Posts Tagged ‘vampires’


This novel spans several centuries, following the relationship of the two most iconic monsters in literary history. Once as close as brothers but now sworn enemies, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meet for a final showdown beneath the streets of New York City.
Night Things (Dracula versus Frankenstein) takes place in a world just like yours with one startling difference: every creature of legend has stepped forward from the shadow and they now exist shoulder to shoulder with humankind! New York City has become a macabre melting pot. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new immigrants and they are chasing the American dream. The Night Things have become part of the system. But many humans feel the creatures are dangerous ticking time bombs.
Dracula, considered the messiah of the Night Things, builds an unstoppable army as he plots to wipe humanity from the face of the earth. The mysterious New York crime boss, Johnny Stücke (the creation of Frankenstein) wants to keep the peace between the Night Things and humanity. Stücke fears total extermination of his kind, should Dracula unleash his forces on New York.
The fight for the night begins.
Critically-acclaimed horror author Terry M. West continues his Magic Now series with this standalone novel that presents a world only a slight shade darker than our own.

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Think “True Blood” in an urban setting, add a dash of “The Sopranos” and blend in a big-budget action blockbuster finale, and you have something approximating Night Things. The subtitle – Dracula vs. Frankenstein – alludes to the novel’s B-grade horror inspirations. The monsters don’t stray far from the commonly accepted rules; vampires still drink blood and are killed by sunlight, zombies still eat human flesh (although there is an interesting new “rule” added for the zombies that allows them to function for the most part in human society, and I’m not too sure about the Mummy…). The writing is fast-paced and uncomplicated, with the occasional acute observation to lift it above common B-grade horror fare. My favourites include:

“And the world has a way of making those who are different believe they are monsters.”

“I have no respect for someone who doesn’t recognize the value of a scar.”

The monsters have a certain degree of nuance to their characterization; Johnny Stücke is a beautifully drawn anti-hero (Mary Shelley would probably approve of how he’s turned out in the 21st century), and human Gary Hack is this messed-up weakling of a man that you still somehow can’t help sympathising with. Even the “bad guys” have convincing backstories that explain how they turned to the dark side.

Readers who enjoy this novel will be pleased to know that the second Night Things book, Undead and Kicking, is due out in a week and the e-book can be pre-ordered on Amazon for under a dollar.

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About the author:
Terry M. West is an American horror author. His best known works: What Price Gory, Car Nex, Dreg and his Night Things series. He is also the managing editor of the Halloween/horror website, Halloween Forevermore. He was a finalist for 2 International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi hot list for his YA graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire. Terry was born in Texas, lived in New York for two decades and he currently hangs his hat in California. www.terrymwest.com


There’s no scarcity of online resources advising authors on horror tropes to avoid, so it is perhaps ironic that I’m about to add to the subject with a post that might not contribute anything original. But hey – it’s my soapbox, and I’ll say what I wanna.

Back in 2012 I posted a list of character clichés that I see too often in the slush pile. This list adds to the ever-expanding list of things I see in horror fiction that are likely to make me pull a Simon Cowell. (My apologies to any author who pioneered these tropes. Imitation is the sincerest form or flattery, or so they say.)

  • The protagonist regains consciousness after a car crash.
    The general advice in all types of fiction is to avoid starting a story with someone coming to or waking up. Not sure that I’d go so far as to issue a blanket warning against all such story starters (especially since I’ve had published more than one story starting this way). It’s just that, with such a common beginning, the author might want to consider if the rest of the story concept is equally derivative.
    By Jpbarrass (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

    Watch out! There’s a zombie in the bathroom!

  • The protagonist walks into a strangely deserted convenience store.
    I don’t understand why or how this has become novice writer shorthand for “some seriously scary shit is about to go down”. If someone can explain it to me, please come forward.
  • The protagonist is dead, but doesn’t know it.
    Again – I have done this. Quite recently, in fact. But in my defense, my story has the protagonist – and the audience – become aware of this fact halfway through the story. It’s not a “gotcha!” ending, and the story has a different reason for being other than to reveal the protagonist’s demise. If this is the only point of your story, it’s not likely to be a strong contender for publishing.
  • The protagonist goes to some version of Hell for his misdeeds.
    A variation on the revenge story which is very rarely executed originally or well.
  • Something bad happens to a lawyer.
    See above.
  • A Satanic ritual goes wrong.
    Uh duh. Those things are designed to go wrong.
    By Rick Cooper (Marlette Lake Trail 2011  Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • A reclusive author/grieving person retreats to a cabin in the woods/by a lake/in the woods AND by a lake.
    Bonus cliché points if the lake contains something eeeevil.
  • Zombies in a supermarket.
    See “strangely deserted convenience store”.
  • Protagonist kills him/herself rather than become zombie fodder.
    Zombie stories in general, much like vampire and werewolf stories, are hard to write with originality  because they’re so popular in horror fiction. This is just one zombie cliché best avoided.
  • A devil (or The Devil) delivers a monologue that is meant to be funny (but usually isn’t).
    Usually these stories have the devil complaining about his working conditions. Because overworked demons are hilarious. And terrifying. Or something like that.

