Category Archives: vampires

Van Helsing, Not Just Another Vampire Story

Abraham’s Boys  by Joe Hill  (2004, first published as The Many Faces of Van Helsing)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    May 9, 2017

 

 

A place that smelled of bats. 

Are you a vampire story fan? Strong enough to handle serious horror? Is one of your favorite fictional characters Professor Abraham Van Helsing? Then you’re are going to love Joe Hill’s Abraham’s Boys.

This 35-minute read gives you a taste of Dracula, a father’s forbidden study, and the loss of boyhood innocence. While I’m not a hard core horror fan (I don’t read high horror much, and my own novels are written in more supernatural elements of ghostly powers, aka ‘quiet horror’), I could appreciate this vampire story as high quality, well written, with the sweetness of terror.

 

 

Read Abraham’s Boys  at FiftyTwoStories.com .

 

Listen to the audio (40 minutes) read by Miss Murder on YouTube.com

 

 

 

 

More of Joe Hill’s short stories in his collection of 20th Century Ghosts.

 

 

 

Joe Hill is a novelist and the son of novelists Stephen and Tabitha King. Hill won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection and the British Fantasy Award.

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. Join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds  Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

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The Annotated Dracula, A Close Reading Strategy

Dracula by Bram Stoker, Annotations by Mort Castle (Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics)  [And The Annotated Jane Eyre]

Book Review and Commentary  July 5, 2016

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If you’ve never read an annotated novel, that is a close and intimate read of the story, you’re missing out on a highly instructive look inside the mind of the writer. In this case, Bram Stoker.

Annotated novels are like a mini course in storytelling and create a deep understanding of fiction from all aspects. Mystery, suspense, and horror writers, this annotated version of Dracula explores the clever structure, techniques, themes, characterization, plot, setting, and dialogue of the most famous and esteemed novelist of our time.

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Mort Castle, a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award and recipient of the Black Quill Award has been in this writing business for some fifty years and has published novels, short stories, articles in the horror genre. So his expert analysis of Dracula is not only a formidable task but a comprehensive one.

I began reading this annotated version because I wanted to get into the head of a mystery writer of the occult. Who better than Bram Stoker.? Some readers today find Dracula (written in 1897) to be melodramatic, overwritten, and dry at times. When I first read it many years ago, I did find some of that to be true.  So, what will you as a writer gain from reading this annotated version? Or as a reader?

Begin here:

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In epistolary fashion, Stoker opens the story almost in medias res.  Mort Castle points out where and how Stoker seeds the suspense elements into the opening narrative. It is a skilled use of understatement and linking of the supernatural into the real world. And I didn’t see it until Castle discusses it in his marginal red notes.

Castle goes on to isolate the layers of the suspense within the text, identifying the pace as it picks up, and how Stoker slows it down to heighten the suspense. The chapters, as they wrap up, are enlightening in how Stoker chooses to end certain chapters on an up or down note, or on a neutral tone but still gives the reader enough pulse to make you turn the page. The patterns in Stoker’s writing were a surprise to me and in a novel this long, it really illustrates the intricacies of how he weaves them into the plot, and, Castle points out how best to use these patterns.

Characterizations of Harker, Mina, Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and Renfield are iconic.  They all have a unique role to play and yet Dracula himself becomes the center of the narrative. Part of the trick is balancing all these characters’ points of view and their evolutions, including Dr. Seward’s hero’s journey that is paced into the subtext. Very smooth.

If you know the story, you could read only the red annotations in themselves and still get a rich insight to the writing. Some of Castle’s remarks are witty and precise; others are a little corny and too cute. I can tell you this, the book is a literary tour for vampire fans and devoted horror writers.

Bram Stoker wrote 11 novels in his lifetime.

To be totally honest, though, I preferred the Annotated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Annotations by K.M. Weiland for a superb analysis into storytelling.

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Weiland gets quickly into the “dramatic question” and how Bronte weaves and bobs this question throughout the story and flows it into the soul of the character Jane. A series of seamless moves by a master writer. Foreshadowing? Bronte uses everything from the five senses to weather as a mirror to the settings, and Weiland’s remarks are highly instructive on how Bronte crafts it. I especially like how Weiland handles “the lie” that all characters believe at the beginning of a story. Narrative arc, doubt, false peace, curiosity all play into the suspense to address this lie.

