The best thing about the March fandom of the month is that technically – we are getting a two-fer!
True Blood, whilst based on the hit series by Charlaine Harris, does not stick perfectly to the books and can be viewed as a fandom in its own right.
Our own Glee68 tells us below a little about the book series.
This series consists of 10 already published books with the 11th due out in May of this year and another 2 contracted by the publisher.
1. Dead Until Dark (May 2001)
2. Living Dead in Dallas (March 2002)
3. Club Dead (May 2003)
4. Dead to the World (May 2004)
5. Dead as a Doornail (May 2005)
6. Definitely Dead (May 2006)
7. All Together Dead (May 2007)
8. From Dead to Worse (May 2008)
9. Dead and Gone (May 2009)
10. Dead in the Family (May 2010)
11. Dead Reckoning (expected May 2011)
The stories are very easy to read and become quickly compulsive. Whilst being somewhat formulaic (there is a “main mystery and a sub plot” in each novel to solve) it is very heavily character driven and this reader finds herself completely drawn into the relational interactions. They are in essence an “old-style” detective novel, with a mystery that needs solving for each book. Clues are thrown in throughout the story and it is a challenge to the reader to try and figure out the “villain” before Sookie does (or dies trying!). Again, this is all wrapped up and interwoven with Sookie’s growing friendships and romantic liaisons.
The premise of the books is Sookie Stackhouse is a seemingly naïve and simple young southern girl who works as a waitress at her local diner. She has been, in reality, trying to hide her “curse” (she can hear the thoughts of those around her) all her life from the eclectic bunch of townspeople she has grown up with.
She is thrust into a new existence when she encounters her first vampire. Bill, who is actually her “great-grandparent’s” nearest neighbor turned during the civil war, has returned to claim his own property.
Vampires have recently become part of society during the “Big Reveal”. Due to a Japanese discovery of a synthetic blood substitute, vampires no longer needed to hide their existence because they could claim they were no longer a threat to the human population. This revelation has been met with mixed reactions, from people forming a cult-like obsession with them and becoming willing donors (nicknamed fang-bangers) to zealot like persecution.
Sookie soon discovers there is a whole new side to the formally safe and predictable world she thought she lived in. She is thrust into a foreign culture of Vampire politics and rules that she needs to rapidly adjust to and learn to play in, in order to survive.
She also discovers there are more than just Vampires out there to contend with and is confronted with the possibility that all the creatures of her childhood fairy-tales may actually exist in her new world. It is a constant challenge for her throughout the series to navigate through the many new ‘breeds’ of people she encounters and to try and determine who among them she can trust and should ally herself with! She isn’t always successful and she pays a physical price for it on more than one occasion. A fact which is not lost on her.
Excerpt from “Dead to the World”
"You have to have a wish for the New Year. Or a resolution."
Acting on impulse, I shared my wish. "I just hope to not be beaten up," I said, my weariness and the hour combining in an ill-timed burst of honesty. "I don't want to go to the hospital. I don't want to see a doctor."
I didn't want to have to ingest any vampire blood, either, which would cure you in a hurry but
had various side effects. "So my resolution is to stay out of trouble," I said firmly.
Sookie through the course of the books grows and becomes more capable of holding her own amongst her mythological friends and foes. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves and will stop at nothing to protect them.
I really enjoy her character. I enjoy the interaction and realistic highs and lows of her relationships. The mythology of the Sookie-verse Vampires is compelling and believable. They can’t go out in sunlight, their strength increases as they age, they can heal from most wounds, but will die if staked, beheaded or left out in the sun. Silver weakens them and they don’t much care for the taste of garlic. They cry tears of blood, and “die during daylight hours”. Their blood can heal a human and they can feed from humans without “turning them” as they are not venomous. Their fangs are not always visible, but will pop out if the Vampire is sexually aroused, fighting, or feeding.
The blatant sexuality of the main Vampire characters is a seriously big draw of these books. While there are no graphic sex scenes, you are certainly not left with a “fade to gray” and a tall blonde vampire’s “gracious plenty” keeps the girls reading for sure!
