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How the Vampire Chronicles Inspired Me

January 23, 2017

I always knew that I wanted to write. When I was in Grade 4 I had a teacher who wasn’t all that fond of me. Or at least that’s how my childish mind perceived her concern over my “sickly” nature. But there was one thing that she always praised about me: my capacity to write creatively and well. Mostly I remember there being a lot of ellipses and exclamation marks in my work then; so I still haven’t worked out all the kinks, I guess…

I started with poetry when I remembered how much praise writing had brought me, and moved onto prose when I was about ten. So while I credit my creative endeavours in most part to my favourite authors, I don’t blame them entirely for my forays into the written word. That being said, it wasn’t until I read the Vampire Chronicles that I gave any thought to writing about vampires. Sure, the topic had always fascinated me, there were other authors that I read who wrote primarily about vampires, I watched (and read) a lot of Buffy fiction, and I found my niche in contemplating life and meaning when I was in my early teens – something that I credit primarily to the vampire in literature – but it was the concept of the “romantic vampire” that spurred me to write not just small snippets, excerpts, and stories of dark castles and midnight kidnappings, but things that made me think. And in thinking, I hoped I would provoke others to do the same.

I was young, but I didn’t need the themes explained to me: the questionable nature of evil, the danger of beauty, the simple existentialism of being alive and never being entirely certain that there’s more purpose to it than eating, sleeping, procreation, scrabbling to find meaning in what seems completely meaningless. I couldn’t put fancy words to it, but I recognised a lot of what the perspective characters felt from what I felt in my own life. The metaphor of the vampire as “the outsider” has started to seem cliched, but it’s not, it’s archetypal. Why else would vampire fiction be so popular with teenagers? Everything is urgent and every feeling seems like its the end; not just of the world, but the universe, life, the soul, all of it. I wanted to explore the same themes, other themes even. I wanted to look at the world not through the eyes of the non-fiction perspective character, someone I knew, myself even. It was too close to home. I wanted to put myself int he shoes of someone that wasn’t me, and let them walk a mile, let them find the answers I couldn’t find.

You could say, I learnt lessons from the Vampire Chronicles. Not just about life, but about how to create literary life. how to take a cutout character and breathe into him, make him move and dance and sing, make him list and sway and follow the path towards his own truth. Books aren’t always about the story. Without the characters, there wouldn’t be one. I like the characters. The characters give a tale life and meaning. I applied the lessons I learnt from each book in the Vampire Chronicles to my own writing, and I believe that I won my own internal challenge, to chisel characters from nothing and make them real.

The realest thing a character can do, is run away with the story and ignore my planning.

Lessons from Interview

Lesson one: What I think I enjoyed most about Interview with the Vampire was Louis’ wandering, seeking the same answers and never getting them. Even when his story came to a close and Daniel stared at him waiting for more, it was very clear that the story was never going to end. Because the question hasn’t been answered. If the question is “what is the meaning of life?” no one can answer it but the wanderer. And in every novel thus far, I don’t think that Louis has ever really found that. You can live for someone (Lestat, maybe Claudia?), but it’s not really living in the end. It’s surviving for that one last look that they give you, like the sun slipping behind the clouds. One day (or night) you wake up and find that it isn’t enough, and then, you start to wander again. It’s a romance, but not romantic; not, traditionally anyway. It’s a horror, but the horror is so perfumed that the reader can’t see it until the spilt odour is choking him. Interview was dark. It was like the novels I read just prior to the Vampire Chronicles, in authors like Jeanne Kalogridis and her vile Prince.

Not one of my own characters, no matter how old, is a fully-fledged person. There is always room to grow. Always. Saskia D’Asur is older than the shadow that animates her, but she still hasn’t found her answers, and she keeps moving through time, trying to find reason. I suppose she even embodies the darkness I felt in Interview, the clammy fear, the brooding sincerity. She handles everything badly, everything wrong, but she keeps doing what is in front of her, in hopes that whatever comes next, will give her life meaning.

Lesson two: People look for meaning in religion, because without a God the world is terrifying, bleak and, well basically, meaningless. With no deity, there is no afterlife, and with no afterlife, what are we toiling for? Is everything for nothing in the end? Where do we go? Do our voices echo in our own skulls for eternity? I’m not sure it’s a question vampires can answer, but, I think it’s one that they’re more afraid of than any human. Why could Louis never end his “miserable” existence (we’re barring later books here)? Was he exaggerating about his anguish, or was it that much worse: after being immortal, death was less palatable than sleepwalking through night after night like a sad, old ghost.

Our characters struggle with religion. Human, vampire, whatever their physical attributes, religion is a harsh reality that is built on something they can’t see or verify. Not everyone believes. Not everyone has to. But the ones that do face their own challenges: defining evil, coming to terms with being evil, and fighting theistically evil intent. Evil is a very Christian structure, but Christianity is the forerunning religion of the modern age, and it features distinctly in the Gas Light Victorian Vamp setting of the Sanguinem Emere novels.

And the last lesson I learnt from Interview was, possibly, the most important one: A successful character, is a relatable character. Being a bloodsucking beast doesn’t make a character obscure, but being inhuman does. It’s difficult not to relate to Louis for all the reasons previously mentioned. Lestat and Claudia, however, on occasion behave with such monstrous abandon, that Louis’ horror seems perfectly well placed. Later on, from Lestat’s perspective, the horrors he commits seems almost justifiable, definitely understandable. And it’s a charming truth of all fiction, that a perspective character is not God, and that he can lie, if he chooses, and as the avid reader, we’ll never know the difference.

 ~It will be too long of a post to put each of the novels in here, but I will make separate blog posts for them. Hopefully one a day ~

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The Nature of Evil

January 12, 2017

This is an answering ramble from my most recent page project for “Prince Lestat” on the page dedicated to discussing the segment on The People of the Moon and the Stars: I apparently have reached that point in life where I have full conversations with myself and readers about things that we never discussed, and have realised that I only explored a fraction of what I wanted to with that particular article on vampires, and, specifically, on vampires and what we consider to be evil.

Now, this stems from a truth I found to be universal when I was young. Vampires – and vampirism – do not necessitate evil. Or rather, vampires, strictly speaking, do not need to be evil. I could go into the simple transference of energy from one person to another – the way that a person may walk into a room full of happy people, but feel as if his life has turned to ash, and leave feeling uplifted whilst the happy people suddenly feel a little down and just can’t put their finger on why. I could reminisce about the time someone deliberately drained what little energy I had and left me half-melted on a coffee table over a boring cup of tea wondering how I was going to walk home. But, what I mostly want to explore, is what we consider to be evil?

Do those that are evil:

  1. Do evil, unaware of the evil of the act, and continue to do so in ignorance and bliss?
  2. Do evil, knowingly, willingly accepting that they are evil and continue to do so nightly with the sole intent of performing evil acts?
  3. Do evil, knowingly, and feel immense guilt and suffering for it?

This is where the question of vampires as evil becomes tricky for me. I vividly recall a scene from “The Vampire Lestat” where Lestat chose to kill a young mother and her baby, relishing in the wickedness of the act. But, even as I read that scene, Lestat did not FEEL evil. Truth be told, he felt like a very cross teenager, that wanted to show just how bad he could be, and, I quote (from a later Lestat obviously, but still):

“I don’t think anyone will ever say it quite like you do. Come on, say it again. I’m a perfect devil. Tell me how bad I am. It makes me feel so good!”

I’ve never perceived Lestat as evil, because he is well-aware of what he has done, and, nightly, he admonishes himself for his actions. Never in so many words. But when he talks, it’s like he wants the audience to see how wicked he is. The sub-text could not be plainer: “Hate me! I deserve it…” Unfortunately for Lestat and his need to be recognised as the monster that he is, this only serves to make him more endearing. There is nothing on earth more compelling than a self-flagellating dark knight, who on more than one occasion, has put aside his need to be the villain, and touched goodness, held it in his hand, used it to save a life, two, three… Who’s counting anymore?

I am desperately trying to think of “evil” characters in the Vampire Chronicles, and… I just don’t think any of them are. Not even Akasha… Nuts, sure. Utterly bananas, and very keen on world-domination and improvement as she saw fit, but, with the instance of “Prince Lestat” one can begin to understand why… Having a madman, an ancient spirit in one’s head, yammering away constantly, showing one awful things, will do that to a girl.

I’m not saying that some authors don’t allocate evil to their vampires. One that stands out for me very clearly is Jeanne Kalogridis’ Draculean Prince, who, to this day, is one of the most terrifying, haunting images from my childhood of a real, actual monster. A man that felt nothing as a human, joined the Scholomance to learn its secrets and became an uncompromisingly twisted and cruel creature. It’s not popular opinion, but in the visions in my head, he is what Dracula set out to be.

But so few fictional and literary vampires are the evil that they want to be, or that they are intended to be, according to these silly rules of one silly girl. If I accepted vampires as evil, it would reset my world-view, my perceptions of them that I’ve kept for so many years. As I mentioned in the previous article, vampires are the metaphor the world needs, for the possibility of strength, cunning, power, and most often, protection. The world is a terrifying place. It’s a pleasant, comforting thought to imagine that there is a big scarier thing out there that wants to defend your rights to civility, joy, and above all, life.

I used vampires as a bastion against the darkness. And I couldn’t have been more than eleven years old when that begun. I was a loner, I had few friends, and I felt isolated in every facet of my life. I started concerning myself with the dark things in life before I knew how to fill in a tax return or write a resume. Vampires were a solace. Anne Rice’s vampires were my final solace. But I made my own, I cultivated them, and I later wrote them into novels, and now they’re a part of my history. And I wonder, does my study of their acts and mannerisms make me evil too?

