- The Shades of the Sea and Flame series has some new swag to show off by way of a set of new covers:
2. On a related note, the Shades series can now be purchased as an anthology through this link.
Shades of the Sea and Flame: Complete Collection
A Dark Romance
The Gentes of New Babylon have a long and sordid history. At the centre of their timeless battle are the few humans that they love, swept up in the chaos and changed by the war. Ida Blanchefleur never wanted to be married, but she’d sacrifice anything for her family. When the foundations of her family are shaken by crazy events, Ida is forced down a dangerous path, darkened by shifting shadows that shape into unbelievable terrors. Can she keep her family safe and still love the dark demon that she finds herself inexplicably drawn towards?
3. Our new novel, Murmur, is set to be released soon!
Amity doesn’t watch the news or pick up a newspaper. She doesn’t need to. Amity knows what John down the street had for breakfast, just like she knows that Hannah isn’t really a broadway star on the rise. Amity can hear people’s thoughts and she hates it. Surrounded by music of her own choosing, more often than not, she can ignore this inexplicable habit, and only one mind is entirely sealed off to her. Until one night when she hears a murmur.
“Don’t scream,” whispered a voice as my eyes snapped open and focused on the scarred desk.
The yellowing fluorescence had made the claustrophobic space feverish in spite of the Autumn chill beyond the windows. The hum of noise had been a hive of unmotivated workers – lecturers, paper-pushers, cleaners, security – what felt like only minutes ago. Now it was dark, the hall was quiet. The door-
My gaze swerved to it. The door was still closed but if the little rectangle window above it was to be believed, the hall outside was dark, lightless, obstinately at odds with how I knew it should be. Had to be. It was only-
I blinked into the glaring white nuisance of the computer screen, blissfully still blinding. It was 02:24. AM. A gust of breath escaped me. That was what happened when you hid in your office like the newly hired office hermit. I slid off the chair, falling into a casually upright pile of bones and aching muscles and shoved my laptop, my keys, into my bag. I looked over the desk. Nothing. Impersonal telephone, impersonal pen, even more impersonal notes. Shrugging the bag over my shoulder I lifted my hand to the door.
“Don’t,” whispered a voice.
My fingers stiffened on the handle. I’d already pulled it down. It strained to be let loose, the door not quite aligned. It would need to be pushed back and the handle slowly released to lock me back in.
Footsteps in the hall. The scuffing of shoes over the carpet.
“Scream,” whispered a voice inside the office with me.
But did I?
Nope. Nope. That would be cool though. In fact, that? That would be bitching. Like my nightmares. They’re never what I want anymore. Give me monsters, ghouls, fanged gentlemen, and evil seductresses. But what do I get? I get 02:24 pm nightmares. Home invasions, financial strain, those horrifying dreams about misplacing your baby and finding him weeks later having somehow survived on scraps as a mongrel.
Yes, yes that is my sleeping brain.
That isn’t what I want, but that is what I get. My exhausted mind is building its own horror to deal with a pack of waking issues that shouldn’t be more than blips on my radar. But these things, they steal from me. They’re stealing my life, my happiness, my joy in my ten-month old daughter, my aspirations.
Today I, for the ninth time this year alone, made someone else’s dreams come true. I wrote an article that was reviewed by not one person, not two, not just by my manager and an editor. Oh no, it was revised by six people. I was emailed multiple times by the interviewee and instructed as to how the content should appear. I devised a title which was reviewed and changed twice at the end, without my input. The only thing about that article that is still me is the name at the bottom. And at the end of it I was emailed by the interviewee in question who giddily told me that the article had gone viral and she was so grateful to me. For what, I thought. For putting my name on something that is no longer mine but is a Frankenstein representation of what I can actually achieve if I am left to do what I imagine I do best?
And I am humiliated.
We all have to do things we don’t want to, to survive. For our families to survive. But I am a writer, goddamn it. A dedicated writer crawling out of a dedicated mother. I write for me, and I write for her. I write because I want to give my baby girl everything, even if “everything” is the darkest forms that my expressions of love can manifest in words and twisted images. Because there is beauty in darkness. There’s satisfaction in an overwhelming victory against the nightmare. There’s security in the arms of the anti-hero. In dreams the dark can be mesmerising.
