Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 34 (July 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:
Here's the link to a fascinating feature at Midnight Moon Cafe about
the Pocket Books anthology MIDNIGHT TREAT, which includes my erotic
vampire romance novella "Tall, Dark, and Deadly." Sally Painter,
Shelley Munro, and I discuss the background and inspiration for our
stories in the anthology:
Literary Nymphs gave WINDWALKER'S MATE a rating of 4 Nymphs! They say,
"I found this story to be a great mystery in the occult. . . .
Margaret L. Carter has done a very creative job with this book." See
the review at:
This month's newsletter features an excerpt from SEALED IN BLOOD, one
of my vampire romances from Amber Quill Press. The heroine, Sherri,
meets vampire Nigel at a science fiction convention where Nigel is
stalking an amateur journalist who might have information about
Nigel's missing sister, Laura. The scene below shows Laura as a
prisoner of a cult leader who has discovered she's a vampire and wants
her to transform him.
No author interview this month, so I'm giving a sneak preview of a
conversation with one of my own characters, psychiatrist Britt Loren,
which will appear within a few months on a site called "It's My Turn
to Talk," where authors interview their characters.
*Therapist to the Not Quite Human:*
I'm interviewing Dr. Britt Loren from DARK CHANGELING, CHILD OF
TWILIGHT, and SHADOW OF THE BEAST. She's a tall woman with golden-red
hair in a loose French twist, green eyes, and a remarkably youthful
appearance for late middle age.
*Dr. Loren, please introduce yourself.*
I'm a native of the Baltimore area and received my M.D. from Johns
Hopkins University. I've practiced psychiatry in Annapolis for my
*I understand you're in a long-term relationship with a vampire.*
Yes, but not the undead type you're probably thinking of from legends
and movies. My partner, Dr. Roger Darvell, belongs to a nonhuman
species living secretly among us. Or, to be more accurate, he's a
vampire-human hybrid, an extremely rare phenomenon. His mother was a
vampire in love with a human male. They were killed in France in the
late 1930s, and he grew up as the adopted child of human parents, with
no idea of his true origin until the age of forty.
*Finding out the truth must have been traumatic for him.*
While he had major adjustments to make, of course, I think in a way it
was a relief to have the strange phenomena he'd grappled with for most
of his life rationally explained. For one thing, he didn't have to
worry that he was suffering from some obscure form of mental illness,
a fear that had haunted him all those years.
*How did you react when you began to suspect Dr. Darvell wasn't human?*
I was intrigued. Already I knew him too well to be afraid he would
hurt me. I wished he had trusted me enough to tell me the truth on his
own, but once I confronted him, he was completely honest. Discovering
his nonhuman heritage explained a lot, not only the restricted diet
and the allergy to direct sunlight, but how an uptight Bostonian could
be so incredibly sexy.
*He has a daughter by a female vampire, doesn't he? How do you feel
Isn't that my line? [laughs] Seriously, the pregnancy was produced by
artificial insemination, although with a few complications related to
male vampire sexual physiology. I have no reason to be jealous of
Gillian's mother. In fact, I encouraged Roger to contribute his hybrid
genes for the good of his species. They're not reproducing among
themselves enough to replace the few who are killed every century. In
effect, they're an endangered species.
*If you don't mind a personal question, why haven't you ever gotten
Can you imagine the income tax biteso to speakwith two doctors
filing jointly? After I retire, we'll probably make it official. That
may happen soon, considering how the practice of psychiatry has
changed since my early years in the field. Writing prescriptions for
psychotropic drugs just doesn't hold the excitement of Jungian
analysis. With the blood bond we share, though, we're effectively more
deeply committed than any ordinary husband and wife.
*In addition to helping Dr. Darvell counsel vampire-human couples,
you've psychoanalyzed at least one other type of paranormal creature.
How did you feel when an apparently ordinary young female patient
turned out to be a werewolf?*
After keeping Roger's secret for so long, I wasn't completely shocked.
Surprised, yes, to discover lycanthropy also existed, but not
frightened. I knew my patient was just a confused girl who needed to
understand her true nature. She's lucky she happened to pick me for
her therapist. It's not likely anyone else would have recognized the
truth about her condition.
