Vampire Influence on Television (GUEST POST)

Cami Hadley is a freelance lifestyle writer with a passion for film, fashion, home decor, entertainment and the technology that simplifies her life.  She left her entertainment law practice in 2007 to spend more time with the true loves of her life: her family. Cami's a proud wife and mom of two children, two dogs, one cat and a goldfish.

Vampire Influence on Television

By Cami Hadley

With the box office still buzzing from the latest (and final) installment of The Twilight Saga and the TV brimming with vampire-related TV series, it may seem like vampire-mania is a recent development. However, fascination with the mythology and legend of vampirism has long been a staple of western culture, especially when it comes to television.

Vampire Flashback

You may or may not recall the popular late-‘60s/early-‘70s TV series Dark Shadows. This vamp-centric soap opera ran from 1966-71 on ABC and was briefly revived in 1991 before NBC cancelled it. Johnny Depp was a big fan of the show and recently played the main vampire, Barnabas Collins, in 2012 film adaptation of Dark Shadows directed by Tim Burton.

A ’90s Resurgence

Perhaps, 1991 was too soon to revive Dark Shadows. Fast-forward six years to the debut of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), and you’ll see TV audiences enthralled in the story of a high school cheerleader delving into a supernatural world to fight forces of evil and repeatedly save the planet. Buffy’s wild success was followed by a spinoff series, Angel (1999-2004), in which the vampire is the hero and battles demons and their human allies to assuage his guilt over his own past sins. One might argue that these two series inspired and set the stage for the popularity of the Twilight franchise of novels (first published in 2005) and movies (which debuted in 2008).

Carrying the Torch

Today, several TV series continue the vampiric TV legacy forged by Dark Shadows and revived by BuffyTrue Blood, has aired on HBO since 2008 and been the center of much controversy among fans of the Sookie Stackhouse novels upon which the TV series is (some would argue, loosely) based. Being Human is a popular BBC series that follows the struggles of roommates who happen to be a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf. The CW didn’t want to miss out on the public’s renewed fascination with the undead and launched The Vampire Diaries in 2009.

Spotting a pattern? Vampires on TV never really die. You can always count on them to come back for more.

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: 



10 Questions For... Karen Woodward

I recently had the good fortune to get to know Karen Woodward, author of Until Death, which is a fantasy novel about a teenage girl who lives amongst a society of witches, but has no supernatural powers of her own. Aside from being an up-and-coming author, Woodward is also a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and most every conversation we have invariably turns into a geeky discussion about Buffy or Angel or the Joss Whedon Universe in general.

So, without further ado, here are 10 questions for Karen Woodward:

1. Your novel, Until Death, is a fantasy novel, which, in some form or fashion, was inspired by Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Can you tell me a little more about your book and how Whedon's body of work inspired your storytelling sensibilities? 

I think of Until Death as a modern folk tale. The story follows Darla, a headstrong 18 year old girl who thinks she knows what she wants most in life. At the beginning of the tale Darla's deepest wish, to be able to work magic, becomes reality and her life as she knows it is destroyed. For a while she despairs but then, in true Buffy fashion, she figures out how to put the pieces of her life back togetheryes, they might not fit quite right and perhaps a bit of duct tape is involved, but she sets things right in the end. Mostly.

Whedon's Buffy inspired me to create the character of Darla because...well, let's face it, Buffy is different. She wasn't the tortured hero. Yes, sure, she went through periods of angstwe are talking about teenagersbut what she wanted most in life was to be normal. In the world I set Until Death in, being able to use magic is normal, so this is Darla's deepest desire as well. But that's not all. Sure, Buffy had the help of her friends, the Scooby's, but in the end she was alone and she surmounted whatever Big Bad was trying to bring her down through her own inner strength and resourcefulness. Translation: She didn't need rescuing. This is a trait Darla shares as well. Yes, she would love help but when it doesn't come she is, somehow, able to face the challenge and, in her own quirky way, come out more-or-less on top. Also, although Buffy was a hero she wasn't perfect. I don't think she strove for that. Darla doesn't either.

Oh, and one more thing. Buffy and Darla both have a sense of humor (think sushi pajamas). I'm not saying that I've come closeI don't think anyone couldto capturing Whedon's quirky sense of humor, but I hope that I've avoided taking things too seriously.

2. One of the reasons I like the horror/sci-fi/fantasy genres is their ample ability to house metaphors that both reflect and pararel the human experience. I get the impression that Darla's story of wanting to feel normal in a world full of magic has some deeper metaphorical meanings.  Can you expound on this idea? 

Growing up, my family and friends believed in magic, in the supernatural, in angels and demons and fairies. Like Kim Harrison, I'm more the scientific type. That said, I have always adored fairy stories, folk tales, the ancient Greek myths and, more recently, urban fantasy. I have often thought it would be lovely if my friends and family were proven right and there were fairies and all the rest of it. Until Death grew from that germ of an idea. Perhaps that also explains some of the feelings of alienation I give Darla. I read somewhere that one's first book is autobiographical, perhaps that's true in my case.

