Hello, my name is Marilyn and I am a Vampire Addict.

One of the first exercises Chris Baty has you do in the beginning of No Plot? No Problem! is to draft two “magna cartas.”  One should be composed of all the things that you personally like in the books you love to read.  He says to be honest, even if it means admitting that you like books with a lot of white space because you do not like reading large blocks of text.  The other “magna carta” should be the opposite list – all the things you find boring in books.  Again, he encourages you to be honest with yourself, even if it means admitting that you really hate books about old people or love stories.

I did this exercise, although I have not yet hung them up by my desk like he suggests.  I will not post them here either, but I do want to take this opportunity to be honest about the kind of book I want to write, based on the kind of book I like to read.

I am a genre reader.  I love me a good urban fantasy.  I also enjoy straight-up fantasy, science fiction (both soft and hard), apocalyptic dystopias, some steampunk, and the occasionally mystery.  Add to that Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and John Donne, and that about rounds out what I prefer reading.

I also LOVE vampires.  Love them…I get all feisty with people who try to disparage my beloved vampire and I feel the need to spout long diatribes, explaining their importance as archetypes of the human experience.  I will spare you that spiel here.

Bela Lugosi's DraculaFirst of all, I would like to concede the fact that the current state of literature is filled to the brim with vampire stories.  Well, I don’t care.  This first manuscript (and probably the  second and the third) is just for me.  I need to get in the practice of writing creatively again.  I need to experiment with story-construction, from beginning to end.  The first manuscript I write, edited or not, is probably not going to be publication-worthy.  I am okay with that, which is why I decided that one of the main characters in my first manuscript will be a vampire.  It will not have to compete with the market and that is what I want to write about, so that is what I am going to do.  So there!

Secondly, I just want to mention something that I find ironic.  I love reading and I love vampires, but, honestly, I cannot think of a single book about vampires that I would give five out of five stars too.  I am not entirely sure why.  It just seems that even if I enjoy the story and the characterizations, I always end up disappointed – as though the author could have treated the vampire mythology just a little bit better.  Of course, I have not read every single book out there with vampire characters, and I am sure there must be at least a couple that would become favorites.  Nevertheless, my experience to date cannot provide me with such a book, with the one notable exception of Dracula by Bram Stoker himself.  However, Dracula works for an historical setting (today anyway), but I like my vampires to feel a little closer and that involves a contemporary treatment.

If I may momentarily set the novel aside, Joss Whedon is my hero and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (along with Angel and the irrelevant-to-this-discussion Firefly) is, in my opinion, one of the best shows every produced for television.  I wish I could find that in a novel.

I believe part of my desire to focus on the vampire is that the part of my brain which has never been introduced to my internal critic thinks that maybe I can do it “right.”  When I say that out-loud (or the written equivalent), however, that little guy takes note, glares at me and shames me into believing that I could never do that.  My inner critic’s opinion is irrelevant, though, since he is barred from reading my first manuscript.

Well, there it is… *Whew!*  I have come clean.  I like vampires.  I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest.  Now you, dear reader, know what you are getting yourself into and I can no longer be held accountable for leading you down a dark path that leads to a genre you hate.

My name is Marilyn and I am a vampire addict.

Categories: Pensive Ponderings, Planning, Random Ruminations, Reading, The Process, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Hello, my name is Marilyn and I am a Vampire Addict.

  1. Hi, my name is Rhiannon, and I’m a shameless vampire addict too. And strangely, I have almost no favorite vampire books either. They do manage to disappoint somewhere along the line, for some reason or another. My two favorite series, the Jaz Parks series (more romantic/love story with vampires and the CIA) and the Nathaniel Cade series (more action/thriller movie-esque, just in book form) I love to death, but I recognize that both weren’t the most spectacular books, and I’d give ’em both four stars, at most. Then again…few of my favorite fantasy stories get five stars…so…not sure what that points to. Anyway, just wanted to ask, what vampire novels would you suggest to me, a fellow vampire addict? I’m looking for some new stuff to take a browsing to.

