NOTE: I wrote this article (which is now incorporated as Chapter 20 of In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, 3rd Edition) on New Orleans as an homage to one of my favorite cities, one still fresh in my mind and heart after a long-postponed revisit there as an invitee to the Vampire Film Festival’s Midsummer Nightmare last year.

All of the photos in this article are my own, except for the portrait of the Compte de St. Germain and the two pictures otherwise credited. Most of the text is a compendium of others’ words and research. With apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently left out, my online research for this chapter led me to articles from hubpages.com; Kalila K. Smith (whose Vampire Tour I can recommend from personal experience—see http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Kalila-Smith/178024410); New Orleans Ghosts.com; GO NOLA; Brian Harrison; Haunted Shreveport Bossier.com; and Frommers.com. I’ve borrowed freely from all of these sources and recommend them highly to those who would like to delve more deeply into the secrets of this unique city.

If you have ever walked the dark, rainy streets of the French Quarter at night, you have seen the voodoo shops selling their gris-gris and John-the-Conqueror Root. You’ve seen the old woman in the French Market whose pointing finger foretells your death And if you know the right person to ask and you ask in the right way, you’ll be shown to the vampire clubs.

I’ve been in those clubs and seen people who believe with their heart, body, and soul that they are real, live vampires. And some of the people in those clubs are scared to death of a select group of vampires who have only appeared there a few times, and always in the darkest of night. By day, of course, the vampire clubs are closed and locked or turned back into regular tourist bars . . .
–Crazy Horse’s Ghost

St. Louis Cemetery (Photo Courtesy of David Yeagley)

Like the Spanish Moss that drapes the trees of the nearby bayous, mystery and the occult have shrouded New Orleans since its birth. For hundreds of years, families there have practiced a custom called “sitting up with the dead.” When a family member dies, a relative or close family friend stays with the body until it is placed into one of New Orleans’ above-ground tombs or is buried. The body is never left unattended.

There are many reasons given for this practice today—the Old Families will tell you it’s simply respect for the dead—but this tradition actually dates back to the vampire folklore of medieval Eastern Europe. First, the mirrors are covered and the clocks are stopped. While sitting up with the deceased, the friend or family member is really watching for signs of paranormal activity, e.g.,. if a cat is seen to jump over, walk across, or stand on top of the coffin; if a dog barks or growls at the coffin; or if a horse shies from it, these are all signs of impending vampirism. Likewise, if a shadow falls over the corpse. At that point, steps are taken to prevent the corpse from returning from the dead.

Ways to stop a corpse—especially a suicide—from becoming a vampire include burying it face down at a crossroads. Often family members place a sickle around the neck to keep the corpse from sitting up; stuff the mouth with garlic and sew it closed; or mutilate the body, usually by decapitating the head and placing it at the bottom of the feet. But the most common remedy for impending vampirism is to drive a stake into the corpse, decapitate it, then burn the body to ashes. This method is still believed to be the only sure way to truly destroy the undead.


Ask any member of the Old Families who the first vampires to come to New Orleans were, and they’ll tell you the same: it was the Casket Girls.

Much of the population that found their way to New Orleans in the early 1700s were unwelcome anywhere else: deported galley slaves and felons, trappers, gold-hunters and petty criminals. People who wouldn’t be noticed if they went missing.

Sources vary on the specifics, but the basic story is that the city’s founders asked French officials to send over prospective wives for the colonists. They obliged and after months at sea these young girls showed up on the docks, pale and gaunt, bearing only as many belongings as would fit inside a wooden chest or “casquette,” which appears to have been the 18th Century equivalent of an overnight bag. They were taken to the Ursuline Convent, which still stands today, where the girls were said to have resided until the nuns could arrange for marriages.

Some accounts say they were fine young women, virgins brought up in church-run orphanages; some say they were prostitutes. But there are many who swear they were vampires, vampires who continue to rise from their “casquettes” on the third floor to break through the windows and hurricane shutters—windows and shutters that always seem to need repairing after the calmest of nights—to feed upon the transient crowds that for centuries have filled the darkened alleys of the Quarter.