Bronte’s “Three Plot Points” are really clear from the annotations: First plot point is the catalyst that rocks Jane to react. Second plot point is the centerpiece where Jane gets knocked down. Third plot point is the highest point of crisis for Jane and she must go forward.

Want to learn how Bronte creates suspense in five steps? Weiland gives you this: 1. Something happens or will happen. 2. Withhold explanations. 3. Tease the readers with hints. 4. Promise you will tell the readers, then stall with logical delays. 5. Raise the stakes that will put the character at risk.

Literary analysis is an adventure in itself. If you are a writer like me, a writer who is always looking to improve your skills and write the best novel you can with memorable characters, annotated novels is one way to go. An annotated novel pulls a story apart at the seams to expose the separate pieces and puts it back together so you can view the whole masterpiece. And all for under $25.00.

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Do leave a comment!

My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration, Straight From His Own Letter and Work. Edited by Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek  (book review here)
Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing
     the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

 

NEXT WRITING CRAFT BOOK ON MY LIST TO REVIEW IS

Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen

by Robert McKee  

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, vampires, werewolves

Our Vampires, Ourselves

The True Story of A Vampire by Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock

(Studies in Death, 1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  May 10, 2016

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Our vampires, ourselves. All vampires are alike, yes or no? Do we draw vampires to ourselves through our personal styles and desires? Through our imagination maybe. Or, maybe through nature. What if your vampire wants more than your blood? What if your vampire desires something deeper and more rewarding? Are you willing?

Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock wrote The True Story of a Vampire in 1894. And while this short story won’t win any prizes for writing, it’s a story that you won’t let go until you reach the last words.

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We are in Styria where vampires generally “arrive at night, in carriages drawn by two black horses. Our vampire arrived by the commonplace means of the railway train, and in the afternoon.” Don’t laugh. This is serious business. Come meet the Wronski family, who live in a castle. Their guest arrives, Count Vardalek, a Hungarian.

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 [Sukanto Debnath “Smile at Night” WikiMedia.]

 

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Read Stenbock’s The True Story of a Vampire at Gutenberg.net.au.

Listen to the audio from Librivox.org by James K. White.

Find more of Stenbock’s writings at Guide to Supernatural Fiction.com.

 

 

 

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Stenbock was born in Estonia. He wrote poetry, prose, and short stories. He loved Buddha and Shelley. After his death in 1895, Stenbock was buried at the Brighton Catholic Cemetery. Before burial the heart was extracted and sent to Estonia, preserved in a glass urn to be stored in the wall of the church. At the time of his death, the story goes that his uncle, back in Esbia, saw an apparition of Stenbock’s tear-stained face at his study window. [This is probably not a true account but I thought it kind of fun anyway.]

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine    

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Dead Howls of the Vourdalak

The Family of Vourdalak   by Aleksei Tolstoy ( published 1884)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 19, 2015

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Let’s go to the castle of the Dowager Princess of Schwarzenberg in Hitzing, in the dark and silent woods of Vienna. We’ve dined on a rich meal with tasty wine; the kindly Princess has seated us around a hot fire; we are all in the mood for thrilling story telling.

The Marquis de Urfe, a womanizing French diplomat speaks:

“As for me, gentlemen, I have had but a single adventure … so strange, so horrible, and yes, true, that it will strike terror in even the most incredulous among you.” He takes a pinch of sniff and begins to recount his adventure.

“I should explain to you, mesdames, that vourdalaks, as the Slavic people call vampires, are believed in those countries to be dead bodies that come out of their graves to suck the blood of the living. Their habits are similar to those of all vampires, from any country, but they have one characteristic that makes them even more dreadful. The vourdalaks, mesdames, prefer to suck the blood of their closest relatives and dearest friends who, once dead, become vampires in turn. … The commissioners tell of exhuming bodies engorged with blood, which they stake in the heart and then burn in the village squares. The magistrates who were present at these executions attest — with oaths and signed statements — that they heard the dead howl at the moment that the stake was plunged into their heart.”

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The Marquis recounts his travel to a Serbian village where he finds lodging at the home of a man named Dorde and his wife and children. The Marquis learns that Dorde is awaiting the return of his father Gorcha who has gone off hunting. Gorcha left a warning to his son Dorde that if he does not return in ten days, do not let him into the house as he will have turned into a vourdalak. Meantime the Marquis falls in love with Sdenka, the lovely young  sister of Dorde. When Gorcha does return, the story takes a wicked turn into delicious encounters with the vourdalaks.