    And so? Even though there’s a glut of vampire fiction out there, there’s also a glut of vampire fiction writers. One of my projects and my first novel was a vampire novel, and I can’t tell you how many people said that they’d be happy to take a look at my final draft just because it’s a vampire book. Also, if you write it for yourself, it tends to have more authenticity and I, for one, can tell and I prefer books that have that feeling like the writer wrote it because it’s something they enjoy, not because the market told them to. But I totally understand if your first manuscript is just for you. Some projects just don’t feel like they should be shared yet.

    YES. For me, Angel more than Buffy, just because I watched Angel first and all the way through, which I haven’t with Buffy. Also, Firefly is just plain awesome. It holds a special place in the annals of tv show history on my dvd shelf. Recently, I’ve discovered the Angel predecessor, Forever Knight, which is really traditional in its take on vampires and an awesome series, even if it does have that 80’s campyness.

    • Part of me wonders if the reason neither one of us has found a vampire book that wholly satisfies us is because it isn’t possible to write one. What I mean is, there are so many interesting directions one can take with vampire mythology and there are so many avenues to explore: the repercussions of living “forever,” the balance of good and evil, the magic vs. scientific route like you talked about in your series, the dark & sexy stranger, etc. And they are all interesting and worthy of exploration. I am just not sure they can be executed effectively in the same novel. I have been trying to develop the vampire for my story based on the advice in your blog and I have run into a wall. There are some elements that I love and I think would be fun to explore, but if I go in that direction, he won’t be very attractive and I can’t see him working for the story I am currently imagining. So, I have some thinking to do. I may just keep all the ideas in my head, keep writing and see what happens.

      You may have already read them, but a few I can think of are Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas, Fevre Dreams by George R. R. Martin and The Passage by Justin Cronin. It has been awhile since I read Vampire Tapestry, but I remember thinking her treatment was unique. My husband loved Fevre Dreams, so I felt bad when I did not love it as much has he did – it was written by GRRM after all. It also had some unique twists, but I think I would give it 3.5 stars at most. I am currently working my way through The Passage, so I don’t have a final judgment yet. It explores the idea of vampires overrunning the world, so it combines two of my favorites – apocalypse and vampires. It was recommended to me by someone whose judgment I trust and called it one of the best books of the year. I loved the first part of the book, but right now I am trying to work my way through this next part and I don’t like it as much. The past couple of days I have been avoiding it. I read the first Cade book and thought it was fun. I’ve never read the other one you mentioned, but I think I’ll check it out. At some point I’d like to get an e-reader because there are a lot of self-published e-books I’d also like to check out (I can’t get into reading on my computer). Oh, also Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It is a young adult novel, which I also read awhile ago and don’t remember very well, but her book Beauty is one of my all-time favs.

      You raise an interesting point about the prevalence of vampire novels/novelists. I am always on the lookout for more, so, it makes sense that others would be too. As for sharing my first manuscript, we’ll see. I don’t want to feel pressured – I just want to get into a creative writing mode again. I’m going to check out a writer’s group in my area. If I like it, I may end up sharing that manuscript after all.

      I started watching Buffy right from the beginning, so I can’t really separate the two series. At some point I did watch First Knight, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Angel. I also watched the British series Ultraviolet, but there were only 6 episodes. As far as Firefly is concerned…its cancellation is the greatest television tragedy of our generation. It still hurts to think about.

      Also, your comments are so much fun! Thanks!

      • Usually, I’m tripped up by things not relating to the vampires, like poor characterization or lack of concrete descriptions of where things are taking place. There’s only been a couple of times that I’ve not enjoyed a vampire book because of the vampires, and this is usually because of poor integration, though there have been times I’ve been irked by how stupid they get portrayed as (as in, I can’t find a logical reason for them to behave the way they do, even as a predator species that’s not human). Oh, I doubt they could all be done in one novel. It’d be absolutely huge! There’s just too many avenues to go down, and to include them all would turn into a mess.

