S/N/D

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


[the cover is my own work, of course]

I'm quite pleased to announce that my first novel, S/N/D, containing the novella Laura and the novel Black Sands will be coming out on March 28th from Civil Coping Mechanisms.

Read a review of S/N/D by Beach Sloth here.

JULY 30: OUR QUEEN MILK

Sunday, 28 July 2013

After months of preparation, Our Queen Milk will be able to purchase on July 30th.


OUR QUEEN MILK

a collection


Each book is 64 luxurious, dove grey linen pages, with eighteen black and white illustrations. 

This limited edition run contains nineteen black on black paperbacks with one very special satin bound & tacked hardcover.


how to order


Our Queen Milk will be able to purchase on July 30th at midnight (PST). Paperbacks are $27 and the special edition hardcover is $45. 

To purchase a copy, please email the author at:

sorenmelville[a]gmail.com

with "Our Queen Milk" in the subject line. Say something like "hey, I'd like to buy a copy!" and then mention how you will be paying.

There are two ways of paying:

1) PayPal. Once Our Queen Milk is on sale, there will be a Buy Now button for PayPal on the web page. But you must send an email and receive confirmation before you make a payment. There are some people who will be purchasing by other means (see below) and because PayPal is quicker, this means that all 20 copies could sell out to PayPal customers before anyone else gets to purchase. Which just isn't fair.

2) Personal check/cash/or some other not shady irl interaction. Just like paying with PayPal, send an email. Mention how you'll be paying, and a book will be saved for you.

Shipping within the continental US is $6 and $12 for addresses abroad.

For some reason the PayPal buttons I made and embedded here refused to work at all even once for anyone, so to purchase, please just email and we'll do PayPal the old fashioned way (sry it's not Super Easy, but it's still Worth It.)
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LANDSCAPE II

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Landscape II

See the first in the series here.

DRACULA RECOMMENDS

Saturday, 8 June 2013



One of my fascinations and areas of amateur research include the vampire in most of its forms, from the folkloric revenants and vrykolakas to Dracula to, well, Buffy the Vampire Slayer… 
it started out as an odd love of Stoker’s Dracula. The book as a whole is not really a masterpiece—it’s a gothic thriller, not a classic classic—but it was the gateway drug into the old world of gothic literature and the creature that is the vampire.

This is a small guide to my favourite books on vampires in gothic fiction, folkloric vampires, as well as the book Dracula and the historical figure Dracula is always tied so erroneously to, Vlad Ţepeş.

[all titles have been linked to amazon or project gutenberg]
This collection contains the absolute essentials in gothic vampire literature: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla and John Polidori’s The Vampyre. I picked this up from PaperBackSwap.com (a site I highly recommend) becuase I didn’t own The Vampyre yet and thought it couldn’t hurt to have all the Important Vampire Novels in one book. 

TURNS OUT this book is far more than I originally thought and has an amazing section “The Vampire Comes To England,” which charts ‘early appearances of the vampire figure in literary works from Lord Byron’s The Giaour and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christabel to James Malcolm Rhymer’s Varney the Vampire and Stoker’s “Dracula’s Guest”, a story worked up from a cancelled chapter of Dracula.’ It also includes some texts on Stoker and his work and research for Dracula, which debunks a lot of myths about the man and the work. Like a lot of books on vampires, it includes an extensive vampire filmography.

As for the novels themselves:

The Vampyre - here’s where I have to admit…. I haven’t actually read this one yet? I’ve given it an honest attempt about twice, but, well, it’s from 1819 and is a bit dense. What I do know about this book, however, is its legacy. It was written by the physician of Lord Byron, and his vampiric Count Ruthven was based on Byron himself, which sheds a whole new (literal) light on our beloved trope of Byronic vampire figures in literature.

Carmilla - known (and exploited) as the ‘lesbian vampire novel’, this is a fairly simple tale from 1872 about a young woman named Laura who is seduced and almost killed by the Countess Mircalla, or Carmilla. It’s a delight to read for how faithful it is to gothic thriller tropes. In style and theme, it’s closer to Dracula than The Vampyre.

This book was turned into a surprisingly faithful-to-the-plot film, The Vampire Lovers (which, YES, is one of those amazing Hammer films) in 1970 and is well worth a watch.

Dracula - if you don’t know what Dracula’s about, well, sorry you live in a cave. The book was published in 1897, yet didn’t become quite a cultural phenomenon until after Stoker’s death in 1912. Its influence both as a book and of the character Dracula himself is probably, like, unknowable.
This book is an excellent introduction to the vampire in English literature and gives a good taste of the creating of Dracula (and the ‘canon’ vampire we know today in entertainment), which is what the entire next book is about…

Complied and edited by probably the world’s only—or at least highest ranking—expert on Bram Stoker and Dracula, Elizabeth Miller, this is an astounding book. Absolutely everything you could want to know about Dracula or its author is in it (barring reading Stoker’s actual notes for Dracula¹). Sections include: Bram Stoker, the Man and the Writer; The Vampire Before Dracula;Contexts for Dracula; The Writing of Dracula; Publication History of Dracula; The Legacy of Dracula; and a checklist for further reading. It includes numerous photos and illustrations and the pieces are studded with bits of info and excerpts, such as an excerpt from the letter Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sent Stoker in review of Dracula.

It’s beautifully put together, brilliantly thorough and will illuminate the novel and its cultural phenomenon in ways you NEVER DREAMED OF. It’s impossible to say enough good things about it, and “essential” really is an understatement. 

(link is to second edition, the edition I own is the 1988 version)

This is probably the most fun book I’ve read in the past two years (I think about it like constantly tbh.) It is, succinctly, about exactly what it lists in the title. Barber started researching the folkloric vampire, which lead him to study traditional burial rituals, and landed in a study of the process of death and human decomposition. (In light of that, some chapters aren’t for the squeamish)

This book elegantly helps spell out why the vampire creature exists at all, not to mention in so many different and historically unconnected cultures. It gives three contemporary accounts of vampires, vampire killings and reburials: Peter Plogojowitz (1735, of Slavic origin), The Shoemaker of Silesia (1590s, Prussian), and Visum et Repertum (1732, Serbian). From these accounts Barber shows us what historical cultures were seeing and experiencing with the dead and explains how this was fabricated into the English revenant, the German Nachzehrer and Blutsauger, the Greek vrykolakas, the Romanian strigoï, and others. Apotropaics (that is, protective amulets, herbs, rituals) are also discussed, giving light to just how different these undead creatures were, yet how they all stemmed from the same fear of the dead coming back and taking us with it.

To properly go over the wealth of information in this book would end up with me just transcribing all of it here. It’s extremely well written, and one of the most fascinating studies on just what the human mind can conjure up in fear. Not to mention, you’ll come away knowing a lot of creepy stuff about death and human decomposition, which is a total plus.

So if you’re geared up for more gore from Vampires, Burial and Death, check out this biography of the 15th century voivode, Vlad Ţepeş, infamous for impaling his enemies. Though he himself was not an actual influence for the character of Dracula², it’s a fascinating read on both the real man and how his figure still interacts with the Dracula phenomenon today.

FURTHER READING (AND VIEWING) RECOMMENDATIONS:

other nonfiction

If the Gothic Lit movement is of interest, pick up this book by Summers. It’s a very long, very dense look at the Gothic and Romanticism movement. Some of Summers’ other books may be of slightly related interest as well, as he wrote extensively on the occult, and was the man who translated and published The Hammer of Witches into English.

