Romanticization of Stalking (GUEST POST)

by Mauro Corso

Mauro Corso is a journalist, writer, and actor who lives between Rome and Berlin. As a special contributor to, Corso has written a series of Guest Posts about vampires in popular culture. This is PART 4 of 4

Edward and Bella | Twilight

The description of the first Adam and Olivia “encounter” in "Adam & Olivia," Martin Lastrapes' vampire short, is a very powerful portrait of a relationship between a predator and a prey in its most primal terms. Everything is about scent, pursual and the thrill of the hunt in general. Some time ago I read about a very interesting criticism surrounding Twilight about Edward and Bella’s relationship. At the core of the criticism was a very simple question: Is Edward a stalker?

More importantly, is vampire literature a romanticization of stalking (and violence)?

Let’s first take a look at a non-vampire example. In Marc Webb’s 2012 film, The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker takes pictures of Gwen Stacy when she is not watching her; he sometimes follows her as well. All of this is perceived as cute and clumsy. Should we consider this stalking as well? I think we should tread lightly when applying laws of our world to those (albeit fictional) supernatural relationships. When defining stalking in a literary context, we should keep in mind what stalking actually is.

Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker | The Amazing Spider-Man
Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker | The Amazing Spider-Man

In Florida, for example, stalking is defined as a repeated following or harassment, where “to harass” means to “engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose” (Florida statute 784.048). So we can see that behind the definition of stalking there isn’t a single episode, but a behavioral pattern.

Also, the point of view of the potential victim should be taken into proper account. Is the victim experiencing “substantial emotional distress”? Is the victim feeling cut out from the rest of the world? Is the victim developing some kind of dependency to an aggressor? I think that these questions should rule out Edward Cullen’s behaviour as stalking, especially when considering Bella’s reactions.

Returning to the "Adam & Olivia" short, what is going on is definitely a violent aggression, portrayed in a very vivid and somewhat disturbing fashion. Do we need to be concerned about the possible ramifications of a “pleasurable violence”?

Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon

We should always be concerned about this matter. Romanticization of violence, especially on women, should always be considered very carefully.

I don’t know what is going to happen next in Martin Lastrapes' forthcoming novel, The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl, and I don’t know what is going to happen to Olivia.  I do, however, know that Lastrapes treats his female characters with the utmost regard—just as Joss Whedon does with characters like Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Timber Marlow, the main character in Lastrapes debut novel, Inside the Outside, embodies that notion of an empowered woman. She takes her destiny into her own hands and personally challenges the strict patriarchal society where she grew up, engaging in both ideological and physical battles. For this reason, I am very confident that Olivia is going to take a lead role in Lastrapes next novel.

In "Adam & Olivia," we are even given a very telling hint: Olivia wants to write a vampire novel. The identification with the author could not be more obvious than that.

I think that even when we talk about violence, we should consider a character as a whole, in its development, in the course of actions he or she chooses and in the beliefs of this character.

I must admit I have great expectations for Olivia and I believe that the romanticization problem is not going to be much of an issue in her story.

Check out all of Mauro Corso's articles in this series: 


Vampires, Boredom, and Sex (GUEST POST)

by Mauro Corso

Mauro Corso is a journalist, writer, and actor who lives between Rome and Berlin. As a special contributor to, Corso has written a series of Guest Posts about vampires in popular culture. This is PART 1 of 4

What is the main problem of immortality? It lasts more than anyone can reasonably bear. Adam, the vampire in Martin Lastrapes' vampire short "Adam & Olivia," has been a vampire for thirty years and is already bored to death. Boredom is an underdeveloped theme in vampire literature. Sometimes we get a hint of this existential problem in the life of vampire, like in True Blood when we see  Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Vampire Queen of Louisiana, playing a board game. Or we may suspect that all the power play and meddling in human lives is simply a device to hide the emptiness of being a vampire.