I love these books. I enjoy the storylines and honesty of the characters much more than I do the televised series (but Alexander Skarsgard is SO watchable, I’m not complaining too loudly!). I get so caught up in the intrigue and trying to unravel the clues that I am often unable to put them down.
If you have not read them… I highly recommend that you do!
Udo Blick / mephis1, is a SVM fan and has put together a wonderful author review for True Blood Month!
It was happy serendipity that had me stumbling over the existence of the SVM/TB fandom. If it weren’t for a certain 17th century poet, I wouldn’t have known of the existence of fanfiction.
I was in the library hunting down a Robert Herrick poem; all I remembered were the lines “here’s a house of flesh on fire” and nothing else. In desperation, and rather than admit defeat, I decided to give in and Google those lines instead. And lo and behold, I encountered both Herrick’s poem and FarDareisMai2’s House of Flesh on Fire. I remember thinking, “Huh, what is this? A story using Herrick’s poem as the title? Crikey, such boldness.” With curiosity sufficiently piqued, I clicked on the link to FarDareisMai2’s story and as they say, the rest is history.
FarDareisMai2 http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1803005/FarDareisMai2 is one of those unique writers who moves comfortably between fandoms. To date, she has written both SVM and Twilight fanfics. House of Flesh on Fire
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5033210/1/House_Of_Flesh_On_Fire is one of those rare fanfics. It lingers in the memory; it is well-written and has a mature, thoughtful plot-line with well-developed characterisation. It’s simply memorable. And when I’m asked what my favourite top ten SVM fanfics are, this story always makes that list.
Here’s the official summary: This is an AU/AH fic, inspired by some late night ficleting (is that a word?) over at the Sookieverse. Professor Northman teaches English at a distinguished liberal arts college. Sookie Stackhouse is an English major. Yeah, you know it's wrong. Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries - Rated: M - English - Romance - Chapters: 29 - Words: 126,024 - Reviews: 2677 - Updated: 8-11-10 - Published: 5-2-09 - Sookie & Eric - Complete
Readers familiar with the SVM canon will recognise the key characters in House of Flesh on Fire. They are Sookie, Eric, Bill, Felicia, Amelia, Niall and of course, Pam. No SVM story line (whether it’s fanfic or Charlaine Harris’ SVM series) is complete without Pam – she is often the foil in the triangle of Sookie, Eric and Bill.
The story revolves round three principle characters: Bill, the reprehensible villain who has several shady plots up that sleeve of his (and don’t we enjoy disliking him in this story), Eric, the blonde-haired, 6’4” blue-eyed Viking Professor and Sookie, a highly intelligent, liberal-arts college student.
One reason I fell in love with this story; well, actually, there were several reasons but one of them was because FarDareisMai2 has Professor Northman quoting lines from Robert Herrick’s poems. Because, let’s face it, it isn’t often that one encounters a virile, 6’4” Viking who’s au fait with Robert Herrick. Well, I certainly haven’t stumbled across any such male:
“"I saw a Cherry weep, and why? Why wept it? But for shame, because my Julia's lip was by, and did out-red the same. But pretty fondling, let not fall a tear at all for that: which Rubies, Corals, Scarlets, all for tincture, wonder at." Oh no, he didn't! He did not just quote Robert Herrick to me! […]
Cherry – Ripe! Ripe! Ripe! I cry, full and fair ones; come and buy: if so be, you ask me where they do grow? I answer, 'There, where my Julia's lips do smile . . ." He leaned forward and I felt his breath on my mouth. His breath was sweet, and clean, and all I wanted was to taste him. I realized he was preparing to kiss me. I knew he was only playing with me, and that he was probably just teasing me again, but at that moment I didn't care. I simply wanted the kiss, something to relive in my fantasies.
Then someone knocked on the door. I heard him curse in a foreign language. Do they still speak Viking? He strode to the door and yanked it open.”
Did I mention that House of Flesh on Fire is replete with UST? Because, oh my, it is. The tension is simple delicious. FarDareisMai2 builds the UST with an assured touch, worthy of a writer who’s confident in her writing.