Finally in 1978, after centuries of rumors and stories, two amateur reporters demanded to see these coffins. The archbishop, of course, denied them entrance. Undaunted, the next night the two men climbed over the convent wall with their recording equipment and set up their workstation below. The next morning, the reporters’ equipment was found strewn about the lawn. And on the front porch steps of the convent were found the almost decapitated bodies of these two men. Eighty percent of their blood was gone. To this day, no one has ever solved the murders.


If there is one person who encapsulates the lure and the danger of the vampire, it is the Compte de Saint Germain. Making his first appearance in the court of Louis XV of France, the Comte de Saint Germain endeared himself to the aristocrats by regaling them with events from his past. An alchemist by trade, he claimed to be in possession of the “elixir of life,” and to be more than 6,000 years old.

At other times the Count claimed to be a son of Francis II Rakoczi, the Prince of Transylvania, born in 1712, possibly legitimate, possibly by Duchess Violante Beatrice of Bavaria. This would account for his wealth and fine education. It also explains why kings would accept him as one of their own.

Contemporary accounts from the time record that despite being in the midst of many banquets and invited to the finest homes, he never ate at any of them. He would, however, sip at a glass of red wine. After a few years, he left the French court and moved to Germany, where he was reported to have died. However, people continued to spot him throughout Europe even after his death.

In 1903, a handsome and charismatic young Frenchman named Jacques Saint Germain, claiming to be a descendant of the Compte, arrived in New Orleans, taking residence in a house at the corner of Royal and Ursuline streets. Possessing an eye for beauty, Jacques was seen on the streets of the French Quarter with a different young woman on his arm every evening. His excursions came to an abrupt end one cold December night, when a woman’s piercing scream was heard coming from Jacques’ French Quarter home. The scream was quickly followed by a woman who flung herself from the second story window to land on the street below. As bystanders rushed to her aid, she told them how Saint Germain attacked and bit her, and that she jumped out of the window to escape. She died later that evening at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

By the time the New Orleans police kicked in the door of Saint Germain’s home, he had escaped. However, what they did find was disturbing enough. The stench of death greeted the nostrils of the policemen, who found not only large bloodstains in the wooden flooring, but even wine bottles filled with human blood. The house was declared a crime scene and sealed off. From that evil night to the present day, no one has lived in that home in the French Quarter. It is private property and all taxes have been paid to date, but no one has been able to contact the present owner or owners. The only barriers between the valuable French Quarter property and the outside world are the boarded-up balcony windows and a small lock on the door. Whispers of Jacques sightings are prevalent, and people still report seeing him in the French Quarter. Could it be the enigmatic Compte checking up on his property?


Lafayette Cemetery (Photo Courtesy of Phil Orgeron)

There is no one who has done more to bring the vampire into the New Age than Anne Rice, born and bred in New Orleans, with her novel Interview with the Vampire and the films and books that followed. Those who have profited mightily from the popularity of True Blood and Twilight owe her a great debt.

The ultra-retro St. Charles Avenue Streetcar will take you close to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the gravesite of Louis de Pointe du Lac’s (Lestat’s companion and fellow vampire in Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles) wife and child and where Louis was turned into a vampire by Lestat.

The Styrofoam tomb from the film Interview with the Vampire is gone now, but you can easily find the site where it stood, the wide empty space in the cemetery nearest the corner of Coliseum and Sixth Street.

During the filming of Interview with the Vampire, the blocks between 700 and 900 Royal Street in the French Quarter were used for exterior shots of the home of the vampires Louis, Lestat, and Claudia, trapped for all time with an adult mind in the body of a six-year-old girl. In fact, the streets there and around Jackson Square were covered in mud for the movie as they had been in the 1860s when the scenes took place.