3. For both traditionally published authors and independent authors, promoting one's book can be one of the most challenging parts of the publishing process. Talk about what methods and strategies you've employed in order to promote both yourself as an author and as well your novel Until Death?

Everyone is different, but I blog and tweet. I'm also on Facebook and Google+.

Every day I publish a blog post and include a link to it in a tweet. I also curate links and tweet about six links a day. The links are to  articles I think provide good information to indie writers, or are thought provoking, or some combination of the two.

I don't know whether any of this helps me sell my book. Blogging has become an end in itself. I am grateful for the advice and support of my fellow writers and I do what I can to pass that along.

4. Writing a novel is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?

I dream of the day when I get to the point of having a process! I think I'm a bit like a model-T in the wintertime: A lot of false starts and stalling. Until Death was written over a period of two years mainly because I didn't work on it for a year. I put it away because the plot had become an overgrown jungle and I couldn't figure which plants to cut down and which to leave.

My critique group helped me; simply knowing that I would be handing my manuscript off to these generous, intelligent, readers made me able to look at my manuscript in a new way. In a sense, it let me see it objectively, or at least more objectively than I had been able to previously. It was just what I needed. Also, my critique partners gave me excellent feedback on which parts felt slow, where I was explaining too much, etc. And, most of all, they gave me encouragement.

But, as much as I have a process, here's what I do, or try to do. The first draft is all about me and the story. I'm not critical. I allow myself to make mistakes and develop plot lines that might not go anywhere. I don't judge myself. During the second draft I read what I've got and make decisions about what the story is, what the themes are, etc. I also think about other people, my critique group, and I put on my editors hat. The third draft is mostly clean-up. My readers will have noticed the occasional logical lapse, or too much of an info dump, or events that need more explaining. That's it!

5. Can you sum up the journey of getting your book published?

I think my journey to getting Until Death published would read a bit like The Pilgrim's Progress! After I decided to self-publish, the journey became more straight-forward. It started around the time I began infrequently reading Joe Konrath's blog. I hadn't seriously considered self-publication before then because I was confusing it with vanity publishing. Joe set me straight and I began reading the blogs of authors who were self-publishing, authors such as Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  These blogs, Dean's especially, helped give me the courage to put my work out there.

6. What drove you to write this particular book?

I have an image of banshee's flying behind me, clawing at my hair, screaming, “Write Until Death!”


I guess as a writer having a bizarre imagination is an asset…or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

That's an interesting question. It reminds me of the debate around whether stories exist independently of the writer and the main job of the writer is to uncover them, like an archeologist uncovering the bones of a long dead critter (Stephen King is like this, see On Writing), or whether the author creates the story out of thin air. This dichotomy reminds me of another one, that between pantsers and plotters, the people who just dive in and start writing and those who create an outline, plan out all the events, and so on, and only when they know what they're going to write, do they embark on the task of bringing the first draft of their story to life.

Until Death sort of staggered into existence like a drunken frat boy on his way home from an all-nighter. Perhaps that is the way of all first novels, I'm not sure. My second novel, and the second book in my Death series, seems to be following in the way of its parent, weaving its way into existence in fits and starts. I see a scene here and there and they sit inside me, incubating, until I wake up at 2 am possessed with an idea and mad with a desire for a pad of paper and a pen—both of which are, of course, missing. But it's coming together (knock on wood).

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would it be? Why?

Tough choice, I'd have to say J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. If I'm not allowed the entire series then I'd chose The Fellowship of the Ring. Why? Tolkien was a gifted writer, but I love the ideas he introduced and how he introduced them. His books inspire the imagination.

8. What are some tools you use to help promote and market your book?

Twitter Counter - Helps me gauge how quickly I am growing my Twitter following.

Topsy Analytics - Shows me how many times my tweets were mentioned and retweeted.

TweetReach - Another tool to represent the size of my audience.

Klout - Fun and very addictive. Gives you a score that represents the totality of your social activity on the web.

Google Analytics - If I had to choose just one tool, it would be Google Analytics. Gives you an idea of how many folks visit your blog every month, every week, every day, every second. Addictive.

Hootsuite - I don't know what I would do without Hootsuite. I lets me schedule my tweets and I like its flexibility.

Where I've hung my virtual shingle:

Karen Woodward: A Blog About Writing




9. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hope to see their work published one day?

I have found Heinlein's Rules enormously useful.

  1. You must write.
  2. Finish what you start.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put your story on the market.
  5. You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

I like Robert J. Sawyer's sixth rule: Start working on something else.

Now if only I could take my own advice!

10. If you could only watch one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Okay, this one is easy. Season 5, Episode 12: "Checkpoint." Best. Speech. Ever.

And there you have it. I'd like to thank Karen Woodward for being so generous with her time. If you want to learn more about her, you can visit Karen Woodward: A Blog About Writing. You can also check out Woodward's  Facebook and follow her on Twitter.