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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 37 (October 2008)

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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 , Oct 3, 2008
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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

      Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog:
      http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/

      Dr. Hugh Lange, the antagonist in my novel WINDWALKER'S MATE, was
      recently "interviewed" on this blog. You'll probably have to scroll down:
      http://wwweclecticwriter.blogspot.com/

      The magazine RENARD'S MENAGERIE has accepted a story of mine, "Beast
      Lord's Captive," which they will publish sometime in early 2009.
      There's a teaser from the beginning of the tale below.

      This month features an interview with Elaine Bergstrom, author of the
      Austra vampire series, beginning with SHATTERED GLASS, and other
      horror novels, as well as Dungeons and Dragons tie-in novels in the
      Ravenloft setting.

      *****

      Interview with Elaine Bergstrom:

      1. What inspired you to begin writing?

      Boredom, pure and simple. I had a boring job writing advertising, a
      typewriter and plenty of paper in my cubby and a lot of downtime. It
      was perfect. The first chapter of my first vampire novel was horrible.
      It was set in Russia (which I knew very little about), had very
      foreign characters and was just terribly overwritten. Then I scrapped
      everything, started over in the house I spend the first years in, the
      church I attended daily, etc. It was a good move for Shattered Glass.

      2. What genres do you write in?

      Romance-fantasy-horror-suspense (could that be rofantorsus?)

      3. What authors or works, if any, particularly influenced your Austra
      vampire series? Do you anticipate any more books in that universe?

      Some of the tone of The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of the Vampire
      Life certainly appears in my work. As for others, I read a lot of
      Andre Norton, Alexander Dumas, Dostoyevsky and Ray Bradbury while
      growing up. But beyond writing style, a lot of the pacing comes less
      from literature than from television. I loved Zorro and the Cisco Kid
      and Paladin and Yancy Derringer and Superman. The theme – man behind
      the mask.

      As for the second question, see below.

      4. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?

      It's been awhile, but the next in the Austra series is with my editor
      at Berkley now. I expect to hear something soon. The novel is the
      "final" in the Austra series – in the sense that the questions raised
      in the other books are answered here. So, if it were the last, it
      would be enough. I expect there will be more, though. I would
      particularly like to merge the classic characters in Mina with the
      characters in my Austra series – particularly interested in having
      Charles face off with Van Helsing or do a series of short stories
      about different family members – I have a lot of them to work with.

      5. What are you working on now?

      Nothing in fiction. I write for a living, and you can see some of my
      work at channelguidemag.com. I am also working with a friend who is
      writing his memoirs, and frequently asking "isn't this good
      inspiration for a novel." Actually, it is. Finally, this being a
      political year, I have the political "Why We Must" blog at
      elainebergstromblog.wordpress.

      6. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

      Give up sleeping, write to the point of exhaustion (since the best
      stuff comes out of the subconscious) if you are young and can survive
      on very little sleep, and if video games are a problem trash every one
      on your computer.

      7. What's your website URL?

      Elainebergstrom.com.


      *****

      Some Books I've Been Reading:

      BRAM STOKER'S NOTES FOR DRACULA, edited by Elizabeth Miller and Robert
      Eighteen-Bisang. Thanks to these two distinguished Canadian scholars,
      Bram Stoker's outline and notes for DRACULA are at last made available
      to the public. This book comprises a facsimile reproduction of the
      handwritten and typed notes, page by page, with a transcription on
      each opposite page. The volume includes very detailed footnotes
      showing how the outline developed into the finished novel and how
      DRACULA as published differs from Stoker's original conception. There
      are also an extensive bibliography and a detailed index. Appendices
      include a biographical sketch of Stoker's life, the 1888 Encyclopedia
      Britannica "Vampire" entry, major fictional works that might have
      influenced DRACULA, a list of relevant books owned by Stoker, a
      summary of incidents in the novel with features mentioned in the Notes
      highlighted, and a chronology of the potential novel (as outlined in
      the Notes) that the author ultimately did not write. The publication
      of this volume should lay to rest once and for all the notion of
      Stoker as a "hack" who carelessly dashed off the book that ensured his
      fame. Not only did he spend seven years plotting and writing the book,
      he meticulously outlined and researched every element that went into
      it. The Notes also confirm that Count Dracula was not literally
      "based" on Vlad the Impaler, since the main structure of the story was
      in place before Stoker replaced the vampire's original name, "Count
      Wampyr," with "Dracula." For writers in particular, this book offers a
      fascinating in-depth view of the construction of a classic work of
      fiction. The revision process eliminated, combined, and renamed
      numerous characters and deleted or rearranged large chunks of plot to
      arrive at DRACULA as we have it. The principle of an author's finding
      the right place to start is admirably demonstrated, as the originally
      conceived novel began several chapters before its present opening with
      Jonathan Harker's transition "from the West into the East." All
      Dracula specialists, of course, must have this book. Vampire
      enthusiasts in general will want to read it if at all possible. If
      you're a student or faculty member at a college or university, urge
      your institution's library to purchase this major contribution to
      DRACULA scholarship. It is published by McFarland and Company
      (www.mcfarlandpub.com), and the number for orders is 800-253-2187.
      It's also offered through Amazon.com (without a discount, alas).

      WOODCUTTER'S GRIM SERIES: CLASSIC TALES OF HORROR RETOLD, by Karen
      Wiesner. In the small town of Woodcutter's Grim, fairy tales come
      true, but not in the Disney style. Wiesner harks back to the original
      dark violence and eroticism of folk tales in this collection of four
      novellas, the first two previously published and the others new to
      this volume. The Guardians secretly watch over Woodcutter's Grim,
      trying to protect the townspeople from the lurking evil that brings
      fairy tale motifs to life for its own sinister purposes. "Papa," based
      on "Hansel and Gretel," approaches the town from an outsider's
      perspective with the story of a couple haunted by the accidental
      deaths of the husband's first wife and two children. They retreat to a
      vacation cabin in this isolated area in hopes of healing their
      marriage, but instead they have to confront what appear to be the
      vengeful ghosts of the children. In "Blood of Amethyst,"
      Rumpelstiltskin is re-imagined as a vampiric demon lusting for the
      blood of the unborn child of the heroine, Amethyst. "Dancing to the
      Grave" retells the tale of the Pied Piper through the eyes of a
      teacher who notices strange transformations possessing the children of
      the town as Halloween, always a night of danger, looms near. "The
      Amethyst Tower" moves several decades into the future. Prince, fated
      to die young and be continually reborn until he can achieve his
      destiny, has to travel through time to save Rapunzel from the Warlock
      Lord whose power underlies the evil haunting Woodcutter's Grim. Since
      I'm a big fan of retold fairy tales, I enjoyed these innovative
      variations on the theme very much. Although the stories could stand
      alone, they build upon each other to form a unified although episodic
      novel. This book contains genuine horror, so don't count on finding
      unequivocal happy endings. By the conclusion of "The Amethyst Tower,"
      however, peace at last descends on Woodcutter's Grim. Order from
      Whiskey Creek Press (www.whiskeycreekpress.com).

      SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME: THE RE-ENSLAVEMENT OF BLACK AMERICANS FROM
      THE CIVIL WAR TO WORLD WAR II, by Douglas A. Blackmon (the WALL STREET
      JOURNAL's Atlanta bureau chief). I had no idea this appalling chapter
      of our history existed! The book explores in depth the system of
      convict leasing widespread in the American South from the 1870s all
      the way to the early 1940s, beginning with the pre-Civil War roots of
      the practice. Poor, mostly illiterate people, overwhelmingly black
      men, were arrested on flimsy charges, sentenced to fines they couldn't
      possibly pay, and essentially sold to mines, factories, or farms to
      work off the "debt" under brutal conditions. In a way the system was
      worse than antebellum chattel slavery, because these "employers" had
      no financial interest in giving the workers proper food or medical
      care. If an employer needed cheap labor and had friendly connections
      with a local sheriff or magistrate, getting a supply of convicted
      "debtors" was easy. Often no specific charge was even recorded, and
      many of the "crimes" that were cited consisted of vague offenses such
      as vagrancy, abusive language, or leaving a job without permission.
      Although federal investigators under the presidency of Theodore
      Roosevelt tried to expose these institutionalized horrors, mostly in
      Alabama, ultimately they didn't make much of a dent in the system.
      Only the onset of World War II brought an end to it, because the
      United States feared such human rights abuses would provide fuel for
      anti-American propaganda by the German and Japanese regimes. It is
      chilling to realize that this form of pseudo-slavery flourished in our
      country *within living memory*!

