Pride March

Mary Borsellino, Melbourne Pride March, 2010.

Mary Borsellino, Melbourne Pride March, 2010.

Yesterday a big bunch of friends and I went to the Pride March in St Kilda. It was very hot and sunny, uncomfortably so, but the experience was incredibly positive and I am sincerely glad I went.

Completely aside from the politicised aspect of my participation, however, was the sheer amount of good feeling radiating from the crowd along the parade route. The closest I’ve felt to it has been in audiences at especially positive live music shows, but this was an even more powerful emotion. To walk block after block with such fierce, defiant, determined joy — such, well, pride — on all sides being directed at you and the people around you is an amazing sensation. It redoubled my determination to be more involved in activism this year, because there are battles worth fighting going on, and I want to help fight them.

Spring cleaning and rennovations!

I am absolutely awful at keeping this site up to date and tidy. That could be my new year’s resolution, except I’d fail at it quite quickly I think.

But there’s nothing like futile optimism to start a new year, so I’ve cleaned up everything at the last minute (ah, now that sounds more like me). The newly pressed and starched menu to your right has all the links you could want to artwork, excerpts, bells and whistles. And even a merch table, because Audrey and Erinna are very good at what they do.

So enjoy! And let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see on the site in future — my email’s mizmary@gmail.com

Artwork from Audrey

Will and Lily Wallpaper

Will and Lily Wallpaper

Look at the AMAZING wallpaper Audrey emailed me tonight. It’s Will and Lily from Book two and it RULES SO HARD. She’s made other wallpapers too, which I’ll put up when people have had more of a chance to actually buy the book and read it. SO GO DO THAT, YEP.

Fabulous vampires: Kindred: the Embraced

Caityn and Julian from Kindred: the Embraced

Caityn and Julian from Kindred: the Embraced

I’ve been holding off writing about this show because I haven’t been able to decide which of the characters from it I should write about. It has an entertaining, if totally inept, vampire hunter character in it, who has the particular virtue of being played by C Thomas Howell, who played Ponyboy in the movie of The Outsiders. The Outsiders is a book I learned a lot from as a teen, and I had a huge crush on the character Dally — I think there’s more than a little of him in Sofie, whom you’ll meet in book #2 of The Wolf House (which is coming out in a couple of days, provided nothing else dire befalls it before then — there’ve been delays on delays on this puppy, bah).

Anyway, I was talking Kindred. In addition to C Thomas Howell the inept vampire hunter, this show also features the late Mark Frankel as Julian Luna, who rules over the vampire gangs of San Francisco as their Prince. There’s Brigid Walsh as Sasha, the teenaged human wild-child who doesn’t have any family left except her Julian “the Uncle who never looks any older”, and Channon Roe as Cash, the scruffy biker kid who works as Julian’s bodyguard and catches Sasha’s eye, and Stacey Haiduk as Lillie, the slick, clever owner of the vampire-friendly nightclub Haven, and Kelly Rutherford as Caitlyn, the human journalist who’s falling in love with Julian despite her misgivings about him, and Jeff Kober as Daedalus, the bald and monstrous Nosferatu who likes to paint but then destroys his art for being hideous, and Erik King as Sonny, the cop who has a good reason to work the night shift, and Brian Thompson as Eddie, the thuggish vampire mobster who wants to take Julian’s place, and Patrick Bauchau as Archon, Julian’s mentor.

Stacey Haiduk as Lillie

Stacey Haiduk as Lillie

If it seems weird that I can rattle off the entire cast like that, it’s because every single time I’ve seen any of them in anything in the years since — be it Buffy, Angel, Carnivale, Jurassic Park, Scream, Dexter, whatever — I’ve always, always gone ‘oh, there’s [whoever] from Kindred’. I’m sure the actors themselves have all long, long forgotten this very shortlived and, frankly, pretty anemic show, but I never have. It’s stuck with me, got under my skin, into the marrow.

It’s a major element of how I view, and consequently write, vampire fiction.

Sometimes I make offhand jokes like “The Wolf House is basically just an extended love-letter about how much I loved Kindred”. It rankles a little bit when people say things which suggest that they think The Wolf House is only the sum of its influences — yeah, I’ve seen “Life on the Murder Scene”, the documentary about My Chemical Romance’s early years, way more often than anyone probably should, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t bring my own brain and creativity to the LotMS-inspired beats of these books.

