Thursday, 20 October 2011

Face-off Friday #1: Louis (Vampire Chronicles) vs Bill Compton (True Blood)

So now that I have the book up and published (click here to check it out on Amazon!), I want to try something geeky that I've been hoping to do for some time now.  It’s called ‘Friday Faceoff.’ The idea is, every Friday, I will try to post up a ‘vs’ battle involving two characters from vampire fiction. Think Spike TV’s ‘Deadliest Warrior’ show, only with no meaningful statistical analysis, and meaningless extra points being awarded for style.

Each competitor will be evaluated on five criteria: Powers/Weaknesses, Intelligence/Experience, Sexiness, Material Resources, Attitude.  At the end of the post I will use my unmatched powers of deduction to determine a completely arbitrary 'overall winner.'

For the first month I thought I'd start off with a real match for the ages.  The Vampire Chronicles vs The Southern Vampire Mysteries (A.K.A. True Blood for those who are only interested in the franchise due to the HBO rule that requires a minimum of three sex scenes per episode, logic be damned.). The two franchises offer two conflicting visions of vampire society: one populated by erudite, tormented, sexually ambiguous angels of death, and the other by horny viking vampires in track suits. Most of us would be a little reluctant to admit our interest in either series, but let's be honest, no true vampire addict could pass them up. 

To start us off, I thought I'd throw out a face-off between the two most famous 'I just can't let go of my humanity despite having eternal-life and godlike powers' pansy vampires in history. Bring on Bill Compton and Louis Pont du Lac!
Bill Compton


Louis Pont du Lac



Due to his unwillingness to shed his last remnants of humanity and fully embrace his vampire nature, Louis is among the weakest vampires in the Anne Rice canon. That said, he is still the first vampire Lestat created after drinking the blood of the original vampire for the first time, so he is not completely hapless. He can move faster than the human eye can see, read minds, and generally do anything that a human can faster, better, louder, etc. He is superhumanly strong and exceedingly durable. His only weaknesses are to fire and sunlight, though if one were to behead him while he slept he would endure a horrifically painful existence until someone either reattached him, or disposed of him properly.

Bill Compton

Bill possesses many similar physical powers to Louis: Super speed, super strength, advanced healing abilities. He cannot read minds, but he can mess with human minds by glamoring them, a technique that is essentially a Jedi mind trick without the hand waving. He is also weak to sunlight and fire (though perhaps a slight bit more resistant to fire than Louis, who is actively flammable), as well as being extremely vulnerable to both silver and the penetration of his heart by wood.

Advantage: Louis. He is a hundred years older, and you can't bring him down with a silver crucifix or wooden bullet.



Louis is a hundred years older, and the heir to a wealthy country estate in Louisiana. He likely had the best tutors money could buy in the late eighteenth century, and has remained at the cutting edge of human culture ever since, in an effort to retain his connection to the human world.


Bill is younger than Louis by a century, but he possesses a cunning intellect that allows him to stay alive in the cesspool of undead politics that is Charlaine Harris vampire universe. He is constantly outsmarting vampires who are far older and far more powerful than himself.

Advantage: Bill. Louis may well have more book smarts and life experience, but Bill has faced far more cunning adversaries and lived to tell the tale. Plus, when it came time for him to part with his maker, he figured out a plan on his own without needing to wait around for a little, sixty-pound girl to sort things out for him. 

Bill is the consummate southern gentleman, and his quiet charm allows him to hold his own against the far more sexually dynamic Eric Northman in the ongoing struggle for Sookie's heart (seriously though, Sookie? If I had immortality, god-like powers, and impossibly good looks, I'd find someone a little more interesting than Sookie. Pam, for example, the hot chic with personality who has been into Eric for over a century--but I digress.)
Sure he's a whiney bore, but Louis is Brad Pitt circa 1994. Need I say more?
Advantage: Louis. Bill appeals to a certain kind of girl who values substance over style, but again, Louis is a young Brad Pitt. Also, the sad-sack, tortured emo thing appeals to a lot of girls for some reason, and no one does it better than Louis. 

