Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 55 (April 2010)
- Welcome to the April 2010 issue of 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:
Fictionwise.com sells quite a few of my e-books as well as my short stories from various anthologies, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword and Sorceress" series.
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
Happy spring festival to all, whichever one you celebrate! I'm thrilled to see this atypically harsh winter over at last. It's wonderful to have a sunny, warm Easter in prospect; that holiday just doesn't feel the same if it's wet or chilly.
On April 4, Amber Quill Press releases ROGUE MAGESS, by my husband Leslie Roy Carter and me. It's the sequel to WILD SORCERESS and BESIEGED ADEPT, the culmination of Aetria's journey of discovery. Aetria and her twin sister Coleni learn that their own births and the history of their world have been manipulated in secret by a long-lived, powerful race of dragons. Assassins pursue the sisters, their allies and rivals doubt their sanity, and two mysterious voices speak in Aetria's head. To protect her people, must she take on the entire Council of Magi as well as the dragons who want to enslave them all?
The excerpt below portrays her first face-to-face meeting with the most ancient of the dragons.
The Innsmouth Free Press (www.innsmouthfreepress.com), an excellent free online Lovecraft-themed zine, gave my novelette "Tentacles of Love" an outstanding review. They call it "definitely cute," concluding, "Thumbs up for happy endings. Oh, sorry. Tentacles up."
I'm interviewing multi-talented author Kathryn Sullivan this month.
Interview with Kathryn Sullivan:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
When I was young, my friends and I always played games for which we made up elaborate storylines. A lot of them were based off TV shows of the time, so we had our running spy story or space adventure or Western. I was also read a lot, starting from my brother's and sisters' collection of kid series and mysteries to my father's collection of science fiction and fantasy. Our basement was filled with bookcases. What got me started writing was a rainy day in our summer cottage when I was 14. I had already read every book there, and I suddenly decided that I could write a story. So I pulled out my father's manual typewriter and started typing away. I've been writing ever since.
2. What genres do you write in?
Fantasy and science fiction. I usually tend to write young adult in those genre as well. I've also written some Doctor Who stories for anthologies published by Big Finish.
3. You have quite an interesting range of links on your "Interests and
Inspirations" page. Can you tell us how some of your favorite authors
and TV shows have influenced your work? And where do astronomy and
anthropology come in?
I read a lot of Eric Frank Russell and James Schmitz when I was young, thanks to my dad. I liked EFR's use of humor and James Schmitz had a lot of strong female characters in a time when most science fiction focused on male adventurers or the male scientist/inventor. I appreciated finding females who could carry a story. Those two, along with J.R.R. Tolkien on the fantasy side, influenced my early writing. I enjoy writing strong female characters and I like having humor in my stories.
Psi powers are another favorite topic of mine, and I can point to James Schmitz's "Agent of Vega" as an influence for that.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Tamara Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones and Michelle Levigne are authors I love to read. I buy everything they publish as soon as it's released.
I love looking at the stars. I check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day every morning for inspiration and I usually have a calendar (or two) with pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope.
My undergraduate major was in anthropology and it's helped a great deal in designing alien or fantasy cultures and languages. I love it when I can throw an archeologist in a story as well. I've done that in a couple of short stories already. It's also why I enjoy Janet Kagan, C.J. Cherryh, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's works so much. I've got a link to an anthropology news site since I've gotten story ideas from the news (such as one that inspired "The Monster and the Archaeologists"). I also like stories which feature aliens (so again, Janet Kagan and C.J. Cherryh as well as Bud Sparrowhawk).
I've been a fan of the television show Doctor Who since around 1978. I like the idea of this Time Lord traveling in time and space with his friends. I've written a few stories and some were published in anthologies released by Big Finish. I also have an essay in "Chicks Dig Time Lords" about my experiences in Doctor Who fandom.
4. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
Something in between. I usually start off with a scene or a character and start writing. If I get stuck, I skip to a future scene, but around then is when I'll start a vague outline/timeline so I'll know where that scene fits in when I get to it in the story line.
5. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?
