The Vampires of New England Series--Inanna Arthen



Rewriting The Rules


March 24, 2014

Freebie Offer for Hugo nominations

Hugo nominations close on March 31, and All the Shadows of the Rainbow is eligible for a nomination. If you are a member of last year’s Worldcon (LoneStar3) or this year’s (LonCon3) or the 2015 Sasquan in Spokane, and will be nominating works for the 2014 Hugos, I will be happy to send you a complimentary ebook edition of All the Shadows of the Rainbow in PDF, epub or mobi (Kindle) format.

Email me at vyrdolak [@) bylightunseenmedia (dot] com from an email address which can receive attachments of moderately large size, and let me know what format you’d like, and I’ll send it right out. I can also provide a download code if you can’t, or would rather not, receive an ebook as an attachment.

Information about Huge nominations may be found at this link:

www [dot] thehugoawards [dot] org/

March 18, 2014

Please nominate All the Shadows of the Rainbow for a Hugo!

ATSOTR cover imageAll the Shadows of the Rainbow, published Sept. 2013, is eligible for a 2014 Hugo Award.

If you’re a member of last year’s Worldcon (LoneStar3) or this year’s (LonCon3) or the 2015 Sasquan in Spokane, you’re entitled to nominate works and vote for the Hugos. You can do this here:

www [dot] thehugoawards [dot] org/

Nominating a work merely suggests it for the ballot; the ballot finalists, of course, are those which get the most nominations. There are two more weeks to put in your nominations; they close on March 31.

I would be very appreciative if you would nominate my book for a Hugo! I think it’s the best of the series so far, and I spent three years researching it. Thanks!

November 7, 2013

Author Interview and Guest Blog Posts

I have an author interview today on the Bibliophilic Book Blog: Interview with Inanna Arthen.

On October 31, I was a guest blogger for the Halloween blogathon on Nights of Passion blog: Tricking the Eye, Treating the Imagination.

Many thanks to Star and Susan Hanniford Crowley for hosting me on their blogs!

October 31, 2013

Guest Blog Post and Free Books!

I’m guest-blogging today on Susan Hanniford Crowley’s Nights of Passion blog! “Treating the Eye, Tricking the Imagination” Answer a question (it’s thoughtful, not trivia) to be entered in the giveaway contest for copies of both All the Shadows of the Rainbow and The Longer the Fall.

And don’t miss the one-day-only Halloween BOGO special for the Vampires of New England Series! Until midnight (Eastern Time), October 31, if you buy any ebook edition of All the Shadows of the Rainbow directly from the publisher, you can request a free download code for one of the other books in the series (Mortal Touch or The Longer the Fall). Direct downloads are securely managed via e-junkie.com. Choose epub, mobi (Kindle) or PDF editions. Go to By Light Unseen Media’s Facebook Page for details (and Like Us while you’re there!).

September 28, 2013

All the Shadows of the Rainbow released on Sept. 30!

All the Shadows of the Rainbow, Book 3 of the Vampires of New England Series, will be officially released on September 30.

Set in the period of American history from 1955 through 1971, All the Shadows of the Rainbow begins immediately after the conclusion of 2010′s The Longer the Fall, as new vampire Diana Chilton returns to civilization after her attempt to escape from reality in the Maine woods. Reconnecting with people and places from her old life for the first time, she travels to Boston for the spring Beltene rites and meets a friend from her distant past: Jack Garrett, best buddy of her ex-lover Gregory Fitzhughes. Jack is the only magician Diana meets who recognizes her as a vampire, and Diana tells him the whole story of how she came to be one. He suggests that the two of them pursue the dream that had originally drawn her to Maine: creating a magical group that will manipulate people and events to catalyze social change.

I took two years longer to finish this book than I expected (alert readers may recall that I initially projected a release date of 2011, the year after The Longer the Fall came out). Most of those two years were devoted to research on the period: contemporary memoirs, fiction, news coverage and other writings, and hours of documentaries and film/video footage. Just as with The Longer the Fall, I did “total immersion research,” absorbing contemporary materials until I internalized the thinking, vernacular speech, assumptions and “conventional wisdom” of the day, as much as possible. I avoided secondary sources and other people’s fictionalizations of the era; believe it or not, I have never seen even one single episode of Mad Men.

The closer to the release date that I came, the more that current events seemed to echo those in the book. Two questions kept coming up:

If you had the power to manipulate and control, magically, the minds, decisions and attitudes of other people, would you use that power?

And if you would use it, how far might you be tempted to go?

I found myself wandering off into daydreams about being able to influence, say, all the Tea Partiers to resign, or every single Wal*Mart employee in the world to walk off the job for a week (which would bring the Waltons’ empire to its knees and get the workers any condition they asked for). But if I could, would I really do it?

Would you?

March 21, 2013

Vampires of New England ebook omnibus edition for Kindle!

A new omnibus ebook edition of The Vampires of New England Series is now available exclusively for the Amazon Kindle, at a terrific price: cheap ($2.99) to nothing (it’s in the KDP Select Kindle Lending Library for Amazon Prime members). Titled The Compleat Vampires of New England, it includes Mortal Touch, The Longer the Fall, and the first two chapters of All the Shadows of the Rainbow (which may be slightly revised by the time the whole book is released).

So, for cheap to nothing, you can get two great stories, hours of absorbing reading and a sneak preview of the next book in the series! This special limited edition is available nowhere else and won’t appear in print (because it would be humungous).

The cover photograph has a story behind it, by the way. In 2000, Anne Fraser (Gideon Redoak, The Cliff Road Chronicles) visited me for several days and we made numerous day trips all over New England. We both love and write about Maine, so one of our excursions took us up the Maine coast.

Portland, Maine either did not like us or did not want us to leave, ever. We got hopelessly lost going through it, both ways. On the way home, we found ourselves in some wasteland of industrial parks on a high point somewhere around the city–Stephen King would have made hay from the situation, we were just flummoxed. I stopped to try and figure out where we were (never did) and how to get out (finally did)…and there was that dazzling, amazing sunset. I have lots of great photos from that trip, but this one is one of the most striking, and the most serendipitous.

We didn’t see any vampires, but then, you usually don’t see them coming, do you? :-)

December 28, 2012

My schedule for Arisia ’13

This is my tentative (i.e. subject to change, although I hope it won’t) schedule for Arisia, which will take place over Martin Luther King Day weekend, January 18-21 2013, at the Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston, MA.

 

Friday, January 18

8:30 p.m. Vampires: Fear of the Other, Fear of the Body
“Scholars of vampire literature have alleged that early traditions of the vampire in Europe reflect fears of Jews, both religiously and racially. Yet over time, the vampire has morphed. Rather than representing fear of societal dilution, the vampire represents destruction of the individual body, and concepts of the “blood disease” as like unto AIDS began to enter the zeitgeist. Rather than express fear of the other, more modern vampire literature embraces the other.” With Mark L. Amidon, Susan Hanniford Crowley (m), Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and Gail Z. Martin.

Saturday, January 19

11:30 a.m. Paganism 101
[moderator] “What does it mean to be pagan? What resources are available for pagans in their communities? Our panelists discuss how they came to their tradition, how paganism impacts their daily life, and what challenges and rewards they experience as a modern pagan.” with D. Cameron Calkins, Ken Gale, Sean Kane and Virginia Richards-Taylor.
1:00 p.m. Hoodoo, Voodoo & the Bullshit That Authors Do
“A discussion of the depiction of Santeria, Hoodoo, Voodoo, and other such practices. They are often co-opted and commodified by outsiders who don’t respect them or the practitioners. Adding someone else’s beliefs to your story to “spice” things up is a risky practice, especially when you don’t have any connection to the community. We will also discuss oral traditions and why relying on books written by anthropologists instead of actual practitioners is a terrible idea.” With Andrea Hairston (m), Mikki Kendall and Daniel José Older.

Sunday, January 20

10:00 a.m. Contemporary Fantasy Outside the City Limits
“There’s epic (or secondary-world) fantasy, and then there’s urban fantasy, right? Well, what about contemporary fantasy outside the city? There’s a growing strain of excellent rural fantasy, but has fantasy touched suburbs or small towns? Come discuss the best contemporary fantasy outside the city limits!” With Vikki Ciaffone (m), Gail Z. Martin, Sabrina Vourvoulias and Trisha Wooldridge.
2:30 p.m. Magickal Traditions: A Review
“Like most mainstream religious faiths, there is a wide variety in the practices and beliefs of modern pagans, neo-pagans, and heathens. In this panel, some of them will talk about what they do and believe.” With Jessie Belisle, Catherine Kane, Sean Kane and Virginia Richards-Taylor (m).
4:00 p.m. Beyond the Fringe
“The final season of “Fringe” has ended. Is this the great unsung SF series of the past few years? What do we make of the show and its odd take on Boston? Are we satisfied with its conclusion or did they blow it? And is Walter the character on TV you’d most like to have a strawberry milkshake with?” With Thomas Boutilier, PJ Letersky, Melina M.Gunnett (m) and Susan Soares.

Monday, January 21

10:00 a.m. Bullying in Fandom
“The fannish community claims to be anti-bullying, but online forums and message boards often teem with racist, sexist, and homophobic banter. Other groups, such as Furries, also face harassment. Minorities often encounter offensive comments and even threats of physical violence when criticizing an aspect of geek culture (such as depictions of people like them in a popular work). Why is bullying so prevalent in the community? How can we make fandom a more welcoming and respectful place for all?” With Melissa Kaplan, Lindsay Moore, KT Pinto (m) and Elayna Jade Smolowitz.
11:30 a.m. The Undead and the People That Love Them
[moderator] “The undead are everywhere these days. Books, movies and TV are full of shows about them. Where is all this coming from? Why do we love our undead monsters so much?” With Susan Hanniford Crowley, James D. Macdonald, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert and Elayna Jade Smolowitz.
1:00 p.m. READING
I’m sharing a 75-minute time slot with KT Pinto and Michelle D’Entremont. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming novel All the Shadows of the Rainbow.
2:30 p.m. The Ephemeral City
“Festivals like Burning Man, Pennsic, and Rainbow Gatherings are huge annual events that bring together thousands of people for a short period, creating entire cities with their own economy and politics. What is the draw of a temporary society? What do these gatherings bring to the participants? How do they challenge “mundane” society? What are they really like, and what stays with you?” With Terry Franklin, Toni Lay and Meredith Schwartz (m).

March 24, 2012

A brief reflection about (bad) reviews

Over the past couple of years, there have been a number of instances in which authors responded rudely to negative reviews online, leading to furious arguments and violent accusations in the comments sections of book blogs, the author’s blog, various third-party blogs, the book’s Amazon page, everyone’s Twitter feeds…etc, etc, etc. The basic rule that all this unpleasantness has reinforced, for authors more mature than a twelve-year-old, is: Never Respond to a Negative Review. EVER.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. No book can appeal to every reader. Accept the criticism with grace and see what you can learn from it (even if only, “don’t query that reviewer again”). Etc, etc, etc.

But this is bothering me lately, because I’m currently finishing my third novel, All the Shadows of the Rainbow, which is the direct sequel of my second novel, The Longer the Fall. Readers have not been as fond of The Longer the Fall as they were of Mortal Touch, the first book in the series. It isn’t selling nearly as well and it’s gotten, and is getting, much more luke-warm reviews from readers.

The thing is: I’d like to know why.

I really would. Seriously. I’d like to ask the people who just weren’t sure about it, or even the readers like the one who gave it one star on Amazon, “Why didn’t you like it?” Because most of them don’t really say!

I wish I could ask them: “Can you be specific? Can you say exactly how the story failed you? Can you pinpoint where it lost you? Can you tell me what you hoped it would do? What changes would have made it a better book for you?”

The Longer the Fall has its champions, including people who like it better than Mortal Touch. I like it better than Mortal Touch. But when I read people’s comments about The Longer the Fall, I feel that I failed to make the story as clear as I should have. I felt that Mortal Touch should have been edited more tightly, and so I edited The Longer the Fall so ruthlessly, I’m afraid that I took out too much, assumed too much, left too many points unclear.

I won’t say “readers aren’t getting it,” because that’s condescending and puts all the blame on them. I failed those readers in communicating what I needed to. I failed them as a writer. They wouldn’t have started reading the book at all if they hadn’t had positive expectations. They wouldn’t have finished it if something hadn’t kept them going. How did I, as a writer, end up disappointing them so badly?

Now, as I work on All the Shadows of the Rainbow, which like The Longer the Fall is all about magic, and features the same protagonist, Diana Chilton, I really wish I could access my readers’ expanded evaluations and reactions, especially the readers who are critical of the second book. And I can’t ask. At least, I can’t ask directly. Maybe these readers can’t really analyze their own reactions any further, themselves.

But for a writer, nothing really matters (or should matter) more than the reactions of readers, because writing is a collaboration between the author and the reader. When communication is the essence of your being, and you feel like you’ve messed up in a major way, well, it doesn’t feel very good. It’s really frustrating that etiquette so sternly denies us writers the chance to ask our disappointed readers, “I appreciate your candor, could you tell me more?”

April 2, 2011

Hey, how did that fiction get in my real life?

There has always been a consistent pattern in my life whereby my fiction and my actual experiences echo and mirror each other in the weirdest ways.

The first time I encountered actor Peter Coyote was in Steven Spielberg’s E.T., in which he played the mysterious scientist tracking the little alien. I’d never heard of Mr. Coyote before. But I confess: it was a case of crush at first sight. I’m not prone to fannish excesses–I won’t even collect autographs–so I didn’t look up Mr. Coyote’s biography or read gossip magazines or anything like that. Probably almost any other fan of his knew a lot more about his background than I did. But I loved him in E.T., and I watched for him in other things.

