In The Year Without a Summer, a Gothic legend is born…

Film still from Vampyr (1932), directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer

In the year 1816, severe climate abnormalities caused global temperatures to drop dramatically. In some places, the fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight to such a degree that sunspots were visible to the naked eye. Crop failures led to food riots and widespread famine, causing approximately 200,000 deaths in Europe alone. In a villa near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Lord Byron and his young physician John Polidori were sequestered from the inhospitable weather along with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, the author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and Claire Clairmont. Over a three day period in June, the five turned to telling fantastical tales to pass the time, and then to composing their own. Out of that summer without light or warmth, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was born, along with what would become the archetypal creature of the night for generations to come—John Polidori’s Byron-inspired Vampyre.  

1819 title page of The Vampyre, famously misattributed to Lord Byron

His name was Lord Ruthven, a cold, cunning beast in aristocrat’s clothing. The tale’s most tragic victim is the innocent Miss Aubrey, sister of the equally gullible Edgar Aubrey. But like subterranean creatures that live deep beneath the well-worn surface of the earth, does Polidori’s Vampyre conceal secret tales yet to be told? What bizarre motives drive the dark forces of Ruthven’s heart, if indeed he even possesses one? And does Miss Aubrey have hidden designs even more devious than a ruthless vampire could imagine?

In Dark Muses, Spoken Silences, Firbolg Publishing’s latest release in the popular Enter at Your Own Risk series, ten authors were asked to reimagine four classic Gothic tales from the point of view of one of the “unspoken” secondary characters. My tale was Polidori’s Vampyre; my character–the decidedly not so innocent Miss Aubrey. What unfolds is the tale of The Tygre, a creature no less ruthless than The Vampyre, and even more determined to do whatever it takes to claw her way free of the cage that holds her.

Click here to read excerpts from “The Tygre as well as “The Silent Highwayman,” Jonny M. Kelley‘s macabre journey into Ruthven’s mad, bad, and very dangerous to know mind, along with Timothy HurleyBlaze McRob, and the mysterious “Anonymous” knocking down the basement walls of Edgar Allan Poe’s infamous “The Black Cat;” T. Fox Dunham, Carole Gill, and Marcus Kohler overturning the unwholesome earth of Washington Irving’s classic “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow;” and Mike Chinn and Gregory Norris awakening the elder gods in H.P. Lovecraft’s epic “The Call of Cthulhu.”

dark-muses-medSome of the most enduring masterpieces of Gothic fiction are as intriguing for the stories they don’t tell as for those they do. The voices hidden in the wall of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat;” the secrets buried beneath the earth of Sleepy Hollow in Washington Irving’s legendary Headless Horseman tale; the dreams of a monster and an ancient book with a life of its own in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu;” and stories that reveal Polidori’s hypnotic, archetypal Vampyre as far more than what he first appears to be. In Firbolg Publishing’s third volume in the Enter at Your Own Risk series, ten modern storytellers reimagine the mysterious characters lurking within four classics of Gothic literature. As you read the original stories, a sinister whisper drifts in on a cold chill. But there are other voices beneath the whisper. You can hear them crawling out of the growing darkness. Then the whispers become a scream…

Click here to purchase the paperback edition of Dark Muses, Spoken Silences, here for the ebook.

In the Portland, Oregon area this Halloween?

Join the Pacific Northwest vampires and other moss-laden creatures of the night for a vampire extravaganza at Rain or Shine Coffee Shop, where I’ll be discussing Dark Muses, Spoken Silences and reading from Polidori, “The Tygre”, and Jonny Kelley’s “The Silent Highwayman” as well as doing some Firbolg giveaways with Alex Scully.