Elrod, P. N.

views updated

P. N. Elrod




Personal

Born Patricia Nead Elrod. Education: Studied drama in college.




Addresses

Home—TX. Office—The Teeth in the Neck Gang, P. O. Box 100362, Fort Worth, TX 76185. E-mail— [email protected]




Career


Writer, 1990—.




Writings


"THE VAMPIRE FILES" SERIES


Bloodlist, Ace (New York, NY), 1990.

Lifeblood, Ace (New York, NY), 1990.

Bloodcircle, Ace (New York, NY), 1990.

Art in the Blood, Ace (New York, NY), 1991.

Fire in the Blood, Ace (New York, NY), 1991.

Blood on the Water, Ace (New York, NY), 1992.

A Chill in the Blood, Ace (New York, NY), 1998.

Dark Sleep, Ace (New York, NY), 1999.

Lady Crymsyn, Ace (New York, NY), 2000.

Cold Streets, Ace (New York, NY), 2003.


"GENTLEMAN VAMPIRE" SERIES; WITH JONATHAN BARRETT


Red Death, Ace (New York, NY), 1993.

Death and the Maiden, Ace (New York, NY), 1994.

Death Masque, Ace (New York, NY), 1995.

Dance of Death, Ace (New York, NY), 1996.


"RICHARD DUN" SERIES; WITH NIGEL BENNETT


Keeper of the King, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 1997.

His Father's Son, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2001.

Siege Perilous, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2004.



OTHER


I, Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire, TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1993.

(Editor, with Martin H. Greenberg) The Time of theVampires, DAW (New York, NY), 1996.

I, Strahd: The War against Azalin, Ace (New York, NY), 2000.

Quincey Morris, Vampire, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2001.

(Editor) Dracula in London, Ace (New York, NY), 2001.

The Adventures of Myhr, Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2003.


Also author of screenplays. Contributor of numerous short stories and plays to periodicals.




Work in Progress


Song in the Dark, for the "The Vampire Files" series; a sequel to The Adventures of Myhr.




Sidelights


The author of a score of novels and numerous short stories, P. N. Elrod has made a cottage industry out of vampirism. Unlike some horror writers, however, Elrod provides a humorous and sometimes historical twist to the typical vampire yarn. As a contributor for St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers noted, Elrod's books do not really fit into the horror genre as most vampire novels do. "[Elrod] seems more interested in character development and a crisp, straightforward plot than in suspense or a strong sense of mood," according to this critic. Elrod's "The Vampire Files" series, for example, features a wisecracking private detective who also happens to be undead. With her "Gentleman Vampire" series, she presents a quartet of novels set in the eighteenth century. Teaming up with actor Nigel Bennett, Elrod has also combined vampire legends and Arthurian lore in the "Richard Dun" series. In The Adventures of Myhr, Elrod leaves vampires behind momentarily for a humorous fantasy adventure about a half-cat, half-human hero. But it is primarily vampires with which Elrod is connected. Speaking with an interviewer for Journal of the Dark Online, Elrod hypothesized about the origin of vampire legends. For Elrod such legends are the result of "people having a guilt trip about someone they love dying. Or somebody they don't love dying. They're both afraid and fascinated by the idea of a dead relative returning either to comfort or condemn. At least that's my take on the original folklore. It's a pretty universal concept of the human psyche since you'll find stories of the dead coming back to bug the living in nearly every culture that has a belief in the afterlife. Guilt sucks. Literally!"

"The Vampire Files"


"I got inspired to write the first time I read a book I liked, then couldn't find more of the same to read," Elrod, whose full name is Patricia Nead Elrod, told the interviewer for Journal of the Dark Online. At first, such writing was in emulation of her older sister, who would lock herself in her room and write for hours. But Elrod slowly made this desire her own. During high school and college, she was influenced by such writers as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Bram Stoker, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ray Bradbury, and C. S. Forester. Classic horror films starring Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney also informed her imaginative universe, as did old radio shows such as The Shadow. In fact, it was while participating in a role-playing game involving that show that she got the idea for her first book, Bloodline.


As Elrod noted on her Web site, "I was trying to play The Shadow . . . , but soon found the things I wanted to do were out of character for the dude, and at some point declared 'The way Lamont Cranston [the protagonist of The Shadow] is, he's just GOT to be a vampire!' And something just clicked." Dialogue came to her, as did her vampire's slightly less than sanguine appreciation of his undead condition, the result of a dalliance with the wrong sort of woman. "I couldn't get the idea of a squeamish vampire out of my head," Elrod noted on her Web site. "It was just too funny." She got the name for her character, Jack Fleming, from the index to the game she was playing, and from there she quickly put together a story about a vampire detective whose first case is solving his own murder.