Turns out Gothic LIt is really cool because a lot of underlying ‘horror’ of it is, in fact, the non-heteronormativity of many of the characters’ relationships. (oh god what a word) While having a thorough knowledge of late 18th century gothic literature is a bit of a must, some chapters are accessible to those that haven’t read them all—or (cough) have only read a few. Oh, and then the last chapter is about Anne Rice novels, so you know, if you’ve watched Interview With A Vampire you should be good.

(this one is free on project gutenberg!)

I always though werewolves were pretty lame until I read this 1850s book and realised HOT DAMN WEREWOLVES ARE NOT LAME. Turns out, they come from a different part of the psyche than vampires and ghosts and ghouls; you can thank horrible psychotropic salves for making people think they’ve turned into a wolf and thusly go around eating children. For real. This is #nextlevel creatures right here. The first few chapters are more folkloric (describing Scandinavian berserkers) but the middle ones about loup-garous and all these people taking “mysterious salves Satan gave to me in the woods at night” will blow your socks off.

other fiction

Back in high school, I remember reading about this book coming out in the paper, and actually bothered to go to the bookstore when it was released to buy it. UNHEARD OF. And a really good move, since it’s one of my favourite things ever. Probably because, yeah, it’s really long, but it’s an amazing and beautiful book about What If Count Dracula Really Was Vlad Tepes And Was Still Alive.
SIX STARS OUT OF FIVE.

films

The Vampire Lovers - the Carmilla adaptation done by Hammer studios (it is “Hammer studios?” i dunno). Like a lot of Hammer films, it’s a bit heavy on T&A and exploity with the lesbianism, but it’s pretty good and sometimes just really funny.

Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht - I’ve been sitting on an article (“article” my ass it’s like a billion words so far) about why this is the best Dracula film ever for about 10 months now, but let’s just do highlights: Werner Herzog, KLAUS KINSKI, and it’s a proper GOTHIC film and is perfect. Perfect. Watch the German language version, NOT the English language version; the performances are
drastically different.

——————————————————————————————


¹WHICH HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN FOUND & PUBLISHED (but are very expensive, so I don’t own a copy yet)

² basically, Stoker used his name. Count Dracula was originally called Count Wampyr, and wasn’t renamed Dracula until rather late in the writing/brainstorming. The name Dracula means “son of the dragon”, as Vlad’s father was Dracul, a name given as he served in the Order of the Dragon, a semi-religious and militant order of knights entrusted to protect the German king and his family, defend the empire, shield widows and orphans &c &c. The name, after all, has nothing to do with the devil.

I WAS A LANDSCAPE IN YOUR DREAM

Friday, 7 June 2013


I Was A Landscape In Your Dream


and in case you didn't realise

I was a landscape in your dream

and all my mountains

were on fire


digital illustration | photoshop | maybe about 3 hours

rose crown

Friday, 17 May 2013




I bought some fake black roses and affixed them to a headband. That is all.


..
.

that photo of me freaks me out because I'm getting a definite Noel Fielding vibe off of it

SAVILIUM ROSACEAE

Monday, 13 May 2013


INCOCTUS ET FRIGIDUS


Cold and stormy roses, translated into the beauty that is a raw cheesecake. I couldn't help myself. It's mid-May and already 100 degrees. All the foliage is dying, exceptionally battered by a strange thunderstorm that swept through the central valley a week ago.


Savilium is one of the names for an ancient Roman cheesecake; rosaceae is the rose family name. Incoctus is uncooked and frigidus is, well, frigid--frozen, that is. While this cheesecake is a far cry from the traditional cake laden with cheese and sugars and flours, it retains the decadence with sweet medjool dates, spangled raw honey, and ends with the subtle wash of roses in full bloom.


This recipe makes enough for one 6" round, and takes about 8 hours between soaking & chilling times, so do plan ahead on this one. It can be made vegan by substituting the raw honey for a sweetener of your choice. A springform or tarte pan is highly recommended.

It is worth noting that the rose extract used in this recipe is not rose essential oil, or rose perfume oil, but culinary rose extract. I purchased mine from Sur La Table.


