So… Vampires


And your first question is: what is a nice girl like you doing with a theme like that?

And the answer, for those of you who know me — all together now! — is “this thing isn’t entirely under my control.”

Though you know, my first published short story was a vampire story and I wrote three others, over time. But did I ever intend to write a vampire novel?

Well, I read Anne Rice, like who didn’t in my generation, until we got to the whole men-bad theme and the pseudo mythological explanation of vampires, at which point Queen of the Damned hit the wall hard and I never bought anymore. Because, you know, I was young, but not that stupid.  And when things annoy me they hit the wall and I stop buying.

I’ve read other vampire books now and then.  I prefer the kind where vampires are unalloyed evil, and humans aren’t. Flawed, sure, but humans win.  (Team human, yay!)

I also, obviously, like ones that set vampires on fire.

But part of what attracts me — and others to the theme — is the “sentient evil.”  When do you cross the edge to where there can be no redemption.  Yes, I know the christian myth of the vampire and that what’s in there is no longer a human being, but a demon.  And demons are by nature unredeemable.

That’s fine, if what you’re doing is just setting up the vampires as a straight up “you shoot them” type of thing.  But that’s not where the power of the vampire mythos lives.

No, even if you assume the dead body is taken over by a demon… It has all the memories, the thoughts, part of the human left behind.  What if it was a very good human?

Also there are medieval myths of even demons (who are after all only alive through the volition of G-d, as is everything else) longing for redemption.  Well, now this demon remembers being human. It’s all he remembers. And he longs for redemption.  Which is against his very nature.  If you don’t see the epic struggle in that, and the literary possibilities, well… I can’t help.

There is the other myth — which I chose to go with — which is that you only lose your soul when you choose to feed.  So, what can you do if not feed?  Yeah.

Anyway, that one attracts me, because how many times do we sell pieces of our souls “just to survive.” And because when I wrote the book, I was starting to see the time I couldn’t go on, or it would be irretrievable.  There’s only so much you can say and do without it tainting who you are forever.

That’s sort of what vampire stories are about: you can get these powers, and eternal life, but it will cost you, and the cost is more or less always to allow evil in.

It will surprise no one who reads here that my answer to this is “not at that price.” Not even if the alternative is awful death. But then Rodin’s Fallen Caryatid is my spirit animal.

Other authors make other choices, which is called “not everyone is me.”  But I sort of had to write mine and make it a bizarre story of triumph and laughing in the teeth of hell.  (Over the entire trilogy, a very steep and thorough triumph. You’ll see.)

Of course, that’s not why I wrote it. I wrote it because I couldn’t not write it. I sat in my car, turned the key, on a hot August afternoon, and suddenly there was the whole trilogy in my head.  I came home and typed random bits at Kate on messenger.

And that’s Vampire Musketeer, real title Sword and Blood and yes, only first book is done, though the second is almost done, and third is still in my head.  Life and health interfered, and there are other things I’m writing…

But right now Sword and Blood is in a bundle with story bundle, and if it does well, I’ll have to finish the second one in the next couple of months.

Of course, if you’re not a vampire-story reader, buying a bundle for just my book is silly.  (It’s also on Amazon.)

But if it’s your poison blood, it’s a good buy.  So… here’s the link, and I’ll go finish editing Deep Pink (Which has no vampires at all, though it has demons, which meet stainless steel baseball bats.)  I’m late on it, because life has been really interesting, but I’ll be asking for betas for next week, so stand by.  And then there’s the new improved Alien curse.

Anyway, I got to go work. Here’s the bundle.

Story Bundle Vampires

202 thoughts on “So… Vampires

      1. The part of the post that mentioned ‘very good vampire’ made me think of the manga and light novel series Dance In The Vampire Bund; there were entire populations of vampires who pulled their fangs, built families made up of other vampires, refused to drink human blood and subsisted off a substitute blood drink. There was also an actively Catholic priest who had been turned. It’s been a while since I’ve read the series but there is some discussion between him and the lead protagonist about his somehow holding faith even though the church he was in was devoid (out of necessity), crosses.

  1. ‘Demons longing for redemption’ strongly reminds me of Kipling’s ‘On the Gate, a Tale of ’16’. Don’t know how orthodox his theology there was….

    Then there’s the case of “OK, this one’s a Vampire. But he’s strong, he claims he wants too work with us, and the immediate problem is Cthulhu.”

    1. I’ve tried that in a WIP I gave up on: vampire is evil, but if the world ends, there’s nobody to feed on, so he’s working with the good guys out of necessity.

      1. A few years back, there was a vampire novel where the vampire only see humans as prey but the nuclear winter is happening so to survive himself he has to assist a small farming community.

        Mind you, he is able to feed on a single human for a prolonged period without killing the human. So you have to wonder “why did he go around killing humans”. 😉

        1. Cause feeding on lots of humans is fun and has greater variety? But when it’s a question of survival, you gotta stick to the essentials and can’t go for luxury tasting.

        2. Why did he go around killing humans? Because he is, by nature, a predator. He has to fight his instincts to not kill, and in world with a plentiful supply he never needed to.

        3. There was one of those modern Twilight Zoneish shows where, in the Soviet Union, a good commissar, who was having issues with orthodox Soviet-style Socialism, goes to a village high up in Siberia to look into ungood-think criminalism and some missing people. Turns out the village is half vamps, he finds out, they promise him that he’d be able to bring truth and such if he vamps.

          Weird story, but one of the few that, yeah, I could see a vampire being ‘good’ for some values of good.

          And then there’s the vamp in the ‘Legacy of Aldenata’ series… A weird addition but it worked out, as one of Pappa O’Neil’s ‘stories’…

          Though, yeah, I prefer vamp stories where the vamp gets trashed by the humans.

        4. Sounds similar to the plot of Ultraviolet, a short series on the BBC starring Idris Elba, in which it’s revealed the vampires are behind the environmentalist movement because they want clean, healthy humans.

      2. Courtesy of Spike:

        “We like to talk big. Vampires do. “I’m going to destroy the world.” That’s just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got… dog racing, Manchester United. And you’ve got people, billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. “

      3. “I’ve been all wrongheaded about this – weeping, crawling, blaming everybody else. I want Dru back, I’ve just got to be the man I was. The man she loved.

        I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place. I’ll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her until she likes me again.”

        [pause] “Love’s a funny thing.”

      4. You can only be effectively evil with a powerful virtue. Attila the Hun needed enormous physical courage. Scrooge needed powerful temperance (that’s controlling all appetites, not just for drink). Your vampire needs vast prudence.

        1. Your vampire needs vast prudence.

          That’s one aspect of Barbara Hambly’s vampires. They usually spot a would-be vampire hunter in the period when he’s trying to convince himself that a friend/relative/lover was actually killed by a vampire.

          Then once they are aware that somebody intends to hunt them, they withdrawal from their usual hunting places to let the hunter make a fruitless search for them.

          As one of them said “we have more time available than would-be vampire hunters. We can avoid his notice for years.”

          There was also the comment that a dead vampire-hunter might give other humans the idea that vampires are real so if they kill a vampire-hunter, they might face more vampire-hunters than the one they just killed.

          1. Seriously, Hambly’s vampires creeped me out – and also interested me far more than Rice’s.

        2. There’s a good reason for the dual images of the vampire as a powerful, dangerous dark lord and as a mindless minion easily killed: the ones without self control and who give in to their urges don’t live for very long.

  2. Much obliged for the link!

    I like Brian Lumley. And say what you will about Joss Whedon as a person, he was utterly brilliant in crafting what it would take to be a ‘good’ vampire in a universe where vampires are default evil.

    Feeding to survive = losing your soul, but you need to survive to accomplish an important task is an interesting concept. I look forward to reading.

    1. Whedon has an awesome gift for making a story.

      And then…he tends to think about it, and try to make it say what he thinks he should say, and it kinda goes all to heck.

      It’s as painful as Eminem, I swear. (that guy has incredible skill with language; I’m just sad he uses so much obscenity and profanity)

      1. Eminem:
        It’s the genre he’s in and the milieu he came out of. He probably doesn’t even realize he’s being obscene.

        1. A patient would say to me, “I’ve got this fucking headache,” whereupon I would ask him to halt a moment while he explained to me the difference between a headache and a fucking headache. . . .

          “That’s the way I speak,” the patient would say.

          “Yes,” I replied, “That is what I’m complaining of.”

    2. Vampires aren’t my favorite genre, but Sword and Blood just made it on the to-buy list. I rather liked the snippets I’ve seen, and that world looks interesting. Bloody, but interesting.

  3. Speaking of vampires …

    Still in process of “reading” MH:G audiobook and must confess to hoping there will be a sequel … cannot wait to have seen of 4-year-old Li’l Bubba and his pet shoggoth singing a chorus “Fingers, elbows, knees and toes.”

    1. Yeah, future developments will be interesting, as well as some character statuses (statii?) not entirely resolved.

      Eat Toes!

        1. I’m pretty sure I missed something somewhere. Not sure that that’s a bad thing.

          I am sure, however, that if I ever find the [REALLY CENSORED] that slipped me a nasal recongestant, there will be saxophones… no, violins… no.. violence. Yes, that last one.

          1. In Monster Hunter Guardian, there’s a character who talks about “eating toes”.

            He (or it) is a little friend of Julie. 😉

          2. someone spoke of MH:G and invoked the Dread Phrase of Gigglefits, my response was the traditional response. EAT TOES!!!!

    2. “Uh… Julie!!!!”
      “What is it, dear?”
      “Ray just said his first word…”
      “OHMIGOD!!! What was it?! It was mama, right?!”
      “Uh… it was ‘Consume’…”
      “… … uh oh.”

  4. I thought The Vampire a metaphor for Socialism: well-dressed, urbane sophisticates who suck the lifeblood from an economy?

    1. Is everything evil a metaphor for socialism?

      Anyway, Brom Stoker at least wrote Dracula as a metaphor for syphilis.

        1. So, “Syphilis is also a metaphor for socialism.”

          Then, Salvarsan is a metaphor for… what?

          [Salvarsan, from “safe arsenic” originally, was once the go-to (and only drug) treatment or “cure” for syphilis — more or less “the world’s first antibiotic.” Like much chemotherapy today, it was rather toxic at therapeutic doses, and it “worked” only slowly, over months or even years; but it *did* cure the disease. IIRC Isak / Karen in “Out of Africa” went through Salvarsan treatments and got rid of syphilis that way.]

          Whatever, it’s slow-acting, it’s poisonous and painful, but eventually… effective.

          At least one Well Known Conservative Writer has compared Trump’s tenure to “chemotherapy” for America… but I’d hesitate to make one person alone the full metaphorical equivalent to Salvarsan here, myself.

          1. Hmm, admittedly I’m not into the Monster Hunter series (Owen Pitt and his buddies never ‘did it’ for me. I prefer the Grimnoir and Black Sword books, and Correia’s brutal ex-killer-looking-for-redemption heroes. The only Monster Hunter book I read all the way through was Nemesis with Franks.) but it seems to me there’d be a big market out there in the monster community for monster hunter hunters.

            1. My preferences, too, but at least the MHI monsters are MONSTERS. And there’s PUFF-exemptions for the rare exemptions.

            2. One of the stories in monster hunter files has one, although its mostly targeted revenge. The ringleader actually really intrigues me as to how much of revenge need is human and how much monster.

  5. Too many writers I’ve seen have vampires expressing hate and disdain for humanity. I always thought it was far, far creepier if the vampire expresses enjoyment and fascination with humanity – like a connoisseur of fine wines.

    One author once told me she couldn’t imagine a vampire having any kind of relationship with it’s victims. It’d be like getting it on with a chocolate bar. I pointed out that people often have a complex relationship with the source of their sustenance, like the Indians with corn and the buffalo.

    1. “I don’t drink… wine.” One of the greatest lines, so well delivered.

      And then there’s Nosferatu which is just evil, ugly, and evil. And a great film.

    2. Well, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s been mentioned by others, and your post reminded me of Spike from that series. Season Two finale he reveals that he actually doesn’t want to destroy the world so he temporarily allies with the Slayer.

      The world’s got all these nifty things you see… including billions of people walking around like Happy Meals on two legs.

    3. One author once told me she couldn’t imagine a vampire having any kind of relationship with it’s victims. It’d be like getting it on with a chocolate bar.

      Logically, sex would be an incredibly useful hunting mechanism for a vampire.

      Same as serial killers.

      1. So pleasurable to lure the prey into the trap and to add to the enjoyment is the slight possibility that the prey might avoid the trap.

        It’s so boring to just ambush the prey like a common mugger. 😈

      2. It was more like whether the vampire could have anything like a genuine emotional relationship with the victim, while still fully intending to kill the victim.

        I figured and replied that the vampire might see some victims to be ‘enjoyed’ slowly and more fully, like a fine wine as opposed to a quick snack. Or in special cases: intending to turn the victim to vampirism.

        It could also be a means of turning the tables on the vampire. There’ve been several adaptations where Van Helsing or his analog uses Dracula’s affection for a victim and prospective vampire as a way to get at him.

        1. You mean, like the way a farm wife has relationship with the chickens, or how ranchers view their cattle?

          1. The vampires I play in RPGs do tend to look at humans as livestock. Good animal husbandry practices include keeping the livestock fed.

      3. I’ll mention the comedy-ish movie Love at First Bite, though my memories of that were kind of overwritten by witnessing an armed* robbery later that night. I *think* it was funny.

        (*) That’s what he said, and the bag over his hand left FUD. Couldn’t ID the SOB in court, however. I’m terrible at remembering faces.

          1. Yeah. Never had a desire to see that movie again. At least now that I live in civilization (AKA not in California), I have the tools to do something about it… (And more importantly, the knowledge to avoid Stop-n-Robs at 11PM.)

            1. … avoid Stop-n-Robs at 11PM

              Shucks, nothing might happen. You might even get a good tale out of it.

              Debbie Harry talks sex, coke and rock ‘n’ roll in new memoir
              The singer hit it big in the late 1970s and early ’80s with songs including “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me,” but her path to New Wave infamy was littered with drugs, gunplay and a weird run-in with one of the world’s most notorious serial killers.

              Late one night in the ’70s, while walking through the not-yet-gentrified Lower East Side en route to a party for the New York Dolls, Harry accepted the offer of a ride from a handsome man in a small white car. Once inside, though, she was alarmed to discover that the driver had terrible body odor and the window would not open beyond a crack.

              Panicked and operating on instinct, she wedged her hand into the crack and opened the door from the outside. Pissed off, the driver made a sharp turn that propelled her from the car. She rolled onto Thompson Street and walked to the party.

              Years later, Harry read a story in a newsweekly and realized that the stinky driver was serial killer Ted Bundy. The article described “the modus operandi [of] how he got his victims and it matched exactly what happened to me,” she writes. “The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.”

              “My story has been debunked since, because Bundy is said to have been in Florida at the time and not NYC. But it was him.”

  6. Irredeemable evil is always a good go to to pit against the good guys. To tempt them, poison them, and generally make their lives miserable messes of course. I’m avoiding vampires for the moment, though. Because everytime I read vampires, a certain hick ghoul keeps wanting to be written. *hangs head* One thing at a time.

  7. Then there’s the idea I’ve been toying with, suggested by a short story set in a bar: Vampires aren’t human. Never were, never will be. They are a separate species that feeds on humans, and are incredible mimics.
    And the ones I’m playing with are shapeshifters. They absorb some of the memories and experiences of the person they feed on (along with the “life force”, a handwavium component of human blood that explains why no substitutes will do), and can assume the shape of that person. (In one scene, the vampire who’s been assigned as a partner with a police detective licks up some of the blood at a murder scene. He then tells his partner who the victim was, who he was working with, who killed him, and where that person might be found.)
    Vampires can assume the physical form of their prey, but can’t imitate the aging process. Eventually, the neighbors notice. And when a shapeshifted vampire is killed, it reverts to its natural form. Since many vampires would pick off a victim at the outskirts of a village, kill him or her, dispose of the body, and use the victim’s home as a base from which to hunt, this gave rise to the legends of vampires “turning” mortals.
    Some humans adapted to the presence of vampires.
    Look up the disease, polycythemia vera.

  8. I don’t like the sappy, misunderstood vampires.

    I can enjoy the “good vampires” like Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula or P. N. Elrod’s vampires or David Weber’s Dracula from “Out of the Dark”.

    Still even with them, I want enough “evil vampires” so the reader can understand “yes, humans have reasons to be concerned about the new vampire in town”.

    Barbara Hambly’s vampires are the one of “best” of the evil vampires around (Sarah’s evil vampires are “good” but Barbara has written more of them than Sarah).

    Barbara Hambly’s vampires are believable evil for several reasons.

    One, becoming a vampire is by choice. Generally, a person has to be selfish enough to want to “live at all costs”.

    Second, the vampire feeds on the death of his victim as well as the blood. While apparently the vampire can feed on animal blood, their “powers” (including the ability to seem alive) depend on killing humans.

    Third, to continue as a vampire depends very much on the vampire seeing humans as prey. There are apparently several ways that a vampire can “accidentally” kill himself. So if a vampire grows tired of “all this killing”, the vampire may get careless and get himself killed (either by humans or daylight or fire).

    Oh by the way, in the second book Barbara had “fun” with the romantic vampire. This old Spanish vampire is willing to help the female main character but he considers it “wrong” for her to travel him without her having a female companion. Well, she is not willing to risk the life of a innocent woman traveling with her. After all, she knows that the Spanish vampire (or other vampires) might kill the companion to preserve the secret of the existence of vampires.

