Undead in Ellicott City

History and present day are interwoven along the train tracks of the old B&O Railroad in Ellicott City. The ruins of Hell House, an old seminary, and the railroad itself are full of stories, and Columbia writer Jamie Wasserman has added one more tale to the list.

Wasserman, 37, capitalizes on the haunting, magical qualities of the historic mill town in his book “Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story.”

A fan of vampire lore long before the phenomenon of Stephenie Meyer’s  “Twilight” series, Wasserman saw his story as a way to bring together two things he loved dearly: the vampire mythology and his teenage stomping grounds of Ellicott City. The town, Wasserman says, lends itself to magic.

But Historic Ellicott City is a far cry from Forks, Wash., and unlike those in the mega-hit “Twilight” series, Wasserman’s vampires do not sparkle. That’s the fun of vampires: They don’t have to fit a mold.

“The vampire myth is so malleable,” says Wasserman, a father of three young children. “It’s such a different creature in the hands of every writer that you see.”

Wasserman says it’s the “conflicting nature” of vampires that intrigues him.

“The whole appeal of the vampire, even though he can be vicious and a horrific monster, is that he’s also immortal, graceful and infused with qualities that are genuinely admirable, like power and passion,” Wasserman says.

“Blood and Sunlight” began as a screenplay almost seven years ago, Wasserman says, but quickly went the way of the wastebasket. Still, the idea kept germinating in the back of Wasserman’s head. In 2009, at his information technology job, Wasserman was falling further and further away from his involvement in writing. A published poet and Mary Washington University alumnus with several literary credits to his name, Wasserman hadn’t written anything in a few years and wanted to get back to what he loved.

“Blood and Sunlight” is Wasserman’s first stab at fiction, and follows the tale of Melanie, a college drop-out feeling trapped in a small-town rut with her boyfriend, who likes to pretend he’s a vampire. Things change when Melanie encounters a real creature of the night  and another young man hell-bent on destroying her new life.

After 13 months of writing and self-editing, Wasserman finished the book in March 2010. By that fall he found a publisher, and since then the book has been selling consistently, he says. About 2,500 copies have been sold, mostly in e-book form.

“Blood and Sunlight” was never intended to be the first in a series, but fan response prompted Wasserman to keep writing. The sequel, “Blood and Moonlight,” is planned for a 2012 release and takes place 10 years after the first book. A different protagonist will take center stage in “Blood and Moonlight” -- one readers will recognize. After that book, Wasserman says, he might be done writing about vampires for a while. But readers needn’t worry -- his writing will still have all the captivating qualities of the paranormal.

“When I go to a movie, I don’t want to watch something realistic and I don’t like cop shows. I want to escape,” he says. “It’s the same thing with books. I want to experience things that are other-worldly and fantastic. I want to be taken away. I think anything I write is going to have some element of the fantastic.”

For more information about Wasserman and his work, go to his website, www.jamiewasserman.com.

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