Brigid Walsh as Sasha

Brigid Walsh as Sasha

Without getting ridiculously defensive about my craft and originality or whatever I’m being precious about there, my point is that I really am joking when I say “The Wolf House is basically just an extended love-letter about how much I loved Kindred”, but at the same time I’m being serious as well. Because the almost-28-year-old who’s writing these books is doing so largely because she remembers how exciting, how exotic and erotic and dangerous and dark and sexy this show seemed when she was fifteen.

Julian and Sasha

Julian and Sasha

I watch it now and I can see the cheap production values, the awkward performances, the lazy scripts, the missed opportunities. But I can also still see it with a fifteen-year-old’s eyes, bewitched at the idea of these sophisticated, ageless people with money and power to spare, trying to keep their petty wars with one another secret from the human society all around. I can still see the teenagers caught up in these vendettas, in love with dangerous and compelling creatures because they never fitted into the ordinary world in the first place. I can still see the anger and the beauty and the tension in the story of a young woman turned into a vampire against her will, trying to exist in that society because there isn’t anywhere else left for her. I can still see how weirdly intimate letting someone taste your blood seemed to be, the first time I saw it onscreen.

Julian and Lillie

Julian and Lillie

Kindred: the Embraced was never very good television, but to teenaged me it was the most important, exciting thing that had ever been created for the small screen. It’s what I think of when I see people bitching about Twilight, because though I’ve got my own problems with that series, I also know that successful vampire fiction, especially for teen audiences, isn’t about the head. It’s about the heart, about the rush of blush that flushes the cheeks and races fast, the thrill of that dark allure that’s so strange and powerful.

Kindred was that for me, and so I’ll love it forever. And The Wolf  House is, among other things, an extended letter about how much I loved it, and all that it taught me.

Another Vampire Diaries post

Look at these ridiculously pretty people.

Look at these ridiculously pretty people.

This show was watchable in a trainwrecky way when it began, largely due to nostalgia factor — I really cannot stress how hugely the books influenced me when I was growing up, or how much I adored them.

But then — gasp! — something weird happened. The show started being actually good and enjoyable in its own right.

If you’ve avoided this show, or saw the first episode and didn’t stick around, I recommend you take a look at episodes six (’Lost Girls’) and seven (’Haunted’), because they’re both creepy, compelling, striking pieces of vampire media that I really enjoyed.

Plus, the next episode is apparently called ‘162 Candles’, and as my favourite piece of vampire media ever (no, really, I run an entire website about it) is Fall Out Boy’s music video for ‘A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me”‘. And one of these days I will make a post detailing just how much that video has shaped the Wolf House books. That will be a long post indeed.

This counts because he is the MOST FABULOUS VAMPIRE EVER

Adam Lambert the glampire

Adam Lambert the glampire

I’ve mentioned before that I am rather fond of Adam Lambert, sparkly popstar extraordinaire.  At first, I tried not to pay attention: I knew a lot of people I was friends with online had been lured into the American Idol fandom due to his presence as a contestant, but I resisted! I even resisted when Mikey Way referred to him as “Gerard’s stunt double” on Twitter (and I have three My Chemical Romance-related tattoos at last count, with plans for more, so for me to resist something like that shows a dedicated disinterest). And then the singer Darren Hayes, who was the Crush Of My Soul when I was fourteen-fifteen-sixteen, said on his twitter that Adam Lambert reminded him of who he used to be back in the nineties. In other words, back when he was the Crush Of My Soul. I wavered in my dedicated disinterest.

But the deal-breaker came during the hardest week of my life, in June 2009, immediately after my beloved grandfather died. I flew to my hometown as soon as I was told of his passing, to help with the funeral arrangements and to write the eulogy. I have written a lot of things in my life, fiction and non-fiction and autobiography and poetry and essays and articles and novels, but nothing has ever come close to being as hard to write as that eulogy was. Since writing involved being on the computer, I distracted myself with the net a lot. Twitter was abuzz with the Iranian election protests, and it felt to my sore grief-stricken heart like the whole world was falling apart.

And then someone on my livejournal flist posted this picture:

Adam Lambert with former boyfriend Brad/Cheeks.

Adam Lambert with former boyfriend Brad/Cheeks.

And my brain fizzed and popped and snapped with an audible “TWANG!!” noise. I mean, look at that, from the purple hair to the perfect makeup to the facial hair to the burlesque-ringmaster-on-acid outfit to the serious-business expression…

I needed something in my life that was beautiful and ridiculous, and Adam Lambert is exactly those things in spades.

And all this is tenuously relevant to this blog, because Adam Lambert enjoys dressing up as a vampire from time to time, a fact for which my hormones are sincerely grateful.

Adam the vampire, as a child and as an adult.

Adam the vampire, as a child and as an adult.

Old photo of Adam as a vampire.

Old photo of Adam as a vampire.

Adam for Halloween 2009.

Adam for Halloween 2009.

Adam at a Halloween concert 2009.

Adam at a Halloween concert 2009.

Edit: As Audrey put it, “it’s like he loves you and wants you to be happy”. Another two lovely photos of Mr Lambert:

Adam Lambert is the best rock star ever.

Adam Lambert is the best rock star ever.

Seriously this dude rules so hard.

Seriously this dude rules so hard.

Various and sundry

Hullo hullo. I am utterly dreadful at updating here, and I don’t have any real excuse except procrastination. I’m currently re-reading that old grand master of trashy vampire novels, Dracula, for background info I need for book five — for reasons which will make sense after book two comes out.

I keep getting new art from Audrey or finding things in books and going ‘ooh, I have to scan that for the Wolf House site!’, and then not being able to because it’s a massive spoiler in one way or another for a later book. I feel like I’m half a season ahead of everyone else in watching a TV show.

Jay fanart by Mrs Frankenstein

Jay fanart by Mrs Frankenstein

Here is a piece of art I CAN share, by the gorgeously-named Mrs Frankenstein. I suspect Jay only reads the Batman titles he finds on Tommy or Bette’s floors.

Tommy’s current favourite Batman title is Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison. Bette loves Batgirl by Bryan Q Miller, though her favourite Batman title of all time was Detective Comics when it was written by Andersen Gabrych. Tommy likes the Halloween specials, because they’ve always got the craziest villains going on and have more storytelling freedom than the regular monthlies. Jay thinks they are both irredeemable nerds, but the comics are pretty cool occasionally and so when he found an ancient tee at some thrift store he went to with Michelle he ended up buying it.

Hrm, what else can I say… book two is coming out within the next week or so. I can’t believe we’re not even up to book two yet in the release schedule. This whole thing is crazy. Crazy! While you’re waiting for it to come out you can go vote for me (’Mary’) in this contest because trust me, as occasionally enjoyable as writing about trashy vampires might be, it pays very few of my bills, and I could really do with the prize money. Plus, you know, PRETTY SHINYSILLY GAWTHIC ACCESSORIES are always good fun, and who needs more flowery crap turning up in stores, honestly? Strike a blow for frilly romantic dark nonsense, I say!

Second piece of fanart

Some may recall the first piece of glorious fanart I was given. Now there is a second piece as well!  This one is by my friend Todd, who posted in his blog:

Mary Borsellino is one of my awesome writing buddies. Unlike me, she has actual books to show for her literary efforts. You can check out and purchase her Punk Rock Vampire e-books (is that the word? ‘e-books’?) at http://www.thewolfhouse.net

Now, I read and loved the first in the Wolf House series – Origins and Overtures – but confessed to Mary that I wasn’t really a big fan of vampires. Or of punk for that matter. This led to discussions on music/monster mash-ups and my decision to one day write the folk-rock bigfoot story the world never knew it needed.

Until that day we must make do with this picture of a hip hop werewolf.

A Hip-hop Werewolf, Bette, and Blake

A Hip-hop Werewolf, Bette, and Blake

Looking on in shock and disbelief are snarky emo teen Bette and erudite vampire Blake from Mary’s books.

Do check those books out, eh. I hear the second one is due out soon! Get on the bandwagon now so you can be all “Tch! I read them back in 09. Where have YOU been?”later on.

Yeah!

A huge thank-you to Todd for making me laugh incredibly hard with his most excellent picture. I love it muchly.

I have some recent artwork by Audrey which I will post sometime early next week. My time is largely being eaten by editing and re-writing book four, as its deadline approacheth. Whee!

Fabulous vampires: Eli from ‘Let The Right One In’

Eli from Let The Right One In

Eli from Let The Right One In

As with my other posts about my favourite fabulous vampires, this is going to be heavily spoilerish territory here. If you’re yet to read the book or see the film of ‘Let The Right One In’ (’Låt den rätte komma in’ in its original Swedish) then you should turn back now! And don’t wait for the remake; that’s tacky.

Not that I think the remake itself is a tacky idea! I am pro-remake! I just think waiting for it before you enjoy this story is stupid. Like, I love Gore Verbinski’s remake of ‘The Ring’ far more than any sane person should love a film about a dead little girl stuck down a well who controls videotapes with her mind. I loooooove it. But that doesn’t mean I skipped seeing the Japanese ‘Ringu’ before the remake was out, you know?

Anyway! Let The Right One In features a vampire named Eli — I understand that her name is changed to Abby in the upcoming remake — and Eli is one of the most badass wonderful, vulnerable, tragic and fabulous vampires ever to exist in fiction.

This post also explains a lot of my feelings and emotions and feelings (I have a lot of feelings!) about vampirism as a metaphor and the limitations thereof, and how truly good fiction respects those limits and works with them, so if you’re into that kind of thing you should keep reading.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

I’m twenty-seven years old, and since I was fourteen I have worn the same ring on the third finger of my right hand. I’ve taken it off twice, for MRI scans when I was eighteen and nineteen, but apart from that it has never been off my finger since I first put it on.

It’s a silver and lapis lazuli ring. In LJ Smith’s series of young adult vampire novels, The Vampire Diaries, the vampires wear lapis lazuli to protect themselves from the sun. It’s just after five in the morning right now — hi, chronic insomnia, you suck — and I’m partway through watching the pilot of the Vampire Diaries TV show. They’ve changed a lot of plot elements in the process of adaptation (baby sisters have become Pete-Wentz-hating teenage brothers, brunettes have become blondes, blondes have become brunettes, characters have been merged, eliminated, or added, place names are changed, and all that sort of stuff) but the second I saw a lapis lazuli ring on the finger of one of the vampire characters, I knew me and this show would get along okay.

As I just posted on my twitter, “it’s like the novels and Twilight and Buffy had a really awkward baby! Aww!”… the influence of Twilight in the way Stefan and Elena look is obvious — they’re much closer to Edward and Bella than they are to the Stefan and Elena of the novels. Back when Buffy was first on TV (I’m showing my age again) I used to compare it to the Vampire Diaries novels — Elena was Buffy, Stefan was Angel, Bonnie was Willow, Caroline was Cordelia, and so on — and it’s actually pretty fascinating to me that this show has eliminated many of those parallels. Caroline isn’t the bitch princess who rules the school anymore, as her book-self and Cordelia both were. It’s a whole new world.

As the story of the ring I wear demonstrates, these are books that were hugely important to me when I was fourteen. I learned a lot about what I found particularly compelling about vampire fiction from reading this series. The way time and distance and relationships can be utilised in vampire fiction, particularly young adult vampire fiction, in ways unique to the that situation. I’m pretty self-aware about a lot of stuff in my writing, but can’t say for certain just how deep the impact of these books goes on The Wolf House — Jay’s inscrutable iciness probably owes a huge amount to book-Elena’s style and coolness. Gretchen’s cycles of love and loss may have their seed in Stefan’s obsessions with Katherine and then Elena. Michelle and Meredith would almost without doubt get along very well.

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

The show is awkward and full of exposition dumps and it’s hard for me to forget about the ways it differs from the books, because a lot of the changes seem like they’re just there to simplify — by which I really mean blandify — some of the more complex aspects of the books. I get that it’s much easier to have the Salvatores come from the town, rather than from Italy, but the story loses a lot of richness for the change. The dynamic between Elena and Stefan gets turned into two kids in a small town, one of whom is dead, rather than a girl from a small town and a boy from a rich, old time in a land far, far away. I learned about history from these books, and it’s sad to see that aspect gone.

Elena getting assaulted by Tyler gave me a fictional mirror I could find comfort in when I had a similar experience myself a few months after first reading the books. Stories, even just YA vampire stories, can be friends to us when we need friends most. That’s what stories do that’s so important.

So even if the show is awkward and kind of silly and shallow and dull, I’ll keep watching, because it’s a new version of an old story that I will always care a lot about. And because Stefan wears a lapis lazuli ring.

Plus, oh my god, Damon is just as fucking hilarious and amazing and wonderful as he should be. LESS ANGSTING, MORE BITING AND SWAGGERING AND BEING A DICK. That’s what makes vampires fun. He shows up and the show perks up considerably. He has no time for your wet-eyed teenage looks and sighing, Stefan! He’s here to fuck shit up, and it’s glorious.