Monday, December 19, 2011

Vampire Monday: E.F. Watkins

Why Vampires Are (and Always Will Be) Popular

So far, I’ve lived through the vampire craze of the 1960s, inspired first by Hammer Films and later the series Dark Shadows; the resurgence of interest in the early 1970s, sparked by popular books on the historical Dracula and the Frank Langella play on Broadway; again in the mid-70s, with the success of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire; and several mini-revivals during the ‘80s and 90s. Of course, in the 2000s we’ve gone batty again with True Blood, Twilight and The Vampire Diaries.

Why does the image of the vampire have such undying appeal? I think because, as developed over the ages by various authors and filmmakers, he has come to embody a range of qualities that both frighten and fascinate us.

1. Eternal life: We all think we’d like to live forever, even though it could have its drawbacks. Since the vampire usually keeps the appearance he had when he died, he can remain forever young or at least in the prime of life. In terms of story lines, this trait also links him with the past -- he can re-encounter his lost loves or old enemies in reincarnated form. But on the dark side, he’s a walking dead man who seems to know the secrets of the grave, and beyond. And of course, he must drink blood to survive.

2. Drinking blood: A great metaphor for thriving at the expense of others -- and don’t we all know someone like that! Depending on the approach of the author, a vampire can attack violently like a werewolf and kill each time he bites. Or, like Stoker’s original Dracula, he can drain a victim slowly over time, which is much creepier. His lust for blood has been used to parallel an addiction to sex, alcohol or drugs. It also symbolizes absorbing the victim’s soul or spirit. In some fiction, a vampire can survive on animal, artificial or stored blood; in others, only human blood from a live victim will do.

3. Power over others: The vampire controls his victims mentally. He may use hypnosis or simply gain telepathic control from taking their blood. He can compel these slaves to do his will, even at the risk of their own lives. In Stoker and other traditions, if the vampire master is destroyed, any of his victims who are not yet dead or “turned” recover completely. Again, I think we’ve all met people who have an uncanny ability to either charm or intimidate others into serving their needs, even making the other person act against his own best interests.

4. Creating other vampires: Many novels and movies have treated vampirism as a physical plague, and the old superstitious might have come about to explain the terrifying spread of certain diseases. Sometimes the victim “turns” with just one bite; sometimes s/he must be drained to death; sometimes only a “baptism” -- drinking the master’s blood, too -- causes the change. Even though leaving other vamps in his wake tends to draw suspicion, a fictional bloodsucker may feel compelled to create a mate of his own kind, or a whole kindred community, to relieve his…

5. Loneliness: Whether isolated or part of a vampire clan, he lives as a social outcast. In modern books and movies, vampires sometimes parallel gang-bangers, street people, gays and minorities -- anyone seen as out of the mainstream. The vampire can never fully relate to humans, because at worst he feeds off them and at best he outlives them. Well, which of us hasn’t felt, at least from time to time, completely misunderstood and cut off from the rest of humanity? So we have to feel for the poor guy, or gal.

6. Special powers & weaknesses. He’s invulnerable to the usual weapons such as guns and knives and has superhuman strength, speed and agility. He may also read minds, move things with his mind, disappear and reappear or change into a mist or an animal. All of those traits sound pretty cool! However, in many plots he also is vulnerable to certain religious and folk symbols and to sunlight. In Stoker’s novel, Dracula could go out in the daytime but could not use his special powers then. Whether or not a vampire needs to lie in a coffin, he usual rests in darkness to recharge. We sympathize with a creature who lives mainly at night, but at the same time, it gives him even more mystery and glamour.

7. Sensuality. Most vampires have heightened, animalistic senses and superhuman stamina. The more subtle ones seduce, rather than overpower, their victims. And whether or not they can have “normal” sex with humans or other vampires, the bite symbolizes a sexual act. Psychologists have theorized that losing yourself in great sex is like “a little death,” and with even a romantic, considerate vampire, his lover is literally risking death to have him. Talk about the lure of the forbidden!