The perfectly preserved Gallier House at 1132 Royal Street was Anne Rice’s inspiration for the vampires’ house, and very close to that is the Lalaurie House, at 1140 Royal Street. Delphine Lalaurie, portrayed by Kathy Bates in American Horror Story: Coven, was a real person who lived in that house and was indeed said to have tortured and bathed in the blood of her slaves—even the blood of a slave girl’s newborn baby—to preserve her youth. She was never seen again in New Orleans after an angry mob partially destroyed her home on April 10, 1834. There is a scene in American Horror Story where Delphine escapes from the coven’s mansion and sits dejectedly on the curb in front of her old home. A private residence now, some locals still swear that the Lalaurie House is haunted, and that the clanking of chains can be heard through the night.

Built in 1789, Madame John’s Legacy (632 Dumaine Street) is the oldest surviving residence in the Mississippi Valley. In Interview with the Vampire, caskets are shown being carried out of the house as Louis’ (Brad Pitt) voice-over describes the handiwork of his housemates Claudia and Lestat: “An infant prodigy with a lust for killing that matched his own. Together, they finished off whole families.”


As a service to this most vampire-friendly city (http://www.vampirewebsite.net/vampirefriendlycities.html), the New Orleans Vampire Association describes itself as a “non-profit organization comprised of self-identifying vampires representing an alliance between Houses within the Community in the Greater New Orleans Area. Founded in 2005, NOVA was established to provide support and structure for the vampire and other-kin subcultures and to provide educational and charitable outreach to those in need.”

Their Web site also points out that “every year since Hurricane Katrina, the founding members of NOVA have taken food out on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to those who are hungry and homeless.” (See http://www.neworleansvampireassociation.org/index.html.)

FANGTASIA, named with permission from HBO after the club featured in True Blood, is an affiliation of New Orleans-based musicians and film and TV producers who for three years have presented a multi-day vampire-centric event of the same name, the first two years at 1135 Decatur and last year at the Howlin’ Wolf. You can follow their plans and exploits via their blog at http://www.fangtasiaevent.com/fangtasia-blog/.

Next year FANGTASIA hopes to create “the South by Southwest of Global Vampire Culture” at an as yet undisclosed location in Greater New Orleans. As they describe it:

Moving beyond this third consecutive year, FANGTASIA is building a broader international draw that will bring fans to not only party at club nights, but also attend conferences, elegant fashion shows, film & TV screenings, celebrity events as well as an international Halloween/party gear buyers’ market.

Participants will experience gourmet sensations, explore our sensuous city and haunted bayous… as well as epically celebrate the Global Vampire Culture in all its sultry, seductive, diverse and darkly divine incarnations. Additionally, FANGTASIA is strategically poised months prior to Halloween to provide corporate sponsors and vendors a perfect window to connect with their core demographic. This also allows FANGTASIA to actively support and promote existing major Halloween events in New Orleans and beyond.

On the subject of vampiric Halloween events, for 25 years the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club (http://arvlfc.com/index.html) has presented the annual Vampire Ball (http://arvlfc.com/ball.html), now as part of the four-day UndeadCon (http://arvlfc.com/undeadcon.html) at the end of October; and on the weekend nearest Halloween Night (for example, November 1, 2014) the Endless Night Festival and New Orleans Vampire Ball takes place at the House of Blues (http://www.endlessnight.com/venue/).

The Boutique du Vampyre (http://feelthebite.com/boutique2013.html) is a moveable (literally—they’re known to change locations on short notice) feast of vampire and Goth-related odds and ends, many of them locally made. There are books as well—you may even find a copy of In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide if they’re not sold out. Their Web site itself holds a surprise treat: a link to a free video cast of the first two seasons of Vampire Mob (http://vampiremob.com/Vampire_Mob/Vampire_Mob.html), which is just what the title implies.

Finally, no visit to the Crescent City would be complete, for Vampire and Mortal alike, without a taste of absinthe (http://www.piratesalleycafe.com/absinthe.html), or even more than a taste. There is a ritual to the preparation and serving of absinthe that should not be missed; one of the sites that does this authentically is the Pirates Alley Café and Absinthe House at 622 Pirates Alley.