Material Resources
It is not exactly clear how rich Bill Compton is, but he does own a nice big family house in Bon Temps, and he’s certainly had plenty of time to procure wealth from his victims over the years.
Louis came from a very wealthy, plantation owning Louisiana family. He has also had an extra hundred years to steal from his victims. It’s unclear how wealthy he is now, but if he had half the sense that his maker Lestat did and put his money away in a compound interest account back in the nineteenth century, then he might well be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or even higher.
Advantage: Louis. He started off with more money, he’s had longer to accumulate it, and unlike Bill, he didn’t forfeit his estate when he was changed into a vampire. Once Bill became King of Louisiana this match-up would be more even, but Louis also has Armand and Lestat fawning all over him, and both of those guys are easily worth billions.

Bill is a gentleman to the end—he became a vampire in the first place because he refused the advances of his maker out of loyalty to his wife. Bill continually places the safety of his woman over his own happiness and reputation. Though he has an aversion to killing humans, he is not afraid to do so when the situation requires. He has morals, but also a firm grounding in reality. The only time he ever acts irrationally is when it comes to his ‘Suuuukey,’ for whom he would immediately get a pair of silver nipple piercings while sunbathing if she so much as joked about it.
Louis is perhaps the most aggravating character in Anne Rice’s long and storied tradition of neurotic douchebags. He wants to hold onto his humanity, and he hates killing humans, but instead of using his telepathy to search out evil humans on like Lestat (who Louis criticizes endlessly) does, he simply wanders around until the hunger overtakes him and causes him to kill some random innocent person out for a late-night stroll. He is immortal, incomparably beautiful, and able to access a host of unspeakably bad-ass super powers at will, and yet he somehow finds a way to shuffle his way through eternity moping about the unfairness of it all. Can you name anyone who wouldn’t trade places with him in a heartbeat? I mean, our usual measuring stick for the perfect life is a twenty-years-older, no super powers Brad Pitt.
Advantage: Bill. Bill may have his angsty moments from time to time, but he is probably the #1 vampire any halfway sane girl would want to call her own. (Of course at least 50% of women are in the retarded “I want the bad boy who may or may not kill me when he gets bored” camp, but that’s another discussion for another day.) Also, the guy knows how to get things done, rather than simply stumbling around aimlessly for all eternity, or sitting back passively as his insane grade-school daughter openly plots to murder the man he’s lived with for nearly a century. Louis would seem awesome at first, but his act would get annoying real quick.

Arbitrary Overall Winner
Bill Compton
Bill is one of the most likeable characters on True Blood. Louis is interesting enough for one book, but then he falls off the radar pretty fast. Yeah, Bill technically didn’t win the majority of the showdowns above, but the kid has spunk. Despite the fact that Louis is older, richer, and stronger, I have no doubt that Bill would find a way to take care of him if need be. Don’t believe me? Just ask Queen Sophie and Nan Flannigan how those advantages worked out for them when they looked at Sookie the wrong way.

So Bill won this round. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment. Be sure to stay tuned for the next Faceoff: Akasha, Queen of the Damned vs  Sophie, Queen of Louisania!

Friday, 14 October 2011


It took surviving the awful, soul-crushing month that was September, but my novel Muse is finally done. As in, it is worming its way through the various tubes and tunnels of the internet and should hopefully be live on either tonight or tomorrow. People beyond my select circle of workshop friends and advance readers will finally have total access to it.

This is simultaneously scary and thrilling. Realistically, I know it's not likely that any more than a handful of people will touch it until I made a concentrated effort to market the thing, but still, the idea of it being out of my hands is a little surreal.

I hit the 'publish' button in a spot that has some major significance to the whole process. I was back in the Y-room I worked in from 2009-June of this past year, the same room and hilariously undersized chair where I wrote the vast majority of the story on my breaks. Yesterday was a fantastic day in general: I was at the school on a subbing job, and the kids made me feel like I was Michael Jordan returning to the Bulls in 1995. I don't think I've ever felt more popular in my life, and it was kind of heart-warming to see that the old gang missed me as much as I missed them. I worked furiously over my break to finish the final edits to the product description, front matter, and about the author section. Just as I had so often polished off a chapter and clicked 'save' under the wire, I hit 'publish' right as the lunch bell sounded for the horde to come down to us.  The nostalgia was wonderful.

