Schiefelbein, Michael

Schiefelbein, Michael

(pop culture)

Michael Schiefelbein, a pastor in the United Church of Christ, is the author of a series of gay-oriented vampire books. He was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, and attended a Roman Catholic high school and then spent ten years going through the training necessary to become a Catholic priest. As his training proceeded he eventually came to grips with his self-identity as a gay person and was studying in Rome when he dropped plans for a priestly career. He enrolled in the English department at the University of Maryland from which he received his Ph.D. in the early 1990s, and became a professor in the literature and languages department of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee.

While in Memphis, he decided to leave the Catholic Church and join the United Church of Christ (UCC), a Protestant denomination that has been open to sexually active gay and lesbian clergy in its leadership ranks. He attended and graduated from Memphis Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian school) and in 2006, was ordained as a UCC minister. He subsequently he moved to Modesto, California, and became the pastor of College Avenue Congregational Church.

While a professor at Christian Brothers University, where among other courses he taught creative writing, the first of his vampire novels was published. Vampire Vow follows the evnts in the life of Victor, a soldier posted to Galilee after the Roman overrun of the region. There he met and fell in love with a young man named Joshu, later known as Jesus the Christ. When Joshu rejected his advances, Victor moved in an entirely different direction—he became a vampire. He began a search for a partner who would carry him through the centuries. Carrying a torch for the one who rejected him, he attempted to undermine and subvert Joshu’s God. One way of accomplishing his goal was to join monasteries, whose members were concerned with Victor’s rare skin condition that required him to stay out of sunlight. Once in the monastery, he proceeded to subvert the monks sexually and then drain them of their blood.

Victor emerged as a vicious amoral creature, but one that could have the readers hoping for his survival and even at times cheering him on. A cordial reception led to his reappearance in a two of the sequels. Vampire Vow carried Victor from first-century Palestine to the contemporary world. In the second, Vampire Thrall, he is in Rome anf finds a new lover in the person of Paul, with whom he is assigned to complete the artwork for an illuminated Bible. Paul is eventually turned, and in the third novel of the series, Vampire Transgression, he and Victor move to Paul’s old home in Kansas. Their life together transgresses the rules of Schiefelbein’s vampire world, and the powers that be compete with agents of the church in attempting to take down the two vampire lovers.

Schiefelbein’s work emerged as the first multi-volume vampire series with homosexuality as a major subtext of note. As this volume goes to press, Schiefelbein has announced a fourth volume in the series, Vampire Maker, to be released in 2010.

Sources:

Schiefelbein, Michael. Vampire Thrall. Los Angeles: Alyson Publications, 2003. 302 pp.
———. Vampire Transgression. New York: St Martin’s Press, 2006. 268 pp.
———. Vampire Vow. Los Angeles: Alyson Publications, 2001. 203 pp.