19 July 2008

Dr Acula, Ph.D.

The reason it's been three weeks since I last updated this blog thing is that I've been up to my throat in writing this vampire novella, the day job's been really busy and B. and I have been away every weekend and faffing about with stuff most evenings. Some of these are perfectly pleasant things in themselves, but taken together they've tended to engender a large amount of stress and busytude.

Life's been so hectic recently I've barely had time to update my Facebook status, let alone write a blog post. Sadly, B. and I have had to turn down a party in London tonight as being just that one thing too many for the maintenance of sanity.

The novella's coming along nicely, though, you'll be pleased to hear -- I now have around two-thirds of it written, at a little over 20,000 words.

I realise that I've not said much about Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Vampire's Curse here, except to praise my co-authors and to drone on about writing the thing. At this stage I know little of Mags' and Kelly's stories, and they're not mine to talk about anyway. My third of the book (originally entitled The Predator Principle, which proved to be rubbish, and now called, still rather tentatively, Predating the Predators) is about the First Interdisciplinary Conference on Vampirology, which is first infiltrated and then gatecrashed by a coven of vampires.

It's a blending of genres -- as a vampire novella, it's obviously a horror story, and as the umbrella title suggests it has a certain schlocky Hammer vibe. I also decided to go for the authentic Gothic flavour of Dracula and its ilk, by building the narrative out of letters, journal entries and excerpts from secondary documents. It's also inevitably a campus novel[la], and equally inevitably (given that it's part of the Bernice Summerfield range) it's S.F., taking place in Benny's space-operatic galactic milieu.

Being me, I felt that those weren't really enough genre referents, so I've also introduced a Jesuit priest wrestling with an apparently intractable theological problem on a remote planet, thus tying nicely in with the rarefied but venerable S.F. subgenre of "Jesuit priest wrestling with an apparently intractable theological problem on a remote planet" stories[1]. In a revolutionary twist, mine's called Imogen.

In short, it's an allegorical-epistolary-gothic-horror-pastiche-campus-space-opera -- not quite on the scale of a a detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time-travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic, but not bad at only a little over 30,000 words.

I've also written my monthly column for Surefish, gone on a training course which may entitle me to do some Thought for the Day slots on BBC Radio Bristol, and am now working on a short piece for a kind of collaboration which is altogether new for me, though sadly neither earth-shakingly high-profile or notably paid (come back in late August for more on this).

Coincidentally, it's about something vampires are afraid of, although admittedly there seem to be quite a lot of objects that applies to.

[1] S.F. novices who feel disinclined to believe in this as a bona fide subgenre may wish to investigate Anthony Boucher's "Balaam", Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star", James Blish's A Case of Conscience, Philip José Farmer's Father John Carmody stories, the 80-page segment "The Priest's Tale" in Dan Simmons' Hyperion and Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow and Children of God. S.F. initiates who can spot any I've missed should feel free to chip in.

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