Friday, June 22, 2012

Tour: Interview with a Jewish Vampire by Erica Manfred (Guest Post)

I'd like to thank Roxanne @ Bewitching Book Tours for giving me this opportunity to participate in the INTERVIEW WITH A JEWISH VAMPIRE Blog Tour and I'd like to welcome Erica Manfred to ABTB!

Interview with a Jewish Vampire
By: Erica Manfred

The last thing zaftig middle-aged journalist, Rhoda Ginsburg, expected when she signed up for JDate was to fall in love with a vampire. But when she meets drop-dead gorgeous Sheldon, a Hasidic vampire, she falls hard. She rationalizes that he may not be alive, but at least he’s Jewish.

She learns that back in the nineteenth century Sheldon was a rabbi who was turned into a vampire by Count Dracula, an anti-Semite who got his kicks from turning Orthodox Jews into vampires because then they’d have to drink blood, which isn’t kosher.

Soon after she meets Sheldon, she discovers her beloved mother, Fanny, is terminally ill, so she comes up with the crackpot idea of getting Sheldon to turn Fanny and her friends, known as “the goils,” into vampires.

Once she becomes a vampire, Fanny tires of her boring life in Century Village, Florida, and, seeking thrills, she goes clubbing and disappears into the nightlife of South Beach in Miami. When Fanny and her goil posse “go rogue” and start preying on the young, Rhoda and Sheldon must track them down to keep them from killing again.

Interview with a Jewish Vampire turns vampire lore on its head, proving that not all vampires are young and beautiful and it IS possible to be undead and kosher.

About this Author: 

Erica Manfred is a freelance journalist, humorous essayist, and author.  Her most recent book is the novel, Interview with a Jewish Vampire. She’s also authored two non-fiction self-help books, including most recently He’s History You’re Not; Surviving Divorce After Forty. Her articles and essays have appeared in Cosmopolitan, The New York Times Magazine, Ms., New Age Journal, Village Voice, Woman’s Day, SELF, Ladies Home Journal, and many other publications. Erica lives in Woodstock, New York with her Chihuahua, Shadow, and her daughter, Freda. Brought up by Jewish parents who spoke Yiddish but avoided religion, she got her Jewish education at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation which welcomes Jews from all backgrounds, from atheist to Orthodox, to vampire. Her website is, or visit


“So nu?” said the vampire thoughtfully as he sat down next to me at the Mitzvah bar on Orchard St. “You must be Rhoda?” He’d picked me out of a line-up of twenty-something’s. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted.
We had met through  JDate. I was a Jewish divorcee of forty-one who claimed to be thirty-five and might be considered zaftig if you defined that liberally. He had been dead for a long time but I didn’t know that right away. I just thought he was pale. An undead double for Jeff Goldblum, he was tall, slender, with a mischievous smile, flashing green eyes and long black hair. His incisors were kind of pointy when he smiled and his skin was pasty white, but that didn’t put me off. Everyone looked pretty sallow in the dead of winter in New York City. I immediately wondered if I could drag him off to my lair later that night.
 Despite the fact that I had a pretty face, I didn’t get a lot of action on  JDate because I had checked “a few extra pounds” in the body size box. “A few” was an understatement, which is why I always met dates at night in bars. I wore black and got there first so they would see me sitting down. My face was a lot slimmer than the rest of me. Jewish guys were the worst when it came to weight—and everything else. Only a Jewish supermodel who ran a law firm was good enough for the Jewish princes I met on JDate.
I was perched on a barstool too teeny to accommodate my rear end, which spilled over the edges. I peered at everyone else's barstools and felt worse seeing all those visible edges. I decided that from now on my goal in life would be to sit on a barstool and be able to see the edges.  I tugged on my low-cut tunic top trying in vain to hide the bulges between chest and crotch which seemed to have a mind of their own, ballooning out despite my best efforts.  At least I was showing some cleavage, my best physical attribute.  He rescued me from what was rapidly becoming a severe fat attack.  
“So, you’re a journalist…” he said, putting his elbow on the bar and turning towards me. I had listed that profession on my profile. “Do you have a tape recorder with you?” he asked, not realizing I suppose that tape was so last century and reporters now carried digital recorders.
“Why do you ask?” Men had asked me a lot of strange opening questions on first dates but whether I had a tape recorder was not one of them.
“I would like to tell the story of my life.” He leaned forward and gave me such an intense look I had to turn away. “Would you be willing to interview me?”
No, I wasn’t interested in the story of his life. I was interested in getting to know him in a more biblical sense. I figured he was just another narcissistic celebrity wannabe. As a writer I was constantly getting hit on--not by attractive men--but by people who thought their lives were so fascinating they would make surefire bestseller material. All they thought they needed was a writer to tell their story which, of course, I would be thrilled to do on spec because they didn’t have any money. None of them realized that writers are not charitable institutions.
“You will want to write my story,” he said urgently, “You’ve never heard anything like it before. It will make you rich and famous.”
 “Sure, sure. So what’s so special about your story?” I asked wearily, disappointed that he was only interested in my writing skills, not my body.
            “I’m a vampire,” he said matter-of-factly.
            “Sure, and I’m the Queen of the Damned.”
            “What will convince you?” he asked.
            “Hmm. Hold on a minute,” I said, playing along.  I dragged a cross out of my purse, which I happened to have because I’d visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral with my niece earlier that day and got one for free. I held it up in front of him.
            “I’m a Jewish vampire. Doesn’t do a thing for me.”
            “How about a Jewish star?”
            “Don’t be silly, only Christians are afraid of the devil.”
            I dragged out a mirror and held it in front of his face.  No reflection. He said Ah and the mirror didn’t fog up. When he opened his mouth I saw that his long incisors were, in fact, fangs. I shrank back, not thrilled about the notion of becoming dinner. I looked more closely at him, noting that like Anne Rice’s Louis, he was utterly white and smooth, as if he were sculpted from bleached bone, with brilliant green eyes that looked like flames in a skull. Unlike Louis, however, he was not wearing a finely tailored black coat but an overly long shlumpy one that looked like it came from the nineteenth century without a stop at the cleaners along the way. His full black hair, with waves combed over the tips of the ears and curls that barely touched the edge of his white collar, made me long to touch it. He was one handsome dude although his wardrobe could use some help.
 “So,” he said, “ask me some questions.”
He certainly had piqued my curiosity, so I decided to go ahead and interview him. If he really was a vampire I’d have the scoop of the century, if anyone believed me. If not, at least I’d have the opportunity to flirt with a good-looking guy. Maybe I should have been more frightened, but I’d interviewed many dangerous types, including serial killers, so I was pretty nonchalant about the risk involved. Plus my life had been seriously lacking in drama lately and here was an opportunity for a little excitement.
I pulled out my pen and started making notes.
“Wait a minute,” he said, sounding upset. “I thought you were going to record this”
            “I am recording it. This pen is a digital recorder.” I showed him my latest reporter’s gadget. “As I write, it records, so I can play back any part I want.”
 “That would have come in handy in Hebrew class when I was a kid.  I was always getting lost during the rabbi’s Talmud commentary. Too bad I had to use a quill pen.”
He wanted me to give him a pseudonym so I’m calling him “Sheldon” after my ex-husband, who was a bloodsucker if ever there was one.
            “I didn’t know there were any Jewish vampires.” Actually I didn’t know there were any vampires at all, but I was suspending disbelief for the moment.
“Vy not a vampire? Vy a duck? Just kidding. I miss Groucho.  We used to hang out at Grossingers in the heyday of the Borscht Belt.”
I laughed. In addition to being a hottie, he was a regular vampire comedian. You never know what will turn up on JDate.