    Well, without her permission the Spanish vampire enters the dreams of another young woman and plays the “romantic vampire” in order to convince this other woman to be the female main character’s companion. It works as this is one of the ways that vampires get their prey.

    1. I love Hambly’s vampire books!

      I though the second book was a case of her having her cake and eating it too: poking fun at the romantic vampire trope…but that also sort of happens.

    2. I can’t remember how much of Hambly’s vampires I’ve read, but I remember enjoying them.

      I also thought… ah, was it McKinley’s Sunshine?… had an interesting concept: as I recall it, feeding from humans was tempting. Quick. Possibly gave a short-term power boost. But not necessary….

      …and it was also the source of certain of the classic vulnerabilities.

      The old vampire who had held off that temptation was very formidable.

      1. Yes, that’s it.

        And it’s one of her very dreamy books, so describing it in the best detail you can manage is still not going to be much of a spoiler. ^.^

  9. I really do not care for the entire vampire mythos.
    Sure I watched every episode of True Blood, but that was mostly for the T&A. I does love me some Anna Paquin. Go ahead, judge me.
    Anyway, when Sarah asked me to edit Sword and Blood I thought great, a subject I care nothing about, which makes it much easier to do an edit. You don’t get sucked into the story line and can focus on the boring nitpicking task of identifying and correcting grammar, spelling, and minor continuity bobbles.
    I was very very wrong, darn her Portagee soul. It’s been a couple years ago, but I remember chapter by chapter having to go back and redo everything multiple times as I would be so caught up in the story that I forgot what I was supposed to be doing.
    Herself really is an evil witch of a storyteller, but as I understand it that talent runs strong in the females of her line.

    1. Vampiresses have their own methods of seduction. Using tone and cadence to hypnotize their prey is one of them.

    2. *pokes Uncle Lar*
      Yep. He’s still human.
      *Notices he’s still looking at women*
      Yep, he’s a guy, and he’s definitely still alive.

  10. I realized that when I was reading any of Anne Rice’s vampire books, she was this woman that was afraid to admit that she liked yaoi, so as long as they were Evil Vampires, she could enjoy her sexy androgynous boy-on-boy action.

    (That she went full-on Catholic didn’t surprise me at all, the self-loathing was there…)

    Vampires…if you don’t at minimum make them assholes, you’re getting them wrong. They’re every metaphors for sexual predators you can think of and if you don’t keep to that, you’re missing the point.

    But, you can have a wide variety of assholes…Hellsing has vampires as assholes, but Allucard is our asshole…

    (And, Hellsing Ultimate Abridged has an absolutely hilarious asshole that is fun to watch at a safe distance…)

    1. LOL. She wasn’t afraid of admitting it. Read her other stuff. She has some full on guy on guy, rather graphic, with feminist overtones (which is how she got it published.) She just correctly judged hiding it under “because vampires and can’t have sex” allowed the publishers to PUSH it instead of making it Literary (look up Cry to Heaven.)
      Look, you sound like the chick who decided I used “member” in the first chapter of Sword and Blood instead of penis, because I was prudish, as opposed to trying to keep it “period accurate” and “non clinical.”
      NEVER think it’s the writers’ hang up, consider it might the publishers. You’re more likely to be right.
      Oh, and btw, her going full Catholic is just “late stage hippie, feeling mortality coming on.”

      1. Entirely possible I could be wrong, and my guess was the same thing on her return to Catholicism. Quite a few people that were “edgy” way back when are some of the most white-bread people now…

        (And, the only thing I read was Interview With A Vampire, and had to watch Queen of the Damned. A girl was involved, and I realized that I didn’t want to pollute my brain with Anne Rice anymore than that.)

        1. Queen of the Damned SUCKS. It’s the one that went against the wall.
          Cry to Heaven is “good” for m/m romance/porn, if you can stomach underage rape and castration. Beautifully written, but it makes you want to scrub with steel wool and pour bleach in your ears.

              1. If you wanted to talk about marketing to the publishers, damn…it was one of the books in recent memory that I wanted to burn for no other reason that to save another person’s eyeballs.

                (And, I couldn’t even give it away-used bookstores had to turn away copies and everyone seemed to have one…I stuffed mine in a book return slot at the local library and hoped that it found a good home. For definitions of “good” and “home.”)

                1. No offense intended, but it struck me as humorous that you couldn’t actually throw it in the trash. 😀

                  Of course, I’m that way as well. I have to really really hate a book before it goes into the trash bin.

                  And yes, I could see myself “sneaking” a book into a library’s book return slot rather than trashing it. 😀

        2. Oh and the answer to “why” is: because I spent three years reading from books abandoned outside used bookstores, and it wasn’t a gothic romance, or a 19th century biology manual, so rare. (Though I read those too, mind you.)

          1. I remember those days, grabbing anything from the used bookstore’s discard pile and what I could find at the local library because I didn’t have any money for anything else.

            ’60s and ’70s fiction really had some seriously bad biases, didn’t it?

            1. Yep. And I was stuck alone with the kids, and Dan was working 18+ hour days and often weekends. Which means, I read like 5 books a day. And $5 for a paperback meant we ate pancakes for a week…

        3. Movie Queen of the Damned was horrendous. The book was a little better, but it was kind of weird. And yes, it did have a triple-wide highway of feminism running through it.

  11. Vampires are interesting, especially some of the odder lore about them (redheads will become vampires, no matter what they do; children born on December 25 are cursed to become vampires…). But they don’t fascinate me the way were-creatures and the legends around them do. Not sure why, unless it was because of too many vampires in my late teens, early 20s, when Ann Rice and Co were really, really popular. After watching Louis Jardan’s Dracula, and the two classics (Nosferatu and Dracula), most books were pretty meh.

    And then I got to deal with an emotional vampire for three or four years… It’s hard to find book vampires to match that, although Sarah’s comes close. And Barbara Hambly does a great job.

    1. Me too. Perhaps it’s that shapechangers, at least European ones, do not raise metaphysical questions the way vampires do.

    2. Vampires are a more artificial creature than various shapeshifters. Pretty much every culture has tales of them in one shape or form (pun not intended)

  12. I have several vampire books and series that I like and would recommend: Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Vampire Tapestry, Nancy Collins’s Sunglasses after Dark and its sequels, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Hotel Transylvania and at least its first set of sequels.

    On the other hand, I’ve looked at Vampire: The Masquerade and I would never be tempted to play in it, let alone run it. . . .

    1. The best role playing circle I was ever part of was a White Wolf game. More Werewolf than Vampire, but all types (of those out at the time) were represented except maybe Wraiths.

      We had a lot of fun with it. Rather than taking the backstories of the various types as Truth, the GM took the position that Vampires, Werewolves, and the like all went through traumatic changes to be what they were and in consequence tended to be severely delusional.

      I played several characters in that world, but my favorite was a pacifist werewolf named Tanglefoot. He was a Holy Fool, and a great deal of fun to play.

      Sadly, we moved away, and I haven’t found a circle since. Most gaming where I’m living seems to be centered on those furshlugginer collectible card games. Got nothing against them directly, but they don’t provide the role playing hit I’m looking for.

      1. A lot of the older gamers are moving to Roll20– online tabletop gaming. They’ve got a free version that is quite good, especially since discord works better than their voice/video anyways, and their subscriptions are both reasonably priced and still useful.


        Before any of the online outrage mobsters jump on me, I am familiar with “controversy.” Not hiring guys to advertise for you because they can’t bring in a demographic you haven’t got covered is completely reasonable, and this is me rolling my eyes at the outrage!!1!1! that a geek who runs a fairly small digital table-top service, talking to guys who are professional gamers, talked like a geek instead of a PC-crowd graduate. You wanna get outraged, fine, but I am not jumping on your bandwagon.

        1. Not hiring guys to advertise for you because they can’t bring in a demographic you haven’t got covered is completely reasonable …

          Since the whole purpose of advertising is to reach markets that you are not already penetrating — and that might be good targets for your product — the idea that it might be a thought crime indicates a total incomprehension about the nature of marketing. Might as well complain because a hair replacement doctor doesn’t employ bald men in her ads, proclaiming that hairless is sexy.

          Or that KFC doesn’t feature vegan options in its ads.

          1. The one that came to my mind was putting fertility aid ads in baby diaper boxes, but your bald guy one is better.
            (Also, dang was my phrasing needlessly loopy; a simple ‘only bring in a demographic they’ve already saturated’ would’ve worked better.)

    2. I was in a White Wolf game that had huge potential, but the logistics made it difficult.

      Two parties, one large consisting of vampires hunters(8 players), one small (3 players) consisting of vampires who had to work together to survive the hunters. 2 GMs.

      The groups would each play then the GMs would get together to exchange information and go back to their parties, who then had to react to each other.

      Of course things broke down, but it was fun for about 10 hours.

  13. I love Sword and Blood, and I fervently hope Sarah will finish the trilogy.

    I have a vampire who wants to be in something, but I’ve yet to figure out a plot that would carry the conceit beyond his backstory. He is a priest who centuries ago was bitten. He recognized what had happened to him, decided to celebrate one last Mass before the dawn, and discovered that transubstantiation is real. Ever since he has wandered about, trying to redeem the souls of his fellow vampires and teaching them to survive on a daily Mass.

    1. There was a short story that used that idea.

      A human during his life (starting a boy) kept encountering this old priest and the priest talked with him about becoming a priest (the human was Roman Catholic).

      The human noticed that the priest never seemed to get older but didn’t think much about it until much later he finally decided to enter the priesthood and learned that the old man was a vampire living off the wine that had been transubstantiated.

      After the human became a priest, the old priest offered to make him a vampire as well and the young priest accepted the offer.

      1. Eh, don’t like that. My guy doesn’t think of it as something to be spread, but rather a cross to bear.

        1. Apparently, the old priest in that story didn’t see being a vampire as a “cross to bear” but there’s no reason that your guy should think the same.

          1. True on the various version.

            What I like about my guy is that he believes that no one is truly beyond redemption. Even the foulest creature can be healed and cleansed through the power of God. He doesn’t promise it will be easy, but that one can live on in faith with the inner bloodsucker in check until the second coming. (The downside of being immortal … can’t just remain faithful until death.)

            1. Ryk Spoor has a vampire priest character (in “Paradigms Lost”) who hasn’t succumbed to the insanity of the “vampire curse”.

              He believes that it’s God’s Blessing and there’s nothing in the book that says that he is wrong. 😉

              1. Actually, if you read the whole series you find that Verne Domingo is not under a curse. The mythical vampires are just distorted, debased parodies of the real one.

                The werewolves are more complex than the legends, too. And scarier.
                Martin: “I thought your typical unicorn was white.”
                Tlingel: “I am archetypal, and possessed of virtues beyond the ordinary.”

                1. You’re correct, Verne Domingo isn’t a “true” vampire.

                  The “true” vampires are distorted versions of what he actually is and they are the ones under a curse.

                  On the other hand, Father Turner is a Catholic Priest who was made into a “true” vampire and who has somehow escaped the curse that plague the “true” vampires.

      2. I read that story in a collection of vampire stories.(Don’t remember the title or the author’s name.) It contains one of the greatest lines in all vampire fiction. When the now-grown man realizes what he’s being offered he blurts out “do the others know, or is it just the Jesuits?”

        1. Love it.

          My favorite Jesuit joke:

          A man is considering taking holy orders, so he meets with a Jesuit and a Dominican. He asks them, “What is similar about the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?”
          The Jesuit answers, “Well, they were both founded by Spaniards, St. Dominic for the Dominicans, and St. Ignatius of Loyola for the Jesuits. They were also both founded to combat heresy: the Dominicans to fight the Albigensians, and the Jesuits to fight the Protestants.”
          The novice turns to the Dominican. “So what is different between the Jesuit and Dominican Orders?”
          The Dominican replies, “Well, have you met any Albigensians lately?”

