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Q&A with Samara Breger & Excerpt from A Long Time Dead

Calling all Twilight fans who can’t get enough! Samara Breger’s A Long Time Dead (Bywater Books, May 16, 2023) is a lush, tongue-in-cheek Victorian romance about the lengths two women will go to secure a love that cannot die. We are pleased to share this Q&A with the author, along with an excerpt from her book.

What inspired you to write A Long Time Dead?

Jenn Alexander and Anna Burke, two other writers at my publisher, Bywater Books, approached me and asked whether I wanted to write a vampire novella, the idea being that we release all three together. Independently, all three of our novellas expanded into novels. Whoops.

Were there any works or artists that particularly inspired you?

I have a great love of Gothic Horror (particularly Carmilla, The Monk, Frankenstein, and Dracula) and lesbian vampire movies (particularly Draculas Daughter and The Vampire Lovers.) It feels almost like a rite of passage to add my work to the lesbian vampire cannon. There’s something special about knowing I’ll be part of that long line.

Additionally, I read every Twilight book and watched every Twilight movie during lockdown. I was surprised by how much loved them. My favorite was Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, a gender-swapped version of the first book, which Stephanie Meyer published ten years after the original. It’s so goofy. I adore it.

A Long Time Dead has quite a lot going on in its 400 pages including but not limited to blood, drama, lust, love, and humor. How would you describe its genre?

At its heart, I would call it a gothic romance, but it’s also a send-up of the genre. It’s a gothic in reverse: a house that is remade instead of falling apart. A quintessentially British heroine as debaucher instead of debauched. Decades of obsessive love that doesn’t destroy, but heals. I’m using all the (dark) colors in the gothic box of crayons, but hopefully I’ve drawn something a little different.

What readers will see themselves in this book? Is there an ideal audience?

I think it’s for everyone, but I wrote it for a queer audience. There are a lot of tropes they will recognize and relate to. I’ve also hidden a lot of fun easter eggs for fans of gothic novels.

It’s really for anyone who—and I say this with all the love in a world—is a total fucking mess. Everyone in this book is a complete mess. Messes will see themselves represented.

How much of yourself did you put in this book?

Because I intended this to be a novella, and because I planned to write it quickly, I didn’t do much outlining beforehand, and I accidentally added a lot of myself to Poppy’s characterization. When I was twenty, I was in love with a girl who changed her mind about me every week. After years of back-and-forth, she decided she wanted to give our relationship a real chance. She was living in Paris at the time so, like a fool, I bought a plane ticket. Of course, the second I got there, she realized she didn’t love me like I loved her. That feeling of longing and loss, that reckless, youthful drive to go to the ends of the earth for someone, that conviction that if we only had the time, everything would fall into place, informed so much of this book. Twenty-year-old me was my muse. I find that now, my memories of her are softer. Kinder. I admire her for taking the chances she did, and for making her daring mistakes.

What were you especially aware of while writing a vampire book as a Jewish person? Can you explain the history of antisemitism in vampiric fiction for those that may not know about it yet?

The vampire in itself is not an inherently antisemitic character, but there is a lot of antisemitism in how we imagine vampires now. When Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, there was a huge wave of Eastern European Jewish immigrants coming into England to flee pogroms. It’s not a coincidence that his villain is a heavily accented, hook-nosed schemer. Dracula ties in neatly with the antisemitic myth of blood libel, which goes all the way back to the Medieval era. The idea is that Jews steal blood from Christian children to make our Passover matzoh. This is obviously untrue, but the story persists.

For forever, people have made monsters from things they couldn’t understand. Because of this, outsiders saw themselves reflected in horror. The vampire has always been predatory, enticing, and temptingly depraved; in other words, queer-coded. As we know her today, the vampire is just as gay as she is Jewish—like me. My balancing act with this book was to highlight the things I love, avoid the harmful tropes, and defang (lol) some of the hatred that built this thing that means so much to me.

Can you explain why you chose the Victorian era as the setting for A Long Time Dead?

I love the Victorian era because there was this national drive towards propriety, while underneath things were just as seedy and prurient as they had ever been. It’s when Britain had its first big queer scandals. It’s when some of the wildest erotica was written. It’s also the time when gothic novels exploded, so it only made sense to set my vampire novel there.

