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January 17th, 2012

The Vampire Novel of the Century: The Nominees [Jan. 17th, 2012|10:28 pm]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
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Here is the official press release from the Horror Writers Association:

Nominees Announced For Vampire Novel Of The Century Award

The Horror Writers Association (HWA), the international association of writers, publishing professionals, and supporters of horror literature, in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Family Estate and the Rosenbach Museum & Library, have announced the nominees for the Bram Stoker Vampire Novel of the Century Award™, to be presented at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet at World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 31, 2012. The Award will mark the centenary of the death in 1912 of Abraham (Bram) Stoker, the author of Dracula.

A jury composed of writers and scholars selected, from a field of more than 35 preliminary nominees, the six vampire novels that they believe have had the greatest impact on the horror genre since publication of Dracula in 1897. Eligible works must have been first published between 1912 and 2011 and published in or translated into English.

The nominees are:

The Soft Whisper of the Dead by Charles L. Grant (1983). Grant (1946-2006) was a prolific American writer of what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror,” writing under six pseudonyms as well as his own name. Grant also edited numerous horror and fantasy anthologies. The novel is part of Grant’s series of 12 books set in his fictional small town Oxrun Station, Connecticut. Grant was a former president of Horror Writers Association and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. First published in 1975, this was only the second work by the now-legendary American author of dozens of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror stories, comics, and novels. Set in the town of Jerusalem’s Lot, it tells of a man’s return to his hometown, where he finds a plague of vampirism. The book has twice been made into television mini-series and has been recorded by the BBC. King’s work has won countless Bram Stoker Awards™ from HWA, and King (1947- ), a lifelong New England resident, was recognized with HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. First published in 1954, the novel is set in the mid-1970′s, when a plague has swept the world, bringing with it zombie-like creatures identified as vampires. Richard Neville, the book’s protagonist, may be the last living human. The work has been filmed three times under various titles, most recently in 2007, under its original title, starring Will Smith. Matheson (1926- ), an American, has written screenplays as well as short and long fiction, and many of his works have been filmed or made into teleplays. He wrote frequently for The Twilight Zone in its heyday. Matheson received HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman first appeared in 1992. The novel imagines an alternate history in which Van Helsing and his cohorts failed in their attempt to rid England of Dracula. In this timeline, Dracula went on to marry Queen Victoria, ushering in an era of vampire aristocracy in England and elsewhere. The book is followed by two other novels and a number of shorter works set in the Anno Dracula universe, all meticulously researched to include numerous historical details and many characters of Victorian and more recent popular literature. Newman (1959- ) is an English writer of fantasy and horror, as well as reference books in the field, and frequently appears as a host and critic for the BBC and other media.

Interview with the Vampire by Southern American author Anne Rice first appeared in 1976 and achieved enormous popularity, selling more than 8 million copies. The book introduces the vampires Louis and Lestat, who, along with a dozen other unique individual vampires, appear in a long series by Rice known as the Vampire Chronicles. The novel was filmed in 1994 starring Tom Cruise as Lestat and Brad Pitt as Louis; another work in the series, Queen of the Damned, was filmed in 2002; the novel was also produced as a Broadway musical in 2006. Rice (1941- ) has written numerous other gothic fantasy novels, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide, and has won many awards, including HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, published in 1978, is the first of a 25-book (so far) series featuring le Comte de Saint Germain, a 2000+-year-old vampire, whose adventures in many historical periods are recounted. This novel overlaps in many details with the historical facts of le Comte de Saint-Germain, a mysterious figure . An American writer, Yarbro (1942- ) publishes three or four books a year, under various pseudonyms, in a variety of genres, including mysteries and romance tales. She was awarded HWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

The winning book will be announced on March 31, 2012. HWA will also celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary on that date.

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Definitely some surprises on the list. Back when we first discussed this, we were all pretty sure the nominees would include Interview with the Vampire, Salem's Lot, and I Am Legend, and sure enough they're on the list. But I have to admit to being surprised by the absence of Whitley Strieber's The Hunger, Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls, and, frankly, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, all of which have been hugely influential, though I may only be feeling that way because I'm less familiar with the other three novels that did make it: The Soft Whisper of the Dead, Anno Dracula, and Hotel Transylvania (which unfortunately sounds like a stupid Adam Sandler comedy--oh wait, it is!).

It will be interesting to see which book wins in March. If you ask me, it'll probably come down to I Am Legend vs. Salem's Lot, with Interview as a possible spoiler. In the meantime, anyone want to place any bets?

(And in related news, the HWA has gotten much, much better with their press releases!)
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