So yes, yesterday was fantastic. Thankfully I'm working today, as I have a feeling I'd spend the entire time clicking refresh on my Amazon dashboard to see if my book is live yet.

I'll probably do another post shortly--I'm trying to get back into the blogging now that I'm finished with coordinating things like editing and formatting. For now though, I'll leave you with a sneak peek at the cool cover page hat my sister designed for me!


Monday, 29 August 2011

Arbitrary-Ranking Monday #1: The Seven Richest Vampires in Fiction

So now that I'm done writing Muse, I'm determined to turn this blog into something more than just me saying cryptic things about the progress I'm making on books that I'm not willing to talk about yet.

I actually really enjoy blogging. I used to write an opinions column for the university newspaper, I've worked on a massively popular student politics blog for a few years now, and I made a nice little side income doing paid blogging for the university during my last few years at Dal. 

Deadlines permitting, I'm going to update at least twice per week. "Arbitrary-Ranking Mondays" and "Face-off Fridays."

Today we start with a list inspired by conversation I had the other day about the main character in my book, Maeve. Maeve has spent the last 400 years discovering and cultivating artistic talent: Rubens, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Rossetti, etc. Between the paintings she commissioned to keep them afloat in their early days, to the works they gifted her out of gratitude and love, she has acquired one hell of an art collection over the years. If you think that a single newly discovered Rubens painting (Massacre of the Innocents)  sold for $76 million in 2002, and that she has likely acquired a bare minimum of a thousand such paintings, then her personal art collection must be worth in the tens of billions of dollars at least.

After considering this, I started to wonder what her considerable inheritance would be worth today given that the majority of it was prudently invested by a series of intelligent investors...and I realized that if vampires were real, they would probably control 99% of the world's wealth.

In that spirit, here is the first entry in Arbitrary-Ranking Mondays.

The Seven Richest Vampires in Fiction
(As opposed to all the rich vampires who really exist.) 


Nick Knight

$478 million

Sources of wealth:

Robbery, betrayal, astute investment advice.

Kind of disappointing, considering that Nick, at 800 years old, is the second oldest vampire on this list. Unless they are financial geniuses though, most vampires wouldn't have started making real money until the rise of the major, stable banks in the late 17th century, so let's cut him some slack.
No mystery on the numbers here: this figure is stated explicitly in the episode ‘Blood Money.’ As it turns out, noble Nick’s wealth has its origins in a robbery and his subsequent betrayal of his partner in crime. The initial amount stolen has been multiplied considerably over the years due to the skilful efforts of Nick’s financial advisors. (Expect to see this theme repeated.)


Deacon Frost

$2.5 billion

Sources of wealth:

Night clubs, crime, ???

Frost runs the swankest vampire night clubs in the world. He built a gigantic subterranean reconstruction of an ancient blood temple. When he ‘makes it rain,’ actual human blood comes pouring out of the club sprinklers. Dude has some serious bank. The supreme vampire council in Blade is depicted as the Five Families on crack, and they are scared pissless of Deacon (for good reason). He is basically Scarface. 


Miriam Blaylock

$5-10 billion

Sources of Wealth:

4000 years to accumulate the spoils of her conquests, collection of priceless antiques.

Much of Miriam’s net worth has to come from her four millennia of collectables. Experts have valued King Tut’s treasure at somewhere in excess of a billion dollars, so it is safe to say that her entire private collection must be worth somewhere in the billions as well.

Her main source of liquid wealth probably came from simple theft over the years. She seems like she has always lived a very lavish lifestyle, so a large chunk of her illicit earnings has probably gone to feeding her pricey tastes, but we have to assumed that she must managed to put away at least some of her loot for a rainy day. Miriam is a sharp woman, so it seems likely that she’s probably taken advantage of the modern banking systems to put that accumulated wealth to work. If she managed to put away a reasonable savings deposit every year since she met John, odds are that compound interest has allowed her to accumulate a fortune somewhere in the range of $5-10 billion. Not as much as it could have been if she lived a little less materialistically, but definitely enough to keep her in the sexy leather outfits to which she is accustomed.


Carlisle Cullen

$36.2 billion

Sources of wealth:
Investment choices, slow but steady deposits into his savings account.

