Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Ten Things about Vampires

You know vampires, right? Bloodsuckers, issue with the sun, blah blah blah? Well, here's 10 things about vampires, or rather 10 takes on the vampire I've come across.

  1. Go Bram Stoker, Mr Dracula himself! His book has to be the most famous vampire book, ever, and the only one (as far as I can tell) that's acceptably transcended into the "classics" section. Another book with a "dark and evil" take on vampires is Stephen King's Salem's Lot, which should be considered a classic, too, if you ask me. 
  2. Way the go, Anne Rice. You rock. Thank you, thank you, for giving us the sexy, seductive, endlessly compelling and wholly ruthless Vampire Lestat. I do believe that without him (or rather Ms Rice), vampires would not be what they are today. 
  3. Laurell K Hamilton, in her Anita Blake books, shows us a slow revelation of vampires as (very sexy and rather over-sexed) real people (with all the flaws real people have, from petty to megalomaniac, from compassionate to sociopathic)(ok so maybe there's more sociopaths but hey, you try living that long). I'm speaking early books, here, the series slides a bit further into erotica with every book (not necessarily a bad thing but not everyone's cup of tea, either). Her vampires are sexy (for the most part) and come in different varieties depending what bloodline they belong to. This can range from succubus/incubus powers to being able to let their body rot and repair again (need I tell you which ones are the good guys in most cases?). They are manipulative as hell, too. There's even a Church founded by a vampire, the church of eternal life... 
  4. Christine Feehan, with her Dark series covering the "Carpathians", as she calls her vampires - a different race entirely, searching for their true mates who are the only ones to save them from true darkness and turning into the more classically evil kind of vampire. They're immortal warriors (for the most part), shape-shifters and blood-drinkers but also extremely sensual. A much darker, grittier take on the "mates for the warrior vamps" theme can be found in JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series for those who need more suffering and angst with their romance. 
  5. MaryJanice Davidson's iconically funny Betsy, vampire queen and beloved of Sink-Lair (as she calls him). This is chick lit with vampires, pure and simple. It's quirky, it's fun, and there's lots of pretty shoes involved. Brilliant. 
  6. Ms Meyer's Sparklepires. Please don't make me say more. 
  7. Gail Z Martin's Chronicles of the Necromancer is the first book I came across that's fairly classic fantasy and has vampire characters in it. I'm sure it's been done before, but this is the first time I read something like it. Usually, it's urban or historical or some such.
  8. In Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series, vampires are mindless beasts 'navigated' by people with power over the dead (necromancers, to use the newly fashionable designation for such people). The vampires themselves are not characters, merely tools to be used. 
  9. And then, of course, there's Blade, ultimate movie vampire that he is. Daywalker, the only one in existance. Come on, admit it! He's cool. 
  10. More recently (Sparklepires aside), there's a lot of YA takes on vampires, with interesting variations. A good example is Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, which also has a "dhampire" in it. Then there's P.C. and Kristin Cast's House of Night series, which starts out great (I lost interest later on in the series but hey that's just me), too - vampires as those chosen by the goddess of the night. Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series is cool, too, full of fascinating characters, ghosts and intrigues. There's many more, but these are the first few that occured to me. 
There, that's 10 takes on vampires, more or less.. did I miss any earth-moving vampire variations? What do you think of vampires, and what sort of vampire would you (or would you not) be interested in? I think I may do shifters/werewolves next....

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Begged and borrowed...

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1)

I've recently started re-reading Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series (and it truly is epic in so many ways), and in the process of doing so, I've come to a conclusion...

Writers are magpies (I've always thought this is particularly true of fantasy writers, but I'm probably wrong seeing as I read mostly fantasy and may be biased...). 

We pick up anything that looks shiny or colourful or bright, brush it off and add it to our collection. Snatches of conversation, bits and pieces we hear on the news, our own experiences and those of others, folklore, religion and myth - nothing is out-of-bounds, everything has its use. 

I think that, quite apart from doing it on purpose, most writers (me certainly) can't help themselves. Inspiration comes, the Muse strikes, and we write. Fragments of memory make their way into our stories whether we want them to or not. 

Do you find yourself doing so? 

Right now I'm toying with the idea of doing a mini-series of posts on what ideas writers incorporate into their stories, things that might resonate with the reader, familiar schemes and frameworks that are so, so familiar, and yet entirely part of the universe the writer created. 

Would that interest you? 

Maybe someone wants to join in? 


Monday, 1 August 2011

Writing exercises galore!!

With perfect timing (seeing as it's my CampNaNo month and I need to get hoppin'), Charmaine Clancy of Wagging Tales is holding a blogfest:

Imagination Sparks Blogfest

It's all about posting a writing exercise and trying out other people's. My favourite writing exercise is actually more of a characterisation exercise.

The Character Interview! 

  • Imagine you're a journalist, writing a column for your favourite newspaper/magazine. 
  • Pick a character you've been having problems with
  • Invite him or her to your office, offer them coffee/tea/lemonade
  • Play 20 questions with them! All questions must be relevant to the character and/or the plot. He/she asks you about things that will or did happen in the story, you ask him/her about what they think, feel, whatever. 
  • Rinse and repeat as necessary ; P
I absolutely adore this exercise. Many, many of my plot and character problems have resolved themselves during these interviews. Sometimes, we (the character & I) discover entirely new storylines and plot points. I can definitely recommend this, particularly if you're suffering from writers' block! 

Have fun! 


ps. here's some character interviews I've done before:

Looking for something?

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