[Vampire Month] Vampire art by Lauren C Waterworth

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Our final submission for Vampire month is this wonderful piece of artwork that has been kindly donated by artist Lauren C Waterworth. Expect to see more of her work in the near future as she has recently completed a commission for me to do the cover for Gods of the Deep which I will be showing sometime soon. You can also enjoy a piece of flash fiction by Lauren’s partner, Adam Tomlinson, that accompanies her work.

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“The natural light from the stars by the window were eclipsed while the beauty of her moonlight skin shone brighter than any candle in the hall.  As she drank from her goblet it was hard to tell if her lips were blood red from decoration, or from the liquid which she consumed.

While her features where the same as any woman, they were more perfectly structured, if not for her almost bat like ears she would have been the most attractive woman you had ever seen. Yet while any other woman would hide this unnatural aspect of her looks, this one pulled her raven hair back, insisting that any who wished to gaze on her should see everything, laid bare like a banquet for you to devour. Though like any banquet in a strangers home, you must beware of on what you dine. Be gracious, but keep you wits about you.”

 

 

 

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[Vampire Month] Vampire Fiction in the 21st Century by Zoe Adams

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Our last Vampire Month guest post for this year is from Zoe Adams. Here she talks about Vampires in the 21st Century.

I’ve read a few vampire books over the years. I essentially got hooked on them when I started secondary school, finding a group of friends who didn’t think I was weird because I read fantasy books. It was through these friends I found a love of rock music and found some lyrics Gothic, connecting to vampires – mainly during those teenage years it was Aiden, Marilyn Manson and My Chemical Romance.FacebookHomescreenImage

Listening to those bands now makes me want to write vampire fiction. Sadly, I’ve never got round to it, but it hasn’t stopped me dreaming or throwing imaginary barriers up against myself.

The main barrier in writing about vampires is the angle on which to approach them.

Young Adult vampire fiction very much follows a love triangle. Usually, the novel follows a female protagonist who meets a strange and alluring young man, who reveals that he is a vampire. Of course, this is forbidden love and we root for them to be together. Occasionally, a new breed of creature is thrown in, expanding the paranormal world entirely, and these type of books end up as a trilogy or a long lasting series.

Another take on it, is that our heroine, aware of the existing world of supernatural beings, falls in love with the vampire, and then has to choose between him and another supernatural, or the occasional human. Blood taking is usually involved and by the end of the series, love has won out. A cure has been found and they are happily human, or they are living together, forever youthful.

This is a common style of plot in the Young Adult paranormal fiction market, but it brings its problems with it. Mainly that these vampires are not real at all. The common debate is what self-respecting vampire would choose to spend time back at school, masquerading as a sulky teenage boy or girl? How does he or she manage the time at school – surely they must have to go into sunlight? What do they feed upon?

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer made young adult vampires her own, giving them sparkling skin in sunlight, and moving into a town that is nine times out of ten, gloomy, dull, dark and wet. This allows these shining beautiful creatures to walk in the daytime and interact with humans. The night still gives them the cover they need to chase animals, to drink their blood to sustain them.

Whether it’s my age, but I seem to be straying away from Young Adult vampires. I’m finding the plots predictable and the heroines dull and lifeless. The vampires aren’t even attractive to me anymore.

All these thoughts, opinions and impressions make me doubt my ability to write a new and stunning vampire novel, for young adults.

My other option would be to write an adult novel.

Whilst we have similar plot lines, the vampires are an entirely new breed. They are hunky, well built, dark, brooding creatures who have no qualms about drinking from a live human source. The vampires have been around for centuries and have learnt tricks of the trade – mainly that if they drink blood, they are able to flood it to a certain part of the body for pleasurable acts. More often than not, these carnal acts of love and lust are with humans, who find the act themselves sensual and a little bit scary.

jrw-cover-lav-big    J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood vampires are these kinds. They are a society, brothers in arms as they defend their race against soulless creatures which threaten their existence. They use weapons – swords, guns, anything they can lay their hands on. They drive fast cars with reckless abandon. You can see the human side of these vampires and at the same time appreciate that Ward keeps them on track. Whilst stories and characters overlap in the series’, these vampires hunt and live for the night. They are damaged by the sun’s light, forcing them to have tinted cars and metal blinds in their homes. They drink blood from humans when they need to and often the Brothers drink from the loves of their lives, who are not always human, not always vampire.

The vampires connect to basic human emotions – struggling with addiction, their own inner psychological issues and finding a true place in the world.

Either way we look at the argument, vampires are still heavily popular. Books like the Twilight series and the Black Dagger Brotherhood connect and bring readers together from all over the world, from all walks of life. Readers emphasise with characters, find their own desires and learn things about themselves that they have never learnt before. For example, in Anne Rice’s novel, Interview with the Vampire, readers see a side to bonds of friendship and love. It is often insinuated that the time that Louis and Lestat spent together, they became lovers. In further novels, Lestat is unabashed in this belief. The bond they shared went deeper than the connection of creator and subservient, and this represents the belief that homosexuality is not a curse.

Bloggers and reporters alike will argue about these books places in society, but what they have to remember is that vampire fiction has been around for years, and will continue to sell years later, as the young and old alike continue to read them.

Bestselling Author Zoe Adams
 
Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Hot Ink Press
Vamptasy Publishing
 
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[Vampire Month] Zoe Adams interview

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Today we have an interview with our final Vampire month victim and it matches this year’s theme of looking into the past as we welcome back Zoe Adams. You may remember Zoe from last year… let us see how things have changed for her since then.

1) The last time we spoke you were just finishing a course in Creative Writing. How do you think that course has helped you?FacebookHomescreenImage

I collected my degree in October – it was a really exciting day! I really think the course has helped me in numerable ways. I’ve got a much more thorough grasp on the world of publishing, how planning really helps. I’ve got a much more level head on my shoulder, and my work ethic has completely changed around. – much more disciplined now!

 

2) You have had a year out in the big bad world of publishing, is it different to how you expected it to be?

It’s scary knowing I’ve been around a year with my publisher, it’s quite scary. It’s extremely different. I have an amazing publisher and it’s more like a family. Everyone is supportive of each other and I’ve had the chance to see how others work. Whilst I’m not making millions, I am stable. I feel incredibly lucky to be in this place.

 

this is what vampire romance heroes don't look like3) What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to start out as a writer now?

Read and write at all times. I think to be a better writer, you have to read broadly and as often as you can. Whether it’s a genre you like or one you haven’t really tried, you’ll find it helps. Crime novels, I’ve found, are great for looking into characters, their backgrounds and motivations.

4) It has been a whole year since we last interviewed you. What has changed for you in that time?

A lot of things have changed! I have a Ba (Hons), I have multiple eBooks out and I’ve been featured in several anthologies. I’m broadening my horizons in what I’m writing. I’m definitely not afraid of trying new things.

5) You have been published several times in the last year, what are your ambitions regarding writing now?

My ambitions are exactly the same as they were a year ago. To read more, write more and be published even more! I want to create new books and characters, find new worlds. I’m constantly learning more things about myself and gaining new experiences as a writer, and I cannot wait for more.

6) What are your opinions on the Vampire in fiction, do you think it is ever going to lose popularity?

I honestly don’t think vampires will ever lose their popularity. I’m still an advocate of the genre and will avidly read anything with vampires in it. People will always be attracted to them. They may wain in popularity once a genre pops up and has its time in the best sellers chart, but vampires will always sell. People still want to believe in them and their powers.

7) Which writer do you regard as your greatest influence?

I’ve been influenced by a wide array of authors but Kelley Armstrong has definitely touched a part of my soul. A contemporary author, Armstrong has headstrong female characters who are so very human. She has a way with not only adult fiction, but young adult as well. She has multiple series, and I feel she is a very talented woman. I’d love to meet her one day.

Oh, and she has a vampire called Zoe too!

8) Which writer do you feel you most resemble in the way you work?

Oh that’s a tough question! I have no idea who I’d resemble in my work ethic. At times I’m very strict with myself, but sometimes I’mten silver bullets very lax. Gosh, I really don’t know!

9) Where do you feel you get most of your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere for me. Song lyrics, video games, dreams, family and my own past.

A lot of my short stories are inspired by lyrics and titles. Examples being, I’m currently working on a fairy short, inspired by the Finnish band HIM, and their song, ‘Wings of a Butterfly’. An erotic piece is from the America rock band Falling in Reverse, and their song, ‘The Drug In Me Is You’. Things just click and poof – I write.

 

10) What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on a Young Adult trilogy – the Twisted Series. They focus on a young girl who is connected to a demon. The first book, ‘Twisted Minds’ introduces our heroine, Talia, and her demon, Devlin. They are taken into a Care Home, where she learns she’s not so different to those around her. I’m really excited with how the book is progressing and what I plan to do with it. It’s a new change for me, working on YA fiction, but I’m really enjoying it, and I hope my readers will too!