      TRIBUTE, by Nora Roberts. The "tribute" of the title refers to heroine
      Cilla's project of rehabilitating a house in the Shenandoah Mountains
      of Virginia in homage to her grandmother, legendary actress Janet
      Hardy, who owned the house as a retreat from her Hollywood life and
      supposedly killed herself there. Cilla, a former child star on a TV
      series, now wants to start a new life working full-time at her
      avocation of restoring and "flipping" houses for profit. She hopes to
      earn a contractor's license and use the remodeling of her
      grandmother's house to advertise her skills as well as provide a home
      for herself. She has a strained relationship with her mother, an
      actress who hasn't enjoyed the high-profile career of either Janet or
      Cilla, and works at renewing her ties with her father, a native of the
      area, from whom her mother was divorced in Cilla's early childhood.
      The hero, Ford, who also grew up in the community and lives across the
      road from Janet Hardy's old house, is a successful writer and artist
      of graphic novels. I liked that feature of the story very much,
      watching Ford develop a superheroine based on Cilla. Ford has the
      steadiness, courage, intelligence, and humor to make him an ideal
      romance hero by my standards. His dog, Spock, is a delightful
      character, too. Cilla tries hard to fit herself into the community.
      She gets along well with the craftsmen who work on her house and with
      most of her new neighbors. One old man, though, bitterly resents her
      because her uncle, who died young in a car accident, was driving drunk
      when the crash killed another boy and permanently maimed the old man's
      son. When vandalism and threats begin, Cilla naturally assumes that
      this man, who hates her as a representative of her late grandmother,
      has committed the crimes. Matters become more serious when her
      ex-husband, visiting and helping her with the restoration, gets
      knocked on the head and ends up in intensive care. Meanwhile, Cilla
      has found a pile of unsigned letters revealing that at the time of her
      death Janet was pregnant from an affair with a local married man. Who
      is persecuting Cilla? The embittered old man or the unknown writer of
      the letters? The suspense is gripping and Cilla's emotional growth
      absorbing to watch. I love the way Ford tries to protect her and
      respect her need for independence at the same time. In order to accept
      his love, she has to overcome the fear of failure ingrained by her
      rise and fall as a child star and her aimless life since then. Her
      dream conversations with her grandmother's spirit (whether true
      communications from the beyond or, more likely, generated by Cilla's
      own research and speculations) add an interesting dimension to the story.

      THE LAUGHTER OF DEAD KINGS, by Elizabeth Peters. A major event for
      fans of Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels, the first Vicky Bliss
      mystery since 1994! I love the Amelia Peabody series, on which the
      author has been concentrating, but we've been anticipating this book
      for a long time. As the author's foreword explains, Vicky's saga
      (unlike Amelia's) takes place in the "current now." Although Vicky has
      aged only a few years since her debut in 1973, the world and its
      technology have moved forward around her. I've wondered how Vicky and
      her enigmatic lover John Tregarth (aka Smythe) got along after they
      officially became a couple and he ostensibly forsook his criminal
      career to become a legitimate antiquities dealer. In this novel we
      find out, and at last we also learn the exact relationship between
      John and the Emersons (Amelia and her husband). We aren't told the
      precise number of intervening generations, however, presumably because
      of the "current now" factor. Delightfully, Peters inserts herself as a
      character in one of the concluding scenes, maintaining the fiction
      that the Amelia novels are based upon authentic Victorian and
      Edwardian journals (which the Peters character has been purchasing
      from John's mother). In LAUGHTER OF DEAD KINGS, the mummy of King Tut
      is stolen and held for ransom. Numerous people immediately suspect
      John. When he persists in vanishing without explanation and answering
      questions with evasions or lies, even Vicky begins to have doubts
      about how much he knows. To clear his name, they have to investigate
      the theft while striving to ensure that the disaster doesn't become
      public knowledge. The plot thickens rapidly, with Peters'
      characteristic blend of suspense and wit. As always, she writes
      sparkling dialogue, especially the repartee between Vicky and John.
      Vicky's boss, elderly museum curator Herr Doktor Schmidt, naturally
      gets involved, since he can't resist the lure of adventure. In one of
      the climactic confrontations, we learn a startling secret about
      Schmidt's past that I won't spoil with hints. Humor, tension, and
      romance sweep the reader along with irresistible force. I found the
      ending satisfactory on every level. Here's another author who I wish
      could write faster.

