Welcome to the Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour!! A few of my author friends from Broad Universe and I adore Halloween, so we’re trading blog posts every other day for this last week of October.
I’m honored to have our own Hostess with the Mostest who put this blog together, LC Hu, for today’s post! 🙂 And I’m also extremely pleased with this article on vampires because for a long time, I shared her disdain of these particular monsters. I love how she refound the spark of horror.
Revamping the Vampire, by LC Hu
Happy almost-Halloween, everyone!
A quick shout out to Trisha for hosting me! It’s great to be here.
Today, I want to talk about revisiting a classic Halloween monster–the vampire–twice, and what it means to me to reimagine a subject.
We’ve all heard the old adage “There’s nothing new under the sun.” (Or the stars, in a vampire’s case.) And it’s true–it’s hard , if not impossible, to come up with something completely new; even if you think of something that’s pretty original, odds are good that someone else has thought of it too. There’s a lot of people pondering a lot of subjects out there.
So for me breathing fresh life into something old is more about adding a personal touch. Finding what unsettles me, or interests me, and adding that little bit to the existing monster. And hitting a common note is just fine–wanted, perhaps, because it will help my audience connect.
In recent work I’ve revisited the vampire twice. I find this a little funny–since outgrowing my Anne Rice and Poppy Z Brite phase, I’ve carried around a little bit of hipsteresque disdain for the befanged blood drinker. But for the Re-Vamp project, we were doing a tour of all the old, classic, monsters, so I was obligated to revisit the subject. And for Midnight Carnival shared world project, part of why I tackled a vampire was precisely my disdain; it seemed like a personal challenge, to make this overdone monster interesting to me again.
Re-Vamp was all about trying to bring the classic into the current, to be both nostalgic and contemporary at once, so for the vampire in my short story “Lump,” I read a lot about the origins of the vampire. I decided to go with the elements that disturbed me: the corpse-like pallor, the distended/bloated belly, elements that hearkened back to people being frightened of decomposing corpses. Decay and rot are unsettling to a lot of people. For the contemporary angle, I used situation and location–by the side of the highway, the dark woods, the quandary of helping someone (or something) injured by the side of the road, or leaving it out of fear.
Being a shared, established world, The Midnight Carnival had established certain rules for vampires already, so I only had so much room to work with: they could be wounded or killed by holy water, fire, sunlight, silver; they were made, not born; they live on blood; they are stronger and faster than humans, and able to heal quickly. So it became the little things about my individual vampire, Carver, that I played with to make him interesting to me. I tried to imagine how a vampire like that might blend into the human world best, become the wolf in sheep’s clothing as best as possible. What biological alterations the transformation would cause, and what neurochemical or other personality-influencing changes.
His teeth, for example: they are all sharp, like a dog or cat’s teeth, even the molars. The canines are longer, the front teeth more flattened/bladelike, but they are not the two puncturing canines of the classic movie vampire. They also retract. The human set and the vampire set are interchangeable, sliding back into the gums, one set replacing the other. Or his breathing–Carver breathes so he can speak, because I liked the physicality of it, the little obedience to the real world, that you must have air in your lungs and expend it to speak. It’s also good camouflage, when you’re pretending to be human.
And I mentioned mental changes too–it’s not clear, in the MC world, if it’s a demonic soul outsting a human one to cause the vampiric change, or a virus, or something else, so I went with it being more physical, including alterations to the brain and brain chemistry. Once upon a time Carver was a very good, upstanding man, a detective with a beloved wife and two beloved daughters, and I started thinking about what kind of a vampire a man like that would become, if you took away his regret and a large part of his empathy and handed him a ravenous, unending appetite for blood.
…I could go on all day. Suffice to say, I interested myself in this old, reliable monster again, and had good fun with it too. In the end, I think that’s all it takes to breathe a little new life into the old–have fun with it, go crazy, let yourself break rules or obey them, just learn to enjoy the monster–or whatever subject matter you’re revisiting–again.
The Wicked, Weird and Whimsical Words Halloween Blog Tour runs every other day October 23-October 31. Join us all five days for Halloween fun! Be sure to say hello on any post to be entered in a giveaway at the end of the tour!