Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here be Vampires! By Sasha Soren

Here Be Vampires!: Random Magic
Sasha Soren

In Random Magic, our heroes (Winnie and Henry) spend a hair-raising night with the very charming, very wealthy -- and very, very strange -- De Morgues.

Readers have been fascinated with vampires for centuries, even before Bram Stoker wrote his opus to the undead, Dracula, in 1897.

In celebration of Halloween, and all things spooky, we’re featuring a few tidbits about vampire lore, and an excerpt about this offbeat family of vamps in Random Magic.
Yes, the De Morgues are actually exactly like other vampires, and they cleave to the same well-worn rules for their fellow nightwalkers and children of the night.

Except -- well, except for one thing.  They just have this one small problem...

Note: Random Magic will also be on tour from Oct. 24-Oct. 31, you can visit that tour, here.

Excerpt: Random Magic (Sasha Soren):

The Count patted Lady De Morgue’s bloodless hand. “There, there,” he murmured tenderly. “You must eat. You’re wasting away to practically a vapor.”
He sighed. “Maybe two nice bowls of -- tomato soup,” he said, looking at Henry without moving an eyelash.
The Count looked at Winnie.
“Nothing, thanks.”
Henry piped up. “Wait. I’ll have a bowl of the -- ow! Stop that, Winnie.”
A sudden burst of sound in the hallway interrupted their “conversation.”
A young girl, her silver hair in pigtails, burst through the door. Her hot-orange t-shirt and lime green mini-skirt were startling in the gloom. She bounced along on purple sneakers that lit up with every step she took.
Henry stared.
“Our daughter,” the Count said wearily. “Hypatia.”
She skipped up to the Lady De Morgue. “Company again, mama?”
The two Lady De Morgues nodded drearily.
She bent down to kiss the first Lady De Morgue.
“Hello mama.”
She leaned over and kissed the second Lady De Morgue.
“And hello, mama.”
Hypatia slid into her seat. The De Morgues eyed her warily.
The second Lady De Morgue stared across the table, the bluish shadows under her immense, luminous eyes making her look vaguely startled.
The Count cleared his throat. “And how was school tonight, darling?”
“Oh, boring.” She sniffed the centerpiece of dead flowers, and crinkled her nose in distaste. “Look, we’ve got all the money in the world; couldn’t we have some -- space daisies or something?”
The second Lady De Morgue flinched as if she’d been struck. The Count settled himself deeper into his ornate velvet chair and continued his polite chat. “And how was Coffin Decoration class?”
Henry’s mouth dropped open.
“Dead boring,” Hypatia moped, kicking a table leg. “The only color swatches they had were black.
She rolled her eyes.
Lady De Morgue stifled a sob into her handkerchief.

More: Random Magic
Vampire Lore
(Note: Some excerpts taken from Wikipedia, with minor editing, direct quotes indicated.)

* Often a virgin was the only one who could identify a suspected vampire. ‘One method of finding a vampire's grave involved leading a virgin boy through a graveyard or church grounds on a virgin stallion - the horse would supposedly balk at the grave in question.’

* ‘Corpses thought to be vampires were generally described as having a healthier appearance than expected, showing little or no signs of decomposition.’

* ‘Vampires can make their presence felt by engaging in minor poltergeist-like activity, such as hurling stones or moving household objects.’

* Vampires are traditionally said to be unable to cross running water. This bit of trivia is subtly acknowledged in a scene near the De Morgue’s castle, in Random Magic.

* ‘The vampire's head, body, or clothes can be spiked and pinned to the earth to prevent rising.’

* Nearly every culture has some kind of vampire lore, even if the cultures are vastly different in other ways.

Mentions of night walkers and blood-sucking creatures are found in the folklore and legends of Asia, Africa and Europe, although the most familiar form of the vampire – mainstream vamps! – is the brooding, hypnotic, elegant and romantic but lethal night creature of Slavic legend, featured so prominently in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and hundreds of books that followed thereafter.

* Items said to be able to protect a user from vampires include garlic, a crucifix, or holy water. A wooden stake through the heart or a silver bullet are two weapons said to be able to kill a vampire. Silver bullets were traditionally the ‘cure’ for attacks by werewolves or witches; in time, silver bullets became a part of vampire lore, as well.

* ‘Sacred items, for example a crucifix, rosary, or holy water, are used to ward off vampires. Vampires are also said to be unable to walk on consecrated ground.’

* ‘Some traditions hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless invited (over the threshold) by the owner.’

Read more vampire lore here or here

Book trailer: Random Magic

Summary: When absent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes.

Along the way he meets Winnie Flapjack, a wit-cracking doodle witch with nothing to her name but a magic feather and a plan. Such as it is.

Henry and Winnie brave the Dark Queen, whatwolves, pirates, Strüths, and fluttersmoths, Priscilla and Charybdis, obnoxiously cheerful vampires, Baron Samedi, a nine-dimensional cat, and one perpetually inebriated Muse to rescue Alice and save the world by tea time.

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