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The Vampire Novel of the Century

What’s the most influential vampire novel from the last 100 years? The Horror Writers of America have narrowed it down to six nominees. Hint: Twilight isn’t one of them.

They’ll make their announcement in March. Meanwhile, the judges will ponder which vampire novel published (in English) between 1912 and 2011 had “the greatest impact on the horror genre.” The award is in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Dracula author Bram Stoker. He died in April of 1912 from a series of strokes. Or maybe syphillis, it’s not clear.

The six novels are:

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. First published in 1954, this short and sometimes slow-moving novel doesn’t feature a vampire in the Dracula mold at all. It’s not even strictly about vampires. It’s about a pandemic that leaves people vampiric, with the exception of Robert Neville, the story’s hero and the last regular human alive. Matheson wrote lots of short stories and screenplays and was given the Horror Writers Association (HWA) Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.

‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. King’s second big book was published in 1975, and it’s about a vampire, Kurt Barlow, who has the run of a small New England town. Yeah, New England — a real surprise coming from Stephen King. You know what else? The hero of the story is a writer. King was given a HWA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

Interview With the Vampire, by Anne Rice. This book came out just after ‘Salem’s Lot, in 1976, and introduced us to the vampires Louis and Lestat. An updating of the vampire myth, it preserves that same gothic flavor, thanks to Rice’s elaborate prose. The book has two sequels and was made into a 1994 movie with Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and wee Kirsten Dunst. Rice was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the HWA in 2003.

Hotel Transylvania, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. This is one of more than two dozen novels in Yarbro’s series, published in 1978. Her novels follow vampire Count Saint Germain as he romps through history. Yarbro got her Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

The Soft Whisper of the Dead, by Charles L. Grant. Published in 1982, this is one of a series of books by the profilic Grant. Like King’s novel, Grant’s vampire story takes place in a small northeastern town, this time in Connecticut. Count Braslov the vampire is the guy to watch. Grant earned his Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman. From 1992, Newman’s alternate history still features Dracula. But he wasn’t vanquished by Van Helsing, he went on the marry Queen Victoria and cross paths will all kinds of historical figures and well-known vampires from other vampire books. Newman continued his alternate history in subsequent books and stories, including The Bloody Red Baron (1995).

Those are the nominees. The winning novel will be announced March 31st. You can follow along at the Horror Writers Association official site.

Read more about the authors here:

The Who2 biography of Stephen King

The Who2 biography of Anne Rice

Stephen King’s official site

Anne Rice’s official site

Charles Grant’s official site

Kim Newman’s official site

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s official site

Richard Matheson’s filmography

Related Biographies

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