Sanguinem Emere has moved to the more permanent location of http://www.vampirebibliographica.com in order to prepare for the publication of Sanguinem Emere: Bought in Blood.
Within the dark
Blood reigns over
The cagéd lark
Caught in a web
Silk and stark
The shrouding dark.’
– Devika Templeton, 1999, Blood
The hallway is dark and dingy. More so than I remember.
There’s a light fitting, but no bulb or cover, above me and further down the hall it’s more of the same. The paintings I can make out along the diminishing walls with the slight orange glow from behind me bear little resemblance to those in the rest of the house. Their regal setting and refined postings are missing. Instead they sag lopsidedly as haughty faces seem twisted into grimacing haunts.
It’s like some sort of night-vision tunnel and it reeks of neglect.
There must be other showers. Or even a bath-tub. One easily located and lit with actual lights.
I suspect he would rather watch me stumble over my own feet. Undoubtedly, this serves as some form of punishment in his mind.
I had asked Seth if I could get cleaned up and he had directed me down this hallway. I’d been traumatised to see unblemished skin upon my chest as I undressed in the room I am assigned to. Not a single mark, not even any blood to prove my story sane. I can’t explain it. I want to, but I can’t. Seth’s refusal to agree with me that there is an unnaturally unsettling red-haired man tormenting me within and without of this building only stresses me further. What if he isn’t toying with me this time? What if I really am unravelling? Seeing ghosts in a house filled with vampires.
Visions of my mother prance through my skull as I prepare myself to get cleaned up.
Focus on the task at hand, Devika.
Mild trepidation ensues as I pull the towel – fluffy to the brink of opulence – tighter around my chest and leave the comfort of distant music, warmth and voices floating up from downstairs, wading with bare-footed stealth in the direction Seth steered me.
As my filthy fingers (sliding along the wall for stability) brush the edge of an unseen portrait I pull it straight without question before the cellar swims to mind at the graze of wooden framework. A Technicolor memory in swathes of red and brown inspires me to rip my hand away. My fingers itch where they touched the darkened canvas.
The air here is not musty as one would expect from such a claustrophobic cube. A cold breeze ripples along the flesh of my shoulders and I can smell roses and jasmine from the garden. But still I can’t locate a window with my shadow-drenched eyes though there must be one. My pupils strain, aching against the sides of my skull to find a way out. Any escape at all. But all I can see is night as it gnaws at the courage that would have allowed me the liberty of searching further, reminding me of how such a traitorous act could end in a display of brutal authority. My cheek still stings from his slap. It could have been so much worse.
The paintings flood my thoughts again and I balk at the memory as a familiar giggle riddles my thoughts with fear.
My fingers finally slip into air as I reach the bathroom door which stands open and I fumble until I find a light switch. White spots buzz across my vision as the fluorescence flares to life.
There is no door to stand open. Just two uneven empty brackets speckled with rust, and one lonely nail poking out of the door’s frame like the snapped arm of a rambunctious child.
I would sigh. But to be honest, this is to be expected.
The dilapidation within challenges me with its obnoxious insistence on being less than extraordinary.
The shower door is covered in some kind of dusty, dry substance, making its transparence an opaque white decorated with unintentional art, and the floor’s tiles bear dirt-smeared cracks. Near the sink, an entire tile is missing, exposing the concrete beneath. The basin seems clean enough, but the mirror above it has been sliced in two and the surface is in desperate need of a polish. Some kind of moss has begun to make itself at home along the edges of the glass – creeping in from the tiles – clearly considering the musty condensation to be an invitation. The toilet seems clean from this angle, but I would rather not find out and I tiptoe over the cracks towards the shower, trying to avoid uncomfortable travel lacerations (one of those lesser-known ailments).
I peer over the edge of the shower to find that the drain has no covering.
With warranted cynicism at whether or not the shower will even work, I remove the towel and gingerly drape it over the sink; a splash of violet against the stark off-white. If it touches the floor I think I may have to walk back to the room sopping wet and naked.
