Vampires! The Undead Worlds of Beverley Lee and Nicole Eigener
One benefit of the internet age is that beautiful friendships can be forged across seas and timezones, and over the centuries-old love of writing vampires. Here, two vampire authors — one in the UK and one in California — sit down for tea (at least that’s what they tell us is in their cups!) and dish about the vampire worlds they’ve each created. Beverley Lee (UK) is the author of the Gabriel Davenport trilogy (The Making of Gabriel Davenport, A Shining in the Shadows, and The Purity of Crimson) among other books and short stories. Her latest release, The House of Little Bones, is now available. Nicole Eigener (USA) is the debut author of Beguiled by Night: A Vampire Tale.
Read on for the love of vampires, and for a special giveaway celebrating Beguiled by Night’s first anniversary!
Night Worms: Why do you think vampire stories have such an eternal appeal?
Beverley: We all love the thought of immortality, even though we know it’s wrong in the life order of things. Vampires feed our need to draw back the blind on the night and take a voyeuristic peek. They carry us to places we shouldn’t go. Forbidden is always the sweetest fruit.
Nicole: Yes! Vampires by their very nature live the dark side of us that we, as mere mortals, are forced to keep at bay. And if one takes a true look deep into the realities of an immortal existence, it comes into view as very tedious and quite painful in a number of ways.
Beverley: I like to think my vampires show the reader exactly what might happen if they were to become one. They don’t lose what they once were. They have to find a way to accept what they have become. They don’t sparkle or sleep in coffins, or hide away at the sight of crosses or garlic. They exist and feed and fight and form bonds. Sound familiar? They are far too close to us, but still to be feared. Because in the end, like any species, they will do what they must to survive.
Nicole: Absolutely. Readers will find those qualities in Vauquelin, as well. And as alluring as vampires may be, we must remember that they are still predators and not safe. In my vampire world, revenants can never be perceived as safe, and to me, that’s part of the enduring appeal. I mean, I’m still not altogether sure that Vauquelin wouldn’t kill me if our paths crossed, even though I’m his *true* maker…ha!
Beverley: Exactly. Part of me always hopes that Clove would treat me with the utmost respect, but if he, or those he cares about, ever felt threatened by this mere mortal, all bets are off. Ungrateful children come in all forms :)
Nicole: Well, as we both know, these characters have a mind of their own! I like to joke that I was basically just Vauquelin’s secretary during the writing of Beguiled by Night. He rarely behaves as I expect!
Night Worms: Did you find it challenging to write a vampire story in the post-Twilight/Anne Rice era?
Beverley: The Making of Gabriel Davenport was the book of my heart and I don’t think I thought about that aspect as I was writing it. It’s no secret that I adore the first four books of the Vampire Chronicles and Anne’s creations. She gave the vampire genre something very fresh; vampires that weren’t just killing machines but creatures that felt and loved and existed in their own parallel world to our own. Those creations were the catalyst to how I would go on to create my own characters and blood-drenched world.
Nicole: Yes! Anne brought forth the humanity but left the fear intact, which is a beautiful combination. I don’t think any writer or lover of vampire stories can deny that she left an indelible mark on the genre. Still, there are unique voices and spins on existing vampire literature. I don’t feel that Beguiled by Night was influenced by those books, and I like to think I brought something different to the canon. But it’s inevitable that comparisons come along, which can be problematic. And speaking of comparisons, then…
Beverley: ...then along came Twilight, and whilst it filled a gap in the market and many readers adored it, its popularity became what people associated with vampire stories. Vampires became sparkly and angst-filled and a little facetious.
Nicole: The wonderful thing about the vampire world is the range of imagination for the worlds and the characters. I absolutely love that there’s a vampire for every preference: soulless, blood-sucking monsters...broody, gothic, romantic vampires...and yes, even sparkly ones. Although I prefer our more traditional vampires <grin>. But the world is wide open for vampire tales, and like their undead subjects, they are immortal.
Beverley: I like to think that our vampires bring the genre back to how it should be. Creatures that still feel emotion and struggle with all those complexities, but whose instinct to kill, to survive, makes them something to fear.
Nicole: I couldn’t agree more. Our stories lean more on traditional lore and also are sympathetic to the vampire. I’m not sure I could bring a victorious vampire killer into my world, because I always want them to win. To survive.
Night Worms: What is it about your vampires that make them relatable?