        Then do more than one! Explore all routes, but in different projects. My main vampire series is pretty scientific and they don’t get to do awesome/cool supernatural stuff because of the scientific restrictions on them, so I decided that in a fantasy trilogy I’m working on, I’ll include vampires that are entirely magical instead, so I can explore that too. If your vampire wouldn’t work in your current project, take him out, and make a new project centered around him, or vampires like him. That way, you won’t end up forcing this character who might not work into a particular story and risk breaking either the character or the story. Definitely keep exploring though. You might find that your story takes a totally different turn halfway through and this character works perfectly for it. You never know.

        I literally just picked up Fevre Dreams, as per your suggestion. I enjoyed Martin’s A Game of Thrones (though I wasn’t able to get much further than it) so I’m looking forward to this. Sunshine is on my list of To Read, but I haven’t been able to find a copy. No one seems to carry it. I’ll keep the others in mind too, once I get more cash to blow on books.
        The Jaz Parks series is a romance with a very traditional take on vampires. I love it because of the time Rardin spends on developing the relationship between the two characters. The woman sure as hell knew how to create romantic tension that kept me devouring books out of the need to find out what happens next. As a writer, I learned the value of building a realistic romance and how to go about writing romantic tension. It’s one of my favorites simply because of how much I learned from it. The Cade ones are silly as hell, but have great thriller type plots and just the right dash of humor that they’ve kept me buying. I’m currently waiting for Flewelling’s Casket of Souls to come out so they’ll ship me my new Cade book.

        Also, check out online writing groups. LegendFire is a forum board I’m a part of that’s incredibly friendly, very supportive, and gives brilliant feedback. AbsoluteWrite, though absolutely massive, is also a very good online writing group that a lot of published authors have come out of. Writer’s Cafe is decent. I didn’t have much luck on it, but maybe you’ll do better than me. It takes more patience, since the site is huge and you have to build a community on it before you get a lot of feedback.

        I haven’t seen First Night, but I heard it wasn’t nearly as good as Forever Knight. Forever Knight is very similar to Angel in many respects, and I have noticed that a number of little things in Angel were inspired by Forever Knight. Haven’t seen Ultraviolet. I’m currently addicted to the American adaption of Being Human though. Can’t get into the British one for some reason. I stumbled across Firefly long after it was gone, and only was able to grieve it’s loss a couple years after it’s cancellation. I agree though. Greatest Television Tragedy indeed.

        • I hope you like Fevre Dreams. And someone else just recommended the Jaz Parks books, so I think I am going to check them out too. I can’t believe Sunshine isn’t available. I guess it isn’t the newest book in the world, but it is by Robin McKinley after all!!

          I had that thought too – I’ll just write different stories with different types of vampires. Explore all the different aspects of vampires that I find interesting. I think you’re right – I shouldn’t try to force the vampire I am currently envisioning into a role that doesn’t fit him.

          Thanks for the suggestions on the writing groups. I have had a look at Absolute Write and it was a little overwhelming. And I will check out LegendFire. I just realized as I was typing this that I forgot about the writing group meeting yesterday. I went once and liked it. I want to continue going to try it out, but the past couple of weeks I have been distracted and it totally slipped my mind until I started writing about the online groups.

          By the way, I have noticed you like video games. How do you manage to get writing done, go to school AND play video games. I am an MMO junkie and occasionally I devote too much time to them at the cost of other things in my life. I guess the answer is probably just determination and will power. Sometimes though it seems like I just have too many interests and not enough time.

          Did I say First Knight? I think I meant Forever Knight. I’ve tried to watch Being Human – I think just the British version – but I didn’t really get into it. I think it is about time for another vampire television show though.

          • Just finished up “Good Omens” so “Fevre Dreams” is next.
            I have to special order it and I don’t want to pay for shipping quite yet. Eventually.

            Yeah, I haven’t joined Absolute Write simply because there’s just so many people on it. I prefer smaller communities. LF is a good size, and they tend to be very responsive in the critique threads.
            Oh dear. Well, I hope you get into the grove of your writing group soon! I’m sure that after a few meetings, you won’t forget about it anymore.