Bestselling Author Zoe Adams
 
Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Hot Ink Press
Vamptasy Publishing
 
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[Vampire Month] Vampire Killing Kits – Real or Fake? by Jonathan Ferguson

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In today’s guest post, Jonathan Ferguson of the Royal Armouries in Leeds discusses the authenticity of the Vampire Killing kits.

 
In 2007 I wrote a blog post pretty much scoffing at the very idea of a ‘vampire killing kit’. During 2012, I published the definitive article on the subject in Fortean Times (#288), was interviewed for US TV about them, and found myself sitting at the back of an auction house in Yorkshire, actually bidding on one for the Royal Armouries collection. Why the change of heart? It’s not because I’ve gone from sceptic to believer. Let me explain. VKK-2
If you’ve never come across one, vampire killing kits are what they sound like; boxed sets of tools for self-defence against the undead. One thing we know for sure is that they are not rare. So far, I have documented the existence of 100 kits that either purport, or appear to be, real. What do we mean by ‘real’? Well, ‘real’ can be a tricky concept, but most would probably suggest that it means ‘old’. Some might also say that it would include genuine purpose, as in kits created to actually slay vampires. As all evidence points to an American or western European origin some time in the twentieth century, it’s unlikely that they were made by, or for, believers in vampires. The vampire is a Slavic monster, and belief in it was roundly scoffed at by the English-speaking world as soon as stories from the east began to emerge in the 18th century. We also know from folklore that vampires were killed with improvised weapons like gravedigger’s spades, not expensive specialist tools like this, and that historical ‘slayers’ don’t really fit the profile of the professional, pseudoscientific vampire hunter created by Bram Stoker.

The most common claim, often made by auction houses, is that they are period novelties, something to buy a friend before a trip to eastern Europe. This is certainly plausible, but even this is lacking in evidence. I have yet to come across any advertisement, letter, diary, or other connection to any known retailer or purchaser, though I live in hope! The only physical evidence we do have are the kits themselves, and it is remarkably easy to take an antique box, refurbish it with antique innards, and fill it with antique objects. Only invasive scientific techniques could begin to tell you how old the result really was. As each kit is different, for every kit ‘debunked’ there would be dozens of others to which the same conclusion couldn’t be applied.
To overcome this difficulty, I did two things. Firstly, I selected the most high-profile subset of kits and the first to be spotted ‘in the wild’; those supposedly made by ‘Professor Blomberg’. These kits come with a label and a more-or-less standard set of contents. Whilst the gunmaker mentioned on the label did exist, the good Professor was a fabrication. In itself, this didn’t point to a later date; these could easily be DSC01380Victorian or Edwardian novelties as suggested by those in the antiques industry.

The second weapon in my toolbag to assess the likely date of this group of kits was vampire lore. Whenever they were produced, the design of the kits would have been informed by the type of vampire and vampire hunter current when they were made. To sell to any customer, they would have to have recognition factor, to include tools known to the public. For this reason, I embraced fiction as well as folklore. I assessed each component, from stake to silver bullet, and determined when it first appeared in print or film. The most useful features proved to be the pistol, and the cross-marked silver bullets. Whilst firearms were recorded in folklore as a viable weapon against vampires, it was little known in fiction until the Hammer movies of the 1970s. Meanwhile, the earliest written reference to silver bullets against vampires was somewhat earlier, in 1928 (Montagu Summers), but no-one was talking about marking them with a cross until 1965 (an issue of ‘Penthouse’!).
This agreed with the historical and scientific evidence. The Mercer Museum in the U.S. had their kit tested and determined it to be no later than 1945. A London man, Michael de Winter, claimed online to have created the first kit in 1972 as a way to draw people to his antiques stall; I contacted him by post to confirm his story, though of course he may not have been the first. Finally, I researched the first written reference to a VKK1vampire kit, which turned out to be a militaria catalogue from 1986. This version of the kit was small, with all the usual ‘ingredients’, but the pistol was clearly the main feature. The kits seem to have become more elaborate in their casing over time. All of the dates I could come up with were late 20th century. I discovered that even some of the auction houses were selling kits as pieces of modern art, or reserving judgement on their antiquity, yet they were still selling for thousands of dollars.