This short story was adapted for a film in 1963 titled The Black Sabbath that included three short stories: The Telephone (sexy ghost story about a prostitute, Rosie), The Drop of Water (by Chekhov, classic dark and shadowy ghost story), and Wurdalak (vampires) starring Boris Karloff as Gorcha. I watched the film. Vintage horror at its best. Loved it.

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80px-A.K.Tolstoy_by_Repin Alexei Tolstoy (1817-1875)  was a poet, playwright and novelist, second cousin to Leo Tolstoy. His historical drama trilogy The Death of Ivan the Terrible , Tsar Fiodor Iannovich, Tsar Boris are considered to be a part of the classic Russian literature of the 19th century. His first work of fiction was in 1841, The Vampire.

 

 

Read the Family of Vourdalak at AmericanLiterature.com

 

Listen to the audio at Weirdtales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOcjg6iPRRM

 

Watch the film The Black Sabbath (Wurdalak with Boris Karloff on YouTube at DailyMotion.com).

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Photo Credit: First image above is by Edvard Munch, The Vampire, 1893.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

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Beyond Victorian Vampirism

Good Lady Ducayne   by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1896)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 9, 2015    Classic Tales from Women In Horror 

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This is the second week of celebrating Women in Horror Month. Are you ready to explore the short stories of Mary Elizabeth Braddon?

 

They were dreamers—and they dreamt themselves into the cemetery.

Young and healthy Bella Rolleston takes a job as a companion with Old Lady Ducayne. Bella quickly learns that Ducayne’s previous two companions became ill and died while caring for her. Mosquito bites? Or something more sinister? When Bella begins to show the same symptoms, dreams of whirring of wheels, sinking into an abyss, and struggling to regain consciousness, she is too innocent to see the truth of her employer and the local physician Dr. Parravicini.

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What is curious in this story is how the author Mary Elizabeth Braddon uses science and medicine instead of the supernatural to build a chilling story of suspense. Aging and vanity vs. youth and beauty are the hallmarks of this story not to mention poverty vs. money. The subtext runs a lovely quiet horror tone that is smoothly written by a master writer.

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Mary-Elizabeth-Braddon-horse-228x300Mary Elizabeth Braddon, born in London in 1835, wrote some ninety books, short stories, essays, and plays and was revered for her ‘sensation novels.’ She was rated alongside Wilkie Collins and admired by Charles Dickens and Henry James. Lady Audley’s Secret was her most popular novel. She introduced one of the first female detectives Eleanor Vane in Eleanor’s Victory (1863) and then again in 1864 created sleuth Margaret Wilmot in Henry Dunbar. At Chrighton Abbey, Dead Love Has Chains, and The Doctor’s Wife are worthy of rediscovery.

 

 

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You can read Good Lady Ducayne online at Gutenberg.net.au. Scroll down to the title.

Listen to audio versions of Braddon’s short stories (Sorry, Lady Ducayne is not among them but other short stories here are quite good) at Librivox.org Library.

 

I can highly recommend Braddon’s At Chrighton Abbey. This is Downton Abbey with a ghost. Sarah Chrighton returns to her homestead Chrighton Abbey, to the wintery “fairy forests and snow wreathed trees.” The abbey  is a stately grey stone, ivy- and moss-covered estate. Carriage rides, drawing room firesides,  hunts and hounds, a servant’s ball, and of course the Butler Truefold and Housekeeper  Mrs. Marjurum make this short story a snuggle-up read. Not to mention the family curse coupled with shadowy presences that only Sarah can see. I found this story to be one of Braddon’s most gracefully written ghost stories ever. Read it here at Gutenberg.net.au.

 

 

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http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/

 Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

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Filed under Christmas ghost stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror, vampires, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month

Black Cups of Sleep

The Mummy’s Foot by Theophile Gautier (1840)

Clarimonde by Theophile Gautier (1836)

Tuesday’s Tales of Terror    July 29, 2014

 

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I have two stories for you by Theophile Gautier:

one to amuse, the other to terrify.

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When I first began reading The Mummy’s Foot by Theophile Gautier about the foot of a princess, I immediately settled in for an exotic fairy tale that would take me back to the amusements of my childhood readings. I was not disappointed.

Our narrator is a twenty-seven year old Frenchman who is looking for a paperweight in a curiosity shop. If you’ve ever browsed an antique store and fantasized about the objects and their histories, The Mummy’s Foot is a story that will fulfill all your imaginations. The mummified foot that our Frenchman is attracted to belonged to the 4000-year-old Princess Hermonthis, daughter of pharaoh. He purchases the charming foot, brings it home, and with great adoration sets it upon his desk.

images-3“The Dream of Egypt was Eternity: her odors have the solidity of granite, and endure as long.”

Do items from the past carry their own energies? Possibly their own force upon the mind … or even upon a life? Come meet Princess Hermonthis. She will kindle her torch and bring you into the subterranean tombs of Cheops, Chephrenes, Psammetichus, Sesostris, Amenotaph—all the dark rulers of the pyramids. By Oms, by the dog of hell, this story will enchant and charm you!

 

 

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Read The Mummy’s Foot at Gutenberg.net

Listen to the audio version at Librivox Recording, narrated by Dorothy Scarborough.

 

A Kiss Upon the Dead Lips

 

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Theophile Gautier was a dramatist, painter, poet, journalist, and novelist. His storytelling carries a great deal of entertaining qualities. He is skilled in blurring the lines of dreaming and reality, setting his suspense within the theme of eternity. He can pitch realistic settings against supernatural phenomena quite smoothly. He is quoted, “What I write is not for little girls,” although many of his stories have a fairy tale tone.

 

 

 

 

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One of his most famous short stories is La Morte Amoureuse, aka Clarimonde (1836) about a young and endearing priest, Romuald, who has the misfortune to fall in love with a mesmerizing woman of beauty on the same day he is ordained. Her name is Clarimonde. This is a bit like Sleeping Beauty but a far more twisted and dark romance. What evil lurks here?

 

Romuald opens the story: “Brother, you ask me if I have ever loved. Yes. My story is a strange and terrible one; and though I am sixty-six years of age, I scarcely dare even now to disturb the ashes of that memory… For more than three years I remained the victim of a most singular and diabolical illusion.”

Could a corpse be this ravishing?

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You can read it here in English  at Gutenberg.org under the title of Clarimonde

Listen to  audio, Clarimonde by Libivox Recordings, Parts 1  and 2 narrated by Joy Chan:

Part 1 Clarimonde

Part 2 Clarimonde

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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An Unspeakable Menace

The Master of Rampling Gate   by Anne Rice (1982)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   July 8, 2014

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“No ghost would ever dare to trouble Rampling Gate.”

So says the blind housekeeper Mrs. Blessington to Julie and Richard, who have inherited this old estate from their father. The year is 1888 and Rampling Gate is an enchanting mansion in the countryside outside of London. The father claims there is an “unspeakable horror” within the house and upon his death, the house must be torn down. Julie and Richard go to visit the house. But Julie falls in love with the estate and … a thrilling young intruder.

 

annerice“Dazed, I watched him come towards me; the room darkened, and I felt his cool silken hands on my face … I was standing before him, and I looked up into his eyes.

“ ‘Something of menace, unspeakable menace’, I whispered, backing away.”

Are you salivating yet? If you know Anne Rice’s prolific work, you can guess that this gothic short story is likely a five-star rating. And it is. This short fiction is tightly written with high drama. It’s a 30-minute read, imaginative, atmospheric, and yes, you will feel haunted. Originally, this story was published as a “Vook,” part book and part video. Isn’t technology fun? You can find it on Amazon as a vook.

As you know, this blog functions mainly as a dead authors society for its weekly short fiction features, but when I come across a current author’s short story that really grabs me I want to share it.

ANNE RICEHere’s what Anne Rice has to say about one of our greatest writers, Charles Dickens:

“I claim Dickens as a mentor. He’s my teacher. He’s one of my driving forces. Dickens is a very underrated writer at the moment. Everyone in his time admired him, but I think right now he’s not spoken of enough.”

 

 

To read the short story, download the PDF  at SecondaryWorlds.com: Scroll down to “rice.pdf”

http://secondaryworlds.com/documents/

The audio is here at YouTube and read by Gigi Mareau–lovely!

 

Visit Anne Rice’s web site at http://www.annerice.com/

 

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I wouldn’t mind a comment if you like having some current authors’ short stories from time to time. I like to offer you free shorts but often, because of copyright issues, they are not usually free links.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

 

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Filed under Charles Dickens, fiction, horror, horror blogs, short stories, tales of terror, vampires