Author Lorelei Bell, welcomes you! Vampires are my addiction, I assume they are yours as well. Come and journey with me to the darker shadows, where the vampires lurk, watching us, waiting for us weak humans...

The journey awaits, come!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dark Shadows: Fond Memories & Facts

The girl ran down the hill in the shadow of the red brick school building, taking her usual escape route along the grassy edge of her neighbor's field. When the last bell rang to end her day of drudgery, she couldn't wait to get home. She raced down the hill and crossed the busy street carefully, but at a gallop because the show would be on soon! Long brown hair flying, she pumped her skinny legs to get home and then turned on the TV to watch "Dark Shadows".

The haunting, ethereal music and moody black & white setting--usually in that 40-room mansion, with a few mysterious wings locked off to everyone--and a creepy old cemetery nearby had me mesmerized. The mansion was situated on the precipice of a cliff, over an ocean view. The show was dark, rife with the odd character or two... and one vampire. Unheard of in a soap opera, especially in 1967.

Dark Shadows aired in 1966, but did not introduce Barnabas Collins, the vampire, until April of 1967.

I was that brown-haired girl with skinny legs running home to catch the show. I don't know when exactly I began to watch it, but it had to have been some time after the vampire came into the plot, because I was hooked, as were we all! My mother was a fan of soaps and would do her ironing while watching them while I sat on the floor drawing. I'm sure that I became awared of these day-time dramas because of her. After she died (the year I turned 12), I was pretty much free to watch such impressionable shows like Dark Shadows.

It wasn't until recently when the Dark Shadows movie with Johnny Depp in the roll of Barnabas Collins, that I began to remember things about when I first began watching that show, and realized this how I had become so interested in vampires to begin with, and began searching for anything about vampires, whether it was a movie or an article, or a book. But, I knew very little about this show's history. So, I've been researching the show and certain facts best I can for this special tribute. For those of you who are already fans, you may remember certain things better than I. For those of you who are new to this, well, here are some interesting facts about the show.

In 1966, Dark Shadows came on the air with little fanfare. It lasted until 1971--a mere 6 years. Producer, Dan Curtis, had the idea for a dark Gothic style TV soap, after a dream he had about a dark-haired orphan girl riding on a train into a new England town, and she winds up gaining employment as a governess in the Collenwood mansion.

When low ratings threatened cancellation during that first year, they added supernatural elements to the plot. The first element was a ghost. But in April of 1967, they introduced Barnabas Collins, the vampire: Willie Loomis discovers a secret room in the family mausoleum and finds a chained up coffin. Naturally he opens it, and disturbs Barnabas from his eternal resting place (I don't believe we see who pops out of the coffin). Afterward, a grimly handsome man  with dark hair (Barnabas Collins), appears at the front door of the Collinwood mansion and introduces himself as a long-lost cousin from England. He moves into the abandoned old house on the estate and it doesn't take long before the community is plagued by a "mysterious illness".

A history was developed and we learn about his long lost love Jossette DuPres--and the resemblance between Maggie Evans (a waitress in the local diner), and Jossette was not lost on him, and his desire to turn her into a vampire to replace his long-lost Jossette in his life became part of the plot. As the story continued, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grason Hall), was called in to treat Maggie (Kathryn Leigh Scott), for her mysterious illness.

Dan Curtis took a gamble on introducing the vampire, and good for him for Bringing in Canadian Shakespearean actor, Jonathan Frid. The shows were still broadcast during the summer of 1967, and suddenly the ratings not only jumped, but Jonathan Frid became an over-night star. His fan mail soared, and was overwhelmingly from women and teenagers. Crowds became a regular thing at the entrances to the ABC studio where the show was taped. Then, Dark Shadow paraphernalia began to appear.

Even after Dark Shadows went off  the air, there was a huge following. There were conventions, fanzines, festivals, books, and a game and miniatures. There were spin-off movies as well. Two full-length feature films were titled "House of Dark Shadows" (1970), and "Night of Dark Shadows" (1971). Both of which were available on video later on.

In 1991, they attempted to bring back "Dark Shadows" on TV, but it did not even last a season.

Actress Kathryn Leigh Scott edited "The Dark Shadows Companion/25th Anniversaryry Collection", with a foreword by Jonathan Frid.

Scott also has a very nice dedication to Frid on her website. I found that her website has a lot on it, so if you wish to explore further, I don't think you need go any further.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jonathan Frid and a Dark Shadows Tribute

I think I went into shock when I heard that Jonathan Frid was gone. Who would have expected that? I mean he was Barnabas Collins as far as I was concerned. Besides, everyone knows that vampires can’t die!

He created Barnabas as any vampire is created. He gave him his undead life. We knew it; we felt it because we believed it.

It was all so real because of Jonathan Frid’s consummate acting ability. Every expression and movement along with that beautiful voice, gave Barnabas his undead ‘life.’ His swirling cape, his smooth movements, and his wonderfully romantic menace spawned a genuine affection for all things gothic horror.

He thrilled and scared us and made us dream dark dreams of vampires and romance! Yes, that's right! Fiction and film is where it is today, I think because of that.

Here's something: I didn’t realize there is an amazing array of Dark Shadows fiction.

If you’re a fan of the original show, please visit the above link. It contains a veritable treasure trove of Dark Shadows fiction written over the years.

From Dark Shadows Collectibles:

    In her introduction to Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark, Lara Parker writes, "Dark Shadows was always destined to become a series of novels, if only to release those mesmerizing stories which so enraptured audiences into the imagination of the reader. For as lavish as the settings, as clever as the props, as lovely as the costumes all were, the power of the written word on the reader's dreamscape offers an even more exhilarating experience."

Also from the site:

    “Starting in 1966, Paperback Library published a successful series of Gothic-themed novels based on Dark Shadows. The 32 novels (plus the novelization of the film House of Dark Shadows) were written by Canadian author Dan Ross, using the pen name Marilyn Ross…”

I hope you check out this site. I’m glued!

As for me, I remember running home from school to watch this show Monday to Friday. I was thrilled by the music, the mood, and the storylines as well as the acting and the characters.

Jonathan Frid, for me was the real draw but there was an unforgettable cast as well: Joan Bennett, Grayson Hall, Kathryn Leigh-Scott and Lara Parker as the beautiful but wicked Angelique.

And what about those scenes between Angelique and Barnabas? I mean they were thrilling!

I know really that is why I write gothic romance with a strong horror element in it. They inspired me as well as a generation of other young people.

But there were the adult fans too. Parents loved the shows. As Lorelei wrote, her mom liked to iron and watch it. So did mine! I even caught my dad watching it on the occasion he was home during the day.

Dan Curtis and his wonderful show created a sensation and like any great sensation, sparks flew and started a conflagration that is the horror genre today: fiction, film and music I think has all been inspired by this show.

And do you know what else I think? I think we were early Goths, too! If we were, I’m proud of it!

We lost Jonathan Frid but we will never lose Dark Shadows or the excitement it gave us!

Jonathan Frid
1924 - 2012
Thank you.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blood Is Their Wine, Feeding Is Their Desire!

They covet it, drink it--exist because of it. Were they not to sup on blood they should be destroyed.

It is their staff of life, the sole reason they go on. It can come from any living creature, but it is sensual with a human victim.

It is a pleasurable thing for a vampire. Feeding is sexual in nature, if not for the victim, it is for the vampire at least in my fiction and especially with the character Eco who appears in two novels.

Feasting on blood while sexually enjoying someone is the height of erotica I think. The victim may pass from life to death, yet as depicted in much vampire fiction, that victim is beguiled and bled to death at the same time!

And yet, as the vampire feeds he suddenly becomes aware of his victim's mortality. Should he or shouldn't he? How great to be like a god! A demon of the underworld permitted to make such a decision: creation or not.

Existing undead or to lie forever mouldering in the worm-ridden earth.

The victim sinks to the floor and the vampire follows. Then raising one, nearly bloodless hand up to its mouth the vampire kisses it.

"I shall not destroy you!"

The vampire tears his own flesh open and reddens the victim's white lips with his own blood.

Eyelids flutter open and the vampire can see his own kind staring at him.

"Come forth to dwell in the world of the undead!"

And so the newly created kinsman goes forth to seek the blood and the sin of its new heritage, to dwell amongst the undead, never aging, ever young, forevemore...!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lorelei Bell's Take on Vampires: Her Debut Post!

So pleased to welcome Lorelei Bell, on to this blog!

My interest in vampires came in my teens watching the old horror classics of “Dracula” on TV late at night. I never did like that Dracula (or vampires in general) was the heavy, or villain. The one who inspired terror in all the living folk in the village, to be hunted down like a rabid dog, beheaded, staked etc. in his own coffin. I'd ask myself, “Why couldn't Dracula get the girl—the woman of his desires?”

Later, in adulthood, when I took up the pen and strove to put down my vampire stories, there was no such genre as “urban fantasy” or “paranormal romance” where vampires were hunks and women sought their attentions. Vampire works went under the heading of “horror”. Eventually, though, Anne Rice came to the rescue and brought a different type of story to the vampire genre. Whether she intended it or not, we all began to look at vampires differently. They have a story, each and everyone of them; they have different personalities, and their own motives and desires—just like everyone else on this planet.

In Vampire Ascending/Sabrina Strong Series I wanted the vampire to be more multi-dimensional, have more on his list of things to do than to drink blood, and I'll admit sex was part of this mix.

Furthermore, I wanted to create a heroine who has to learn who and what she was throughout the series, rather than plopping my readers somewhere after the beginning of the story and doing a lot of back story.

When it came to my vampires, I wanted to expose a large array of personalities, and they include the twins who were Beatles fans when they were turned, and Vasyl, who was a priest during the first century of Christianity when he was a human, and has continued his vigil for the sibyl. And, of course my seven-foot 1,000+ year old Viking, Bjorn Tremayne, owner/CEO of Tremayne Towers in Chicago. And then there is Nicolas who becomes Sabrina's romantic interest in the first book... but can she really trust him?

In my books, my vampires do have a reflection. They also have a heartbeat, but it's rather slow. Most of them can't go out into direct sunlight, and most of them sleep—not in a coffin, but in a bed. Depending upon their religion when they were alive, they shun those religious symbols, are unable to walk onto hallowed ground, or a church—but again if they were pagan, this wouldn't bother them at all. However, I've kept the “holy water” in tact for all vampires, as well as demons.

I felt that my vampires had to have their own hierarchy and governing system. Ba'al Demons are the enforcers of the vampire laws. In the first book, “Vampire Ascending” it is against vampire law for them to hunt humans. Instead, they've set up a donor program that works well, and do have their own bottled blood—some is 100% human, others are human and animal mix and depending upon the price there's less human blood in the mix. Bjorn has something he calls the “sanguine team” made up of elves—because their blood is not desired by the vampire. Thus they pay humans who choose to become their blood donors... and sometimes their bed partners. Sex and blood are both important to my vampires. They are a lusty lot!

My vampires all have their own personalities; you will not find a cardboard baddie among them. They each have their own needs, wants, and desires, and do fall in love—in other words are capable of human emotions.

When it came to creating my story, and my heroine in this series, I chose not to go with the kick-ass chick who went after vampires, demons or whatnot. I did not want her to work in some sort of newly created bureau (as in Karen Chance, Keri Arthur, and Kim Harris novels). I didn't want to do a lot of back-story. I wanted to begin at the beginning with my reluctant hero, Sabrina Strong, a sometimes quirky twenty-one year old who has this unique problem where she can't hold a job because she is a Touch Clairvoyant. Thus, when her father dies, she is forced to take something she can actually do. So when she answers the add for a clairvoyant, she isn't expecting to work for vampires. However, she is quite aware that they exist—even though most people don't believe it, or know that vampires, shift changers, werewolves, and demons do exist right along side them.


Vampire's Trill:

Vampire Ascending: (this is a site which will take them to wherever they need to buy)

My Blog: