Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 31 (April 2008)
- 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:
This month's interview features erotic romance author Roxi Romano.
Amber Quill Press has just published my Lovecraftian romance
WINDWALKER'S MATE. The hero and heroine, as teenagers, spent several
years together in a cult established by the hero's father. That
experience culminated in a ritual during which the Windwalker, a
monstrous entity from another dimension, possessed the hero and
impregnated the heroine. So this is a "secret baby" novel, with a
little boy who isn't quite human and has developed scary talents. A
crisis brings the hero. unaware that their ritual mating resulted in a
child, back into the heroine's life.
LOVE UNLEASHED has received two outstanding reviews so far: From
Literary Nymphs Reviews Only, 4.5 Nymphs: "Margaret has a way of
adding humor and spice in just the right doses. This is a story you
don't want to miss."
From The Romance Studio, 4 Hearts: "Margaret Carter has written a
nicely crafted tale of magic, redemption, and love. The dream
sequences will leave you panting and waiting for more."
This month Ellora's Cave will publish "Heart Diamond," my entry in
their series of Quickies featuring gemstones. I chose diamonds because
that's my birthstone. The tale is based on the actual practice of
converting a dead person's ashes into an artificial diamond. It's
true, there's at least one company on the Internet that does this! In
"Heart Diamond," the heroine inherits a ring set with a stone made
from her dead fiancé's cremains. His ghost haunts the ring.
Interview with Roxi Romano:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I liked reading adventure books when I
was a kid, but the leads were always boys. So I wrote my first book
school and put a girl in the adventuresome lead.
> 2. What genres do you write in?
>Due out in July 2008 from Red
> 3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
Sage's Secrets vol.23 will be my novella The Sex Slave. As the title
The Sex Slave sounds like a lot of sexy fun. But Lazarus Stone's
dead and he needs to escape before anyone finds out or he might just
wind up on
a lab geek's table being dissected. And if that's not enough of a
young woman with her own secrets is demanding he help her escape as well.
>I have a heroine at a séance getting felt up
> 4. What are you working on now?
by an invisible hand. This horny house ghost has no idea this
is the perfect woman to free him from his unhallowed grave. In the
resolve a couple mysteries about the old house as well as expose his
decades earlier which definitely ends her current betrothal.
>You need to love writing,
> 5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
because making a living at it is hard. If you love it, persevere.
> 6. What's your website URL?
Some Books I've Been Reading:
CHRIST THE LORD: THE ROAD TO CANA, by Anne Rice. This second novel in
Rice's series about the life of Jesus (called by the Hebrew version,
Yeshua, in these works) spans the period from the appearance of John
the Baptist in the wilderness to the miracle of changing water into
wine at the wedding in Cana. Many authors have written imaginative
retellings of the events of the Gospels; fewer have dealt with the
"hidden years" that comprise this novel and Rice's earlier one about
Yeshua's childhood. Because the Bible tells almost nothing about these
periods, Rice was free to create fictional characters and events
within the boundaries of the historical facts about first-century
Palestine (which she has obviously researched in depth). Amid the
political ferment surrounding Pontius Pilate's arrival as Roman
governor in Jerusalem, the people of Nazareth hear about the beginning
of John's prophetic ministry, and a personal crisis befalls Yeshua's
friends and family. Avigail, a beautiful girl with an over-controlling
widowed father, is attacked by brigands trying to raid the town.
Although her neighbors manage to rescue her before she suffers more
than bruises, her father becomes obsessed with the notion that she
might have been defiled. Yeshua, who loves her but has determined that
he will never marry, tries to help. At the end of the novel, Avigail
becomes the bride at the canonical wedding in Cana. Unlike the first
novel, THE ROAD TO CANA is narrated by Christ in the first person, a
daunting challenge for any writer. I like Rice's handling of Yeshua's
emotional conflict over his renunciation of Avigail, the water-to-wine
miracle, Yeshua's baptism, and the temptation by the Devil in the
wilderness. On the other hand, I found Yeshua's declaration (even if
only to himself) that he has realized he is God off-putting. That
doesn't sound like the Jesus of the Gospels, who never makes such a
blatant claim; in fact, other than in John's Gospel, he seldom even
directly claims to be the Messiah. Furthermore, I personally don't
believe Jesus "knew he was God," as distinguished New Testament
scholar N. T. Wright puts it, in the same way I know my own age, sex,
nationality, etc. That statement on the part of Rice's Yeshua seems to
contradict the "kenosis" theology derived from one of Paul's epistles
(I don't have the reference on hand, but it's a poetic creedal
statement that is generally thought to predate Paul, not having been
written by him). But this is a matter of theological speculation
beyond my scope! As a reader, however, I just don't feel the "I
realize I am God" remark rings true. Otherwise, though, the book works
for me, and I look forward to reading what Rice will do with the
events of the canonical Gospels, where she'll have less wiggle room.
