The Vampire’s Lure of Youthful Beauty

“Come and join us!” the vampire beckons. “Won’t cost much to be young and beautiful. Just your soul.”

Carletta, the femme fatale of the first two AVS novels-in-progress, epitomizes a standard of youth and beauty. Few can see her fangs. Few know the snares she hides. Are the benefits she offers worth the heartache, and more?

When people learn I’m writing vampire fiction, many say, “Good for you, that’s a very popular subject right now.” And they’re right. Vampire books abound, you can take your pick of vampire shows and movies, rock artists sing about them, and the web abounds with them. Some agents and editors even discourage writers from the subject because the market is flooded. They want something new—no more vampires, or at least a really fresh angle on them. I trudge on with my project, not so much because of the craze but because I have something to say that I believe is fresh as well as important.

Why are people so interested in vampires today, anyway?

The reasons are myriad. One is that the vampire holds time still, freezing youth in its place. The fountain of youth has such an appeal that some people, fictional or real, will pay any price for it—even blood. Even their souls.

It’s not a new phenomenon. High up in the “real vampire” hall of fame, Elizabeth Bathory bathed in the blood of her virgin maids, convinced that the blood of these poor slaughtered young women gave her youthful beauty.

Barbarism from a previous century, to be sure. But is the present any kinder or more enlightened? What about our own society’s views on beauty? When women who all but give up eating to be walking skeletons are unknowns, we call them anorexics—victims of a disease. But if they are famous—supermodels. Is this not vampirism turned inward? And who drives these poor women to think this way about themselves?

The destruction of the self is an evil close to the destruction of others. I think we need to ask where the anorexia epidemic comes from. Our society’s worship of thin, youthful beauty and its impossible image of “perfection” pay a key role. Who is preying on whom?

Unlike today’s glamorous images, the vampire of ancient folklore was ugly and strange-looking, befitting of a demonically animated corpse. Even Stoker’s Dracula had pointed ears and extra hair, including on the palms of his hands. But today’s vampire fiction abounds with the promise that people who turn into vampires will have perfect, youthful beauty. In Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat, said vampire finds a huge collection of slim, blond young men that his maker, Magnus, discarded and locked up to die in attempt to make the perfect pretty boy (page 93-94, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 2004). It’s completely a matter of looks. In Christopher Moore’s You Suck, a Love Story, the newly-turned Tommy is returned to a state of infancy in that his acne disappears and his toes straighten as if he has never worn shoes. Jody, who changed him, exclaims, “You’re perfect!” (emphasis mine). Jody says her split ends went away but she’s uncomfortable that she’s stuck needing to lose five pounds (page 7, William Morrow–NY, 2007). In the Twilight saga, Stephenie Meyer continually describes its perpetually teenage vampire hero’s features as perfect and even angelic. All the vampires are so angel-like in appearance, in fact, that they sparkle like diamonds in sunlight. To obtain this beauty for herself, the heroine gladly risks her soul.

The vampire’s lure is bigger than fiction and bigger than actual killers like Bathory. It lurks in the eyes of the supermodel’s audience and our own eyes as we look in the mirror. Do we fear aging and death so much that we would be willing to destroy our own lives and others’ to preserve our own? Is looking beautiful worth more than life itself to us? If so, perhaps vampires are real.

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Check out the added content on the “About the AVS” page!

Here is the new content:

It starts with a teaser to the first novel-in-progress for the AVS series.

Next, I corrected the link to my Goodreads blog, “From the Red, Read Robin,” and added descriptive teasers for the short stories on my Goodreads profile that relate to the AVS vampire series.

Last, I mentioned my special services and provided the link to my website about them, which also contains more samples of my writing.

 

More material coming to this blog and to the other one, as time allows. On this blog–possibly on the Goodreads one as well–I plan to post about the agonizing dilemma of having a first novel too long and the need to decide to cut about half of it out or re-form the book into two separate ones. For once I partly identify with Dr. Frankenstein: Creating a monster can really be more than you bargained for! Yes, definitely more on that later. And, eventually, I intend on following up on my promise to write about Carletta interviewing Luke–if they both cooperate, that is. You can never tell about the whims of vampires… especially ones that hate each other. We can only hope they don’t step outside and run beyond my ability to track them, in their own showdown to the death. I can’t run as fast as either of them by a long shot, and I daren’t step between them, in any case.