Out of the corner of my eye I can see that my reflection has faded away to a degree sharp enough to make me seem gaunt and I turn back to the shower without stopping to inspect my new anorexia-chique. It’s bad enough knowing that my distaste for food has turned to incessant waves of nausea and a chronic loss of balance without having to stare the outcome thereof in the hollowed-out face. Even the small meal provided to me over the last few days made me sick to the point of pain. My stomach responded near violently at the smell.
The water shudders in the pipes as I turn the handle and step back, expecting to be drenched, but no semi-arctic stream erupts to drown me, despite my suspicions.
I lean in to poke at the nozzle and fling myself out of the way as hairy, black sticks creep out to clutch at the sides. They are followed by the rest of the spider’s undulating body as a steaming spray is released from the pipes in its wake.
The little monster, now perched on top of the pipe attaching the shower-head to the wall – none too perturbed as it glances at me with its myriad of glassy eyes – seems to hunker down for a second and then scurries up the tiles and through a crack in the ceiling.
Here there be spoilers…
Now, I will be the first to admit that I do not much admire The Vampire Diaries. I have my reasons, first and foremost amongst them being the contrived manner in which characters that should have been long dead already are written back into the story because of the script-writers’ (and possible author’s) inability to create a newer kind of terror.
That said, Damon Salvatore has to be one of the most appealing not-so-bad bad boys in vampire history.
Let us see – When first we met Damon (in the televised series, that is) he was a wicked antagonist, settling himself into Mystic Falls with the pure purpose to make his brother’s straight-laced life a misery, while simultaneously marking the territory as his own. However, already at this point we saw a softer side to the more attractive of the Salvatore brothers. His long lost love, Katherine, still lay claim to his heart and she was the ultimate prize in his race to win over Mystic Falls. Somehow he ensconced himself in the very centre of vampire hunting itself, the council of founding families: hell-bent on keeping their home town safe from vampirism at all costs. Of course, he managed all this through sheer manipulation and charm enough to make any girl gag. Instead we swooned for him.
In comparison with his brother, Damon is suave, debonair and bound to surprise and horrify the viewer with his unpredictable reactions and (what some might call) nihilistic decision making skills.
Through all this, Damon holds a candle for his brother’s love, Elena, who looks surprisingly like his long-lost Katherine, even though she behaves nothing like her doppelgänger. This is where I have difficulty fuelling the flames of my devotion for this character. He claims to be in love with Katherine (even though the woman is a flaming psycho bitch), but also to have an undying love for Elena…… Okay fine, blame it on teenage infatuation… And maye the fact that Nina Dobrev is superbly lovely to look at. Regardless, the story fails to entice me, but Damon somehow keeps me watching.
And I must say… After the last episode I was made privy to of season three (it may or may not be the season finale, can’t say I’m sure), my little fan-girl heart is breaking for Damon. If you believe someone may die… That this is the last time you will ever speak with them… Get to express how dear they are to you… Don’t you lie and SAY YOU LOVE THEM?! Elena – You selfish cow…
I have posed this idea to friends and fellow writers before, but lately it seems to be an insidious bother. Much to my dismay, my intrepid chipping away at The Key has been failing me. Sadly, as I am truly fond of this concept and wish to do it justice. I just find that if I punt away at a piece, instead of allowing the creativity to strike me at the appropriate times, my writing suffers. So, although I would love to simply force myself to create the perfect novel, it seems wholly impossible.
Consequently, I have started looking into why I feel lackadaisical toward my baby, the apple of my eye, insofar as novel-writing is concerned. Having encountered this same dilemma with Bought in Blood, from time to time, I have reached the conclusion that it must be due to close proximity to the material. The longer I spend working on a novel, the less time I want to spend near to it because I start to discredit my decent writing by convincing myself that it is terrible and should be deleted. Unfortunately, I am somewhat impulsive, and these moments of self-depreciation do, in fact, lead to me deleting my work, an action which results in me tearing my hair out in frustration once I have regained my sanity.
