Saturday, 30 July 2011

REVAMPING VAPID VAMPIRES - AND BLOT

FIREBRAND by Gillian Philip
          I love stories that mix ancient and modern, like Gillian Philips’ FIREBRAND and its sequel, BLOODSTONE, which mix an ancient Celtic ‘faeryland’ (warlike and violent as those ancient faeries were) and the present day.
          My own The Sterkarm Handshake and A Sterkarm Kiss have 21st century business executives travelling back, in a time-machine, to attempt to do business with 16th Century Border Reivers – and in my Odin’s Voice books, colonists on Mars worship the ancient Norse Gods.
ODIN'S VOICE by Susan Price
          Because these ancient stories don’t go away.  They’re part of our thinking, and we keep retelling them.  Technologically, we’re a huge distance from the Bronze Age, but we use our technology to tell the tale of Troy again.  We reinvent Robin Hood; we reinvent vampires and werewolves.
          I’m not against this reinvention.  When a story stops being retold, it dies.  But sometimes the reinvention moves too far from the original, and becomes vapid.  Then it needs to return to its root and draw new strength.
          I think vampires have become vapid.  Originally, the idea of the vampire stemmed from a fear that the jealous, malevolent dead would feed on the living. 
          Later, sexuality, and a fear of it, were stirred into the mix; together with a terror of losing your immortal soul and being condemned, forever, to Hell, or to a Hellish existence.  Pretty potent stuff.
          But Science, and weakening religious faith, have drained away the fear of Hell-fire; and as the Western World is more tolerant of sexuality, and less fearful of it, so the penetration of a vampire’s fangs has lost much of its charge.  And much as we may love ghost stories, few of us today seriously fear that our dead will attempt to drag us into the grave.
          So what’s left?  An Undead Raver, sighing with ennui.  Swoony vampires who don’t titillate anyone much except young teenage girls.  The Vampire Legend has worn tissue thin.
           So it may be time to take a fresh look at some of the original, old vampire legends, to find firmer ground to build our modern stories on.  Some of the old village tales, for instance, where people feared to go near the graveyard at night, because the recently deceased cobbler sits there on his grave, stitching boots.  And villagers are falling sick, with holes in their heels that seem made by a cobbler’s awl…
Photo: Die Booth
          It’s this need not to forget the old, vital tales, that makes me like RE-VAMP. It’s a site for people who love the old stories – the old-style vampires, ghosts, monsters.  Again, mixing old and new, you find it on the internet.  I love this mix of old stories and new technology.
     Re-Vamp was started by two writers, the UK’s Die Booth, and  the USA’s LC Hu.  They ‘met’ in an on-line writing community, and struck up a friendship based on their shared love for horror stories, especially those with roots in folk-tale
          They discussed their stories by e-mail and edited each others’ work; and discovered that both of them disliked ‘modern horror cliches’.  To quote Die Booth: “It struck us as horrifying that a sulking, immortal hottie seems to be what a vampire IS to people these days. The same goes for all the other traditional 'monsters'.”
          They wanted to collaborate on a project and decided, again in Die Booth’s words, that: "What we really wanted to do was to get away from the established horror cliches and either resurrect the original myths or create something completely new and imaginative; to prove that shock tactics and gore don't automatically equal frightening; to reclaim the genre a bit.”
          At first they planned an anthology of their own stories, but then decided that, “it would be much more fun and engaging to allow people to interact with the project, so we've published commissioned stories and artwork from various contributors as well as including as many polls and contests as we can, to encourage readers to take part.
          “The project, launched on Halloween 2010 will wrap up on Halloween 2011
and then we will have 'the best of Re-Vamp' anthology available to buy in PDF or print, with lots of stories (and hopefully artwork if we ascertain it will print OK) from the project and some as-yet-unpublished material as well.”
          And what has made possible this sharing of stories and art across the world, this revitalisation of ancient stories?  The internet!  I love it!
           I love RE-VAMP too.  I dip in and out of it, reading a story here and there, and always find good ones.  It’s a pleasure to be able to spread the word, and perhaps send a few other lovers of old-style horror RE-VAMP’s way.

Susan Price's website is here
Learn about how UK Authors are self-publishing at Kindle Authors UK

And after all that talk of the undead and horror, here's Blott -  

15 comments:

Stroppy Author said...

Totally agree re modern vamps being vapid.

I'm writing very edgy vampires at the moment - scary and vicious and ruthless. It's a modern take on old legends, with a plausible scientific explanation for all of it, so the poo-pooing of immortal souls doesn't give you a way out. And I'm enjoying it hugely! So I'll definitely take a look at revamp - thank you, Sue.

madwippitt said...

I see food has managed to sneak in here once again, in Blot(t). Crool, very crool.

Linda Strachan said...

Love Blot! Off to look up revamp right now. Great post.

Susan Price said...

If anyone could write edgy modern vamps, Stroppy could... And Madwippit, I will try and write an entirely food-free blog just for you.

diebooth said...

We're absolutely delighted that you're enjoying Re-Vamp, Sue, and so made up with this excellent blog entry. That little story of the dead Cobbler stitching shoes on his grave is just exactly the thing we're trying to resurrect (haha couldn't resist a pun) so much more chilling than whiney teenagers who happen to be immortal!

die frau lehrer said...

i've been pointed to your blog and homepage from Re-Vamp and have to say, i really enjoy reading your blog entries!

..heh, i wish there was a way to bring you and your story to the school i teach at as well but Austria is really too far away i'm afraid. :(

Katherine Langrish said...

Brilliant stuff, Sue. Heading off to ReVamp right away... and yes, I love Blot!

Susan Price said...

Hi die Frau Lehrer, and thank you! There's always web-cams! My cousin, who teaches in Zurich, often has his Mum talk to his pupils via web-cam.

Milla Galea said...

Susan, your book Head and Tales was loaned to me amid much praise by Die Booth last year. I read it and loved it!

It's really ace to see that you're enjoying ReVamp and that the appreciation goes both ways.

Susan Price said...

Milla - thank you! Don't we all love a little appreciation? I'll admit, when I first went over to look at ReVamp, I was a little apprehensive about what I might find - but that lasted for about a minute after I started reading! The stories are of as a high a quality as you'll find anywhere.

Leslie Wilson said...

Very interesting, Sue, and I too am going to visit REVAMP. As for Blott, it stirs happy memories of hungry cats leaping onto my keyboard to interfere with the noissome occupation that kept me from feeding them..

amygreenfield said...

Oh, that Blott! Agree about vapid vampires, so I'll have to check out Re-Vamp. Thanks for the link!

elsiewho said...

Wow, I'm truly stunned to find that you've been liking Re-Vamp so much as to mention us. Thank you so much for your amazing blog post.

I also wanted to say that I read "Ghost Drum" (as Die has been encouraging me to read your work) and I absolutely loved it. You captured the fairytale voice so well. Glad to find a new author to enjoy, I'll be looking up more of your work.

The Blot cartoon was adorable, too!

Susan Price said...

Oh, thank you, elsiewho! I'm working on the second Ghost World book, Ghost Song. It should be on Kindle within a few days. I hope.

madwippitt said...

Sorry, I keep misreading this as Ghost Snog ...