Steven P. Unger is the best-selling author of In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, 3rd Edition, published and distributed by World Audience Publishers (http://www.amazon.com/Footsteps-Dracula-Personal-Journey-Travel/dp/1935444530/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262485478&sr=1-1). The 3rd Edition of In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, available now, includes:

  • References, Web Links, and Costs Updated to March 2014
  • The First Review of Dracula Ever Written, Published in the Manchester Guardian on June 15, 1897
  • A New Section on Bram Stoker’s Dublin
  • A Rare Photo of a Wolf-Dragon, the Original Source of the Name “Dracula,” Carved Within the Ruins of a Prehistoric Dacian Temple in Transylvania
  • A Brand New Chapter: “A Vampire’s Guide to New Orleans”
  • And much, much more!

In the Footsteps of Dracula can be ordered from your local bookstore or online.


‘Other Stories’ and Other Stories by Adam Browne launch

‘Other Stories’ and Other Stories by Adam Browne is a collection published by Satalyte Publishing and due for release soon. The official launch is happening on Wednesday 5th February at Southpaw, a supergroovy barcafe thing at 189 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Victoria. There’ll be artwork by the author on display and readings by the publisher and others.

There’s a Facebook event with the details here. Adam Browne is one of Australia’s most unique voices and a tremendously talented artist. Here’s the publisher blurb for the collection:

“From the warped mind that brought the world Pyrotechnicon


The Author takes this opportunity to apologise for any feelings of inadequacy that might arise in those who open this volume to encounter, glittering like living diamond laceworks, plangent with ideas and pungent with wordplay, the exquisitudinal stories herein contained, all touching on, or rather, pummeling  and stomping and cruelly toying with diverse fantastic notions, such as a man who quits drugs, then cigarettes, then everything else, an attempt by British colonials to terraform Hell (contrast with another story dealing with the late Carl Linnaeus’s attempts to classify the species of Paradise), a planet wrapped in fabric upon which pirates boom and roar in galleoned steam irons, a look at what it will mean to be disabled in the future … and so on — a book to be handled with care, for its close resemblance to a clutch of Faberge eggs, with Faberge chicks inside, waiting to be hatched forth by the Reader’s startled regard.


Don’t Let Us Lose Another Bookshop

Some grim news came out today regarding Notions Unlimited Bookshop, one of Australia’s favourite bookstores. Owner-operator, all round good guy, and king of all that’s spec-fic, Chuck McKenzie, announced that the bookshop is in very real danger of closing by Christmas or soon after, due to the ever rising costs of running a business.

The following is taken directly from the Notions Unlimited Bookshop‘s website:

Since the day we opened our doors, just 20 months ago, the staff and management of Notions Unlimited Bookshop have worked hard to create something more than just a specialist bookstore, and we feel genuinely proud of much that we’ve achieved during that time, such as:

# Continuing to offer a great range of publications, including the best of Australian small-press, rare and hard-to-get titles, genre classics, and latest new releases.

# Building and maintaining a reputation for friendly and knowledgeable service.

# Keeping our prices reasonable – no mean task in these days of Internet shopping and global economic downturn.

# Becoming accepted as part of the local community, plus creating an ever-growing community of our own, bringing together fans of SF, fantasy, horror, graphic novels, gaming, manga, esoteric interests and more – something we’re especially proud of, and that we hope to continue doing for a long time to come.

In order for us to reach that last goal, however, we really do need the assistance of our customers, general supporters, and Facebook subscribers at this time.

Currently, Notions Unlimited Bookshop is looking at the very real possibility of closure – if not by Christmas, then perhaps just afterwards – with the chief cause being the ever-rising cost of running the business. It’s not definite at this point, but the writing is on the wall, and this appeal is an attempt to reverse matters before it’s too late.

Our aim, therefore, is not just to increase our daily sales, but to substantially increase the number of potential customers. Previously, we have tried to boost customer numbers through signage, social media and print advertising – yet almost 80% of our customers tell us they discovered us through referral from friends, family or colleagues.

