Monday, August 01, 2011

Guest Blog - Caroline Barnard-Smith

Some time ago I reviewed Caroline Barnard-Smith’s novel Dunraven Road. Caroline is currently on a blog tour promoting her new novel Jinn Nation and as part of that tour has produced a guest article for TMtV, look out for the Giveaway after the article.

Have Vampires Lost Their Bite?

Fictional Vampires started life as true hide-behind-the-sofa, sleep-with-the-lights-on monsters. They stalked their prey with the menace and skill of any practiced serial killer, inspired by real life butchers such as Vlad the Impaler and the Blood Countess herself, Elizabeth Báthory. Dracula, the granddaddy of the genre, was able to hypnotise his victims and could shapeshift at will.

Now though, vampires have feelings. They feel bad about killing people; they fall in love at first sight. They sparkle. And let’s not forget the way they look. Although able to disguise his ugliness, in reality Dracula was little more than a walking corpse.

So what happened? I think Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire might have been the turning point. It was published in 1976, a mere year after the publication of Stephen King’s far more traditional take on the vampire tale, ‘Salem’s Lot, yet the difference in style is dramatic. Interview is told from a vampire’s point of view, for a start. This is all too common now but back then it was practically unheard of. The tragic story of the vampire Louis is as darkly beautiful as it is sad, but it was his remorseless mentor Lestat, who stole the show. In the second volume of The Vampire Chronicles, The Vampire Lestat, we learn that far from being a two-dimensional monster, Lestat can be as sensitive as he is vain. He understands his own nature and doesn’t mourn the lives he has to take to sustain himself. Maybe it’s the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan in me, but it’s this middle ground of the anti-hero that drew me to vampire fiction. The vampire is still a monster but he (or she) can also be the star. That’s why I created Dylan, my very own vampire anti-hero. Dylan has a monumental appetite. He loves to hunt and he loves to eat and he’ll never feel guilty about the lives he’s taken, yet he’s capable of falling in love, he’s fiercely loyal to his friends and he has a wicked sense of humor.

So the literary vampire has been on a long journey, enduring quite a few transformations along the way; from villain to anti-hero to out and out hero. Because a hero is essentially what he has become, at least in the tween-embracing world of the sparkly, glossy haired vampire, anyway. Now vampires don’t even bite people or drink blood, let alone stalk their chosen victims or sleep in a coffin. In these modern novels, the vampire is the victim, cursed with what Dylan calls (albeit sarcastically) a “debilitating blood addiction” that they fight to keep under control. I personally can’t find much to like about these vampires. Even the more adult-orientated novels such as the Sookie Stackhouse series contain vampires that seem tame and diluted to me. They just don’t have any fun, a sentiment I know Lestat would agree with.

At least I’m not the only one who prefers vampires with a bit more bite. For the last decade, traditional publishers seem to only have been interested in the sparkly kind of vampire. The wonderful thing about the rise of indie publishing is that authors who haven’t written a love story involving a vampire, who have created an undead character who could give Dracula a run for his money, actually have a chance of reaching readers. You’ll always be able to find vampire romance novels, but now fans of the genre actually have a choice. So maybe not all vampires have lost their bite, maybe they just bite in different ways.

Giveaway: Three lucky winners can win an e-version of Jinn Nation by commenting on this post, greeting Caroline or asking her a question. Please ensure you leave an email contact detail with your comment. A winner will be drawn out of the hat on 8/8/11. For those not lucky in the giveaway the e-book is at a bargain price of $0.99 or £0.95 via the links below.

Bio: Caroline Barnard-Smith has been writing stories since she was five years old. Having graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, she now lives in Devon, England with her husband and baby daughter where she writes about ruthless vampires, lovelorn zombies and heinous blood cults.

Her short stories have been published in numerous small press magazines, including Ballista, Hungur and Night to Dawn, and on the web at Dark Fire Fiction.

Caroline’s debut dark fantasy novel, Dunraven Road, was published by Immanion Press in June 2009. For various exciting reasons she’s since turned her hand to indie publishing. Jinn Nation is her first full-length independently published novel.

When she’s not writing, Caroline is busy running her handmade craft business, CazzCraft, selling both online and at craft fairs.

Jinn Nation on the road


Clark49 said...

Have to be honest...............prefer my vampires as dark feral creatures. the sparkly vampire with "feelings" is more apt to make me avoid the novel/film than encourage me to shell out my hard earned.

Bring back the dark side of the genre please

Count Orlok said...

Excellent article! I personally prefer my vampires to be soulless, heartless monsters with no redeeming qualities. A lot of people have used the term "predator" to describe them, as though the vampire were some sort of wild animal, but "disease" is more accurate in my own honest opinion. To me, falling in love with a vampire makes as much sense as falling in love with a cancerous tumor.

I've watched loved ones waste away and die, as I'm sure most people have, and it's never a positive experience. The vampire, at its core, is an instrument of that. No matter how developed a character may be, I can't help but be horrified upon their death at a vampire's hands. It's always someone's loved one, or spouse, or child. They had a life, however fictional it may have been, and other fictional people loved them. So, it's hard for me to feel sympathetic for a vampire who would take those lives without batting an eye.

And that's how I prefer it. Cancer doesn't discriminate. Why would a vampire? One might say that a vampire has some innate humanity left, while a cancer would not, but then where is the line between human and monster? This opens quite the can of philosophical worms, really, which is a goldmine for storytellers.

If there's anything I've learned, it's that complaining about the things you hate won't result in more things to love, so I fully support any movement to get the word out on quality vampire fiction. I'm not one to dwell on the terrible things I've read (I won't name names, but it's not hard to guess). I'd rather spread the word on the good stuff. That, more than anything, can help bring vampires back to their former glory. In short, you can scream about an open wound all you want, but it won't make it heal.

With all that said, I'm thankful for this blog, and for anyone who's willing to support the good stuff. If we spread the word far enough, who knows what could come of it? After all, the dead travel fast.

Team Swish said...

I have always been picky with my vampires....For example I loved Salem's Lot....I have always been on the lookout for another book with a similar scenario (Like the movie Dark Town)...I tried Anne Rice's books and I have never been a fan. I have never read or watched anything Twilight.

Clark49 said...

by the way................forgot to say Hello Caroline, enjoyed your guest blog :)

Tom Olbert said...

Great article. I agree that vampire fiction is better when its on the darker side, as it was meant to be. I agree also that the vampire as anti-hero can be quite compelling. Vampires can make excellent avenging dark angels, empowering victims of human cruelty to rise up and feed on their predators. If I may be allowed a self-promoting plug...In my vampire novelette "Unholy Alliance"

the vampire is both victim and victimizer, having both a cold predatory side and a longing for love. There is a budding forbidden romance between vampire and vampire hunter, but it is set in dark places where human evil rivals that of the vampire.

Congratulations, from a fellow writer of vampire fiction, and best of luck with your literary endeavors.

Taliesin_ttlg said...


I have just been to and had three numbers picked for the winners who are Count Orlock, Clark49 and Tom Olbert.

Commiserations to Team Swish.

Unfortunately I did ask for contact details, so if I could ask all three to email me at taliesinloki (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) uk with a contact detail and I'll ensure Caroline gets the winners details