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Sunday, May 22, 2011

How do You Like Your Monsters?

     A fact that I have been wrestling with throughout the novel has been how to help my readers care about my, inherently evil, main characters.  It's a tricky contradiction to have characters that kill, feed on, humans be the ones you are supposed to care for.  Some authors have done it successfully where others have not (in my humble opinion).
     Take Anne Rice for example.  In her most famous novel, Interview With a Vampire, she does a wonderful job of making Louis a savage killer in the beginning, and then as the story continues you begin to feel sorry for him as he is controlled by Lestat.  Louis then tries to appeal to his human soul by feeding on rats only then to realize that he is what he is and returns to feeding on people.  By that point of the story however, you have already fallen in love with this tortured man and are so invested in the story that you still care for him no matter what he eats.
     Then there are the "vegetarian" vampires...enough said.
     There are examples of good ways to endear your "evil" characters
to your readers and not so good ways.  I hope that I can balance the good/evil aspects of my characters in a believable way.  The way my book is currently written this issue seems a bit contrived.  (They feed on "undesirable individuals" in the inner city.)  I hope on my rewrite I can do a better job keeping in mind my previous examples.  I do think that I have written my characters well enough that the reader will care about them no matter what.  I just don't want my story to suffer because of a ridiculous plot device.
     The funny thing is that the scene, the scene where the reader sees Lizabeth eat, is one of my favorites.  I also think that the effects of her being hungry are pretty unique as well.

Excerpt From Chapter 6

     I listened to my surroundings carefully. I could hear a fight up ahead. Gabriel had chosen well. Neither of us enjoyed hunting humans, but there were some that you would feel less guilty about.
     The police were calling into a house, "Come out, we have your house surrounded. We know you have a woman in there. Let her go."
     I slunk around the back of the house. I could hear two heartbeats inside. Both were racing. Without a sound I jumped up onto the window ledge slipping through the open window with ease. The woman saw me first. I was covered in sweat and my eyes were wild.
     "Run," I commanded, "now." No one would ever believe what she said anyway.
     As the man turned to face me I opened my mouth slightly and ran my tongue along my sharp, elongated canines. He looked as if he was about to say something when I pounced. I landed on top of him with such force that he fell to the floor knocking the wind out of him. My teeth pierced his skin at exactly the right position and I began draining the life from him. I had no control as I drank; my body was working on instinct alone.
     The blood felt hot as it ran down my throat. Slowly my extremities began to regain their feeling. His blood was chasing away the pain. I was so focused now that I could only hear his heartbeat. It was as if it beat in my chest. I continued to drink until the beats became too low to hear and I stopped. Ripping my head back, I wiped what remained on lips into my mouth with my index finger. I sat back on the floor of the house to enjoy the only moment of warmth that came close to that of being human. The seconds after feeding left me warm inside only as long as the blood stayed warm. It was far too short.
     "Come out with your hands up, or we’re coming in," the police broadcasted their final ultimatum.
     Gabriel appeared in the window with a gas can and a lighter. He splashed the liquid on the floor as I leaped out the window. With a toss of the lighter the room when up in flames.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Little Fear Never Hurt Anyone, In Fact It Might Help!

     My husband was out of town last weekend, male bonding with his buddies, leaving me home alone.  I've always fancied myself a strong, independent woman, but the prospect of being home alone in a big empty house was not exactly appealing to me.  That previous statement embodies Lizabeth my main character as well.  She sees herself as being quite adept to taking care of herself, yet she has spent her entire life, since being changed, with Gabriel.  She doesn't want to see that she is much more dependant on him than she would like.  It's amazing how much of yourself you put into your characters you create.  Lizabeth's relationship with Gabriel, and to some extent with Christian as well, mirrors relationships that I have had in the past.
     I'm not scared of many things, but if you know me there are two things that will bring me to immediate panic...elevators and thunderstorms.  I can't really recall any traumatic event in my life that began my fear of either, but I've been afraid of both as far back as I can remember.
     One time in college, I was on my way to my last exam of my sophomore year and I got stuck between 2 floors in an elevator in my dorm.  During the ride, the interior door opened to the cinder bock shaft wall.  I frantically started banging buttons, the doors shut and the elevator moved slightly.  When the doors opened again I could see light and the floor of the building was at about eye level.  Full of adrenaline I jumped, climbed, scrambled (I'm not sure what) up the shaft wall to the floor just above me and pulled myself out.  I didn't really need an event to cement my fear of elevators, but this one did certainly.
     My novel is written in as a first person account, so you as the reader are inside Lizabeth's head.  I need to make you feel everything she is feeling, hopefully as deeply as she is feeling it.  This draws a lot on my theater background as well.  As I am writing I often feel as if I need to be in the right mindset, feeling the correct emotions to pull off Lizabeth's thoughts believable (just as I would if I were acting a part).  Fear is a powerful emotion and central to this story, so when I was alone this weekend and feeling, honestly, quite scared at times it was the perfect time to write.