07 January 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Vampire is (un)Dead -- Long Live the Vampire! by A. Sangrey Black (H.A. Fowler)


Hi Everyone! Please help me welcome author A. Sangrey Black to Reading with Holly today! :)

I hear/read the mutters every day on blogs, forums, and in the press lately: vampires are SO over. The glut of the market begun by the TWILIGHT phenomenon has burned out a large chunk of the reading public. They don't care if they never see another blood-drinking, brooding, shadow-dwelling emo creature of the night as long as they live, and that vampire fiction is dying out, staked in the sun to melt/crumble to dust/burst into flames.
While it's true that the OMG VAMPIRES ARE EVERYWHERE fad has definitely eased, and sadly, a lot of publishers aren't quite as eager to scoop up any and all fanged fiction as they might have been a few years ago, I am here to tell you that that creatures of the night are here to stay. The fact is, vampire fiction (outside of folklore) has ebbed and flowed in popularity cycles since the generally accepted birth of the genre in John Polidori's early 19th century story, The Vampyre (believed to be based on an unfinished manuscript of Lord Byron's, called Fragment of a Novel). That story itself started a wave of vampire penny dreadful and novels  in the Victorian Era that included Varney the Vampire, Carmilla, and finally the seminal vampire story, Bram Stoker's Dracula.
The great birth of the 19th Century vampire left the Dracula myth as the most popular and the framework for much of the stories to come. Once within the 20th century, the gothic setting set by Dracula remained popular, but the popularity of the genre grew to the point where it began to slide into others, such as sci fi, fantasy, and modern horror. People loved the vampire so much that the alien, the fantasy creature, and the thing of nightmares were born from Big Daddy Drac.
Toward the middle of the 20th century, the vampire held a steady place in popular culture, more popular in movies than books. That is, until the late 60's sparked another literary vampire revolution, spawned by the Dark Shadows novel tie ins by Marilynn Ross, the epic historical vampire series starring the gentleman Saint-Germain by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (highly underrated, imo), and finally, the Great Lady of modern vampire fiction herself, Anne Rice of the famous Vampire Chronicles. Without the influence of these three literary mistresses, none of the romantic, erotic, or heroic vampires we've adored over the past 20-30 years would ever have existed.
Edward, you better bow down to Lestat. Seriously.
During the late 70's and through the 80's, we once again have a smooth status quo with our creatures that go bump. They went on in horror and science fiction, but gradually gained increasing popularity as romantic (especially gothic and romance novel) figures until the 90's, when another explosion came to both book and screen. Thanks to the increasing popularity of the nascent paranormal romance category and the advent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the hero/anti-hero figure style and pop culture flavor of the new vampire, another generation of fans demanded more stories all along the full range of vampire fun, from the terrifying, to the philosophical, to the just downright hot. From this, the late 20th century saw the birth of Urban Fantasy, an interesting combination of fantasy, horror, romance, and action.
Urban fantasy and paranormal romance have been the vanguard of our undead friends, and the TWILIGHT phenomenon was born within it. Like Harry Potter before it (sorry, Potterheads, I hate saying that too), popular culture was overwhelmed by the growth of a fandom to a degree never seen before. When such a wave of popularity rushes over the publishing world, they (and readers too) turn into the greedy, grabby, needy GIMMEE MORE creatures we see in vampires. Vampires were suddenly everywhere, good, bad, or indifferent. Every other new release was about a vampire, or contained something vampire-related. The craze almost single-handedly generated an independent existence to the previously small YA Paranormal genre (which is where the majority of paranormals have migrated at this time). Movies, TV shows, random references in unrelated media -- we were kind of trapped in an I AM LEGEND sensation of reality. Even lifelong vampire fans were weary of it all, probably because so much of what we were inundated with was crap.
BUT… vampire fans have not gone away. We have never gone away. When I was a kid, I got addicted to Anne Rice, and my entire reading life has always been in pursuit of new and interesting vampire stories. Sometimes I had to scour used book stores, beg friends, read the back cover of every romance novel to see if there was a vampire in it. Other eras (like the last five years or so), every book I ran into starred or involved vampire shenanigans, and the trick was talking to friends for recommendations so I could filter out as much garbage as possible. Didn't always work, but it was better than the random grab out of a section of hundreds of books. My TBR is already monstrous as it is!
We'll never go away. There's a group of us who not only remain dedicated to the vampire character in our reading, but who want to continue its development in our writing. Every theme under the sun can be explored with vampire characters, even if they're secondary, or predatory, or a vague background of downright evil. Maybe the press and the publishers have moved on to the next thing: angels, pseudo-BDSM, ghosts, demons, what have you… but we good, old-fashioned vampire readers and writers have always been here, and we'll always remain. Our market may shrink back to a backlist size, but I'd bet my shrinking royalty checks that they'll never truly go away.
If we haven't wiped them out in a thousand years… I don't see how we could do it now. I know I'll keep writing about them, and if I have to scour the shelves and beg friends again, I've got no problem with that! I'm a good, old fashioned, vampire girl!
Which may be obvious when you read my novella IF WISHES WERE SHADOWS. One of the major reasons I believe vampires have remained popular in literature is because of their flexible nature. Vampires can serve almost any need we have for them in a story: villains, heroes, sex symbols, mindless predators, the worst of calculating monsters, and every permutation therein. They can look exactly like you and I, or utterly foreign; live in the shadows, underground, or walk among us. I've always been fascinated by this flexibility, the inherent mystery in vampires. How as a writer you can make the vampires in your universe whatever you need them to be.
In SHADOWS, they are predators, living in carefully maintained power structures that work not only in their nightly mundane existence (if there can be such a thing), but in their sexual predilections as well. How much they mix with human society is an entirely individual decision, and how deadly they are in that arrangement differs as well. They do have rules about keeping their nature mostly secret, but there are populations of humans who know they exist as well, like hunters and those who interact with them for sex and/or blood.
Vampires in the SHADOWS universe are sexually flexible -- in every possible way. They don't choose lovers by gender, and they aren't restricted by what we western humans generally consider taboo activities. They do what they like, with whom they like, when they like, and where. The entire range of sensuality and sexuality is possible in their society, within and without of clans, families, and other permutations of the family unit. In this case, Adam and his lover George William have been "exclusive" for the hundred or so years that George William has been a vampire. They have had multiple lovers together and separately -- especially Adam, who has a weakness for human women, and tends to like to keep them for more than a night or two, George William, on the other hand, thinks of them as playthings… and sometimes has a problem even keeping extra lovers alive.
I don't want to give too much away, but Adam and George William's pairing changes when Adam falls in love with the human woman, Calinda, the main character of IF WISHES WERE SHADOWS. The exotic, frightening blend of love, lust, pain, blood, and sex that boils up in this story, I think, demonstrate one of the darker, hotter places you can go with the vampire mystique. They don't all have to be heroic, sparkly, sweet teen emos -- they can be barely reigned monsters who rule their dungeons with a velvet fist.
Thanks for having me today! And don't write off the vampire quite yet! They'll quietly creep around in the background of fiction as they have since the beginning of recorded human lore, and in another few years, maybe a decade… we'll be overrun once again.