VAMPIRE, INTERRUPTED, by Lynsay Sands. At the end of VAMPIRES ARE
FOREVER, Marguerite, mother of the Argeneau clan, seems to have
disappeared. Luckily, we didn't have to wait long for this novel,
which picks up the story from her viewpoint and ties up the loose
ends. Like the previous book, this story contains more suspense,
danger, sensuality, and pathos than humor, although at times it still
displays Sands' characteristic light touch. Marguerite has decided on
a career as a detective, assisting "Tiny," a human investigator who's
a friend of the Argeneau family. For her first case, she's searching
for vampire Christian's mother, whom he has never met and knows
nothing about. His father, Julian, won't give him any information. Why
does this seemingly innocuous quest lead to Marguerite's being
repeatedly attacked? Who is after her, someone trying to keep her from
learning about Christian's mother or a totally unrelated persecutor?
When she discovers she is Julian's lifemate, she feels considerable
anxiety, because her centuries of marriage to over-controlling ancient
vampire Jean Claude were miserable. Now that he's dead, she feels free
at last and not eager to bind herself to another man. But of course
she finds Julian irresistible. The twists in the solution to the
mystery came as a complete surprise to me. An exciting addition to a
CHOSEN, by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast. Third novel in the ongoing YA
"House of Night" series. Zoey, the protagonist and first-person
narrator of these books set in an academy for teenager metamorphosing
into "vampyres," struggles with the secret knowledge that her dead
best friend has actually become an undead monster like the vampires of
horror films and her mentor, the ancient and powerful priestess who
runs the school, has a hidden and almost certainly evil agenda.
Meanwhile, Zoey is torn between attraction to Erik, a fellow
fledgling, and one of the male teachers who shows romantic interest in
her, while she also has an unwanted blood bond with her former
boyfriend from her old life. Her friends come to feel they can't trust
her, while Aphrodite, ex-leader of the school's ruling clique, becomes
an unexpected ally. This novel holds even more surprises than the
previous two, and Zoey remains a sympathetic character despite the
sometimes poor choices in her love life. The next installment,
UNTAMED, is due in fall 2008.
UNINVITED, by Amanda Marrone. This YA horror novel offers an extreme
contrast to the House of Night series, in which vampirism is a natural
mutation, "vampyres" have played prominent roles in human history and
culture, and, for the most part, they sincerely worship the positive
forces of nature in the person of Nyx, Goddess of Night. Marrone's
story harks back to the traditional concept of vampires as evil
predators, although (in keeping with post-1970s developments in
vampire fiction) the undead character, Michael, retains the
personality he had in lifewhich isn't saying much for him, because he
was selfish and predatory then, too. The narrator, Jordan, faces the
nightly ordeal of watching her dead ex-boyfriend lurk outside her
window, begging to come in. As in traditional vampire folklore, he
can't enter unless invited, a fitting metaphor for Jordan's
ambivalence about embracing the consummation he offers as an escape
for her dysfunctional life. Why does he choose to stalk her, though?
Their relationship didn't last long, and Michael had other sexual
flings before and since. Can she believe his claim to love her? Unable
to tell anyone about the haunting, of course, she sinks deeper into
the isolation and alienation she already suffers, emotionally detached
from her parents and in doubt of the genuineness of her few
friendships. In fact, this novel focuses much more on Jordan's coping
process than on the vampire himself, who has relatively little onstage
time. Jordan is a real mess. Phobic about social situations, she takes
refuge in alcohol, drugs, and sexual promiscuity. Also, she's clearly
clinically depressed, as she's intelligent and self-aware enough to
suspect, although she doesn't want to admit the fact. (For a while I
was worried that undead Michael might actually be a delusion existing
solely in her mind, but fortunately that turns out not to be the
case.) Reading a whole novel in the voice of a depressed character is,
frankly, depressing. But I still recommend this strong, well-crafted
book. Jordan eventually pulls out of her emotional abyss and conquers
her fear enough to take action that leads to a satisfying conclusion.
