Pink XI and Vampire Fiction

This post was written by Dara.

As Eloise’s teaching partner points out in the prologue, Vampire fiction (intersections between fact and fiction aside) has been around long before the current fixation, or even Stoker’s Dracula, which most of us think of as the first of vampire fiction.

The vampire craze started in the 17th century with the vampire craze of the 1720s and 30s (which included the official exhumation of suspected vampires in Serbia). The first literary work on the subject is the short German poem The Vampire written in 1748, followed by several longer poems by German authors. The first vampires in English literature appeared in the later 1700s, most notably Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem Christabel, written after 1797 but not published until 1816, (I had to read this in undergrad-it is quite a read!) and Joseph Sherridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1876), which is markedly similar to Christabel.

vampire(Illustration from Carmilla by David Henry Friston)

Miss Gwen’s fictional Convent of Orsino, published in 1806, would have fit in here, beating the true first vampire novel by a good 13 years.

Most scholars attribute the real beginning of vampire novels to The Vampyre (written in 1819 by Polidori), in which Lord Byron is the model for the undead protagonist. The novel began as part of a ghost story competition designed to pass the time on a holiday at Lake Geneva with Polidori, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley. (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstien came out of this competitions as well.) There were several other little know novels and poems, most of which were adaptations of previous works to follow, and many appearances of vampires in the popular “penny dreadfuls” of the time, but the next great work is Stoker’s Dracula, which is usually seen as the definitive description of the vampire in popular fiction moving forward. Stoker portrays vampirism as a contagious disease, rather than a supernatural power as in previous works, and this categorization has stayed with the genre into modern works.

In the 1900s, cinema ushered vampires into the science fiction genre in addition to the gothic horror novels and plays of the past. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954) ushered in the depiction of vampires as creature of horror (rather than the gothic heroes romanticized in Dracula and the like). In 1975, Stephen King and Anne Rice bring vampires back into the literary eye with Salem’s Lot and the Vampire Chronicles, and the genre has been popular ever since.

An interesting side note to this topic is that Dark Shadows, the definitive vampire TV show of the 80s, was the impetus for Lauren deciding to end the Pink Carnation series. You can check out how the two connect in her interview on Romance University.


Abe Books (

Wired (

Birthday Odds and Ends

Good morning and happy Monday!

Friday of last week was my birthday, and I got an extremely cool gift from one of my friends (thanks again, Laney!) that I wanted to share with you. It’s a book called Literary Listography: My Reading Life in Lists by Lisa Nola.


This book is a bit like a journal and a bit like making shelves on GoodReads. It is literally a book where you make lists. There are over 70 list topics – some that you’d expect, like “Top 20 Most Beloved Books” and “My 20 Favorite Authors.” Other lists made me laugh out loud when I saw them, like “Fictional Characters I’d Go on a Date With” and “Books I Think I Will Skip.” There are also some creative lists that are less about books and more about a love of language, like “Words I Love and Hate the Sound Of” and “Title Ideas for Stories I’d Love to Write.” Each list is accompanied by a beautiful illustration by Holly Exley.

 Atticus Hero list

I spent lots of time this weekend flipping through it and thinking about what I’ll include in my lists. Now I just have to take the plunge and start writing in the book! If this looks like the type of book you’d love to have (or the type of book you’d like to give as a gift!), you can buy it on Amazon.

Continuing in the celebratory spirit, I thought you might appreciate another “gift” that I got on my birthday. Beth (yes, the same Beth that moderated Pink II for us) decided she would mark the day by sending me a series of texts every few hours. Some of you may be familiar with the Ryan Gosling “Hey girl” meme, but Beth put her own twist on this and sent me Happy Birthday texts from some awesome book and movie heroes. These are too good not to share. Enjoy!

 IMG_2055 IMG_2056 IMG_2059
 IMG_2058 IMG_2053  IMG_2054

Pink XI Week 1 in Review

This post was written by Dara.

manz flower

Cambridge, 2004: We find Eloise back in the states babysitting undergrads and worrying about the status of her relationship with Colin. On the eve of his arrival, she discovers through a happenstance discussion with her teaching partner a possible clue to the whereabouts of the missing Pink Carnation – the vampire of Belliston Square with Mrs. Gwendolyn Reid all over it.

London, 1806: Miss Sally Fitzhugh is finding her second season a bit stifling, and truth be told lonely. In an effort relive the glory days of adventures with her friends (rather than hearing about their escapades with spies – and billiard balls, no less—second hand) she finds herself in the middle of the garden of the Duke of Belliston, rumored vampire and confirmed mysterious bachelor. While Sally finds the Duke intriguing, his relatives are clearly less than pleased at his return to England, but never the less require his presence at his sister Lady Clarissa’s ball then following night.