*What advice would you give to an ordinary human being who's
considering a relationship with a vampire?*
They call us "ephemerals," but don't let them get away with assuming
they're superior just because they live practically forever and have
certain arcane powers. They depend on us for sustenance. While they
can feed on animals, they have to get small amounts of blood from
human donors on a regular basis to stay not only healthy but sane. The
ideal situation for a vampire is an exclusive bond with a single
donor. In return, they give us immunity to certain medical conditions
such as heart disease and most cancers. And a psychic bond with a
vampire involves a deep intimacy you won't find in any other
*Then it's true that sex with vampires is uniquely exciting?*
Well, that's a personal matter. [smiles enigmatically] I can tell you
in general terms, though, that the mutual sharing of blood infuses
lovemaking with an intensity you could never imagine.
-end of interview-
Some Books I've Been Reading:
THE GREAT GOOD THING, by Roderick Townley. A unique YA fairy tale
story that begins, "Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn't get to
live it very often." If you like metafictional novels, don't miss this
one (published in 2001, recently recommended to me). Princess Sylvie
and her family, friends, and enemies know they are characters in a
book. They sit around trying to amuse themselves while waiting eagerly
for their tale to be read, an event that happens too infrequently. One
day a girl named Claire opens the book, and Sylvie breaks the cardinal
rule: Never look at the Reader. Later she explores the countryside
outside the boundaries of the story and finds herself inside Claire's
dreams, interacting directly with the Reader. Despite her parents'
shock at this transgressive behavior, Sylvie can't bear to abandon her
friendship with Claire, whose copy of THE GREAT GOOD THING was passed
down from her grandmother, who in turn received it as a gift in
childhood. The world of the Reader baffles Sylvie; it's a place where
people put on new "disguises" (ages) as time goes by, and those who
die don't come back to life like the villains inside the story. Sylvie
follows Claire from childhood through old age and later meets Claire's
daughter. Meanwhile, inside the tale, everything falls apart.
Characters step outside their roles, including the jester, who
overthrows the king. Sylvie's family and their loyal allies, exiled
from the castle, must wander through the wilderness beyond their
familiar lands. Through Sylvie's communication with Claire's daughter,
an act of creation in the "real" world brings about a completely
satisfying resolution in the world of the story. I've never read
anything quite like this in terms of a fantasy exploration of the
relationship among writer, reader, and work.
MOONSTRUCK, by Susan Grant. Although set in the same universe as HOW
TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN TEN DAYS and earlier related novels,
this book stands on its own. The drawn-out galactic war between the
Coalition and the Drakken Horde has at last ended in an uneasy peace.
Along with the recently discovered and still protected planet Earth,
the former enemies have formed the Triad. Admiral Brit Bandar,
nicknamed "Stone-Heart," who as a young woman lost the people she most
loved to a Horde attack, has made her military career her entire life.
Now she's given command of a new Triad ship, on condition that she
accept an integrated crew of personnel from all three factionsand a
former Drakken pirate turned military Warleader, Finn Rorkken, as
second in command. He's the only Drakken officer of suitable rank who
isn't in hiding or imprisoned for war crimes. He's also been her
nemesis, and she his, for a long time, though they've never met face
to face. Not surprisingly, instant erotic sparks flash between them
when they meet. Brit grudgingly accepts that her career depends on
working with this man she's prepared to hate. Finn wants the peace and
the multicultural crew arrangement to work, for the good of the
desperate men and women under his command. This assignment provides
them, and Finn himself, their one chance for a new start. The
unfolding story reveals poignant emotional depths in both of these
characters. Meanwhile, a more lighthearted subplot follows a romantic
triangle involving Hadley, the Admiral's assistant. A few Earth
characters provide their own entertaining perspective on the conflicts
between Coalition and Drakken crew members. The difficulties of former
bitter enemies forced to work together as allies have strong resonance
for our own global situation in the mundane world. The resolution of
the Coalition majority's hostility toward the Drakken crew members
illustrates the need to refrain from demonizing the enemy before
trying to understand the reasons behind his or her behavior. Once I
accepted the premise that love affairs between officers in the same
chain of command aren't absolutely forbidden in Grant's interplanetary
military service, I became totally caught up in the growing passion
between the reluctant Admiral and the flamboyant ex-pirate.
VERY HARD CHOICES, by Spider Robinson. Long-awaited (by me, anywayI
wish he wrote faster!) sequel to VERY BAD DEATHS, in which the
narrator, Russell, an aging hippie American expatriate living in the
woods of British Columbia, joined his long-lost college roommate
Zudie, a telepath hiding from the outside world and presumed dead, in
disposing of a serial killer who was completely off the charts of
sociopathy. In the new book, Russell hasn't seen or heard from Zudie
in the years since the confrontation with the sadistic murderer, nor
has he had much contact with Nika, the local female police detective
who helped them. This story begins when Russell's estranged son Jesse
comes for a visit. At the same time, the former CIA agent from whom
Zudie has been hiding all these years has begun to suspect he's still
alive and is trying to track him down. In a flashback, Zudie tells
Russell about the secret government camp for people with psychic gifts
where Zudie's beloved was accidentally killed while they tried to
escape after discovering what their handlers had in mind for them.