Beverley: With my younger vampires I think it’s the humanity they still carry. Yes, they kill to survive, but this is not their only struggle. They are having to learn to navigate this new bloody night-world they inhabit with all of its rules and horrors, whilst at the same time dealing with the feelings of being ripped away from family, and the acceptance of the cessation of their mortal lives. All of which carry fear, something not normally associated with vampires. I feel a ridiculous amount of protectiveness towards them.
Nicole: I can’t imagine how frightening it would be for a young vampire. Regular life alone is terrifying, let alone having supernatural elements to grow into! Clove and Vauquelin are of a similar fabric, at least in their rebellious and protective natures. I often think they would get along, or at least not hate each other. I would love to eavesdrop on that conversation!
In Vauquelin, introverted readers will find him immensely relatable: the desire to be left alone, to exist on his own terms without intervention from others (human or otherwise!), finding solace in the activities that bring him solitary joy. He’s a bit of a misanthrope! Well, maybe a lot of a misanthrope. He definitely isn’t one to seek the limelight or respect authority. And even though his attempts to merge with humanity usually don’t work out in his favor, he retains his desire for that human connection -- despite being alive so many years. He never loses that.
Beverley: Both our master vampires share the same characteristics, possibly why they have survived for so long. They long ago realised that a solitary life makes continued existence easier. But certain events happen that they have no control over, which brings others, both vampire and human, into their fold. And it is in the way they adapt to this new normal that speaks highly of their own moral code.
Nicole: Yes! I don’t really see either of them as antiheroes. Morally grey, perhaps, but they are struggling to do what’s right for them and their loved ones. When you’re vampire, “good choices” can become a very different definition than those of humans. I believe choices are defined by the circumstances one finds oneself in, even though it may seem abhorrent to someone who has not experienced that particular situation. It’s one of my favorite things about horror: heroes and antiheroes can be difficult to distinguish.
Night Worms: Nicole, when you were writing Beguiled by Night, did Vauquelin emerge as a fully-fledged character from the start or did he grow with the story?
Nicole: He was thoroughly fleshed out. Vauquelin is the archetypal vampire who has always lived rent-free in my head. It was fascinating to bring him to life on the page. But as I said, he basically told his own story through my fingers...sometimes it was a little spooky! The story was brewing in my imagination for ages, but it started with only one thought: “What would happen if a vampire went back in time?” -- essentially, that one sentence unlatched Vauquelin’s coffin. How was it with your vampire family?
Beverley: Another occasion where our characters align. Clove has existed in my head for many years. He was just waiting for the right story to come along before he allowed himself to step out of the shadows. And as soon as he did I had a fully-fledged character with a definitive way of acting and speaking. I *knew* him and there wasn’t one scene where writing him didn’t feel totally right. His scenes always had an unhurried sense of time about them, as though that time was of no consequence because he had eternity.
Nicole: Oh, I so relate to this. They just needed homes. I’m glad they found us.
Night Worms: What is one aspect of pop-culture vampires you wouldn’t write about?
Beverley: I couldn’t say I’d never write about one particular thing as I can never tell what direction the muse is going to drag me down at any given moment. But I’m not a huge fan of the vampire depicted as something completely monstrous, something unfeeling. And saying that I can imagine a whole lot of people throwing their hands up and screaming ‘All vampires are monstrous!’.
That said, I think the reinvention of the vampire in any art form, be it written or artistic or musical, is a good thing. There’s a vampire for all seasons and as long as people are talking about them they won’t ever die ;)
Nicole: That is a tough question. Especially with these strong-willed characters! Sparkling is definitely out...seriously, though, I don’t think I would write about shape-shifting. I know that’s very popular, but I don’t see Vauquelin and his coterie ever morphing into, say, werewolves. Or even bats. I still like keeping in the vicinity of the traditional storyline, where vampires can’t see themselves in mirrors and don’t eat human food. I think they are more comfortable behind their veils of mystery.
Night Worms: Where did your interest in vampires originate?
Nicole: My first encounter with them was when I saw ‘Salem’s Lot on television as a child. I wasn’t supposed to watch it and I snuck my way into the living room. I loved the vampires’ mystique and also the religious associations. Fast-forward to high school and I read Interview with a Vampire. A different, elegant world of vampires was opened to me, and I so identified with the loneliness and isolation of Anne Rice’s vampires. I began to see vampires as a great metaphor for the misunderstood in society, and I’ve been in love with them ever since.