My solution to this problem is to create a bounce-book, a remedy for a certain strain of writer’s block. I have always wanted to write a romance (but sadly I tend to add in non-romantic themes, such as BDSM and emotional abuse) and so, I think I shall take this opportunity to do so. I will attempt (not promise, as this is a rather large undertaking I am considering, based on everything else I need to do) to write the standard thousand words a day on The Key, but if I should find myself wanting to eradicate my work, I can switch to the bounce-book to alleviate my distress.
Anyhoo, here is my proposal for a YA romance:
Twyla Landry is beautiful, fifteen, popular, and standing on the precipice of a canyon of possibilities. She is planning her future as a marine biologist, impatiently awaiting her sweet sixteen birthday party, and weighing the virtues and dangers of losing her virginity.
But she is also dying.
Diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, Twyla is working at correcting the wrongs she has committed in her young life before her time runs out. But coming to terms with her fate is not the worst challenge facing Twyla. With the fortuitous meeting of the debonair and peculiar Griffin Templeton, she must contemplate an entirely new possibility – being allowed to live.
Oh… Kay… So maybe it isn’t quite as easy-going as I had intended for a simple piece of literature, but I look forward to it, nonetheless.
“As we move on year by year in this life, we learn that telling doesn’t necessarily purge; telling something is merely a reliving, and it’s a torment.”
– Anne Rice, Blood Canticle
When I was thirteen years old I picked up my first Anne Rice book, Interview with the Vampire. And I knew then, as clearly as know now that the sun will rise each day, I wanted to be like her. I wanted to write vampire novels, and I wanted to write vampire novels where the vampire is so near to human that they suffer from human weaknesses, driven by human emotions, both vast and petty. But also, I wanted to write vampire novels that made others feel the way hers made me feel, like the supernatural could exist. Like vampires are not just restricted to myth and hype, intended to tantalize and unnerve us.
I read that first novel in the Vampire Chronicles series nearly twelve years ago. I was a typical teenager – angst-ridden, and certain that I was alone in the world. Her descriptions mesmerised me, I felt certain that what she wrote could not have simply been pulled from the air, from the annals of imagination. It must have been a product of experience. The characters she moulded could only have been drawn from reality, from something palpable. This sensation stayed with me through each and every one of her vampire chronicles, right through to Blood Canticle. When I outline a character, it is to the words of Anne Rice that I turn for inspiration, not to compare and recreate, but to garner inspiration.
It has been asked of many people, including this famed author, what the intrigue is surrounding vampires in society at present. And the answers seem varied. But one thing does seem clear; vampires are an excellent means to explore taboos that one would normally steer as far from as possible. The vampire, it has been theorised, is a symbol of the outsider that every individual senses inside of themselves at some point in their lives. As such, readers can sympathise with the plight of the vampire, but is the vampire not a monster? Not quite. It is apparent, when we explore vampire literature, that the vampire has become almost human in its portrayals. And, intriguingly, this is what makes such a figure more terrifying than most.
It is the thought that the vampire can manipulate, seduce, and then destroy that piques the interest of readers. Well, it certainly piques my interest, and has done so for over twelve years of my life.
After I read Interview with the Vampire, I virtually devoured the following eleven books, constantly using the words I lapped off the page as a means to carry me through my days. I was always in love with at least one of her many enigmatic characters, never certain which one I found to be the most perfectly crafted. I switched frequently between the breath-taking madness of Armand and Louis’s sweet sadness. Sometimes, I even found Marius’s constant nature to be more of a lure than any of the others. But I always returned to Lestat.
“It was as if the empty nights were made for thinking of him. And sometimes I found myself so vividly aware of him it was as if he had only just left the room and the ring of his voice were still there. And somehow, there was a disturbing comfort in that, and, despite myself, I’d envision his face.”
– Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
Lestat de Lioncourt. Who has to be the most complete of literary creations. From the desperate recitation of his personal history in The Vampire Lestat, trying to repair the damage done to his name by his beloved Louis, attempting to draw out his old compatriots, to the self-assured lord (still carrying his childish, naughty streak) in Blood Canticle, Anne Rice imagined a daring character. With each new book told in Lestat’s own words, the reader felt as though they were falling into a much-loved rhythm, embracing an old friend after months apart.
