Charnas, Suzy McKee

Charnas, Suzy McKee (1939–)

(pop culture)

Suzy McKee Charnas, author of The Vampire Tapestry, was born in New York City and attended Bernard College, where she received her bachelor’s degree, and New York University, where she received her master’s degree, in 1961 and 1965 respectively. Following college she spent two years in Nigeria with the Peace Corps, and after graduate school served as a junior high school teacher. She became a full-time writer in 1969. Her first novel, Walk to the End of the World, appeared in 1974. It was part of a projected trilogy that took over a decade to complete (during which time other novels were published). While the second volume of this futuristic feminist epic, Motherlines appeared relatively quickly (1978), the last volume, The Furies, was not completed until the mid-1990s. The series is about the anger of women and the justice of the reward they receive when men are vanquished.

During the course of her writing, Charnas first probed the vampire in her 1980 volume, The Vampire Tapestry. The novel, generally judged one of the better vampire novels of the century, tells the story of the vampire, described as a separate species who has lived at the edge of human society for millennia, and of one particular vampire, Edward Weyland, who appeared in the 1970s as a college professor of anthropology whose life is centered around a dream laboratory. His job not only gives him an excuse to be nocturnal, but also supplies him with the necessary supply of food. His problems begin with the discovery of what he is by a young female employee of the college. Besides being reprinted a number of times, excerpts of the text were adapted as a play and produced in San Francisco in 1980 under the title Vampire Dreams. Charnas returned to the vampire theme in the 1990s with The Ruby Tear written under her pseudonym Rebecca Brand. The story concerns the ongoing battle between a vampire, Baron von Cragga, and the Griffin family, whose current male representative Nicolas Griffin has written a play describing the tear-shaped jewel he owns. Von Cragga wants the jewel and the play becomes the catalyst for his final efforts to recover it.

Charnas did not abandon vampires in the new century. Her first offering was a short story, “Unicorn Tapestry,” in an anthology of her fiction, Music of the Night, issued as an electronic book in 2001. Then in 2004, she delivered the further adventures of Edward Weyland as part of another anthology, Stagestruck Vampires, which includes three short stories with her vampire hero. In one story, co-authored with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Weyland meets up with the Comte de Saint Germain. Charnas maintains an Internet site at http://www.suzymckeecharnas.com/.

Sources:

Charnas, Suzy McKee. Music of the Night. Electric Story, 2001.
———(as Rebecca Brand). The Ruby Tear. New York: TOR, 1997. 247 pp.
———. Stagestruck Vampires. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2004. 256 pp.
———. The Vampire Tapestry. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980. Rept. Albuquerque, NM: Living Branch Press, 1993. 285 pp.