Top 5 Literary Vampires

After a student of mine handed me Twilight, I started reading about vampires for the first time. I had always avoided reading horror fiction since I’m not into scary things, and to me vampires qualified as scary things. In my mind, vampires and horror were the same thing, but Twilight helped me realize that vampires didn’t necessarily have to be scary. With my new interest in vampires, I began watching True Blood when it was on HBO. With Twilight and True Blood on my mind, I was inspired to start writing my own vampire stories, beginning with Her Dear & Loving Husband. Once I started writing about my own vampire, James Wentworth, I wanted to read more about these preternatural creatures that have been the object of such fascination for centuries. I enjoyed many of the vampire books I read, so it’s hard for me to narrow down my list of favorite literary vampires. But I do have a few who stand out from the crowd:

  1. Louis from Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice

There is something about the inherent humanness of Louis that drew my attention from the beginning of this story. As he’s telling his tale in the interview to the young reporter, he’s conflicted about his life as a vampire, and I liked that about him. I liked that he hadn’t given himself over entirely to the animal-like vampire nature. Lestat is a fascinating character, but I’ve always liked Louis better. Louis strikes me as reluctant to entirely let go of being human, which is perhaps why he needed to tell his story. I think this book is where I first realized that a vampire might have a conscience. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my own vampire, James Wentworth, is also conflicted about his vampire nature.

  1. Dracula from, well, Dracula by Bram Stoker

To be fair, Dracula himself is a meanie so in that respect I don’t like him all that much. But he’s so smooth, so suave, so enigmatic, and the way he sneaks around to accomplish his dastardly deeds is rather entrancing, to me and to the characters who share their blood (willingly or not) with the aristocratic vampire. I also loved Stoker’s storytelling, the way he tells the tale using newspaper clippings and diary entries. You can see how that influenced the Loving Husband Trilogy because I also use fictional primary sources to help tell the tale—in my case I used blog posts and television shows—in books one and two of the trilogy, Her Dear and Loving Husband and Her Loving Husband’s Curse.

  1. Bill from True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels

Since the Sookie Stackhouse stories originated in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampires series, I’m considering Bill a literary vampire. My Loving Husband Trilogy exists because of Bill (or Stephen Moyer, the actor who plays him, whichever comes first). There’s an episode early in the first season of True Blood (I think it’s episode four, but don’t quote me) where vampire Bill is giving a talk at Sookie’s grandmother’s church. Someone shows Bill a picture of his family from his human days before the American Civil War, and Bill becomes so emotional at the remembrance of them. That scene inspired Her Dear & Loving Husband. Here’s this vampire who has everything humans only dream of—extraordinary strength, immortal life—and yet he becomes so emotional at the sight of the ones he loved as a human. That’s where you see the connection between Bill and my vampire, James.

I did read Dead Until Dark, the first of the Sookie Stackhouse books, and I did enjoy it. Dead Until Dark is a quick, fun read told from Sookie’s point of view and you can see the influence the book had on True Blood. If you’re a fan of the show you should read the books.

  1. Edward from Twilight

I’m compelled to give Edward a nod because if I hadn’t read the Twilight books I wouldn’t have ever given vampires a second thought. Yes, the sparkly vampire bit is odd, and I had to remind myself while I was reading that the Twilight series is intended for young adults, but I liked the love story between Edward and Bella enough to enjoy the book for what it is–a sweet romance between a vampire and the human girl he loves. And after all Twilight was the catalyst for my interest in vampires, which led to the Loving Husband Trilogy. It is fair to say that without Edward, James Wentworth wouldn’t exist, the thought of which makes me very sad indeed. So thank you, Edward.

  1. Matthew from A Discovery of Witches

For me, A Discover of Witches is like Twilight for grown ups. I love the witch aspect of A Discovery of Witches, and the fact that Matthew’s love interest, Diana, is related to Bridget Bishop, one of those accused and hung for witchcraft in Salem in 1692. Of course, the Salem Witch Trials play a huge role in Her Dear and Loving Husband, and an even bigger role in the prequel, Down Salem Way, which I’m writing now. I thought it was an interesting twist that Bridget is a real witch in A Discovery of Witches. As for the vampire Matthew, in some ways he’s the stereotypical vampire—cold (literally and figuratively), calculating, and ridiculously wealthy. For me, the fact that he did yoga was like Edward sparkling—it’s one of those moments that call for suspension of disbelief, but then when you’re reading or writing about vampires the whole story is a suspension of disbelief anyway, right? I think I loved reading this novel because I could see elements of Her Dear and Loving Husband in it, from the women’s connections to the Salem Witch Trials, to vampire professors, to spending a lot of time in a university library, to two unlikely beings falling in love despite the challenges. I’m glad I didn’t read this until after I wrote Her Dear & Loving Husband or else I would have worried about where I got my ideas from.

If you’re looking for some good vampire reads, here are my suggestions. The amazing thing about vampires is that people continue to be fascinated by them, so a new vampire book is something to be excited about. And most of these novels are part of a series, so there’s more than five books here for your reading pleasure.

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Jobs in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

The North American continent was largely a question mark to those who left their European homelands behind to seek their fortunes, or, in the case of those immigrating to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, religious freedom. The immigrants may have heard great success stories about others who had crossed the vast Atlantic to find fertile land, endless opportunities, and perhaps even gold. These stories prompted many to leave behind everyone and everything they knew to take their chances in the unknown.

Often when we think of life in Colonial America we think of farmers going about their business planting and cultivating crops. While that was true in the Southern Colonies, settlers in the New England Colonies were not blessed with such fertile land. As a result, they needed other means to earn a livelihood.

The original 13 American Colonies.

The American Colonies were divided into three regional areas—the New England Colonies (Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut), the Middle Colonies (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware), and the Southern Colonies (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Caroline, and Georgia). The climate and natural resources available in each of the three regions determined the type of work available to those who lived there. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with its lack of fertile farming land, the fishing, timber, livestock, and shipping industries became the focus. There was still some subsistence farming to be had in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Even though the land was rocky and not as rich as it was in the southern region, colonists in New England were still able to grow crops such as squash, corn, and beans.

The Fishing Industry

With its location along the shore of the Atlantic ocean, Massachusetts was (and is) in a prime location to take advantage of the sea life there, and fishermen often found mackerel, herring, halibut, bass, and cod for their troubles. Whaling was also a popular job in the Massachusetts Bay Colony since whale oil was used in lamps and soaps. As Captain Ahab would tell you, whaling could be a dangerous endeavor; however, it was a money maker, so sailors took their chances.

The Timber Industry

The rich forests in the New England region provided great opportunities for settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Homes were built from the hard woods. Timbermen could find oak, maple, beech, birch, hickory, and ash trees. Saw mills were used to produce wooden planks for export to England, which were then manufactured into finished goods such as furniture. Wood was also a necessity for the shipbuilding industry, another money maker in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Wood was used to make barrels, and other products gathered from the plentiful trees included resin for varnishing, tar for coating and preserving timber, pitch for water proofing, turpentine for cleaning, and potash for soap, bleach, and fertilizers.

The Livestock Industry

Horse breeding was one way to make use of the hilly, rocky, often infertile land. Many breeds of horses were brought to North America by the colonists, and horse breeding used various breeds of horses including the jennet, the Andalusian, the Friesian, and Arabians.

 

The Ship Building Industry

Ship building was particularly important in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with its emphasis on fishing and whaling. The easy availability of timber made ship building cheap in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In fact, many found work related to the ship building industry—including carpenters, joiners, sail makers, barrel makers, painters, caulkers, and blacksmiths. Ship building was also important for the merchants who sold or traded their wares overseas since the ships and the barrels gave them the means through which they could reach across the Atlantic as part of the Triangle Trade. Items included in the Triangle Trade from the three regions of the American Colonies were timber, sugar, fur, cotton, flour, tobacco, rice, indigo, fish, guns, ammunition. wool, and rum. Sadly, slaves were imported into the colonies as a result of the Triangle Trade.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony, as in any of the American Colonies, could provide opportunities for those with the gumption and the heartiness to learn new skills and grab opportunites when they arose. Some settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were subsistence farmers, eeking out a living from the less than fertile land. Others became successful fishermen, ship builders, or merchants. Adolescents played an important role in the growth of the Massachusetts Bay Colony since a 15 year old was an adult in the eyes of the law (Enright, Lapsley, & Olson, 1985). Subsistence farming, mercantilism, and the wars with Native Americans provided the backdrop for all work in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Despite the hardships settlers faced, the Massachusetts Bay Colony provided possibilities, which is why so many immigrants left their homelands behind.

References

Dow, G. F. (2012). Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Courier Corporation.

Enright, R. D., Lapsley, D. K., & Olson, L. M. (1985). Early adolescent labor in colonial Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. The Journal of Early Adolescence5(4), 393-410.

Jernegan, M. W. (1929). The American colonies, 1492-1750: A study of their political, economic and social development (Vol. 1). Longmans Green.

The Land of the Brave. The thirteen colonies. Retrieved from https://www.landofthebrave.info/13-colonies.htm

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5 Books to Read if You Love Fantasy Romance

One of the fun things about reading is that once we discover a new genre we love we go on the hunt to find similar books. I love historical fiction, so it’s relatively easy to find more to read since I’m interested in most eras of history. I love novels set everywhere from Ancient Greece to the Jazz Age to World War II. As an author, I’ve written books set in Biblical Jerusalem, the American Civil War, World War I and the women’s suffrage movement, the Salem Witch Trials, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the Japanese-American internments during World War II, and the Victorian Era. It’s fair to say I have varied tastes as a reader and writer of historical fiction.

Fantasy romances were another matter. After I wrote the Loving Husband Trilogy I stayed away from other fantasy romances because I felt like I needed to extend my horizons as a reader and a writer. Then recently I discovered Outlander (novel and TV show), and I fell in love with the fantasy romance genre all over again. Like any other reader, I scrambled to find other books that gave me that same magical, historical, romantic feel.

Here are five books for lovers of fantasy romance:

  1. Outlander—As you probably already guessed, Outlander is at the top of my list. Outlander has everything I love—fascinating historical descriptions of 18th century Scotland, a fast-moving plot, a genuine love story, and a hunky male lead. There are eight books so far in the series, and as of this writing I’ve read the first two. All of the books are at the top of my TBR pile, and I’m looking forward to reading them all. Definitely start with Outlander. It really does set the tone for the overall story.
  2. A Discovery of Witches—This was published around the same time Her Dear and Loving Husband came out, and I think I was afraid to read it because it sounded similar in many ways to my own story of a vampire professor. I’m glad I finally picked it up. I’m nearly finished reading A Discovery of Witches, and I’m ready for Book Two. This first book in the All Souls Trilogy also talks about history (how can you have a conversation between a witch historian and a vampire professor without discussing the past?), but my understanding is that in Book Two there’s a time travel element where Matthew and Diana visit Matthew’s past. Like Outlander, there’s history, magic, and a great romance in A Discovery of Witches.
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife—Here’s another romance with the mystery of time travel. This is a story of a great love that continues despite the many obstacles in Henry and Clare’s way (it’s hard when the man you love suddenly disappears). But Henry and Clare are committed to each other, and in a way the problems associated with Henry’s time traveling only serve to strengthen their love.
  4. The Mists of Avalon—I read this last year, and I absolutely loved it. It’s a magical retelling of the story of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and it’s told from the women’s point of view. While there are romances (this is based on the legends of the Knights of the Round Table after all), the emphasis here is on the magic of the faery world, the priestesses of Avalon, and the emergence of Christianity. This is part of a series, and though I’ve only read The Mists of Avalon, there are other books to enjoy if you love the first one.
  5. Her Dear & Loving Husband—You didn’t think I’d leave my own James and Sarah off this list, did you? The fantasy in this book, and in the whole Loving Husband Trilogy, comes from the magic of vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts. The romance, of course, is between vampire James Wentworth and human Sarah Alexander, and their love spans more than 300 years. There’s also history thrown in through accounts of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. I talked in this post about how I see my books as romantic rather than romances, but if you’re into heartwarming love stories, then Her Dear & Loving Husband may be right up your alley.

I said this was going to be a list of five books to read, but each of the novels on this list is part of a series, so there’s actually many books here to help you quench your thirst for more fantasy romance.

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