I was working in my office, which faces front, and toward the road. The distinctive low rumble of a truck caught my attention. The large brown straight truck was a signal to me: It has arrived! The book I won. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's An Embarrassment of Riches, delivered to me, straight from the publisher.
I've always wanted to read another one of Yarbro's St. Germain episodes. I still have the original paperback, Hotel Transylvania. I have the date 4/9/79 when I'd bought it written on the inside page. The pages of this poor book are yellowed, dog-eared, the binding has silver duct tape to hold it together. I loved the cover: A handsome, black-haired man kissing a woman's neck. This story was about Comte de Saint-Germain during the mid-1700's. Yarbro's St. Germain is a vampire.
Hotel Transylvania, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro were the very reason I strove to write my own version(s) of a vampire novel in 1980. That one, of course, never saw the light of publishing.
As you understand, I loved that book to death, and used it for inspiration toward a very different book I've penned, and have not published as yet. It would be the second in my Zofia Trickenbod series, the first of which I'd self-published Spell of the Black Unicorn. In the second book, Zofia returns to her own planet, and through certain series of events meets Count Saint Germain.
St. Germain is a real person in history, a man who's life is steeped in mystery, an alchemist, he was reportedly able to "grow" gems, and would often present them to ladies of royalty as a gift. That is what I'm getting that Yarbro has done with this Saint-Germain instalment of An Embarrassment of Riches, from the descriptions I've read.
Reportedly, the real Saint Germain also was said to have discovered the ability to stay alive by using the philosopher's stone (which very talented alchemists of his time were trying to achieve, but could not), this "stone" would keep a person alive for as long as they took it. From what I've been able to dig up on the philosopher's stone it was actually a powder made through some alchemical means, and with probably difficult to attain ingredients. It was more or less tantamount to magic, from everything I've ever read about it. In every historical tale about St. Germain, he was never seen to eat anything at any functions, however, would drink from his own glass some unknown substance, mixed possibly with wine. One must wonder what was in that glass. In other tales, he was said to have been seen by people who had seen/known him 20+ years prior, and he seemed to have never aged--not even a silver thread in his black hair, and no more wrinkles, while those people had aged quite a bit. Obviously, St. Germain would have to go into hiding for a while, an reinvent himself, name himself something different, and reappear as someone new.
Yarbro has taken her St. Germain and placed him in various historical events, using actual people in history, using lavishly rich historical background and historically accurate events in all of her St. Germain tales. I think this is what sets her novels apart from all other vampire novels. This, and, of course, her style of writing.
As I've mentioned, I've read a number of things about the actual St. Germain, and you have to wonder if he didn't really find a way to stay alive longer than the normal human life-span. I've read of people claiming they know he is still alive. There are sites set up claiming this. In fact I visited a site yesterday where a novelist told of her inspiration for her tales, and of a possible link between our historical St. Germain and someone who lived in New Orleans during the 17th century (I might be off a century, I can't recall the exact dates). The story goes this man seemed to be taking "donations" of blood from the ladies until one became quite upset, screamed, and jumped out his window, claiming he was going to bite her. However, I just wonder if the vampire tale was very much embellished for the tourists.
I'm very excited about reading this book, Yarbro has been nominated for the Edgar, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. She's been named a Grand Master of the World Horror Convention and a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild. That's quite a number of honors and nominations for any author. I'm positive at some point I will pick up another one of her books, merely because I'll be hooked on this series.