It took Elrod about a year for her first draft, which was rejected by all who saw it. Then she took another two years and about twenty-five separate drafts to come up with a more polished version of this first novel. When it was finished, she sent sample chapters of Bloodlist around to various publishers, including Ace in New York. Unagented, the novel found a home with Ace and earned Elrod a multi-book contract for further installments in "The Vampire Files" series. She followed up her debut title with Lifeblood, in which Jack is on the run from a team of vampire hunters out to destroy him. In the series' third installment, Bloodcircle, Jack searches for the woman who turned him into a vampire, but is checked in his quest by another vampire who has his own reasons for keeping Jack in the dark about her fate.


Elrod drew inspiration from Sherlock Holmes for the fourth book in the same series, Art in the Blood, involving the murder of a young artist and shenanigans in the world of high dollar fine art. In Fire inthe Blood Jack is on the trail of the person who stole a valuable bracelet, but his only suspect is the wealthy and spoiled young woman who owned it. Blood on the Water pits Jack against the daughter of the man who tried to kill him in Bloodlist, a beautiful but psychotic woman.


It would be six years later, in A Chill in the Blood, before Jack Fleming returned. In this novel, Elrod's vampire gumshoe and his human partner, Charles Escott, are caught in the middle of a gang war. With this book, Jack was back on the streets of Depression-era Chicago "putting the bite on crooks and reflecting wryly on his divided nature," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. The same contributor went on to note that "echoes of [Dashiell] Hammett and [Raymond] Chandler abound, but the novel succeeds in its own right as an entertaining exercise in supernatural noir." For David Pitt, writing in Booklist, the "story shifts easily between comedy and mystery" in this "excellent installment in a fine series." Further praise came from Library Journal's Jackie Cassada, who observed that Elrod's "story glistens with wry humor and sharp dialog."

Fleming's partner, Escott, takes center stage in The Dark Sleep when he tries to unravel the source of his incurable insomnia only to discover a nemesis from the past. Meanwhile, Jack is busy helping his blonde bombshell girlfriend, Bobbi, sing and dance her way to stardom in a "clever and fast-paced detective story" that blends "winning characterizations and . . . period detail," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. Reviewing the same book in Library Journal, Patricia Altner found it an "entertaining, nicely paced mystery with lots of period atmosphere." In Lady Crymsyn Jack has made a long-time dream come true, saving enough cash to bankroll his own upscale nightclub where Bobbi, his girlfriend, can perform. However, while workmen are remodeling the nightclub's basement, a body of a woman is discovered. When Jack starts investigating this apparent murder, he comes up against powerful gangsters who want the past to stay buried. This ninth offering in the series was dubbed an "altogether entrancing who-done-it" by a contributor for Publishers Weekly. Book number ten in the series, Cold Streets, finds Jack's club doing thriving business. The only problem is, most of the customers are gangsters who have declared the Lady Crymsyn nightclub neutral territory where they can negotiate with each other. Added to this complication is a kidnapping/blackmail case Escott is working on. In a Library Journal review, Altner praised the book for its "wonderful cast of characters and a great deal of suspense, leavened with touches of humor." Similarly, a critic for Publishers Weekly commended the "clever characterizations, wicked wit and palatable
mayhem" in the same novel. "Elrod's latest is certain to be a hit with the fang-loving crowd," concluded Kristine Huntley in a Booklist review of Cold Streets.



Vampires through History


Elrod takes readers back to the eighteenth century with her four-book series, "Gentleman Vampire," featuring a character with darker moods than the wisecracking Jack Fleming. Jonathan Barrett's family expected that attending school at Oxford, an ocean away from his home in Long Island, would change him. However, they and he could not imagine how much. The impending Revolutionary War forces the newly educated Jonathan to leave his lover, Nora, and return home to the Barrett estate in America. There he learns his affair with Nora has left him with supernatural powers, a craving for blood and the ability to escape death itself. Killed by a sniper in the Revolutionary War, he rises again and must keep his awful secret from both enemies and friends. The first book in the series, Red Death, traces these transformations. Subsequent titles in the series, Death and the Maiden, Death Masque, and Dance of Death, follow Barrett as he adjusts to his new life, is reunited with his family, and returns to London to search for the woman who turned him into a vampire. In the London installments, Barrett learns that he has fathered a son and that enemies intend to use the boy against him. The essayist for St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers felt that the "Gentleman Vampire" series, with its benevolent vampire, "is much richer in detail and characterization than the Fleming books." Reviewing the first title in the series, Red Death, a critic for Publishers Weekly found that it "offers deft touches of wit, beauty and suspense."

Another popular series from Elrod, in collaboration with the actor Nigel Bennett, features a twist on the usual Arthurian legend. In this take, Sir Lancelot—King Arthur's famous knight of the Round Table—is reborn as the vampire Richard d'Orleans, also known as Richard Dun, who has survived the ages to do battle against evil in the modern world. Dun now works as a security specialist in Canada, foiling the machinations of evildoers. In the first title of the series, Keeper of the King, he must save the Canadian prime minister from an assassination plot by the terrorist Irish Republican Army (IRA). A reviewer for Publishers Weekly had difficulties with the book's "fulsome, fluorescent prose." But Harriet Klausner, in a review posted at the Keeper of the King web site, believed that the novel provided "a unique, very special experience that has wide crossover appeal for lovers of the supernatural, fantasy, horror, and the police procedural." In the second book of the series, His Father's Son Richard battles Colombian drug lords in the present, as he seeks to track down the killer of his former lover and her daughters. This contemporary story is complemented by sections devoted to Richard's medieval origins. Library Journal's Cassada found His Father's Son to be a "well-paced tale of undying chivalry and eternal truths." Booklist's Huntley also had positive words for this second installment in the "Richard Dun" series, calling it a "gripping thriller with a likable, swashbuckling hero." In the third book in the series, Siege Perilous, Richard must deal with an enemy out of his past, Charon the Assassin.


Non-Series Books

Elrod has also written several stand-alone titles. Taking on a work-for-hire job with the 1993 novel I Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire, as part of an ongoing series of Gothic horror tales, she created a "chilling, dark fantasy" featuring the vampire Count Strahd Von Zarovich, as a Publishers Weekly contributor noted. The same critic felt that Elrod's "strong prose and excellent pacing are not diminished by being confined to the boundaries of a pre-established universe." Elrod returned to the count in her 2000 novel, I, Strahd: The War against Azalin. She also used a character from another writer's novel in Quincey Morris, Vampire, a book whose premise is that the character Quincey from Bram Stoker's Dracula became a vampire himself. The book grew out of a short story, "The Wind Breathes Cold," which Elrod contributed to the anthology, Dracula, Prince of Darkness.




A change of pace for Elrod is her 2003 novel, The Adventures of Myhr, about a half-cat, half-human character whose name rhymes with purr. The book is a "humorous romp," according to Kliatt's Deirdre Root, dealing with the adventures of Myhr and his wizard buddy, Terrin, when they become lost in their intergalactic travels and attempt to find their way home. Root further commented on the "action, adventure and locker-room humor" that take place once the pair is stranded on a world where their powers might be totally sapped. Elrod has also edited several vampire anthologies, including the 2001 Dracula in London, a gathering of sixteen tales that attempts to fill in Dracula's movements in London when he was not being chased by Dr. Van Helsing.

If you enjoy the works of P. N. Elrod

If you enjoy the works of P. N. Elrod, you may also want to check out the following books:


Barbara Hambly, Those Who Hunt the Night, 1988.

Annette Curtis Klause, The Silver Kiss, 1990.

M. T. Anderson, Thirsty, 1998.




On her Web site, Elrod gives straightforward advice to those wishing to become novelists. Taking her own route to publication as a model, she noted that "I read everything I could about everything. Then after ten years of scribbling I finally finished something, sent it in, and kept sending it until it sold. You have to be really, really stubborn and keep trying. Just pick up a pen and go to work." Speaking with Margaret L. Carter on Simegen.com, Elrod expanded on this advice: "Write every day. If you write a page a day, in a year you'll have a finished novel. Think about it." Finally, Elrod concluded to Carter, "Never, ever waste your reader's time."




Biographical and Critical Sources


BOOKS


St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.



PERIODICALS


Booklist, May 15, 1998, David Pitt, review of A Chill in the Blood, p. 1601; May 15, 1999, David Pitt, review of The Dark Sleep, p. 1676; April 1, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of His Father's Son, p. 1450; November 15, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Dracula in London, p. 560; January 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of Cold Streets, p. 860.

Kliatt, May, 2002, Joseph R. DeMarco, review of Dracula in London, p. 26; November, 2003, Deirdre Root, review of The Adventures of Myhr, p. 23.

Library Journal, June 15, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of A Chill in the Blood, p. 111; May 15, 1999, Patricia Altner, review of The Dark Sleep, p. 125; April 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of His Father's Son, p. 137; November 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Dracula in London, p. 101; January, 2003, Patricia Altner, review of Cold Streets, pp. 152-153.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1993, review of I,Strahd: The Memoirs of a Vampire, p. 91; October 4, 1993, review of Red Death, p. 69; December 9, 1996, review of Keeper of the King, p. 64; May 11, 1998, review of A Chill in the Blood, p. 54; May 10, 1999, review of The Dark Sleep, p. 63; October 30, 2000, review of Lady Crymsyn, p. 52; March 26, 2001, review of His Father's Son, p. 68; October 15, 2001, review of Dracula in London, p. 51; December 16, 2002, review of Cold Streets, p. 50.


ONLINE


Battlestar Galactica,http://www.battlestargalactica.com/ (January 1, 2001).

Journal of the Dark Online,http://members.aol.com/johnfranc/ne.htm/ (May 26, 2004), "Interview with Author P. N. Elrod."

Keeper of the King,http://www.blackhatstation.com/Books/kotk.htm/ (December 10, 1996), Harriet Klausner, review of Keeper of the King.

Official P. N. Elrod Web Site,http://vampwriter.com/ (May 28, 2004).

Simegen.com,http://www.simegen.com/ (June, 2001), Margaret L. Carter, "P. N. Elrod, Vampire Author."