***



Title: If Wishes Were Shadows
Series: The Shadows Series, #1
Author: A. Sangrey Black
Genre: Paranormal, Erotica, Menage (m/m/f), BDSM, Vampire,
Publisher: Cobblestone Press
Ebook
Words: Approx. 14,000

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Book Description:

Calinda Byer is all assertiveness in her daytime life, but when it comes to the bedroom, she leaves her will at the door with her clothes. Her vampire Dom, Adam Straton, refuses to turn her until she has witnessed the darker side of immortality and the true depths of his sexuality -- including his male vampire lover.  A weekend at his country estate promises dark, twisted delights the likes of which Calinda could never have imagined. All she has to do is use the safe word, and she can return to the "normal" world alone. But will she?


Excerpt:



 “Are you certain you wish to go on?” he asked.

Calinda grinned in spite the horror-movie air and his grim demeanor and nodded. There were no shadows dark enough that would keep her from taking this journey with him. Nothing she wouldn’t do if he asked it of her, just as she knew he would, if he hadn’t already tasted all of her secrets.

Satisfied, Adam took her hand, pressed a small switch on the wall beside them, and led her down a narrow set of stone stairs, now illuminated by a dim red light. The stairway curved sharply, and he was guiding her down and down forever, circling into the depths of who knew what. She had learned from experience that the border between the heavenly and hellish was very fine indeed. She liked it that way.

Calinda’s heart thundered, her stomach fluttering with nerves, and she relished each sensation, tucking it away in her memory like some women might keep tickets to a show she’d attended with her lover. She had been an adrenaline junkie since the day she was born. Instead of drugs, she far preferred driving fast cars, jumping out of airplanes, and dating ancient, sadistic vampires than pills or needles. This occasion, with its mysteries and uncertainties, was better than any shot of pure heroin straight into her system, and the vampire she loved was giving it to her. He had become so many things to her in the two years they’d been together, and adrenaline dealer had been one of the greatest of them from the moment they met.

She remembered with an electric shiver through her system the first moment when she realized what he was, when she invited him home knowing what he could do to her. The biggest charge of her life. She gave his hand a squeeze in thanks. No, she had no difficulty in taking this journey. There was only one thing that could be at the bottom of this staircase, spiraling them into the depths of the earth together: the darkness he kept talking about, made manifest. The deepest shadows inside him. She was so eager to see it she was already wet.

About the Author:


Alexia enjoys the darker side of entertainment, including literature from the classic gothic style to the modern horror novel, erotica and romance that walks in the shadows off the beaten path. She loves horror movies both psychological and gory, and nurses a fascination for and dedication to the rights and practices of alternative lifestyles. What two or more adults do in the privacy of their dungeon is her... rather THEIR business. Vampires are her great fictional (or are they?) love, but all things that hunt the night, human or otherwise, forever capture her imagination and demand that she tell their stories. A denizen of the Adirondack Mountains of New York, there are plenty of legends, ghost stories, and creepy happenings in the deep forests and abandoned caves to keep her writing for the rest of her life.

A. Sangrey Black also writes more mainstream paranormal romance and urban fantasy as H.A. Fowler. She loves to hear from readers of both styles, so feel free to drop her a line or visit her blog or Facebook.


Giveaway:

Enter below to win a Ebook copy of If Wishes Were Shadows by A. Sangrey Black + any eBook copy by H.A. Fowler, 1 $10 Gift Certificate from All Romance Ebooks + 1 eBook copy of If Wishes Were Shadows by A. Sangrey Black and Grand Prize: 1 "Naughty" Toys kit + 1 eBook copy of If Wishes Were Shadows by A. Sangrey Black - US Only. Ends Jan. 30th

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