So this is exactly what we’re asking our friends and customers to do for us now – refer us!

In a nutshell, while we’d love you to pop into our shop over the next few weeks and purchase a book (or two) to help keep us afloat, what we really want you to do is tell other people about us. Jump on Twitter and Facebook, tell your friends, family, workmates, and anybody else you know who loves SF, fantasy, horror, graphic novels, manga, media tie-ins, gaming, esoteric subjects, and other such related genres, to come and check us out in person (and then tell all of their peeps!). We’re not looking for handouts – just introductions to potential customers who may help to keep us in business. And do be sure to mention to everyone you refer us to that this is all in aid of keeping Notions Unlimited Bookshop operating.

Finally, I just want to make it absolutely clear that this is a genuine appeal, not some fake ‘going out of business’ sale or marketing trick. If things don’t improve markedly for us over the next month, we will almost certainly be forced to close our doors forever. No business owner ever wants to admit that a business is failing, but there comes a time when that owner has to either quietly slide towards the inevitable, or step into the spotlight and ask for assistance. So, if you feel you can assist, and will do so, you will have the absolute gratitude of myself and my staff – as well as, hopefully, a future in which we may continue to provide you with the range, service and community you deserve.

In the meantime, a massive and heartfelt ‘thank-you’ to all of our customers, regular and casual, who have supported us already since we opened. We couldn’t have survived thus far without you.

With Thanks,

Chuck McKenzie (Chief Zombologist)
Notions Unlimited Bookshop

Bookshops are an endangered entity in this day and age, and whenever one closes its doors for good, we are all a little poorer for it. Don’t let this happen to Notions Unlimited Bookshop. Please help in any way you can.

Quiver by Jason Fischer

QuiverQuiver: The Tamsyn Webb Chronicles

by Jason Fischer

Publisher: Black House Comics

ISBN-13: 978-1921872235

Quiver by Jason Fischer is a novel by stealth. It’s constructed of four novellas, published by Black House Comics as newsagent penny dreadfuls, that have been re-edited and combined into one story. Each novella follows the adventures of Tamsyn Webb, a British champion archer trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. The story starts in Gravesend, England, follows her flight across the ocean to Corpus Christi, her drafting into an army in a new American civil war (with Texas) and her escape to Cuba and beyond. I won’t give too much away in terms of the stories, as each part builds on the previous, with recurring characters throughout and makes a very satisfying single narrative arc.

Fischer already had a name here in Australia for writing good zombie short fiction, so he’s ideally suited to a project like this. Being part of a greater intellectual property, with other Black House writers giving installments in the overall canon, means Fischer was restricted in some ways and had to follow strict guidelines in places, but he’s done a great job of telling his own stories within that framework.

I have some reservations. His British characters, for example, don’t really talk like British people. You know Scotty’s “Scottish” accent in classic Star Trek, or more recently, the “Australian” accents in Pacific Rim? It’s a bit like that. The characters sound like people pretending to be British, which was grating to my ear (as I’m British and know what we’re supposed to sound like). There were also several instances of incredibly fortuitous timing or coincidences along the way, and Tamsyn had some very unlikely promotions and special treatment to keep her front and centre of the story. Fischer tries hard to justify these plot points, but it’s often a bit of a leap. These things, however, are less of a problem due to Fischer’s clever handling of a believable zombie-infested world and his weaving of an interesting tale with vibrant characters.

He does a good job of creating a place where people are getting on with life, having moved somewhat beyond pure survival. There are still plenty of instances of that, naturally – this is first and foremost zombie fiction – but it’s fascinating to watch society grow into something else. Something with zombies as an everyday reality.

The piecemeal nature of the four novellas is evident, with the story told in four clearly distinct sections, but Fischer did great job stitching them into one coherent novel. Each section is still marked with a title page, so it’s not like he tried to conceal how the thing came about and the Afterword also draws attention to this.

