Today’s post comes as part of a very special Blog Crawl by William Meikle, the acclaimed author of The Midnight Eye Files, the Watchers series, The Invasion, and other tales of strange, occult terror.
WHY I WRITE ABOUT VAMPIRES – WILLIAM MEIKLE
I grew up with the sixties explosion of popular culture embracing the supernatural and the weird. Hammer horror movies got me young. And the one that hooked me was Dracula.
I first saw this in about 1970, on BBC2, on an old black and white TV which was about 10 inches square and made everybody look like short fat cubes. But even that didn’t detract from the power of this film.
This Hammer horror version sticks fairly closely to Stoker’s original novel, and as such is a purist’s dream.
Lee plays the Count as no one before or since. His flat demonic stare sems to ooze pure evil. The count has become a cultural icon in the past forty years, and has even been parodied and made fun of (Count Duckula anybody?) but I challenge anybody to look Lee in the eye when he’s on the hunt and not feel a frisson of cold terror.
Vampires have been humanised recently (and have even got a soul in Angel’s case), but it shouldn’t be forgotten that they are bloodsucking bas*ards – that’s what they are, that’s what they do. The high cheekbones, sex-appeal and good clothes sense are just nice-to-have after thoughts. And in Lee’s case you can believe that the bloodsucking is the important part, judging by the relish he shows for the deed.
And just because Buffy can stake a dozen or so without breaking sweat, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the vampire is traditionally a great evil force of destruction. Lee never lets you forget it.
Which brings me round to The Watchers trilogy, my retelling of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion in Britain. Bonnie Prince Charlie, and all his highland army, are Vampires and are heading south to claim the British throne. The “Watchers” of the title are the guards of the old Roman wall built by Hadrian, now reinforced to keep the vamps out. It is constantly patrolled by officers of the Watch, two of whom become the main protagonists of the series. I got the idea on a walk along what is left of the wall, and by the time I’d had finished my walk and had a few beers the first part of the trilogy was fully formed in my head. Think “ZULU” or “Last of the Mohicans” with vamps and you’ll get a feel of what I was trying to do.
I was dealing with a retelling of the Bonnie Prince Charlie story, where romantic myths have subsumed the harsh reality of a coup gone badly wrong. I needed to strip all the romance out of the Highlanders and build them up from the bottom. Making them a shambling army of vamps and mindless drones seemed an obvious place to start. The Watchers series is a swashbuckler, but there is little lace and finery. What I do have is blood and thunder, death and glory in big scale battles and small scale heartbreak. I love it.
Watchers: The Coming of the King is out new in print and ebook
Print Omnibus Edition: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0979988160
Cover image: http://www.williammeikle.com/watchersomnibustradesmall.jpg
SAMPLE REVIEWS FOR THE WATCHERS SERIES
“I’m always impressed when anyone can add a new twist to the venerable vampire canon. Hugely enjoyable fun to read.” –Joe Gordon, The Alien Online
“…a confident and breathless romp through an alternative Jacobean history. Aims for entertainment, and hits the mark.” –Simon Morden, Vector, the magazine of the British SF Association
“The book is very well-written. The language is rich, and… I found myself carrying the book everywhere, and taking slightly longer over lunch than I should have, as I just had to know what was happening!” –The Dracula Society
“The author is relentless; just when you catch your breath, something new and exciting happens, sending you spinning into another part of the adventure, and keeping you flipping pages to see what’s next.” –David Wilbanks, Horrorworld
ABOUT WILLIAM MEIKLE
William Meikle is a Scottish writer with ten novels published in the genre press and over 200 short story credits in thirteen countries. He is the author of the ongoing Midnight Eye series among others, and his work appears in a number of professional anthologies. His ebook THE INVASION has been as high as #2 in the Kindle SF charts. He lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. In the winters he gets warm vicariously through the lives of others in cyberspace, so please check him out at http://www.williammeikle.com