Lastrapes’ vampire short made me feel this powerful boredom in Adam’s life right from the start, setting this tale apart from everything else I have seen or read so far. Boredom, it seems, might well be the worst part about being a vampire. For example, consider the unlife of Edward Cullen from Twilight series, who is is essentially stuck in high school for all eternity. Even if we don’t sense his boredom, I can’t possibly imagine a more powerful image of damnation. Given all this, we might ask:

What is a vampire’s main drive?


Everything else is just a pastime between survival and drinking sessions. There is sex, of course, which is a rather problematic issue in vampire physiology. I think that the sexuality of vampires is generally taken for granted. It would be hard to categorize this drive as just another pastime. While it is one of the most basic human drives, is it possible for something not living to have an erotic desire? It is quite true that love and death are strictly intertwined (thank you Mr. Freud!), but saying that a corpse feels attraction to someone else (especially living!) is something I always found dissatisfying. Possibly, a vampire not interested in sex would be too un-human to sympathize with.

I believe that sex is the only interesting thing in the delirious mayhem of twists that is True Blood (yep, I don’t like it...please bear with me). Between Sookie, Bill, and Eric, their sexuality is never questioned; vampires and humans have sex with each other without missing a beat. And in Twilight, sexuality is taken to the next level: Supernatural pregnancy. I find this concept really frightening, and not in a good way. I thought that the only way a vampire could have children was by siring a human being.

The way the TV seriesBeing Human  (US version) depicts sexuality in the vampire world makes the most sense to me, because it is rough, messy, and involves a lot of blood; we so often take for granted the importance of blood in the life of a vampire. The drive for blood in sexuality is rarely clear in vampire stories such as Twilight or True Blood.

This brings to mind another problematic aspect in many vampire stories, which is the "vegetarian" vampire—a vampire who doesn't feed from humans. There is something primal and erotic about vampires feeding, which seems to have strong connections with sex, so the idea of a vampire being able to restrain himself/herself from draining someone he/she is having sex with is difficult for me to swallow.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I would like to see some sort of vampire sexuality that actually makes sense. Even Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which revolves around the idea of undying love (especially in Francis Ford Coppola's film adaptation), isn't very clear on how the physical part of this immortal relationship is treated—due, in large part, because Dracula’s romantic desire is doomed to failure.

Sexuality, especially in literature, should not be the easy way to engage a reader; it should have a deep, existential meaning in the economy of every novel.

Check out all of Mauro Corso's articles in this series: 


Once More, With Buffy (GUEST POST)

by Mauro Corso

Mauro Corso is a journalist, writer, and actor who lives between Rome and Berlin. As a special contributor to, Corso has written a series of Guest Posts about vampires in popular culture. This is PART 2 of 4

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

When an author quotes something belonging to pop culture, we should always carefully consider what’s behind it. A lesser author chooses to name something popular as a way to build an easy bond with a reader; when you name something a reader can readily connect to, you, as a writer, are making your job a lot easier. After all, writing is all about seduction. This is a double-edged sword, though. If a reader can sense there is nothing behind the given reference, disappointment will kick in, and, for that reason, everything an author did will be in vain. On the other hand, a superior author will use a reference to pop culture, not as literary shorthand, but as a means of expressing some larger theme or idea.

In “Adam & Olivia,” Martin Lastrapes' vampire short, he makes a reference to Joss Whedon's iconic television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show is about Buffy Summers, a high school student by day and vampire slayer by night. Whedon cleverly positions Buffy and her battles against evil as metaphors for the hardships that come with being a teenager. In "Adam & Olivia," Lastrapes doesn't simply reference the show itself, he makes a very specific reference to a particular episode.

In "Adam & Olivia," we learn that Olivia is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; she is particularly fond of Episode 7/Season 6: “Once More, With Feeling.” While Lastrapes doesn't go into great detail about the episode itself, the fact that he mentions it at all leads me to believe we should take it as a hint of what is to come—or, at the very least, how the character of Olivia is going to shape her destiny throughout the story.

