Tag Archives: Dracula

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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Soul Blood

The Dream of Red Hands   by Bram Stoker  (1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 3, 2016

 

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This story opens in the grey of dawn. Jacob Settle lives alone on the far edge of the isolated moorland in a small cottage. Our narrator is Jacob’s friend. While we all think of dreaming as normal events in our night life, Jacob is tormented by nightmares and there’s nothing normal about them. Some of us know that when you sleep alone, nightmares don’t just vanish upon waking. Without the comfort of a spouse or family member to anchor reality and soothe the moment, one can go a little mad.

Stoker’s story seems to beg the question, what do nightmares do to the soul? If anyone is in need of fiction about the soul and nightmares, this is the story that will haunt you. Is there such a thing as an evil dream?

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You can read The Dream of Red Hands at WikiSource.org.

I am especially fascinated by nightmares as most of you know from my supernatural mystery Night Sea Journey. If you are also fascinated with the pathology of nightmares, you might be interested in reading Ernest Jones’ On the Nightmare (1931) published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. It includes chapters on vampires, werewolves, witches, and the devil. Are nightmares truly caused by spikes in blood pressure or gastric disturbances? Or is there a soul element to it? Is there a spiritual element to it? You can read the book, free online, ON THE NIGHTMARE here.

 

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Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University.

Front row: Sigmund Freud,G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung;

Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

 

Irish-born Bram Stoker published his first story The Snake’s Pass in 1890. In 1897, readers were shocked and disgusted by Dracula. Stoker’s first horror story was The Crystal Cup in 1872.

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

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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Walpurgis Nacht: Night of the Witches

Dracula’s Guest   by Bram Stoker (1914)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 14, 2014

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This short story is not about witches but  does have the flavors of Count Dracula and a creepy atmospheric mood in the classic style of Stoker’s horror. If you are a Bram Stoker fan, love the novel Dracula and are anxious to see the new movie Dracula Untold, this short fiction has all the qualities of a mysterious journey down a dark road to the supernatural.

We are on a carriage ride through the woods of Germany on the cursed night of the witches. An Englishman in Munich, on his way to visit Count Dracula in Transylvania, takes a carriage ride on Walpurgis nacht. It’s early summer and the carriage horses are throwing up their heads suspiciously into the air. Johann, the driver, passes a road that appears inviting to Englishman and he asks Johann to turn into that road. But Johann refuses. Johann responds …

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He crossed himself and mumbled a prayer, before he answered, ‘It is unholy.’

‘What is unholy?’ I enquired.

‘The village.’

‘Then there is a village?’

‘No, no. No one lives there hundreds of years.’

You are afraid, Johann—you are afraid. Go home; I shall return alone; the walk will do me good.’

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And so begins this man’s lonely walk into the darkened woods, through a snowstorm, into the village cemetery, and the supernatural power he encounters there.

 

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With the release of the film Dracula Untold this month, where the history of Count Dracula is illustrated in the story of Vlad the Impaler, I thought reading this particular short story of Stoker’s would be timely. It is thought that Dracula’s Guest was originally designed to be the opening chapter of the novel Dracula.

 

 

 

 

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In 1912 Bram Stoker died in London on April 20, during the same month as the German Walpurgis nacht date of April 30. His wife Florence had Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories published in 1922. Dracula’s Guest was first published in 1912 with the dedication, “To My Son.”

 

 

 

Read the short story Dracula’s Guest at Gutenberg.org

Listen to the audio version at Librivox.org

 And, if you’ve seen Dracula Untold, post a review!

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 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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The Dead Grey Eye

The Vampyre   by John Polidori (1819)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    June 24, 2014

 

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If you are a True Blood fan, and haven’t read the first vampire short story in this genre, here it is. No horror blog would be worthy without including this tale.  In terms of historical literature, LeFanu’s Carmilla was the second vampire story in 1847 and then Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Some people think Vlad the Impaler was the first vampire story but Vlad was actually a blood-thirsty Romanian (1400s) who actually impaled his enemies and was known as Dracula of Wallachia. Vlad was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s masterpiece. If we want the absolutely first work of vampire literature we have to recognize the German poem in 1748, The Vampire, by Heinrich August Ossenfelder and of course Goethe’s The Bride of Corinth in 1797.

