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Esther Friesner

Goot eeeevening. Velcome to my eeeentroduction. Enter freely and—


Whew. Thanks. I needed that.

Welcome indeed to this, the third in our glamorous and high-paying literary tour de force exploring the economic, sociological, and ecological impact of witches, werewolves and vampires in that geographical subset of the world popularly known as Suburbia. But before you step over the threshold to explore the sanguinophagous delights within these pages, I’d like to have a few moments of your time to lay some cards on the table. 

I feel that, given the fact that this book is devoted to the carryings-on of vampires in the suburban milieu, we really need to have a few ground rules in place and understood before turning our attention to those critters of the night who spend their days six feet under said ground. (Figuratively speaking, of course. For all I know, every last surburban vamp is spending the sunrise-to-sunset hours in the family rec room, comfortably snuggled away inside some sort of spiffy container purchased at the local IKEA.)

Case in point, my failed attempt at beginning this introduction. Campy faux Transylvanian is jangly enough to the innocent ear, but when the reader’s eye must wrestle with that dreadfully twisted orthography, it becomes the realm of Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

And we don’t want that. We love our readers. We cherish our readers. We want our readers to be happy. Or at least mollified. And face it, now there is a lot of stuff written about vampires—as well as how it’s written—that leaves many a reader in a state of definite nonmollification.

Hence, the ground rules in effect for this Introduction, viz.:

1. I promise not to put on a really bad Bela Lugosi accent in print. I can’t make the same promise for any of the other authors, however, nor can I extend said promise to any time you might happen to run into me at a party. Just be grateful for miniscule favors, move along, and be careful which parties you attend in future.

2. I promise not to make any of the far too easy puns that swarm around just about every mention of vampires—suburban or otherwise. This is an especially vile temptation under the present circumstances, seeing as how this is a book about vampires in Suburbia. As I might have mentioned in the Introductions to previous anthologies, Suburbia has become a very easy target for the Hip, the Hot, the Artsy, and the Artsy-with-a-capital-F. Thus I promise not to yield to the urge to make vampire-slanted puns about how Suburbia bites, sucks, is dead, drains your blood, drives you batty, etc.

It is one thing to shoot fish in a barrel. It is another thing to bring flamethrowers into play against beached guppies.

Except I pretty much just did that, didn’t I? Oops. Well, never mind. The thing about vampire puns—even specifically targeted suburban vampire puns—is that no matter how many I may chose to make outright or by sneaky-Pete allusion (as above), there are plenty of Gentle Readers out there who are already hastening to come up with oodles of their own “I can top that!” word-play.

Go for it.

Forbear from sharing them with me, but go for it.

Meanwhile, back at the Introduction Rules . . . 

3. I promise not to take any shots—cheap or otherwise—at any of the trendier media presentations of vampires in the suburbs. This includes movies, TV, and, of course, novels. My personal opinion (as distinct from my impersonal opinion?) shall be kept to myself. The internet is already burgeoning with plenty of folks who have taken issue with certain of the newer, perhaps not quite traditional, staggeringly popular versions of non-urban vamps. Let the eloquence be theirs.

Again, just because the barrel is brimming with trout and there’s a Keen-O Destructinator Ray already aimed, primed, and ready to rock ’n’ roll, does not mean I need to pull the trigger.

With our ground rules in place, let us proceed with all due decorum.

It is a fairly obvious truth that vampires and the suburbs are a match made in Heaven, or maybe Levittown. Vampires do very well indeed in your typical suburban setting. Remember Dracula? He didn’t run into any real problems until he took his act on the road and traveled to the Big City. Some might argue that he originally dwelled in rural isolation, not amidst suburban sprawl, but it wasn’t as isolated as all that. Even though there was abundant forest and packs of wolves running pooper-scooper free across his front lawn, there were also plenty of villagers within a leathery-winged flight of his H.Q. And truly, many a modern American suburban community’s nexus could be classified as a village, population-wise. (Castle Dracula, the ultimate gated community? You be the judge!)

Another thing about the suburbs is the selective isolation. Everyone is so polite, so respectful of their neighbors (in general) and their neighbors’ right to privacy (in particular). As long as your dog does not do his business on your neighbors’ lawn, your kids do not make so much noise that your neighbors are disturbed by it, and your grass is kept clipped enough to fend off your neighbors’ monitory mutterings about how some people’s laziness is going to send property values tumbling into the septic tank, you’ll be left the hell alone.

Unless your neighbors happen to have kids who are selling gift wrap, magazine subscriptions, fertilizer, cookies, candy, or any of the other school-and-other-kidcentric-organizational-fundraising ploys. Then you might as well leave a bowl full of money on the front porch if you don’t want all of that doorbell-ringing to drive you over the edge.

Oh, and leave town on October 31.

But these are only problems for mere mortals. Vampires who desire their suburban seclusion to remain untouched are admirably equipped to withstand all of the pint-sized sales assaults the neighborhood can dish out. For one thing, if the kiddies come around hawking their wares during the day, the vampire is comfortably nestled in his coffin, incommunicado. Have you ever checked out some of the better models of coffins? Thick walls, comfortable mattresses, and most of them have better soundproofing than a lot of recording studios. Little Emily and/or Jason can ring the doorbell ’til the Golden Labrador Retrievers come home and they won’t disturb the smugly slumbering vamp within.

And should little Emily and/or Jason try their luck peddling their wares after sundown . . . ​Oh boy! Who says you have to stay in the city if you want good take-out meals delivered right to your door? 

Yessiree, there’s no one quite like a vampire for saying, “All of you kids get off of my lawn!” and putting some teeth into it.

If you prefer to maintain that the modern vampire’s one true venue is the city, go right ahead. It’s a free country. But at the same time, do please keep an open mind for just a little longer; long enough to dip into the delectable tales that lie beyond this introduction. If you don’t find yourself able to imagine a world where the creatures of the night mix and mingle with the children of the SUVs, be thankful that the authors whose words await your perusal could and did.

Will the stories you encounter in these pages convince you that vampires and the suburbs go together like wine and cheese, gin and tonic, desperation and housewives, love and pre-nups and marriage? Perhaps. Will they amuse you? I think so. 

Enter freely and of your own will.

Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as “spoiling cats.” She lives northwest of Chicago with two of the above and her husband, author and packager Bill Fawcett. She has published more than thirty-five books, including six contemporary fantasies, four SF novels, four novels in collaboration with Anne McCaffrey, including The Ship Who Won; edited a humorous anthology about mothers, Don’t Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear!; and written over a hundred short stories. Her latest books are A Forthcoming Wizard (Tor Books), and Myth-Fortunes, co-written with Robert Asprin (Wildside Books).

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