My latest book is "Talking to Trees", a young adult fantasy from Amber Quill Press. I also have an essay in the March 2010 "Chicks Dig Time Lords" from Mad Norwegian Press.
6. What are you working on now?
I'm working on two books at the moment though characters for a third book are trying to get my attention. One is a young adult novel set on a space colony ("Explorer-in-Training") and the second is a continuation of my `agents' stories from "Agents & Adepts".
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To keep writing, rewriting, and submitting. It took me a long time to find a publisher, but I did find one (and the book won an award). And because I wrote both short stories as well as novels I could submit to a variety of markets. So I would also encourage aspiring writers to try a variety of genres and story lengths.
8. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog?
No, I don't have a blog, sorry.
My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/kathryn.sullivan
Some Books I've Been Reading:
DRACULA: ASYLUM, by Paul Witcover. This 2006 sequel to DRACULA is surprisingly good, although not mainly (in my opinion) as a vampire novel. Set during World War I, it takes place at the former asylum of Dr. Seward, now a hospital for wounded and shell-shocked soldiers, with the abandoned Carfax Abbey still a grim ruin next door. Dr. Lisa Watson arrives to join the staff, having used family influence to get that position so she can work with her fiance, Denis Faulks. Denis has lost his memory in a horrible experience at the front and believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes. The major in charge of the hospital, although unsurprisingly reluctant to let Lisa treat someone so close to her, cooperates. Another officer dislikes her on sight and alternately patronizes and harasses her. Lisa uses the coincidence of her name to establish a rapport with Denis in his Holmes persona. Meanwhile, Renfield, who survived Dracula's murderous attack, works at the hospital, the only place he feels at home. But the Count's dreaming mind calls to him. This book is blatantly a sequel to the Bela Lugosi movie, not Stoker's novel. Dracula's staked body lies in its coffin beneath Carfax Abbey, awaiting his old minion Renfield to release him. Lisa's hypnotic sessions with Denis, revealing the ordeal he lived through when his men were slaughtered, convey a harrowingly vivid picture of the war and its effects on those who suffered through it. Both Lisa and Denis are strong, appealing characters, and Lisa's knowledge of the revolutionary theories of Dr. Freud adds another layer of historical realism. The medical officer who opposes Lisa practices "faradic therapy," an early version of electroshock treatment, with devastating effects on some of his patients. Count Dracula's choice of Lisa as his next bride draws the two plot threads together. Revelations about the power of Dracula's dreams and the possible truth of his origin (he's not Vlad the Impaler in this version) raise the vampire portion of the story above the level of the rather conventional plot it would otherwise remain. Recommended for devotees of the classic Lugosi film and horror fans with an interest in the World War I setting.
THE DREAM OF THE STONE, by Christine Askounis. This YA fantasy published in 1993 should be a don't-miss read for fans of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle (who gave the book a cover quote). When the parents of teenage heroine Sarah Lucas die in the crash of their small plane, she has to leave her beloved home and live with an uncle and aunt she hardly knows. A mysterious old woman keeps popping up with cryptic advice. Sarah's older brother, Sam, a physics genius working in another state on a top-secret project, falls out of communication with her. Through her fondness for horses, she becomes friends with a slightly older, half-Gypsy boy named Angel. She learns that her brother's project, the Looking Glass, holds the potential for instantaneous travel through wormholes. Evil forces want to misuse his invention. With Angel and Sam, Sarah is swept away to a distant planet, where she meets such creatures as an ambulatory, talking tree and becomes the custodian of the magic stone of the title. Amid the cosmic battle between good and evil, numerous plot details evoke echoes of PERELANDRA, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, A WRINKLE IN TIME, and A WIND IN THE DOOR. The characters are engaging, the writing excellent, and the right side's eventual victory (for the present) not without the appropriate cost.
