sam stone 6-6-11

Author and poet Sam Stone began writing aged 11 after reading her first adult fiction book, The Collector by John Fowles. “I’d never read anything like it. It was terrifying – but so exciting … that’s when I realised I liked to be scared,” she admits.

Her love of horror fiction began soon afterwards when she stayed up late one night with her sister to watch Christopher Lee in the classic Hammer film, Dracula. Since then she’s been a huge fan of vampire movies and novels old and new.

I first discovered Sam via Myspace sometime back in 2006. I think it was from a link on one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis’ Page.

At the time she was still working on her first book, which was eventually published in Jan. 2007, under her then-pen-man Paigan Stone, as Gabriele Caccini: The Vampire Gene – Book 1


The book garnered some controversy over it’s erotic content, due to the fact that Sam was working as a school teacher at the time. A totally overblown “scandal” in my opinion, which just goes to show that despite what I had been lead to believe, the British can be just as uptight as us Americans.

Eventually she took the book to another publisher, where it was republished as KILLING KISS, under the name Sam Stone.

She lives in England, but I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in 2008, when she came to America to attend a Dr. Who/Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention.

Frazer 1 102

Yeah, she’s just as hot in person!

This was the first convention I’d ever been to, and I had great time getting to know her and her partner David J. Howe who is a writer/editor for Telos Publishing. If all goes according to plan, I should get to see them again, at the same convention, next month.

Her initial books are part of a planned trilogy, the “Vampire Gene” series. Two have been published, and she is currently writing the 3rd. I thought I would give a quick review of each.

Note: Both books contain descriptions of violence and strong sexual content. Not intended for children.

KILLING KISS is the first book, and in it we are introduced to Jay, who, at first blush, appears to be just another young college student, attending Manchester University. But we soon learn that he is much more than that.

He is Gabriele Caccini, a 400-year old vampire, who has come to this school to stalk his latest prey. We learn of his background, as a young Opera prodigy, transformed into a vampire by a mysterious woman named Lucrezia, he now travels the world, looking for new victims, changing identities every few years to avoid suspicion.

From various flashbacks throughout the book, we learn of his initial transformation into a vampire and discovering the limits of his abilities, and trying to come to terms with his new “life.” To the point now where he is, essentially, living as a serial killer. He only “feeds” once a year. He spends the intervening year selecting and stalking his prey, preparing for the big night. He even keeps a lock of hair from each of his victims, as a trophy.

At the university he has chosen a student named Carolyn, who fits his “type,” a thin brunette. Yet he finds himself inexplicably attracted to Lilly, a voluptuous blonde, who is the opposite of what he normally prefers. Yet, as hard as he tries to focus on his preselected target, he keeps being drawn to Lilly. And, after an unplanned drug-induced night of passion, neither Gabriele or Lilly’s “lives” will ever be the same.

There are several interesting twists in this story, which I won’t spoil here. But I will say that it keeps you hooked from the beginning. I finished this book in a few days. Sam has a strong talent for painting pictures with her words, so that you can really “see” the scene, as you’re reading it. When Gabriele is remembering the night that Lucrezia turned him (during sex, of course) and he describes how cold her naked body felt against his (or when her fangs punctured his groin!), I could imagine exactly what that felt like. There’s also another scene, which I can’t give away too much, but it is Gabriele alone in a room with a corpse, and I almost felt claustrophobic as I read it.

Next is FUTILE FLAME, released last year.

First, let me say that this book follows the classic horror sequel formula, in that it takes things from the first book and kicks it up a notch. The eroticism and violence is amplified in this book. And that’s definitely a plus, for me. This book has it all, sibling incest, lesbianism, male on male rape, and people getting their hearts ripped out of their chests.

Gabriele and Lilly feature prominently in this book, it opens with the two of them on the hunt for a new victim, but it is primarily Lucrezia’s story, as we learn her background through flashbacks. The daughter of Pope Alexander VI, in 16th century Rome, she begins a consensual sexual relationship with her older brother Ceasare, which eventually turns into an ugly abusive relationship which spans years (even centuries). It is Ceasare who ended up dabbling in the Black Arts and first transformed his sister into a vampire.

We then read about Lucrezia’s various adventures through the years, as she comes to terms with her transformation, and assumes different roles in society, from rich man’s wife, to prostitute, to doctor.

In the present, Gabriele and Lilly find themselves being stalked by a mysterious force, that Gabriele thinks might be connected to Lucrezia somehow. He tracks her down, initially hiding this fact from Lilly, to learn more about her.

Much like the first book, Sam’s descriptive writing helps draw you into the scene, which occasionally has it’s drawbacks. When reading about one particular passionate lovemaking session, I had to remind myself that this happening between a brother & sister, so, y’know, don’t get excited.

Also, this book kept me hooked. I actually had it for several months, but didn’t get around to reading it, due to a backlog of Star Trek books that I was reading, for awhile. But when I finally started, it was just like the first one, in that I breezed through it in a few days. Or I should say I breezed through most of it in the few days, until I got nearer to the end.

That brings me to the one major criticism of this book, in that it takes a rather dramatic turn, in my opinion, during the final chapters. Again, I can’t spoil it, but there is a fantasy element introduced that seems to come a bit out of left field. It’s not bad, necessarily, it just changes the tone of the book a little, in a really unexpected way. Though, on the plus side, I can say that I had an idea of where the book was going, and what the direction of the 3rd book would be but, thanks to this added element, all of my preconceived notions are shattered. And that’s a good thing, right?

