARTHLING, as mentioned
in Susan's interview above, will be released at the end of July. After
a sneak peek ahead, I can confidently urge you not to miss it. Who'd
have thought the cyborg assassin from the first book in this series
could become a romantic hero? Susan manages it beautifully, in part
through a prologue showing us the future Reef, as an adventurous boy,
kidnapped from his happy home and shanghaied into the REEF program.
His emotions and all his memories of childhood are suppressed. In the
present, the wounded assassin has had most of his cybernetic
components removed or disabled. Imagine the Terminator newly bereft of
most of his superhuman powers. Reef has to learn all over again to
deal with human emotions, and having also had his sexuality
neutralized before adolescence, he now experiences erotic passion for
the first time. For his own protection, he is hidden in the suburban
home of Evie, sister of the heroine and hero (respectively) of the
first two novels, where he plays the role of her bodyguard. The only
member of her politically powerful family who isn't interested in
public life, Evie lacks self-confidence, especially since her
ex-husband cuts her down at every opportunity. Warm-hearted Evie
quickly realizes that Reef is no longer the inhuman, machine-like
assassin who threatened her a short time in the past. Her compassion
for him grows into love, as you would expect. His "fish out of water"
adjustment to the alien environment of a suburban family engenders
plenty of funny moments to balance the suspense, pathos, and
sensuality. Both characters are delightful, making this a book I
didn't want to end. As a serious subtext, the real-life issue of child
slavery on our own planet is addressed in connection with Reef's being
robbed of his childhood and family.
Opening scene of "Tentacles of Love":
Excerpt from "Tentacles of Love," copyright 2007 by Margaret L. Carter:
The house, weathered to gray-brown by more than a century of salt air,
loomed over them. It had a wraparound porch and two stories plus a
gabled attic. Lauren noticed one of the gable windows was boarded up.
She stepped out of the car and grasped Blake's hand. The setting sun
cast their elongated shadows onto the front yarda stretch of sand
punctuated by patches of coarse grass. "You're sure you want to spend
our honeymoon here?" His family's vacation home looked ready to
crumble at any second like the House of Usher.
"Not a matter of what I want. I have to be here on the solstice.
Family tradition." He reeled her into his arms and ran his hands over
her back. "I wanted to give you an advance look at the place, at least."
*Thank goodness for small blessings, I guess.* This solstice thing
must have some connection to the obscure pagan religion his folks
practiced. He'd been vague on the subject but since he'd agreed to get
married in her parents' church so her mother wouldn't succumb to a
massive heart attack from sheer outrage, she was okay with it. *Just
one more week and he'll be mine forever, so I'm not sweating details.*
On the whole, Blake's family seemed nice enough, regardless of their
odd customs. Even Uncle Dexter from Innsmouth, who bore an unsettling
facial resemblance to a fish and Aunt Lavinia from Dunwich, a pale,
white-haired woman who'd wanted the wedding performed at a prehistoric
stone circle in rural Massachusetts. Well, all except Cousin Stella
from Boston, who looked physically normal but had kept sidling up to
Lauren during the engagement party, muttering about "strange ions" and
asking whether she really planned to go through with the marriage.
Lauren hooked her arms around Blake's waist. "Going to carry me over
"Maybe we should save that for the wedding night." His gray-blue eyes
clouded over. "I've got something to show you. After that, if you want
to call everything off, I won't blame you."
She tilted her head back to scan his face. "Yeah, right. With the
wedding a week away, a nonreturnable deposit on the caterer and my
dress fitted and paid for? Sure, I'll give serious thought to dropping
the whole idea."
He smiled but in a sickly, halfhearted way. He wasn't kidding!
"What are you raving about?" She switched her hands from his waist to
his shoulders, half tempted to shake him. "If you want to back out,
just say so. Don't put it on me."
"No!" He hugged her so tightly she had to gasp for breath. "Losing you
is the last thing I want. But after you seewell, it'll be your choice."
Releasing her, he led her up the gravel driveway to the porch. Its
floorboards creaked underfoot. Waves crashed on the rocky shore
directly behind the house. "Let me guess," she said. "You brought me
here to warn me we're spending our wedding night in the house of
"Hang on, it's not that bad inside." He unlocked the door and flung it
open with a flourish.
