Thursday, January 29, 2009

"The Vampire Tapestry"

Suzy McKee Charnas is the author of over a dozen works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, including the Holdfast series from Tor Books and the Sorcery Hall series of books for young adults. She is the winner of the Hugo Award (for her short story "Boobs") and has won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award twice.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her acclaimed novel, The Vampire Tapestry, and reported the following:
From Page 69:

Roger was going away for the weekend, leaving Mark to look after the vampire. You had to keep Roger from taking advantage. He did it without thinking, really, he just sort of forgot about your interests in the pursuit of his own.

"Look, Roger," Mark said, "I'll take care of the place for you -- water the plants and do some cleaning up and all that, like before, to pay you back for letting me stay here. But you're away a lot partying and checking out the shops, and that means I'm stuck with ... him, in there. That's a big responsibility."

Roger was packing a rainbow sweater in nubbleknit acrylic he had borrowed from the uptown store for the weekend. "You can always go home," he said. Mark waited. Roger sighed.

"Okay, okay, Five dollars a week."


"Bloodsucker!" Roger said. "All right, ten." So simple, no tearing your guts up over everything like at home. "Listen, there's a special reason why I'm going up to Boston. I want to consult with a few friends about this vampire. There must be ways to get incredibly rich on this thing."

With Roger gone, Mark settled down to the paper for Carol Kelly. Looking for a book of poetry criticism in the living room, he was distracted by a remnant from Roger's fling with super-exotica, The Two-Duck Pleasure Book: Balkan Folk Wisdom, by R. Unpronounceable. Beguiled into browsing for enlightening dirty bits ("... method of contraception is for the woman to get up after intercourse, squat on the floor, and inserting her index finger... " Yuucchh), he spent a fascinating half hour.

Then he pulled out a book on Lapland and found ...

Author's comment:

Will Mark spring the injured vampire, Edward Weyland, from the improvised cell that Uncle Roger has locked him up in? What greedy scheme for exploiting Weyland's unique nature will amoral, feckless Roger bring back from Boston? And who will show up in Roger's absence, with even more alarming intentions? What will Professor Weyland, a very good teacher indeed, teach young Mark; Does his lesson plan include death?

Lapland? Wha' -- ?!

The fun of writing this book lay in starting with questions and then working out answers through Weyland's unpredictable, perilous, and seductive encounters with his "inferior" (but indispensible) prey. I like not knowing where my story will end up: it must keep me entertained for a year or more of writing if it's to entertain you for a weekend of reading.

I set out to create an anti-Romantic vampire, a natural creature who is not and never has been human; but when you let the characters run the story, they end up running it where they choose. See chapter three, which is X-rated and -- simultaneously -- weirdly Romantic after all, on levels deep and strange.

As with Mark and his uncle, I patterned most of these characters on people I knew; with Weyland's help I even managed, in this book, to give my stepfather what he deserved. A writer's revenge is secret, but sweet.

Weyland himself, neither ghost or revenant but supreme predator, is of course my own oldest, coldest, most cunning, able, and sexy self -- and, I hope, yours, dear reader, for the time it takes you to read his story.
Read an excerpt from The Vampire Tapestry, and learn more about the author and her work at Suzy McKee Charnas' journal and website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue