In three months, my second book will be on shelves. Last year, I announced I was writing about vampires. Now, the writing and proofing is done and the celebrating and promoting begins! How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film and Fiction is, as far as I can tell, the first book dedicated to all the ways to kill vamps. I am interested in vampire destruction rituals because I think they tell us much about the nature of human fear, and how the anxieties of the day manifest themselves in mythology. Today’s horror movies and scary stories are our modern myths, a way to grapple with, if not understand, the mysteries of the world. Few of us can name the constellations in the night sky but we know the intricacies of each season of Buffy. Because it’s the latter of those things that helps us to navigate in the darkness. It is my hope that this book will illuminate the power and importance of vampire storytelling in a new way. That it will bring new (old) ideas to the discussion of why we need monsters and horror. That people who love Twilight and True Blood will learn fun things about 17th century Bulgarian funeral rites and ancient burial practices. And that you will read it and share the journey that is authorship with me. Here is how…
A Toronto launch party is planned for Tuesday, September 17. It will be a vampire themed pub trivia night. Save the date! Before that, I’ll be at the Fan Expo/Festival of Fear convention in August, signing and talking. I’m also heading to Los Angeles for a book signing at Dark Delicacies on October 5, which is super exciting. More promo appearances and parties to be added, hopefully in your town. Invitations welcome. I don’t bite. (Much.)
Media friends: I’m happy to talk vampires any time and my publicist can send you an advance copy for review.
Many more announcements to come throughout the year. As always, thank you for reading.
My beloved friends at the House of Pomegranates have put together an evening of literary merriment and magic, a haunted world of art, music, and film, luscious chocolate, exotic cocktails and clever words. There will be readings by David Keyes, launching his new book I Do So Worry for All Those Lost at Sea. Vampire novelist Nancy Baker. Poet Lynn Crosbie. And me. Presentations by Belinda Chun of Gallery House and Prof. Richard Greene, talking of the Sitwells. A mystery String Quartet will play Ravel. And a short film about Carmilla, fashions from Gloomth, and fancy cocktails. Did I mention I will be reading brand new poems from a manuscript in progress called Requiem Birds? And that I’ll be accompanied by a surprise? Come, be surprised.
Sixty authors in the park, reading aloud to you. I’m stoked to be part of this year’s Luminato Arts festival. And even more excited to be part of an event truly designed for book lovers. Come and hear me read on the theme of “Beginnings.” You can even sign up to stay and spend time with me one-on-one on a picnic blanket and Ask Me Anything. Pack a parasol. Come.
Friends, a humble seasonal message of commerce….. I’ll be selling, signing, and wax stamping copies of Encyclopedia Gothica at this wonderful independent arts and crafts market for the darkly inclined:
New location, same group of gothy, arty and other creative types with such sights to show you. The full list of vendors is up at the official Facebook page. Some of my favourites are Bitchcraft (they have the best boy short style underpants), Paige Reynolds (she draws pretty and scary things), Pamela Williams (the grand dame of cemetery photography), Victoria Wilson Corsets (who rules at Steampunk wear) and Chizine (publisher of stories that will keep you up at night).
I like to live my life supporting local businesses and artists and think Christmas shopping is a perfect time to put down the plastic crap from China that nobody really wants and buy/give something handmade with love. Hope to see you there.
Friends….the autumnal air has arrived, and Halloween is almost upon us. This time of dead leaves, pumpkin spice and darkening days is the High Season for Goth. And so I am pleased to announce a special one-off out-of-town appearance to promote Encyclopedia Gothica, on the one-year anniversary of its publication:
I’ll be part of a special “pre-Halloween bash” event, alongside authors Maureen McGowan, Evan Munday and Mary Mansour. This is actually my first time doing a mall signing. Just like a teen boy band! So come and buy my book, get it signed and wax stamped and answer Goth trivia to win some spooky prize packages, or just stop by to say hello. I won’t bite. (Well, I might.) Join ye olde Facebook event page for updates.
Festival of Fear/Fan Expo is done and buried for another year. I attend not for shopping or autograph hunting but to see old friends, make new ones, and interview actors I admire as moderator for the celebrity Q&As. This year, I was also a Guest Author, promoting Encyclopedia Gothica, signing books and talking Goth on panels. But the highlight was surely hosting the Q&A for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve done these before but never with James Marsters, who played Spike — my long-time TV crush.
It was Standing Room Only, with hundreds more turned away outside. James and his co-star Juliet Landau (who I interviewed at FoF 5 years ago) were funny and engaging and at the end quite appreciative of my efforts. It was super fangirl fun. Juliet even liked my book, which it that much more special. Apart from that, I tried to keep my mind and eyes open to new things. Here’s what I took away:
Spike and Dru are like Sid and Nancy. Or, more accurately, Nancy and Sid. Juliet Landau, who plays Drucilla, claims she’s the snarling safety-pinned one. Her on-screen vampire lover James Marsters admits his character’s bleached blonde locks do make him closer to Nancy. I just like the fact I got to talk about punk rockers with them. Watch the entire 45-minute session below.