Our author Dr. John Polidori was a friend of poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and author Mary Shelley. It’s commonly known that they all decided, one stormy evening at Lake Geneva (1816), to challenge each other by writing a horror story. The most famous result of that challenge was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Polidori’s The Vampyre was inspired by Byron’s story The Burial: A Fragment. There is a popular quote by Polidori explaining this inspiration: “The fact is that though the groundwork is certainly Lord Byron’s, its development is mine.” Polidori wrote The Vampyre in a matter of days and it was his only work of fiction. He died at age 25, just two years after its publication.

 

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In The Vampyre, Lord Ruthven is a mysterious, British nobleman with a dead grey eye, who had a mesmerizing effect on young society woman. Aubrey is a young and wealthy man and becomes a friend to his Lordship Ruthven and his traveling companion. Aubrey falls in love with the lovely and innocent Ianthe in Greece, and I don’t have to tell you what happens to the charming Ianthe—who by the way, knows and understands these nocturnal fiends.

Dark romance, blood, supernatural, and madness is a winning combination today and was in 1819. This story was wickedly popular, translated into French, German, Spanish and Swedish, and adapted into a stage play all within a two-year period.

 

Polidori writes with an addictive prose and has created characters that are still alive and thriving in this nearly 200-year old fiction. Do you have a favorite vampire story? What do you think of Polidori’s?

 

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Read The Vampyre  at East of the Web

Listen to the audio at Librivox

 

And here is Lord Byron’s poem that he wrote in 1813, The Giaour, about vampires. I couldn’t resist!

But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corpse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.

 

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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Dreaming a Lesbian Vampire

Carmilla  by J. Sheridan LeFanu  (1872)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 10, 2013

Carmilla Bram Stoker was an inspired writer but LeFenu’s Carmilla, the first female lesbian vampire in literature, was Stoker’s inspiration to write Dracula. You’ll find Lucy and Carmilla strikingly similar.

Our narrator, Laura, is a dreamy and lonely young woman, living with her father in a castle in the thick forests of Styria, Austria, complete with drawbridge, swans, water lilies, and a Gothic chapel. Laura’s mother, a Styrian lady, dies during Laura’s infancy, leaving Laura longing for female companionship. As a child, Laura dreams of a beautiful woman appearing at her bedside. Comforted by this lady, Laura drifts into sleep again, only to waken to the sensation of two needles piercing her chest.

The dream haunts Laura for twelve years. Until one day, she meets a woman named Carmilla, whom she recognizes as the beautiful woman in her dream. Immediately, they bond a friendship.

Laura dreams again but this time the beautiful woman is a sooty-black animal that resembles a monstrous cat at her bedside. Terrified, poor Laura cannot even cry out. Until the stinging pain of two sharp needles thrust deep into her breast.

This is no dream. Reality sets in. Laura becomes obsessed with the enigmatic Carmilla. How can Laura resist Carmilla’s languid and burning eyes, or her whispers, almost in sobs, “You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever.”

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Quite the sinister seduction! Fear, desire, and vampire-hunting bring this story to a thrilling conclusion, which is more quiet horror than our modern-day lust-for-blood-splatter vampire story endings.

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this unusual story.

Read the short story at Gutenberg.org  (The short story is divided into sixteen short chapters).  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10007/10007-h/10007-h.htm

Or, if you prefer a film adaptation, Nightmare Classics has a 1989 American pre-Civil War version (Southern plantation-style) with Meg Tilly, Ione Skye, and Roddy McDowell in four parts (total time 55 minutes).

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The film contains dreamy atmospherics with a fairytale tone. Part Three has a sensual scene in the night forest where Carmilla is sucking at her lover’s neck, while floating through the misted air—which I thought was artfully done. But this is still a B-grade movie and I doubt LeFanu would be pleased with the adaptation.

Part One  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTgkwp3ivv4

Part Two  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqSu9hslWgQ

Part Three  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPhCDF6EhwA

Part Four  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Hfl3kHlC8

Listen to Carmilla, an narrated adaptation by Night Fall (30 minutes)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpBuw4widK0

Listen to Carmilla, a dramatization by BBC (45 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hjRGYAGlIE

And here’s a web site specifically for vampire stories: DragonBytes.com

If you are a GoodReads member, check out Werner Lind’s fascinating review and discussion of Carmilla:  http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/18368275

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads

WattPad

The Story Reading Ape Blog

Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Monster Librarian

Tales to Terrify

Books on the Nightstand

Rob Around Books

TheInsatiableBookSlut

For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed

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