Every author emphasizes certain traits over others and creates a slightly different set of guidelines. Stoker’s vamps were bound by different rules than those of Stephen King, Anne Rice or Charlaine Harris. But that is why, as a character, the vampire lives on and on -- because he represents so many things to different people. Though a monster, he can teach us a lot about what it means to be human.

E. F. Watkins specializes in paranormal suspense, and since 2003 has published six novels with Amber Quill Press LLC. Her first, DANCE WITH THE DRAGON, received a 2004 EPPIE Award from the national organization EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection.) as Best Horror Novel. Next came the romantic mystery RIDE A DANCING HORSE (as “Eileen Watkins”). Her third book, BLACK FLOWERS, was a Finalist in the Thriller category for both the 2006 EPPIEs and the 2007 Indie Excellence Book Awards. She also has published the paranormal thrillers PARAGON and DANU’S CHILDREN. Her latest, ONE BLOOD, is a prequel to DANCE WITH THE DRAGON and currently a 2012 EPIC eBook finalist. Her website is

E.F. will give away one copy of her book to a commenter here. Stop back by to see if you won.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vampire Monday: Lori Devoti

I’m old enough to remember my babysitter rushing my three-year-old (or so) self off for a nap so she could watch Dark Shadows.

A soap opera with a vampire. Who’d have thought it?

Shift ahead a few decades. Romance novels with vampires — who’d have thought that?

Vampires in some form have been around forever. In Greek mythology there was Mormo, an ancient form of the boogey man who bit bad children. Empusa, also from Greek myth, seduced men, drank their blood, and ate their flesh. Lami also was said to eat children — sometimes her own.

A quick search on the Internet will turn up vampires (or vampire-like creatures) from across time and continents. The idea of some dark and scary monster that feeds on the flesh or blood of humans seems to cross all boundaries.

Because of that, I can’t imagine them ever going away. They seem to be hard-wired into us.

I think the bigger question is why and how in the last century we have managed to romanticize them.

Vampires are dead which equals cold and pale.

They have sharp, unsightly teeth and they crave blood — human blood.

There is nothing on the surface that would make them anything except a horror-movie villain, but somehow we, in our safe modern world, have made them into something more tragic than horrific and more fascinating than repulsive.

We see them as wounded and feel for everything they lost when they were turned, frequently against their will. Although a vampire is seldom weak, we see them as much a victim as the last body they drained.

Their magnetism gives them mystery and their inability to die added dimension.

A vampire as hero appeals to the dream that there is good in everyone and everything no matter how horrific their crimes may appear to be. They give us hope that anyone can be saved if we just love them enough.

So if vampires are the monster most hard-wired into us to fear, vampires as heroes are our way of hoping those monsters don’t exist at all — not really.

Because deep down, there is good in everyone.

And isn’t that what we all really want to believe?

Lori Devoti is the multi-published author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, including numerous stories that feature vampires as heroes and villains. To learn more about her books, visit her web site at While there, don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter—for news on her books and the occasional free book just for subscribing.

Link to book
Trust Me


Lori will give away one copy of her book to a commenter. Stop back by to see if you won.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Vampire Monday: Barbara Elsborg

Why vampires are and always will be popular

Vampires have always repulsed and fascinated, these days they more fascinate than repulse. The fact that vampires are human-like creatures enables us identify with them to a certain extent, letting us believe we can understand the way they think and behave, or at least explain it in human terms. They’re pure predators. They deal in death. They consume the substance that keeps us alive. They have superpowers - super speed, super hearing, super sexual recovery (!) and can read minds. They’re stronger than us, more powerful than us and therefore can exert control over us. They’re dead and yet still with us, which might strengthen belief that death is not the end.

