Please welcome Berni Stevens to One More Page today with a guest post about her love of Vampires in celebration of her Choc Lit UK debut, Dance Until Dawn. Berni lives in a 400-year-old cottage with her husband, black cat, two goldfish who think they’re piranha, and occasionally her son when he comes back for some TLC. She trained in graphic design, and has worked as a book cover designer for over twenty years.
Her love of paranormal fiction began at school when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and she’s been a fan of the fanged ever since. She is on the committee and the book panel of The Dracula Society – a literary society for fans of gothic literature and film. Welcome Berni!
When I first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it fired my imagination more than any other book ever had before. I was only fourteen and I truly, had never read anything like it. I’d read Wuthering Heights at school of course, loved Heathcliff – hated Cathy – but Dracula really was something else. From that moment on, I read anything I could find with vampires in. From Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and Polidori’s The Vampyre, I then graduated to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and I loved Lestat of course. (Not Tom Cruise’s version!)
But Stoker’s infamous Count has always held me in his thrall. There really is no other vampire quite like him. He’s cold, ruthless, and incredibly intelligent, yet he manages to convey a certain melancholy sadness. Eternity is a long time to be around without the right company. The three vampire sisters in Dracula accuse him of being unable to love, to which he replies that they themselves are actually the proof that he could, and did, love. In a way, this was the starting point for my own vampire novel. I thought about the decades stretching ahead – the centuries of utter loneliness. At some point it would surely become unbearable?
I thought of someone existing for more than three hundred years, a lot of that time alone, without love or affection. The desire to find the perfect companion would turn to obsession, but would he ever find true love? Of course, I was writing a romance, so the chances are he would! Then I started to imagine the difficulties in such a relationship. When I wrote down the initial plot, I envisaged the story to be a vampire chick lit romance. Then the heroine annoyed me. She needed to be more 21st Century and a lot more feisty, and gradually everything became darker and a little bit scarier.
Over the last fifteen years or so, there have been a lot of vampire romances where one of the couple is still human. I really wanted to avoid that. There is always the old cliché about whether the vampire will turn the human before the end of the book. A fair point, because if the human remains human, they will age, and then eventually die. So I decided my heroine should start off dead – well – undead. There were also a lot of ‘what if’s’ – what if Ellie, the heroine was scared of the dark? Why would that be? Supposing she refused to drink blood? How would she survive?
I think the vampire should always be a bit of a tortured soul. Shunning direct sunlight (for obvious reasons), keeping to the shadows, and forced to prey on humans for sustenance. Yes, I know Louis from Interview With the Vampire and Angel from Buffy both survived for a while by feeding on rats’ blood, and the Cullens hunted deer, but I have always preferred my vampires to ‘play’ it by the book. Mitchell from Being Human was more resourceful and got a job in a hospital! Plenty of blood there.
So my hero, appears to have it all. He’s drop-dead gorgeous, more than used to women falling over themselves to get noticed by him, and he’s a billionaire to boot. I have always felt that an immortal being, if they had any intelligence whatsoever, should be able to make money in the modern world. Some contemporary vampire books have had the vampire still living in a dark crypt somewhere like a giant leech, as the modern world carries on above. Whilst I can see the point of maintaining the Gothic feel of the legend, I wanted my own vampire to have a better life, albeit a secret life.
Money can buy most things, as Will tells Ellie quite early on in the book, but it can’t buy happiness – or love. He has watched her from afar for a long time and fallen deeply in love with a young modern woman he has never properly met. The women from his own era were groomed for marriage and not much else, and he has no idea how to relate to Ellie at first. She, of course, gives him a few pointers.
Do they make it? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Thanks Berni – I can’t wait to read it!
Dance Until Dawnis out now in ebook and paperback formats.
Find out more about Berni and her writing at:
Follow Will on Twitter: @austen_will