Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Review of Nina Auerbach's OUR VAMPIRES, OURSELVES.

My investigation into the history of vampire fiction continues with a side trip into Nina Auerbach's study, Our Vampires, Ourselves.

Auerbach (1995) Our Vampires, Ourselves

Essentially, this scholarly work explores the evolving nature of the vampire from its first appearance in English literature in the early 19th century through the final decade of the 20th century as well as the impact film had upon this development; all in four densely packed chapters. In the commentary to follow, I would like to touch on a few of the salient points of each chapter and highlight the changing development of the vampire in literature and popular culture. It is essential to keep in mind that this work was published in 1995 and thus any related material, print or film, subsequent to the early 1990s was not included.

Auerbach TOC

Auerbach lays the foundation of her work with a discussion of Polidori's (The Vampyre) Ruthven, Rymer's (Varney, the Vampyre) Count Varney and Le Fanu's (Carmilla) Carmilla as characters and how they interacted with the other characters. The strong same-sex relationships (close though not necessarily intimate) reflect a time when such was viewed as less threatening, albeit still not acceptable. Also noteworthy was the fact that it was the light of the full moon that was the source of healing and immortality for the vampire and not blood, which was simply nourishment. Sunlight had little or no affect on them.

By the late 1890s, there had been a shift in popular perception of vampires, in no small part to changing attitudes concerning close same-sex relationships, platonic or otherwise. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for two years for homosexuality. In 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker was published. Reflecting the times, Stoker was very careful to not include close male-to-male relationships of any kind in Dracula. Conversely, in the story, women who were outside the bounds of strict society (or not under a male's influence) were seen to be wicked, immoral and evil.

In the 1930s film took the lead in the presentation of the vampire primarily through Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula. However, vampires in cinema first appeared in 1922 (1929 in the US) with the release of the German silent film, Nosferatu. In this film, for the first time, sunlight was lethal to vampires. By the 1930s, Lugosi's Dracula emphasized the vampire's "other-ness." His interpretation highlighted the contrast between the old world of Europe and the new world of America. It also marked the establishment of the caricature of the figure of Dracula with flowing cape, overly dramatic moves and such.

Beginning in the late 1950s through the 60s and early 70s, under Hammer films, the representation of vampires began to shift again. The idea of sunlight destroying vampires became entrenched; while moonlight offered no benefit at all. Here as well, same gender relationships were non-existent. By the mid 70s, literature took the lead with Stephen King's Salem's Lot and Anne rice's Interview With A Vampire. Vampires became intelligent beings again, rather than merely beasts obsessed with biting.

Through the 80s and early 90s, the idea of drinking blood became more . . . suspect; even in fiction. This was the result of the advent of the AIDS epidemic that lead to a cultural swing toward conservatism.

Overall, this study offered a provocative re-examination of the evolution of the perception of the vampire through popular culture.


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Sunday, November 6, 2016

CLOCKWORK. Carmilla: The Series Fan-Fiction in Trade Paperback!

For a long while now, I have been a supporter / reader / enjoyer of the literary phenomenon of fan-fiction. I have even tried my hand at writing a few times, but never had the guts to post it. For the past year or so, I have been a follower of the Canadian web-series, Carmilla: The Series as well as the resulting fan-fiction found on archiveofourown.org.

One of my favorite works of fan-fiction is Clockwork by Muse92 (a.k.a. Tash Morgan). Clockwork is a flower shop AU[*] based on the characters from the web-series. Very basically, the story is Carmilla, who works at a flower shop and Laura, who is a reporter for the local newspaper find love and happiness with each other. But life is never that simple.

I have to say that I really really enjoyed this work of fan-fiction.

Clockwork comprises 33 chapters and is over 100,000 words in length. The first chapter was released on Archive of Our Own on November 2, 2015 and the concluding 33rd chapter on August 2, 2016, with an author's note and special offering on September 9, 2016 as a 34th part.

I want to talk about the September 9 author's note. It is reproduced below:



Hi Guys –

Just a quick update about the physical version of Clockwork

Since nootvanlis’s post on Tumblr about receiving their copy I’ve had quite a few people ask me if I have any physical copies left – unfortunately I have run out of the batch I had made up for myself and they have been (or are soon to be) posted.

I have however looked into the website I ordered them through and have been able to make it available to purchase in a way that doesn’t result in any revenue for myself. The book is only available by the direct link below and the cost is $8.13 (I think this is in USD but don’t trust me on that) – that is for the cost of having the book printed by the company. Then you will also have any shipping charges on top of that.


Obviously any books ordered through that link will not be coming directly from myself and won’t have a little hand–written note on the inside cover like the 18 lucky people that managed to get in early enough for my batch. If some of you would like this (although I’m not sure why you would) please send me a message via Tumblr and we can work something out.

So again – if you want a physical copy and haven’t got the confirmation from me on Tumblr (wontyouinspireme or flowersinmyapartment) please use the above link.

And super re-iterating – I am not making any money off this, the price covers the printing only and then add in shipping costs.

Thank you all again for your love and support for this story. Much love.

Tash (Muse92)


To celebrate the completion of her story, the author printed through Lulu.com, at her own expense, a small number of copies of Clockwork to give to a select few. The response was so positive that the above note was necessary and the author made it possible for anyone to order the printed version of Clockwork from Lulu.com. Once I had read this, I was more than happy to order the book from Lulu.com.

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Please remember, this is a printing not a publishing. This work is not published nor even self-published. If it were, it would violate copyright. Also, as the author, Muse92 (or Tash Morgan as the book reveals), rightly points out, she makes no money on this. Those who order the book pay for printing and shipping only. The author makes nothing.

Aside from a little more than a few editing slips, this physical book is a wonderful tribute to an exemplary work of fan-fiction. I strongly recommend purchasing Clockwork, especially if you are a fan of Carmilla: The Series and enjoy fan-fiction. Having a physical bo0k in my hand while reading a work of fan-fiction was a new experience for me.

I liked it.

I would like to experience it again.




Once again here is the link to order the physical copy from Lulu.com:




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[*] Typically, fan-fiction continues the story of the original work (a.k.a. "canon") - whether book, film, TV or web-series. It can explore what happened after, before or even along side the canon storyline. Fan-fiction can also take a name or event perhaps mentioned in passing in the original and tell that story.

AU stands for "alternate universe." In fan-fiction, this genre allows the author to explore themes, issues and situations more freely by varying the particulars or shifting the situations that the characters experience. For example in Clockwork, Carmilla is not a vampire. Nor is there a single supernatural element. Though the base personality traits of the characters are preserved.

In other fan-fiction, the nature of the characters' inter-relationships may be altered. As well, the age of the characters may shift. For example, Laura may be older and in a position of authority over a younger Carmilla. However, the appearance of the characters are set, for the most part.

Of course, these are only a couple of examples. All of this is completely up to the whim of the fan-fiction author. This is an "alternate universe" after all.