      YOU CALL THIS THE FUTURE? by Nick Sagan (son of Carl Sagan), Mark
      Frary, and Andy Walker. Profusely illustrated, this book explores
      science fiction predictions of future technology, whether they have
      come true, and, if not, how close they are to realization. Each device
      or concept has two or three pages devoted to it, featuring literary
      and cinematic examples alongside explanations of current and emerging
      real-world science. Some topics include flying cars, bionic body
      parts, robots, space travel, transporters, sleep learning, and
      cryonics. A few present-day marvels far outstrip the expectations of
      most Golden Age SF, such as calculators, cell phones, and personal
      computers. Some other examples of long-awaited technology, e.g. time
      travel, remain as distant as ever. I'm a little surprised that the
      authors don't include a section on the cashless economy, speculated
      about as long ago as Edward Bellamy's late nineteenth-century utopia
      LOOKING BACKWARD. As for me, I don't mind that we can't buy flying
      cars yet. Imagine the traffic chaos! I'm still impatiently waiting,
      however, for my housekeeping robot. YOU CALL THIS THE FUTURE? is a fun
      read and a useful resource for SF writers.

      ACHERON, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This long-awaited addition to the
      Dark-Hunter universe (hardcover, unfortunately, from the viewpoint of
      the book buyer used to accumulating Dark-Hunter and Dream-Hunter
      paperback originals) essentially comprises two books in one. The first
      half covers Acheron's early life in the ancient Mediterranean world,
      before the sinking of Atlantis. The second half, in which he finds
      true love at last, takes place in the present day. The son of
      Atlantean goddess of vengeance Apollymi, Acheron is exiled from his
      divine heritage before his birth. Because of a prophecy that makes his
      father vow to kill him, his mother has him transferred from her womb
      into that of Queen Aara of Didymos. Born as the supposed twin brother
      of Styxx, the favored prince, Acheron suffers his parents' hatred from
      birth because they fear and loathe him as "deformed" on account of his
      inhuman eyes. Only his sister Ryssa, narrator of much of the early
      part of the novel, loves him. At an early age, he is sent to live with
      a noble relative in Atlantis. There, unknown to Ryssa, he becomes a
      sexual slave under the absolute control of his uncle, who tortures him
      physically and psychologically. When Ryssa discovers his plight, she
      tries to save him. Every action she takes for his benefit, though,
      ultimately backfires. As his situation worsens, it's painful to read
      about the periods of renewed hope followed by the shattering of those
      hopes. The shield he develops to hide his pain becomes nearly
      impenetrable, and he distrusts everyone. The gods in this universe are
      capricious and selfish. Artemis, who loves Acheron in her limited way,
      is no exception and ends up adding to his torment. By the end of the
      ancient-world portion of the novel, he possesses power and immortality
      but no hope of ever finding happiness. We learn the history of his
      twisted relationship with Artemis, how Simi became his adopted
      daughter, the origin of the Dark-Hunters, what happened when he
      finally met his mother, and what led to the destruction of Atlantis.
      In the present-day section, Acheron meets Dr. Soteria Kafieri,
      determined to prove the reality behind the myth of Atlantis, a quest
      to which her late father devoted his life. Acheron can't allow the
      truth about Atlantis to be revealed, so he sets out to discredit
      Tory's claims. Although their relationship begins in hostility, of
      course it grows into friendship and love, while their association
      plunges Tory into danger. The story held me captivated all the way to
      their well-deserved happy ending. It's moving to see how Acheron
      retains a capacity for self-sacrifice and even kindness after all the
      suffering that has been inflicted on him. Some readers may find the
      torture he repeatedly endures in the first part of the book too hard
      to read. Those scenes don't go into terribly graphic detail on a
      physical level (enough to give an all too clear picture of what is
      done to him, though), but the emotional pain is wrenchingly vivid, so
      be warned.

