The Darkest Gift

Book Cover

ACTION GOTHIC HORROR LGBT ADVENTURE SUSPENSE/THRILLER ROMANCE MYSTERY

17th Century or Earlier,18th Century,1980s & '90s,Across Centuries

Len Handeland

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Logline

When a self-loathing Gay man—Jack, meets elegant yet incredibly mysterious Laurent Richelieu (a 250-year-old vampire), their courtship leads Jack from one terrifying encounter to another. Is it love or a sinister plot designed to recreate the past?.

Genre

Action,Gothic,Horror,LGBT,Adventure,Suspense/Thriller,Romance,Mystery

Short Summary

It is the late 17th century when Fabien leaves the Loire valley for Paris. He unknowingly meets a vampire, Stefan at a café, and they flirt. Their courtship seems normal at first until their second meeting; Stefan drinks too much brandy, and is escorted back to his room by Stefan and attacked.


With the help of a powerful medium from Haiti, Queen Raphaella, who has the ability to summon spirits as well as help from the two vampires present, they are able to defeat Stefan where he is condemned to the bowels of hell, or is he?

Setting

Set in 17th and 18th century Paris, 1980s Haiti and New Orleans.

Based on a True Story

No

Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Quest,Rebellion Against 'The One'

Plot - Other Elements

Twist

Mature Audience Themes

Language/Profanity,Nudity,Extreme Violence

Main Character Details

Name: Fabien Levesque

Age: A 200 year old vampire

Gender: Lgbt

Role: Emotional

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Desperate,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Heroic,Educated,Naive,Strong Moral Code,Sophisticated,Seductive,Romantic,Outspoken,Sexy,Masculine

Additional Character Details

Name: Stefan, Baron of Vitré

Age: A 275 year old vampire.

Gender: Lgbt

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Criminal,Desperate,Engaging,Greedy,Heartthrob,Educated,Insecure,Leader,Masculine,Villainous,Narcisstic,Sexy,Blunt,Power Hungry,Outspoken,Skillful,Sarcastic,Seductive,Sophisticated,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Laurent Richelieu

Age: A 200 year old vampire.

Gender: Lgbt

Role: tempter

Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Heartthrob,Educated,Honorable,Masculine,Obedient,Sexy,Blunt,Selfless,Outspoken,Skillful,Romantic,Seductive,Sophisticated,Strong Moral Code

Additional Character Details

Name: Jack Devereaux

Age: A 23 year old man.

Gender: Lgbt

Role: tempter

Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Desperate,Engaging,Flexible,Heartthrob,Heroic,Insecure,Underdog,Masculine,Narcisstic,Uneducated,Sexy,Outspoken,Skillful,Seductive,Manipulative,Unapologetic

Development Pitch

I wrote “The Darkest Gift” as I felt no other author had written an enthralling vampire romance novel since Anne Rice, which was a breakthrough in featuring two vampires of the same gender as a couple. Being a life-long fan of vampires starting when I was a small child and into my adult years, I wanted to write a compelling and enthralling book where the characters are complicated (both humans and vampires) and that the same-sex couples are far less ambiguous about their sexual orientation than in vampire books of the past. Where the emphasis is on love, whether human and vampire or two vampires (of the same gender), it was vital for me to avoid anything graphically sexual, but instead, the focus is on the sensual aspect of two men together. Also noteworthy was addressing stereotypes regarding vampires and some of the gay men in my book. That all vampires are evil and unfeeling creatures, that all gay men are effeminate, couldn’t be further from the truth. I utilized the classic tale of good versus evil (in this case, vampire against vampire) and how one of the human characters, Jack, despite his struggles with sexual orientation, finally learns to accept and embrace who he truly is. The message I’m trying to deliver is: do what is right and be true to yourself. In my novel, that applies not only to humans but vampires alike. The locations in my book are places I have an affinity for, and are rich in history and culture.

