Halloween Hollywood Crawl with Amber & Karen

Please join me with Amber Benson and friends from the cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for a performance of the short play “Asylum” from DRACULA IN LOVE, and then party with us from venue to venue through Halloween evening. The music, food, and entertainment gets better as the night goes on. If you haven’t sampled the delicacies and wine at Allston Yacht Club yet, you haven’t lived!


LA Lit Weekend; New Orleans, SF

Please join me this weekend, Oct. 22-24 at the BEVERLY HILLS LITERARY ESCAPE, a chance to dialogue salon-style in café conversations, lunches, teas, and dinners with myself, Mona Simpson, Abraham Verghese, Joseph O’Neill and many more. I have a few passes ($100 value) to giveaway! If you’d like one, please post your desire on the blog. Not sure how many I have but first come, first serve. I’m doing a Sunday morning chat with other authors at the Saban Theater and a Sunday lunch with Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife). ... Read more.

A Roundtable Discussion of Gender and the Art of Historical Fiction with Margaret George, C. W. Gortner, and Karen Essex

At the HNS Conference, C. W. Gortner and I caught the great Margaret George red-handed in the bookstore buying our books. We were so thrilled that we had to have the incident preserved for posterity!

KE: At the Historical Novel Society Conference this summer, Margaret George, C. W. (Christopher) Gortner and I answered questions about gender and the art—and marketing—of historical fiction. Margaret’s novel, The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers (1998), is now a beloved classic, and it was written in the voice of a man, about another man, but by a female author (I sound like I’m pitching Victor/Victoria!). Christopher’s new novel, The Last Queen, has received much acclaim, and it is written in the voice Juana “la Loca.” I have written in the male voice, and I feel that two of the most authentic and inspired character portraits I have ever written were Julius Caesar and the eunuch Meleager, both from my Kleopatra series. ... Read more.

“Mishap in Memphis” OR “Joys and Sorrows along the Book Tour Trail.”

I want to apologize profusely to anyone who came to Davis Kidd Bookstore in Memphis last month to see me. I’d spent the day doing local media to promote the event, and apparently, a nice group had arrived at 6pm. Too bad that I had been asked to arrive at 7pm! I was six minutes away in a hotel, yet no one called me. I could have been dead! Anyway, stuff happens, but a big mea culpa.

Still, Memphis is a great town! I walked along the Mississippi River and toured ever-gentrifying downtown with my good friend Andrea Woods who treated me to one of my favorite Southern delicacies, Shrimp and Grits. I stayed at the historic Peabody Hotel, where every day at 5pm, a red carpet unrolls, and the resident ducks promenade from the lobby fountain, where they live by day, to the Duck Penthouse, where they reside at night. It’s really something to see! ... Read more.

The Highgate Cemetery: In search of the Highgate Vampire

I was moved by the monument of the Victorian boxer Thomas Sayers, who wanted his faithful dog, Tim, commemorated as well. Though boxing was illegal in the 19th century, Sayers was enormously popular, and his funeral was attended by 10,000 people—a larger funeral than the Duke of Wellington’s. “The Victorians had very small weddings and very big funerals.”Thus said our cheery guide by way of explaining the elaborate monuments of Highgate Cemetery, where I and my friend Caroline Kellett-Fraysse, fellow writer and journalist and connoisseur of all things esoteric, recently spent a sunny Tuesday afternoon. We had wanted to inspect this final resting place of Karl Marx, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and a host of other famous and infamous folks, and discovered that the older and more interesting part of the cemetery was only open by tour (unless one actually dies). Immaculately kept, it has a studied overgrown quality, the sort perfected by English gardeners over the centuries.

We specifically wanted to explore Highgate because it is the fictional resting place of Lucy Westenra, the vixen/victim of the vampire in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” though Stoker changed the name of the place to Kingstead. As we walked past the more ornate monuments like the Egyptian Hall, done in a style reminiscent of the Valley of the Kings, or the many-sided Circle of Lebanon, a many-vaulted tomb sitting dramatically beneath an ancient Cedar of Lebanon tree, I imagined poor Lucy buried within the vaults, only to be disentombed and subsequently slain and beheaded by the vampire hunters. ... Read more.