The Potency of Vampires
Today’s guest blog is by Kevin Powe. Kevin is an international voice actor based in Melbourne, Australia. He’s been the voice of Judge Dredd, a farm of singing animals, a daemonic e-sports announcer and much more. He is currently developing an animated series. He loves great stories in all forms, and things that go bump in the night, in every sense of the word. You can find Kevin being most active over at his Facebook page. Come say hi!
I remember my first real experience with the potency of vampires. I’d had glimpses before; shadowy figures flickering at the edge of my awareness; cheerful Peter Pan-like monsters lurking in collapsed hotels, but it was only hunting this sickness back to its origin, Van Helsing style, and reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula that really drove it home.
I’ve always loved the implied morality tale in vampires being trouble brought upon yourself, literally by invitation into your home. But it was in that amazing, horrifying scene with Dracula at the foot of Jonathan and Lucy’s bed that I saw them as the ultimate transgressor; a predator faster, stronger and more mysterious than any of its hunters, and so erotically charged.
Reading back over the scene to refresh my memory while writing this post, I was surprised to see the eroticism in the imagery; that terrible inversion of breastfeeding as an invasion of Lucy’s body in such a private place, rather than in any magnetism inherent in Dracula himself. Unf. So many layers.
Vampires have been bestial and unthinking for us, regal and reclusive, erotic and irresistible, have stood in for our fear of AIDS, fear of death, of stagnation, of our own free will unchecked, our looming energy crisis. They’ve even been creepy, relatively gormless eternal companions who love baseball.
It’s such a fertile ground for variation, for telling different stories. After picking up a copy of our lovely host Narrelle Harris’ The Opposite of Life finally, I’m really looking forward to tucking into it for exactly that reason. And doubly so for evoking the feeling of Melbourne so strongly. Fiction that slips an awareness of setting and a love of a place you know has a special place in my heart.
If you dig clever, well-crafted writing – and I’m guessing you do, given your perusing of this blog, I would also highly recommend Strange Loves: Vampire Boyfriends by the wonderfabulous Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows. It’s a Gamebook Adventure by Tin Man Games. Gamebook Adventures are a modern update of the old Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy books you might remember from the 80s, where you are an active participant in the story you’re reading, able to make choices that alter the direction the story takes. It’s part story, part game, and you can play/read them on most iOS and Android devices, as well as your computer.
Vampire Boyfriends takes a sly tilt at some of the bigger, crazier vampire stories around, and gives you license to steer your life toward some pretty wild destinations, like becoming a vampire hunter, best-selling novelist, or a vampire yourself. And you get Miellyn’s fantastic writing along the way.
Speaking of which: if you’re of a writerly persuasion (and there’s a strong chance again given that you are given that you’re here) Miellyn is on the cusp of launching Tonic Industries with Hilary Heskett Shapiro, her writing partner (in crime).
Tonic is a story consulting business focusing on helping develop ideas or evolve existing content. It’s not out there yet, but you can keep an eye on Miellyn’s doings over at Gorgeous Robot. I’d highly recommend it as both Miellyn and Hilary are two people who really know their game, and Miellyn is one of the most generous people I know with her wisdom. When preparing for the GenreCon 2013 panel I was on with Narrelle last year, Miellyn sent me some wonderfully comprehensive writing advice that was a huge help to a narrative novice like me!
So, why are vampires on the brain for me currently, when zombies are the monster du jour? * **
Because I’m privileged enough to be given a chance to play in another author’s take on vampires, as I’m currently finishing up an audiobook of Karen Fainges’ Destiny Sets, which has its own unique take on the relationship between vampire and prey. You can find Karen over here. It’s not the first time I’ve had a chance to play in the broader world of vampires, either. My first audiobook was The Keeper back in 2011, which is a wonderful love story that dealt with themes of morality, immortality and companionship in a touching way. (It’s worth warning that the story has some religious elements, which did offend some surprised listeners)
Once you’ve dealt with the challenge of delivering both sides of a fairly descriptive sex scene in an audiobook, it’s difficult to get stumped going forward.
While I love the wild variation of vampires, to me they’re at their most potent as mysterious, sensual predators. Outsiders who are able to move undetected amongst us for a time. A lot like the drifter gunslinger archetype, which I also have a huge soft spot for.
What are vampires when they’re at their best (worst) for you?
* Check out this episode of the GeeksOn podcast for an interesting class-based deconstruction of monster mythology by David Brin