Many years ago, I went to a Red Cross blood drive to donate blood. I can no longer pinpoint exactly when this was, except that I’m fairly sure it was between 1982 and 1989, and I think the blood drive was in Acton, Massachusetts, where I lived in the 80s. It wouldn’t have been far from there, anyway. I had taken some film magazines with me to read–Premiere, I think. This was during my efforts to break into film acting locally. I even read Variety.

After I finished with the donation and was resting, the way the Red Cross always makes you do so you won’t just jump up, barf and pass out, I was reading the magazines, and one of the blood drive volunteers came by see how I was doing. I said I was doing great, and then she picked up one of the magazines and said, “Oh, could I just look at these?” I said of course, and as she flipped through them she said, “I have a brother who’s an actor, and I always like to see if they say anything about him.”

“Oh, really?” I said, pricking up my ears for a possible industry contact. “What’s his name?”

“Peter Coyote.”

I didn’t respond very politely, because to me, this was like saying she was related to Justin Bieber. It’s amazing that I didn’t jump up and pass out. “Oh, you can’t be, you’re making that up!” I said, or something like it. (In my defense, I was running a pint low at that moment.)

She looked a bit offended and said, “No, I’m not, why would I make that up? Most people have never heard of him.”

“Of course I’ve heard of him! He was in E.T.! He’s a doll!” (I’m sure they took a bit more than a pint, actually.)

She seemed rather pleased at that, so I hope I redeemed myself. “He is a doll,” she said, laughing.

That was the gist of our discussion–she had other donors to see to–and I didn’t even think to ask her own name, or look at her badge if she was wearing one. (I think it just said, “Volunteer” or whatever the term is they use.) I always wondered if she was really on the level. Why would a movie actor’s sister be volunteering at a blood drive in Acton, Massachusetts, fer gosh sakes?

But then, why wouldn’t she be? Actors come from all over the place. I lived in Acton and I was trying to be one.

But now it’s the 2010s and I’m trying to be a novelist. My third book, All the Shadows of the Rainbow, is set during the 1960s, plus a few years on either side. I lived through the 1960s, but just as I did with the 1950s and The Longer the Fall, I’ve been doing what I call “total immersion research.” I’m reading as much contemporary material as I can find, and watching raw film footage from that era, and generally working to enfold myself in the zeitgeist of the times, so I can, not just write it, but live it from the inside out.

By complete happenstance, I discovered that Peter Coyote had been deeply involved in the 1960s counterculture–he was a member of the Diggers and the Free Family, lived on several communes, worked with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and was at the center of a lot of things that happened in those years. He’s written a memoir about it all, called Sleeping Where I Fall. I learned about it from a random reference on the Red Room website, which I rarely visit, but I just happened to click over there on the day when this book was mentioned. I instantly located a copy. I’ve been reading it for the past week or so.

I’ve been enthralled with the book, because I hadn’t known any of this about Peter Coyote’s personal history. It helps explain why, the instant I saw him onscreen, I just felt this “click.” I’ve been relating strongly to so much that he says in his book. I knew I liked him as an actor, but I never realized that he was what I think of as, “one of us.” He does have a younger sister, although he doesn’t give any clues as to her life or whereabouts. Sleeping Where I Fall was published in 1998, and I’d love to hear what Mr. Coyote thinks about the social and political developments of the last 13 years. I’d guess we share similar views.

Sleeping Where I Fall is going to be one of the most helpful resource books I read, and I’ve got a stack of them. But I’d be enjoying it even if I wasn’t writing All the Shadows of the Rainbow. To add yet more synchronicity to the mix, I found a documentary called Commune by running keyword searches on Blockbuster. When it arrived, it turned out to be about Black Bear Ranch, one of the Free Family communes that Peter Coyote lived with, and Mr. Coyote appears in the film.

It’s just strange how themes and people can weave in and out of our lives in violation of all probability or logic. Over and over again, I’ve been downright spooked by the way things that I’m writing tie into my real life in completely unexpected and inexplicable ways. It’s part of the reason that I’m one of those writers who feel that their fictional universes and characters have wills of their own. I don’t calculate and control the stories I tell, or the people who inhabit them. My characters tell me what’s going to happen and I simply record it…and sometimes, I feel like I’m living it with them. Every once in a while, I feel like I’m living out my fiction in the (so-called) real world.

You might think I’d be more nervous about blowing things up in my novels, in that case! But what good is art if it doesn’t shake you up sometimes?

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