 

“Dreamer, You’re Nothing But a Dreamer!” An Invitation to Discussion on a Plot Device

Introducing the leader of the AVS: Mary, an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams that come true... and lately, most of them are nightmares.

Introducing the leader of the AVS: Mary, an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams that come true… and lately, most of them are nightmares.

Some of 16-year-old Mary’s most profound, and sometimes terrifying, experiences and revelations happen when she is asleep. When she wakes from one of her vivid kind of dreams–the ones that seemed so real she could pick the strangers she dreamed about out in a crowd–she knows something big is likely to happen. She doesn’t always know what. Nor does she know when or how the truth behind her nightmares can be averted. All she knows is she has to try.

Mary is the protagonist and main point-of-view character of at least the first two of the Anti-Vampirism Society books I’m working on. (What was the first manuscript became so long, I recently decided I must split the first story into two books; I am now thinking about how to re-form them into separate stories in their own right–but that’s another subject.)

At a meeting earlier tonight, a fellow writer surprised me with a strong opinion that the use of dreams as plot devices is boring and takes away from the challenge that characters should face in a good story. It makes problems too easy for characters to solve, my friend said. She said that she was not the only one who believed this about dreams in fiction; a writing teacher had said the same. While I have been told many times by people in the publishing business never to start a story with a dream because it’s been done so many times as to be cliché (and hence I changed what was the original beginning of my first AVS book), the idea that prophetic dreams are anyone’s taboo is news to me. The possibility that anyone might reject my AVS stories because my main character has some guidance from dreams distresses me–not just because it’s so integral to the character and the plot, but also because such dreams are pretty important to my own life. Mary is like me in some ways, only more so, if you get my meaning. I sometimes have dreams that come true and fairly often have dreams that change and guide me. As I wrote in the section on how this series was birthed, the whole thing started with a vivid dream that ended with my telling a teenage friend, “I had this dream, and it’s a good idea for a story.” (It was the only dream that told me within itself that its purpose was to be made into a piece of writing.)

I crave feedback on this subject. Please tell me how you feel about dreams figuring into stories. Do you like them, not like them, feel indifferent about them? When do they work, and when do they not?

I am already endeavoring to make things more difficult and agonizing for my characters. (“Murder your darlings,” someone has said. “Think of the worst thing that can happen to your character, and then make it happen,” says another.) As I hone my plot, I increase the challenges they face. I don’t want Mary’s dreams to be something that always come easy or are easy to understand, or even to remember and hence find useful. Without giving too much of the plot away beforehand, I hope to get whatever help you can give me in this endeavor. I ask you, please, whatever your thoughts are on this subject, please post your comments and join the discussion. If it turns into a heated argument, so much the better. I want to hear all sides.

Not that I expect that I will throw out all the dreams from the stories. But if you think I should, by all means see if you can convince me. If we know each other personally, I may reveal more of the plot to you than I will to the public, and we can discuss the matter more in depth. I would love it if you would post here; just keep my plot secrets confidential, please. Thank you!

I thought of adding a poll, but at this point I cannot think of one that would not be too superficial. If you have any suggestions as to how a good poll on this subject could be worded, please suggest it. So far, I haven’t had many responses from polls on this blog.

Please invite anyone you know who might be interested in this discussion to take a look and pitch in.

 

For later discussion…

I thought some time ago of having a different discussion on this blog–the question of whether it’s okay for Christians to read or write fiction about vampires. Let me know if you would be interested in reading or joining such a discussion. The discussion would not be limited to Christians. I mention Christians here because I am one and know many who think there is something horribly wrong with such subject matter. I don’t recall anyone outside the faith that has raised such objections.

 

And You Thought I’d Abandoned You? No Fear!