There are places where the book seems unsure if it wants to be a YA novel or not, then parts where it absolutely is not for the faint of heart. There are truly horrible moments, sections full of pathos and deep emotional trauma and the exploration of that, and moments of laugh out loud comedy. Tamsyn fucks up again and again, but survives each time and in many ways this makes the whole story quite real. Jason Fischer has embraced the pulp novella, embraced everything about zombie stories and combined them into something equal parts familiar and refreshingly original. If you’re a fan of zombie action, bow-wielding badass heroines and good pulpy fun you should really check out Quiver.


Book Review: Grants Pass, edited by Jennifer Brozek and Amanda Pillar

Morrigan Books, 2009

I was first sent a review copy of Grants Pass when it was published in 2009. In the time it took for me to get around to reading and reviewing it three years later (like, er, y’know, now), it picked up the 2010 Australian Shadows Award for edited publication – and,now that I’ve finally had the pleasure of devouring the book for myself, I can see why.

Like many good things, Grants Pass was a long time in the making. The concept originated from a blog post by Jennifer Brozek in 2004, a “thought exercise” positing the notion that, when the world ends, everyone should meet in a pre-destined place to pick up the pieces and carry on. The responses Brozek received led her to the idea of the Grants Pass anthology, which, after much pitching and reworking, came to fruition in partnership with her co-editor Amanda Pillar and publisher Morrigan Books. Brozek’s original blog post was used as inspiration for a journal entry by Kayley Allard which kicks off the anthology, and provides the central point (and a sort of meta-character-contributing-author) around which the entire book revolves: “when the end of the world comes, meet me in Grants Pass, Oregon”.

The end of the world does indeed come, thanks to three plagues released by terrorists (why, who, how, and to what end other than total annihilation of the planet is not explained), and a wave of very nasty natural disasters. Eighteen stories nestle between the covers of Grants Pass, detailing what comes next for survivors of the apocalypse. Each of the stories are never anything less than very good. Some are superb.

The standout piece for me was definitely Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire. A bleak, blunt story with an ethically curious core, this one stayed with me long after I put the book down. Touching on themes of euthanasia and humans as “domesticated animals” (I particularly enjoyed that perspective), and pulling no punches, this is an important, expertly told story. I remain perplexed as to where I stand on the protagonist’s actions. A very clever unexpected tale.

Several other stories were also striking (well, they all were, in their own unique ways – and that’s astonishingly rare in an anthology – but I’ve decided not to cover every story in this review, so will stick to the few that really leapt off the page at me). The disturbingly poetic Hell’s Bells by Cherie Priest was told from the point of view of a troubled young child with a morbid fascination with death and the bells that toll for it, and very little regard for human beings in general. Ascension by Martin Livings was probably the most original take on the end of the world theme, told from outside the planet looking in, and involving a stroll through space that truly chilled and moved me. Black Heart, White Mourning by Jay Lake introduced a frightening and unlikable mentally ill protagonist who I found myself nonetheless sympathising with due to Lake placing me squarely inside the character’s head – an impressive feat of authentic dialogue.

Grants Pass is vaguely reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Stand, what with the whole “illness wiping the world out and survivors being their own worst enemies” thing, though there is no religious apocalypse or any supernatural elements at all in the anthology – all the tales are very human indeed, and centred in a gritty, realistic future dystopia, told from various points around (and in one instance, outside) the globe. The horror in Grants Pass stems from these truths: people we love die and we can’t stop it, life is fragile, people can be terrible, loneliness can bring madness, and survival is something almost all of us have never really had to fight for before – and would be ill-prepared to do so if forced to.

I think the ultimate strong point of Grants Pass is its cohesiveness – the shared character (Kayley) and theme (Kayley’s blog post urging survivors towards Grants Pass) work to provide a united suite of stories and an immersive reading experience, which in turn forms an irresistible emotional connection between reader and words. Post apocalyptic fiction needs to make us care, or it just falls flat. Grants Pass made me care, and broke my heart more than a few times over.

Grants Pass has few weak points, and really I’m only pointing them out here for the sake of pure objectivity, so as not to write a review that is in fact just gushing praise (which is what I really want to do). One or two stories, whilst beautifully rendered, felt somewhat more like settings than fully developed narratives, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. The very cohesiveness that works so well for the collection can also bring a feeling of “sameness” and repetition; I liked that feeling, but some readers may need to take a break before diving back into the book to truly appreciate it. A few stories were harder for me to connect to because their locations and language were so far removed from anything I’ve personally experienced – but that in itself is a blessing, an educational journey within print – and I liked that not every story was set in the same geographical location.

Quite simply, I didn’t want this book to end. Highly recommended. Morrigan Books regularly release stylish, top-quality literature, and Grants Pass is no exception. It’s 2012; there’s no better time to read about the end of the world, and few better places to read about it than Grants Pass.

Moo-Vees.co.uk Plagiarising Reviews

As one TOC commenter (thanks, Brad) kindly pointed out, Moo-Vees.co.uk has reprinted TOC’s review of The Devil Inside in its entirety word-for-word (they even stole our formatting!), without our permission, without a by-line (in fact they’ve titled it “The Devil Inside Moo-Vees Review” as if it were theirs), and with the only nod to TOC being a hyperlink hidden in the body of the review within the movie title, and citation of TOC at the end of the review as a “reference”.

If you feel the need, you can see the plagiarised review here (however, try not to visit the site, they don’t deserve more hits and money for their poor behaviour). I assume burying a hyperlink to our site where it will never be found and listing us as a “reference” was an attempt to sidestep precisely this sort of attention.

Upon visiting that site, it’s evident that this is pretty much the sole extent of what they do – plagiarise reviews from other sources and post them on their own site, presumably to attract traffic (which they get plenty of if the hundreds of spam comments on each review are any measure) to justify their advertising – someone at that site is making money from other people’s reviews, in other words. Their site has no means to contact those responsible for posting, which is understandable – it’d get quite tiring constantly being held to account for having stolen the work of others, I suppose.

Ain’t nothin’ safe on teh interwebs, and there’s not much we can do about this, but the least we can do is simply point out what’s happened. Reviewers, beware: Moo-Vees.co.uk may be profiting from your work, too.

Cemetery Dance #65 – Graham Masterton Special Issue – review by Greg Chapman

Cemetary Dance Publications

OK, full disclosure: I’m only new to reading Cemetery Dance Magazine, having started reading from issue #61, but from that very first issue I was hooked, eagerly awaiting its appearance in my mailbox every few months from the US.

As a reader and writer of horror I have found the magazine and its contents to be essential, with its fiction, non-fiction, reviews and opinion pieces always providing me with insight and inspiration.

Issue 65 is a massive issue, profiling the work of UK horror legend Graham Masterton and including two new stories by him. In total the issue contains 10 new short stories and four interviews and five other features and of course all the usual fare of reviews, news and publishing trends. The issue apparently experienced some delays in production and did take longer than expected to arrive, but it was still – and always will be – worth the wait.

The issue kicks off with the Masterton interview – a fascinating Q&A, which provides an insight into a truly captivating author. He talks candidly about his time as the author of several sex guides, but its Masterton’s comments on how he only recently came to admire his novel The Sleepless that I found the most interesting, because I (and many more of his fans) believe it’s one of the best books he’s ever written.

Masterton’s two new tales provide proof of his skill. Anka is a chilling tale of the real-life horror of child neglect, melding with the Baba Yaga myth. In his typical style, Masterton gives the characters plenty of heart and soul, only to terrify them with equal measures of ghastly imagery and little hope for a happy ending.

Saint Bronach’s Shrift however is reminiscent of a parable, with two brothers settling their differences in an apparent dream state. Masterton takes a little-known story about a saint and his medicinal brew and twists it to meet his own ends.

Matt Williams examines Masterton’s stories in great detail, analysing how the author balances myth and fact in his tales. He also puts forward that the author’s strongest skill lies in his ability to create wholly believable characters. I think CD’s review of Masterton’s vampire novel Descendant, actually proves it’s the author’s ability to reinvent old ideas that is his greatest prowess, but maybe that’s just me.

