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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 3

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  • margvamp
    Welcome to my newsletter, News from the Crypt, and please visit Carter s Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2005
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      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:
      www.simegen.com/reviews/vampires/vamprelm.htm

      As of December 2005 Amber Quill Press (www.amberquill.com) has just
      released the new fantasy novel BESIEGED ADEPT by my husband Les and
      me, sequel to WILD SORCERESS, also published by Amber Quill. Facing
      the challenge of integrating untrained neophytes into the Sorcerer
      Corps and putting down a rebellion of Neo-Aggressors led by a renegade
      sorcerer with an unexpected connection to herself and her twin Coleni,
      wild sorceress Aetria delves deeper into the secrets of her own past
      and how magic works in her world. She also learns much more about the
      dragons she thought were "imaginary." A short excerpt appears below.

      Supreme movie event of the past month: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF
      FIRE. If you've read the book, you'll immediately notice how truncated
      the film's opening segments are. No interlude at the Dursleys' house
      and only a couple of minutes at the Burrow, followed by a very brief
      treatment of the World Cup match. Many other details are omitted to
      make the story fit into two and a half hours. There are no house elves
      in the film at all. Rita Skeeter is used solely for fleeting comic
      relief; she serves no plot purpose. Although Sirius Black appears
      (sort of), he also performs no plot function. At the end, there's no
      long talk between Dumbledore and Harry, just an exchange of a couple
      of sentences that wouldn't mean much to anyone who hasn't read the
      book. (Admittedly, not many people of that description are likely to
      be found in the audience!) Another two minutes of dialogue to explain
      "Prior Incantatum" (which an Auror demonstrates after the World Cup
      disaster in the book but not the movie) would help a lot. All the
      story essentials are present, though, and what IS done is done
      beautifully. The special effects, naturally, are dazzling, especially
      the underwater sequence. The graveyard and the Riddle house convey
      deliciously creepy Gothic horror. The opening scene in the deserted
      house is perfect, and the climactic graveyard confrontation is almost
      as good except for being a little too short. Also, I don't think the
      pre-regeneration Voldemort is quite gruesome enough; on the other
      hand, his "rebirth" includes some wonderfully unsettling imagery. The
      unmasking of Barty Crouch is equally effective. As for the death at
      the end of the tournament, I cried, though I didn't when reading the
      book.

      Next, I'm waiting eagerly for the big-screen debut of THE LION, THE
      WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

      Over Thanksgiving weekend I attended Darkover Grand Council, as usual.
      Contrary to the name, this con no longer focuses strictly or even
      mainly on the works of Marion Zimmer Bradley. It has become a cozy
      (about 300 people) general SF and fantasy convention, with a couple of
      good-size dealer's rooms, delightful music programming, and many
      panels of special interest to writers, such as dealing with rejection
      slips and the ever-popular topic of creating effective villains. I
      appeared on the "obligatory vampire panel." The con is held every year
      at the Holiday Inn in Timonium, just north of Baltimore. You can find
      out about it at www.darkovercon.com.

      We've recently returned from a weekend cruise to the Bahamas, which my
      husband's company gave the employees for free to celebrate the
      company's tenth anniversary. It was the first one we'd ever taken.
      Interesting experience, although not something I would have done on my
      own initiative. I've never quite seen the point of a cruise ship,
      which I envisioned as (1) an expensive luxury hotel, (2) with dinky
      rooms for the price, (3) but great food, (4) that floats. You could
      stay in a land-based luxury hotel, with a much nicer room and food
      probably just as good, for less money with no danger of getting
      seasick. Well, I didn't get seasick (I took Dramamine the first
      evening, just in case, and discovered that combined with only a small
      amount of alcohol, a double dose of Dramamine makes a highly effective
      sedative), and the food was very good, although the rumors of lavish
      buffets continuously available were slightly exaggerated, at least as
      far as this ship was concerned. It felt great to leave winter behind
      for a few days of temporary summer. We visited the Pirate Museum in
      Nassau, a fascinating place with realistic, full-size tableaux of
      pirate life and plenty of historical information. We came home in the
      midst of rush hour to the first snow of the season, unusually early
      for this area; thank goodness, the road surfaces weren't bad, although
      the traffic was duly congested.