Guest Post by Erica Manfred: 

Why Vampires are Drool-Worthy
By Erica Manfred
I fell in love with vampires in the 1980’s when I read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice.   The language, the romanticism, the concept of an entire vampire society who lived for centuries and were cursed with having to kill to live was enthralling.   The sexiness of Rice’s vampires also made them irresistible.   What red-blooded American fan of paranormal romance doesn’t fantasize about being ravished by Lestat?
I originally envisioned  Interview with a Jewish Vampire as a humorous essay, a funny valentine to Anne Rice’s classic.    I imagined the scenario of  a Jewish girl meeting a Hasidic vampire on Jdate and interviewing him.  He explains that he was a rabbi turned into a vampire by Dracula, an anti-semite, who thought it was a good joke to turn a Hasidic rabbi into a vampire because he’d be forced to drink blood which isn’t kosher.   I mentioned the piece to a literary agent who repped a lot of paranormal novels  at a journalist’s conference and she got very enthusiastic and told me to turn it into a novel.   I sat on that idea for a while, too long a while as it happened.   I wrote the novel with the encouragement of my writer’s critique group, but by the time I finished it, the same agent refused to look at it because she’d decided she wanted to move on.  She didn’t want to be identified as the agent who only represents vampire novels anymore. 
  With my usual finger on the  pulse of the market, I tried to sell  Interview with a Jewish Vampire,  just when editors had decided that the vampire craze was over.   Never mind that my book was a parody of vampire romances with a Jewish twist, which gave it a fresh take on the genre.   If the publishing world has declared vampires over,  they cannot be resuscitated except maybe by Anne Rice, who invented the genre and whose fans would buy the phone book if it had her name on it.   But even Anne herself has moved on from Lestat and her other vampires.   She’s dabbled in angels and is now writing about werewolves, for God’s sake.   If even Anne, the mother of all vampires, has deserted us what hope is left? 
            Is it true?  Have zombies, werewolves, angels, shapeshifters, witches, and other supernatural creatures taken over the fantasy market?   I say NO, vampires are NOT over.  The market for vampire fiction will never be saturated, just like the market for romantic fiction will never be saturated.  As long as paranormal romance is published, fans will be fascinated with vampires   Vampires as romantic heroes  are here to stay.    A 2008 article in Newsweek pointed out “the idea of vampire as artistic metaphor is as deathless as the creatures themselves.” 
Publishers Weekly agrees. In an article in the May 24th 2010 issue, Lucinda Dyer describes the undying popularity of vampire romance: “There's no new way to say it, except possibly en francais, the language of love. Paranormal is le dernier cri in the romance category—its hold on readers and publishers alike defies any logic or explanation. In its first year it was a phase, then it became a definite trend. Now, it's a sea change, with no evidence that the tide's waning.”
 There is a lot of speculation about the mass appeal of the vampire as romantic hero.  My take is that women (and girls) love bad boys, and up until recently bad boys in romantic fiction have mostly just been sullen and unavailable with a hint of danger.  The danger ante in our culture has been upped by the extremes of violence in television and other media—women who watch CSI are not easily scared or grossed out. Twenty-first century females are hardly delicate creatures anymore, so we’re demanding our bad boys be truly dangerous. Vampires are not only bad, they’re scary bad--natural born killers who are also lovable, sad and tragic. They take the bad boy archetype to a new, more thrilling, level.   However to be romantic heroes, bad boys must also have a good side.  Today’s vampires are noble; they struggle against their impulses to kill humans.  They’re also good-looking, gorgeous actually, since vampirism improves not only longevity but looks,  which is more than you can say for werewolves or zombies,  who are disgusting no matter how you spin it.    Vampires don’t kill people anymore, though they might take a taste of blood here and there.  Stephanie Meyer’s  Twilight invented the game-hunting “vegetarian” vampire.  Vamps are also devoted to the women they love. In Interview With a Jewish Vampire, my vampire, Sheldon, is a member of B.A., Bloodsuckers Anonymous which helps him control his bloodlust.   He’s also totally devoted to Rhoda, his human enamorata. 
Vampire novels are not just for teens either.  Since the 1976 when Interview with a Vampire started the whole trend, vampires have been popular with grown women as well as teenagers.  Anne Rice’s series is emphatically not YA.  The Twilight series is YA but has caught on with mothers—and grandmothers-- as well. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a classic TV series about high school kids, beloved by anyone who loves good witty writing. 
Just as vampires are here to stay, so is the lighthearted, humorous version of paranormal romance. Fans love their vampires in all varieties:  mystery, romance,  funny, dangerous, lovable.  I’m planning to turn Interview with a Jewish Vampire into a series, with the next installment entitled True Kosher Blood, a valentine to my favorite vampire TV series.    Fans, stay tuned.

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