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Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 7 (April 2006)

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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 , Apr 1, 2006
      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

      In the middle of March I attended the International Conference on the
      Fantastic in the Arts, as usual. It's always held in the same hotel in
      Fort Lauderdale, and it combines all the best features of an academic
      conference and a fan convention (aside from cool costumes), because
      lots of editors and authors in the SF/fantasy field attend. I
      participated in a BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER panel that had decent
      attendance and lively discussion despite being held in the 8:30 slot
      (for me and many other attendees, practically the middle of the
      night). Special guest was noted graphic artist Charles Vess. His
      fairy-tale art is mind-blowing, as were his two slide presentations on
      the artists that have influenced him.

      I'm thrilled to report that ROMANTIC TIMES BOOK CLUB magazine gave my
      werewolf novel SHADOW OF THE BEAST (Amber Quill Press) four stars in
      its May issue, with the comment, "Carter has done a remarkable job
      with this novel." They also said nice things about FROM THE DARK
      PLACES (Amber Quill Press), with three stars and the praise, "This is
      a taut drama in which good has a difficult time keeping ahead of the
      dark."

      Some books I've been reading:

      ONE GOOD KNIGHT, by Mercedes Lackey. The second fantasy novel set in
      Lackey's Five Hundred Kingdoms, a world where the Tradition shapes
      major events. An impersonal yet almost sentient force, the Tradition
      "wants" the fulfillment of patterns from myths and fairy tales. For
      instance, a poor but virtuous girl persecuted by her stepmother will
      naturally marry a prince. A princess in peril must fall in love with
      her rescuer. This novel is based on the myth of Andromeda, sacrificed
      to a monster for the welfare of her land. Lackey's Andromeda, one of
      this author's typical bright but unappreciated young adults, is
      determined not to fall in love with the knight who saves her from the
      dragon, and "Sir George" heartily agrees with her. The tale has
      several surprising twists (as well as one "twist" that I had no
      trouble predicting, but part of the fun is watching Andromeda catch
      on). Moreover, the dragon turns out to be an interesting character, too.

      SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT, by Mary Alice Kruesi. I recently reread this
      spinoff from the story of Peter Pan and loved it as much as the first
      time. It's a shame and a mystery that this novel is out of print, but
      Amazon.com offers plenty of inexpensive copies. Faye, an American
      single mother newly settled in England to protect her two children
      from her abusive ex-husband, and Jack, a brilliant physicist with no
      memory of his first six years of life, are lively, appealing
      characters with opposite viewpoints on the world. In his playful
      receptiveness to the wonders of the universe, including elements most
      people would call fantasy, Jack coaxes Faye to relax her deadly
      serious approach to life and open herself to love. The fantasy and
      romance elements are balanced, making this novel a true cross-genre
      story rather than strictly a paranormal romance. It has a premise
      similar to that of the movie HOOK: The ancient, reclusive lady who
      owns, and lives on the top floor of, Faye and Jack's apartment
      building claims to be the real Wendy from PETER PAN. Not until the
      last chapter do we find out for certain whether her belief is truth or
      delusion. A beautiful story that I didn't want to end.

      MASTER OF DARKNESS, by Susan Sizemore, in the same series as her
      novels I BURN FOR YOU, I THIRST FOR YOU, and I HUNGER FOR YOU
      (separate from her "Laws of the Blood" vampire universe). These
      vampires are my favorite type, another species living secretly among
      us. They are principally divided into Clan, the aristocracy of their
      race, who aim at peaceful coexistence with humanity, and Tribe, the
      rougher, more overtly bloodthirsty group. Eden, a hunter from a family
      of hereditary vampire hunters, has agreed to collaborate with a Clan
      Prime on a mission. She comes across a vampire being attacked by
      others of his kind and, mistaking him for her assigned partner, helps
      to drive off his assailant. Laurent, a Tribe vampire with a cynical
      view of the human race and of all females, decides the mistaken
      identity can be useful for him and therefore doesn't tell Eden who he
      really is. Of course, sexual sparks fly, accompanied by witty
      exchanges and touches of humor despite the underlying seriousness of
      the plot. I enjoyed it very much, especially the gradual undermining
      of Laurent's exaggerated self-concept as an evil creature of the
      night. The title doesn't have much relevance to the storyline; I
      suspect it was suggested by the publisher for its general vampiric
      implications.

      MADAME BOVARY'S OVARIES, by David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash. A
      tour through classic literature from the viewpoint of behavioral
      Darwinism. The authors discuss the ways human behavior, especially in
      sexual and parent-child relationships, serves the self-perpetuating
      goals of our genes. If you're interested in evolutionary biology at
      all, this book is a lot of fun to read. It works not so much as
      criticism of novels from an evolutionary perspective, more as using
      novels to illustrate the "selfish gene" principle.