My interest in writing historical fiction comes from a deep need to know my own history. I was a history major in college, with an emphasis on 20th century cultural history. Learning about the burning of Magnus Hirschfeld’s library was a huge turning point for me. How much queer history has been burned? How many of our stories have been buried? When I write, I want to peer into the gaps our erasure has created. There are always queer stories if you know where to look.

Has your experience in comedy influenced your writing at all? If so, how?

I spend most of my time around comedians and gay people. Comedians and gay people like to laugh together. It’s so much of how we communicate. If I’m writing queer friendships, those queer people are going to read each other and crack jokes and talk shit. It’s the only way I know how to show how much my characters love each other.

Do you have any other books and are you working on anything else we can look forward to?

Yes! I’m returning to the Victorian era for a spiritualist ghost romance based loosely on the play “Blithe Spirit.” I’m also writing a romance set in 19th century New York inspired by Gallus Mag and Sadie the Goat. I don’t want to spoil too much, but someone does get their ear bitten off.


Samara Breger is a writer and performer born and raised in New York City. In her previous life, she was an Emmy-nominated journalist and digital media producer, covering sexual and reproductive health. In addition to writing, she loves musical improv, opera, Olympic weightlifting, and spending time with her wife and dog.

Learn more at and connect with Samara on Instagram @yesjbreg, Twitter @SamaraJBreger, and TikTok @samarajbreger.

Samara Breger’s A Long Time Dead is a lush, Victorian romance, drenched in blood and drama, about the lengths two women will go to secure a love that cannot die.

Somewhere foggy, 1837 . . .

Poppy had always loved the night, which is why it wasn’t too much of a bother to wake one evening in an unfamiliar home far from London, weak and confused and plagued with a terrible thirst for blood, to learn that she could no longer step out into the day. And while vampirism presented several disadvantages, it more than made up for those in its benefits: immortality, a body that could run at speed for hours without tiring, the thrill of becoming a predator, the thing that pulls rabbits from bushes and tears through their fur and flesh with the sharp point of a white fang.

And, of course, Roisin. The mysterious woman who has lived for centuries, who held Poppy through her painful transformation, and who, for some reason, is now teaching her how to adjust to her new, endless life. A tight, lonely, buttoned-up woman, with kindness and care pressed up behind her teeth. The time they spend together is as transformative to Poppy as the changes in her body, and soon, she finds herself hopelessly, overwhelmingly attached. But Roisin has secrets of her own, and can’t make any promises; not when vengeance must be served.

Soon, their little world explodes. Together and apart, they encounter scores of vampires, shifty pirates, conniving opera singers, ancient nobles, glamorous French women, and a found family that throws a very particular sort of party. But overhead, threat looms—one woman who is capable of destroying everything Poppy and Roisin hold dear.

Chapter One Excerpt

The following is an excerpt taken with permission from A Long Time Dead by Samara Breger.

Somewhere foggy, 1837

Poppy was well rested and warm, which meant something was wrong. Neither state was easily acquired in London’s limpid early spring, the lengthening, foggy days offering up exhaustion and cold in clammy handfuls. This wretched March huddled sheepishly in the damp, unmanning non-season between the body-heat-hungry snow and the eager, pollen-stained warmth to come, when men would bang down Poppy’s door, reawakened, ready to split the earth like tulips from their bulbs. Until that time, until Green Park was yellow with daffodils and the sun burned away the last wisps of fog, she would bed down beside hunger and chill.

She recognized the weakness in her bones—that at least was familiar, as good rest had been hard to come by, what with Minna turning her out in one of her inscrutable changes of mood. But beyond the weakness there was something else—a thirst like she had never encountered, burning from throat to eyeballs. She thought first of water, and her stomach roiled. No, water wouldn’t do at all. There was something else, something terribly vital, and if she could only figure out what it was she would shout its name.


Someone shoved a goblet in Poppy’s hand and she drank down its contents greedily, the smell awakening her brain like a lightning strike. It was warm and viscous, savory with a sweet iron tang. She moaned into the goblet, the sound echoing back against the metal in feral harmony.