 SAVILIUM ROSACEAE

for the crust: 

1/2 cup pecans
6 medjool dates
dash of salt

for the filling:

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
4 tablespoons of coconut oil (melted)
juice of one lime
4 tablespoons of raw honey
1/2 tsp rose extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. Line your pan with parchment paper. Blend the pecans, dates, and salt together in a food processor until a sticky crust forms (this should take about a minute). Press into the bottom of the pan and freeze for two hours.

2. For the filling, blend all filling ingredients together in a food processor (or blender) until smooth. (I made the error of doing this at 3am while the rest of my family slept, and didn't get to blend until perfectly smooth, for fear of the noise waking anyone up. Yours will hopefully will turn out better than mine.)

3. Pour filling into the pan & spread until smooth. Freeze overnight, of for a few hours until firm. To extract from the pan, place it in a hot water bath for just under a minute. Serve by slicing with a warm knife, and enjoy.





COMING SOON: OUR QUEEN MILK

Sunday, 5 May 2013



OUR QUEEN MILK

a collection


features the pieces 

HIS SOUL'S WORTH WAS MEASURED IN SECONDS TO IMPACT - a heady, irreverent, figurative mash up, co-written by Fritz Bogott 
OUR QUEEN MILK - a cobweb. A PLANTED SEED (the boys) HOW TO CUT (the girl) LAMBSKIN (the queen, the king) and AN ETERNAL GRAVE (the newlyweds) 
WHY AREN'T YOU IN THE ARMS OF YOUR DEAD LOVER? - a cornucopia of age-old smut, dripping mimosas and bats that can't relate to the bottom of the well 
CRYPTID PERSONALS - a decaying love poem under the powder of new snow

OUR QUEEN MILK is 64 luxurious, dove grey linen pages, with 18 b&w illustrations. Hand bound, signed & numbered, softcover, with one special edition hand embroidered hardcover.

please note, content and illustrations are of a certain 18+ nature. a vine preview of the test print can be viewed here.

run count of books and price are forthcoming

projected run of no more than 20 ; projected price ~ $25

expected release in June/July 2013




you are a king reptile

THE 1660

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Oh I really wish having these photos meant that the entire ensemble was done.

My mother took these photos of me in my 90% finished 1660s gown, and as you can see, we had some difficulty coordinating her taking photos and me not moving, so every last one of them came out with all of me or some of me blurry. But they'll have to do.


The skirt was originally about an 1.5" too big at the waist, and so today I unpicked the waistband and removed the ties and redid it, and evidently made it too small. That, and the fact that I don't have a quilted petticoat for this yet, are the only "unfinished" bits of the outfit.

My jewellery isn't quite spot on either, but that was all I had. ALSO NO I did not do my hair for this, this is just how I wear it when I'm at home. (Maybe you can tell the sides are shaved?)



The neckline of the shift I think is a bit too big, since it wants to gather and doesn't really lay correctly. The opening of the bodice requires a great number of pins to keep it somewhat flat, and even then they like to pop out. Also, I can't really move my arms, so the wearability of this dress is very low, and it's insanely impractical for doing anything in.

But of course I still love it. Well, frankly, I'm rather thrilled about the whole thing & couldn't care less about the imperfections.


My post-1680s shoes with fake buckles (the shoelaces are laced through the backs of the buckles to keep them on.) I'm wearing my silk stockings from American Duchess, which are still white, and I still have plans to natural dye them some sort of greenish-yellow colour.

Even though it has minor shortcomings, I'm very very pleased with it, and wish I had somewhere to wear it.

[I am aware that the Gala at Costume College this year is 17th century, but you're looking at one very very poor person here]

The bodice is fully boned with cane, mostly machine sewn, with hand sewn sleeves, trimmed in silk ribbon & metallic lace from Britex Fabrics (who have amazing customer service). It laces up the front with 28 hand whipped eyelets. Made of a golden-mustard satin (of some sort) and sewn in Gutterman linen thread.