But, back to the topic of taboos. One element that I have always found both enticing and freeing about The Vampire Chronicles is the security of intimacy. The fact that affection is not limited to gender. That the vampires which are her creations are not restricted by sex and deviancy. I loved then, and still do, the idea that vampires are not bound by sexual attraction as they have ascended past such physical constraints.
But I do believe that many people (those that have read the books but fail to truly comprehend them) still cannot come to terms with the notion. To this day, homophobes and individuals bent simply on bashing Anne Rice’s genius accuse her of rampant sexual deviancy in her novels, as well as labelling all her characters under the flag of ‘homosexual,’ as though it were some dirty word.
Firstly, how can a creature be homosexual if it is no longer bound by sexual drives? And secondly, so what? Characters in the novels deliberate often over the virtues of men and women. Occasionally the conclusion is in favour of one or the other sex, but it still stands that preference over a single one does not make them. They adhere to beauty. And, as the author describes it, for her vampires, beauty is a fluid thing. For a creature that can see the tiniest of imperfections and is lost in the most miniscule of adequacies, beauty can be found in everything.
“If I am an angel, paint me with black wings.”
– Anne Rice, The Vampire Armand
In short, Anne Rice’s vampires revolutionised the monstrosity of these creatures, illustrating how their nightmarish qualities could also be considered their most poignant charms. If I can evoke even a fraction of the emotion in my readers as what her novels drew from me, I will be thrilled and ecstatic.
With the explosion of vampire fiction bombarding us from every direction, going from Meyeristic sparkle to Burtonesque camp, from Coppolidian veritas to Ricean evolution, what is it about vampires that pulls in our imagination? What is it that makes a great vampire in modern mainstream media?
The list of fictive vampires that would encompass this criteria can be exhaustive, so a measure of measuring criteria would need to be established before any meaningful result can be ascertained. In short, we would need to define the meaning of ‘great’ in this context. Could it be the popularity of the character? If so, then dear Edward Cullen might have what it takes to be great, even with that unfortunate skin condition. Is it a closeness to the founding myths of our favourite nightstalkers that needs key consideration? Then perhaps Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula could have a seat at this table, hairy palms and all.
As that line of reasoning is not really getting us anywhere, could we propose an alternative measure in this conflict? Reading the recently stumbled upon great article by psychologist Dr. Belisa Vranich in the Huffinton post (the fact that the article has been there since 2010 is moderately irrelevant) that documents her 10 reasons why we love vampires, we can have a clear benchmark for our late great fictive escape.
These 10 reasons breathe understanding into the phenomenon hitherto-unseen to date to my mind, and should form the basis for our exploration into vampire fiction.
After reading that article, how many vampires un-live up to your expectations now?
When I was a child I developed an obsession (what some would call a dangerous fetish): an unwavering love for vampires. And I did not fall into any category either. If there was any implication that something drank blood and had fangs, I was enamoured. It started out innocently enough, frequently I would sit in front of the television in anticipation of those cartoons and kids’ shows I most favoured and secretly hope for a Halloween special or the hint of something bloody to titillate my fear. But really, it was not the sensation of terror I was after, but rather the squirming rush that bound itself to my fear, the liquid warmth that would make my mind flurry with unthinkable opportunities.
It began in innocence, as all such things do. A crush on a boy. Granted, a boy with fangs… A fictional boy… A boy who drinks blood… But a boy nonetheless. A man that harboured a dark secret; the desire to drink human blood. A hero, really. Someone who fought his nature, tried to remain on the beaten path, tried to tow the line. It started with the Angel’s and Louis’s of the world. It stemmed from the need to love something that does not want to be loved. Lust after something that hints at the vaguest possibility of danger. Something, or someone, that could eventually tear the fragile, human body apart in passionate abandon.
The obsession grew from a simple love for a simple vampire with complex motives and notions. The precursor to Edward Cullen, really. I’m terribly sorry to break this to you, Twilight fans, but your Edward is not an original concept. In all vampire tales there is one. The vampire with a soul, the vampire with human passions, the vegetarian vampire, the man that hates his own monstrous nature and seeks to change it.
