World Dracula Day

Happy World Dracula Day! Today we celebrate the anniversary of the first publication of Bram Stoker’s vampire standard Dracula. Many of us in English-speaking countries are familiar with Stoker’s creation, but how do other countries view the Count?

Drácula

dracula in spanish
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8848632
spanish dracula 2
Lobby Card

Drácula, a 1931 Spanish film adaptation of Stoker’s work, was filmed at night using the same sets as the 1931 English version starring Bela Lugosi. Because the Spanish crew got to see the English dailies every night, they had a chance to adjust camera angles and other details to produce what many fans believe is a superior film.

 

Evil of Dracula

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Evil of Dracula
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Toshio Kurosawa in Evil of Dracula.

Evil of Dracula (original title: Chi o suu bara “Bloodsucking Rose”) is the third part of a Japanese trilogy, known as the Bloodthirsty Trilogy, of Dracula adaptations (some more loosely adapted than others). In this version, the vampire bites his victims on the breast, rather than on the neck (hey, it was the 70s).

 

Dracula, the Musical

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Dracula, The Musical, poster in Seoul

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Dracula, The Musical, debuted in South Korea in 2014, starring Kim Jun-su in the titular role. Although based on a 2004 Broadway musical, the Korean version seems uniquely their own. This post has plenty of photos and info, including lyrics to one of the songs. Anyone else think North America could use a rebooted musical Dracula, including the pink hair?

 

Dracula Adult Panto

dracula adult panto
Dracula Adult Panto in South Africa

Another stage adaptation, Dracula Adult Panto brings the gender-bent Count(ess) to South Africa, along with a dash of humour and an LGBT+ twist. At the end of the show, the venue transforms into a dance floor, and attendees spend the rest of the night partying.

 

Tomb of Dracula aka Κόμης Δράκουλας

tomb of dracula
Tomb of Dracula, Greek version

Tomb of Dracula, Greek version

Not a unique adaptation, but I thought the Greek edition of Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula was worth a share. Interestingly, his title can translate to either Count or Earl (you’ve heard of Earl Grey–now tremble before Earl Dracula!) I wish my parents had thought to pick me up a few copies of these when I was a kid learning Greek; alas, my Greek-language education remained pitifully vampire free.

Which is your favourite non-English version of Dracula? Is there another one you think I should know about? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasia S. Bissas

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

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Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Dracula, Blade, Angel, or any of the fanged creatures-of-the-night that populate modern culture, including Mara from Love Lies Bleeding. The vampires we’re familiar with are (generally) human looking, powerful, often charismatic and attractive, with a thirst for blood and a dislike of stakes. But that wasn’t always the case. History and folklore are full of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Lamaštu (or Lamashtu)

lamashtu (2)

Depicted as having a lion’s head, donkey’s teeth, bare breasts, a hairy body, bloodstained hands with long fingers and nails, and taloned bird’s feet, Lamaštu was an evil Goddess of ancient Mesopotamia who preyed on newborns and fetuses in order to suck their blood (among other things). Miscarriages and sudden deaths of infants were blamed on her. Pregnant women could ward her off with amulets, an incantation, or offerings of centipedes and brooches. The offerings were meant to distract Lamaštu, which was a common way of thwarting vampires.

Riri Yaka

riri yaka
Via https://www.rrncommunity.org/items/9836

In the Sinhalese culture of Sri Lanka, the Riri Yaka, or “Blood Demon” has an eternal thirst for blood. He’s usually portrayed as being a blood-smeared, ape-faced, four-armed man with a mouthful of decomposing human flesh. He haunts graveyards, crematoriums, and the dying. He can also possess people and cause illness, usually of the blood. People possessed by Riri Yaka are pale, listless, and anemic; a ritual ceremony must be performed to cure them.

