Let the Right One In is a Swedish romantic horror film that is one of my favorite vampire movies. Like a lot of Swedish films, it’s moody and dark and perfect. Last year we had the opportunity to see it on Stage in Seattle performed by the National Theater of Scotland. The stage adaptation was amazingly true to the film. (I’m including trailers to both at the end of the post for fun.)
The film is based on a novel and, apparently, departs from the book’s darker themes to focus on the relationship between Oskar and Eli. Oskar, a 12-year-old boy, and Eli, a centuries old vampire, become unlikely friends in a cold and bleak suburb of Stockholm. While reviewing the details of this movie for this post, I learned that the book has much darker themes that aren’t touched upon in the movie. Definitely worth a viewing!
(We saw this same production in Seattle, but the only trailer I could find was from the Texas production.)
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I’ve settled into a pretty good rhythm when it comes to putting together the Blood in the Rain anthologies. Because this is our third time around, Mary Trepanier (my co-editor) and I have developed a system for reading submissions and deciding which stories will go in the anthologies.
This is the third year for Blood in the Rain. We originally wanted all the stories to be from writers in the Pacific Northwest–hence the title. We found that limited our resources tremendously. There may be be more writers per capita in Seattle, but not many are writing vampire erotica. We originally only had a handful of entries. After realizing we needed more stories, we widened our scope considerably. While we still rank NW writers a little heavier than others, we’ve cast our net worldwide and received a significantly higher number of submissions.
This is great. We LOVE seeing stories from India, Romania, and Australia! It’s fun to see a variety of stories and alternate worlds. The thing about spreading our net wide? Every year we get MORE stories than the year before. It’s awesome to have a varied selection, but it means we have to actually look at SO MANY stories.
Before I started doing this, I would get frustrated when I heard that editors and agents only read the first paragraph of someone’s work. Now? I totally get it. Those first few words have to be compelling. If I read past the first paragraph and am intrigued, I keep reading. If I get halfway through the story and there’s no glaring editing to be done, and I’m still interested, the story goes in a maybe folder. If the first paragraph trips me up, it goes into the no folder. If I get part way through and find myself thinking “this is just like x” or I get bored, it goes into the no folder. If I get part way through the story and have counted up oodles of major editing needs, it goes into the no folder.
By “major editing”, I’m not talking about simple typos. I can forgive quite a few of those as I’m prone to a few myself. I’m talking more about comprehensive editing where there are point of view shifts within the story, continuity errors that would take hours to fix, repetition within the prose, and other basic craft issues. Every once in a while, I find a story so intriguing that I’m willing to spend a few hours doing this kind of extensive editing. That’s pretty rare, but it does happen.
The actual selection process for the anthology is a little tricky when you have two people reading stories. We have slightly different tastes, and sometimes I pass on a story that Mary really likes and vice versa. There are usually a number of stories that have a solid “yes” from both of us. When we both are loving a story, it’s a no-brainer to include it in the anthology. But what about the remaining slots? We basically look at the kinds of stories we’ve selected and fill in with stories to broaden the variety of settings and characters.
We are committed to including a wide selection of gender expression, sexualities, race, etc. If your story is the only story featuring a transgender character, it’s likely we will go at greater lengths to make the story work. If your story is the only one featuring a person of color, we’re more likely to spend more time considering it. If your story is the only one set in ancient Sumeria…well you get the idea.
The hardest part about all of this is this year’s submission list contains a huge number of really good stories. My ‘yes’ folder contains more than twice the number of stories we can put in the anthology. My ‘maybe’ folder has dozens more. My outright “no” folder has maybe a dozen stories. It’s lovely to have such fabulous stories to choose from, but it breaks my heart when I have to tell an author “no.”
My first attempt at editing an anthology came out last week. When my co-editor, Mary Trepanier, and I first sent out the call for submissions, I didn’t know what to expect. And, I’ve been asked by friends who know I write erotica, “Why vampire erotica?” My answer is, “Why Not?”
This project started with a discussion about how we’d like to find a home for some of our current work. When Mary and I figured out that we both had vampire stories looking for placement, we decided to put together an anthology. Mary is a writer and professional editor, and I have a degree in journalism. We’ve both been writing erotica for a while and figured we could work our way through the hoops and hurdles involved. We jumped in, and Blood in the Rain is the result. I thought we’d receive a handful of stories and have to resort to begging our friends to write something for us. We got WAY more than that. In fact, we got so many submissions we had to create an elaborate excel spread sheet to track them all. One thing is clear, people love reading and writing about vampires!
After many hours of reading some incredibly awesome pieces, we picked fifteen other stories that were erotic in different ways. We ended up with an eclectic mix–it’s not all straight, or all gay, or all BDSM. Instead, we went for stories that moved us or stayed with us after the initial reading. We turned down stories we really liked but just didn’t fit the overall mix or were too much like other stories we liked ‘just a little more for some reason.’ Editing an anthology is incredibly subjective, and I totally get that some readers will love some of the stories we included while hating others. Such is the nature of anthologies. I’m okay with that.