“I hate to say it but Stephanie Meyer has also drawn the world’s eye to vampires, whether we like our vampires with sparkle or not, and for those who don’t the backlash to the Twilight series is creating some interesting ideas.”

DarkMedia Interviews Andrew M. Boylan [Taliesin Meets the Vampires]:

Less mad, bad and dangerous to know and more slightly cuckoo and mildly naughty, Andrew M. Boylan runs the 
blog Taliesin Meets the Vampires and likes to write fiction every once in a while.
He also has a loving wife, a son with teenage sensibilities and two large pooches — one of whom looks suspiciously wolf like.

Your book, Concilium Sanguinarius, is unique in that it has a female protagonist who is also a vampire. What inspired you to deviate from what’s been the typical “formula” for the most recent crop of vampire fiction? Was it your intention to stand apart from the rest?

Danaan, the female protagonist, was actually the starting point of the novel as I had been playing with the idea of a collection of shorts and she was the character I had in mind.

There was no thought of deviating or standing apart from the rest, indeed the idea of a lesbian vampire is one of the cornerstones of the genre – in the form of Le Fanu’s Carmilla (incidentally, I wrote the preface to the annotated Carmilla, Or at least I wasn’t thinking of standing apart from the rest with respect to the character, perhaps I was, a little, in the way the vampires act. I wanted vampires who were dangerous and I didn’t want them to mope. Though Danaan – when the reader first meets her – is melancholy due to loneliness as soon as she decides upon a companion she is a predator and absolutely ruthless. Ymochel – the male villain/anti-hero is perhaps even more ruthless and certainly insanely dangerous. In fact every vampire you meet is dangerous and that is how I feel vampires should be.

I also made them highly sexual creatures. Sexuality and the vampire has also been a cornerstone of the genre. Ruthven – the first English language prose vampire – was engaged in the seduction (exclusively, it seemed, to bring about her social downfall) of a young Italian woman during the story. It seems an anathema to me that vampires seemed to becoming more and more abstentious be it of sex or blood. The central theme of the book is power and the corruption that brings. These creatures, be it physical, sexual or political, revel in power.

Knowing as much as you do about vampires in literature, the media, and pop culture, what (or who) would you say your greatest influence as a writer is? Is there any specific interpretation of the mythology you mirrored more closely than others, or did you create a new vision of what a vampire is within the context of your story?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a single influence. I love the beat writers and they certainly influenced my writing for a long time – incidentally vampires appear in beat works, Kerouac’s Doctor Sax features a vampire.

Genre influence, if you like, becomes even more difficult to answer. I have certainly borrowed certain tropes and ignore others or twisted them and this is the nature of the vampire genre where often one book or movie will build upon lore and tropes from another. My vampires will burn in sunlight, for instance, but over days rather than hours. However, most younger or less powerful vampires will fall into a stupor during daylight hours, though there is a way to bypass these effects (known to a select few). Likewise I didn’t want religious artefacts to be an apotropaic but instead named most of the vampires after Gods from a variety of polytheistic mythologies – with some notable exceptions, like Ymochel – and thus they are Gods (or at least see themselves that way).

I also decided to have a specific number of bloodlines with different powers ascribed to each – which I realise is a little Vampire the Masquerade – but the idea worked in the context of the story I wanted to tell and was, on a detail level, nothing like the role playing game. Actually the multiple bloodlines play a very significant role in how I would want to take the story forward – but it would be more in a sense of unification rather than division.

Can you tell us a little about your blog, “Taliesin Meets the Vampires”? How did you decide upon the name, and what first inspired you to create it?

I used to post on a forum called Through the Looking Glass – a forum dedicated to games produced by Looking Glass Studios – and I used the online name of Taliesin. Taliesin, as in the pre-Arthurian bard, was a favourite mythological figure. As I went to other places online I found Taliesin was often taken as a pseudonym and so altered the name to Taliesin_ttlg – so folks from the Through the Looking Glass forum knew which Taliesin it was. Thus the Taliesin in the title.

Almost five years ago I was looking at a blog and wanted to comment and I needed a blogger account to do so. I registered and gave myself a blog title, as part of that process, of Taliesin meets the Vampires – with the thought that, if I ever did blog, it would probably be about vampires and thus the blog would be about me meeting them through the medium of movies and books. Then I thought… well I have a blog space, why not put an essay I had written up… then a review… and then it spiralled to what it is now.

How would you describe the evolution of the vampire in literature and film over the last century? In your opinion, which individuals do you think had the greatest influence in changing the way the world views the genre, and the vampire itself?

That’s a really tricky question. I guess to answer the first part the vampire has become more and more malleable as a symbol. It isn’t necessarily the creature of horror or a symbol of frustrated Victorian sexuality any more – though it can still be portrayed that way.

Vampires can be the demon lover, the seeker of redemption, the enemy and the friend, the addicted and the addiction. Vampires can represent dystopian Government and also the victims there-of. They have represented British colonialism in Hong Kong theatre and in other films they have been used as a symbol of the holocaust. They can be illness and plague – the spreader, the victim or the cure even. They can be secular or religious, a creature of good, evil and all colours in between. In one film they are a representation of a failed Nietzchean Übermensch and in another the next stage of human evolution. They can also be take-your-brain-out, pop-corn fun. That’s why I love the genre so much, they can be anything and represent so much.

I also love how they pop up everywhere. ‘Diagnosis Murder’, ‘Murder, She Wrote’, ‘CSI’… even ‘Starsky and Hutch’ have all featured vampires. Vampires just seem to pop up everywhere.