“He finally released my gaze, and watched as his fingers trailed down, stopping to play with the lace of my garter, and then ghosting down to the back of my knee. His thumb rubbed circles along the side and then he whispered, "Show me thy feet, show me thy legs, thy thighs, show me those fleshy principalities; show me that hill where smiling love doth sit, having a living fountain under it; show me thy waist: then let me there withal, by the ascension of thy lawn, see all."
Again he was quoting Herrick. I love Herrick. He is the master of seventeenth-century love poetry and, in my opinion, one of the most erotic poets. Amelia thought it was porn, and maybe it was the seventeenth-century equivalent. All I know is that no one else had ever made Herrick sound so wanton, and decadent. Hearing him recite that poem, his voice husky with desire . . . “
House of Flesh on Fire is a veritable page-turner – there are passages of eroticism, beautifully written eloquent dialogue and characterizations that are so well drawn that they come to live on the page. There are several memorable scenes in House of Flesh on Fire. For example, there’s that scene in the library and the mask ball where readers will no doubt be found fanning themselves. And suffice to say, there’s also that scene where Bill gets what’s coming to him.
Without giving away any spoilers, to summarize House of Flesh on Fire in a nutshell: the story revolves round Sookie and Eric and the hurdles they have to overcome in order to be with each other along with learning the true meaning of love. These hurdles involve past hurts and the damage wrought by previous lovers, family and the demons within one’s own mind. Without giving away too much, Bill and Pam play key roles in this plot-driven story. The reader will find herself/himself alternating between gnashing their teeth with certain villainous characters, cheering at their demise and probably identifying with certain plot-lines, which FarDareisMai2 handles with great sensitivity.
I urge you to read this story. It has everything: poetry, friendship, eroticism, eloquent dialogue, loss, pain, romantic love and beautifully drawn characters.
In case you’re wondering about the Robert Herrick poem I was hunting down in the library, it’s ‘The Scar-Fire’ (1891):
by Robert Herrick
Water, water I desire,
Here's a house of flesh on fire.
Ope the fountains and the springs,
And come all to bucketing.
What ye cannot quench, pull down.
Spoil a house to save a town;
Better 'tis that one should fall,
Than by one to hazard all.
The other story which I would like to recommend is another FarDareisMai2 SVM fanfic. It’s Chasing the Light http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4928174/1/Chasing_The_Light.
Here’s the official summary: It's five months since he recovered his memories, but Eric has kept Sookie at arm's length. Will being with her put her in danger? Spoilers through book 8. Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries - Rated: M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Chapters: 34 - Words: 68,401 - Reviews: 1681 - Updated: 8-2-09 - Published: 3-16-09 - Sookie & Eric - Complete
In her Author’s Note, FarDareisMai2 states that “[T]his story takes place post Book 8, so there are spoilers. This story plans on going to a few dark places, so be forewarned. It is rated M for a reason. If that offends your sensibilities, stop reading now. [...]”
One only has to take a look at the list of stories she has written for both the SVM and Twilight fandom to realise that FarDareisMai2 does not shy away from exploring difficult dark themes, themes which most of us writers grapple with when we ask ourselves questions as to how to handle such plot-lines with sensitivity, conviction and credibility. Needless to say, I highly recommend Chasing the Light because this story exemplifies exactly how such themes should be handled. Those who know me will now realise why I enjoy FarDareisMai2’s writings; like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to the dark stuff and her writings are akin to stumbling across a goldmine.
In case you’re wondering, unlike House of Flesh on Fire, and much like the canon, Eric is a one-thousand-year-old Viking vampire in Chasing the Light while Sookie is a telepath, Unlike the canon, we do get an Eric, drawn in all his complex emotional depths, characterised in shadings that demonstrate a writer in all her wonderful dark artistry. This is an Eric who comes alive on the page, an Eric, for whom you will doubtlessly alternately weep and cheer on:
“I was talking to a city councilman when I felt her. How I did not notice her proximity earlier, I was not sure. I had been feeling her happiness and contentment since I had risen but was, apparently, too occupied to notice that she was here, in New Orleans.
