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Florence_Stoker

Florence Balcombe Stoker

If you don’t have access to ShowTime and you’ve been wondering what Penny Dreadful is all about, let me clue you in. I enjoy the show and recommend it. Ethan Chandler a Wild Bill Cody type is hired by Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives to find and rescue his daughter, Mina Hunter, kidnapped by Dracula. Dr. Frankenstein teams up with them as well. And Dorian Gray is added to the mix.

This is my third post for Halloween month, October, so it’s Bram Stoker and Dracula’s turn. It is not a proven fact but it has been reported by many Stoker biographers that he died of syphilis. It was a disease that plagued many in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. When dracula attacks someone he infects them with vampirism and it’s easy to see the possible connection with a disease like syphilis. It’s not hard to discern his guilt and concern over possibly infecting his wife and also in being unfaithful to a woman he loved. Bram Stoker married actress Florence Balcombe in 1878. She’d previously been engaged to Oscar Wilde. From all accounts they had a strong marriage and shared a deep love for each other. We can see those intense emotions in Jonathan’s feelings for Mina.

Bram Stoker

Some interesting tidbits on Bram Stoker s he was  Irish, while Dracula is Eastern European For that reason, you may not have noticed the author’s Celtic roots showing in the story but I assure you they are there. It is said he actually wrote his first draft of Dracula while he was a guest at Slains. The Slain castle in Aberdeenshire Scotland is often considered an inspiration for Dracula’s castle in the book.

On his mother’s side Bram Stoker happened to be a direct descendent of ’Manus O’Donnell (Manus ‘the Magnificent. He was an Irish clan leader who led a rebellion against Henry VIII in the 16th century. Bram Stoker drew on his lineage to write of a man with a great past as a warrior and ruler now displaced by the passage of history, living in the shadows, in other words it is also the story of Bram Stoker’s ancestry.

It has been said that as a little boy in Ireland Bram Stoker’s mother often told him stories including horror stories. They must have included Irish folk lore.There are many tales of dark vampiric fey in Celtic mythology. These dark fey are often extremely beautiful and seductive. The vampiric fey, the baobhan sith,  always roamed together as sisters. In Dracula, Bram Stoker’s description of the three sisters in the vampire’s castle seems similar to dark Celtic fey.

Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on. One said:—

“Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.” The other added:—

“He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.”

Because authors Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde pulled deep from within and wrote emotion and human pain into their stories we can connect with the horrors they created. We feel what the monsters feel. We can see bits of ourselves in these monsters …and that is what makes them scariest of all.

~           ~            ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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dictionaryI’ve been reading an annotated version of a Jane Austen book and while I find the book fascinating, the notes on the right-handed pages are even better. I’ve read my share (and then some) of books written IN or about Regency and Victorian eras, but we never truly know ‘everything.’ It’s only through continued reading and researching that we grasp a good and thorough understanding of these fascinating eras of time.

When I read the title ‘Sense & Sensibility’ – I read it as being ‘having good sense and being sensitive’ – referring to ability or inability of the characters to have the good sense to make decisions and be sensitive toward others… qualities that I felt Marianne lacked and Elinor had in droves… but wait a minute…

Sensibility – the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity [in the annotation it says that the meaning is ‘strong feelings’]

Strong Feelings? Not Sensitivity? Boy howdy have I been ‘off’ about this! I’m going to have to find an annotated version of Sense & Sensibility… *sigh*

Let’s take a look at a few other words –

Disgusting – arousing revulsion or strong indignation [in the annotation it says that the meaning is distasteful]

Character – the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual [annotation – reputation]

Interesting – arousing curiosity or interest, catching attention [annotation – important]

Years from now… when readers delve into the universes that we create… will their vocabulary be different than what we use today? Will they understand what we intended when we set the words down in print/ereader file?

Will they understand the difference based on the context of our words? Will they rely on annotations of our works? Or… will their altered understanding of the vocabulary be… just fine? Will they enjoy the story even more… or look to understand our creativity by broadening their knowledge of our ‘times’ and ‘vocabulary’?

Thoughts?

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Once again, someone published an article disparaging a genre and all those who read it. In this case it was an article about how adults who read YA should be ashamed for themselves. (These sorts of articles seems to pop up about once a year.) It’s unfortunate when articles like this happen, since they’re usually sweeping in judgment, often saying that “adults” should read “real books” blah, blah, blah.

But it’s not just YA that this happens to. Romance. Chick-Lit/Women’s Fiction. They, too, are subject to haters. (It seems to me that a majority of these are dominated both reading and writing wise by women, but that’s a (very important) conversation for another day.)

Someone is always judging and dismissing those who read (and write) x or y genre, which is usually not the preference of the one doing the judging. The readers in question are told to read “real books.”

This is what I say:

shut up and read

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and they’re allow to not like certain types of books, but that doesn’t mean they’re should dismiss or disparage entire readerships or genres.

Also, the “real” book argument really gets to me. As a YA author (and a Steampunk author) I get the “when are you going to write a real book” question all the time.

What exactly makes a book “real” anyhow? How is writing a book for teens, or with kissing, or paranormal creatures, so hoverboards any less real?

Um, heck no. These books aren’t lesser. The readers aren’t lesser. The authors aren’t lesser. No less work going into crafting these stories than any other book.

There are plenty of merits to reading YA. Lots of people enjoy them. Lots of people write them. They make lots of people happy. This could be said for any other genre.

Read whatever you want. Read what makes you happy. Write whatever you want. Write what makes you happy.

Life is too short to not read (and write) whatever you like, so why limit yourself? Why not go all over the bookstore to find those books? Who knows what gems you’ll find? Why not write a story the way it wants to be written?

Every book, every story has value. Everyone is different. That is the beauty of having so many different types of books–so everyone can find a story that resonates with them.

So, be proud, adult readers of YA, readers of romance, readers in general. Books are awesome. it's ok to read YA

 

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA Steampunk dark-fairytale series “The Aether Chronicles.” INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now. FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. She runs with cupcakes, plays with swords, likes cupcakes, and thinks adulthood is over-rated.

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