I love vampires. I love all kinds of vampires; Anne Rice, Stephenie Meyer (yes, there, I admitted it), Charlaine Harris, they all have strengths and weaknesses and I enjoy them each on their own terms. I’ve never really tried to write vampires before, I’m more of a shifter/werewolf person and to be honest if I was given the option to BE one of them I would choose shifter, and this presented a hurdle for me in the writing of Abel’s Legacy. I write characters best that are either based in some way on me, or on things I want to be. The personal connection allows me to be deeper inside the head of the character and I think makes for a better overall reader-experience.
Vampires have felt overdone for about the last five years. While the craze seems to be mostly over there is still a lot out there utilising the vampiric trope. I didn’t want to use the vampiric trope for my story but it fit nicely and I was floundering a little bit so I decided to grab on to something familiar. I think most writers have been there. This wasn’t a time I could do what I did in The First Tail and make up a mythical creature that straddled a whole bunch of tropes. Familiar is sometimes good.
Why did vampires fit so well into a story ostensibly based on my relationship experiences and my feelings surrounding caring for my partner (with a good bit of musical accompaniment from Kate Bush and Placebo)? It’s not because all of my boyfriends have been soul sucking monsters. I would have used a different trope if that was the case. It’s not because I think of my current boyfriend as a bloodsucker when I take care of him. It’s because I needed a large group of people willing to drink blood and be the subject of some knife laden rituals. They suited my purposes.
Of course, even though there is some magic in Abel’s Legacy, these vampires are far from the Cullens. What I did is essentially write into my story a group of mentally ill people who live together and believe themselves to be vampires. I didn’t want there to be too much craziness because just the right amount of craziness would keep the story from tipping into total fantasy. So, I made ‘real’ vampires.
To do this, I employed the technique every writer knows; I googled. I also read, but I have a very esoteric library so not all authors may have been able to look up some of the things I did in their own personal libraries. Google is a resource without which my writing process would move far more slowly. It wasn’t tricky to source several articles relating to medical diagnoses of vampirism; I did a quick check into trends for communes and cults and found a couple of interesting things about shared delusional behaviour. Then, all I had to do is put all of that together and I’m left with a scary house in a field full of vampiric schizophrenics, paranoiacs and sufferers of other mental disorders that can lead to an unbreakable belief that one is, indeed, a member of an undead population of blood drinking demons.
I try and do this with a level of sensitivity; obviously there are people in the world who suffer terrible issues surrounding identity and specifically this very problem. One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that you get to meet all of your characters. Interestingly, I have a soft spot for my vampires. They’re actually the only non-guilty party in the story. Apart from maybe Ashy, but one thing at a time.
As far as the reader is aware, these vampires never hurt anyone. In fact, in their search for redemption they have helped, at personal cost, a whole bunch of strangers. Part of their delusion involves the loss of their immortal souls and they do believe they need to redeem themselves.
Hint: One of these characters is going to be the main event in Abel’s Legacy’s sequel.