Penanggalan

Penanggalan
Illustration by Munshi Abdullah from ‘The Indo-Chinese Gleaner, Volume 2’ (1819)

Seemingly a normal woman during daylight hours, once the sun goes down the Penanggalan detaches her fanged head and organs from her body in order to fly around the Malaysian countryside in search of the blood of newborns and women who have just given birth. Those who survive being fed on inevitably contract a wasting illness, another common theme in vampire myths. Penanggalan will often disguise themselves as midwives, but can be recognized by their characteristic vinegar smell (they keep a vat of vinegar in their home in which to soak their entrails) and odd behaviour. The best way to get rid of a Penanggalan is to surround doors and windows with thorny branches and thistles, so that they will become entangled and trapped. If found, their hollow bodies can also be stuffed with broken glass or destroyed, which will kill off the head.

Lamia

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Daughter (or possibly granddaughter) of the Greek God Poseidon, Lamia was Queen of Libya and Zeus’s lover before being transformed by his wife, Hera, into a creature that was part woman, part sea monster, and wholly deadly. Described as either stunningly beautiful or hideously ugly, Lamia generally had a woman’s face and serpent-like features. In retaliation for Hera killing her children, Lamia began murdering other people’s children by sucking their blood. Over time she was also said to seduce and devour men. Lamia had the power of prophecy, as well as shape-shifting abilities and magical powers. Eventually the single woman became pluralized into a race of vampiric monsters, the Lamiae. The origins of Lamia may lie in Mesopotamia’s Lamaštu. A modern Greek folk saying explains the sudden death of infants and young children as “[the child was] strangled by Lamia.”

Peuchen

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The Mapuche and Chilote of southern Chile have a legend of a shapeshifter that petrifies victims (both human and animal) with its stare in order to then drain their blood. The peuchen can take any form, although it prefers that of a giant, bat-winged flying snake. Only a machi (medicine woman) can defeat it. There may be a connection between the myth of the peuchen and that of the chupacabra.

Have you heard of these vampires? Which do you think is scariest? Tell me in the comments.

If you want more vampires right now, download Blood Magic free!

-Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Further Reading

Lamaštu

Lamashtu

Seven Mythical Creatures that Supposedly Haunt Sri Lanka

Penanggalan

Penanggalan (Wikipedia)

Lamia

Lamia (Wikipedia)

Peuchen

Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore

 

 

 

 

The Writer’s Tag

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Another tag snagged from the lovely blog A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings 🙂 If you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to be a writer (or what I do), this post is for you.

1. What type of writing do you do?

Over the years I’ve written pretty much everything, from magazine articles to poetry to blog posts to novels. If I had to choose only one type, though, it would be novels. I have a lot of stories inside me, waiting to come to life.

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2. What genres/topics do you write about?

My writing is a mix of literary fiction, gothic fiction, and fantasy, with hints of horror and magical realism. My clouds tend to have dark linings.

3. How long have you been writing?

I started when I was about six and never really stopped (although there were a few long breaks).

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas

4. Are you published?

Yes! I went the independent route with my novel Love Lies Bleeding and short story Blood Magic, but I would consider traditional publishing if the right publisher came along.

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5. What was the first story you ever wrote?

The first story I wrote (when I was around six) was a tale of woe about a flower that doomed anyone (in this case, Mary, Queen of Scots, although I have no idea how I knew about her) who picked it. Clearly, my literary influences started early in my career. I also drew said flower with a pen and coloured it with a pink highlighter. Side note: I still have a particular fascination with Tudor history, although I haven’t written about it since.

6. Why do you write?

I don’t feel I have much of a choice. That’s what I love, it’s what I’m good at, and it’s what I feel I was meant to do. As already mentioned, I have stories that need to get out.

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7. How do you find time to write?

You find time for the things that are important to you. If someone “can’t find the time” to write (or to do anything else), it really doesn’t matter that much to them.

8. When and where is the best time/place to write?

For me, the best times are in the morning and late at night. Where doesn’t really matter as much, as long as there isn’t too much noise.

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9. Favorite foods/drinks while writing?

It used to be iced coffee; unfortunately I’ve had to cut it out. Between the sugar and the caffeine, it wasn’t doing me any favours (alas). If I do drink anything now, it’s tea, but mostly I don’t eat or drink while I work (I have no idea how those crumbs got all over my keyboard).

10. Your writing playlist?

Silence. I’ve tried to listen to music while I work, but I can’t. Music interferes with rhythm and the lyrics get into your head, unconsciously influencing how and what you write. I don’t know how anyone can concentrate with music (or the TV) on–it’s some kind of super power.