CD moves away from Masterton briefly to offer us an interview with Michael Koryta – a rising star in mystery fiction. The interview is far too short, but the excerpt from one of his novels, The Cypress House, and his tie-in short story more than makes up for it. The tale, Winter Takes All, gives the reader the opportunity to learn more about the tragic past of The Cypress House’s main character, a seemingly reluctant psychic. I’m now very curious about Koryta’s work.

There’s an interesting interview with Maurice Broaddus – the “Sinister Minister”, but it contains many references to what he’s going to be up to in 2010? All the same, Broaddus’ life outside of his writing, makes for interesting reading.

His story for the issue, Rainfall, is a neo-noir tale that paints a gritty picture of a PI in search of his sister’s killer. When the PI meets a man who offers him the chance to “go back”, there are, of course, dire consequences awaiting him on the other side.

My favourite tale in the issue however is Glen Hirshberg’s After-Words, a mesmerising tale of a world where books are forbidden and how a small band of anarchists seek to restore them to their former glory through evil means. Authors and readers alike will relate to the drug-like effect books can have and Hirshberg explores that well in his story.

J.A. Konrath also has a story, Dear Diary. What starts out as little more than the diary entries of a naive, lovelorn teenage girl, takes a satisfyingly dark turn in the final moments.

The most interesting opinion piece in the issue is Peter Straub’s What About Genre, What About Horror? Straub exposes some hard truths about genre fiction and clarifies a few misnomers about people’s opinion of horror fiction. Straub highlights the work of Michael Connelly in his piece as an author who remains “honest” to his work, but in his enthusiasm (which is most welcome) he inadvertently flits between referring to him as “Connelly” and “Connolly”. We’ll forgive him that though.

The brief Ray Bradbury interview focuses, unfortunately, on his aversion to e-books and technology as a whole. I would have preferred to know what writing he was up to, if any, or what appearances he has been doing, anything other than going over the same old e-book debate.

Another great column to read was Mark Seiber’s reminiscence on the value of libraries to authors as well as readers and how they hold a wealth of great classic fiction – never a truer word spoken Mark. Robert Morrish’s Publishing Spotlight column, among other things, provides an in-depth interview with Bad Moon Books’ owner Roy Robbins. Robbins’ years of experience as a bookseller and calculated publishing choices have helped him gain much success and respect and should serve as a template to emerging small presses. Amongst Morrish’s book picks, he gives out some quite a bit of praise to Aussie author Terry Dowling, particularly highlighting his collection Amberjack.

Another Aussie to be praised is Steve Gerlach. Reviewer T.T Zuma says Gerlach’s novella Within His Reach, could “easily have been the basis for a Twilight Zone script”.

Lisa Tuttle’s story Manskin, Womanskin offers a unique take on human coupling and actually points out the importance of love in a relationship, by putting sex in a supernatural context.

The second to last interview features anthology queen Ellen Datlow; the most fascinating aspect being that despite not having “any interest” in writing fiction, she is still the finest gatherer of horror fiction in the industry – and she despises paranormal romance!

David Bell’s tale, The Book of the Dead is a marvellous blend of morbid curiosity and confronting grief; when a young woman who loses her husband on the same day of John Lennon’s assassination. The prose has a quiet resonance that stays with you well after you’ve read the final words.

Whitley Strieber’s interview reveals a very frank and honest author; frustratingly his answers are all too brief.

In the final story, The Town Suicide, S. Craig Renfroe gives the reader a depressing repertoire of inexplicable suicides in a small town and there’s not a sliver of hope to be seen anywhere, not even after the main protagonist manages to stop his girlfriend from taking her life.

All in all a very enjoyable issue; Cemetery Dance continues to deliver the goods with fresh, memorable horror fiction and with issue #66 (supposedly shipping as of this writing) promising new fiction from the likes of the aforementioned Dowling, Steve Rasnic Tem and Jeremy C. Shipp, my mailman had better watch his back!

Review by Greg Chapman