For a long time, I credited the rise of the paranormal fantasy genre pretty much single-handedly to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While I knew it was a little simplistic, it seemed obvious that the roots of the modern fascination with dating vampire, ghouls, werewolves, etc. arose from the long-running romance between the leads of Buffy and Angel, perhaps the two most successful horror TV shows of the our generation.
Of course, as I explore the modern history of dark fantasy, I find more and more evidence that paranormal romance was alive and well long before Joss Whedon penned his first screenplay. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s first vampire romance, Hôtel Transylvania, featuring Count Saint-Germain, was published in 1978, for example. (And the series is still going strong — with volume 26, Night Pilgrims, just released in August.)
Yarbro was hardly the only pioneer in the genre, however. Elaine Bergstrom was working as a copywriter when she wrote her widely acclaimed first novel, Shattered Glass (1989), one of the first vampire romances. It featured a family of vampiric immortals and received a Stoker nomination. She followed up with five additional novels of the Austra family: Blood Alone (1990), Blood Rites (1991), Daughter of the Night (1992), Nocturne (2003), and Beyond Sundown (2011). Here’s the back cover copy for the book that kicked it all off:
Modern technology has rendered the vampires’ night hunt obsolete. But some vampires continue to kill. By choice.
Stephen Austra is a prominent artist, renowned for his wondrous restorations of stained glass in cathedrals and churches. He is also a vampire. But he respects ordinary human lives, and would never hurt a soul. Or so his lover, Helen Wells, desperately wants to believe…
Chilling, erotic and provocative, this sensational new novel by Elaine Bergstrom will lure you into a world where immortal evil meets undying passion. And where a series of appalling murders leads a beautiful young woman into the depths of suspicion… and to new heights of terror.
Bergstrom has also written two Ravenloft novels: Tapestry of Dark Souls (1993) and Baroness of Blood (1995). Shattered Glass was published in July 1989 by Jove Books. It is 372 pages, originally priced at 3.95 in paperback. It is currently available in digital format for $3.99.