    2. Wine transubstantiated into blood being, um, *edible*… now that’s just plain and simply a neat idea.

    3. This is the story of Jake, the vampire, who so desperately wanted to be in a story that he send out resumes to over 1342 fiction writers around the world. Of course this was the second round of Jake’s attempts at literary fame. His first attempt had been a total fiasco after trying to attract the attention of the five biggest publishers. Poor Jake. All of his rejection notices were accompanied by snide remarks about his imaginary life, or suggestions to see mental health counselors.

      1. Indeed! Would be amusing to read a scene where a Vampire undercover has to take Communion and discovers that transubstantiation is real.

        1. My question is “is it common for laity in Roman Catholic communion to partake of the wine”?

          Would the undercover Vampire be offered the wine if he wasn’t undercover as a Priest?

          1. Roman Catholic, in this day and age, yes; it’s not a big deal if you bypass it, though, and for that matter folks don’t say much if you don’t go up for communion, either. Folks with gluten issues are allowed to only receive the blood, too, but that usually takes some talking to the priest, first. (Some parishes you can go up with your arms crossed over your chest to be blessed, and ‘pass’ on the Communion, it depends.)

            The fancy words to research if a Catholic (any flavor) in a time or place would be likely to receive the blood is “species,” although sometimes it’ll be called ‘kind’ as well. You have Communion under both Species as symbolically stronger, but either is still full communion. (Thus both those deathly allergic to wheat and those who only consume through a feeding tube, and someone who is deathly allergic to something in wine can also have full communion.)

            A Eucharistic Minister who is serving the home-bound could bring in tiny vials of consecrated wine; it’s more standard for it to be hosts, but as I mentioned, those on feeding tubes…..

            1. *raises one finger* In MOST places, some bishops keep yanking it off every time a cold season goes around. That’s what started folks phoning in with the question if it was still valid.

              1. here, not even when the schools closed because the flu season was so horrible 15 years ago.
                There was a sermon saying ‘you can skip it if you choose,” and that was it.

                1. FWIW, I only know about it from listening to waaaaaaaay too much Catholic Answers on the radio.

                  I’ve only heard of a few areas that actually removed it– from memory, I think all of those in Washington when they were having a big lack-of-MMR issue about ten years back. (Yes, all three were showing up.)

  14. Wait. . . what???

    Who needs vampires?

    “When do you cross the edge to where there can be no redemption. ”

    Shoot, I’ve worried about that for decades, now.

    “Anyway, that one attracts me, because how many times do we sell pieces of our souls ‘just to survive.'”

    Nano duh! I guess you can add vampires if that helps, but I can sure understand that theme even without the winged thingies in cloaks and caskets.

    I get that it’s cool to wrap age-old dilemmas in outer garments like were-wolves or vampires or Cain and Abel. But for as long as I’ve been around, it seems media has pushed the outer trapping as the story rather than the underlying human story.

    So I’ll happily read Sarah’s vampire stories. But, heck, the protaganist could be a cat or an accountant if it was told well.

    1. When do you cross the edge to where there can be no redemption.

      When you become convinced you are beyond redemption, and thus no longer ask for it?

      1. I apologize if what I wrote sounded dismissive or egotistical.

        Without going into personal detail, I was trying to point out that *I* have felt irredemable and that I’ve sold my soul on occasion. And that can leave one feeling like a souless, life-sucking cad even without the wings and the pointy teeth.

        The “nano-duh” was self-directed, because I’d gone through much of my life without a clue. But any story that dealt with redemption would touch a chord with me. The vampire part – the way Sarah described it – is, to me, the theme that, once you realize you need redeeming, there often follows the idea that you aren’t worthy of it.

        Again, I meant no disrespect for the idea of vampire stories. I was trying to say that we could go through the . . . vampire guilt? vampire quandry? . . . without being a literal vampire.

        In fact, if I could write, it’d be interesting to approach the story from the other dfirection: A guy reflects on his life and slowly turns into a vampire in his own mind, sucking meaining out of his relationships with others, and avoiding responsibility and commitment like sunlight. Then, when he realizes what he’s doing (and that he’s spreading his malaise to others) what does he do? How does a vampire atone?

        1. That would be an interesting storyline– especially if you make a sort of trilogy, and then have him pulled *out* of it by a vampire who figures out that he’s not irredeemable.

  15. So, how about vampires that are seven feet tall, three-fingered, impervious to sunlight but burned by water, telekinetic (including being able to drink the blood of everyone in the room at once), periodically evolve new abilities, and tend to wax philosophical in a nigh-Shakespearean style?

    Really, in the realms of vampire fiction, the Legacy of Kain series is a beast all its own. Sure, it starts slow; I’d say it only gets truly fleshed-out at Soul Reaver 2 (while Blood Omen 2 is an acquired taste, and altogether non-essential to the overall story). And the time travel elements and increasingly complex backstory can make it hard to explain without a visual timeline guide. However, eventually it grows into this half-Lovecraftian, half-Biblical epic, full of shifting alliances, intrigue, a clash of worlds, and all this voice-acted by some of the finest professionals to ever grace the mic. And now that game-cutscene-movies are a thing, the story can be enjoyed by anyone, gamer or not.

    This bit of fan-gushing done, I find a lot of vampire fiction tends to miss the point of why vampires are evil and/or scary, at least compared to folklore. I wonder if there’s a story that even uses some one the folk versions: a not-quite-physical entity that drains people of their vitality without leaving a trace, and was generally a nasty piece of work even in life.