The shift is made from some off-white linen of a rather rough weave which was given to me. It is entirely hand sewn with flat-felled seams. It was patterned by myself.

The skirt is entirely hand sewn, patterned by myself, and gathered with knife pleats.

If you'd like to view the making-of posts, just click on "the sixteen-sixty" tag at the bottom of the post. Overall, I worked on it (off and on, but mostly off) for a total of seven months. Since all the fabric was given to me, and I used cane from my stash, I only had to buy thread & trim, which made the final cost of the dress about $35.

THE 1660s, GENTLY FINISHED

Friday, 29 March 2013

"Gently finished" is just a nice way of saying "not really finished."

The bodice I finished (yes, fully!) yesterday after putting maybe about 7 more hours of work on it that day and the day before. I finally got the bottom tabs trimmed, and put cuff (cuff things) on the sleeves.

I thought I had an old skirt from a nonsense thing I made back in high school that I could wear with the bodice to take photos with, just to show what it ought to look like, but it disappeared or I cut it up to use the fabric for mock ups...

So excuse the bodice being worn with leggings.



this is my favourite part, really, all those amazing pleats and that strange, lustrous, enchanting armcye shape


As you can see in the photos, the front doesn't like staying closed. I've taken to sticking about 9 pins in the front to keep it somewhat closed, but it's never going to lie perfectly flat.

The skirt is where we get the "gently finished" going. It's not hemmed, and the waist is evidently a bit too large, since there's a lot of slipping down going on. So I get to unpick the waistband (AWESOME) and put some extra pleats in there.

In one of my older in-progress posts on this outfit, I had mentioned that I was going to make the skirt out of a light blue satin (there's a picture of it towards the end of the post), but I changed my mind and went with this amazing peacock blue satin. Paired with the golden bodice (the webcam really doesn't pick up its colour well) it's got a very strong Vermeer vibe going on, which pleases me.



The fabric was about 48" wide and I only had 99" inches of it, so I used every inch of fabric I had on the bolt. The Dreamstress in her post on the skirt for her 17th century dress mentions that skirts of the era were somewhere around 115"-150", but as she rationalized sizing hers up a bit (she went with 150") to translate to a more modern figure, I rationalized keeping mine a bit smaller, since, well, I am a very small person. And besides, I wanted to use this fabric. So I did.

As you can probably tell, I don't have undergarments for this yet. I might tackle the quilted petticoat before I go into attempting a shift again (I'm still slightly confused about how to do flat felled seams that connect/intersect, so shift gores are very daunting) and since the quilted petticoat I started last september I just know is too big/heavy/bulky, I'm going to just start a new one. That I know I can find cotton & batting for already in my stash. However, I don't have any linen for the shift. And I'm torn between being way way way too poor to buy linen for an outfit I'm probably never going to wear (other than a photoshoot maybe) and wanting it to be historically accurate and, well, breathable and comfortable.

We'll see what happens.

(I'll probably give in and buy some linen. And then cry later because I'm so so poor and have no idea where my money goes

It's on stuff like this you idiot)

BONUS WEIRD PICTURE:

Me and my (new!) cat Lily, waiting for Vermeer to paint us, since we're both so, uh, beautiful.

BLUTSAUGER

Wednesday, 27 March 2013



B L V T S A V G E R

self

03.25.13, 10:12 PM

aged 23 years, 5 months and 16 days

MIX : EMPIRES, the REVENANT

Thursday, 7 March 2013




novel mix for the work in progress

ZEUS GRANTS STUPID WISHES

Friday, 1 March 2013



The fruits of last winter + spring's labours have finally manifested in print form! I've been long working with Cory of Myths RETOLD! genius, and when he got a book deal, I got an illustration job.

With Penguin.

So, it's a very big deal, and the book is so so lovely and it's amazing to finally see it.