The only real deterrent is my own mind. The same mind that looks at my three open projects and becomes so childishly overwhelmed that it then says “Hey, how about, right? Instead of writing, why don’t we just… Watch Top 10 lists on Youtube?” That’s where my head is at right now. But if I were ruled by my own panicking whiner of a socially inept brain, I’d never get into the gym swimming pool again because of the Tulpa Pool Shark (story for another time).
The only person holding me back is me. I know that. Maybe I’ve always known that. But now it seems to be about the right time to fight that instinct, kick it in the teeth, bury its bones in my garden and hang its head over my big tv screen. As my husband says (and I’ll bet he’s way proud of me now for saying it so publicly): everything up to now is just another fucking opportunity for growth.
I always knew that I wanted to write. When I was in Grade 4 I had a teacher who wasn’t all that fond of me. Or at least that’s how my childish mind perceived her concern over my “sickly” nature. But there was one thing that she always praised about me: my capacity to write creatively and well. Mostly I remember there being a lot of ellipses and exclamation marks in my work then; so I still haven’t worked out all the kinks, I guess…
I started with poetry when I remembered how much praise writing had brought me, and moved onto prose when I was about ten. So while I credit my creative endeavours in most part to my favourite authors, I don’t blame them entirely for my forays into the written word. That being said, it wasn’t until I read the Vampire Chronicles that I gave any thought to writing about vampires. Sure, the topic had always fascinated me, there were other authors that I read who wrote primarily about vampires, I watched (and read) a lot of Buffy fiction, and I found my niche in contemplating life and meaning when I was in my early teens – something that I credit primarily to the vampire in literature – but it was the concept of the “romantic vampire” that spurred me to write not just small snippets, excerpts, and stories of dark castles and midnight kidnappings, but things that made me think. And in thinking, I hoped I would provoke others to do the same.
I was young, but I didn’t need the themes explained to me: the questionable nature of evil, the danger of beauty, the simple existentialism of being alive and never being entirely certain that there’s more purpose to it than eating, sleeping, procreation, scrabbling to find meaning in what seems completely meaningless. I couldn’t put fancy words to it, but I recognised a lot of what the perspective characters felt from what I felt in my own life. The metaphor of the vampire as “the outsider” has started to seem cliched, but it’s not, it’s archetypal. Why else would vampire fiction be so popular with teenagers? Everything is urgent and every feeling seems like its the end; not just of the world, but the universe, life, the soul, all of it. I wanted to explore the same themes, other themes even. I wanted to look at the world not through the eyes of the non-fiction perspective character, someone I knew, myself even. It was too close to home. I wanted to put myself int he shoes of someone that wasn’t me, and let them walk a mile, let them find the answers I couldn’t find.
You could say, I learnt lessons from the Vampire Chronicles. Not just about life, but about how to create literary life. how to take a cutout character and breathe into him, make him move and dance and sing, make him list and sway and follow the path towards his own truth. Books aren’t always about the story. Without the characters, there wouldn’t be one. I like the characters. The characters give a tale life and meaning. I applied the lessons I learnt from each book in the Vampire Chronicles to my own writing, and I believe that I won my own internal challenge, to chisel characters from nothing and make them real.
The realest thing a character can do, is run away with the story and ignore my planning.
Lessons from Interview
Lesson one: What I think I enjoyed most about Interview with the Vampire was Louis’ wandering, seeking the same answers and never getting them. Even when his story came to a close and Daniel stared at him waiting for more, it was very clear that the story was never going to end. Because the question hasn’t been answered. If the question is “what is the meaning of life?” no one can answer it but the wanderer. And in every novel thus far, I don’t think that Louis has ever really found that. You can live for someone (Lestat, maybe Claudia?), but it’s not really living in the end. It’s surviving for that one last look that they give you, like the sun slipping behind the clouds. One day (or night) you wake up and find that it isn’t enough, and then, you start to wander again. It’s a romance, but not romantic; not, traditionally anyway. It’s a horror, but the horror is so perfumed that the reader can’t see it until the spilt odour is choking him. Interview was dark. It was like the novels I read just prior to the Vampire Chronicles, in authors like Jeanne Kalogridis and her vile Prince.