    Moreover, the very idea of the “undead” was horrifying enough back in the day – an inexplicable abomination defying natural law. Nowadays we tend to think of vampires in terms of stereotypes and associated rules – garlic, sunlight, wooden stake etc. – when the main idea behind the myth is that this… thing… doesn’t follow the rules. It can be destroyed, sure – there have been documented cases of vampire “slaying”, using the in-the-coffin method (so, corpse desecration, in modern terms). But the whole point is, before that happens, anything goes. That’s what makes the bugger scary – while it’s out and about, you don’t know what it can do.

    1. Another scary aspect of the vampire is that in many types of vampires, you don’t know he’s a monster until it is too late. 😈

  16. The closest thing to a vampire story I’ve even worked on… isn’t very close to a traditional vampire story at all. It’s based pretty directly on Richard Matheson’s classic “I am Legend” — which means bacteria-infected mostly-vampires, sorta-zombies. (His story is local and set right after the, um, vampire plague sweeps the world. Mine is just about global and set long years after; though there are few enough zombie-ish stories like it, where anyone really tries to *win* “World War Z” at all.)

    There isn’t much (or any?) blood-drinking, it’s more like zombie eating; though their features of allergy to sunlight, “resurrection” after death, and, um, radically transformed behavior toward their formerly-loved ones all track pretty closely with the old vampire tales.

    One feature that might “travel well” from this setting (Matheson’s) is that not only can you “catch” vampirism much the same way as a cold or smallpox… conceivably you could be *cured* of it too.

    1. Don’t miss John Ringo’s zombie series starting with Under A Graveyard Sky.
      “Oh, no, we can’t call them ‘brain-eating zombies’! They are partially ambulatory formerly-living persons with a limited vocabulary and specific dietary requirements.”

    1. I notice a shortage of anime, manga, and light novel coverage. Vampire Hunter D, Trinity Blood, Blood+, Blood+C, Kabaneri, Strike the Blood, Highschool DxD, Monogatari, Hellsing, that thing with the vampire/angel hybrid I forget the name of…

      1. You want a wider variety of vampire references? All right, I’ll throw in one from my childhood I doubt any of you are expecting.

        Ever hear of a cartoon called Mighty Max? It was about a 12 year old boy who gets a magic item that lets him travel through a portal network and goes on various adventures. In one he has to deal with a vampire, but it turns out that vampires are actually insects rather than undead. When he tries to kill her with sunlight she just laughs and points out that sunlight nourishes insects as well as other living things.

        So he improvises and kills her with insect spray instead.

          1. Yeah, the Cosmic Cap was the thing that let him use the portal network.

            Also, I misremembered a detail about that episode (it was decades since I’d seen it). Max actually used citronella oil – an insect repellent – to weaken and distract the vampire so his bodyguard could kill it.

    2. Plus there is the Kitty of the Midnight Hour (Vaughn) take on werewolves and vampires. Originally created by evil, specifically devil. Which means they are both perceived to be evil and nonredeemable even if the individual did not choose the life style. Because they were turned evil, they are evil, it is a matter of time, and thus are hunted by monster hunters. But, truth is, no; one has been infected with an incurable condition, and still must choose to be evil. Opposite is you can choose to not be evil, just like everyone else. Even the devil can’t make you evil.

      1. One of my favorite comics was Marvel’s “Son of Satan”, because here’s someone who’s literally born evil and repeatedly says “No, I’m not going to do that.” and doesn’t.

  17. I find that Hammer’s classic Vampire movies of the ’60s make a nice antidote to wimpy modern Vampires. I especially recommend their non-Dracula entry Kiss of the Vampire, with its unforgettable opening.

  18. Coming from a background of demons as irredeemably evil puzzled me a bit when I started watching anime. As near as I can tell, what the Japanese call demons are sometimes more like what we would call the Fair Folk.

      1. Especially when the target language doesn’t have the vocabulary you need. After all calling them “fairies” or “elves” would be impossible — stemming from the way writers like Shakespeare were at pains to make their fairies innocuous, being aware that it was possible to be burned at the stake as a witch for consorting with fairies.

    1. From what I’ve seen, the Japanese have three groups of supernaturals: kami, yokai and oni. Kami are gods, oni are mostly evil ogres/demons, and yokai are varied — some evil, some good, and everything in between.

      Of course, I got most of my information from anime…where sometimes the angels are evil. Definitely some new viewpoints.
      At my house, the ‘things that go bump in the night’ are cats.

      1. Yokai! Thank you! *raises a mug of coffee* So glad to get that missing word out of my head.

        Covers everything from haunted shoes to entire forests.

      2. Of course, I got most of my information from anime…where sometimes the angels are evil.


        Well, we have evil angels, too. We just call them demons. 😉

        More seriously, if you haven’t, you can make the stuff make a LOT more sense by getting a crash-course in Japanese religions. Most of the “Wait, WHAT? The priest is the nun’s dad, huh?” type stuff is copy-pasting Catholic terms and costumes on to existing priests and shrine maidens and stuff.

      3. Also those divisions are about as neat as European folklore, where you can’t even keep such categories as “ghost” and ” fairy” separately — there are banshees (which literally means “fairy woman”) who are ghosts, and the Cauld Lad of Hylton, the ghost of a murdered stable boy, acted like the typical brownie, down to leaving when given clothes.

        A yokai who is sufficiently placated may become a kami.

        (Just finished The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore by Michael Dylan Foster. Cool book.)

        1. *gets the giggles*

          Makes sense, really.

          “AAAAAHHH AAAAAAH AAAAAH DEATH MONSTER THING AAAAAAH gosh let me stop to carefully classify it AAAAAAAH ARG ARG ARG *DEAD*.”

          1. My Dear Foxfier, it is very important to properly catalogize the critter you’re going against in order to know its PUFF.

            After all if its not worth your while, you might as well RUN LIKE HECK instead of trying to kill it. :crazy:

              1. True, but of course if you’re part of a group of Monster-Hunters, running away might be safe (to a degree) as the Monster might focus on the rest of the Monster-Hunters.