      Some books I've read lately:

      CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT, by Anne Rice. Rice again shows herself
      to be a daring writer in her latest novel, which not only retells
      Jesus' childhood in Egypt and return to the Holy Land with his family
      (done before by other authors) but narrates it in the first person.
      This novel was no sudden whim, as evidenced by the Afterword, in which
      she discusses her own spiritual journey and the years of extensive
      research behind the book. She borrows some incidents from the
      apocryphal infancy gospels, such as the opening scene of Jesus'
      accidentally striking a playmate dead, then resurrecting him. The one
      review I've read considers the story lacking in supernatural, numinous
      qualities. While I'm not sure how I feel about that dimension or lack
      of it, I think (in disagreement with the reviewer) that Rice made a
      good decision in having the child Jesus ignorant of his true nature
      and the circumstances of his birth. He could hardly be both fully
      divine AND fully human (as orthodox theology maintains) if he had a
      fully developed consciousness of his divinity from earliest childhood.
      Although Rice's choice to write this book may seem like a major
      departure from the vampires and witches for which she became famous,
      it's not necessarily so. Spiritual struggles have been a part of the
      Vampire Chronicles from the beginning, notably in MEMNOCH THE DEVIL,
      which struck me as mainly a self-indulgent diatribe that one would
      expect from a lapsed Christian who (to quote approximately the words
      of C. S. Lewis about his own youthful atheism) "didn't believe God
      existed, was very angry at God for not existing, and even angrier at
      Him for creating a world." But there's no denying MEMNOCH's sincerity
      and passion. Anyway, if nothing else, CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT
      presents a lifelike, well-researched picture of politics and daily
      life in Roman-occupied Palestine, and it will be interesting to see
      what Rice does with future volumes in the series, when she'll have to
      grapple with the more delicate challenge of portraying the interior
      life of a Jesus who has become fully aware of his nature and destiny.

      FLEDGLING, by Octavia Butler. As one would expect from a distinguished
      science fiction writer, this "vampire as alien" novel is an exciting,
      fresh approach to the motif of vampires as a naturally evolved
      species. (Although they have their own origin myths, they don't know
      for sure whether they came from another planet or evolved alongside
      humanity on Earth.) The Ina, as they call themselves, cannot breed
      with Homo sapiens, but they depend on human "symbionts" not only for
      blood but for emotional connection. These vampires' venom is
      addictive, so that once bonded, their symbionts, of which each Ina has
      a household full to avoid draining any one individual, can't leave
      their Ina or even want to. In addition to the ravishing pleasure of
      giving blood and sometimes sharing sexual passion with the Ina, they
      also gain the advantage of improved healing faculties and extension of
      their lifespan to a couple of centuries. Shori, the first-person
      narrator, looks like a child, even though she is really over fifty
      years old (still childhood for her species). At the beginning of the
      novel she has lost her memory in the aftermath of a brutal attack that
      destroyed her home and killed everyone in it except her, both Ina and
      human. A young man driving by picks her up and quickly becomes
      enthralled by her. Gradually she discovers her true nature, connects
      with other Ina clans, gathers a new group of symbionts, and searches
      for the murderers of her family. She discovers that she is targeted
      for assassination because she's the result of a genetic experiment in
      adding melanin to vampires' bodies through insertion of human DNA, in
      order to make them less sensitive to the sun. (Ina don't disintegrate
      or burst into flame in sunlight like movie vampires, and unlike any
      folklore or pre-NOSFERATU literary vampire. They are simply terribly
      vulnerable to its damaging effects.) FLEDGLING offers a clear example
      of how two authors with no mutual influence can accidentally produce
      books with superficial similarities, a frequent occurrence that makes
      me generally suspicious of accusations of plagiarism except where
      blatant verbal echoes or extended point-for-point plot likenesses
      exist. My e-published vampire novel CHILD OF TWILIGHT (released
      several years ago), like FLEDGLING, starts with a prepubescent,
      confused vampire girl on the run, who gets a ride from a human male.
      My character Gillian, like Shori, is loathed by some of her vampire
      kin because she has a partly human background. My vampires also have
      addictive relationships with human bond-mates. But in all other
      respects the plots differ, and I am as certain as I can possibly be,
      short of hearing it from Butler's own lips, that she has never seen a
      copy of CHILD OF TWILIGHT. (I wish! <G>) Within a given genre or
      subgenres, certain motifs simply get "into the air."

