Monday, July 19, 2010

Going Back to Horror's Roots

A good case can be made that science fiction and horror were born together during a retreat in May 1816 and two of Britain's great poets were there for the occasion. The poets were Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Lord Byron's doctor, John William Polidori, and Mary Godwin, who later married Percy Shelley, accompanied them. During the course of the retreat, a challenge was issued to create the scariest story possible. Mary Godwin's story was Frankenstein, which has elements of both horror and science fiction. In fact, many see Frankenstein as the very first science fiction novel. Another story that came out of that retreat was The Vampyre by John Polidori. Though it's not as famous as Frankenstein, The Vampyre strongly influenced Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula.

My own writing owes a lot to that retreat in 1816. I've been a fan of vampires since I first read Dracula when I was ten years old. My interest grew in the 90s, when I first worked at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Several of us who operated telescopes called ourselves the "vampires of the mountain" because we were only seen at night. I discovered such writers as Anne Rice and Suzy McKee Charnas around that time. A few years later, a friend of mine, Janni Lee Simner, was visiting me at my home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Las Cruces literally means the city of the crosses and Janni pondered what a vampire would do in a town where there were crosses absolutely everywhere. She wasn't interested in writing a vampire story at the time, but said if I came up with a story to go with the idea, I was welcome to it. A few weeks later, I wrote the story "Vampire in the City of Crosses", which sold soon after to Margaret Carter's magazine, The Vampire's Crypt.

In Mary Shelley's novel, the central problem is that Dr. Frankenstein has created new life without fully understanding the consequences. As my vampire stories evolved, I began exploring that same idea and ultimately, the novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order was born. In the novel, a group of vampire mercenaries go up against scientists who are trying to create a new breed of vampires that can be used as super soldiers. I'm currently working on a new novel that tells how the vampires of the Scarlet Order came together called Dragon's Fall. It will be coming soon from Sinful Moments Press. Keep an eye on my blog at for news about this project.

Just as Mary Shelley benefited from the company of Lord Byron and her husband Percy Shelley I have benefited from working with other writers. One in particular, is Lee Clark Zumpe, who shares my passion for vampires. Over the years, Lee and I admired each other's works in magazines such as The Vampire's Crypt, Night to Dawn, and Blood Samples. About a year ago, Lee and I pulled several of our vampire flash fiction pieces together into a collection called Blood Sampler: Subtle Sips and Spicy Shots and the book is now available from Sam's Dot Publishing. It can be purchased at

Since science fiction and horror were born together, it seems fitting to publish them side-by-side. When artist Nick Rose suggested that LBF Books publish a horror magazine and recommended me as editor, I couldn't help but suggest that the magazine also include science fiction and fantasy. That magazine is Tales of the Talisman and even though it's no longer owned by LBF Books, it's still thriving six years later. You can learn more about the magazine at

I hope you've enjoyed this sampling of things I'm doing and how they are tied to one of the great moments in science fiction and horror history. I hope you'll take time to visit me at

Thanks for having me, Hannah. I enjoyed stopping by to visit you and your readers.


  1. Very cool. It all sounds exciting. :)

  2. Thanks again for hosting my guest blog, Hannah. Appreciate the feedback, Saranna. I'm just back at the computer after a road trip from Seattle to my home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Feel free to keep the questions and comments coming -- I'll check in periodically over the next few days. Best to all --