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.)