It comes out on March 5th and is available to preorder now. You can find links to purchase, and a bit about it, on the Myths RETOLD! site.

UPDATE:

here's a photo of me with the book in our local Barnes & Noble!


TAROT.TWO

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


the hanged man / ten of swords

An art trade with Roberto Faust, ie @BILGERVTI, resulted in these two tarot cards. He either has very good taste, or purposefully picked two which synced up with my love of drawing male nudes and swords. Either way, it was a great project to get myself to do something outside of myself (er, like an assignment I guess) and I enjoyed it quite a lot. 

Also you should totally check out his work on instagram because he draws, like, literally perfect flash. (The piece he drew for me is the witchy hand with "CORPSEHANDS" written in runes above it!)

THE PERFECT SHIRT FOR THE GOTH INTO 90S BRITPOP

Sunday, 24 February 2013

I felt it was time for more imaginary shopping, so I headed over to Topshop dot com and... this:


Yeah I screamed about it on twitter. I mean, it's only a Blur shirt, which happens to be black, which basically makes it the perfect shirt for the goth into 90s britpop.

Here's hoping I get one of my paychecks soon.

As for the rest of the shopping: 


this photo is super misleading cause alex james is currently not available for purchase through Topshop

The thing about living in central california is, well, it may be february still, and it may have snowed at my house a few days ago, but the summers here are so long, and so intense, that you have to start thinking about them well in advance. Maybe it's just a coping mechanism. Or maybe because, as someone that doesn't wear colour anymore (I'm really hesitant to call myself goth because that brings to mind horrible memories of high school hot topic goths in bondage pants), it's really really difficult to wear clothes and look okay/feel comfortable with yourself emotionally in the summer.

So I have to start planning now.

And my main planning is sandals. Other than that, I really don't know how to address my summer wardrobe. I have my black milk ribs swimsuit which I suspect I will be trying to pass off as an outfit in some capacity via sheer layering and more sheer layering and wearing it as a top... all much to my mother's disdain.

But the rest I suppose... ah, it's a mish-mash.

THE SHOES

Menswear will never not be a trend for me--IT'S A WAY OF LIFE--especially when it comes to shoes. And I like both of these--and suspect that the woven sandals would be really easy to find at Target or something. Of course, it's the pointed toes & ankle buckle sandals which are my favourite (obviously they're the more expensive of the pair) and true, ankel buckles will cut off your legs and I'm already really short but then idgaf because I just wanna be a cool goth boy in the hot hot summers.

THAT SWEATER

Man I still do not have a black knit sweater, and this one is good because it is both of those things, and cropped. Which is brilliant for my really shortness, which a normal-sized sweater (OR DEAR GOD ANYTHING OVERSIZED) makes look downright frumpy. Not drapey chic hanging-out-in-your-boyfriend's-shirt, but like, I look like a potato.

So, this sweater. It would be good for me.

SOCKS, MAN

Freak yeah I like socks. The only colour I wear is socks, actually! I know! How cool!

But these printed ones are like crazy are good, and the NEON GREEN FISHNETTY ONES, both of which would be lovely giving that gap between jeans & moto boots a hint of colour.

I know, I'm starting to sound like a fashun mag. 

FREAKING EARRINGS THAT UNDERSTAND ME & MY NEEDS

Put this under Things I Have Ranted About On Twitter Countless Times: how no one really understands 'chandelier' or 'duster' when it comes to 'earrings'. Like seriously,  have you been on the internet looking for these things? TWO INCHES AIN'T GONNA BE DUSTIN NOTHING, Y'ALL. 

Sadly, these earrings are still $25 on sale (and that's half off!) and also the photo wouldn't load so idk I just took a screenshot.

But man, Topshop representing a girl's needs. The need to be dusted by her own earrings. MAN I TELL YOU.

MAKE UP BRUSHES (ANY REALLY)

Cause like ugh my face.

AND THEN ALEX JAMES

cheese