Not one of my own characters, no matter how old, is a fully-fledged person. There is always room to grow. Always. Saskia D’Asur is older than the shadow that animates her, but she still hasn’t found her answers, and she keeps moving through time, trying to find reason. I suppose she even embodies the darkness I felt in Interview, the clammy fear, the brooding sincerity. She handles everything badly, everything wrong, but she keeps doing what is in front of her, in hopes that whatever comes next, will give her life meaning.
Lesson two: People look for meaning in religion, because without a God the world is terrifying, bleak and, well basically, meaningless. With no deity, there is no afterlife, and with no afterlife, what are we toiling for? Is everything for nothing in the end? Where do we go? Do our voices echo in our own skulls for eternity? I’m not sure it’s a question vampires can answer, but, I think it’s one that they’re more afraid of than any human. Why could Louis never end his “miserable” existence (we’re barring later books here)? Was he exaggerating about his anguish, or was it that much worse: after being immortal, death was less palatable than sleepwalking through night after night like a sad, old ghost.
Our characters struggle with religion. Human, vampire, whatever their physical attributes, religion is a harsh reality that is built on something they can’t see or verify. Not everyone believes. Not everyone has to. But the ones that do face their own challenges: defining evil, coming to terms with being evil, and fighting theistically evil intent. Evil is a very Christian structure, but Christianity is the forerunning religion of the modern age, and it features distinctly in the Gas Light Victorian Vamp setting of the Sanguinem Emere novels.
And the last lesson I learnt from Interview was, possibly, the most important one: A successful character, is a relatable character. Being a bloodsucking beast doesn’t make a character obscure, but being inhuman does. It’s difficult not to relate to Louis for all the reasons previously mentioned. Lestat and Claudia, however, on occasion behave with such monstrous abandon, that Louis’ horror seems perfectly well placed. Later on, from Lestat’s perspective, the horrors he commits seems almost justifiable, definitely understandable. And it’s a charming truth of all fiction, that a perspective character is not God, and that he can lie, if he chooses, and as the avid reader, we’ll never know the difference.
~It will be too long of a post to put each of the novels in here, but I will make separate blog posts for them. Hopefully one a day ~
Vampire Bibliographica is the pet project and author page of author and general wordsmith, Carmen Dominique Taxer. All articles posted here are written by Carmen, unless specified otherwise.
Secrecy and Vampires
If they existed, chances are we wouldn’t know about it.
What would be the natural result if vampires “came out of the coffin” today, and conclusively revealed their existence to mankind? We have many literary examples of this event in our milieu, notably the Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris. How would people react? In the Vampire Mysteries, the whole event is treated to some extent like a mass LGBT outing, complete with political television debates and rallies for and against, religious extremism and divided families. Would it be that blazé?
Why such an event would even occur? What would vampires gain from outing themselves?
Let’s look at possible benefits:
Outed, vampires can more directly influence policies to benefit them. I’m reaching, I can feel it. Whether or not they would be able to pass any suggestions into law is a pretty slim hope, because of simple mathematics. There are a lot more of us than there are them. Why would sheep accept and acknowledge the presence of wolves? And then go ahead and give them rights?
Maybe vampires want mainstream acceptance and love. They are (mostly) human after all. That might be fine for a paraphiliac in love with the Great Pyramid of Giza, because she is not likely going to eat you, after she eats your children. Would you love and accept something that must cause harm to the people you love simply to be? Small chance there then as well.
These are both slim benefits. The truth of the matter is vampires must hide to survive. The sheep outnumber the wolves a million to one, not to mention that the sheep are fanatically protective, religiously delirious, and above all heavily armed and industrious. The moment vampires are revealed as the apex predator, they cease to be the apex predator. For reference, see every predator that ever deigned to eat long pig.
An argument can be made for veggie vamps, such as the toothless muppets that make up the Cullen’s in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, but even there, the temptation is too great for any fanger worth his sparkles to resist for too long. When you’re immortal, eventually might as well be today. They seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. Besides, do you want to be the self-righteous vegetarian at a table full of full blooded, proud and suck-in-their-ways master hunters? You are already a pariah as a vampire, (the outsider is the point of vampire literature as an entity), why alienate yourself completely amongst the few peers that you might have? And wasn’t the whole of vampire kind bent on ruining the Cullen’s baseball game by the end? If I remember correctly, they were only saved by bad writing How it Should Have Ended: Twilight. So that’s not an option really. In the high-school clique that is the vampire social structure, the trend is to pick on the weird ones, and executing them if they seem like even the slightest threat to your eternal prom.