The vampire is probably the most popular fictional monster ever created. How ironic that these super-strong, human-like creatures who are able to seduce with a few words and might suck their victims dry can be repelled by the smallest cross and a whiff of garlic, and unless invited in cannot enter a private dwelling. In the early days, that is. The first vampires in fiction were true monsters and really did terrify readers. Dracula is a story of sexual seduction and rape. It must have been comforting to know that with a simple stake through a vampire heart -- they die, though of course, it’s never quite that easy. Even now, vampires in horror movies continue to terrify -- Let the Right One In and Thirty Days of Night had me cowering behind the couch.

So are we obsessed with blood, sex, death, fangs? More likely we are fascinated by the idea of a life that can go on forever but without our bodies aging, a life unencumbered by problems of ill-health or any sort of weakness. Yet how could we cope with the loneliness when those around us die and we live on? Vampires give us an insight into what life would be like if we could indeed live forever. Anne Rice is the master at exploring the tortured vampire psyche. LeStat remains my favorite vampire of all time. While Christine Feehan’s vampires, though they might go through hell to reach their mate, are assured of a happy future. There’s room for all sorts of vampires and there always will be.

Modern vampires are more sophisticated and have evolved to suit our needs, and that, I believe, is the key to our continued fascination. In literature, we’ve mostly turned them into gorgeous tortured guys on the fringes of society, who never age and are brilliant in bed, especially if they’re feeding at the same time. We dress them immaculately in black, make them enigmatic, and in need of rescue from their torment by the love of a worthy woman. Once they find their mate, and they’re prepared to spend centuries looking – how romantic is that? – they are the ultimate romantics, devoting themselves to their partner’s happiness. We’ve created an anti-hero that can go on forever- literally.

There are no longer any ‘rules’ about what a vamp can and can’t do. They might even sparkle! Garlic is no longer a problem, they laugh at crosses, some can go out in daylight, they don’t have to sleep in coffins, they don’t have to drink human blood, they’re not all beautiful and yet they’re still compelling.
They’re the ultimate bad boys and we all know how much we love those.

Barbara Elsborg lives in West Yorkshire in the north of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.
Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, and she hopes they are as much fun to read as they are to write.

The book I’d like to offer to one commentator is in my Trueblood series –
Falling For You.

Falling for You
She lives for the moon.
Every month, for five days around the full moon, Jo has the overwhelming urge to jump almost every male she sees. Convinced she’s gone crazy, she seeks medical help but finds none. All she can do to stop the hunger is run. One wrong step and Jo’s life plummets in a direction she didn’t expect when she falls into the lair of a badly injured vampire.

He lives for the night.
Alek can’t believe the angel who’s fallen from the sky. With a knife wedged in his chest and too weak to move, he’s given up and waiting for sunrise. But when a beautiful jogger crashes into his lair, Alek finds more than a way to survive. He finds a reason for doing so.


Barbara will give away one copy of her book to a commenter. Stop back by to see if you won.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Book Description and Keynote for Blood Therapy

I got an email from my British publisher a while back, giving me a draft of their thoughts about the book description and keynote for my new book #2 in the Kismet Knight series, BLOOD THERAPY. I think both could use a little more juice. What do you think? How would YOU write them?

BLOOD THERAPY book description (for the British version):

Psychologist Kismet Knight needs to take a break from the strange world she’s fallen into – and from Devereux, the sexy-as-hell master vampire who rules it. Her annual presentation at the American Psychological Association’s yearly conference in New York City seems like the perfect escape – especially when Alan Stevens, the cute FBI profiler, arranges to meet her there. They may be just friends, but who says friends can’t fancy each other? And at least he can’t read her mind. But it’s not long before Kismet’s new life intrudes. The monster who stalked her three months earlier still has plans for her, her bloodsucking clients won’t leave her alone, and there are ghosts haunting the hotel. On top of that, Kismet finds herself in a sticky romantic situation – and she’s run out of time. No one is coming out of the madness unscathed, and nothing will ever be the same for Kismet, Alan or Devereux.


Vampire shrink Kismet Knight needs a break from her sexy-as-hell vampire lover, and a conference in NYC is the perfect excuse – but Kismet’s about to discover her bloodsucking new clients just can’t leave her alone!