The first time I ever saw a chastity belt was in the movie The History of the World, by Mel Brooks. The beautiful Madeline Kahn was wearing a metal, armor-like version that kept my adolescent self at the time wondering what could be its purpose if she wasn’t headed into battle.
Later, in college, two history professors gave a lecture/debate on whether the device was real or fake. Both gave compelling reasons for their cases. It has only been in the last few years, with the help of the BBC, the Guardian news and the collaborative work of several international museums that the debate has been settled.
Chastity belts were a joke devised during the Crusades. Several historical accounts have confirmed that men on their way to fight in the east joked about “locking up” their wives and hence their fertility until the men returned home. All the same questions that I had as a teenager were sited as logical reasons why the infamous belts would likely have killed a woman after a week; hygiene being the most pressing concern.
Never the less, the belts have become an icon of oppressive nature of patriarchal societies; a symbol of what a society at the time was thinking, but never the less needed a symbol or a joke when talking about it. Symbols representing uncomfortable sexual issues have a deep, rich history in literature. Some of them are things that as our modern society presses forward may just take for granted.
When Dracula was published in 1897, the book came out a time when sexuality was only hinted at with the greatest discretion. Society at the time required Bram Stoker to write his famous Gothic novel in such a way that Dracula’s seduction of his victims merely suggested penetration. Stoker required Dracula to alter his victims, seducing them, without ever committing the sex act with them. In a stroke of genius, Stoker invents the lethal fangs of his vampire. Today, an entire genre of horror owes everything to his ingenious creation.
M.M. Genet is the author of The Clever Courtesan. The book takes readers on a wild ride through the eyes of Cassandra Flemming, a Lady of Keys. Fighting the norms of Victorian high society, Cassandra challenges all the rules when it comes to women, power, sex and power of a lock and a key.
Loren Rhoads is a good friend of mine and just happens to be an aficionado on cemeteries. She’s here today to tell us about the vampire panic of New England.
I knew about the witch panic in Salem, but less familiar to me were the vampires of New England. Rather than Bram Stoker’s vampire, rising from his grave to roam the night, New England’s vampires could prey upon the living while still confined inside their coffins.
There are almost 20 documented cases, beginning even before the American Revolution, of vampires being exhumed in New England. One of the last instances took place in the 1880s.
George and Mary Brown farmed outside the town of Exeter, Rhode Island. Mary Brown was struck by an illness, probably tuberculosis, that drained her vitality. She withered and died in 1883.
The following year, Mary’s eldest daughter, who was called Mary Olive, died at the age of 20.
Several years passed before George and Mary’s son Edwin began to fade. The local physician suggested that Edwin and his wife move to Colorado Springs for his health.
The cold, dry air did seem to help Edwin, but while he was recuperating, his sister Mercy began to fail at home. Edwin rushed home to say goodbye to her. She died in January 1892 at the age of 19.
Since winter had frozen the ground solid, Mercy’s corpse was placed in the receiving crypt at Exeter’s Chestnut Hill Cemetery. Receiving crypts were common in the days before cemeteries developed heating blankets to thaw the winter ground. Old cemeteries often still have these crypts, although nowadays, they are usually used as sheds to store lawnmowers and other grounds-keeping equipment.
Back in the 1890s, Edwin’s health deteriorated after he returned to Rhode Island. George Brown’s neighbors decided Edwin was suffering from Vampire’s Grasp. The only way to save him would be to “perform the folk ritual.”
On March 17, 1892, while George stayed at home, the doctor and George Brown’s neighbors dug up the graves of Mary and Mary Olive. As one would expect after almost a decade in the ground, both women’s corpses were badly decomposed.
Then the mob opened the receiving crypt. When they lifted the lid on Mercy’s coffin, they discovered she had turned sideways. Rather than considering if she had been buried alive — or merely jostled as she was carried to the crypt — the onlookers took her unexpected position as proof she was a vampire.
Other than the body’s movement, Mercy’s body looked as expected. But when the doctor removed her heart and liver, they leaked blood.
The neighbors placed the organs on a rock in the cemetery and set them afire. The ashes were collected up and mixed with liquid to be fed to Edwin. Unfortunately, the remedy didn’t save him. He died six weeks later.
Whether she roamed from her tomb or not beforehand, Mercy now turns up as a ghost in this nondescript little cemetery. Apparently, the blue lights of will o’ the wisps hover close to her grave.
Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She writes about graveyards for the Horror Writers Association and blogs blogs about cemeteries as vacation destinations at cemeterytravel.com.
Heading into the holidays inspires us vampire lovers to CRAVE something vampire-y, something (anything) to take away the memories of crowded grocery stores and gift buying.
Just in time, we have vampire author, James S. Hoch. About his vampires, James says, “Remember, Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows? He was perhaps our first sympathetic vampire who transforms ‘from a frightening creature of the night into the show’s protagonist, who selflessly, heroically and repeatedly risks his life to save the Collins family from catastrophe’ – Wikipedia. In the Crimson Pursuit series, Reveka shares that protagonist trait and just wants to have a normal life, but her adversary, Mariska, will do anything to end it. Reveka risks all to protect her friends and the secret of the astral vampire plane.”