As for the biggest influences on the genre… Clearly Bram Stoker must be mentioned, Dracula has set many of the ground rules. Anne Rice had a major influence, as did Joss Whedon also by placing the vampire bang into the centre of pop culture. I hate to say it but Stephanie Meyer has also drawn the world’s eye to vampires, whether we like our vampires with sparkle or not, and for those who don’t the backlash to the Twilight series is creating some interesting ideas.

Who, or what, is your greatest inspiration as an author?

Jack Kerouac. George Orwell. JRR Tolkein. Those three, in different ways, made massive impressions on me in my formative years. With Orwell and specifically ‘1984’ I found a book that was ruthlessly bleak, unswervingly political and yet (every time I have read it) the last line has made me cry. Tolkein created sweeping vistas with such minutiae of detail and background, and yet ‘Lord of the Rings’ was a stirring hero quest that wasn’t lost within the detail. Kerouac’s novels were pure music and poetry drawn into prose.

Vampire genre-wise I would have to say George RR Martin – ‘Fevre Dream’ proves that genre books can be marvellous pieces of literature – and S P Somtow – his Valentine series was a stunning piece of Jungian literature.

What is your favorite vampire film of all time? Your favorite vampire novel?

My favourite vampire film is a film that doesn’t have a vampire in it! ‘Isle of the Dead’ was a 1945 movie starring Boris Karloff. I saw it as a child and didn’t even know it was a vampire film but parts of the movie stayed with me right into adulthood. As an adult I found it well acted, insightful, unusual… It has a powerful performance by Karloff and actually touches on how superstition could lead the ignorant or scared to scapegoat someone and accuse them of being a vampire.

My favourite vampire novel is more difficult. I mentioned George RR Martin’s ‘Fevre Dream’ and S P Somtow’s Valentine series and they certainly are favourites. Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is another firm favourite as is Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’. Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot’ is high on the list also. Of the more modern crop of novels I have to mention Skyler White’s ‘and, Falling, fly’ which was a singularly beautiful novel.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading ‘Thirteen Years Later’ by Jasper Kent, which is a sequel to his novel ‘Twelve’. ‘Twelve’ was a novel concerning vampires ostensibly helping the Russians fight the French invaders during the Napoleonic War and the actions of one Russian officer trying save his country when he realised what these mercenaries really were. This second volume – unsurprisingly, given the title – is about events in Russia thirteen years after the first book. I believe it is to be a series of four books all-told.

What’s the best way for your readers, and potential readers, to support you and your work? What do you have coming up?

To support me, I guess buy ‘Concilium Sanguinarius’ and, if you like it, recommend it to your friends! Also, please do visit the blog and comment – you don’t have to agree with my thoughts on any film and I’m happy to debate away, so long as we all remember there aren’t any right answers.

I should be working on the Concilium sequel (around twenty chapters are first-drafted) but I tend to side-track myself. Currently I’m side-tracked with a reference work on the media vampire. The first half of the book looks at poetry and prose from Ossenfelder’s ‘Der vampir’ (1748) through to ‘Dracula’. I wouldn’t say it is exhaustive but it is fairly detailed and covers some unusual and obscure material. The second half is more diffuse and looks at aspects of the genre I find interesting post-Dracula. I’m hoping it will be finished before the year is out.

I’d also mention the Zine ‘Ethereal Tales’,, in which I have had a few stories published. It really is a labour of love by Teresa Ford, the editor, who creates a wonderful cornucopia of dark fantasy shorts and poems. There is even an Ethereal Tales audio book (which includes my story, ‘Setting the Record Straight’). I mention it not only for the content but because creative folks mmay want to submit work to the Zine as well.

What advice would you give aspiring writers and bloggers? What’s the best, or worst, advice someone gave you?

Write what you want to write. Which in itself is probably the best and worst advice. Few writers will ever make money at it but it probably pays to write something that will be acceptable in the mainstream. However, I write for pleasure first and foremost, I get pleasure if someone reads it and even more if they like it and I think a writer is at their best when they are happy and comfortable with what they are writing (but that may never make you money!)

Also, grow a thick skin because not everyone will like your work. Some commentators/critics/reviewers will try and be constructive but some are negative through and through (though to be fair I’ve reviewed my fair share of stuff that I found it impossible to find a constructive thing to say).

The best advice I was given, in respect of blogs, was ‘if someone comments, always try and answer them’. Sometimes, to be fair, there isn’t a lot you can say to some comments but blogging is interactive and blog readers like to have the blogger acknowledge their comment, at the very least.

Finally, what’s got you inspired or excited?

In the world of vampire films I am particularly excited about the Spanish film “The Vampire in the Hole”; in fact my current desktop wallpaper is a ‘the Vampire in the Hole’ poster. I am also looking forward to ‘Bonnie & Clyde vs Dracula’ even though I know it’s likely to be… let’s just say… of dubious quality… but it just looks like so much fun in the trailer.

When it comes to vampire books I’m waiting for ‘the Night Eternal’ the third of the Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan series with baited breath. I am also a big fan of a publishing house called Blackcoat Press. They’re quite a specialist press who make obscure 19th and early 20th Century fantasy, horror and sci-fi volumes available and they are publishing, later in the year, a volume entitled ‘The Vampire Bride’ – a translation of a novel by Etienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon, who originally published the tale in three volumes back in 1825 as ‘La Vampire ou la Vierge de Hongrie’ (‘The Vampire or The Hungarian Virgin’). It’s been adapted by Brian Stableford and I get excited when such obscure early vampire literature becomes available. I pestered the publishers and I understand its currently due October/November.

I’m also looking forward to the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in Whitby as it has become a yearly treat.

Andrew is a Featured Member of DarkMediaCity.

He can also be found at his blog, Taliesin Meets the Vampires.

To purchase his novel, “Concilium Sanguinarius”, please visit Lulu or

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission.)

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