A part of me was angry that de Castro kept me in the dark, but another part was secretly pleased. I would see her finally, and it would not be seen as a weakness because it was de Castro's doing. These months without her had been more difficult than I had anticipated. After recovering my memories, I wanted nothing more than to fly to her and assure her of my love, but I could not. It was too dangerous for her. I was too new in Felipe's regime to risk letting others know how I felt and, I would not let her be their pawn in any moves against me.”
Yes, this is a story which explores the blessing and the curse of the blood-bond; a theme in the SVM canon which often has readers musing aloud in various discussion threads in the SVM fandom. In Chasing the Light, we see the permutations of the blood-bond and what it means for Eric and Sookie. In her response to a reviewer, FarDareisMai2 states:
“It's one thing to have a blood bond, another to have feelings. At Rhodes, Andre wanted to bond Sookie, he had no feelings for her. The bond should cause the human to "heel nicely" but Sookie does not heel. Not all blood bonds involve feelings (as would have been the case with Andre). Feelings are something that can be exploited and Eric knows this well. He wouldn't want to be around Sookie unless he "needed" her for her telepathic talents because, if someone were watching, they would know there was more going on.
I hope that clarifies it.”
The blood-bond between Eric and Sookie does have positive and negative consequences, and in what is a sweet moment of ‘homecoming’ between the two lovers, we also see the storm clouds gather. This is alluded to early on in Chasing the Light:
“We lay there in a tangled heap. The heat of her body, and the magic of her blood, kept me warm and flushed. Her head lay on my chest and her hair, so like mine, splayed out and caressed us both.
There, in that room, in that house, we were the entire world. For that night, the magic born of Hallow's curse was recreated and made pure. Nothing else mattered. Only it did and, soon, very soon, we were going to pay the price.”
What follows is an action packed story-line with several plot-twists. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that it starts with Sookie getting kidnapped. And although Eric doesn’t discover the precise nature and motivation underlying her kidnapping until later on in the story, he does realize that she is in trouble, thanks to the blood-bond:
“I awoke to pain. Only it was not mine, it was hers. That was an hour ago, and there was about another hour and a half until sunset. I growled in frustration, and then bent my attention to the bond between us. She was not close. If I had to venture a guess, I would say she was thousands of miles away. I forced myself out of bed. My age allowed me some movement during daylight hours, and it was easier when it was closer to sunset, but right now I was still sluggish.
Another flash of pain caused me to howl in anger. The thought of what she was enduring, if I was feeling it at this distance, was almost too much to bear. I paced my daytime chamber restlessly, frustrated at my impotence to help her. […]
I sat down and focused once more on the bond. In addition to the pain, there was anger and shock. Good. Use the anger Sookie. If she was angry, she would still fight back, and my bonded was nothing if not a fighter. I tried to send comfort and support through the bond, but I'm not sure how much reached her at this distance or, if she was in any condition to focus on it.”
What happens next is a series of plot-twists that alternate between terrifying, dark and heart-breaking. FarDareisMai2 did warn her readers to approach Chasing the Light with caution. It’s not for the faint-hearted, after all. But again, I find myself saying that in other hands, this story would have stumbled. Not with FarDareisMai2. She handles the themes, the plot and character development with such self-assurance that one can only stand and admire. In her hands, we see love and the blood-bond explored in all its glory and darkness. Handled with sensitivity, we also learn how love can redeem and be a safe haven. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but Chasing the Light also puts into question the concepts of ‘forever’, power and how it has the potential to corrupt and what it means to be a vampire, an Other. I urge you to read this story – you will not regret it. And for those reading this, in case you’re wondering, rest assured, there is a HEA.
Udo Blick / mephis1 http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2015481/mephis1
And lastly I’d like to introduce one of our newest members Morgaine Swan. Morgaine is an author of SVM fics, most of which are pretty raunchy – you wanna see an Eric Lemon; check out;
Morgaine was kind enough to answer a few questions about True Blood and SVM as well as her fic.
TGB: Morgaine, what inspires you to write fanfiction?
Morgaine: The character of Eric Northman as portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård in the first season of True Blood.
