Friday, June 05, 2009

Sunday, Wiscon 33, Part 1

Sunday May 24th, 2009 - Part 1

Did I really miss all the morning panels? Yes, and it wasn't because I slept late. I'm a member of Broad Universe and one of the things we do at many conventions is to have a dealer's table. We sell books by members, talk about the purpose of the organization, but also serve as a useful stopping point for other Broad Universe members. It's always nice sitting there behind the books, reading the names of the members who stop by to say hello. Broad Universe is an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Some of the members who stop by are writers, educators, and publishers, but some are just curious readers.

So, on Sunday morning I spent some time volunteering at the table, then took off and had some lunch before hitting the panels.

"The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire"
Fred Schepartz (m), Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Jordan Castillo Price

Being a huge vampire fan, I was really eager to attend this one. The moderator was Fred Schepartz, author of Vampire Cabbie (set in Madison, no less!). Panelists included Alex Bledsoe (author of Blood Groove), Suzy Charnas (author of the highly regarded The Vampire Tapestries), Alaya Dawn Johnson (author of a forthcoming 1920s vampire novel), and Jordan Castillo Price (author of the PsyCop novels). [An editorial note here: All of these authors have other wrting credits, but I noted only the vampire ones because that's what the panel is about.]

I really liked this panel, maybe because it's the type of thing I'm trying to do with my podcast*: That is, to ask other writers about their vampires and vampire universes, what inspired them, and why they made the choices they did. Most of the time I just sat there enthralled (pun!), but I did manage to scratch out a few notes.

When Suzy Charnas wrote The Vampire Tapestries (published 1980/81), she was writing it against the erotic undertone in most vampire stories (I think this might have been around the time of Anne Rice -- I keep forgetting when Rice's books became popular, even though that subject came up in a recent podcast!) Her vampire Wayland is not actually human, but a different species. He has learned to act like humans to survive. Since then she's written other vamps, including comic vamps.

Fred Schepartz's vampire is 1000 years old and [relatively recently] lost all his money in a stock market crash, so now he's driving cab in Madison to earn a living. (Don't ya love it?)

Alex Bledsoe's vampire was staked in Wales in 1915, but is freed in Memphis. Was woken in the 70s.

Alaya Dawn Johnson's novel is really "an immigrant novel." (I think Stoker's was, too, wasn't it? Or at least the fear of "other" was a metaphor for the fear of foreigners, right?)

They talked about whether their vamps could change into things (like mist -- Fred's can), how the sun affects them (Alex's can go out in sunlight), and much more. I really enjoyed this panel.

*My vampire podcast is Vampires, Witches, and Geeks

1 comment:

Alex Bledsoe said...

Thanks for the write-up, Morven. You're right about Stoker: one of several symbolic interpretations was that Dracula represented immigrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, who(m?) the Victorians feared on principle. If you see Guy Maddin's film "Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary," that's a big element (be warned, though: it's actually a dance film of a well-regarded Canadian ballet troupe. A lot of fun, but definitely not horror).