She sniffed the air. A little stale but not musty or mildewed as she'd
feared. The foyer light, a lamp in an old-fashioned sconce on the
paneled wall, showed a worn but clean and waxed dark hardwood floor.
No visible dust. Okay, maybe a honeymoon in a Victorian beach house on
a New England coast miles from anywhere except a couple of farms
wouldn't be a disaster after all. At least the sea air made the place
almost cool for June and they'd have plenty of privacy.
Speaking of which, she snuggled up to him, wiggling her hips and
silently gloating over the hard ridge she felt through his baggy cargo
shorts. He'd been caressing her thighs at stoplights for the past
twenty miles. "Going to show me the bedroom?" She ran her fingers
through his luxuriant black hair, only a little shorter than her own
closely trimmed, honey-blonde curls.
"Sure. With all that wedding hassle, it seems like forever since we
had any time alone. I can't wait to get you horizontal." He kissed her
forehead then her cheek and finally her mouth.
Her lips parted to welcome his tongue with eager thrusts of her own.
Sparks zapped from that spot to her breasts and below. By the time he
paused for breath, a pleasant flutter had started in the pit of her
"Especially when this might be my last chance. You might run screaming
into the night and never come back." This time he tried to make the
comment sound like a joke but the attempt fell flat. He actually
thought something in this house would freak her out.
"Why? You're about to tell me insanity runs in your family? The way
you're talking right now, I could believe it." Aside from Cousin
Stella, they didn't act particularly weird, despite their looks. Even
Great-Aunt Asenath from Arkham, who reminded Lauren of an anorexic
frog, intimidated her with starchy New England manners, not eccentric
"Not exactly that," Blake said.
"Well, there's certainly nothing wrong with you." No trace of fish or
frog in his appearance. Just tall enough to give her a pleasant shiver
when he swept her into his arms and with a touch of the exotic in his
olive skin inherited from some distant Portuguese ancestor, he
provided a visual feast that only whetted her appetite for the main
course. So far she'd only tasted the hors d'oeuvres and salad, so to
speak. She'd savored the luscious expanse of his chest but she'd never
seen him naked from waist to mid-thigh. Not for the first time, she
wondered whether his insistence on reserving the entrée for the
wedding night had some ulterior motive beyond his expressed desire to
make that night "special". Her hands wandered to his belt and sneaked
under the hem of his shirt. "Wait a minute! You're not dying of some
horrible disease, are you? If that's what you've been holding out on
me, I'm going to kill you!"
He laughed. "No, I'm perfectly healthy." He shifted one arm to her
shoulders, swept the other behind her legs and scooped her off the
floor. She let out a squeak of surprise. "On second thought, I think
we need to rehearse the carrying part." He strode along the front hall
to the stairs.
Trotting up the steps, he said, "See? I'm in excellent shape."
With her arms around his neck, she thumped him on the shoulder. "I
knew that already."
She scanned the shadowy upstairs hallway, lined with closed doors.
"The house is haunted, right? I don't mind sharing space with a few
ghosts if they're quiet."
"Nope, no ghosts."
"You'd better not have a mad wife locked in the attic."
"Come on, you know you're my first and only lover."
She had no reason to doubt that claim, considering his awkward shyness
the first time he'd touched her intimately. At the far end of the
corridor, one door opened into a bathroom and just opposite, another
stood ajar. Blake shouldered that one open, carried her inside and
placed her on a king-size bed. "This is where I sleep whenever I'm
here. Okay with you for our wedding night?"
"Well, let's see." She frowned, pretending to mull over the question.
"Does it have a bed? Check. It's fine." Obviously remodeled from its
nineteenth-century origins into a modern master suite, the room had an
attached bath big enough, from what she glimpsed through the door, to
have started life as a smaller bedroom. Except for the huge bed, the
furniture looked antique, including a free-standing wardrobe in lieu
of a closet. "How about that thing? Are you hiding any skeletons in
there? Or does it open into another world?"
With a wry smile, he said, "Not that door."
"Then I'm out of guesses. Let's test-drive the bed."
-end of excerpt-
Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:
Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter
For more information, visit:
To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
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