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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interviewing David Blue about the new vampire release, The Annotated Carmilla

I'd like to welcome David Blue to my blog today. I had the chance to interview him about his new vampire release, The Annotated Carmilla.

Thanks for joining us today! It’s interesting and unusual to see a work focusing on a female vampire. What inspired you to write about the female form? 

Probably it all comes down to my being a nerd.  Or at least not particularly macho.  You know how little boys are supposed to go through that stage of thinking girls are yucky?  Never, for one moment, have I ever felt that.  Females always seemed utterly delightful parts of creation, and part of that—by chance or consequence—meant I was always on very good terms with my feminine side, what Jung would call my anima.  Plus there’s my fandom of the old t.v. show “Dark Shadows” and how my early romantic fantasies surrounded Angelique once she became a vampire.  Ladies with fangs, what can I say?  Plus, to be honest, I’m one for the underdog.  So very many famous vampires are male, from Lestat to Dracula, Barnabas Collins to Edward Cullen, Bill Compton and Erik Northman to Nicholas Knight and LaCroix.  Been how many major adaptations of Dracula?  Close to twenty by my count.  How many of Carmilla?  Less than half a dozen, and that includes a modern retelling in post-production right now.  Does not seem fair to moi!

Annotating such a work seems a daunting task. How long did your research process require? What were some of your most exciting research finds? 

Fortunately, we live in the age of the internet!  Thus my researches took many months less than would have otherwise been the case!  On the other hand, in truth I’ve been doing bits and pieces of study about Carmilla for years.  Back in the 1980s I even startled a perfectly nice lady I was helping at an airport, when she mentioned her hometown was Gratz.  My words “Oh?  The capital of Styria?”  made her jaw drop.  Once I decided upon the project and started to go through the manuscript, I’d say actual new research—about horse carriages for example—took about four or five months.  One of the biggest headaches proved tracking down all those books mentioned near the end.  Yeah, each one is real—and fairly obscure.  As far as exciting find, I must say it was thrilling to be able to date the story.  Plus looking up the meanings of the various names in the story, especially Karnstein (the supposedely wicked and extinct clan from which the title character arises).   It almost certainly derives either from the word for “cairn” or maybe from “karnivor.”  Possibly both.  I like both. 

As an actor, is there a role in the Carmilla story that speaks to you, that you would like to portray? 

Keep in mind, I don’t act anymore.  More, I’m male so that really leaves only two major roles—and even that is a misnomer.  No male has a major role in Le Fanu’s story.  It focuses almost exclusively upon the narrator, Laura, and her friend/lover/predator Carmilla.  Of the two male parts, I suppose the father makes the most sense—which means if given the chance the other part is the one I should probably like to take.  But were I young actress…?  What an interesting thought!  And what kind of answer would make any sense?  Truthfully, both of them would make for such a marvelous role.  You know what?  Methinks I’d rather direct.

Please tell us a little about your future works—a web series about vampires titled End of the Line and your first full-length novel. 

Must admit End of the Line is waiting on some things.  In essence it is a love story between a young college student and a lady vampire from Regency England he meets on the mass transit system in a fictional city we’ve created.  Yet their romance, which neither one realizes at first even as a possibility, gets all tangled up with their mutual pasts.  For example, his father vanished two decades before the story begins.  Some vital evidence comes to light at the beginning.  But before we can do anything further on that we need to raise some funds.  Right now I’m working on a novel, tentatively titled Winter Isle, based on a dream.  In one way it is a rather conventional gothic tale set in Pre-Victorian England—the young governess comes to a remote estate and slowly uncovers its dark secrets while finding love from an unlikely source.  But my novel plays with the form, in a hopefully startling way.  For one thing, we don’t see the story from the governess’ POV at all.  Rather, we read the diary entries of two other people who become close to her—people who already know most of the secrets but of course have no particular reason to discuss them.  So the reader becomes aware these two know a lot about what’s going on, but each only drops hints.  On top of that, the characters and places pretty much consist of ‘in jokes’ for those of a certain literary bent.  The name of the estate, the families of numerous characters, the locations nearby—nearly all reference some work of the period.  A maid will be a younger version of someone in a Wilkie Collins novel.  Someone refers to a town invented by Charles Dickens as if it were real.  Two characters are the offspring of a couple in one of Jane Austen’s works.  And so on.  I don’t mean this is a kind of weird mashup a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but more akin to a kind of 19th century literature crossover.  Not unlike what Alan Moore did in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Kim Newman in Anno Dracula.  Fortunately, I’ve a small group of friends willing to offer support and criticism as I complete each chapter.  More importantly, if I want to bounce an idea off of one of them, they don’t duck but toss it right back at me!

The Annotated Carmilla
Authored by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Preface by Andrew M. Bolan
Notes by D. MacDowell Blue
Introduction by David A. Sutton 

Growing up in the lonely forests and valleys of Styria, Laura had only her father and two governesses for company. Until she came.Carmilla.Beautiful and fragile.Kind and friendly.As mysterious as she was devoted.But also ... hungry.

For the first time since it was published n 1872, here is a complete guide to Le Fanu's classic vampire tale. Over four hundred footnotes give detailed answers to dozens and dozens of questions. Where is Styria? When is this story taking place? What is an awl? An escrutcheon?A hippogriff? Why did Carmilla seek out Laura? Also, unanswered questions and intriguing possibilities are charted out, one by one.

Included are a preface about Carmilla from Andrew M. Boylan (of "Taliesin Meets the Vampires" fame) and an introduction about Le Fanu himself by horror author/scholar David A. Sutton.

About the author:
D. MacDowell Blue hails from San Francisco, but was raised in Florida before attending school in New York City then eventually ending up in Los Angeles, California. His degree is in Theatre Arts, and he graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory. Over the years he has had several plays mounted in different venues (including one adaptation of Dracula) but these days his writing is usually found online in various blogs especially at as well as his personal blog Night Tinted Glasses. His interest in the undead dates back to childhood and watching the original Dark Shadows on television (when he and his sister could do so behind their grandmother's disapproving back). He has long wanted to write a script for Carmilla and who knows but that might yet happen? Right now he is busy at work creating a web series about vampires titled End of the Line as well as writing his first full-length novel, a retelling of the nineteenth century 'penny dreadful' Varney the Vampire.



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Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available late autumn.


Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting. Good luck with it! If I'm understanding correctly, this is like a "reinvisioning" of Camilla? So it's nice to see you decided to give LeFanu the byline. Nice bit of homage there. Good luck with it!