Nelsan Ellis is shy. The actor known as flamin’ short order chef turned medium Lafayette Reynolds graciously stepped up to do the True Blood celebrity Q&A alone when co-star Sam Trammel had to cancel his con appearance, and in front of the fans he was warm and funny but he’s actually a quiet Christian man who says he deliberately let his physique slide a bit so the show’s producers would not write in a nude scene for Lafayette. He was nice enough to call me a “bitch” though. Watch an excerpt of the Q&A here:
T-shirts are made by dudes: For the third year in a row, I’ve struck out trying to buy a Batman logo T-shirt that fits a girl. I mean a grown-up woman. With boobs. There are T-shirt vendors with booths the size of my apartment building jammed with thousands of shirts and…nothing. I would have happily settled for the glow-in-the-dark Count von Count shirt I saw from an indie vendor but that too was the dreaded “youth” style girls’ T. I came home and put on my faded Dollywood shirt. Now, her people know how to design a shirt that fit girls with…girls.
There is coffee made from animal poop. I hosted Knoxville Girl April Snellings, who works for Rue Morgue and helps run the Knoxville Horror Film Festival at my lair during the weekend. She’s sweet and sassy and brought me Cherry Limeade and I miss her already. She also told me hipsters down South drink overpriced specialty coffee made from feeding the coffee to some animal then collecting/washing the beans in its poop. This is not a joke! It’s called Kopi Luwak.
Chivalry is alive and well in Frenchmen: When’s the last time someone carried your book bag? That’s not the only reason I was delighted to meet Fabien Delage, who runs Rue Morgue France on Facebook and was in town for the con. But it didn’t hurt! Fabien is a visual artist and videographer who also designs fonts, shoots photos and made a ghost-hunting TV show called Dead Crossroads, which explores haunted ruins and castles and such across France, coming soon on DVD. Vive Rue Morgue international!
Frankenweenie has a vampire cat: I’ve long bemoaned the lack of art on the convention floor. Yes, of course, there is artist alley but for the most part it’s all about selling plastic crap and obnoxiously loud gaming displays. But tucked at the back was a rather impressive exhibit promoting the upcoming Tim Burton film Frankenweenie, featuring original drawings, production notes, stop-motion doll parts and three actual stop-motion sets from the film. It’s the kind of thing you certainly don’t see up close everyday. For free no less. My ears perked up over a small illustration of a vampire cat! So of course I looked that up and behold, Vampire Cat is a character in the film. My attendance on opening night, October 5, is secured.
Thanks to everyone who attended my Q&As (even if you didn’t come for me), asked me questions on my goth and vampire panels, came by the ECW Press booth to get an autographed Encyclopedia Gothica, my pal Nice Cat Carol for the True Blood crib notes, make-up artist Kat Von Pire for Gothing up my eyebrows, and to Rue Morgue for putting on the best horror gathering in this city yet again. See you in 2012.
How do I know summer is over? No, not when the CNE opens, or when my local dollar store puts out its first Halloween toys. (Although that did happen today.) It’s the arrival of Festival of Fear, the annual horror convention that Rue Morgue Magazine presents as part of FanExpo, Canada’s geek central. This weekend, August 23 to 26, will signal the end of beach parties (um, OK, I only did that once) and the countdown to dead leaves and autumnal treats. As always, besides the FOF’s horror junkies, the Fan Expo will sure to be jammed with anime loving cosplayers, stormtroopers and streampunks. But for me this year, it’s all about the vampires!
I’ll be appearing at the Festival of Fear all day Saturday doing panels and a book signing. I must have been a very good goth this year because I’ve been asked to moderate Q&As with stars of True Blood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And of course, it’s a great pleasure to be promoting Encyclopedia Gothica with Gary and ECW Press. Please come say hello. I won’t bite. (Well, maybe a little.)
When I was asked, many months back, to be a keynote speaker at the second annual conference of the Popular Culture Association of Canada, I accepted with great enthusiasm and without delay. I love talking about Goth, after all, even if I consider it to be “unpopular” culture, and I never actually studied it in university. (Unless you count all the late-night research in clubs which kept me from attending morning classes.) The CPAC conference was held this past weekend in Niagara Falls, where more than 200 academic types from across Canada and beyond came to present work on everything from wrestling to hip-hop to zombies to Skinny Puppy. (My colleague Ben Rayner gives a good overview of its mission in the Star.) For my part, I spoke about the question of What is Goth, and the evolution of the music and lifestyle and language from 1970s UK to today. It was a pleasure, and afterwards I was asked many intelligent questions: surrounding gender (I think I have insight into the androgyny of goth boys and the hyper-feminine girls but had never thought much about butch goths before), musical mutations (I decided my definition for Goth sound is “bass + space.”) and such. I learned a few things too, not the least of which that there was a teen goth character on the Sopranos!