11. What do friends/family think of you writing?

I think it ranges from “that’s cool” to “whatever” to “but what does she do all day?” My partner is completely supportive, though, which is what really matters.

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12. What parts of writing do you enjoy the most?

I love it when the words come together and flow out of you. Best feeling in the world. (It’s also pretty satisfying when you’re stuck and finally figure out the perfect solution). That’s why first drafts are fun and after that, it’s work .

13. Parts of writing you find challenging?

I wish I could be one of those writers who can get a book out every year (speaking of super powers). I’ve got a limit on how much I can write or edit in a day before my brain turns to mush. Hopefully the results are worth the wait.

14. What do you write with/on?

First drafts are usually by hand. The editing starts as I transfer the manuscript to my laptop, where I use MS Word.

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15. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I’ll think/meditate about it. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I love anything that keeps my hands busy while freeing my mind; that’s how I do a lot of my writing, including overcoming writer’s block. Sometimes I’ll also talk about it with my partner–he’s pretty great at helping me figure things out.

16. How do you motivate yourself to write?

Deadlines are motivating. My anxiety is highly motivating (it gets worse if I don’t write for a couple of days). Mostly having a story I need to get out motivates me 🙂

woman reading a book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

17. Author(s) who inspired you to become a writer?

I think the existence of books inspired me to become a writer more than any specific author. My love of stories started early, so maybe I should give the credit for my current vocation to Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault, and the Brothers Grimm.

19. Writing goals this year?

Aiming to finish my next novel and get it ready for publication (follow me to make sure you don’t miss any news or updates).

20. Best advice you’ve gotten as a writer?

Never to give up (I’ve heard that from a few people). Stephen King’s advice to “kill your darlings” isn’t bad either.

 

What do you think? Do you have any questions or comments? What are some of your thoughts on the writing process? Share in the comments…

 

My Life in Books Tag

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It’s time for another book tag post! I snagged this one from Dreamland Book Blog. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments. Or, if you decide to post it on your own page, share the link 🙂

1. Find a book for each of your initials.

I haven’t read American Gods yet, but I did read Anansi Boys, which is its sequel. I probably should have used that one instead. Either way, I like the trifecta of gods, vampires, and werewolves.

american-gods

A: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

salems lot

S: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

bitten

B: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

2. Count your age along your bookshelf: What book is it?

One of my favourites: Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende.

island beneath the sea

3. Pick a book set in your city/country.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Not only is it set in my city, but part of it is set close to my neighbourhood.

alias grace

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to.

I’m going to have to give two answers for this one. First, a fictional place:

prisoner of azkaban

Who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, and the Burrow? Some of the other wizard places are also intriguing, although definitely not Azkaban.

And secondly, a real place:

Enchantress_of_florence

Florence, Italy (and Tuscany in general, of which Florence is the capital). Museums, art galleries, cathedrals, history, great food, and beautiful views. I’m kind of wondering why I’m not already there.

5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

Sadly, the cover of my copy of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds isn’t this beautifully designed (credit to Kjell Roger Ringstad), but it is red.

war-of-the-worlds-cover-by-kjell-roger-ringstad

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

I had very fond memories indeed of all of Gordon Korman’s books–until I recently re-read them. Most of them don’t stand up. But No Coins Please, the story of an 11-year-old con artist, is still funny. If you can find a copy, I recommend it.

No_Coins,_Please

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

I’m having the worst time getting through a biography of Vladimir Nabokov (I have to read it a few paragraphs at a time in between other books–it’s dry, dense, and long, but at this point I’m too invested to give up). As for fiction, I found James Joyce’s Ulysses tough (I did finish it, though).

ulysses

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

Well, it was Ulysses. I would love to read Shakespeare’s complete works. Or classical lit, like Homer and Sophocles. Guess I’d better get started on that…

william-shakespeare-complete-works-2 the-oedipus-plays-of-sophocles-oedipus-the-king-oedipus-at-colonus-antigone odyssey

I hope you enjoyed this post. What would some of your answers be? Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Tell me in the comments…