What would they lose?
How long would it take for the religions of the world to universally call vampires the agents of the devil? Is there a negative unit of time in existence? What then? Religion still has a lot of fans. I used the word “fans” because it’s the derivative of the word “fanatics”. There would be a holy target for the holy mother church to levy her holy hand grenades of Antioch at for the first time in centuries. On a rational note, every vampire in existence is a serial killer. Every single one. Even the ones that say they never killed anyone, for reference, read any vampire book, any. If the law can get to the vampires before the church does, the whole lot will undoubtedly be up for several life terms, which would be inconvenient. More likely, there would be some sort of worldwide vigilante mob storming every precariously positioned castle on every mountainside on earth. Humans usually kill for less than that. Daddies already want to put a bullet through that misbegotten boy on the porch’s fat head for wanting to stick his man-jubblies into his daughter, what wouldn’t he do to protect her from fang-rape?
So it makes sense for vampires to hide.
The kindred of Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem by White Wolf Games both build their society around a tradition of hiding from their food in what they sensibly term “The Masquerade.” In literature, at least some effort seems to be expended to hide the monsters from the outside world, with the notable exception of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles where indiscriminate prostitute killings in hotel rooms and vampire vocalists are more the norm.
However, even in cases like that, would a few bitten and bloodless streetwalkers be enough to out vampires to the world? Let’s say Lestat gets a bit messy and leaves the one or two evildoers per night for the cops to find. What then? Would a coroner, whose professional opinion is the difference between an innocent man incarcerated and a mass murderer free to go, risk the psyche evaluation that would result from a verdict of: “Yep, that’s a vampire bite all right. Incisors are the right length. Neat too, must be an old one.” Murders happen all the time, we’re a vicious enough bunch as a species to hide the one or two odd vampiric screw ups in a tidal wave of mundane cadavers. At worst, a serial killer or a satanic cult would foot the blame, and there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth, but no public outcry to take out vampire-kind once and for all. Even if the coroner was convinced of a vampire pandemic, would he risk his career, as well as all the cases where his opinion was used as evidence to convict real, human bastards, in order to out a mythological creature?
What if a vampire decided to out vampire-kind as a sort of suicide bombing of an entire race? To try and entice humans to eradicate him, and his ilk, due to terminal self-loathing? Do yourself a favor and Google “Real Vampires on Youtube.” At best, he will be patronized. At worst, he will be given air-time and mocked. I suspect that his fellow non-suicidal suckers might not take too kindly to it and deal with it in some manner. Let’s say our suicidal twit gets himself to a biologist or an anthropologist and convinces the poor sot that he’s real. Do you have any idea how long it takes to be published in an academic journal? Not to mention that the reply to the first thousand requests for peer-review would be: “Are you kidding me? Is this a joke?” In either event, it’s more than enough time for his non-suicidal fellows to apply PR-fu and make the whole thing go up in a torrent of ennui at the attention whore, where after he can be carefully disappeared into the Battycave Asylum for the Terminally Stupid (or BATS, for short).
Now let’s assume that vampires have the notion that it’s in their best interest to be secretive. Secrets are known to make it to the light of day, and mysteries have a habit of being solved. Humans are inquisitive little buggers. Tell a really juicy secret to one person and it might as well have been broadcast over the internet. It is for this reason that most conspiracy theories are bull. (How many people would be required to remain resolutely quiet to make the staging of 9/11 plausible? Probably more than one, thus no chance of that secret being kept.) But what needs to be taken into consideration here is that vampires universally have superpowers. They can read and alter thoughts, their blood is an aphrodisiac drug that enslaves, they are as strong as ten men and they live a long, long time. With multi-generational experience of hiding and a culture of secrecy, it might be impossible for us to ever know whether they exist.