The students and scholars I met there were a truly fascinating and diverse bunch. I enjoyed speaking with Moti Shojania of the University of Winnipeg about the role of Hamlet and his skull soliloquy in the Gothic tradition and the character of Abby on NCIS. Wish I’d had the chance hear deliver her “Food for Worms and Other Grave Matters: Re-Membering the Body on Forensic TV Shows.” Also disappointed to miss Laura Weibe from McMaster, who presented on the paranormal. (We did get to talk about emo and heavy metal a bit though.) After meeting forensic anthropology expert Myriam Nafte I have ordered her book Flesh and Bone. (There was actually quite a lot of horror themed work on offer.) And of course, my host, Stu Henderson, who I know from the Polaris Prize jury — we could talk about music for hours.
The one question from my keynote Q&A which has stuck with me is about aging goths. Are all subcultures by nature the exclusive domain of youth? Goth, like skateboarding and headbanging, is often considered a phase one should grow out of once one gets a real job. But I know we have CorpGoths, who have real jobs. And ElderGoths, with Babybats of their own. Years ago, I attempted to address this topic for THIS Magazine, in a cover story called Lords of the New Church that you can still read here. (Oddly enough, I see I referenced my teen love for Ian Astbury, who turned 50 today.) I got flak from people who read alot of Dick Hebdige, as though my personal life experience as an aging goth and interviewing actual old punks was less credible than taking classes about it. But I digress….the person whose work came to mind the most this past weekend is Paul Hodkinson, sociologist from the University of Surrey in England… and actual Goth. His book Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture I really should have included on my Gothic Library list a while back. He’s really the most authoritative voice on this topic. And he recently published “Ageing in a Spectacular Youth Culture: Continuity, Change and Community Amongst Older Goths” in a British journal, and was interviewed for an article in the Guardian that made its way ’round the net not long ago, Growing Up For Goths. By re-interviewing Goths he’d first met 20 years ago, he found what I already suspected, that Goths don’t grow out of it, they grow into it, finding ways to adapt even as their commitment to outrageous hair may wane. And while I do enjoy working the brain muscles exploring some of the deeper meanings of Goths, I also think it’s all rather simple: this is the subculture won’t die, even if it looks that way. As I told the CPAC attendees: black will always be the new black.
Poetry and heavy metal meet. I’ll be performing spoken word alongside Liz Worth and Natalie Zina Walschots, and between the not-very-soothing sounds of Corpusse, Battlesoul and Into Exile! For the occasion, I will be wearing a cloak, burning candles and introducing each piece in my best black metal voice. I will not, however, be wearing a codpiece.
The Gothica roadshow rolls on to the nation’s capital for this masked ball, presented by the Ottawa Goth Syndicate. I’ll be reading poems and talking Goth alongside DJs Th’Elf, Reverie and [L]otus. You must wear a mask and there’s a $100 prize for best costume. The following day is the Aftermath, an all-ages vendors’ market where I’ll be signing books. So whether you’re a daywalker or a creature of night, I hope to see you there. Details and updates at: http://www.ottawagoth.ca/reddeathmasquerade/
December has always made me think of the Kate Bush song “December Will be Magic Again.” And now, that she has released a concept record about snow, I suppose I will think of that. But today, am thinking it’s time to tell you about my public appearances from here until end of the year. It’s been a great trip this autumn getting out to promote the book, and I hope you’ll join me as it continues into the winter. Wherever you are, let’s make it magic.
Liz Worth and I are boarding the Megabus and hitting the highway. She will read from her poetry collection Amphetamine Hearts and play the theremin. I’ll be interviewed about Encyclopedia Gothica. Locals Barry King (poet) and Bill Gillepsie (DJ) will join us. Won’t you? 8PM. PWYC.
I’ll be selling and signing Gothica books at this market of the macabre. Will also be packing prints from Gary Pullin, new buttons and of course my secret wax seals. Come and buy presents from independent artists and craftspeople, or just say hello. 12 noon to 8pm. FREE!
It’s been a long time since I’ve read aloud. This book writing business, it’s kept me quite ensconced. But this month, as an antidote to Halloween and book release withdrawal, I will emerge from the crypt to read poetry at two Toronto events. If you enjoy literary nights, surprises, or me, I hope you can come out and listen. I do not yet know what I’ll be reading, as it’s also been a long time since I’ve written new poems. But if my mood is any indication, it may sound a lot like dead birds and black metal.