I’d love to hear your own undergarment-shredding pet peeves when it comes to horror fiction.


To celebrate the release of her novella Love Beads, the first in her Jane the Hippie Vampire series, Leigh M. Lane provides today’s guest post.

leigh laneLeigh M. Lane has been writing for over twenty years. She has ten published novels and twelve published short stories divided among different genre-specific pseudonyms. She is married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr. and currently resides in the hot and dusty outskirts of Sin City. Her traditional Gothic horror novel, Finding Poe, was a finalist in the 2013 EPIC Awards in horror.

Her other novels include World-Mart—a tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut—and the dark allegorical tale, Myths of Gods.

For more information about Leigh M. Lane and her writing, visit her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

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The Anti-Hero’s Journey

When Jane first came to me, I saw her as a mesh between the ’70s hit series Kung Fu and the early ’90s Canadian cult show Forever Knight. The premise: a flower child long displaced in a society to which she neither belongs nor fully grasps travels from town to town, both to escape her past and to seek redemption from it.

While Jane would prefer to see herself as the hapless hero—a victim of circumstance and a good person despite it all—deep down, she knows she’s every bit the monster that had preyed upon her nearly fifty years ago. She does her best to suppress it, to sustain herself on the scum of society, but she holds no illusions about the karmic debt that only continues to grow as the decades pass. She knows she’ll never even the scales as long as she remains among the undead, but she’s determined to find a way or die trying.

Like Kwai Chang Caine, Jane is on a journey of necessity. Trouble finds her, trouble she’d rather avoid, no matter where she goes. Her mind is trapped in the past, her perception of the world colored by who she is and how she came to be. Like Nick Knight, she clings desperately to the belief that there has to be a way to free her of her curse, and this belief drives her ever forward. Both Kung Fu and Forever Knight had lasting impressions on me growing up, both shows influencing me as a writer in different ways, and it’s been an enjoyable experience piecing together elements of both into a series of my own.

 About Love Beads:

She’s broke and homeless. She’s a vegan. She’s undead.

Jane has had one hell of a time ever since she bumped into the wrong guy during the Summer of Love, but she’s taken it all in stride. Wandering from town to town, she seeks out the needy and the broken in hopes of breaking the curse that’s left her bloodthirsty and forever seventeen.

In Love Beads, Jane crosses paths with a middle-aged man who’s encountered her kind before—but he seems happy just to have the company. Of course, appearances can be deceiving, and his secret might just prove to be the end of her.

the hippie vampire

 

Excerpt:

THE LATE AFTERNOON SUN negated any relief the light breeze might have offered, and the mottled shadow cast by the massive oak tree stretching overhead wasn’t much more helpful. Jane slumped on a park bench, dozing on and off, a wide-brimmed hat and boxy sunglasses obscuring her face. Her backpack sat beside her, one arm threaded through the shoulder straps to deter potential thieves, and she crossed her legs at the ankles. She wore a ragged pair of blue jeans and a Doobie Brothers tee shirt so old the applique had cracked and faded beyond recognition. Her bare feet were calloused and in desperate need of a good scrub.

She’d find a decent place to crash soon. There was at least one Good Samaritan in every town, and they were usually easy enough to spot. Patience was the key. That—and a practical sense of when the local heat had decided she’d overstayed her welcome. Hanging around anywhere long enough to be recognized was a bad thing. Recognition led to suspicion, which led to a slippery slope that began with harassment and ended with the gas chamber. She’d seen it happen before, and it was a pretty hellish fate for those on the difficult side of killing. There was no respectable place left in this world for vampires, not at least that she’d found, and it was not at all hospitable to a burned-out flower child who couldn’t seem to pull her head out of the sixties.

A handful of adolescents infiltrated the park, putting an end to the peaceful quiet she’d been fortunate enough to have enjoyed for the last couple of hours. The disruption had been inevitable, and she took it in stride despite her exhaustion. She sat upright, watched the kids play flag football for a few minutes, and then donned her backpack and made her way to the sidewalk. It was a sunny day, not at all comfortable, and the heat instilled an aching desire to curl up on the side of the street and slip quietly into a coma. Such extended exposure would undoubtedly do just that—before it reduced her hide to burnt leather—so she moved as quickly as her sluggish legs would take her to the shady overhangs of the buildings across the street.

The town she’d found herself in was small and quaint, with boutiques and small shops packed within a tiny radius. The smell of fried food permeated from a nearby greasy spoon. She considered going in, but she only had a few bucks and some change on her. Moreover, a diner was far from ideal for mingling with the locals. Mingling was the objective; luxuries like food—“people food”—were secondary.

Not like food wasn’t a necessity in its own right, just like water and doobage. A girl could only go so long without her doobage. Life was mundane enough as it was. A little variety, beyond blood type, was all that stood between her and insanity.

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Love Beads is available on Kindle for .99: http://www.amazon.com/Jane-Hippie-Vampire-Love-Beads-ebook/dp/B00L0J8ROQ