            Ah-hah-ha. It’s more like School, Writing, Art, Books, and Video Games. I mostly manage the school part because I can double-dip it with my writing, since I’m working for a Fiction Writing degree. The art has, sadly, been suffering, but sometimes I get to doodle. The books I just read on my daily commute to class, since it takes me almost two hours to get there. As for the video games, I don’t play as much as I used to. What usually happens is I go on binge-playing for a week every three months or so. Once I’m done with the binge, I don’t really want to play for a few more months, so I get stuff done in that in-between time. I know what you mean by too many interests, not enough time. There’s a very good reason I don’t have a job quite yet…

            Being Human is one of those shows you have to watch episode 1 for and then watch about four more episodes before you’re hooked. It’s a slow series, and has an awful lot in common with soap operas. However, what they do very well that I’ve tried to learn from for my writing is how to plant a piece of information twelve episodes before it becomes important, yet keep it fresh enough in your mind that you don’t forget about it. I have no idea how they do it, but they do.
            Agreed. Something that isn’t following on the coattails of Twilight or True Blood, please. I want something new. Okay, I want something Buffy, truth be told, but I’ll take anything that isn’t Twilight or True Blood. I’m really surprised they haven’t tried the well-worn vampire police/private detective yet, since the police procedural dramas are so popular right now.

  2. Hi, my name is Mel and you two are my new best friends. I’m not so much a vampire addict, although I do enjoy researching and writing about them. (Am I in denial…?) Salem’s Lot by Stephen King is one vampire book I would give top ratings to, mostly because it was my first vampire book and (like my old boyfriend said) you never forget your first time. 😉 I also have Buffy and Firefly on dvd boxset and I still watch Angel reruns on tv. I do find it weird that Joss Whedon pretty much works on ANYTHING – he wrote the screenplay for the Toy Story movie. But he sure knows how to tell a story.
    I’d also like to add that REAL vampires do not sparkle.
    And I kind of feel like a jerk right now because both your posts were so long, but I just got out of work and it’s late and I’m tired. So…g’night ladies! 😀

    • Welcome to Vampires Anonymous, Mel! You know it is funny what you said about Salem’s Lot being your first, because I am pretty sure Dracula was mine and I often wonder if that contributes to how much I like it. I KNOW the movie (with Bela Lugosi) was my first vampire movie, because I was really young when I saw it and it scared the crap out of me. Yep on Joss Whedon – he’s a genius. My husband and I saw Cabin in the Woods recently and it did not disappoint. I can’t wait until I get to watch his version of Much Ado. And also, don’t get me started on Stephanie Meyer’s vampires, but yeah, real vampires do NOT sparkle. Also, I started reading Nora’s Sun and I’m really excited about it!

      • Yay! I’m excited that you’re excited!
        Just a heads-up though, there are no vampires in Nora’s Sun. 😉

  3. My favorite vampire novel is “Interview With a Vampire” by Anne Rice. It is a 5 star book for me. I loved the quality of her writing before it became commercial. I have been reading paranormal romances lately just so I can see how other writers incorporate erotic romance with fantasy, since I’m writing a sexy fantasy novel. Anyway, if you’re looking for a nontraditional take on vampirism, I recommend the sci-fi novel “Fledgling” by Octavia Butler. It was the last book she published before she passed away. But it’s more than just about vampires, sex, and sucking blood, but also about humanizing the other and shaping community in a broken wokd.

    • For some reason, I have never really been able to get into Anne Rice. I don’t know why. She’s iconic and is just as important to vampire lore as Bram Stoker himself. I don’t know. I’ve tried several times. Maybe I’ll try again.

      In the meantime, I will have to have a look at “Fledgling.” I’ve never heard of it, but from the way you describe it, it sounds like something I’d be really interested in. And I like Butler.

      My nook is pretty much filled exclusively with paranormal romance. This is partly because I’ve only paid for three of the hundred-some books on it. And right now the paranormal romance thing is pretty big. Some of those free books are better than others. Some are surprisingly good.

      Now, sexy fantasy has been around for forever and I fully support your writing endeavor. But I’m still wrapping my brain around this new genre of “paranormal fantasy.” Honestly, I don’t like this name and while I don’t have problems with the genre itself, I don’t like how the market created a new name and separated it from the rest of fantasy. This is probably something else I should post about, because it is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

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