Forbes Magazine actually lists Papa Cullen as the second richest fictional character of 2011. Given that their logic of compound interest applies equally well (if not better) for several vamps on this list, I assume that economists probably don’t spend that much time reading vampire fiction. Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me.

(Also, in response to a question raised by my girlfriend, let’s just not talk about the Volturi. Forbes says Carlisle is richer, and I've never read/watched this series, so let’s leave it at that. Perhaps Alice told him to buy shares in Apple and Microsoft. I don't know.)


Alexander Lucard (AKA Dracula) 

$40 billion

Sources of wealth:

 Sale of creepy old medieval castle, using ghosts to help him locate buried treasure (seriously, read the opening to Dracula), founder/CEO of an evil mega-corporation.   

Is it just me, or did Old Man Cullen totally steal Drac's look? (I suppose he did add the stupid scarf.)

You may not recall this lovely television series. It came along at the perfect time for me. I was both old enough to have read and become obsessed with Dracula, and young enough not to realize what a cheesy, hokey show this was.

Alexander Lucard (or A. Lucard—nudge nudge, wink wink) owned an EVIL corporation. What this corporation did is a little foggy. Like all great 90s-era evil corporations though, you can rest assured that it dumped large quantities of pollution into beautiful waterways (a fact I re-learned within a minute or two of watching one of the few episodes easily accessible online.) Not sure what it does in 2011 though--dumping toxic waste is soooo 1991.

(For the record, I'm betting that Drac found a way to profit from bullying gay teenagers. He's that good at what he does.)


Charles Bromley

$50-100 billion

Sources of wealth:
CEO of Bromley Marks, chief supplier of blood in the US in a future ruled by vampires.

This guy was rich before he was a vampire. There’s no cheating here, as he earned his money the good old-fashioned way—unfettered capitalistic greed. Bromley Marks is what you would get if you fused Pfizer, JP Morgan Chase, and MacDonalds. (Though possibly a little less evil.)

It’s hard to say just how rich Charles Bromley is—it probably depends how much Bromley Marks stock he owns. Given his last name, odds are he has a healthy chunk. You have to figure that his company is worth more than Lucard Industries too. Whereas Lucard Industries' main product seemed to be cartoonish villainy,  Bromley Marks pretty much controls the supply for the only food anyone can eat/drink anymore. If Bromley’s wealth is comparable to mega-billionaires like Bill Gates or the Walton family, his net worth might be in the range of $50-100 billion dollars.



$70 billion - ??? 

Sources of wealth:

Inheritance, entertainment ventures.

He isn’t the oldest vampire on the list. He isn’t close to the oldest vampire in his own series. The fact is though, we can verifiably prove that he pulled off the single smartest financial move in vampire history: he invested a massive amount of wealth in a savings account, and didn’t touch it for well over two centuries.

This one requires some extra math.

First, let’s deal with his modern earnings as an entertainment icon. He states that in the first two weeks it was available, his self-produced album sold 4 million copies. One can only assume that number went up dramatically after the exploding-vampire craziness that took place on stage during his first concert. He is also supposedly the author of several of Anne Rice’s most popular books, selling somewhere in the realm of 30 million copies altogether. All very impressive, but if it were up to these creative earnings alone, he probably wouldn’t even have made the cut for this list.

This entertainment revenue is only a drop in the bucket though. In the late eighteenth century, Lestat inherited the collected wealth of Magnus, a 300-year-old vampire who had been a powerful mortal alchemist during the Middle Ages. In one of the most brilliant moves in investment history, Lestat promptly invested the vast majority of this massive fortune. At the start of The Vampire Lestat he states that he recently transferred some of his “old wealth” from the “immortal Bank of London and the Rothschild Bank.” Since he does not have this wealth with him when he arrived in America in 1791, he must have invested it some time before leaving Europe. If we conservatively estimate Magnus’s “incalculable” horde of gold and jewels as being worth $20,000,000 in today’s dollars (~$1.6 million in 1800), then it stands to reason that Lestat is a fantastically wealthy man. Assuming a fairly modest annual interest rate of 5%, 220 years in the bank has transformed that initial fortune into $73,684,417,001. Given that he spent decades mooching off Louis’s wealth, and decades more sleeping, it is safe to say that he probably never touched this stash before waking up and starting his rock career in the 1980s.