      *****

      Excerpt from "Beast Lord's Captive":

      The luminous green of the guardian beasts' eyes, an eerie gleam
      unlike anything natural to ordinary wolves, shone in the moonlit
      clearing in front of the stone tower. Insects chirped in the
      underbrush, and a light breeze cooled the summer night. Crouched at
      the edge of the forest that surrounded the building, Verlaine fingered
      the spell-beads of the bracelet on her left wrist and counted the
      animals once again. Having watched them pace in front of the single
      door for at least a quarter of an hour, she'd seen no more than five.
      One sleep spell from the magic stored in a single bead should disable
      all of them. That conclusion pleased her, for she didn't want to give
      Sir Arno any excuse for unnecessary killing. Even if the wolves were
      abnormally large and fierce predators enhanced by magic, they were
      only following their nature and obeying the will of the mage who'd
      shaped them.
      She cast a sidelong glance at the lean, chestnut-bearded knight, clad
      in leather armor, who crouched at her left side. The spell that made
      the two of them invisible to anyone else rendered his form ghostly to
      her, just as she would appear to him. He impressed her as the type of
      man who'd gladly slaughter the animals for their pelts and claim he'd
      been defending his life. Why had Baron Garvan sent this man along?
      Didn't he trust Verlaine to rescue his sister, Lady Kora, on her own?
      In her role as a freelance mage, Verlaine had performed enough
      missions for him in the past to give him confidence in her ability.
      But despite her insistence that she didn't need a bodyguard, much less
      a man-at-arms to aid in the rescue, he'd ordered her to accept Sir
      Arno as a traveling companion. Well, her contract didn't require that
      she like its terms, only that she save the lady.
      "What are you waiting for?" he whispered.
      "Nothing." She, too, kept her voice low. Although the spell made them
      inaudible as well as invisible to others, within limits, she didn't
      want to stress those limits. They'd left their horses tethered back in
      the woods, far enough that the magic didn't have to stretch to cover
      them, too. "We move now. As soon as I've put the wolves to sleep, I'll
      unbar the door, and we'll head straight to the topmost floor." The
      scrying spell she'd performed a few hours earlier had revealed the
      layout of the tower, with Lady Kora's chamber on the third and highest
      level.
      "Yes, I know. We've gone over the plan often enough." He drew his
      short sword.
      "Remember, don't use that unless you have to. Attacking anyone will
      break the concealment spell." Her sleep spell didn't count as an
      attack, since it did the target no actual harm. Once they reached
      their goal, the Beast Lord would surely sense the intrusion, but there
      was no point in attracting attention before they had to.
      "You've told me that often enough, too. Get on with it." He stood up.
      She rose to her feet, too, touched the bead that stored the charm she
      needed, and murmured the power word. Energy flowed along her arms and
      crackled in her fingertips. With a sweep of her hand, she discharged
      the magic. It spread over the clearing like a shimmering mist and
      enveloped the wolves. Instantly they collapsed, unconscious.
      If only she could deal with the Beast Lord so quickly. She had little
      hope of such an easy victory. Although rumor confined his powers to
      control over animals, he must surely have the strength to resist a
      simple sleep charm. After all, he'd wielded power enough to steal Lady
      Kora from her own garden the night before her planned marriage to one
      of Baron Garvan's noble allies. From what Verlaine had heard about the
      lady's betrothed, though, returning her to him didn't sound like a
      great favor. Still, that fate had to be better than life as a
      half-human creature's captive. And Verlaine had never reneged on a
      contract yet.
      -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
      Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
      Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
      Harlequin/Silhouette: www.eharlequin.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
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