The gossips are in full swing at the ball, full of misinformation about Lucien, who is attempting a less than successful reconciliation with his sister and an unsettling discussion with his uncle about the murky circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths. Sally, after a profound discussion on the merits of stoats as pets, takes it upon herself to find the Duke and provide some friendly advice on surviving the Ton.

Before she can offer said advice, however, a mysterious note arrives for the Duke and the two find an unknown woman, murdered, with a vampire bite. Rather than allow the murder to be pinned on the Duke, Sally persuades the Duke to leave, with the promise to call on her the next day, before sounding the alarm as only she can.

There is always so much that happens in each chapter, it is impossible to capture everything (and I can’t do it half as well as Lauren does anyway). What is your favorite part of our first section? What did you think of our reunion with Turnip and Arabella?

A Fine Art Cover for Pink XI

This post was written by Dara.

We have talked about covers several times before during our read along, and I am a sucker for a good book cover. I was heartbroken when the publishers switched from the fine art covers on the original books to the headless dresses, as I refer to them, that grace the covers now.  The use of fine art paintings for a cover was what drew me to pick up the original Pink in the book store because they were so completely unique from other book covers (especially other romance covers, which you can usually spot at a good 50 yards away from the heaving bosoms). So, when we came to Sally’s book, I decided I would just make my own fine art cover.

Of course, Sally has very specific requirements.  She must have blonde hair; she must have that certain je ne sais…errr…, as Turnip calls it, that sets her apart as not another simpering female of the ton. And, of course, she must have a stoat.  Once I had that sorted out, I headed to the Google machine.  (What would we do without Google?)

When you Google painting of a lady with a stoat, what comes back is Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. And while the stoat is there, that is clearly the wrong era for Sally.


But, apparently, they did not make many portraits of blonde young ladies during the Regency era.  And the ones that were made were decidedly not Sally.   After searching many, many pages of search results, I had a few options.

There was this one:

sally2(Penning a Letter by George Goodwin Kilburne)

Or this one:

sally3(Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Danise Villers)

Or this one of Lady Emma Hamilton, who, incidentally, appeared as Mary on the cover of Crimson Rose:

sally4(Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton, as “Absence” by George Romney)

But none of them seemed quite right.  Finally, I stumbled across Sally by accident when I was looking for something else entirely.  But there she was, staring at me from the computer screen, my perfect Sally Fitzhugh.

sally5(La Coquette by Vittorio Reggianini . You can read more about the painting here).

With a little help from Photoshop to give Sally her stoat, we have a fine art book cover for Sally.


While I was searching for a portrait to use for Sally, I stumbled across this little gem.  For your daily giggles, I give you Sally and Turnip as little children:

sally7(Bowden Children by John Hoppner)

What do y’all think? Which covers do you like better? How does a book cover influence your feelings or decisions about a book?

I can’t wait to discuss our suspense packed first week of reading with you on Friday!  See you then.

Vacation Reading

summer reading

Happy Monday to one and all.

I’m returning from a week of vacation, so I’m grappling with reality and finding it a bit difficult today.  Fortunately, I have a plan – during my lunch hour, I’ll be continuing one of the books I started on vacation.  I’m very much hoping that will help me pretend I’m still soaking up the sun and relaxing.

I seriously overestimated the amount of reading time I would have on this vacation.  I checked five books out of the library, borrowed two e-books on my Nook, and packed another book that’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a few months that I really wanted to read.  Guess how many books I read?

One.  I read Elizabeth Peter’s book The Mummy Case since Miss Gwen gave me such a feeling of nostalgia for Amelia Peabody.  I think Amelia and Miss Gwen would both scold my for my lack of focus.

The other book that I started, and that I hope to pick up again today, is Ross Poldark by Winston Graham.  I will readily confess that I had never heard of this book until I started seeing ads for the new TV series.  According to several reviewers, it can assist with Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms and it should appeal to those of us who love an enigmatic hero.  I also follow Laurel Ann Nattress (the editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Jane-inspired short stories with an entry from our friend Lauren Willig) on her blog and Twitter, and she was so enthused about the book and the TV series that she made me want to give them a try!  I haven’t watched any of the series yet, but I’m about a third of the way through the book, and I’m definitely enjoying it.  Ross has a decidedly North-and-South Mr. Thornton thing going on.  I approve of this.  Have any of you read the book, or any of the others in the Poldark series?  Are you watching it on PBS?  Can you tell me (without spoilers!) how you like it?

If Poldark is not on your radar, what are you reading on your summer vacations?