This estimate holds up given his behaviour. In Tale of the Body Thief, he drops $20 million like it’s chump change. That’s right: he spends more than Lebron James’s yearly salary without so much as blinking an eye.

It’s worth considering that the above estimate is entirely dependant on conservative numbers, and only reflects the wealth he inherited from Magnus. Add a percentage point or two to that interest rate, and we could be talking about a fortune in the trillions.

Makes you wonder if you should just move back in with your parents and put your paycheques into a long-term savings account, hmm?


For the record, I know this list is completely arbitrary--hence the title of the post. I also realized that the word count is way too long. I'll keep this short and blog suitable from here on out. If  I've left off a vampire that you think is richer please, post in the comments and start a debate!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The top secret project revealed!

So the novel I have coming out soon is about vampires.

Don't give me that look. I was into vampires before they were cool. Okay, maybe 'not before they were cool,' since they've been popular novel material at least as far back as Polidori's The Vampyre.  Since before I knew they were cool though.

Want photographic evidence? See the following journal entry from kindergarten. Our teacher had asked us to write about our best friend:

Yes, that does read "Drakya [Dracula]. He bats [bites] my prnts [parents]. He bats [bites] Donld [Donald, a jerk in my class who used to chase me around with peanut butter until I freaked out and roughed him up one recess.]"

(Also worth noting, the reply from my teacher: "Dracula is not a good friend to have. Be careful he does not bite you!" I can't help but wonder what poor Mrs. MacDonald thought about getting these entries every week. If you look closely, you can see the outline of Freddy Krueger in the background from the entry on the other side of the page.)

Clearly then, I have some street cred with this. I may not be creating groundbreaking art, but I'm writing what I love, so I'm not some sell out poser trying to cash in on the vampire just because it is supposedly hot right now. (Though do you honestly remember a time when it was not hot? More blogging to come on that point, just you wait!)

So what makes my book worth reading? (I mean besides being about vampires, which is good enough of an excuse to pick up a book for many of us vampirophiles.)

Well, this book was specifically crafted to prove a few friends wrong. Friends who hate vampire fiction. Friends who claimed that the vampire genre was dead, and that it was virtually impossible to come up with anything that felt fresh within the genre anymore.

Now, if you're reading this, I probably don't have to tell you that, much like a successful bloodsucker, vampire fiction always finds a way to evolve with the times. Vampires present the perfect narrative frames for just about any issue facing society, because, let's face it, those of us with short attention spans who would otherwise dismiss a book as preachy and boring tend not to be so quick to judge if the author adds in a few blood orgies and sexy seduction scenes. 

I knew my novel could be interesting as long as it subverted the current state of the genre a little. My narrator-protagonist Maeve is a 400-year-old vampire who was once a coveted art model during the Baroque period. She is self-assured and snarky, but also very determined to present a certain lady-like image of herself in spite of the often-bloody events she is participating in. I wanted to craft a female lead who avoided the helpless passivity of a Bella Swan, but who also didn't need to become completely masculine to be "strong female character."

One of the things that has stood out to early readers the most so far is something that is actually not terribly prominent in the book--the fact that Maeve is a full-figured woman. It makes sense if you think about it: standards of beauty used to be quite different during the Baroque. Maeve was the original Rubenesque figure--Rubens actually proposed to her around the turn of the seventeenth century. What people have been up on so far is how little a role this plays in the story. Maeve is completely secure in her appearance. She knows she is beautiful, and her confidence allows her to continue to remain drop-dead sexy, even though her look isn't the ideal that Hollywood and the fashion elites try to shove down our throats. Just as an old-school rocker doesn't worry that because Bieber is popular, he must be a better musician than Zeppelin, so too does Maeve see our obsession with thin as blip of insanity that says more about the state of society than it does her personal worth. Maeve comments on issues of body image from time to time, but there is certainly no sub plot of her trying to lose the weight to impress a guy, or any of that foolishness you see sometimes that suggests a happy ending for a curvy girl can only come from losing the weight.