“Fucking hell,” she gasped when the goblet was empty. “Fucking hell.” “Quite.”
Her eyes snapped open. “Who are you?”

The woman beside her was turned away, baring the back of her bonnet and frock. She wore heaps of gray fabric. In the dim candlelight, she was a brooding pigeon constructed entirely of rags. “I’m no one. Do you need more?”

Poppy blinked down into the empty goblet, licking her sticky lips. “What was that?”

“Naw. Pull the other one.”
“I’m not deceiving you.” The woman spoke pristinely, with what might have been the fading hint of an Irish lilt. “It was rabbit’s blood. Not the most fresh but needs must.”

“Why are you giving me blood? This some sort of, what do you call it, demonic practice?”

The woman sighed, finally turning to reveal her face. Her eyes were the strangest hue, a deep, cool iron-gray that grabbed Poppy and held her. Poppy was typically one for riotous color, spending her meager earnings on richly dyed lengths of ribbon to wind around the pale curls that framed her heart-shaped face. How, she wondered in this never-ending moment, could a pair of eyes entirely devoid of color captivate her so completely?

The woman, Poppy realized after a few moments, was speaking.

“Your life will be different now, I’m sorry to say. I hope you don’t have a large family awaiting your return, because you’ll never be able to—”

“Wait.” Poppy held up a hand. “What’s your name?”
The woman blinked. “My name?”
“It’s not an unreasonable question.”
“It’s not. Of course. I—” There was a brief second in which the woman appeared flustered, before a careful blankness overtook her face. “My name is Roisin.”

“Roisin.” Poppy let the syllables roll over her tongue, smooth as treacle, just to see if she could crack that steely facade. It didn’t budge. “I’m Poppy.”

“Yes. I’m aware. Now if we could return to the matter at hand . . .”

Had she been abducted? She wasn’t chained, of course, but there were other ways to keep a cat like Poppy against her will. Taking her away from London would be enough, particularly in this state; she wore only her chemise, with no stockings nor shoes, and had no idea where those needments might be. She took a peek around, discovering she was in a bedchamber, and that she sat on a bench at the foot of a looming, behemoth four-poster. The room was dim, lit only by two thin tapers in heavy brass sconces. Yet despite the lack of light, her eyes could easily discern details. She could see each twist in the mouldering wallpaper, which might have begun as any color, but was now a garden of wilted grays and dust-caked browns. The planks below her naked feet were warped beyond repair. The whole place smelled of disuse, a relic of riches long gone.


She jolted to attention. Roisin had been speaking. She wasn’t any longer. Now, she stared, silent, concern hewing her features from granite, carving her cheekbones and chipping lines into her forehead.

“I’m well,” Poppy said. “I don’t know why I’m here, is all.”

“Oh, yes.” Roisin winced. “Terribly sorry about that. There’s much to explain. Though, you seem to be taking this very well.”

“Taking, erm, what exactly?”

Roisin frowned. “What I’ve been—” Comprehension dawned slowly, widening her eyes. “Don’t tell me you weren’t listening.”

“I won’t.” Poppy wiped an itch from her chin. “Tell you, that is.”

Roisin made an aborted movement toward her nose, likely to pinch the bridge. “I’ll say it once more: several nights ago you made the acquaintance of a woman named Cane. She probably plied you with alcohol and payment, as well as, more than likely, a good deal of mesmerism. She drank your blood, and you hers, and now you are a creature of the night. An immortal. A vampire if you’d rather. You will not hunger for food—it will sicken you. You will not thirst for ale—it will taste of filth. The sun will sting your skin. The blood of humans will tempt you to drink. You will not age. You will remain young, healthy, and beautiful for the rest of your days.” Roisin eyed her warily, braced for a reaction. “Do you have any questions?”

Poppy felt the tears welling. “No more food?”
“No more sausages? Pints? No more jellied eels?” She swiped carelessly at her eyes. “Are you telling me I can’t have my spoonful of treacle before bed?”

“I’m telling you that you will no longer need to sleep.”

She batted that away. “It’s for my health, yeah? The treacle. Surely I can have that. It’s medicinal.”

The blankness on Roisin’s face was no longer careful. She looked stunned beyond the capacity for thoughtful physical reaction. “No.”


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