      I decided to post an excerpt from an older book this time. DARK
      CHANGELING, my first vampire novel, is the true "book of my heart" and
      an Eppie Award winner in Horror in 2000. This scene early in the novel
      shows psychiatrist Roger Darvell at a party, sneaking into his hosts'
      daughter's bedroom to feed on her. At this point, Roger thinks he's
      merely abnormal but human, afflicted with a secret craving for blood.
      Sylvia is another guest at the party who caught his attention earlier.
      This was one of the first scenes written, long before the story
      developed into its present form:

      Excerpt from DARK CHANGELING (Hard Shell Word Factory):

      Roger's pulse quickened at the thought of Meg unknowingly waiting for
      him. Her cold virus wasn't serious enough to inconvenience him. He
      never succumbed to minor infectious diseases. Moreover, her condition
      would disguise any aftereffects she might suffer from the "donation."
      But she wouldn't suffer; he would see to that. He would exercise
      caution, rein his appetite -- and reward her with deep, peaceful sleep
      afterward. Better than any over-the-counter drug.
      *Oh, why don't you stop rationalizing? What you're doing is bad
      enough, without lying to yourself in the bargain!*
      He reached the deserted upstairs hall unobserved. Striding
      silently along the carpeted floor to the dark, unoccupied guest bath,
      he ducked inside and stood, listening. His hyperacute hearing
      confirmed that he was alone on this floor, except for the sleeping
      girl. Emerging into the corridor again, he followed the rise and fall
      of her breath to her closed bedroom door. After one last look around,
      he opened the door, stepped through it, and soundlessly closed it
      behind him.
      He leaned back against the wood panel, struggling to slow his own
      respiration. The girl in the bed didn't stir. The satin sheet, tangled
      around her legs, left her upper body bare except for a
      buttercup-yellow cotton gown, damp with sweat. Her platinum hair
      spilled over the pillow. Except for an automatic precautionary glance
      at the window, he didn't bother noticing any other details. Being able
      to see the unconscious object of his quest was enough.
      Where did he get his keen night vision? For that matter, where
      did the rest of his anomalous abilities come from? For all he knew,
      they might be delusions. He might be as disconnected from reality as
      the narrator of Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart," who imagined he could hear
      his victim's pulse reverberating throughout the house.
      As Roger could hear Meg's pulse now.
      Reality or delusion, he was past caring. The sound set his own
      heart racing, and his throat went dry. Swallowing the excess saliva
      that flooded his mouth did nothing to alleviate the distress. He moved
      to the bedside and sat down.
      He laid a hand on Meg's warm forehead. Immediately she sank from
      normal sleep into a trance from which she wouldn't wake until he
      released her. He planned to rouse her just enough to evoke a dreamlike
      erotic response, the emotional nourishment he needed for full
      satisfaction. Afterward he would lull her back into the dreaming
      phase, with no memory of his visit.
      As he bent over the girl, the door opened.
      He sprang to his feet. Sylvia LaMotte darted in and shut the door.
      They glared at each other. In his alarm Roger thought he glimpsed
      a red spark in Sylvia's eyes but dismissed it as an optical illusion.
      "What are you doing here?" he whispered. His heart raced, making him
      lightheaded. He fought off the threatened panic. *Got to take the
      offensive -- I can't let her guess what I'm up to.*
      "What do you think? I assumed you wouldn't mind sharing."
      "What in the name of --"
      She said with a puzzled frown, "Maybe I read you wrong,
      downstairs. What are you in here for?"
      Passing over Sylvia's incomprehensible babbling, he said in a
      more normal tone, though still keeping his voice low, "I have a right
      to be. I'm not only a relative, I'm a doctor. Why shouldn't I check on
      my cousin?"
      "Didn't I hear somebody say you're a psychiatrist? And what would
      Mrs. Bronson think of Cousin Roger `checking' on her daughter in the
      dark?"
      Roger's head throbbed with tension, but he fought to keep his
      voice steady long enough to placate and dispose of the intruder. "I
      wouldn't want to disturb Meg unnecessarily. But that's none of your
      business. What's your excuse? Are you a debutante kleptomaniac,
      perhaps? Or just a garden-variety snoop? Don't try to claim you were
      looking for the powder room." His throat felt clogged with fear.
      *She's not buying it; I can't control her.*
      Her mind was no longer unreadable; its surface roiled with anger.
      Yet she suppressed her rage and spoke quietly. "Deal, Roger -- let's
      both go downstairs and forget this happened. I won't tell if you
      won't. I don't mind keeping your guilty secret."
      "I don't make deals in circumstances like this. Shall I call Mrs.
      Bronson and tell her I caught you rummaging in Meg's jewelry? Which of
      us do you think she'll believe?" An imperfect solution at best, for
      anything that drew attention to his presence in this room risked
      exposing him.
      "Damn you, Dr. Darvell --" She scurried across the room to him,
      her natural grace hampered by her narrow skirt. "I don't know what you
      want, but I don't see why I should leave you alone with her when it's
      obvious you're lying."
      "You're in no position to speak -- you certainly aren't
      innocent." Why was she gazing down at Meg instead of looking at him?
      Sparing a glance for the girl in the bed, Roger noted that the trance
      he'd imposed on her still held firm.
      Suddenly his attention was diverted by masculine footsteps in the
      hall. "Now look what you've done," Sylvia whispered.
      "What I --!"
      A tap sounded at the door. "Meg? You need anything?" Mr. Bronson.
      Sylvia clutched Roger's sleeve in unthinking appeal. The man's voice
      continued, "I thought I heard something in there. Not keeping yourself
      up with the radio, are you, Honey?"
      Roger heard a hand close on the doorknob. "Closet," he mouthed.
      He ducked into the walk-in closet, not caring whether Sylvia followed.
      She was right beside him, though, and they had the door shut before
      Meg's father entered the bedroom. They listened to his puzzled
      muttering as he checked the sleeping girl. After he'd walked down the
      hall and descended the stairs, Roger said, "It's not safe to stay here
      now. I'm leaving, and you are coming with me." Frustration displaced
      his fear. Sylvia's oddities no longer mattered. She was available, and
      she would damn well compensate him for what she'd interrupted.
      "If I don't want to?" she whispered as they crossed to the
      bedroom door.
      "I can still inform on you to the Bronsons. They know me a lot
      better."
      He felt Sylvia's smoldering anger, but she docilely followed him
      out of the house. She balked only when he led the way down the
      circular drive to his black Citroen. "I'd rather take my own car."
      His hand clamped onto her arm. "You can pick it up tomorrow. I'm
      not letting you escape until we have this out." He sensed her debating
      whether to fight him and rejecting the idea. Though she was tall for a
      woman, he was taller and outweighed her. He shoved her into the
      passenger seat, then got in on the driver's side and leaned across her
      to fasten her belt and lock the door. She watched him speculatively as
      she accepted these indignities. He sensed her anger yielding to curiosity.
      He roared out of the driveway in a shower of gravel. Beside him,
      Sylvia wedged herself against the far door, subdued by his display of
      temper. After skirting the perimeter of the M.I.T. campus, he headed
      north out of Cambridge. Thankful for the late-night dearth of traffic,
      he didn't slack off the accelerator until they came to a scenic
      turnoff on Route 1A several miles out of town. The car swerved off the
      road and squealed to a stop.
      Sylvia gave Roger a wary look. "Are we getting out?" She scanned
      the marshland beyond the low wall of unworked stone, as if evaluating
      its suitability as a refuge. Roger gripped her shoulders and jerked
      her around to face him. "What is this, rape?"
      "Not exactly." His inflamed thirst left him with no patience for
      hypnotic seduction. He'd rely on physical force and wipe her memory
      later. He came down upon her.
      Her resistance astonished him. Rather than overcoming her easily,
      he had to use all his strength to keep her immobilized. She kicked and
      squirmed in his grasp, twisting her neck away from his mouth, her own
      teeth bared as she tried vainly to retaliate. But she had no chance
      against him. Pinning her legs with one knee, he bit into her throat
      with a roughness unusual for him.
      When her blood began to flow, she relaxed, not cooperative, but
      resigned. The taste was cool and tart, not the hot richness he
      expected. Despite Sylvia's residual excitement, satisfaction eluded
      him. He felt no outpouring of vitality from her, only an emptiness
      like his own. Baffled, he finally drew back, still unappeased.
      She gazed at him, heavy-lidded, and pressed her palm to the
      oozing gash on the side of her neck. "What's the matter with you?
      Don't you know we can't get nourishment from each other?'
      His rage dissipated by the struggle, Roger offered her his folded
      handkerchief, resisting the impulse to apologize for the red flecks
      staining her gown. "What do you mean, `we'?"
      Sylvia wearily dabbed at her wound. "You mean you don't know?
      That's impossible." Her eyes probed his.
      He sat up straight on his side of the car. "What are you raving
      about?"
      "Come off it! With that strength, and your psychic power -- you
      have it, I felt you trying to manipulate me -- and those teeth? You're
      my kind. I wasn't sure until just now, because you feel somehow human,
      too, but you are."
      He stared through the windshield, his fingers cramping on the
      wheel. He felt overheated in his suit jacket, stifled by the knot of
      his tie; he envied Sylvia's lightweight clothes. "Human? What else
      could I be? What do you mean, your kind?"
      Again she projected bewilderment. "Maybe I did read you wrong.
      You don't feel right -- but you don't feel human, either."
      -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@...

      "Beast" wishes until next timeĀ—
      Margaret L. Carter
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