Enough of this. Overanalysing this sort of thing can suck the fun out of a book. Let's just say that the story has a great female lead, a love interest who looks like a much more laid back version of Lenny Kravitz, heaping helpings of bloody vampire violence, and a rock-out-with-your-cock-out musical duel that may feature a struggling metal band and the reanimated corpse of Ludwig van Beethoven.  Do I really need to say anything more than that?

The book is called Muse, and it will be out sometime in the next week or two. Stay tuned for more info!

Monday, 22 August 2011

A long-delayed update for my non-existent audience

I feel like I should update this.

The summer has been a success. I have a book done. Mostly. Edits really ate into the time I had planned to use for book two, but I'd rather have a single well-edited book available than two crappy ones!

Feedback so far has been excellent. Excellent in the sense that it has been extremely positive, but filled with the sort of nitpicky suggestions that indicate the reader actually paid attention.  I'm looking at having the book online by the start of September. Aside from a few last read-throughs, the only missing piece is my cover, which I found out yesterday should be in my inbox by August 30th.

I have a piece of incredibly awesome news that I'll save for a bit. Safe to say, it gave me a nerd-gasm.

More details about the book to follow. Lot's more posts in general, hopefully. Now that the pressure to get that first book done is off, I should have more time to start building that online presence those marketing kids seem to think is so important these days. (Step one: create a Twitter account. Step two: Figure out the point of Twitter.)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Carpe Diem

It's been awhile since I last updated.

School is over for the year, and I have two blissfully empty months stretching out before me. No crabby teachers trying to tell me how to do my job, no yelling "Alek, sit down and eat your sandwich" 72 times per lunch hour, and an expected drop in the number of times per day I get hit in the groin (though I can't say that for certain until I see how my girlfriend reacts to me being home every day.) In September, I won't be returning to the school I've been working at the past two and a half years. I have a new location lined up at a program just the street from my place. I am feeling conflicting emotions about that choice, but now is not the time to dwell on that.

The Canada-Day long weekend is almost over. Tomorrow, when I wake up, I will be a professional novel writer. Not that I'm getting paid for my story just yet, but for the first time I can ever recall, I will not be battling with conflicting identities. I will not be "John the writer who is actually a student, and should probably get back to working on that thesis." I will not be "John the writer who is actually a childcare provider, and had better squeeze in another two hundred words before the monsters invade the Y-Room." I will simply be "John the Writer."

I have lofty ambitions as to how I am going to make use of this window of mental clarity. I am determined that I will be finished the first book in the current series I am working on by the end of July. I am already done the rough draft, and have edited over a hundred pages. I want to take things at a methodical pace so that I can produce something approaching my best work, and I think I can manage that in a month devoted to nothing but the first book.

For August, I would love nothing more than to complete the rough draft of my second book. The outline for book two is becoming clearer by the day, and I think it is not unreasonable to expect 2,000 words per day from myself over a month when I ought to have little else to distract me (except promoting my first book, of course!)

These are the goals I am setting out now. Ambitious, I know, but I feel like this summer is one of those 'now or never' junctions where I must throw everything I have into chasing this dream. Stephen King was 26 when he sold Carrie.  I know I may be in for a rough ride if I plan on using that particular idol as a measuring stick, but I can't help it. This is the summer where I produce something I'm proud enough to stand behind and encourage others drop hard earned cash on.

Having said all of that, I'm going to bed. I plan on getting an early start tomorrow.

Onwards, to victory!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Rollin' like Fred Durst (circa 2001)

Just celebrated my birthday the other day. Lots of tasty food, some very practical gifts (bus pass, phone cards), and loads of free chocolate. Twenty-six isn't so bad, especially since I'm writing with an enthusiasm that I haven't had in years. I may not have a summer job I was counting on due to poor registration numbers for the program that wanted to hire me, but since I have enough money in the bank to get me through the summer, this might be the opportunity I need to kick this whole self-publishing thing into overdrive.

I'm hovering somewhere around 50,000 words on the current project. This pleases me greatly. They are rough words, and I anticipate adding a good 10,000-20,000 words to the final rough draft count, whatever that ends up being. Aiming for somewhere between 75,000 and 90,000 when all is said and done.

I would write more here, but I'm looking at the clock, and I figure I can finish another 1200 words at least before the kids I look after get out of class for lunch!