Back then, picking up people's thoughts was painful for him, but he
could endure the presence of others as long as he kept a reasonable
distance from them. By now, the necessary distance to avoid severe
pain has become so great that he has to live as a hermit on a
supposedly uninhabited island not far from Russell's home. The news
that his old nemesis has come in search of him, putting Russell,
Jesse, and Nika in potential danger, forces Zudie to leave his refuge
and interact with them. The climax and resolution of the story came as
a surprise to me, but a satisfying one. There are plenty of
hair-raising moments along the way. The novel also contains an
abundance of Robinson's familiar social and political commentary.
Through the characters' dialogue, he lets the reader know in
exhaustive detail what he thinks of the current state of affairs in
the United States and what the country needs to do to get back on
track. A reviewer on Amazon.com states that, for him, the book was
fatally flawed by this soapbox dimension. Since I tend to agree with
most of Robinson's politics (although I think he exaggerates more than
a wee bit about how doomed we are), I didn't mind it so much as that
reviewer did. For me, Robinson's dialogue, like Heinlein's, is always
entertaining whether or not I fully accept his (or his characters')
opinions. I would have been delighted if the book were twice as long.
If you absolutely can't stand the liberal viewpoint, however, you
might not want to read VERY HARD CHOICES, because you'd probably agree
with that reviewer. Otherwise, I highly recommend the book, like all
of Spider Robinson's work.
FROM DEAD TO WORSE, by Charlaine Harris. The new installment in the
Sookie Stackhouse series picks up soon after the vampire summit in the
previous book, which ended in the bombing of the meeting site. In this
novel, Sookie worries over not having heard from her weretiger
boyfriend, Quinn. Meanwhile, she still has to deal with her blood bond
with vampire Eric, while her former vampire lover, Bill, seems to
regret their breakup. Upheavals continue in the lycanthrope and
vampire communities, including a crisis in Sookie's brother's marriage
that has an impact on the pack as a whole. Sookie meets her faerie
great-grandfather, whose nonhuman nature explains her telepathic gift.
I enjoyed this novel because of its emphasis on relationships, family
and otherwise. Since the beginning of the series, which included a
lighthearted streak amid the supernatural conflicts, these stories
have been getting progressively darker. Fortunately, for me Sookie's
lively narrative voice keeps the tone from descending into off-putting
depths of gloom. I'm looking forward to whatever revelations the
paranormal world holds for Sookie in the next episode, especially in
view of strong hints that the were-creatures are about to declare
themselves to the mundane public just as the vampires did a few years
The Circle Trilogy: MORRIGAN'S CROSS, DANCE OF THE GODS, and VALLEY OF
SILENCE, by Nora Roberts. Having heard a lot about Roberts' first
foray into vampire fiction, I finally took the plunge and read the
trilogy. In this series, vampirism is unequivocally, demonically evil.
Since that's not my favorite approach to vampirism, I didn't expect to
be thrilled by these books. They pleasantly surprised me. When a
vampire queen named Lilith plots to reduce humankind in all the worlds
to slaves and livestock, the goddess Morrigan raises a circle of six
to defeat her: Hoyt, a wizard from early medieval Ireland; Cian, his
brother, changed into a vampire by Lilith; Glenna, a modern witch;
Blair, a Buffy-type hunter of demons and vampires; Moira, a scholar
princess from an alternate-world analog of Ireland called Geall; and
Moira's cousin Larkin, a shapeshifter capable of taking the forms of
various animals, including a flying dragon. Over the centuries, Cian
has overcome the savage cruelty inherent in his vampire nature and
become, if not exactly good, at least no longer a vicious monster.
When the power of the goddess transports Hoyt into the twenty-first
century, Hoyt persuades his brother, although reluctant to risk his
comfortable lifestyle, to join in the campaign against Lilith.
Morrigan brings the group together, and they gradually learn to trust
each other. In the second novel, they travel through a stone circle
into Geall, where the final battle is destined to occur. Along the
way, there's a bit of "fish out of water" humor, which I always enjoy.
It might seem nearly impossible to pull together horror, high fantasy,
time travel, dimension-hopping, medieval-style battles, and romance
into a coherent, satisfying story. Happily, Roberts manages the feat
well. Although there's no doubt of the irredeemable evil of Lilith and
her followers, some of them have individual personalities and evoke a
degree of pathos. Cian fully engaged my sympathy as a reluctant "good
guy vampire" blindsided by the first deep experience of true love in
his long existence. The members of the circle pair up, one couple in
each book. The passion between Moira and Cian, unlike the other
couples, seems hopeless, because her obligations as queen of Geall
make it impossible for her to take a vampire as her consort.
Morrigan's intervention mainly comprises the initial gathering of the
circle and an occasional helpful vision, offering more encouragement
than concrete information. She never comes across as a handy "dea ex
machina" except at the very end, when the characters have thoroughly
earned her blessing. One thing about the books, not related to the
author's workI dislike the front covers, especially that of VALLEY OF
SILENCE, which strikes me as downright ugly. (The cutaway inside
covers are more attractive.) If I hadn't known anything about the
novels in advance, I certainly wouldn't have picked them up on the
basis of the artwork. Lucky I had reviews and other readers' comments
to guide me! I recommend this trilogy to all fantasy and/or vampire
Excerpt from SEALED IN BLOOD:
No light seeped through the locked shutters--the sole comfort of
Laura's imprisonment. Nevertheless, she knew when day sank to dusk.
When her part of the earth turned away from the sun, her heartbeat and
respiration quickened, stirring the sluggish blood in her veins. Her
frozen limbs thawed to mere chill, and she awoke.
Woke to stomach-wrenching hunger and burning thirst. She uncurled
herself from the sheepskin rug and stumbled to the bathroom. Several
times, she refilled and drained the plastic cup. The tepid water
soothed her throat momentarily, with no promise of true quenching. She
grimaced at her reflection in the mirror. Why hadn't Don removed that,
if he no longer trusted her with glass? And what did he think she
could do with broken glass that her own teeth and claws couldn't manage?
She raked fingers through her tangled red hair. Finding the comb and
brush to groom herself seemed like too much trouble in her low-energy
condition. Her mouth tasted like a slaughterhouse floor. She'd used up
the tube of toothpaste several days ago, and she wouldn't stoop to ask
Don for anything.
Dragging herself back into the bedroom, she huddled on the coffin lid.
Her amusement at Don's bizarre notion of furniture had long since worn
out; she thought of the thing as simply a convenient seat.
The idea of rooting in the closet for a book she hadn't read didn't
inspire her. Hugging her cramp-racked stomach, she felt herself
drifting into a half-doze. How could she be drowsy after a full day of
sleep? She gave her tousled head an irritable shake. How long had she
been locked in here, anyway, with no proper nourishment and no
companion besides her jailer? She began counting on her fingers--
The scrape of the key snapped her awake. Damn, she'd fallen asleep
again! She sprang to her feet, feeling the hair bristle at the back of
Don stepped through the door, leveling the revolver at her.
That gun again--as if his fear of her weren't obvious enough without
it. Not only did he stink of fear, it shouted in the way he clutched
the silver cross at his throat. She looked forward to disabusing him
of that superstition by ripping the thing off his neck--but not as
long as he had the .38 pointed at her breast.
"How'd you sleep today, Laura? Enjoying your reducing diet?" His voice
quavered with anger as well as fear.
"Must you come bothering me like this every night? If you aren't going
to let me out, just stay away."
"That's no way to talk to your host--and I've got news you'll want to
"I doubt it." Fixing her eyes on his, she strove to draw him in,
seduce him with her gaze.
Well-practiced at this game, he stubbornly stared at her chest
instead. "That sneaky little son of a bitch--" He sounded hoarse with
the effort of stifling his anger. "The pictures--I was right about them."
In spite of herself, Laura pricked up her ears at this remark. "Brewster?"
"You got it. I trusted him, the little snake!" Don's aura smoldered
with resentment. Still, to Laura's disappointment, he didn't forget to
avoid her eyes. "He had one of those miniature cameras, it looks like.
Anyway, like the paper said, he claimed he had photos of a winged
alien. Had to be you at the Sabbat--what else?
Laura felt a twinge of alarm. "You aren't sure? Didn't you get the
"Hell, I tried," Don said with an acid grin. "Somebody else got there
At that, her stomach churned with more than hunger. "Someone else has
"I think I know. I'll get them back, don't worry. Think I wouldn't
take good care of my prize monster?"
She gritted her teeth to hold back the retort that leaped to mind; she
couldn't let him goad her.
He went on. "I have to go easy, though. When I leaned on Brewster to
find out where the pictures were, he put up a fight, and things got
out of hand."
It took a second for his meaning to penetrate Laura's abused brain.
"You killed him!"
He shrugged. "Don't sweat it. It was an accident, and I heard the cops
chalked it up to a burglary."
Her heart racing, she said, "You can't be sure they'll stick to that."
Did this development necessarily threaten her? In a way it offered
hope, for if Don were arrested, she'd be found and liberated. On the
other hand, Don's exposure might carry the risk of someone else
learning her secret.
His right hand trembled; no doubt his fingers ached from gripping the
hilt of the gun. "I didn't really come down here to talk about that.
You know what I'm here for. Have you changed your mind?"
"The answer is the same as last night and the night before," she said.
"It won't change. What you're asking for just isn't possible."
Wouldn't he ever believe that simple truth? Perhaps she should pretend
to give in, go along with his delusion. Maybe that piece of trickery
would win her freedom. She couldn't shift position too abruptly,
though. "Why not forget about it and start up the Black Masses again?
Your friends must be wondering what's happened."
"I'm fed up with all that bull," he said with an impatient twitch of
the revolver. "I told you, I want the real thing." After she'd faced
him in silence for a minute, he said, "I've been thinking over what we
talked about last night. I know you're holding out on me. There's got
to be a reason why you won't let me have a taste of your blood."
"Because the very idea makes me sick!" she spat.
Bad move--she couldn't manipulate him if she lost her temper. Let him
believe she might submit to his proposal. Not that she could ever go
through with the act, for then her mind would lie bare to him; she
would have no more secrets.
After a few deep breaths, she said in a low purr, "But you want me to
taste yours, don't you? You miss it. Don't try to lie. Your emotions
are so clear you might as well be screaming them."
He flushed dull red. His aura pulsed in time with the throb of his
heart. "I don't know what you're talking about," he muttered.
To Laura's shame, she still wanted him, too. Her loathing for him
didn't change that. Beneath the smell of fear-sweat and cologne, she
scented healthy male. Saliva flooded her mouth.
He feels it, too! Use it against him!
"Give up, Don. You're making yourself miserable for no reason. Put
down that silly gun and take off the cross and come over here." She
pitched her voice low, sultry. "Then maybe we can talk over
your...request, hmm? I don't take kindly to being threatened."
"Shut up," he growled. "You can't suck me in that way." Groping in his
left pocket, he took out a knife and fumbled to unfold it one-handed.
Laura couldn't help flinching. Her reaction made Don's mouth contort
in a fleeting smile. "Right, if you won't give me that little drink,
I'll just take it. Don't like the idea, do you?" He strode a couple of
steps closer, pointing the gun at her head.
Her muscles tightened. Maybe she ought to be glad of this threat; it
brought him within her reach for the first time in weeks. All she
needed was a second of inattention, and then--
His harsh breathing and his heartbeat deafened her. Crouching, she
waited for the moment when her arms could snake around his neck.
Automatically her lips curled back from her teeth. She felt the heat
emanating from his flesh, smelled his Scotch-flavored breath.
The pocket knife slashed upward to graze her forearm. At the same
instant, she grabbed his right wrist. He squeezed the trigger, and she
barely managed to shove the barrel aside. The bullet whizzed past her
head. Her ears ringing from the shot, she bore down upon him. Again he
gashed her unprotected arm.
The wound scorched her as if the blade had been red-hot. No time to
concentrate on quelling the pain, no time to stop the bleeding. She
felt dizzy. Blinded by pain and rage, she bit at random into the first
exposed flesh her teeth found. Don's wrist.
Hot blood gushed into her mouth. A surge of terror from him rocked
her. He hadn't believed she still had that much strength. Her probing
tongue tasted adrenaline. Fueled by it, he broke her hold and threw
Maddened by the abrupt cutoff--so close, so damn close!--she charged
for the door he'd left ajar. The chill air of the outer room washed
over her clammy skin. Her vision veiled by a red fog, she didn't see
Don's arm raised before the pistol butt slammed into her jaw.
She fell to her knees. When he pinioned her arms and lifted her, she
sank her teeth into him again. The mingled taste of his blood and her
own shredded the last of her self-control. Shuddering, her limbs as
far beyond her command as if her spine had been severed, she could
think of nothing but the pain and the rich, salty tang in her mouth.
She had no power to resist when he threw her onto the rug.
As the taste faded, it left the burning in her vitals worse than
before. When her vision cleared, Don was gone, and she was locked in
-end of excerpt-
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Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
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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