Another thing I’d point out is that, this book very much feels like “the middle of a trilogy,” it’s like Empire Strikes Back. Killing Kiss stands on it’s own, as a complete book (if you ignore the epilogue), but Futile Flame really ends with a definite feeling of, this story isn’t done yet, and you know you need to read one more book afterward and, with the prominence of Gabriele & Lilly in it, I think some previous knowledge is required, and I think it’s best if you have read Killing Kiss first.

So go ahead and get both books, and read them, so you’ll be all caught up by the time DEMON DANCE (the finale) comes out!


Sam Stone’s books can be purchased directly from her publisher at (click on “Murky Shop” and then “Paperbacks”), also through Amazon and other major bookstores.


  1. I love her work! I got the first book when it was called Gabriele Caccini, published under the name Pagan Stone. Killing Kiss was out for awhile before I figured out that it was the same book republished, with a new title and pen name.


    • Yeah, I didn’t have time to get into all that. I would have, if I’d stuck with the original plan, to do two blogs, each reviewing one book. I could have gotten into more detail regarding the evolution of Killing Kiss from it’s original printing in a solo review, but when I decided to do an overall profile of her and review both books @ once, I had to cut some stuff out, to keep the blog from being too long.

      Though I have told her before that I liked “Paigan” better as a pen-name.


      • I liked the name too. And I agree that Futile flame ended on more of a cliffhanger, and felt like part 2 of 3. But that’s to be expected when a story is set out to be a trilogy like this. And it says book 2 on the cover, so I think most readers will know to find and get book 1 first, if they haven’t read it yet.


  2. Hi J.R.

    Thanks for this terrific and very candid review of both of the books. I’m going to share it on my Facebook.

    Looking forward to Gallifrey One Convention next month and David and I are hoping you will be there. I’m taking part much more this year as an invited guest, doing some panels and signings etc.

    Thanks again for this terrific feedback – and for all your friends comments. It really is very helpful when I hear opinions of the books.

    Bloody bites,
    Sam xxx


  3. I love these books – she’s such a great writer. I hate that such a fuss is made over other vampire stories and yet the best ones are ignored!


  4. All I wanna know is are the vampires in these books the kind of badass creatures of the night that vampires are supposed to be, instead of the wimpy, sparkling, vegetarian pretty-boys that Twilight promotes?


  5. First, let me join in with everyone else and say that she’s gorgeous. Second, this is a great review, it makes me want to try out the first book now and see for myself if it lives up to they hype.


  6. @ Everyone: Sam is definitely the Anti-Meyer. I haven’t actually read any of the Twilight books yet, though I do plan to @ least read the first one someday, but knowing how Sam feels about that series, I’m sure there’s no comparison between that series & hers @ all.

    @Sam: I’ll be buying a ticket to Gallifrey this time, so I can sit in on some of the panels when I’m there.


  7. “I actually had it for several months, but didn’t get around to reading it, due to a backlog of Star Trek books that I was reading, for awhile. ”

    Star Trek books?



  8. I have both, and like “Futile Flame” better. I think it’s because I find Lucrezia’s story to be more interesting to Gabriele. It’s an interesting insight into how little value women had in society, back in her day. She was the daughter of a powerful man, and he was in complete control of her live, deciding who and when she would marry, and where she would live. Then she begins the relationship with her brother, whom she initially sees as her salvation from the control of her father, but he ends up just using her and trying to control her as well. Becoming a vampire eventually becomes the only way that she is allowed to set her own destiny.


  9. I read Killing Kiss last year and enjoyed it. Have not had the time to get and read the 2nd book yet. But now I am intrigued to find out about this “fantasy element” that you say was introduced in it.


  10. I recall reading about the controversy surrounding her first book, for it’s alleged pornographic content. Then I read it myself and it was nothing like they made it out to be at all.


    • Yes. I was much maligned … All total rubbish but that’s the media for you. What they don’t know, they make up. None of them actually bothered to read it but were very vocal about it. Lol. x

      Anyway, I’m a stronger person for surviving the witch hunt. I do sort of comment on it in Futile Flame when they try to burn Lucrezia …


      • Yeah, I wasn’t sure if I should bring up that whole thing, since I didn’t know if was still causing your problems. I guess not now that you’re writing full-time, but I figured it might still be a sensitive subject. But I remember seeing some of those articles, and the way they would descibe things like your Myspace page, with quotes like “Which is now private,” making it seem like you were hiding something. The media sucks.


    • The story is ‘fictionally’ based on the the sixteenth century Italian family Borgia. Pope Alexander VI was made Pope but still had mistresses and illegitimate children from those relationships (factual). Having said that though Jason, I do play fast and lose with the history! Lol! And the dates I use don’t match precisely with the research I’ve done into the family. I use the family’s notoriety, but obviously the events that take place in “Futile Flame” are completely fictional. Hope that helps 🙂


      • Interesting, I just assumed that marriage was allowed back then. I thought I remember hearing that Priests used to be allowed to get married back in the early days of the church.


  11. Hello.

    I have read both of these books, and liked them. Although I enjoyed the first one a little more, because of the focus on Gabriele and Lily. I liked seeing how their connection grew. Lucrezia is an interesting character, but her story was missing that romantic angle that Gabriele and Lily had.


  12. I cannot get into that show. Showtime was running a marathon, like 2 or 3 episodes a day, a few months ago, leading up to the new season, so I tried watching a few episodes, but it just didn’t hook me. I can’t explain exactly what’s wrong with it, because it seems like it would be right up my alley, but I have no urge to stick with it.


  13. Long time no see Sam . .
    A filmaker aquaintance of mine told me about your writing , i am stoked for you btw.
    Continue your great work and live the dream x


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