Friday, October 20, 2006

Marry Me, You Vamp!

From the Vampire Vixen’s chat list, J.C. Wilder (once again) had something interesting and provocative to say, “I heard Virginia Henley speak many years ago and she made the statement, ‘Women would love to sleep with my men but they'd be crazy to marry them.’ - I feel that way about the vamp. They're dark, deadly and ultimately sexy but one would have to be crazy to truly trifle with one.”


That’s part of what irks me when readers of TD&D complain that my vampire character is morally reprehensible. I want to say, “Well, Duh. He’s a vampire. He EATS people.”

I totally understand the appeal of the romantic, tragic vampire. I think, however, it’s easy for post-Buffy fans to forget that the traditional vampire is a killer. He can have remorse, but he still needs to kill to survive. Most vampires aren’t like Angel. They may not be soulless (depending, of course, on the author’s rules regarding such things) but neither are they without sin. (You may say Angel had his Angelus, but I’d counter that in many respects those were two completely different people – one entirely possessed by a demon and the other burdened with a soul. I liked both, though Angel was more interesting to me because he was more self-aware and introspective.)

Anyway, it’s in the sinner that I find interesting literary ground. This question of can a killer be a “good” person interests and excites me. When I sat down and conjured up Garnet, I wanted this question to be central to her personality, too.

I love romantic comedies, and I always knew that I wanted TD&D to have some light-hearted, if not downright humorous moments. However, I didn’t really want a silly, vacuous heroine. I wanted someone who would be equal in strength (ala Garnet’s magic and Lilith, who, if unleashed could eat the vampire for breakfast) AND in emotional depth (she has her secrets and her darker side, too.)

Would I really want to marry Sebastian? No, not particularly. He’s a decent enough sort, a day-walker, and filthy rich… but he still drinks blood and he’d need a source for that blood and it couldn’t be me – not forever, anyway. Plus, I’m not sure a vampire would ever be able to settle down and lead a truly normal life. There is, after all, no statute of limitations on murder...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Market Killer Strikes Again?

Ever since Other me wrote cyberpunk into the ground, I've been joking that now that I've transformed into Tate Hallaway I'll do the same for the whole vampire chick-lit craze.

Guess what's being reported on Vampire Vixens' yahoo group?

"In the publishing world trends come and go like the hems of dresses. According to a lot of publishers I'm hearing, 'We're not interested in vamps, we're all bought up' of the sales are 'slipping'. This is just my opinion but, if the sales are slipping its because of the NY 'rush' to fill the shelves with vampires. This has happened with every 'trend' and the quality begins to slip as they make that mad dash to catch the trend.
What do you think, are vampires dead?" (from J.C. Wilder)

Sounds like I may have done it again. Any requests for the genre or sub-genre I should wipe out next? Inspirational romances? Space opera?


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Black Dog of Père LaChaise

I’ve been reading The Beast of Bray Road, and there is a section in the book about supernatural black dogs, who guard certain graves.

Shawn and I have long been cemetery aficionados – to the point of having photographs hanging in our house of striking or interesting headstones. For me, cemeteries have always been peaceful, contemplative places. When I was a teenager, I used to bicycle out to the pauper’s cemetery on Campbell Road and sit in the shade of the oak tree just to be alone with my own thoughts. When Shawn and I lived on Girard Avenue in Uptown in Minneapolis, we spent a lot of time strolling the grounds of Lakewood Cemetery. I almost never find cemeteries to be spooky or creepy –with two notable exceptions.

The first was our trip to London when we visited Kensel Green. The problem with Kensel Green, despite the fact that it was WAY OUT (we had to take not just the tube, but the train) and we arrived at dusk (generally a creepy time of day), but also that it is as old as the more famous Highgate, but unlike it, it has remained open. Highgate, which is much larger, is filled. Once filled, they closed. Not so Kensel Green. Along one wall, we stumbled across moved or removed headstones. Plus, Kensel Green is old enough that when above ground crypts are in disrepair, there is a certain… shall we say, smell, which was made stronger by the classic London drizzling rain.


We searched for Charles Babbage, who is supposedly buried there, found Christopher Wren instead, and then left in a hurry.

The next year, in 1995, my parents, Shawn and I traveled to Paris. Shawn and I took with us a great guide book we found called Permanent Parisians: An Illustrated Guide to the Cemeteries of Paris. Despite our Kensel Green experience, we had a lot of fun roaming the cemeteries of the London area. Plus, Paris has one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, Pere LaChaise, where many, many famous people are buried: Heloise and Abelard, Moliere, Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stien, Proust, and, of course, Jim Morrison (of the “Doors” fame). The cemetery covers acres of land and has gravel roads (complete with street signs) intersecting it. It’s a gigantic necropolis. We were in heaven!

We got lost somewhere after finding Balzac and were paused on the road, consulting our map. That’s when I saw it. The black dog. It was running towards us, through the headstones, barking fiercely. Given how many cats run wild in the cemetery, the thought of a supernatural being never crossed my mind. Our only thought was: run, run away fast. We ran, keeping the dog in our peripheral vision. We crossed the next intersection and it was gone. I hesitate to use the word disappeared because, despite writing about the paranormal, I tend toward the rational. But, it was gone. “That was weird,” we said, and then we went on with our trek.

Only later did I hear about the legend of the black dog. Then, I started to wonder – had we seen one?

To this day, I don’t know.