Welcome to the January 2021 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter’s Crypt, devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled “Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe.” For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

The long-time distributor of THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT has closed its website. If you would like to read any issue of this fanzine, which contains fiction, interviews, and a detailed book review column, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. My e-mail address is at the end of this newsletter. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

A complete list of my available works, arranged roughly by genre, with purchase links (gradually being updated as the Amber Quill and Ellora’s Cave works are being republished):

Complete Works

For anyone who would like to read previous issues of this newsletter, they’re posted on my website here (starting from January 2018):


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Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store:
Barnes and Noble

Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
Carter Kindle Books

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Please “Like” my author Facebook page (cited above) to see reminders when each monthly newsletter is uploaded. I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to be shown posts from liked or friended sources in my Facebook feed when I’ve “Liked” some of their individual posts, so you might want to do that, too. Thanks!

Happy New Year! To quote (approximately) Col. Potter from MASH, “Here’s to the new year. May it be a durn sight better than the last one.”

In keeping with the season of “in the bleak midwinter,” below is an excerpt from an early scene in my vampire novel CHILD OF TWILIGHT. Vampire-human hybrid Gillian, age twelve, has run away from her mentor, Volnar. She plans to seek refuge with her half-human father, although they’ve met only once, when she was a toddler. Professor Grier is a man who gave her a ride on the highway; she fled from his car when he accidentally witnessed her changing shape for the first time. CHILD OF TWILIGHT appears in my two-novel omnibus TWILIGHT’S CHANGELINGS:

Twilight’s Changelings

A new vampire research publication, the JOURNAL OF VAMPIRE STUDIES, has been inaugurated, and I have a book review in it. If interested, you can purchase a copy of the first issue here:

Journal of Vampire Studies

My first guest of the year is Leah Charifson, an award-winning author of STAR TREK fan fiction.


Interview with Leah Charifson:

I suppose the most interesting thing about me is how many times I’ve changed my name in my search for an identity. In New York, as Leslye-Ann Bravin, I grew up in a (dysfunctional) family where my father told stories through art and my mother told stories through music. My maternal grandmother was a poet. The thing that we did have in my house that was readily available to me were books. All kinds of books and both parents were big on science fiction. We also had a library at the end of the street. I became an avid reader at an early age and have never stopped.

The first fanfic I ever wrote was about the series Bonanza. That was in grade school and my best friend and I would fill composition books with stories about the Cartwrights. We even invented a twin for Little Joe because we both liked him the best. I wrote my first mystery in sixth grade. It was about a boat sailing the ocean and the passengers were getting killed off. Each time somebody died an eerie voice would proclaim, “It floats.” At the very end my protagonist stood on the bow of the ship and screamed, “What floats?”

And the ocean replied, “Ivory Soap floats!”

What you want? I it was 1958 and I was in the sixth grade. My teacher laughed and that encouraged me to keep writing.

Let’s skip ahead to September 8, 1966. I was 16 years old and far more interested in my boyfriend then I was in watching the new science fiction show on TV. But as we only had one TV and everybody else wanted to watch Trek, I did too. I found it entertaining and became a frequent viewer, when I wasn’t involved with peer activities.

September 15, 1967. I was a HS senior and I had a date. My mother insisted that I should sit down and watch this show until my date arrived. “You’ll like this alien,” she said. “He’s sexy,” she said.

Ten minutes into Amok Time and I was hooked. I made my date watch til the end with me before we left.

In 1975, now married and known as Leslye Lilker, I was devoutly watching Trek in syndication, I became troubled with the big three (Kirk, Spock, McCoy) ‘spreading their seed,’ as Sargon would say, on every planet they landed. Okay. Hyperbole. But you get it. One of them was going to reproduce. The most likely candidate was Kirk, of course, so he was no fun. Bones? He already had a daughter. But Spock? My sexy alien? My sexy, young, unemotional Vulcan? What if he had to accept being a father to a ten-year-old three quarter Vulcan, raised by humans, whose first words to him were, “Take your logic and shove it widthwise.”

And that was the start of the Sahaj Universe. Encouraged by my then co-editor, Linda Silverman, I wrote the story where Sahaj and Spock met for the first time. I wrote the story badly. Ungrammatically. Full of misspellings. Typos. Used ‘it’s’ for ‘its.’ Found out about a con in Pittsburgh. Learned that other people also wrote fanfic and sold it in zines, at cons. So Linda and I went to Pittsburgh with 25 copies of IDIC #1, cover by Doug Drexler, and, at $2 a copy, sold out in the first ten minutes. I had no idea that Sahaj would be so well received, and that my little, badly written story, “The Ambassador’s Son,” would morph into a saga which is still continuing.

While people responded to the story, they also rightfully criticized it for the plot holes and all the other flaws a baby writer puts into a story. I received many a letter of comment, filled with constructive criticism, and I tried to take each one to heart. But the readers wanted more about Sahaj and his developing relationship with Spock, with Kirk, and with McCoy. And, of course, with Sarek and Amanda.

We didn’t have social media then. Everything was done by snail mail. Advertising was by word of mouth and reviews in other zines. At one point, I had a world-wide distribution of over 3,000 copies of each issue. The Forging earned Fan Q awards at T’Con, 1978, for both writing (me, with lots of support from lots of people) and for Alice Jones’ exquisite artwork. It may sound like boasting, but be assured, I was terrified to find people liked my work. As an introvert, I found it challenging to speak on panels, play my guitar and sing, and hear praise for what I’d done. Practice helped, and I when I was the auctioneer at one of the art auctions in NY, I actually had fun!

I still find it hard to accept praise, though. I kind of feel that I’m just the conduit, and not the creator.

I divorced in 1977 and remarried in 1983, to another Trek fan, moved to California, and became known as Leslye Lubkin. David and I had a daughter, Joanna (yes, we tipped our hat to McCoy) in 1985. She became a third generation fan on my side, and a fourth generation fan on David’s side.

Another divorce in 1991 brought me to Little Rock, Arkansas, of all places. I was now known as Leslye Morrow, married in 1993 to another Trek fan, who I had met on line.

In 2004 I went back to school to finish my BA in Multicultural literature. My daughter and I both graduated college in 2005. I was fifty-five years old, and entered a program to earn a non-traditional teacher’s license. As Jacqueline Lichtenberg (Kraith. Sime-Gen) once told me: “Learn one. Teach one.” Since I was teaching high school English and ESL in Little Rock’s famous Central High, and writing was part of the curriculum, I was forced to pay attention to what had become habit to me. In helping my students improve their writing, I must have been improving my own.

I usually start out by dreaming something. Then I begin to construct a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and cheese (not kosher, I know!) on a bun. That’s the analogy I gave my students so they’d understand how all the elements of a story depend on the meat, or theme – the universal truth according to the author.

If more information on those elements are needed, please google ‘elements of fiction.’ If I start explaining those elements this interview will turn into a textbook.

I am a visual learner. I also am linear and concrete. This creates an inner editor who is ruthless and unforgiving. That means I write and rewrite and add and subtract, and multiply, and divide until I can read my story and it makes sense to me (at least, until the next time I read it!). It’s kind of like an artist, sketching a drawing on canvass and then filling in the details to make the picture pop. Then I turn it over to my Beta readers, who find most of the mistakes I’ve made.

So far, there are sixteen short stories (one by NTM’s creator and professional author, Jean Lorrah), five novellas, and two novels in the Sahaj Universe, with more coming, albeit slowly. Some of the early stories have been edited and revised. Some are brand new. The original artwork by Alice Jones, PS Nim, Signe Landon, Gordon Carlton, Gee Moaven, and Doug Drexler have been included in the new versions.

For the last name change, that occurred in 2011, when I divorced for the third time. I chose to take my Hebrew name, Leah, and my maternal grandfather’s last name, to honor him. So I became Leah Hannah Charifson, and I have no intention of changing it again.

People are welcome to visit Sahaj’s e-book store (donate as little as $1 to download, and some are free) at
Sahaj Continues.
We also host other authors, universes, and genres. Any questions can be directed to sahaj.of.vulcan@

I’ve also got a private group, made up of 135 original fans who are readers, writers, artists, poets, and musicians. We always have room for one more and anything Trek related is welcome. You’ll find Sahaj Continued here:
Facebook: Sahaj Continued.

Margaret Carter, I am humbled by your request for an interview. May you, and your readers, live long and prosper.


Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

JOLENE, by Mercedes Lackey. The first Elemental Masters novel not set in Britain or Europe, this one takes place in the mountains of Tennessee around 1890. I enjoyed the Appalachian setting, culture, and dialect (with one exception, mentioned below) very much. The contrast between traditional mountain farming communities and the lives of coal miners on the constant edge of poverty in thrall to the company store weaves a thread through the plot. Sixteen-year-old Anna, the weak, sickly daughter of a miner and his wife, longs for the greenery and clean air of the woods. But, like every child in town, she spends her days toiling at whatever chores she has the strength for. Her timid mother stands up to her overbearing father, for once, to insist Anna be sent to live with Aunt Jinny, whose potions help to support the family as well as maintaining Anna in some semblance of health. Anna has qualms about leaving home, despite the low-grade misery that pervades its atmosphere along with the literal poison in the air from the mine. After all, she’s going to live with an aunt who’s a stranger to her, with a reputation for witchcraft. Aunt Jinny’s cottage turns out to seem luxurious compared to Anna’s old home. Jinny herself is at first brusque but not unkind. Anna settles in more or less comfortably even though she sometimes catches glimpses of odd things around the house. As Anna becomes more proficient at her new tasks, Jinny realizes she has a talent for magic, which Jinny calls “the Glory.” Meanwhile, Anna becomes healthier and stronger. Readers familiar with the Elemental Masters series will quickly realize that Anna, as an Earth magician, has been weakened all her life by the foul atmosphere of the mining town. She becomes acquainted with Earth elementals as well as a clan of Cherokees living in a secluded hollow nearby. She also meets and begins to fall in love with Josh, a young stone carver with the talent of a true artist. The title character, Jolene, doesn’t appear until about a third of the way through the book. Discerning Anna’s gift, Jolene offers to teach her things Jinny would be unwilling or unable to. A creature of the fae who, as Anna learns by reading her great-grandfather’s journal, came with him to the New World, Jolene is an enigmatic figure. Not evil but not precisely good either, she is benevolent toward people she favors but dangerous to those who offend her. She also becomes interested in Josh because of his artistic gift. The novel derives its folkloric background from a fairy tale new to me, “The Mistress of the Copper Mountain,” a Slavic legend. It also alludes to the familiar country song (“Jolene, Jolene, I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man”) almost verbatim in one dialogue passage. The actual villain, a mine foreman with powerful elemental magic, who desires Anna for her gift as well as her body, doesn’t show up until near the end. I didn’t mind, though, since the relationship between Anna and her aunt, Anna’s introduction the magical realm, and the Appalachian setting riveted my interest. Aside from a few typos, only two stylistic flaws bothered me. A minor one is the phonetic spelling of occasional words that have ordinary mainstream English pronunciations, e.g., “close” for “clothes,” an unnecessary and distracting mannerism. The other, more important, is the constant use of “y’all” for the singular. Granted, I’ve never lived in Tennessee; however, I never heard my older relatives who spoke a North Carolina dialect use “y’all” as anything but a plural.

HOW THE KING OF ELFHAME LEARNED TO HATE STORIES, by Holly Black. This collection of connected tales, a spinoff from Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy (THE CRUEL PRINCE, etc.), would be fully accessible only to readers of that series. Here we learn about episodes from Prince (now King of Elfhame) Cardan’s childhood and youth as an unwanted, even scorned younger son. As the cover blurb puts it, we see how he developed a “heart of stone.” The stories from the past are framed by an opening and closing sequence in which King Cardan and his mortal changeling queen, Jude, travel on a mission to the human world. In keeping with the fairy-tale tone of the title, over the course of the chapters a troll woman tells young Cardan the legend of a boy with a heart of stone, but she changes the narrative slightly each time. The book is illustrated with numerous evocative drawings. Fans of the trilogy will definitely want this volume.

SUBVERSIVE, by Crystal Downing. The subtitle of this book effectively summarizes its thesis: “Christ, Culture, and the Subversive Dorothy Sayers.” Although touching upon some biographical details in passing, the book mainly focuses on analysis of various theological and cultural themes in Sayers’s nonfiction works such as THE MIND OF THE MAKER and her many essays, as well as THE MAN BORN TO BE KING, her radio play cycle on the life of Christ, and stand-alone dramas such as THE ZEAL OF THY HOUSE. The author also explores how Sayers’s ideas are dramatized in the Lord Peter Wimsey series, notably GAUDY NIGHT. While reading the introduction, I braced myself for the prospect of a book comprising mostly explications of materials the typical fan of Sayers’s nonfiction would already be familiar with. However, happily, SUBVERSIVE proves to be much more than that. The author explores lesser-known works by Sayers and quotes from more obscure sources such as letters, making cogent, in-depth connections among a wide range of writings. In my opinion, the term “subversive” is applied rather broadly at some points, occasionally stretched beyond its usual definition to make it fit the book’s thesis. Sayers herself might have reservations about being labeled “subversive” for summarizing and commenting on perfectly orthodox (with a small O) mainline Christian doctrines, not to mention posing the seemingly obvious question, “Are Women Human?” On the whole, though, I found Downing’s work absorbing and informative, well worth the read for any Sayers devotee. I could have done without most of Downing’s attempts to apply Sayers’s ideas to contemporary issues, especially when accompanied by anecdotes from the author’s personal experience. But those passages didn’t feel so obtrusive as to detract from the book’s overall effect.



And now, reflected Gillian as she maintained her steady trot, Professor Grier knew there was something strange about her. He didn’t merely have cause for suspicion; he had seen her change. She had broken one of the most vital rules. She couldn’t begin to guess how Dr. Volnar would punish her if she went back to him. So she didn’t dare go back, not for a long time. Her father, at least, would understand. Maybe.

After a while the rain stopped. Her energy was fading again. Wearing only the remains of a blouse, she found the night chilly and wished for her jacket, which she’d left in Grier’s van. Along with the backpack containing extra clothes and everything else she’d paused to grab on her way out of the hotel in Atlanta. She fingered her one remaining asset, the delicate gold cross that hung around her neck. That was worth money, she knew, but she had no idea where to sell jewelry. She wasted little thought on her losses. More important at the moment, she needed food.

Slowing to a walk, she tiptoed soundlessly among the trees, listening and sniffing the air. The wet soil and plants carried odors well. Within a few minutes she scented a rabbit crouched under an evergreen bush. Squatting a few feet away, Gillian focused on the motionless animal. The healthy glow of its aura made her mouth water. Still as a stone herself, with one hand outstretched, she silently called to the rabbit. This talent she had possessed for several years. Unlike her new sensitivity to human emotions, her link with animals didn’t overwhelm her and shatter her control.

The rabbit inched from beneath the tangled branches and gave a tentative hop in her direction. Gillian held her breath. She mustn’t make a hasty move and scare the creature away. It hopped closer. She encouraged it with a soothing hum. One more hop and it hunched within reach of her hand. She stroked the rough fur on its back until the rabbit’s racing heartbeat calmed. Picking it up, she cradled the animal in her arms, exposing the nearly hairless belly.

Its body heat was balm to her cold, aching limbs. With a sigh of relief she sat down against a tree and pressed her mouth to the rabbit’s abdomen. The razor-sharp edge of her incisors opened a minute slit in the skin, and she sucked avidly. Her prey sank into sleep, coma, and finally death without the slightest spasm of pain.

Gently laying aside the drained body, she resumed walking. Soon dawn would force her to seek shelter. She couldn’t travel any farther without a good day’s rest. About an hour later, she came upon a dense thicket of pines tainted by no lingering scent of human intrusion. From the map she’d consulted, she knew this area must be part of a national forest. The trees would screen her from the view of low-flying light aircraft as well as from the sun. With luck nobody would stumble across her hiding place while she slept.

She nestled into a pile of sodden leaves, grumbling at the chill and dampness. All the other times she’d spent the day outside, the excursions had been planned. Volnar had provided her with a sleeping bag and pup tent. How she longed for those amenities now! Tired as she was, though, discomfort couldn’t keep her awake for long. Nor could the worries that revolved endlessly in her head. Would her father accept her at least temporarily, or try to send her back to Volnar? She knew her father hadn’t wanted a child. He’d been pressured into begetting Gillian. Half-human himself, he had bequeathed human genes to her, traits that made her incomplete, defective—or so she’d heard it whispered for most of her life. On the other hand, human fathers, unlike males among Gillian’s mother’s people, were supposed to care for their children. Why hadn’t Gillian’s father defied Volnar’s rules to contact her at least occasionally?

-end of excerpt-


My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at:

“Beast” wishes until next time—
Margaret L. Carter