Eric is my ideal man - he's old, he's tough, he's beautiful and he's smart. He's 6'5", blue eyed, and he has long, blonde hair. The long hair is a very big deal for me, so I'm not happy with what they've done to Eric's hair in the show. I read the books after seeing the TV show, so I already had the image of Alex in my head when I read the books. The combination was like a drug, lol. I used to joke that I wasn't married because Duncan MacLeod wasn't real - now Duncan has been kicked to the curb for Eric. There's no way to make him better. People keep asking me when I'm going to write a book, but I can't come up with anything better than a Viking Vampire, and I'm not going to invest my time in a lesser character. I want to write about Eric.
TGB: How do you feel about Bill?
Morgaine: When True Blood first came on, I was totally in love with Bill. Then I read the books, and saw that the show was going to take Bill in the same general direction and I was bummed because I couldn't enjoy the Bill and Sookie scenes anymore. I got over it when I read book 4. Needless to say, I'm very anxious to see what they do with Eric's storyline in Season 4 of True Blood. I've learned to keep my expectations low where the show is concerned, particularly because they've diminished Eric's character so much, but I'm hoping they get this part right. A lot of women are going to be very, very angry if they don't.
TGB: Charlaine Harris has announced that she is nearing the end of the "Sookie Stackhouse series." How do you think / want it to end?
Morgaine: My story, LATE, starts after book 8 and takes a completely different direction. That's where I'd like it to go. I love Charlaine for bringing these characters to us, but I feel a little bit like she's done with them, or afraid of them or something. I was very angry that she let Sookie be tortured in book 9 and I thought book 10 had a great premise of including Alexei Romanoff, but I was very disappointed with the ending. My Eric would have killed Alexei and his Maker, then he would have taken Sookie on the front lawn because there was Faerie blood in the air, relatives be damned. I vehemently disagree with Eric having a male Maker. At some point in LATE I'll do my own take on that, and his Maker will most definitely be female. I really admire Charlaine for accomplishing all she has with the series. I'd love it if she'd license the characters so people could publish derivative works as they did with Star Trek all those years ago. She'd still be earning money, and I could very happily spend many years to come writing about the Life and Times of Eric Northman. A lot can happen in a millenium. I'm nervous about the way Charlaine will end the series. I hope she hasn't fallen out of love with the characters, but Book 9 really left me wondering. On the flip side, I feel guilty about writing about her characters. I know how I feel when someone gets something around my version of the story wrong - I'd lose my mind if a thousand people were using my characters the way we do hers. I don't want to stop writing, but I do feel ambivalent about it.
TGB: Why True Blood?
Morgaine: I have a lifelong fascination with vampires, but I hadn't read any fiction in many, many years when True Blood came on HBO. My approach was always from a Pagan, historical and folkloric direction. I was particularly turned off when Vampires began to be portrayed as ugly, less than human creatures in the 80s and 90s. I feel like we're getting back on track now, though, after True Blood, Underworld, and even the Twilight series, though I've never read it. I want my vampires powerful and beautiful, but not necessarily nice.
TGB: What is your favorite SVM Tb Fic?
This is a horrible answer, but LATE is my favorite. I go back and re-read it all the time. I do love Terri Botta's Let Love In series, but I've stopped reading other people's fic because I find that I get confused about what is canon and what is from someone else's story. I accidentally incorporated something from someone else's work early on in LATE - it might even have been Terri's idea - and I feel so bad about it, I just never want it to happen again. I also like Malanna's work a lot - it's very imaginative, and she's done some things with the characters that are just off the charts creative, like making Eric, Sookie and Bill human 20-somethings and Sookie is actually disabled in a literal sense, in a wheel chair. That blew me away.
LATE is literally the first fan fiction I ever wrote, I just haven't ended it. I think of it as a serial, or a soap opera, that just goes on indefinitely. The time I spend writing is the time I spend in Eric's world, and I enjoy it. When I stop enjoying it, I'll stop writing it, but for now, I like where it's going, especially with the overlap with my other story, Entitlement. It's my version of the characters on a different timeline, but the feel of it is very different from LATE. It's a sweeter, more innocent Eric and Sookie with very little kink. LATE was always intended to be kinky, though I'm a little inhibited about writing the lemony stuff since the problem on FF.net. I wish I could shake it off, but I haven't managed yet.
Morgaines work can be found here: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1746929/