It has been a while since I have written a post in this series, so I thought it was time to revisit it. And because I am in the process of preparing to release my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I in early October, I was thinking about previous horror writers and their works.
I would invite three important authors of works of horror fiction to join me in a discussion about their writings, and we would meet at a pub for food and pints of beer or ale–always Guinness for me! I hope that this meeting would create a lively discussion of what they consider the most important aspects of their work.
For this gathering, I would invite Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, who wrote Carmilla (1872), the first novel to feature a female vampire. Le Fanu, from Dublin, Ireland, and who was recognized as a first rate writer of ghost stories introduced a new element into the Gothic Fiction: of both a female vampire and the inclusion of a lesbian element to the story. This novella is a compelling tale, one that is often overlooked today.
My second invitee would be Bram Stoker, author of Dracula (1897), also from Dublin, and the creator of a book, that while not successful during Stoker’s life, became one of the most well-known and best selling books of the 20th and 21st centuries. Stoker’s portrayal of Dracula set the standard for many years for the portrayal of the vampire as a Eastern European nobleman with great power and wealth. I know that Stoker was not the first to feature a vampire of noble birth, but Stoker’s work is the preeminent and superior book to the second-rate, and I am being kind, novel by Rhymer and Prest: Varney The Vampire. I would go so far as to say that unless you have an academic interest in the literature of vampires, don’t bother reading Varney the Vampire–it is terrible.
The third author I would invite is the Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, typically not known for Gothic or horror novels, but famous, nevertheless, for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). In this short novel, Stevenson explores the idea of various elements, such as good and evil, existing simultaneously in the human mind, and his good doctor Jekyll attempts to isolate and remove the evil side, but with terrible consequences.
There are many questions I would like to ask these authors. I would like to know what their concept of evil is–does it exist as part of the universe or part of humanity or both? Where do they think Gothic or horror fiction fits in the world of literature? Did they have other novels they considered writing but never did? And what contemporary themes about society exist in their works?
Are there any questions you would have liked to pose to these writers?