So are vampire killing kits real? That depends. No doubt some have been created and many more sold in order to deceive, but if there are indeed no ‘real’ vampire kits, then it is not technically possible to fake them. After seven years of exhaustive research, I still can’t tell you that there’s no such thing as vampire killing kits. There are various ‘non-Blomberg’ kits that could easily be older. I do suspect that all of them are late twentieth century in origin, but I think they are important artefacts regardless. At the Armouries, our kit, however old it proves to be, lets us represent and talk about the hidden history of self-defence weapons that we could not otherwise, and has been a big hit with visitors. The kits reflect the real weapons used to ‘slay’ vampires as much as they do the fictional versions that we have all now grown up with. The only physical evidence that we have for supernatural creatures like vampires are the ‘deviant burials’ of people that may have been seen as revenants of some kind, and the stones or rusty pieces of iron that were used to stop them coming back. This fascinates us, but fails to meet our fictional expectations of what a vampire-slaying weapon should look like, and so we as a culture have addressed this shortcoming.  I think kit creator Michael de Winter was right when he told me in 2011 that he was ‘not making a fake, merely inventing an item’. Inspired by our own folklore; the classic horror movies of the 60s and 70s, we have invented artefacts of our beloved monster, the vampire. That has to be worth preserving.
IMG_6068Jonathan Ferguson is Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. His research interests include their use, effect, and depiction in popular culture. His sceptical interest in the paranormal is more of a hobby, stemming from the gift of a Ladybird version of ‘Dracula’ at a young age. However, he is especially enthusiastic when the two things overlap! He has made several television and radio appearances, including National Geographic’s ‘How Sherlock Changed the World’, and BBC Radio 4′s ‘The Lifecycle of a Bullet’.

The Royal Armouries holds in trust for the public one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world, from exquisite pieces of the gunmaker’s art, to the most functional military weapons, and from the medieval period to the present day.

Find the Royal Armouries on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Royal-Armouries/215812575369
https://twitter.com/royal_Armouries

 

[Vampire Month] Jonathon Ferguson interview

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Today we have an interview with Jonathan Ferguson, Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. He recently gave a talk entitled ‘How to kill a Vampire’ which I was lucky enough to attend and it was this talk which led me to approach him about a slot in Vampire month.

1) When the general public imagine a curator, I think they generally consider someone older and dressed in tweed. Have you ever found people surprised when you tell them your profession?
It happens less as time goes on, possibly because I’ve succumbed to a bit of tweed! But when I was an assistant curator at Edinburgh Castle I got that a lot.mug

2) What led you to study history and when did you decide to make it a career?
As far back as I can remember really. Indiana Jones was definitely involved! Along with a love of ancient Egypt and an interest in arms and armour, this led down the archaeological path rather than that of written history. It’s always been about the tangible, physical objects for me, though a couple of weeks in Somerset mud convinced me that museums were the way to go!

3) Who is your favourite personality from history?
Well, I should probably be referencing a firearms designer like Mikhail Kalashnikov, having been asked to comment on his recent death by the BBC. However, I think I’ll have to go with Harry Houdini, because whilst he ‘wanted to believe’ in the paranormal, but was also a sceptic and tireless exposer of frauds. I actually have a pet snake named after him!

Me pic with Winchester in Store 24) What is the most interesting exhibit you have handled?
I should probably choose something like a gun belonging to Henry VIII himself, our incredible combination axe/gun, or the experimental grenade launcher I’ve been looking at recently. But my inner geek says that it’s an original ‘Pulse Rifle’ from ‘Aliens’. Movie props can certainly be as valuable as antiques, and increasingly are being seen as important pieces of material culture in their own right. The vampire kit sits somewhere between the two, and certainly ‘up there’ in terms of interesting exhibits!

5) Curator of firearms handling a Vampire Hunting kit – how did that come about?
I began my research on vampire killing kits in my own time back in 2007, before I began to specialise in firearms. But they actually originate within my field, from the antique firearms world. I would categorise them with ‘firearms curiosa’, one of many weird and wonderful things like belt-buckle guns and flintlock rocket launchers (yes, those exist). But of course they are much more than that; a physical way to access the ephemeral world of superstition and the supernatural.IMG_6068

6) You’ve studied both the real world folklore and the fictional tales of Vampires – is truth stranger than fiction?
In terms of defying our 21st century, western logic, definitely. In western fiction, vampires are created by other vampires, or through some deliberate evil or magical act. Yet in folklore, you might be ‘turned’ simply by a cat walking over your dead body! Fiction tends to be a bit more consistent with its lore, even if it’s consciously trying to subvert it

What do you think is the attraction for Vampires? Why are they such a popular topic?
It’s probably the sheer number of themes that the subject lends itself to; threat, death, rebirth, consumption, power, and sex. All but the last are shared with other monsters that prowl our imagination, but only the vampire, particularly the fictional variety, gets to look good doing it!