A DARK MATTER, by Peter Straub. I was enthralled by Straub's early horror novel GHOST STORY but haven't read much of his recent work except a few short stories. Judging from the reviews, a lot of the books aren't supernatural, so I wasn't interested, though I did read a somewhat Lovecraftian novel I really liked. (Sorry, the title escapes me at the moment.) A DARK MATTER has a Lovecraftian undercurrent, in that it lifts the veil between the material universe and vaster dimensions to reveal what seems to be the horror and emptiness of ultimate reality. The narrator, Lee Harwell, an author, has a chance encounter that awakens memories of a traumatic event that happened in his late teens. In the turbulent 1960s his tightly knit group of high school friends, along with a glamorous young woman and a pair of thuggish frat boys from the nearby college, became seduced by a self-proclaimed guru named Spencer Mallon. Lee alone refused to meet their new hero. Mallon arranged a ceremony in a meadow, during which the group was supposed to achieve transcendence, if only for a moment. Everything went horribly wrong. One of the college boys vanished altogether, the other was torn apart, and one of Lee's friends had to be committed to an institution, where to this day he speaks only in quotations from books (notably Hawthorne's THE SCARLET LETTER). Lee's wife, also named Lee and nicknamed the Eel (it took me a while to stop being distracted by the silly nicknames all the friends have) was present but has never talked about the event. Now Lee Harwell decides to dig up the truth and interviews each of the surviving participants. Everybody remembers something different. Straub's gift for conveying the utterly, deeply unsettling "other" in fresh imagery is breathtaking. Nothing much "happens" in the present except for the characters' personal growthrevelation, reconciliation, and a measure of peace for Lee and his wife. So if you expect a conventional horror novel with a dramatic resolution, you might find this book dissatisfying. Taken on its own terms, it's a fascinating achievement, and as you'd expect from Straub, the characters are strong and the writing elegant.
Excerpt from ROGUE MAGESS:
"This is the Venerable Styrekii-zish. My savior and friend. The leader of the Styreka."
Aetria could not respond, her throat so constricted in fear she could barely pull in a breath. The dragon was the same shade of gray as Grisylck had been, twice the size but hide and bones compared to her gross fatness. As Aetria struggled to breathe she expected to inhale the carrion stench of the Crone but smelled only the scent of leather and metal, like that of her own long-stored armor. The Venerable moved its tail slowly from behind and encircled Aetria with the lance-tipped end, nudging her closer.
::Your fear is understandable, Tierii Aetria Menhala v'Grelnes.::
The clarity of that thought in her mind startled a response from her that she did not expect to give. "Don't use that name, dragon. Someone might hear."
The Venerable shifted its gaze from sister to brother and said or, perhaps thought, ::It is good to be cautious, Tierii Aetria, but no one can sense our thoughts. We are protected by a silence spell, as you name it.::
"How can you read my thoughts so easily? There is no path between us."
::A path? Oh, yes, the connection you associate with our thought communications. The one Sister Grisylck forced on you and others. That was wrong for her to do.::
"You have not answered my question, Venerable One."
::There is a path, Little One. I made it when I created you.::
"You are the one who changed us all."
The dragon slowly nodded.
::It is what I do.::
"That is not the answer I seek."
::It is, but you do not know that now. You have not asked that question yet.::
Aetria tried to relax but found it hard to do. In her dream world with Rajii she felt completely at ease with her friend. Although the Venerable was larger than her protector, it was not making any threatening moves that should keep her in such an extreme defense posture. Perhaps the dragon's reality was enough in her mind to override the resemblance of this scene to the dreams. "You talk in the same riddle form as Rajii, never answering to the point."
The Venerable smiled, or least made the same facial gesture as Rajii used. To anyone who did not know Styreka it would have been a fierce snarl with dagger-length teeth very prominently displayed.
::Your minds are still simple, Tierii, as is your form of communication. You are capable of reasoning the reality of your situation as a whole but can only think of it in a sequence of thoughts driven by your senses. You will gather the facts with singular questions with simple answers until you see you have enough information to know the reality.::
Groaning, Aetria moved away from the bone spike lying by her feet and paced along the length of the huge dragon's tail, keeping her eyes fixed on the large orbs of the Styreka. "I don't understand, Venerable."
-end of excerpt-
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"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter