Monthly Archives: November 2016

Write a Guest Blog for the Feckless Goblin

write a guest blog

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We’re currently looking for some great content for the site from indie writers and other artists. If you think you’d like to write a guest blog for the Feckless Goblin then contact us on the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Benefits When You Write a Guest Blog

It’s gone a little out of fashion in some circles but guest blogging is good for getting additional traffic to your site and widening your reach to a whole new audience. It can also help you improve your search engine ranking because of a strong inbound link. We’ll publish your post and then send out a message to our 30,000 Twitter fans as well as our Facebook followers.

What to Write in Your Guest Blog

We’re looking for anything relating to the writing process and the marketing of books. It should be informative and useful to our readers and shouldn’t be about promoting your own book or product. Ideally the length needs to be between 500 and 2,000 words. Each post will include a bio of the author at the end with a link to your website, Twitter feed, Facebook page etc.

Fill in the form if you’d like to write a guest blog.

 

Vampire Fiction: A Beginner’s Guide

vampire fiction

Vampire fiction has exploded in the last three to four decades. There are now literally thousands of books, short stories, films and comics featuring our fanged friends. They’ve managed to inveigle their way into large parts of our society, almost to the extent that many people believe these fictional creatures really do exist.

Vampires have become so popular they’ve bridged the gap between genres. No longer a simple staple of horror, you can find vampires leaching horribly into romance, comedy, young adult fiction, sci-fi, gaming and even the odd serious semi-serious tome such as Let the Right One In.

So what makes vampire fiction endure? Why are we still so fascinated by these undead creatures? Has everything blood sucking been done to death?

Or does our friend the night crawler still have a few more tricks up his or her bony sleeve?
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The First Vampire in Fiction

The Vampyre by John William Polidori, written in 1819 is often put forward as the first blood sucker in literature. Our friends were part of folklore long before that, however. Precursors to the more modern vampire can be found in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt – creatures who came at night to pray on humans and drink their blood. Although we have some evidence the Middle Ages were rife with them,  the true essence of the vampire, however, appeared out of South West Europe in the early part of the 1700s.

In Voyage to the Levant, writer and traveller Joseph Pitton de Tournefort revealed a belief in the undead in the south of Europe including Greece. The word ‘vampyre’ was used in 1732 when the London Journal mentioned it in connection with Hungary.  The country appeared again in ‘Treatise on Apparitions of Angels, Demons and Spirits and on the Revenants and Vampires of Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia‘ published over ten years later.

People rising from the dead was not an unusual occurence in fiction and poetry at the time. Goethe in the Bride of Corinth talks of a young woman returned from the grave who says: ‘Still to love the bridegroom I have lost, And the lifeblood of his heart to drink.’ In England, Southey and Byron both penned poems that had vampirism at their heart.

Vampire fiction really began to gather pace with Polidori’s Vampyre, a short story that was immediately successful. It spawned numerous 19th century imitations that blended romance and sometimes eroticism as the genre began to evolve and come of age.

The daddy of them all, however, was Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Even now, over a century later, the Prince of Darkness remains one of the most enduring and memorable characters in literary history.

Without him, vampire fiction may well have disappeared into the mist instead of imbedding itself in our collective psyche.
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Dracula: The Ultimate Vampire

We certainly wouldn’t have the plethora of vampire fiction we have today if it wasn’t for Dracula. Published in 1897 by Irish author Bram Stoker, the book introduced two major characters, Dr Van Helsing and the eponymous vampire himself. In truth, the book wasn’t an immediate success when it first came out and it wasn’t until popular movies were made in the 20th century that the character really began to capture the public’s imagination.

In fact, the book made hardly any money for Bram Stoker and he was to die in poverty in 1912. Over the years, Dracula and the vampire myth found it easy to penetrate society, whichever decade happened to be passing by. He gets repackaged every so often for a new audience but his appeal seems to endure. Perhaps, in a literary sense, he really is immortal.

The Vampire in Popular Culture

The vampire has made an impact on practically all areas of modern culture. It’s not just in vampire fiction that we see the fall of the blood sucker’s shadow. In comic books, music, film, and now even online games, the bared fangs and desire to feast on the necks of myriad victims has spread its satanic fictional tentacles.

There are people who profess to be real vampires, there are those who are fans of particular series or genres to the point of obsession, and countless indie writers can’t seem to give up the lure of blood suckers no matter how hard they try. And there are those who just love a good scare now and again.

vampire fiction 30 days of night

My Top 6 in Vampire Fiction

1. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

A personal favourite from the mid-seventies about the time when Stephen King was becoming popular worldwide. Salem’s Lot is traditional vampire fiction at its best, as the mysterious Kurt Barlow arrives in a small town and people begin to drop off the radar, only to return when night falls.

2. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I am Legend is another apocalyptic treat, this time from the early 1950s. There is a global pandemic that elicits the symptoms of vampirism and society has broken donw. For its time, the book was move away from the more gothic feel of the caped vampire with a dark secret to something more crude and threatening.

This is probably the point at which vampire fiction began to morph, slowly at first, into other genres. Indeed, Matheson’s book is sometimes credited with the rise of the zombie hordes we all know and love today.

3. They Thirst by Robert R McCammon

Probably lost in the shadow of King’s Salem’s Lot, They Thirst is another traditional vampire novel, this time based in Hollywood. The book is a genuine classic of the vampire fiction genre and if you haven’t read it yet, you should give it a try.

4. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Okay, so there were a whole series of books about vampires by Rice but this was the one that kicked it off. For the first time, we started seeing things from the blood sucker’s point of view and it spawned a whole series of gothic romance wannabes with everything from The Vampire Diaries to Underworld owing something to the anti-hero Lestat.

5. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

While vampire fiction has mostly sat comfortably in its own genre, Let The Right One In moved it into more literary territory. At the time this was hailed as the reinvention of the vampire novel and made into a successful film. It’s less about the blood sucking undead as the rights of passage of youth and the terrifying bloom of first love.

6. The Last Vampire by T M Wright

Seems to fallen off the book list in recent decades, Wrights book is a mini-masterpiece as his unwilling vampire sits at the end of the world in a post-apocalyptic future. One book to read if you can find a copy somewhere. Vampire fiction as it probably should be.

nosferatu vampire fiction

Nosferatu, Dracula and Other Vampires in Film and TV

1. Nosferatu (1922)

Apparently, they’re about to remake this silent classic. The big draw, back in the 1920s, was the actual vampire himself. Max Schrek is the perfect blood sucker and his shadow crossing the wall is one of the most memorable images in horror film history.

2. Bela Lugosi’s Dracula (1931)

For a long while, Lugosi was the iconic vampire and became one of the most famous actors in Hollywood. While now the acting seems wooden and the sets a bit stagey, it’s still one of the most famous vampire movies on the planet.

3. Christopher Lee’s Dracula (1958)

Hammer breathed life back into the vampire legend in the late 50s and this film was an immediate box office success. It gave birth to a lot of sequels through the 60s and 70s, of course, before Hammer finally went under and Lee’s vampire was finally put to rest with a stake through the heart.

4. Fright Night (1985)

A surprise hit when it came out in the mid-80s, Fright Night continues to have a cult following today. Undoubtedly helped by the presence of screen legend (and former monkey in Planet of the Apes) Roddy McDowall, it was one of the highest grossing films of the year.

5. The Hunger (1983)

Avant guard meets vampire eroticism in Tony Scott’s film. Star David Bowie was the perfect choice for an 18th century cellist turned blood sucker. In truth, The Hunger is an acquired taste and have many found it too heavy on mood and with not enough plot. It remains one of the top vampire films of the last 30 years or so though and still has a decent following.

6. Near Dark (1987)

Another surprise hit despite its failure initially at the box office, Near Dark managed to mix Western influences with vampire delights and followed on from successes such as Fright Night and Lost Boys in the 80s. A more serious effort than its two predecessors, it too has gained a cult following over the years.

7. 30 Days of Night (2007)

While many other vampire films and books at the time were focusing on gothic romance and slightly comic book approaches to vampires, including the Twilight series, Blade and Underworld, 30 Days of Night went back to a more visceral approach to our blood sucking friends. One of the better vampire films in recent years.

8. Let the Right One In (2008)

I’ll throw in the film version of Let the Right One In as well, the original Swedish one, not the US remake. In truth, the film is a little better than the book and has some startling performances from young Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson.

9. The Strain

It largely disappeared under the radar as far as the popularity stakes are concerned, The Strain is a traditional good vs evil vampire epic. Forget trying to put a new spin on blood sucking, the makers have gone for an invincible master and destruction of all human life on the planet. What’s better than that?

The Future of Vampire Fiction

Have we said all that we need to say about vampires? In truth, these night dwelling creatures have actually become their own sub-genre over the last 30 years. They have an (undead) life of their own and it’s difficult to see them disappearing anytime soon. There have been some 170 different film versions just of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on its own so far and probably a good few more to come.

There have also been thousands of novels and short stories, as well as poems, produced, written and released over the years. The number is actually increasing, especially with the popularity of self-publishing and a growing band of indie authors who just love a bit on the neck.

Let’s face it, we’re never going to get rid of them. Vampire fiction is here to stay.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favourite vampire film or book? Why do you like vampires? Why do you hate them? Where next for our blood sucking friends? As always, put your comments in the bloody space below and I’ll try to get back to you.
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What a Photograph Can Teach You About Writing Success

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Whether you are trying to improve your prose, pad out those one dimensional characters or simply keep your ever expanding plot together, you can learn a lot about writing success from studying a good photo. Any great image, like a memorable piece of writing, needs to be well composed, create a mood and illicit the right emotion in the viewer.

Great photos stand out, get shared, make news, get made into posters and adorn walls. They get people talking and can even change the way we look at the world.

All the main components that make a brilliant image can be also be found in the memorable books that adorn our shelves. From To Kill a Mockingbird and Ulysses to The Great Gatsby, these seminal works all have certain characteristics in common.

Composition

The difference between an ordinary image and a truly inspiring one is undoubtedly found in its composition. It’s all about how the different elements are glued together and provide a feast for the eyes and brain. A book or short story, even a news article or opinion piece, is no different. In writing you might call this structure or plot but it’s a lot more nuanced than that. Just as the composition of a photo is about the overall effect, the small elements within the image and how they hang together are also important. In books, it’s not just the plot but the paragraphs and the sentences, even individual words.

The Difference Light Makes

Nowhere is the impact of light more important than in photography. Take a picture of a landscape iwhen the sun is high and you’ll probably end up with something fairly ordinary. Visit that same scene at dusk or dawn when the contrasts and colours are so much deeper and you could end up with a photograph that lives long in the memory. In writing too, the different shades of your prose are important. It’s the difference between bland, uninteresting text and words that come alive on the page. Writing success here is all about choosing the right words, the correct length length of sentences, the depths of descriptions, and the colour of the language.

Creating Mood

All the great photographs create mood. It can be seen in a piece of photojournalism that elicits a response such as fear, anger, anxiety. You find it in landscapes which leave you in awe or feeling at peace with the world and personal images that make you smile, laugh or cry. Photographs can give the impression of great distances, speed, energy and stillness. The same is true in writing. Your words are supposed to deliver a certain mood, make your readers feel scared, invigorated, worried, combative, joyous, even perplexed.

Right Place, Right Time

To take a good photo you have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to click that shutter button at exactly the right moment. Miss it and that perfect image is lost for all time. In writing it’s making sure that you choose the right devices for your plot to move forward, you pick the best characters to tell your story and you choose the right beginnings and ends.

Writing Success, Photography and Focus

Most great images will have one strong focal point, a part of the photo from which everything else seems to flow or is drawn into. Take this away and the image is nothing but an average snap of the world. Take any great piece of writing and there is a central focus around which everything else revolves. It’s an event, a location or a particular character or set of characters. To make your book or short story successful it needs to be clear, strong, vibrant, memorable. It can’t be watered down, veiled and weakened by unnecessary content.

It’s easy to snap a photo. Just look on Instagram if you want proof. It’s also pretty easy nowadays to write a book too. Is the image you’ve taken and posted online a great one? Are the words you write and the books or stories you publish going to inspire your readers? Have you done everything you can to make it stand out from the crowd?

I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote from F Scott Fitzgerald:

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”

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