Share your favourite Vampire story
I have lots, but my all-time favourite has to be the ‘Sonja Blue’ series of books by Nancy Collins, partly because it was the first present my now-wife ever gave me, in the form of the ‘Midnight Blue’ book of collected stories. Though never mainstream, I think it’s been very influential. Dark, gritty, and ultra-violent; the antithesis of ‘Twilight’!

In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?
I like to think Sonja would be up there, but I’ve a feeling Dracula would still come out on top somehow. After all, he always comes back!

What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?
Well, if we’re talking style, I think it’s Dracula again, as played by Gary Oldman. That’s thanks to those wonderful Eiko Ishioka costumes, from the fantastic red muscled wolf armour to the smart victorian suit and top hat..

Tell us about your latest work.
On the vampire front, I’m preparing for the ‘Seriously Staked’ vampire conference at Goldsmiths on March 8. In my day job, I am lead curator on the Armouries First World War project at Leeds. We’ll be providing more context and a more personal focus to the arms and armour of a conflict that defined modern warfare. There will be a physical exhibition and an online feature, both due to open in time for the August 4 centenary of the invasion of Belgium in 1914.

Jonathan Ferguson is Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. His research interests include their use, effect, and depiction in popular culture. His sceptical interest in the paranormal is more of a hobby, stemming from the gift of a Ladybird version of ‘Dracula’ at a young age. However, he is especially enthusiastic when the two things overlap! He has made several television and radio appearances, including National Geographic’s ‘How Sherlock Changed the World’, and BBC Radio 4′s ‘The Lifecycle of a Bullet’.

The Royal Armouries holds in trust for the public one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world, from exquisite pieces of the gunmaker’s art, to the most functional military weapons, and from the medieval period to the present day.

Find them on Twitter and Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Royal-Armouries/215812575369
https://twitter.com/royal_Armouries

IN THE SHADOWS, A VAMPIRE LURKS… by Megan Cashman

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Today we have a guest post from Megan Cashman, author of The Dark Proposal. Here she speaks about the social isolation of vampires.

IN THE SHADOWS, A VAMPIRE LURKS…

                Vampires are often portrayed as living apart from the human world. They have to avoid sunlight, and humans are their blood source. These creatures of the night tend to rarely interact with humans on a personal level, and if they do, their motivations may not be so kind.Image

Which makes one wonder: how would a vampire see the human world? They live detached from it, sometimes for many centuries. Even a newborn vampire would have to eventually let go of their emotional connection to humans so they can adjust to their new existence.

So what does the human world mean to vampires, aside from being sources of nourishment? I would think they obviously see us as being physically weaker, and maybe that would inspire a vampire to see themselves as superior, at least physically. That doesn’t seem avoidable.

What about our intellectual level? If a vampire has been around for ages, then it has consumed enough knowledge and possibly intelligence to outdo many smart humans. Now if that vampire is a dimwit, then it is a question if that can be cured after many centuries.

How about our emotions? I’m sure vampires feel empathy for their own, but it will be hard for a vampire to have much empathy for its source of blood. How many of us think of cows or pigs when we eat beef or pork? You might if you were a vegetarian or vegan. But if a vampire drinks from humans, then it could have the same attitude that we have toward the animals we eat.

This is why vampires can be such frightening creatures. They are definitely stronger, possibly smarter, and less emotionally inclined towards us. Depending on the vampire’s age, there’s a chance that spending centuries living apart from humans has decreased any empathy levels the vampire might have. It certainly doesn’t help if humans are its source of blood, and it certainly doesn’t help that a vampire has more strength and life experience to likely look down at humans. So, I would not be so surprised if a vampire is callous and even brutal towards humans.

If it were compassionate toward humans, I would wonder its age. Is it a few years into its vampire existence? Then it’s still holding on to its humanity. A few decades old? Then its probably being nostalgic. A few centuries? I would say that compassion is an act and I would advise anyone to think twice of ever spending a few minutes with that vampire. Unless, of course, it has enough age and experience to trick anyone into thinking it is not a vampire, and one with ulterior motives.