About The Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (LEN HANDELAND) Len Handeland has always enjoyed writing and drawn to being creative—as far back as he can remember. Back in middle school, when he and his classmates were assigned a book report, and the others groaned, Len cheered—not only being given an exciting novel to read but also to compose the essay assignment as well. Everything had to be perfect, the spelling, grammar, and accuracy regarding the subject matter. Later on—in his late teens, Len attended FIT in Manhattan studying fashion illustration; years later, he decided to pursue a career in the hair industry using his artistic training and creativity to excel in hair. He decided to pursue writing after reading many of Anne Rice’s work (having read all of her Vampire chronicle books) and after attending the San Francisco International writers’ conference—decided it was time for him to write a Vampire story of his own; in his words, given Len’s affinity for horror and this particular genre. A different story—where love is the only thing that matters, whether between two men, two vampires, or a vampire and a human being. When Len isn’t writing, he enjoys reading and enjoys vegetarian cooking. Some of his other hobbies include hiking, biking, and billiards. He enjoys the performing arts (he is an actor as well as a singer) and has trained in Martial Arts for over 25 years. Len lives in Palm Springs with his husband, Byron, and their two tuxedo cats, Felix & Felicia (brother and sister) brother and sister)

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34

Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning,LGBT Leaning,Male Leaning

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: Self-published (Len Handeland)

Year Published: April 11, 2021

Hard Copy Available

Yes

ISBN

9798731865951

Genre

ACTION, SUSPENSE, THRILLER, DRAMA, LGBT

Brief

Two vampires work together in order to take down a powerful progenitor vampire preying on humans, Stefan. The two are able to take down the Stefan with the help of a medium. Stefan often uses his sexual prowess to lure his victims, while the vampires after him are able to have perfectly healthy romances with humans without attacking them.

Overall Rating

FAIR

Point of View

FIRST PERSON

Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: GOOD

Commerciality: GOOD

Franchise Potential: EXCELLENT

Pace: FAIR

Premise: GOOD

Structure: FAIR

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

The book profile somewhat reflects the narrative. Due to the length of the story versus the length of the profile there are some gaps between how the characters are connected in the profile. For example the logline is about Jack and Laurent, but the short summary is about Fabien and Stefan yet the only character detail is about Fabien. By providing character details for all for characters mentioned and using names so that the connection between Fabien and Laurent is apparent will help make the three categories more cohesive. The development pitch does a good job explaining why the narrative is unique and marketable as a concept. There seems to be an error in the profile where Stefan attacks Stefan in the short summary.

Draw of Story

The idea that the seduction of the vampire is coupled with the forbidden nature of being gay in mainstream Western society in the past. The honesty of the characters about exploring their sexuality without being graphic and instead focusing on the romance is refreshing as it stays in line with having a purpose to their unions to create character development.

Possible Drawbacks

The main objective of Fabien is not apparent from sometime and many of the side characters don't seem to have individual internal conflicts. Sometimes the exposition in the dialogue can get a bit long in the telling rather than showing. This explanation can also create slower pacing when the action is then shown after the plans are explained due to the repetition.

Use of Special Effects

THE STORY RELIES HEAVILY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that there is a broad range of different male personalities who happen to be gay rather than stereotypes who center their personalities around their sexuality. Being gay is an obvious part of their identity but they are not explicit about it. They treat being a vampire or human in about the same way in terms of acceptance within their relationships.

Fanbase Potential

This could potentially do well depending on the mainstream acceptance of gay romance. The vampire genre was a bit oversaturated a while ago, but the unique aspects of the healthy human-vampire relations as well as being openly homosexual are refreshing additions.

Awards Potential

This is unlikely to gain prestige nominations due to its supernatural genre but could be definitely gain GLAAD awards or potentially do well in the popular circuit with some adjustments.

Envisioned Budget

MEDIUM BUDGET

Similar Films/TV Series

SUPERNATURAL, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, INTERVIEW WITH VAMPIRE, THE LOST BOYS, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, JENNIFER’S BODY, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST

What’s New About the Story

The originality stems from the depiction of relationships and how the vampire Stefan is defeated with the help of the Voodoo priestess Queen Rafaella. By creating side characters with more apparent inner conflicts, the emotional investment in the defeat of Stefan will be strengthened as will the stakes of the vampires' external goals when tied together with the internal conflict.

Lead Characters

Fabien is loyal, sensual and smart. John is trusting and open-minded. Laurent is loyal and capable. Stefan is greedy and manipulative.

Uniqueness of Story

The concept has a lot of good elements, but the pacing and characters could be slightly adjusted to create a clearer main conflict earlier.

Possible Formats

Film: Studio, Indie, Streaming

Analyst Recommendation

WORK IN PROGRESS

Justification

While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.

Tips for Improvement

Making sure all side characters have clear inner conflicts and that dialogue balances exposition with showing actions, the emotional investment will be strengthened and the pacing will be quickened. Making sure the main conflict is more apparent early on will also achieve faster pacing. Overall the themes and concept are off to a strong start.