Fiend

June 25, 2011

FIEND - a novel by Jemiah Jefferson

May 2011

Fiend

This is my favorite of all four vampire books. The story of Orfeo Ricari from his childhood in early 19th century Italy to his tumultuous journey to Paris, and his blood-soaked rebirth as a vampire in the hands of the lovers Maria and Georgina, it’s funny and tragic and terribly sexy. Unforgettable characters – Father Christopher, Ricari’s confessor and friend; Liesl and her fashionable jazz-age Berlin pals; Arthur Chicot and the vampires of Montmartre; Maria Elena, Orfeo’s sister, and his very first love. An imaginary memoir of a 200-year-old bisexual artist. A revelation of many truths that affect the entire Vampire Quartet of books.

During the writing of this book, I saw a long-term relationship finally collapse and burn out to nothing but scars and ashes; I sustained an ankle injury that would weaken me for the rest of my life; I endured months of painful and unpleasant treatment for uveitis, which caused me to continue working on the draft in 24-point gray text on a black background, because any bright background on a computer was impossible to focus on; I listened to Mozart’s Requiem Mass and the early works of the Cocteau Twins until I could practically sing them from memory. It was a hard twelve months, but every day I returned to the mind of Orfeo, and told his story in his own words, inspired by the works of Thomas DeQuincey, Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Christopher Isherwood, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As I wrote, I mentally translated all of the text into French (Orfeo’s primary language), and then back again; if you have much Français, try backtranslating it; there are several language jokes hidden in the text. Also, if you’re astute, look for pop song references, particularly from the lyrics of Morrissey, Peter Murphy, and David Sylvian, from whose song “Orpheus” Orfeo took his name. (If only I had been more knowledgable at the time of writing, the works of Scott Walker would have made it in there, too, but one of the reasons I love Scott Walker is that I don’t even have to steal from him; he was a part of me long before I was aware of his music.)

The first ten pages of this book can be read through the handy-dandy Amazon link.

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regarding Daniel Blum

June 20, 2011

This is the third in my series of blog posts about the characters of the Vampire Quartet novels. Much delayed, I’m afraid, because how do you approach a subject like one of the most popular (in fact, if reader feedback can be believed, THE most popular) characters in the whole series — and such a complex, fascinating fellow as Daniel Blum?

Well, I still don’t know. But (to quote George Harrison) I’ll have a bash.

Daniel Blum first appears in the first novel, Voice of the Blood, in conversation; his legend is built up long before he actually becomes a reality. The way Orfeo Ricari describes him, Daniel is almost like the Boogeyman — supernaturally terrifying, infinitely corrupt, vicious, cruel, nasty. He is a monster that scares other monsters. Of course, this intrigues our narrator, the polymorphously perverse and infinitely curious Ariane, and she has never been one to take someone else’s word for it. When she finally does meet Daniel in the flesh, it becomes clear that everything Ricari told her was true. It’s just not all that’s true.

Daniel’s got a little bit of everything. Absolutely, he’s a menace to society, he breaks hearts for fun, he’s a ruthless killer, he eats kittens (well, not really, but he would if he felt like it); at the same time, he is a hopeless romantic, a sensitive artist, a generous lover, a wellspring of jokes, and a thoughtful and caring father figure to the scores of lost and lonely people drawn to his scintillating façade. Born in 1900, son of a tailor and a schoolteacher, he rejected his stifling bourgeois upbringing, deciding to be a modern artist and provocateur rather than a nice Jewish cobbler. Gifted with extreme intelligence and unshakeable confidence in himself, he never tried to hide his predilections for wearing gorgeous and outlandish clothes, everything from womens’ silk blouses and evening gowns to military jackets and Cossack hats. He draws; he paints; he collages; he sings; he makes sculpture; he plays piano; he takes photographs; he puts on orgies and art happenings. When he discovers a vampire in his midst, he decides he wants to be that, too.

Daniel Blum loves who he wants to, and leaves when he’s ready. He’s far more interested in excitement and fireworks than he is in making the world a better place. He knows only one way to love — through obsession and cruelty, as well as support and tenderness. The 20th Century was his playground, and when that ended . . . well, a light went out of the world, did it not?

Daniel is an essential character in all four books, primarily Voice of the Blood, Fiend, and Wounds, which is his own individual character study; however, his presence colors everything in A Drop of Scarlet, and indeed, his actions make the story of what happens in that novel necessary.

The character was inspired by a variety of sources: the musician Daniel Ash (who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth after the final Bauhaus reunion; where you at, man???), my dear friend Alex (and his alter-ego Minerva Steel), Sally Bowles… many many charismatic, sociopathic bastards I’ve known through the years. All those blokes (and a couple of girls) who thrilled me because they just didn’t give a damn, but for a few brief moments, I could kid myself that they made an exception in my case.

Daniel does make an exception — in the book Wounds — but you have to read it to really understand why. 😉
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In other news, I wrote all weekend, and finished a chapter of my first draft of my current novel-in-progress. I also had few drinks with some friends of mine, and watched the movie Black Swan, which I loved. I also made enchiladas and then foolishly ate too much chocolate gelato. I slept a lot and made cold-brew coffee. Petted the cat. Listened to old mix CDs and the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. I did very little else. It was not restful; writing, especially when one has been away from it for a long time (which I have; over a month since I wrote any fiction, and almost six months since I worked on the WIP), is really difficult, complete with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. I fought and won, though. Yay me. Now I have to get used to fighting this fight every day, or as close to it as I can get. Time’s a-wasting.