Beverley: I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural aspects of a creature that appeared human, appeared ‘normal’ but who could live forever. Monsters as a whole didn’t interest me, but give me something that could be both terrifying *and* alluring and I was captivated. I went to the cinema and saw Interview with the Vampire (little wonder that we both love that one!) and that was the catalyst to bring on my love affair with vampires in one heady rush. I searched out the books and fell into Rice’s lush and seductive world. And I started to wonder if I could create my own...
Night Worms: Beverley, when you originally began Gabriel Davenport, did you intend for it to be a series?
Not at all. It was only ever going to be a standalone. I didn’t even know if I had it in me to write more than one story. I always knew the ending and was quite prepared to leave it as that, with readers maybe wondering what did occur afterwards but leaving it to their imaginations. I always like a certain amount of ambiguity instead of all ends tied up nicely.
Then two characters, who I thought would only ever be minor, burst onto the scene. Moth and Teal. And all thoughts of simply a standalone went right out the window when Moth stood there defiantly and told me ‘I’m here to stay, but don’t ever come too close…’ I should thank him for giving me no option but to continue, but he’d only smirk and no one likes an insufferable vampire ;)
Nicole: We both know how bossy these vampires can be! And it is fascinating when characters step up and tug on your cuff, saying, “Ahem. I need more page time, please.” We can only oblige. Clove is such a fascinating character, and he’s a wonderful father figure for the boys. I think he deserves his own novel!
Night Worms: What about Vauquelin, have we seen the last of him?
Nicole: Well, much like Beverley, I didn’t know that I could even write one novel, let alone another. Beguiled by Night is a complete story — one would not feel closure at the end of reading it, and it was meant to be a single novel. But Vauquelin will not stay out of my mind…he keeps prodding my subconscious.
Beverley: Resistance is futile...sorry, couldn’t resist.
Nicole: Yeah, exactly! Good luck if you end up on their bad side ;)
But Vauquelin definitely has more to tell me, and so Book Two is now in progress. I’m only his secretary, after all. His story is growing and he can’t be contained!
Night Worms: The indie horror world is growing so much, and you both are part of that. What’s it like for an indie author in today’s publishing environment?
Beverley: Right now is an exciting time to be involved in indie horror. It’s growing, baring its beautiful fangs and turning into the monster it is meant to be :). There’s been a wonderful influx of new writers into the horror fold over the last few years. Diverse, intelligent writers with their own stories to tell, driven by how they view their world and fuelled by their backgrounds and experience, making the indie horror world richer. A lot of people think that other writers are competition, but I like to think that we’re all on the same boat, sailing the same seas, and if a crew works together, everyone gets to the destination.
Nicole: I co-sign all that you just said. It’s an honor for me to be an indie writer. Traditional publishing doesn’t always know what to do with horror authors, outside of the biggies like King, Koontz, Rice, and Barker. Of course we all owe tribute to those authors, because we walked through the doors they opened. And one of my idols, Mary Shelley, published independently because no one would touch such a book written by a woman! Indie horror has truly given the platform to women and own voices writers, and the indie horror community is so supportive -- fans, authors, and publishers alike. Indie publishers have given writers a chance when traditional publishers don’t always know what to do with a work that isn’t necessarily an “easy” sell. And the fans want more, more, more of that content. We’re all here for it, as writers and readers. I have to thank Sadie and Ashley for being such champions and carrying the flag for indie horror!
Nicole Eigener is the author of Beguiled by Night: A Vampire Tale (Polidori Press, 2020) and a forthcoming book two. Nicole is a lifelong student of French history and the macabre. Her love for haemovores became a beautiful marriage to her obsession with French history and culture, specifically of the seventeenth-century, which features prominently in her work. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two Boston Terrier children. Visit her website at https://thevampire.org for book extras including a soundtrack, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Beverley Lee is the bestselling author of the Gabriel Davenport series (The Making of Gabriel Davenport, A Shining in the Shadows and The Purity of Crimson) The Ruin of Delicate Things and The House of Little Bones. Her shorter fiction has been included in works from Cemetery Gates Media, Kandisha Press, Brigids Gate Press and Off Limits Press. In thrall to the written word from an early age, especially the darker side of fiction, she believes that the very best story is the one you have to tell. Supporting fellow authors is also her passion and she is actively involved in social media and writers’ groups.
You can visit her online at beverleylee.com (where you’ll find a free dark and twisted short story download and all buy links) or on Instagram and Twitter.