      ANANSI BOYS, by Neil Gaiman. A hapless young man called Fat Charlie
      (even though he hasn't been fat since a short period in late
      childhood) discovers that his (allegedly) deceased father was the
      African trickster spider god Anansi. Moreover, Charlie has a long-lost
      brother, Spider, who shows up out of nowhere and takes over his life,
      including disguising himself as Charlie to seduce the latter's
      virginal girlfriend. A wild ride of humor, suspense, and numinously
      mythic incidents in the spirit world, peppered with witty lines
      reminiscent of Terry Pratchett (with whom Gaiman, of course,
      collaborated on an early fantasy novel, GOOD OMENS). ANANSI BOYS has
      been compared by reviewers to Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS; both novels turn
      powerful supernatural entities loose in contemporary American culture.
      Charlie, trying to get rid of his brother, makes an incautious deal
      with a bird goddess. When he finds out the consequences for Spider are
      worse than he intended, Charlie has to plumb the depths of his own
      dual nature to rescue his brother. A lively read with an upbeat ending.


      An excerpt from BESIEGED ADEPT, by Leslie Roy Carter and Margaret L.
      Carter (Amber Quill Press, 2005):

      "I can't go home," she cried in her weepy, childish voice.
      "You can never go back, but you can return home, Little One," Rajii
      said softly back to her, his razor-sharp, taloned hand stroking her
      hair protectively.
      "You're talking in riddles again, Dragon. Why do you say I can never
      go back, but can return? I'm confused."
      "You always are when you visit me of late. You can come when all is
      well, Aetria, you don't have to come just because you are afraid."
      The little girl turned to look up at her protector and friend. The
      sadness in his eyes told her he knew what she was going to say before
      she did, but she said it anyway.
      "When I am not afraid, I don't need you."
      The dragon laughed gently, his fangs opening up into a fierce grin
      that the little girl loved so dearly. "I would rather you come out of
      love than out of need, but I will welcome you for any reason."
      Aetria struggled out of the crook of Rajii's huge left arm and tugged
      her dress back into place. She marched purposely away from him toward
      the edge of the clearing and stood looking at her shining path. Rajii
      lowered his massive head onto his arms and watched as she turned and
      marched around the clearing, passing out of view behind him but easily
      tracked by his swiveling ears. When she had returned to her path,
      Aetria faced the dragon, her arms crossed sternly across her chest. In
      a serious voice, she asked, "Where is Coleni's path, Rajii?"
      "Not here."
      Stamping her right foot in frustration, the little girl fussed, "I
      know that, Dragon. I can see it's not here! But it used to be—so where
      is it?"
      Rajii shifted his long tail carefully forward, lifting its spiked end
      over his ward's head and around in front of his face, looping his
      body. He lifted his head up and tightened the coil until he could rest
      his chin on the scale-covered skin of his tail. Aetria waited, her red
      curls wafting in the breeze as her dragon shifted his wings more
      comfortably on his back. She knew he was taking his time in
      answering—he always did this. It made her so mad sometimes.
      "Her path died when she did, Little One."
      "She is not dead, Rajii—I brought her back to life."
      "She is dead to me."
      "Then accept her living and let her come back."
      The dragon sighed deeply, smoke puffing out in a long stream from his
      flared nostrils, a tiny flame popping out at the very end of the
      breath. She had once seen a raging fire erupt from the dragon,
      incinerating a deadly serpent that had threatened them years before.
      This sigh was his way of showing frustration.
      "I can't."
      Aetria stamped her foot again. "You can't? You know she is alive."
      "I know. I can't make her path appear. I tried. Someone is blocking
      the path. I don't know who. It could be Coleni. Maybe she doesn't want
      to come to me." Tears formed in the huge black eyes of the dragon and
      streamed slowly down away from the corners. "Maybe she no longer needs
      me, nor loves me."
      Aetria's heart ached for her saddened dragon. She ran to wipe the
      tears from his eyes with her dress hem, soaking herself in the process.
      "She loves you, Rajii. She told me so. She doesn't know why she can't
      come. She asked me to find out."
      -end of excerpt-

      Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:

      Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter
      for fans:
      For more information, visit:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FansofJewelsoftheQuill/
      To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
      FansofJewelsoftheQuill-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Moonlight_Fantasy

      My Publishers:

      Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
      Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
      Harlequin/Silhouette: www.eharlequin.com
      Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com

      You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...

      Happy holiday season to all!
      "Beast" wishes until next time—
      Margaret L. Carter
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