                Of course, the Monster might fail to kill all of the remaining Monster-Hunters and the survivors would likely report your desertion of them. 😈

                1. The likelihood of my becoming a monster hunter is roughly on par with the chances of the Federation approving of my approach to time travel morality.
                  (On the latter– I don’t think “but my history book says it happened this way!” gets me out of moral responsibilities.)

                  1. Marvel Comics had a recent storyline with Cable and *Rachel* — of all people, the girl who went back in time and landed in the *wrong past* — trying to Preserve the Integrity of the Timeline. Made my head hurt more than their usual approach.

                  2. Chuckle Chuckle

                    I read one fantasy novel that had the Hero go back into his world’s past to discover that He was an ancient Great Mage that he had read about.

                    It bothered me that he had no problems doing terrible things “because it happened that way”.

                    Admittedly, most of his actions involved doing “terrible things to terrible people”. IE He basically destroy two ancient Mage Empires that had enslaved the world of the past.

                    There were other aspects of the situation that the author ended the series in (it was the third book of a trilogy) that I had problems with.

                    IE The Hero ended up the Immortal Emperor who was the only processor of Super-Magic and Of Course He could be trusted to use it wisely. Nothing Could Go Wrong With That. 😈

    2. Yeah, it’s a really bad translation on the theology side, I think it’s rooted in “kami” being sometimes translated as god and sometimes as demon and kinda…spread.

      I KNOW the right word for supernatural being, but it’s not coming up.

      That said– yeah. Even a vanilla human can become a ‘demon,’ and it’s not a moral thing, it’s a power thing.

      On the flip side, an awful lot of Asian supernatural stuff is freaking nasty evil, so it’s understandable.

      1. “Spirit”, in the “fifth element” sense. Although, “void” can sometimes be where you wind up with that path of thinking.

        At least for me, “kami” makes far more sense translated as “spirit”.

        1. Same here, especially since most folks don’t think of the non-mono-theistic meaning of ‘god’.

          Dresden Files did a great job with that island, though.

  19. I grew up with Dark Shadows and the Hammer Dracula movies. And of course Lugosi’s Dracula, and Nosferatu. Read the Stoker novel in Jr. High (maybe even earlier, I know I bought a copy in Jr. High). I think it was Marvel that had a series of Dracula graphic novels and comics out at about that time (mid-70’s) and I got all of those. I think where I stopped following vampire fiction was Ann Rice. I tried to read her first novel and got bored and dived back into SF (Analog Niven, Pournelle, etc.), never to return other than to re-read Stoker on occasion.

    The best Dracula movie I ever saw (it followed the book all the way through) was on PBS in the late 80’s/early 90’s IIRC (Must engage google-fu), other than that I tended to avoid vamp themed movies especially after that (excuse the expression) god-awful Coopola one in 92. Glad I saw it on cable and didn’t pay for it. Saw it twice; first and last time.

    My reaction to the Twilight Series was, upon seeing a movie poster for the first film was “I see two targets and a collaborator”. I had never heard of the books prior to that.

    Then Larry had to hook me into MHI, and now Sarah is looking to drag me back into the darkness a little further. And the rest of y’all listing out other books ain’t helping!

    1. The best Dracula movie I ever saw … was on PBS in the late 80’s/early 90’s IIRC

      That was most likely the 1977 BBC adaptation, at two hours thirty minutes, starring Louis Jourdan as the Count and, as Abraham van Helsing, Frank Finlay (perhaps best remembered for his Porthos in the Richard Lester directed Musketeer films.)

        1. A pleasure. Local PBS network used to run it annually at Halloween and it was a family favorite even though Beloved Spouse and I do not find “horror” an interesting genre.

          Amazon offers the DVD for just under $30, less if you’re accepting of used. Just look for Dracula BBC.

    2. Yeah. The Saint Paul Saints minor league baseball team had a Twilight-themed promotion where you got to choose a Werewolf or a Vampire T-shirt. I wore a hand-scribbled one that read, ‘Give me a wooden stake and a silver bullet’.

  20. On the much less bloody and too hopeful to be horror side, the gal who comments here as “Crossovercreativechaos” had an epic bromance (it actually is what it says on the tin!) called “Count Taka and the Vampire Brides.”

    Anybody who is in to mythology and vampires really should read all of her books, though. Well, Pearl of Fire doesn’t have this-world show your work mythology, but you should read it ‘cus it’s enjoyable.

  21. Ever read George RR Martin’s vampire-Mississipi riverboat novel Fevre Dream?
    Part of the euhemerized vampire tradition. Vampires exist but they’re not supernatural, they’re another species higher up on the food chain.
    Also features a vampire hero who desires to free his people from their dependence on human blood.

      1. I’ve read other stories by George RR Martin and they do not appeal to me. His writing is depressive in nature. He seems to not be able to get past just putting characters in hopeless situations and then killing them off in large numbers.

        1. His early stuff like Fevre Dream isn’t quite that bad. I haven’t read it in years, but like After the Festival it would be a mistake to judge them by the grimdark nihilism of A Song of Ice & Fire.

          1. So have you read “The computer cried Charge!” by RR? the prototypes of a couple of his characters shows up in them and the tanks that the story is centered about are mauled over the course of the story.

  22. Ugh. Wish I could get back into the vampire idea I started years ago. Fun to explore just how and why otherwise good people would give up humanity for power of vampires.

  23. And then there is Fred. Featuring in The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant.

  24. Man bad really what a sexist way to start a article truth is if Vlad Tepes lll is the father of the vampire genre than Elizabeth Bathory is the mother

    1. Hi, Chlamydia. Using proxy servers, now I see. ONLY YOU would think this is sexist, when it’s a line from old noir stories.
      You might want to take some meds. Or you know, just stop annoying adults. Particularly since your command of English continues to be hit and miss, and you remain incapable of coherent thought.

    2. So, JT – how many novels/films/stage productions has Elizabeth B starred in?

      It would seem the sexism is not Sarah’s but the genre’s.

      Although commencing your remarks with an exclamatory “Man” seems a trifle sexist, too. Did you fail to take your estrogen last night?

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