“Once More, With Feeling” is a musical episode in which Whedon wrote all the songs in different styles to fit the various moods and themes of the episode and its featured characters. Similar to "Adam & Olivia"—which is both a short story, as well as a chapter in Lastrapes' forthcoming novel—"Once More, With Feeling" works very well as a stand alone episode and, at the same time, it’s a pivotal episode of Season 6.


In the opening episode of Season 6, Buffy, having died at the conclusion of the previous season, is raised from the dead by her friends. She told her friends they rescued her from Hell, as she didn't want to them to feel bad about what they'd done. But, in "Once More, With Feeling," we learn that Buffy was in Heaven, finally at peace from all the struggles that come with being a slayer. Her resurrection is a traumatic experience that changes her, setting her apart from other human beings.

In 1906, Russian novelist Leonid Andreyev wrote “Lazarus,” a short story about the aftermath of Lazarus' resurrection. Even if Lazarus has come back to life and is cherished by his family and friends, there is something unnamed he brought with him from the afterlife, an invisible touch of death, a hint at the mortality of every human being. While Buffy, in Season 6, shares some similarities with Lazarus, her situation also has some distinct differences.

As a slayer, Buffy is already alone, but as a resurrected slayer, she is set further apart from humanity. As Season 6 progresses, she becomes more and more detached, resulting in an unsettling loneliness  which becomes the main theme of "Once More, With Feeling." While Buffy feels completely alone, the episode demonstrates how every other character in the show also feels alone, each of them harboring some secret that he or she cannot bring themselves to face or share with anybody else.

By the end of the episode, Buffy finds a way to feel alive—or, to be more precise, she finds a way to “feel” once again, an allusion to the title of the episode. The solution to her conundrum is a paradox: In order to feel alive, she allows herself to fall in in love with a vampire, the undead.

I don't yet know what direction Lastrapes' forthcoming novel, The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl, will go in, but I can already see, based on his two vampire shorts, that loneliness is going to be a major theme. In "Adam & Olivia," Adam stalks and, ultimately, attacks Olivia out of loneliness. Olivia, for her part, is also lonely, stuck in a job that has nothing to do with her true calling, which is writing. Jesus, the featured character in "Jesus the Mexican Vampire Hunter," is also a loner; hunting vampires, as Buffy Summers so aptly demonstrated, is a lonely trade. One thing I am certain of:

At some point Adam, Olivia, and Jesus will have to find a way to work out their feelings of loneliness—and I can't wait to find out what happens as they do.

Check out all of Mauro Corso's articles in this series: 



A Vampire Appetizer

In the summer of 2011, I officially threw my hat into the arena of publishing, releasing my debut novel Inside the Outside. While I've spent a great majority of the last year promoting my novel, working tirelessly to build my readership, I've also been working just as tirelessly on my second novel, The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl.

When I first penned "Adam & Olivia," I wasn't sure if it would simply be a short story or the beginning of something longer.  Naturally, I began writing a second story, just to see if this vampire idea of mine had any legs. That story became "Jesus the Mexican Vampire Hunter." Between "Adam & Olivia" and "Jesus the Mexican Vampire Hunter," I knew I had the first two chapters of my next novel.

While I had no idea what the novel would actually be about or how Adam, Jesus, and Olivia—the vampire, the hunter, and the girl—would come to affect one another, I felt confident that there was enough potential there to warrant a novel.

Well now, here we are in 2012 and that little seedling of an idea is nearly complete. The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl is loosely slated to be released in 2013. In the meantime, I've released both "Adam & Olivia" and "Jesus the Mexican Vampire Hunter" exclusively in Amazon's Kindle Store, as Vampire Shorts.

Each Vampire Short, in my estimation, can be read and enjoyed as self-contained stories, but they can also be enjoyed as companion pieces. And, in the big picture, I hope they will whet your appetite in anticipation of the forthcoming publication of my second novel.