Charles Coleman Finlay, Author of “Lucy, in Her Splendor”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

“Lucy, In Her Splendor” is about a couple that owns a bed and breakfast on an island. What happens on the island stays on the island, sometimes even when you’d rather have it go away.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

Every summer I spend time on Kelleys Island, where my friend used to own a bed and breakfast. I’m supposed to relax, but whenever I try to do that my brain starts spinning stories out of the raw materials at hand. This is one of several that are set on the island.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

This was a very easy story to write. Once I had the initial image — this beautiful woman, sitting in a car at night, shining with an interior light bright enough to attract moths — the rest of the story wrote itself, flowing naturally out of that image. The name Lucy means light, and it’s also the name of one of the characters in Bram Stoker’s Dracula — Lucy Westenra, the young woman who begins to waste away. All the pieces came together out of that.

Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Little Limestone Island, where this story takes place, is essentially a small town in Ohio. It seems like all my horror stories take place in small towns in Ohio, which is where I grew up. So it’s personal that way, although I’m not sure what it means. I’m sure it says more about me than it does about small towns in Ohio.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I took a vacation on an island where I stayed in a great bed and breakfast, with an old pumphouse where snakes like to sun themselves on the rocks. But don’t tell anyone. They’ll all want to be writers so they can go do “research.”

What is the appeal of vampire fiction? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?

For me, it’s about the seduction of easy, self-gratifying choices, and the prices we pay for our pleasures. It’s about the contradiction that happens when we peer at the darkness within ourselves only to find a light like Lucy’s. I suspect that vampires are a kind of literary Rorschach test, revealing the suppressed secrets of our individual personalities and emotional states. That’s why they’re such a source of endless fascination.

What are some of your favorite examples of vampire fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

I love Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and the way it reinvents vampire mythology to explore the experiences of high school, college, and the onset of adult responsibility against a background of constant threat and terror. That’s an inkblot that’s easy to interpret.