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The Matriarch – a novel by Kevin A. Ranson
“In The Matriarch, Kevin Ranson interweaves real and fictional horror into a tale that is part mystery, part supernatural – and entirely hypnotic. Full of rich characterizations and settings, Ranson draws an original picture of the vampire – one that reveals its secrets as it plays on your senses and sympathies.”
Every October, the freshmen at Glenville State College are told stories about Sis Linn, the local ghost who haunts Clark Hall and the graveyard where she’s buried. Murdered in 1919, she was beaten beyond recognition, the target of a brutal killer who was never caught.
Present-day student Janiss Connelly is about to find out that the stories are wrong – and that there are greater things to fear in life and in death than ghosts.
What Readers and Reviewers are Saying
Ranson has effortlessly merged a mystery thriller with the allure of a vampire horror story… a cleverly written thriller/horror that banks on the idea that well-developed characters with a sense of humor are the key to a great piece of fiction. DarkMedia.com
… beautifully blends the boundaries of vampires and ghosts. … a well-balanced story with elements of action, humor, and humanity.
… just like the vampire in the book….hypnotizing! … it’ll keep you wanting more when it ends.
Loved it… a must read for vampire lovers. A can’t-put-it-down page turner.
He knows how to spin a great vampire story. … how vampires use their powers, with a little bit of twist on their weaknesses, will keep you glued to each page.
… engaging. I couldn’t put it down! Great character building. Good research, background, and foreshadowing. Loved what was done with the villain and humor. It leaves me wanting more.
25 Years In The Making
Thanks to NaNoWriMo, one of the first ideas I ever had as a writer is finally getting the attention it deserves. For more information on the book’s progression and background material, check out the Facebook page for The Matriarch.
Back in my college days, I had an idea about a supernatural happening in the rural backwoods of West Virginia, specifically located in and around the college I went to school. A “suitcase college” is what they called it then, where no one stayed on weekends and the campus became a ghost town (it was literally forty miles in any of three directions to the nearest McD’s).
This is the kind of place that not everyone knows about (or wants to), where communication is limited and things can happen that don’t reach the public stage of awareness. Away from the wifi-connected bright lights and cell-towered big city, this is where modern monsters and the misunderstood might retreat to, a place where they could be left alone or, in those rare cases, operate uninhibited. It’s not backwards, just behind, where what most people accept as “today” has to be trucked in. It’s a wild, wonderful place to set something sinister in.
The Idea for the Story
The Matriarch was an attempt to explore the horror and loneliness of being turned into a monster and having to survive in modern society. It was my intent to remove the convenient crutches meant to keep my heroes heroic and force them to make dire choices while clinging to their fragile humanity. I chose the college I went to when I wrote the original story as the setting, integrating not only key locations and the school but a local ghost legend that fit in perfectly with my antagonists.
About the Process
I wrote two original drafts back in my college days, neither of which I was happy with until I picked them up and started anew almost twenty-five years later. Having my protagonist caught between two immortal former lovers hellbent on destroying one another created the necessary plot complications to fuel the story. The inclusion of a mortal minion, originally a throwaway character, grounded the supernatural elements by providing a lifeline for the protagonist back to her slipping humanity. I burned through the new draft in twenty-one days and finally found the story I had been looking for.
I love these creatures because they are us and yet they are not us. The most evil forsake their humanity while the noble struggle to retain it, but the idea of becoming the monster – by choice or by fate – and the need to prey on what it once was in order to survive is a very human story: the stuff of legend.
In most tales, vampires weren’t born vampires. As such, I believe they should always carry a spark of humanity, a hint of regret, and a secret self-loathing of what they have become no matter how completely they have embraced their dark incarnation. Whether they actively sought out their fate or had it inflicted upon them, I see this “punishment” as part of the deal: if they get to live forever, their suffering should be equally eternal. Any trusted human in the company of a “good” vampire is still going to be (and SHOULD be) wary of WHAT they are at all times, good intentions be damned.
I’ve grown tired of stories about inner city vampire wars against other paranormals that paint the vampire as one among many; they are kings of the night, the ruling class of the darkness. I wanted Dracula-level ubervamps for my own novel, alphas that don’t put up with rivals or need to swear fealty to some Italian governing committee. Vampires shouldn’t run in packs; their paranoia of one another alone should prevent that. I think there is also an inherent loneliness to being a vampire, that you can’t trust your own kind nor does your former kind trust you: beautiful, powerful, immortal and alone.
A true vampire should be royalty itself and treated as such; I believe this is one of the reasons Bram Stoker’s title character remains so popular today. A modern vampire should be like a James Bond super-villain: lairs and minions and secrets and plans. This was the template for my own bloodsuckers, and a castle in the countryside (even if it isn’t recognized as such) is so much cooler than the penthouse of a skyscraper.