When we’re young, this appeals to us, no doubt. We crave the danger of vampirism and we want to dip our toes in that pool ever so gently, trying not to stir the monsters beneath the surface, trying not to get too wet, swirling our feet in misted patterns and thinking ourselves ever-so-daring for stepping outside of our own ignorance to indulge an ‘amoral’ vice. We think ourselves better than the monsters. Good little girls want to change bad boys; they want to be the ones to drag them over to goodness, make them see the bad in their behaviour. Good little girls want a man they can fix. The vampire stereotype of a bad boy, seeking redemption is the perfect outlet. No real danger can be incurred and innocent fantasies remain unspoken.
Gradually, however, that fantasy evolves and transforms into the desire to experience a potentially fatal lust, I suppose. At least, this is the way it was for me and many other girls I have known. And this, Twilight moms, is what will eventually move your daughters. Not Edward any longer, he will become dull and uninteresting, and soppy to them, just as he is to the rest of the world. We start innocently, wanting an emotionally available vampire, a vampire that cares, that is not afraid to talk about his feelings, a Stefan Salvatore. But as we mature so do our needs. Sweet and gentle is no longer acceptable. I want fire, passion, a man that uses the threat of his fangs as a means to dominate me.
Vampires… The ultimate Doms?
Dracula is clearly the Hue Hefner of vampires; everywhere he goes, women are unable to resist his old world, noble charms, despite his age, his reputation as a womaniser, and his strange physical deformities (Hairy palms? Kind of gross when you consider the connotations). His magnetism, his way with people, allows him to control them, makes slaves of them, to the extent that he keeps a number of them to himself and they live only for him.
Let us not forget my personal favourite, Anne Rice’s Lestat de Lioncourt. Beautiful and impetuous, he does what he chooses when he pleases and despite his (often) childish behaviour, no one can deny him, he is adored by most and secretly desired by others. Interview with the Vampire is a study in sadomasochism, really. Louis is alone, miserable, and aching for death when Lestat finds him. He has nothing left (or so he believes) and wants to end his life. But his maker-to-be sweeps in and changes the entire game. Making Louis’s life an erotic combination of love for this strange, nobleman, childish, petulant, and fiercely loyal and protective all at once, but also a misery more intense than living had been, an existence tied to hurting and taking. Lestat spends eighty odd years instructing Louis (albeit badly at times) and binding him, treating him as a treasured lover at times and punishing him for (what is perceived as) bad behaviour at others. Louis spends most of his nights straining against the tethers of his master. And these mannerisms do not change. Even after Lestat’s assumed death, Louis seeks a vampire that can instruct him and teach him and love him as a master. In this he finds Armand, who, of course, has his own masochistic tendencies playing on his past. His relationship with Marius built of him a masochist, but his induction and training with the creatures that kidnapped him from Marius’s home twisted his psyche, moulding him into a sadist.
I could spend reams of pages discussing the bondage relationships inherent in the Vampire Chronicles, but let me continue with another fictional character…
In the Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, one character stands out above the rest, Jean-Claude, the conniving, lustful, and occasionally cruel vampire that finally wins Anita’s love after… How many books did it take? Eight? I lost count. While I do not like the main character, Anita, I do have a world of affection for Jean-Claude who plays an effective game with her. Allowing her to come to him on her own terms and then owning her as both his human servant and lover. Yet again though, I must stop before I digress further. So many vampires to study in this series and a whole universe of taboo sex.
I could remain on this tangent, listing the vampires we love to want. The vampires we wish could keep us as pets, playthings, toys… Zillah, Eric, Damon Salvatore, Asher…. But it all boils down to these inescapable truths: Vampires are not always kind or compassionate, occasionally they are these things, but as a whole we have encountered very few that follow these strictures; Girls desire vampires because it allows them to indulge their own wickedness, the wickedness they attempt to hide from the world at large; When we accept our need to be dominated, we accept vampires as the most succinct outlet.
I know where my masochism started…..
http://www.rovinginsight.org/library/index.php?content=features-sex-and-sadism – An intriguing piece, it does not support the notion in detail, but a good read nevertheless.