Vampires! Lots of them! And they are in Australia. In our past, our present and our future. Thirty-three blood-sucking stories in one huge book — Dead Red Heart.
Lately, I’ve been hearing talk that the vampire has had his day in popular fiction, at least for the time being… That the sparkliness of some recent vampires has dulled the appeal of the blood-sucking genre. And yet they keep showing up. From the recent YA novel Department 19 (reviewed here) and its upcoming sequel, to a new picture book by Margaret Wild and Andrew Yeo, called Vampyre. Despite what some people may say, I don’t think there’s any danger of the fictional vampire fading into obscurity.
I’m particularly enamoured with vampire stories set in Australia. Apart from a simple interest in my homeland, the concept of vampires in ‘a sunburnt country’ is rather fascinating. One of my favourite vampire novels is Narrelle M Harris’s Melbourne-based tale, The Opposite of Life. I’m told that a sequel is on the way, and I’m very much looking forward to it. Then there’s the Sydney-based Solace and Grief by Foz Meadows. The sequel, The Key to Starveldt, comes out in October.
But while I’m waiting for these two sequels, I’m satisfying my bloodlust with Dead Red Heart. Edited by Russell B Farr and published by Australian small press publisher Ticonderoga Publications, it contains stories from writers both established and new. Even I feature in its pages with a little story called “Vitality”, about a vampire and a hill hoist.
Dead Red Heart is large book, and I’ve got a stack of review books to get through, so I’ve been dipping into this anthology rather than working my way from cover to cover in one go. I’ve been picking out a couple of stories between each of the novels I’m reading. I’m not even half the way through but I am enjoying it immensely. Despite the common subject matter, there are such a variety of stories. My favourites so far are Felicity Dowker’s wonderful tale of vampires, tattoos and revenge, “Red Delicious”, and Jeremy Sadler’s take on the Ned Kelly story, “Such is Life”.
“Such is Life” deserves a bit of a special mention in that it is the author’s first professionally published story. So I asked Jeremy to tell us a little about his publishing experience…
It did not feel real until the book was in my hands. I had sent my story, “Such Is Life”, off into the wild with the expectation that I would never hear about it again. Though secretly, deep inside, metaphorical fingers were crossed.
Everything I’ve written up to this point that appeared in the public domain has been self-published. From various fanzines to a partnership in producing Frontier: The Australian Science Fiction Media Magazine, to articles and reviews on the Internet, it has always been my hand that has delivered my words to the world.
This makes it a momentous occasion for me when someone else deems something I have written as worthy of publication. I never anticipated my first “professional” published work would be Australian vampire fiction — but then it seems so appropriate.
The book in my hands finally gave substance to the excitement, and there was a certain joy in re-reading what I had written, as if it was new. It sat among fabulous company from notable authors. How could I not be pleased?
Now it’s a matter of using that excitement to feed more writing and having more items published, and to enjoy even more “now it feels real” moments.
My thanks to Jeremy for sharing his “now it feels real” moment with us. If any other first-time authors would like to share their experiences, leave a comment. And if you’ve got a favourite vampire book you’d like to tell everyone about… yes, you guessed it… leave a comment!
Catch ya later, George
PS. Follow me on Twitter… or I’ll bite ya!