Vampires: Potential Dating Material, or Blood-Sucking Animated Corpses?
Barton Paul Levenson
Consider how the legend got started. When there was no cure for tuberculosis, victims of "consumption" became pale, thin, and listless, and would finally die. With disease and injury rampant in a preindustrial world, deaths might occur in the family. If a TB victim dreamed of being visited by a recently dead relative, a preindustrial culture might conceivably dig up the corpse to take a look.
An unembalmed corpse a few days after death might look suspiciously ruddy, in the pink of health--because its capillaries were breaking down and leaking into the surrounding tissue. The leap to thinking Uncle John has been visiting little Nancy at night and sucking her blood isn't a great one, especially if blood is seeping from John's mouth, as it well might be as his lip and mouth tissue decay. Thus the legend of the vampire.
It became a thorough and complex legend, as documented in Bram Stoker's 1897 epistolary novel, Dracula. But mark me well--vampires were originally considered bad guys. Blood-sucking animated corpses, damned, out to damn all their victims. To be avoided. Thus a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox believer in vampires could use the crucifix, holy water, or the host to ward off a vampire. Folk remedies included garlic, white roses, the hawthorn, and a dog with a white "angel spot" above either or both eyes. And to kill a vampire, you drive an ash stake through its heart--and it has to be ash, or the vampire can pull it out again--stuff its mouth with garlic, cut off its head, place it face down in its coffin, and dump the coffin into running water.
But vampires, "the strongest of ghouls," are most powerful creatures. Twenty times as strong as humans; able to transform into a bat, a wolf, or a mist; with a certain degree of telepathic hypnosis which holds a once-bitten victim even at a distance. Kind of like a superhero--or a super-villain.
Fred Saberhagen's "The Dracula Tapes" (1975), a work of literary criticism disguised as a novel, first presented Dracula as a good guy. A year later, Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire" showed Louis de Plante du Lac as a tortured soul, the novel a view of damnation from the inside.
Why, if you think about it, the vampire is sort of like the biker who's a really bad kid, but has a good heart hidden inside, the kind of guy only your love can save! The transition to sparkly vampires you might want to marry, and the whole genre of "paranormal romance," follows inevitably sooner or late
So which do I prefer, sexy vampires or dangerous vampires? Or both? My first novel, Ella the Vampire, sympathized with its protagonist, but never pretended for a minute that her situation was a good one or that she was happy to be in it. My forthcoming novel, Dark Gods of Alter Telluria, has another sympathetic vampire--but again, don't think it's fun. My vampires aren't the completely depraved monsters of Bram Stoker or Stephen King--and, BTW, King's vampires are truly horrifying; check out the wrinkled-apple-like monsters in the Dark Tower series. But they're not ideal dating material, either. So I guess I come down somewhere in the middle.
Besides, drinking blood is just icky. I'm sorry, but it is. Period.
The Celibate Succubus
Barton Paul Levenson
Genre: YA Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Cover Artist Cassie Larish
“Team Packer” is a covert Catholic strike team against supernatural evil with a secret weapon in its arsenal: 16-year-old Delilah Vincentio—the world’s only Christian succubus. Trained by demons to despise humanity and lead them into sin, her unprecedented capacity for mercy caused her to renounce her place in Hell—and gain an angelic referral to Team Packer.
Delilah is assigned to infiltrate the Order of the Lightbringer, a Satanic cult that plans to make Pittsburgh a test site for the Apocalypse. After Delilah’s identity is almost discovered, Team Packer sends her to high school to hide out until things cool down.
But while Delilah may be reformed from her beguiling ways, she’s still very much a demon—and she hasn’t learned how to play well with others. In fact, trying to fit in and keep a low profile at high school may prove to be a tougher battle than bringing down the Order of the Lightbringer.
“The demons in Hell are secretly defecting and pushing their infernal realm towards Heaven in a handcart! This story kept me riveted from start to finish—a ride and a half !”—Adele Abbot, author, Postponing Armageddon and Of Machines & Magics
“His name is almost like mine, he’s no relation, and he writes a kind of YA Fantasy all his own. Fast-moving, knowledgeable, historical, spiritual, heroic, Barton Paul Levenson’s Celibate Succubus is good reading at any age.” —Paul Levinson, author, The Plot to Save Socrates and Unburning Alexandria
About the Author:
Barton Paul Levenson’s novels include Max & Me, Year of the Human, Ella the Vampire, I Will and Parole. Mr. Levenson’s short fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, ChiZine, Cricket, Cicada, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and many other publications. An original member of the Pittsburgh Worldwright’s writing workshop created by Mary Soon Lee, Barton has published more than 60 short stories, poems, and essays. He is also a two-time winner of the Parsec Short Story Contest.
Levenson holds a degree in physics and writes prolifically about everything from fictional works to radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres. He has also learned to speak French, Spanish, Russian, German, New Testament Greek, and Japanese (though, he confesses, not well enough to converse with native speakers). Mr. Levenson is married to genre poet Elizabeth Penrose and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he confuses everybody by being both a born-again Christian and a liberal Democrat.
For more information about Barton Paul Levenson, please visit his website:
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