More than anything, good, dark, light, shiny, or smudged with the charcoal of “evil,” vampires ARE an escape. The world right now is a horrible place. On many levels, I imagine it always has been, but social media has brought those horrors out into the steel gaze of the public eye, and we’re forced to see just how cruel people can be everyday. If we can look at the cruelty of humanity and be jaded by it, why can we not accept that an evil heart could not possibly feel remorse for evil acts?

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MuMu and Mommy’s Horror Obsession

January 6, 2017

book-4

I’m lying here on the bed with a happily rolling MuMu who keeps looking at the ceiling and nattering away, telling me about the size of the dragon she fought last night, and that dark lord, Meriduse, who insulted her at a tea party on Sunday. At least… I think that’s what she’s saying, but it mostly sounds like: “Chowchowchowchowchow? Chowchow!”

Tomorrow, Friday 6th January, at exactly 09:35, Embla Lenore Wheeler will be six months old. She’s a little potato with aegean eyes and sandy hair that’s getting ever more blonde and wild every day. I’d say she almost has enough of it now to have bed-head when she wakes up. I’ve spent six months with her, almost constantly, learning little things about her that make her not just a “baby,” but a person. A single little individual, with her own amusements and mood swings. She only cries when things are unbearable, she loves fruit (but, above all, apples and bananas), vegetables make her whimper, she loves to be growled at and eated and tickled. She wakes us up every single morning with a giggle and a pupa wriggle.

It was October of 2015 when I found out I was pregnant with Embla.

Emmy was not a mistake, or a miracle, or a blessing. Emmy was an intentional little person that I wanted with every facet of my being. Every second with her (even the ones that happen at one in the morning when she looks at me with big bug eyes and smiles because it’s time to play) is a snippet of the most eloquent story on what it means to live in a world full of bad news and sad events. Emmy is a sun shining down on all the dark and vanquishing it.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I became militant about producing fiction, to provide the kind of life for my little girl that is safe and happy. And thanks to that, I can now proudly say that my five novels in the “Shades of the Sea and Flame” series are published and available for purchase.

The “Shades of the Sea and Flame” series is a Vampire Construct delving into Dark Gothic Romance, with strong elements of Horror and highly adult themes, set in the fictional city of New Babylon. It is the story of Ida Kron (formerly Blanchefleur), married to a strange man and finding solace in the arms of a monster. She journeys through love and loss and passion to find herself, her true self, in order to latch onto her happiness. Her journey takes her into the dark recesses of the Night Courts of New Babylon, ruled by the Lords of Night and their formidable God-King, where she must stand true to save the man she loves.

The novels occur in the following order:
“Blood Pearl”
“Blood Deluge”
“Blood Expanse”
“And Blood Divides Us”
“Blood Amaranthine”

If you like the books, write us a review. If you don’t like the books, write us a review. Just, review the books. Our little family will reward you with many mentions of your kindness and your thoughtful suggestions and critiques on our websites:

http://vampirebibliographica.com
&
http://sanguinememere.com

Happy reading, and may you always dream of the dark, the beautiful, and the muse herself.

 

And to my Little Embla:

 ~ Emmy Belly, Sproutling, Fru Fru, Bunny, Dovelet, Beanie, Bells, Floople, Squeaker, Kicky Feet, Little Prp ~

One day, you weren’t entirely real just yet. Oh, you were there. You were little punches and kicks and flooples in my abdomen, and you were heartburn, and nausea, and back ache, and exhaustion, and you were a little clock ticking away to a time in the distant future where I’d get to meet you. And in spite of it all, all the gripes and grumbles, you were everything. Still you weren’t quite real.

And then a day later, you were. 

You were a pink bundle of warmth and snuffles, and you lay on my chest, and for ten minutes in between all of the noise, the shuffling, and needles, and voices, and hands taking you and holding you, and waiting for places for us to go… It was just you and me.

The very first night that we spent in the hospital, they took you away to sleep in the empty nursery, because they were worried I’d strain myself to get out of bed and hold you. And the next morning, drugged as I was, they brought you to me, at 7:26 am and said you’d missed me so much. And I looked into your little space-shuttle wheely cot where you blinked those big, fuzzy eyes at me, and was so perplexed with love for you that all I could do was reach my arms out in a “gimme” motion and say that I missed you too, over and over.

You’re the reason I lay awake at night, worrying and fighting anxiety, and then, finally, opening my laptop, writing a thousand words here, five thousand there, deleting garbage and rewriting, all to make sure I can do this one thing that I need to: Keep you safe. Give you a good life. Never leave you.

But I would sooner erase all the good things from my memory, than regret you.

Because you are the good things.

You’re sunshine at three am, and you’re a little spout of rain on a bleak day. I have no faith in fate, or the esoteric, but I know that you can only do the most glorious things in the future. My little bubble of joy and goodness.

You are the very best thing in the whole world, Little One.

And the world may not yet know this, but it is so lucky to have you in it.

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