UNINVITED illustrates how different YA fiction has become from its
status only a decade or two ago. Although I've read a fair amount of
recent YA fantasy and horror, I was nevertheless surprised to find
that publishers (this one, Simon and Schuster, anyway) now permit foul
language, illegal drug use, binge drinking, and teenage sex (not
explicitly described, of course) in novels for teenagers. Especially
the hard-core four-letter words. Not that I disapprove of realism in
fiction for young people, I'm just surprisedthe world has undergone
vast changes since the first edition of Robert Heinlein's RED PLANET,
when the publisher wouldn't allow him to mention that Martians laid eggs!
Excerpt from WINDWALKER'S MATE:
A vast, jagged landscape stretched before her. A shimmering, pale
violet effulgence pervaded it like a luminous fog. A gale blew toward
her, lashing her face and hair. Its chill froze the air in her lungs.
In her ears the wind keened with an eerily lifelike whistling cry. She
trudged forward, one pace at a time, careful not to trip on the rocky
ground. Something waited for her up ahead, but she couldn't remember what.
Through the scintillating veil, she saw a shape in the distance. A
tiny figure. A child. She tried to walk faster without falling. Though
her speed seemed to increase, the horizon where the child waited never
drew any closer. My little boy. I have to get to him.
She broke into a trot. Her foot caught on a stone, and she tumbled to
the ground. It didn't hurt, so she hauled herself upright and kept
going. She fell over and over, though still without pain, but she
never made any progress toward her goal.
For the first time, she felt physical sensation. A chill. The wind
turned icy. A blotch of darkness appeared on the field of violet
light. She glanced up. A gigantic shadow overflowed the sky. The
shadow of a creature with undulating tentacles, too many to count. One
of those appendages slithered toward the child. It coiled around him.
No! You can't have him! She raced toward him, while the tentacle
hoisted him into the air
She woke, panting, her nightgown plastered to her body with sweat.
Where did that come from? I haven't had one of those dreams in ages.
Still shivering with irrational terror, she hurried into Daniel's
bedroom. He lay asleep on his side, the sheet tangled around his legs
and his stuffed dragon on his pillow. He didn't stir when she bent
over his bed and straightened the covers. Only a dream. It didn't mean
* * *
Sometimes a gust of wind is just a harmless breeze.
Shannon clutched at that belief when she caught sight of her son in
the lobby of the Little Stars preschool and day care center. Ms.
Ginelli, the teacher of the four-year-olds' class, gripped him firmly
by the hand. His curly, reddish-blond hair looked as if a gale had
swept over it. The question, "Oh, no, what did he do now?" leaped into
Shannon's head. She bit her lip to keep the words from bursting out.
"What's going on?" she asked instead.
Ms. Ginelli's frown hinted at perplexity rather than annoyance. "We
had a little accident, Ms. Bryce," she said, "but I'm not honestly
sure what happened. I wasn't in the room when it started. Paige said
Daniel and Jacob got into an argument in the block corner. When I got
there, she'd already separated them."
Paige, the aide for Daniel's class, appeared behind the reception desk
at that moment. Her hair, not confined in a tight bun like Ms.
Ginelli's, bristled as if she'd run her fingers through itor she'd
stood in front of a fan. "Jacob has a small bruise on his arm, but
he'll be okay. And don't worry, Daniel didn't hurt him. I was holding
your son on the other side of the room when it happened."
Shannon locked stares with Daniel, who gazed up at her with his lower
lip quivering. "What happened?"
Paige shook her head. "I'm not sure, either. It was over so fast. The
wind rushed in and blew the blocks around. I mean, not just scattered
them, lifted them off the floor. Hard enough that one of them bounced
off Jacob's arm." Obviously mistaking Shannon's gasp of alarm for
worry about the other boy, she said, "No biggie. They're soft plastic.
It wouldn't have left a mark at all if it hadn't hit him so hard. It's
weird, though. The wind just sprang up all of a sudden, like a
mini-tornado, and stopped a minute later."
"It's true," Ms. Ginelli said. "I came in just in time to see the end
Shannon didn't doubt the story for a second, though she couldn't
explain why freak winds surrounding her son didn't surprise her. She
flashed on a memory of him on the backyard swing set, at the age of
three, swinging back and forth without pumping his legs, a breeze
ruffling his hair while no wind blew anywhere else. She thrust the
image back into the compartment where she stored all the impossible
events she wanted to forget.
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