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The Lady is a Vamp: Author Nancy Kilpatrick
Canada's Queen of the Undead explains her methods for keeping vampires alive and kicking in the 20th century.
By Denise Dumars
December 29, 2000
One of few horror authors to make her reputation primarily on vampire tales and novels, Nancy Kilpatrick has been called 'Canada's Queen of the Undead.' Her vampire fiction ranges from the humorous short story to full-on erotic horror novels, and everything in between. Her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including her latest collection, The Vampire Stories of Nancy Kilpatrick
. She has published so far 13 novels, has edited seven anthologies, including the erotic vampire collection Love Bites
and the brand new anthology Graven Images
. She's been a finalist four times
for the Bram Stoker Award, a finalist five times for the Aurora Award, and she won the Arthur Ellis Award for her short story, 'Mantrap.' Besides her latest anthology, some of her recent short fiction can be found in Mondo Zombie
, edited by John Skipp; Unnatural Selection
, edited by Gord Rolo; What If?
edited by Edo van Belkom; Dracula's London
, edited by P.N. Elrod; and Dark Terrors 5
, edited by Stephen Jones. She also has a new collection coming out next spring from Dark Tales Publishing called Cold Comfort
There is considerable variety to the types of vampires in Kilpatrick's short stories, but in her vampire novels she creates a consistent mythos. 'In my series, Power of the Blood
, the vampires are the recent dead, from the 1800s, except for the character Julien. Also, there is a half-vampire, half-human child in each story, who is pivotal to the plot. These are international novels, set in France, England, Germany, the U.S. and Canada. All deal with relationshipsmy vampires have sex! The stories are erotic, but they also have plots including intrigue, revenge, kidnapping, murderobviously, there are bad guys.' The novels were originally a trilogy, but there are now four in the series: Child of the Night
, Near Death
, and Bloodlover
'The books deal with three vampire friends, in a world where friendships are almost impossible to form,' she says. 'I've tried to create intelligent and sophisticated vampires, beings caught between this world and the next, as if the body begins the process of death and then gets stuck. This 'near death' experience has altered them more than just physically. Each of the male vampires and the human females they encounter must go through a major change because of contact with each other, and also with external conflicts that arise.'
And speaking of psychological horror: 'I use quite a bit of Jungian thinking in my work, since I have studied Jungian work, participated in a workshop, and am especially enamored of the writings of Marion Woodman, a kind of rogue Jungian, who believes that the body leads to the soul. So, in my novels, the participants must face something that changes them irrevocably. That's how major events in a life should affect one, and in an extended life, even more so,' she explains. 'All this while attempting to produce a good read, full of action, love, hate, romance, and brutality!'
Why vampires in the first place? What is it that makes people enjoy reading and writing about them? Kilpatrick has a theory. 'The vampire is an archetype that has been with humanity since we evolved into sentient beings. We seem to need this death energy, a sense of something larger and more powerful than ourselves, a feeling of what we could become,' she explains. 'Vampires of course can be good or evil or a blend, as they have evolved in fiction. We seem to want these dark beings in our lives, because there is no sign that the vampire in fiction is about to meet the 'true death.''
Kilpatrick's take on the modern vampire tale explains why the 'true death' for these fictive beings is a long ways off. 'The modern vampire has evolved into a much more balanced being. We are beyond just the resuscitated corpse. Today's vampire must deal with today's world, which is a challenge. We must deal with pollution, AIDS, overcrowding, for example, and the vampire must deal with these issues too. As we move into the future, into space, the vampire has to deal with this as well. How will he or she survive on soil not of this planet? And with so many churches in cities and so many goths wearing crosses, no vampire could survive here for long!' she laughs.
Kilpatrick does not restrict her subject matter to vampires. 'Besides horror, I write dark fantasy, erotic horror, crime, mystery, and what are sometimes called literary stories. I've also written a few humorous stories, and one science fiction story, as I like to call it.' Kilpatrick has also written in other formats. 'I've co-written a supernatural comedy, a stage play that was produced, and a couple of radio scripts. I adapted stories from my collection Sex and the Single Vampire
for three issues of VampErotica
comics. It was a lot of fun. I'd love to write more comic scripts.'
Still, Kilpatrick continues to write in the vampire, um, vein. 'I just sold the French rights to my vampire series,' she says. 'And I have another collection in the works, and a bunch of short stories I'm just finishing up. I hope to do another novel in the Power of the Blood
series as well.'
Her own faves among vampire authors? 'I don't mention favorite books by living authors because I know too many of them and people would get offended if I forgot and left them out! But I love most of the classics, as well as works by Robert Bloch, Angela Carter, and Shirley Jackson.'
Under the name of Amarantha Knight, Kilpatrick writes dark erotica. Has this caused her censorship problems, especially in Canada? 'People in Canada love my work,' she says. 'But I had trouble getting the erotic series Darker Passions
into Canada. And in the U. S., I had a story pulled from Poppy Z. Brite's antho Razor's Kiss
. Poppy and the editor loved it, but the publisher pulled it and two other stories before publication. The story is called 'Blue-Blood Moon,' and is an intense vampire story, full of S&M. It was eventually published online by Gothic.net.'
When not writing, Kilpatrick teaches the art of writing vampire stories, among other things. Clearly, she's not said everything there is to say about vampires. Considering how large the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious is, we can expect more varieties of vampires from Kilpatrick for some time to come. And remember: her vampires have sex! Just one more reason to recommend them.Visit Kilpatrick's website at: www.sff.net/people/nancyk. Finding her novels, is not always easy, since the books came out from different publishers. One sure way to get them is to order directly from firstname.lastname@example.org.