However, accidents happen, victims escape, things are seen that beggars belief. What of those who meet a vampire and live to tell the tale. But would anyone believe them? Would they believe themselves? An entire field of psychological study is devoted to the ability of the human mind to repress painful, shocking memories, and to cope with them. Humans can survive horrific amounts of physiological and psychological trauma more or less intact. Over time, maybe the encounter with the dashing stranger that bit my neck in the midst of mind blowing sex might be remembered a little differently that what actually occurred. What if a group of people saw the same thing? Witness reliability and credibility is a sketchy thing at best http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness#Reliability and with the subject material so unbelievable, would they look at each other and wonder if they’ve gone down the deep end of Lalaland?
Vampires don’t have it all their way. Some strong willed people will remember, will hold on to the idea of what they saw was real, and it would make them not scared, but angry. They will not tell anyone, but they will look at the world differently. Soon, they will start employing that unique human attribute of creativity and will to try and solve the problem that only they have, to solve the problem that they know that there are wolves among the sheep. Daddy’s got something to aim his gun at now. For this reason alone, vampires should be picky eaters and clean up after themselves. You can never tell when your dinner will want to make a meal of you. These individuals will start frequenting hotspots, following up leads, listening to those who no one else will listen to, and start learning. They believe, and they’re pissed. For the vampire’s sake, they hope that the fledgling vampire hunter is impatient and strikes out unprepared when faced with his tormentor, so that that little error does not go nuclear. If the hunter is cautious, and patient, well, the strength of ten men is of little help if you’re caught in a septic tank filled with napalm at midday. Vampires would tell of other members of their immortal fraternity that got ganked by hunters because they left their toys out, and use it as a lesson to younger ones to always make sure that they take out the trash.
We might never know
Sadly, the odds are against us ever finding out whether our favorite predators exist. Their culture of secrecy, the implausibility of scientific proof of the supernatural, and even our own minds conspire against our ever living in a world where Lestat’s existence would be widely accepted. Poo. I’m a little sad now.
Vampire Bibliographica is the pet project and author page of author and general wordsmith, Carmen Dominique Taxer. All articles posted here are written by Carmen, unless specified otherwise.
When I was a little girl, I dreamt of vampires.
Never before has that line felt more appropriate. But what does it mean? When I was younger it meant that something was inherently wrong, a knotted psyche, a confused mind driven to sadism for amusement – a broken child that must be saved before it is too late.
“Too late for what?” You may ask. And to that I have no answers. It is a question which plagued me for over a decade. Why could I not love vampires in the liberation of my own preferences? Why must people glance sideways at me with concern, fear, and disgust? Had I opted for this? Was it a conscious decision on my part? I hardly think so. I don’t recall ever sitting by my book shelf, pondering what to read and actively deciding that I would prefer novels about blood drinkers over all others.
No. In fact, I recall quite clearly how I tried to stifle it. How it would sneak up on me and enthral me when I least expected it to, and my sub-conscious mind would recreate the vampire genre in my mind as I sat trying to ignore it. I would dream about vampires and wake up miserable that I could not shake the notion from me.
In short, I tried to squash the urge, I tried to shy from my nature, but it hounded me.
Now I choose to revel in it. And why not? In this society we embrace the vampire. We love him, adore him, make movies about him, write about him, and veritably wish him into our lives. Perhaps we even take it too far. But really, why fear something that has no basis in reality? Why be afraid of the urging within us that entices us to want that darkness?
It is a secure lust, a longing that will only lead to a surge of creativity, nothing more diabolical than that. Not the cataclysmic turn of events our parents expected when we were young.
When I was a little girl, I dreamt of vampires.
And I have done so every night since.
As vampire novelists, authors Richard T. Wheeler and Carmen Dominique Taxer have devoted a vast portion of their existences to the exploration of the vampire genre. This includes the implications that such a genre may have on real world ideals as well as human understanding and psychological stability. Their first book in a three-part trilogy, Bought in Blood, is currently published with Amazon.com and is intended to explore the literary vampire through the microscopic lens of what they refer to as ‘The Sangunem Emere Universe.’
Having revamped the series, “Nightfall on New Babylon,” the first in the new Sanguinem Emere series, is available through amazon.com
The intention behind Vampire Bibliographica is to give vampire enthusiasts a demesne in which to explore vampires, their origins, their future, and the genre they inhabit.