Carletta

Carletta

…And here she is! Flirting with someone, as usual… I originally planned to give her essentially the same background as Hugh’s picture (posted with his interview), as seated in the same restaurant booth with him (hence the pencil lines). However, those colors don’t go well with the background I made for the book cover, so I may paint the background plain gray. Or do it gray, scan it, and then go over it with the blue and leafy booth backgound, so I can have both to work with. This is but one example of one of the many things I have been doing since my last post in October. I have not meant to ignore you all. I have been working a lot on my novel, as well as doing other things in my life. I wrote four chapters, the novel’s premise, and most of the emotional character arcs to go with that premise. I’m still working on those of the last two main characters, Melanie and Alex. I haven’t mentioned them on this site. Setting up steps to obtain a long-range goal (in this case, finishing the first book in my AVS novel) and then scheduling deadlines to do each step and days to work on them, really help. One cost has been neglect of my two blogs (this one and my Goodreads one). Just wanted to let you know I haven’t abandoned you, friends. I am thinking of you and of this blog. Luke and Carletta haven’t yet revealed what they will say and do in the continuation of the interview I recorded in October–but then, I haven’t looked over the rest of the questions and thought about it, so I can’t put all the blame on them. Rest assured that Luke is cooking up more dastardly plans than we have yet seen. I haven’t had a lot of chance to look into those plans, partly because he doesn’t actually appear until the second book in the series, and I have been concentrating on the first. Bug me, and I will be more likely to get out the interview sooner.

The Genesis of the AVS

 

Twenty years ago I never would have guessed I would be writing about vampires. I have never considered myself a vampire lover as such (never wanted to be a vampire, never thought vampires were creatures to look up to or envy, never thought drinking blood was cool, etc.). And I didn’t pick up the subject because it was popular. In fact, vampires were not much the rage when I was first inspired to write about the AVS. I don’t write anything because it is popular. (I tried that once after meeting an agent who told me fantasy was out and “sweet romance” was the rage. I set aside my fantasies and tried writing a Harlequin Romance. I fell flat on my face with that one; it was the biggest waste of time and effort I ever made, and it was crap. I decided to write what I really wanted to write, popularity be damned, and if people liked it, that would be great.)

What got me on the vampire kick was a dream I had one night. I take my dreams seriously. I often have dreams deep in symbolism, or even dreams that come true. I see many of my dreams as messages from God. I’ve had several that have been ideas for stories, but none so obviously so as the one about the girl vampire with short red hair.

I didn’t record when I had the dream—somewhere around 2000, maybe. I dreamed I was a jilted teenage girl seeing an event that amazed and terrified her. The dream continued with one scene after another, laying out key inciting incidents of a story with me as the main character, acting on the terrible reality of suddenly facing a vampire in her life and experiencing all the girl’s emotions. A confrontation led to a different approach to the subject than I had ever heard of, and ended with a question that demanded an answer.

Next, I was myself, in a wooden locker room, telling a teenage friend that I had had this dream and it was a good idea for a story.

When I woke up and thought over the question the girl in the dream asked, I decided it was a story that needed to be told.

This was back before the publication of Twilight and the craze that made vampires so appealing that readers and viewers practically filed the fangs off the monsters without any expectation of retaliation. I hadn’t even watched “Interview with a Vampire” yet. When I did, I was so spooked I could barely get myself to watch it again. Maybe it’s a bad thing I got used to the movie. But yeah. Vampires, for me, are not the kinds of creatures I want to meet in a dark alley (or anywhere else), and they certainly wouldn’t light up that alley by sparkling. I’m writing about people (whether they be considered human or not) that you love to hate . . . or hate to love.

AVS: The Anti-Vampirism Society

AVS: The Anti-Vampirism Society is a series of young adult novels I’m writing. So far, the characters and events have spurred an award-winning short story published online and four pieces of flash fiction in two different zines (not ezines–the real, paper kind). This blog focuses on the characters and the process and will feature the books when they are published. I may also post about my other writings.

I already have a blog on Goodreads.com, but I wanted a place where I could incorporate pictures, graphics, and color schemes. Now I’m struggling to make the new blog work the way I want to with minimal instructions and minimal ability to re-do what I don’t like. I thought experimentation with the colors would be easy, but I cannot find a way to get back to the original night-sky background shade of WordPress’s Dark To Dawn theme. Even going back and selecting the theme again doesn’t give me a chance to start over again. If anyone would like to tell me how to get back to the default background, please comment, and I will be eternally grateful.

I hope you read slowly enough to notice the term is Anti-VampirISM and not Anti-VAMPIRE. The name is decided upon by a group of kids who have seen one of their own bitten and hope they don’t have to kill him. One of them, Darrell, thinks that if his best friend Hugh has become a vampire the only thing they can do is destroy him. But Mary, who is still shell-shocked that her boyfriend has left her for someone else–and then witnessed the new flame biting him–bears the hope that there might be some other way to prevent disaster.