If you are interested in learning more about Megan, feel free to explore the following links:

Blog: megancashmanbooks.wordpress.com
Twitter: @MeganCashman
Facebook: Facebook.com/megancashmanbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6519000.Megan_Cashman
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009AL4RKE
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276775

[Vampire Month] Megan Cashman interview

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Our second Vampire month contributor is Megan Cashman, a New Yorker and former journalist turned author. She is the author of The Dark Proposal.

1)      What is the earliest memory you have of writing? What did you write about?

As a kid, I used to write about kids at school, and their everyday experiences. I was in first grade when I started doing all this, and I think I did it because even then I had fun creating characters. Image

2)      When did you decide to become a professional writer? Why did you take this step?

I wanted to write a book even as a young kid. It took a long time to take that step because I had other aspirations. But when I was one of many unemployed people in the world, I decided it was a good time to finally write that book.

3)      What would you consider to be your greatest strength as a writer? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?

My strength is that I have good insight as to what makes people tick. I also think I write scenes that provide good visuals for my readers. My weakness is when I think I may be boring my readers, so I end up cutting parts out that may be necessary for them to understand something. I also tend to be very wordy, so I have to do a lot of editing. I try to overcome my weakness by crafting a paragraph or sentence in a way that doesn’t sound very wordy or boring to a reader. I have to keep my readers in mind when I consider cutting out words.

4)      Tell us about the place where you live. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?

I was born and raised on Staten Island, NY. It hasn’t inspired my work yet, but The Dark Proposal takes place a great deal on Staten Island. I have some future ideas that are inspired by other places I’ve lived or visited.

5)      Which book, if any, would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?

That’s hard to tell because there have been so many. I do wish to write as well as Khaled Hosseini, because his two books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are written so beautifully. They also draw you in from the very first sentence, so I hope to do the same with my books

TheDarkProposal_Final_small6)      What drove you to write about Vampires?

They are so appealing! Their immortality, their seduction, their longevity, their power, their arrogance and their fears. There’s something about a creature that lurks in the shadows that makes it more appealing than other paranormal creatures, even though they have their merit too.

 

7)      What do you think is the attraction for Vampire fiction? Why is it such a popular topic?

It depends because there are so many different kinds of vampire stories out there. For some, vampires are the most seductive creatures. For others, they are the most frightening. But others see vampire stories as an opportunity to tell other stories as well. The film, Byzantium, comes to mind.

8)      In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?

Oh boy, that’s tough. Dracula is what really brought the creature into the mainstream. Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire humanized it, and influenced vampire stories today. It’s so tough to decide.

9)      What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?

I actually found Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be both sexy and well dressed. I think the accent helped. But hey, even Alexander Skarsgaard as Eric Northman is good competition for Oldman. Oh jeez, how can I forget Jonathan Rhys Myers as Dracula?jonathan-Rhys-Meyers-in-Dracula-nbc-ftr

10)   How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?

I think Daniel Bertrand, the boyfriend to my main character, will be tough competition for all three. However, once his true nature is revealed, his sexiness plummets quickly.

11)   Tell us the basic premise behind your latest novel.

The Dark Proposal is about a college graduate named Claire McCormick who thought she had the perfect boyfriend in Daniel Bertrand, until he reveals that he is a bloodthirsty vampire with the intent on making her one too. Frightened, she desperately tries to rid herself of him, only to painfully learn that he is too malicious to defeat. She struggles to come to terms with reality as she discovers how unstable the vampire world is in the modern age, and how some of them don’t realize how cruel Daniel is even to them. It is the first book in a trilogy, called The End of Eternity. I am working on the sequel right now, and plan to have it out later this year.

Megan Cashman is a former freelance journalist living in New York City. Always asking, “what if?” she turning toward fiction writing in order to explore our world, and many other worlds. Always analyzing and daydreaming, Megan looks forward to sharing her worlds with many others.

Blog: megancashmanbooks.wordpress.com
Twitter: @MeganCashman
Facebook: Facebook.com/megancashmanbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6519000.Megan_Cashman
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009AL4RKE
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276775

[Vampire Month] Interview with Isabella Favilli

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Here we have an interview with Isabella Favilli, a former graphic designer turned fine artist turned photography editor turned graphic novel artist…

1) What is the first thing you remember drawing or painting?
A horse, I was four and everyone was kinda impressed, my mom still has it.Isabella
2) When did you first think you might be able to make a living as an artist?
When I was choosing my high school at fourteen, the idea was to become a graphic designer but after graduating after 5 years I realized that it was not the kind of art I loved the most; Fine Art was more what I loved and althought I was not quite sure I could make a living out of it, I still loved to paint and draw, but it stayed as a hobby for a long time, there was not much work to be found back in Italy.

