The Vampires of New England Series



The Vampires of
New England


The Story

Writing
The Longer the Fall

Researching
The Longer the Fall

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The Longer the Fall

The Story

Itís 1952, a time of upheavals and social tension as America rockets through the years between world war and domestic revolution. Diana Chilton, raised within a secretive magical organization, the Order of the Silver Light, has reached a crossroads in her life. Over 30, her marriage ended, burned out on political activism and frustrated by the restrictions of the male-dominated Order, she leaves Boston for a tiny town in Maine. There she tracks down Thomas Morgan, a member of the Order who she believes may be immortal. She hopes he can help her find, or create, a more dynamic and worldly organization that will use magic to catalyze social and political change.

Thomas Morgan is indeed immortal, but Diana never expected that he would also be a vampire, transformed by the faery folk two centuries earlier when he made a rash bargain to cure a disfiguring illness. Now he enlists Diana to assist him in his struggle against the power that he feels enslaves and controls him. Together, Thomas and Diana dedicate themselves to the most ambitious and dangerous magical working either of them has ever attempted. Their plan spans two years and draws several other people into its vortex.

Both Thomas and Diana have hidden motives behind their decision, and neither of them is fully aware of who else knows about their plan and is subtly influencing it. Their refusal to be fully honest with themselves and each other leads to a disaster beyond their worst nightmares. They are forced to confront the deadly consequences of their fully developed spell turning against them and those who helped them. Ultimately, they learn that the only way to get what they each wanted is to accept the very things they wished most desperately to avoid.

How I Wrote The Longer the Fall

The Longer the Fall is a book that has fiercely resisted its own birth. In some respects, I'm glad of that, because it has now found its true place in my fictional universe, and it's an infinitely better book than it would have been if I'd published it ten years ago. But this story has taken more than thirteen years to finish. Some of that delay is due to personal circumstances, but much of it came from the fact that I wasn't listening to my characters. I was hanging on to arbitrary reasons for the structure and timing of the story, and they'd stopped me cold in going further. Writing Mortal Touch finally showed me where I was making my biggest mistakes, and allowed me to come back to The Longer the Fall with a fresh perspective, on several different levels.

The Longer the Fall started out as the "origin story" for Diana, a character I created on the Vampyres List e-mail group in the mid-1990s. That origin story has now been completely revised and retitled, and Diana's last name has been changed, although her personality and history have remained consistent. I started developing Diana's story into a novel in 1995, and posted the chapters to Vampyres List, which at that time included many talented and prolific writers who posted reams of original fiction. I only got half of the story done and then got stuck, because in my outline there was a jump forward in time and I couldn't figure out how to resume the narrative. But half my novel was voted Best List Fiction of the Year in the annual Vampyres List poll, and I was given a Golden Fang Award in the raucous co-written "awards ceremony" that the list produced for several years.

Despite those laurels, I remained blocked as to how to finish the novel. I knew how I wanted it to end--or so I thought. As it turns out, my ideas were all wrong, according to my characters, and the entire second half of the book is quite different than I imagined it would be. The first half is quite different than it used to be, because it's been massively rewritten. That's partly because it needed it, and partly because it had to be rewritten to agree with the second part. In the intervening time, I wrote a lot of short fiction about Diana as she is in the present day, much of which will become part of the Vampires of New England series. But launching her story has been a long and tortuous journey. I can only hope that my readers will think it's been worth it!


Researching The Longer the Fall

The Longer the Fall is not "about" the 1950s, but it is set in that decade, and I wanted it to have an authentic atmosphere without being affected or intrusive. The 1950s is a period of American history that is almost totally misrepresented in popular culture, thanks to television shows like Happy Days and similar "nostalgia" fads. This decade was anything but the backwater of placid, repressive conformity that most people imagine.

To really get into the mindset of the era, I did something I call "total immersion research." Rather than rely primarily on second-hand analysis, I simply read, and watched, every bit of contemporary fiction, plays, movies, documentaries, raw footage, news articles, diary entries, and so on that I could find. I spoke to people who were adults in the 50s, but far more valuable were the words and thoughts recorded at the time, rather than recalled decades later. I did this partly to get a sense of the language, including figures of speech, slang, cultural references, and jokes. Many terms that are associated with later decades were used in 50s, including every swear word and vulgarism that are used now. Yes, people in the 50s dropped the f-bomb--just not quite as casually, and you couldn't print it. I wanted to get to the point where I could write 1950s dialogue without having to think about it, and without using anachronisms. I also wanted a genuine feel of the cultural memes of the time--the references, assumptions, and common wisdom (whether it was true or not) that made up the framework of the world for an American in the 50s.

From that, I built outward into an understanding of my characters, some of whom are not typical Americans of any era, but who nevertheless are products of their time. Even if they rebel against, or diverge from, the average experience of their culture, that culture still forms the basis of their world.

Taken altogether, writing The Longer the Fall has been like a time-travel expedition. When I'm inside my characters' heads, I'm also in a completely different era of history. I have to think the way the characters would think, whether they're conservatives or radicals.

The Order of the Silver Light is based on both research and personal experience, with a bit of wish-fulfillment fantasy stirred into the mix. All sorts of organizations and groups, magical and otherwise, contributed to its final form, and I invented its eclectic traditions from a mixture of my own magical experience and that of others. It is not intended to mirror or satire any single existing group--it's a fictional mash-up, to say the least.

The descriptions of magical techniques and procedures are all based on my personal experience with some additional research thrown in here and there. I'll confess that while I've done magical workings that continued for very long periods of time, my results have always been much more, shall we say, subtle than the effects in the novel.

There are a few places in The Longer the Fall where the characters speak Welsh. I speak Welsh myself. I also refer to online resources such as the BBC Welsh language news. In future books I will have a character who was raised in France and Quebec, and to get inside his head, I'm learning French.

I took a research trip to Camden, Lincolnville and Rockport in Maine when I began writing the book in 1995. Some of the photos I took on that trip are in the Gallery.


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