Calling all Barnabas fans! Let’s find out more about Reveka.
Author name: James S. Hoch
What is the title of your series?The Crimson Pursuit
How many books are currently for sale or listen? 2 (Reveka’s Return and Reveka’s Revenge)
How many total in the series to date? 3
What is the book about? Astral vampire, Reveka Tomescu, returns to corporeal form as a flesh and blood master vampire. Her new life is suddenly shaken by the pursuit of a determined detective as well as one of the deadliest of hunters another vampire.
I have a relatively new vampire writer to share with you today. A.D. is a horror writer and winner of HorrorAddicts.net‘s 2013 Writer’s Workshop. His story about spiders was produced by HorrorAddicts.net for Episode #99. A.D. is a promising new voice in horror and here he is to talk about his vamps.
Author name: A.D. Vick
What is the title of your series? Tales of Dark Romance and Horror is the name of my e book. It’s a collection of short stories and novelettes of which only four entries are vampire oriented. Of the four, only two are related. These include A Fall from Grace and its sequel, A Fall from Grace: Metamorphosis. These may or may not become part of a larger series.
How many books are currently for sale or listen? One eBook is currently for sale. I am offering these stories online both individually and as a full collection. Additionally, there are other pieces of fiction that I’m holding back for submission to other publications.
How many total in the series to date? Only one vampire appears in the Fall from Grace series so far, her name is Lady Andrea. If I continue with this series I will likely bring in more of her associates.
What is your vampire story about? Jessie Tucker is a promising second-year divinity student at the Good Shepherd Baptist College of Theological Studies, which is situated in a small southern city. In spite of his high grades and Zeal for the Lord, Jessie has a secret: He’s obsessed with a darkly mysterious woman who passes by his home every evening at night fall. When he travels a darkened road beyond the confines of the city to learn more about her, he gets more than he bargained for.
Where can readers buy, read, or listen to your vampire series? Currently, my vampire series and other dark offerings can be found, with descriptions of each at Http://www.romanceandhorror.com/
THE VAMPIRE MATRIX
Can kill them.
Cannot take sunlight
Coffin sleep a must?
Homeland dirt a must?
Will destroy vampire
Do they need to be invited in?
Do they sparkle?
Do they cast a shadow?
Do they show up on film or video?
Do they have a reflection?
Eye color change with hunger?
May turn red
Die if not fed?
When killed, what is left?
Eat solid food?
Create offspring by blood?
Feeding can be sexual
Yes, as a bat
Does their blood heal mortals?
What are their fangs like? Extended canines.
Skin color when after rebirth: The same only more pale.
Attractiveness after rebirth: Yes. Often irresistible attractiveness
How do they feed? Generally through biting the neck. My vampire Angeline used a razor blade to gently cut her willing victim.
What does the mortal experience when fed on? It depends upon the mindset of the mortal. For some it’s an erotic experience. For others it’s terrifying.
What do they feed on? Human only? Evil souls only? They prefer to feed on humans but other mammals will do if necessary. My vampires differ. Lady Andrea from the A Fall from Grace series enjoys feeding on the story’s protagonist for mutually erotic encounters. Otherwise, she prefers to feed upon those she believes deserve it. These she will kill without hesitation. My male vampire from The Coven doesn’t discriminate.
Do they kill? Or only drink? Do they have a conscience? Again, my vampires differ on this. Lady Andrea often kills, but may choose not to. She does have a conscience, but is most definitely a predator with a dark side.
Are there clans or a hierarchy? Yes, but I barely explored this theme as of yet.
How is a vamp created in your world? Blood exchange
What happens when they are changed? Confusion at first, but with enhanced senses and physical abilities. A blood lust quickly develops.
Is religion involved in you vamp world and what kind? My vampires are not religious but some humans appearing in the stories are very much so. I enjoy the play between a human victim falling back upon religion as it clashes with the blood lust, raw sexuality and dark personality of the vampire.
Is war or fighting a big theme in your books? One of my stories, which is entitled Rosalie, opens after a coup d’etat in the United States by right-wing religious fundamentalists. The story involves themes of government/religious oppression, witchcraft and forbidden seduction. There are no vampires in that story however.
How did vampires “start” in your world? Since I primarily write short stories, I really haven’t given this matter much thought or exploration.
What made vampires a reality in your world? While I haven’t explored this question, I’ll have to say that the existence of the supernatural and/or magick permeates all of my stories in one way or the other.
Who is your top vampire character. I’d have to say that I like Lady Andrea. As a character, I’ve spent more time with her and have developed her complex personality more than the others. She exists in modern times; but as I mentioned earlier, I haven’t really explored origins since I generally write short stories.
Who is your favorite vampire writer? I would have to say Anne Rice, but I also enjoy Nancy Kilpatrick and am currently reading a wonderful novel by Jeanne Kalogridis.
What music goes best with your series? What do you play to get in the mood for writing about these blood-thirsty fiends? Nothing puts me in the mood better than doom metal or melodic death/doom.
If you missed A.D.’s story on HorrorAddicts.net, I’ve put a play button here so you can listen.
Thank you, A.D., for sharing your vamps!
Check in next time when I’ll speak
with James Hoch about his Biters.
Until then, protect your neck and beware
of things that go bump in the night.
Next on my list for modern vampire writers is Leigh M. Lane. Leigh is a new friend of mine that writes a vampire out of the norm. Jane the Hippie Vampire is broke, homeless, and vegan. Not quite the sultry, romantic trope we’re used to, but interesting just the same. When asked about her series, Leigh said, “Jane is a transient, her encounters modeled after the 70’s series Kung-Fu. Each “episode” offers a piece of her past as well as a glimpse into her current search for redemption.”
Well, I for one can’t wait to find out about Leigh’s hippie vampire. Let’s check her out!
Author name: Leigh M. Lane
What is the title of your series?Jane the Hippie Vampire
How many books are currently for sale or listen? The second releases in August.
How many total in the series to date? Six
What is the series about? Jane has had one hell of a time ever since she bumped into the wrong guy during the Summer of Love, but she’s taken it all in stride. Wandering from town to town, she seeks out the needy and the broken in hopes of breaking the curse that’s left her bloodthirsty and forever seventeen. In Love Beads, Jane crosses paths with a middle-aged man who’s encountered her kind before–but he seems happy just to have the company. Of course, appearances can be deceiving, and his secret might just prove to be the end of her.
She’s not sure, but she hasn’t aged since the Summer of Love.
Does their blood heal mortals?
What are their fangs like?
Skin color when after rebirth:
No change—just increased paleness from sun avoidance.
Attractiveness after rebirth:
How do they feed?
Jane falls into a berserker frenzy, and then destroys the body to avoid reanimation.
What does the mortal experience when fed on?
Pain, weakness, death.
What do they feed on? Human only? Evil souls only?
Only humans, preferably the scum of society.
Do they kill? Or only drink? Do they have a conscious?
Jane kills as infrequently as possible and hopes she might perform enough good deeds to cancel out the bad. She actually hopes she might do enough good to relieve her of her curse, but it’s most likely wishful thinking.
Are there clans or a hierarchy?
Not that Jane’s aware of.
How is a vamp created in your world? Exsanguination and awakening.
What happens when they are changed? They are overcome with bloodlust.
Is religion involved in you vamp world and what kind? Jane is a product of the hippie revival movement and is a born-again Christian.
Is war or fighting a big theme in your books? No, only Jane’s personal battle against her nature.
How did vampires “start” in your world? Jane hasn’t a clue, but she assumes it’s some kind of curse.
Who is your top vampire character? Jane, who was dosed in a bar during the Summer of Love, woke in a basement in a remote cottage, where she was a food source and sex slave for an indeterminate amount of time. She escaped after being buried alive.
Who is your favorite vampire writer? Anne Rice.
What music goes best with your series? Well, Jane personally prefers funk, but I think of ‘60s rock when I think about her character.
Thank you for sharing your groovy vampire with us, Leigh!
Join me next time Biters,
when we’ll talk to
Paul Lewis about his IMMORTAL series!
Many of you have been wondering why you can’t get your favorite vampire sequel, Dusk’s Warriors, on Mevio anymore. Well, that’s because Mevio decided to cancel all podcast feeds without explanation, warning, or apology. Thanks to the good folks at LibSyn, you will now be able to listen to Dusk’s Warriors again! I am re-posting all the chapters so I can continue and finish this tale.
Dusk’s Warriors, Chapter 1: In this first chapter of the sequel to Night’s Knights Vampire Podnovel, we meet two new characters Zack and Ridge, who journey to Hell. The top demon is back!
Hey Biters, the story you’ve been waiting for is here! Join Sandro as he tells the story of his bringing over. I want to thank David Watson again for inspiring this tale. Hope he and all the other Biter’s out there enjoy this little back story!
And here is the Podiobooks blurb about the book, and my short story Holy Rites.
This short story takes place in the world of Night’s Knights.
About the short story: Emerian Rich’s “Holy Rites” tells the story of Sandro’s birth into vampirism. As an unwilling initiate into vampiric priestdom, can he survive the extinction of his church by a self-righteous band of Blood Warriors?
Podioracket Presents-Glimpses is now available on Podiobooks.com.
Dusk’s Warriors, Chapter 13: Talia, the Drog, and the vampires meet on the docks. When a fight breaks out, only one person can stop them. Markham meets a Drog that reminds him of a lost love and goes to Drog HQ to find Ridge.
Voices by: Camellia Rains, Mark Eller, H. E. Roulo, Rhonda Carpenter, Dan Shaurette, Ariel DaWintre, Janna, and Emerian Rich.