3) What would you consider to be your greatest strength as an artist? What about your greatest weakness? How do you overcome this weakness?
My greatest strength is something I have been told more than realized myself.
People often tell me that the people (fantasy or real) that I make a portrait of have eyes with a soul, they can communicate real emotions, which I think it is a good thing.
My weakness? I sometimes think I might not be anything special to stand out.
As for how I overcome my weakness, I try to listen to my heart and how it feels when I look at my art work, and I also listen to what other people feel about my work, see if they receive the message I was trying to put into it; sometimes we are our worse critic, but what’s more important to me is that my work makes someone feel something, even if it isn’t what I was trying to say, any interpretation is as valid.

Figurative Art is a bit like music, it can take people to their personal place and it does not matter if it is not the same as the one that inspired the artist, once it is out, it’s for everyone to see in it what they like. It’s not good to be stuck to your own interpretation.

Petrov

Petrov

4) Tell us about the places where you have lived. Have you ever derived any inspiration from your home or from anywhere you have visited?
I was born in Rome, Italy and lived there till i was twenty six, when I moved in Manchester, and after I had my daughter in 2009, I moved in Yorkshire.
I have visited many regions in Italy, Tuscany is one of my favourite and I spent a very long time in it, I found Prague very inspiring and Paris. I particularly enjoyed seeing The Impressionists in Jeux De Paume in Paris, because together with Caravaggio they are my favourite painters.
Being born in Rome has surely given me an input when it comes to the variety of Art I got to see live, but my favourite subjects are people more than places; I have however painted a scene which was inspired by ancient roman ruins, it is still one of my favourite paintings and my best friend has proudly hanged it in her living room, when I look at it I can almost smell the air of my home town.

5) What would you consider to be your greatest influence and inspiration?
I find my heart’s darkest places to be the greatest influence, pouring that darkness out has often helped me overcome the toughest times of my life.

6) What appeals to you about Vampires?
The are beautiful, immortal and merciless but some humanity still lingers in them. I like that battle behind their eyes: between their hunger and their feelings.

7) What do you think is the attraction for Vampires? Why are they such a popular topic?
I think there is something very erotic in them, and that battle I was talking about is often present in us humans. The instinct of our nature often battles against our feelings or our society conventions. I see my own struggles in them sometimes, I am sure many others do to.kiSS
And just imagine, being immortal and powerful, with great power of seduction, I think there is a lot to be attracted to.

8) In a fight between all the greatest Vampires of fiction, who do you think would come out on top?
Lestat: no one has killed him yet. He has been burnt, switched body, taken to Hell, taken to Heaven, loved, killed… he is around, as glorious as he has ever been.

9) What about in some other contest such as sexiness or dress sense? Who would win that one?
Dracula, from the movie Dracula 2000 by Wes Craven. I
have never seen a sexier vampire than the Dracula that walks in the Virgin
Store  in Dracula 2000. Gerard Butler totally got the sexiness of his character, even the Scottish accent suits him! Ok, I do have bias in this case tho…
Gary Oldman also did an amazing job as Dracula, the moment in the movie that he introduces himself to Mina is a total swoon, it is also my favourite Dracula movie, I have seen it more times that I can count and know it by heart.

 

10) How well do you think one of your characters would fare against the winner(s) of the above?
I am afraid my characters would not stand a chance between the most powerful and the most ancient vampire, but then again they would probably be willing victims. I think my characters secretly dream to be Lestat or Dracula’s eternal companion.

11) Tell us about your latest work.
It’s a vampire kiss, only the mouths are visible, are they gonna bite? Are they gonna kiss? There is a suspension there, open to everyone’s fantasy.

I also drew the characters from a novel called The Last Of The Blood, they don’t look particularly vampirish, but they are none the less vampires. I liked the story, written by Ninfa Hayes, and felt inspired.

[Vampire Month] Doing what you love by Isabella Favilli

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My name is Isabella Favilli and I was born in Rome in 1973, I moved in UK in 1999 and after spending nine years in Manchester I moved in Yorkshire with my boyfriend, my daughter and my pooch and lived there since. Isabella

I like to think about myself as born with a pencil in my hand, as I cannot recall a moment in my life in which I didn’t like drawing.

I can remember myself drawing as early as back to my first childhood memories; all I wished for were colours and sketch pads, I loved nothing more than to spend hours drawing the fantasy stories I created in my head.

I used to copy Manga cartoons, as they were incredibly popular in Italy back in the 80s and 90s.

At school I truly excelled in Artistic subjects so it seemed like a natural step when it came to my education to pursue my love for drawing too.

I always thought that I would have ended up attending Art Lyceum and then Art Academy, but when the time to make the choice came, I was advised to go for Graphic Design instead, because at the time it was a very sough after job and many schools in Italy were creating courses to be trained to such a career.

Nataliya_human I must admit, when I graduated I did leave with a much more refined hand and more expertise in various techniques but with hindsight, my first idea would have suited me best.

After spending a year working in a Graphic Design studio it became clear to me that Graphic Design was not my passion at all and that Fine Art was what I truly loved.

There was no room for an artist in the employment world, especially in Rome, where you are lucky if you get a cleaning job with recommendation. For many years I didn’t know what to do with myself but never stopped drawing just for the pleasure of it.

Eventually I gave up on making my talent a bread winner and left it for my pleasure only, I would just grab whatever job I could, and at some point I moved in UK.

I think I never really put the pencil/brush down for a long time, until I moved to Yorkshire and I became a stay at home mom.

I suppose I was too immersed in my new role that I felt like I really didn’t have time for myself, in fact at some point I felt like I forgot who I was.

I could feel I was unsatisfied with my life but could not really grasp why, until one random evening one year ago I found myself talking to a total stranger on Twitter.

This person had just spoken of how they totally moved from one career to another, doing what they really loved, they had described their feeling before deciding to become who they really wanted to be, and I saw myself in them: deep inside I was unsatisfied with who I was just like them had been.kiSS

So, I told them that, I told them I was feeling that way and I didn’t know anymore where I was going; they asked me what I enjoyed to do, and it came out as easy as a breath “drawing”, and I haven’t done it in ages.

Their reply to me was very simple and to the point “Then draw, do whatever makes you happy”.

It’s strange how sometimes, a random person can give you more insight to your true self that your own self, but that’s how I came back to my first love.

Together with drawing there is always been another passion/obsession, and that was vampires, so it is really no surprise my first subject after my re-awakening happened to be the character of Ninfa Hayes’ novel The Last Of The Blood.

KatrineI am currently working to turn the novel into a comic/manga, but I have noticed how  this subject seems to find me when I am planning to draw something else  too.

There is something incredibly sensual in drawing by hand, I cannot find the same feeling when I use a computer tablet or a graphic software. It is in the holding of your pencils, the brushing through the paper or the feeling of the colour, it is a physical sensation just as intense as a vampire kiss, not that I have ever been kissed by a vampire, but I guess the idea that I have of it mirrors sometimes my art: while consuming the graphite, squeezing the colour and spreading it on a piece of paper I create a new, strange immortal life, a bit like a vampire kiss.

I put my whole soul in any drawing I do, because most of all I draw for the love of it, and if it becomes my bread winner jolly good.

 

[Vampire Month] Isabella Favilli – Artwork for Bites

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The theme of Vampires is inevitably going to include some elements of the past so it is fitting that this third Vampire month includes links back to some of the previous ones. Not only has Isabella Favilli, today’s guest post contributor, already had some of her work featured on this blog but her most recent collaboration has been with Ninfa Hayes, one of our Vampire Month Alumni.

Isabella has been working on the artwork for a graphic novel adaptation of Last of the Blood, one of the two novellas Ninfa published under the title of ‘Bites‘.

kiSS

Last of the Blood follows the story of Damon, a soldier who becomes a Vampire and his long journey through history to the modern day. The following are some character shots Isabella has done in preparation for the graphic novel.

Damon, hero of Last of the Blood

Damon, hero of Last of the Blood

 

Lavinia

Lavinia

 

Petrov

Petrov

Nataliya

Nataliya

If you have read Last of the Blood then these characters will be familiar to you already. If you have not then I shall not spoil anything by revealing any plot secrets about the story or the characters. Suffice to say that the novella is worth a read and I am sure the graphic novel adaptation will also be of value.

Look out later in the week for more from Isabella…

 

 

 

 

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