Show Me Your Teeth
by Jennifer Harlow
Everyone loves vampires. Most of you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t. They have been around in some incarnation since ancient Egypt. I know this because I took “Monsters in Literature” in college and had to write a paper on them. (I also took “Witchcraft.”Go University of Virginia!) Early vampires were demons who drank the blood of babies until medieval times when the vampire morphed into something more akin to a current day zombie. A ghoul who craved human flesh. But as the times change so do our monsters, even the staples. None more so than the vampire. It wasn't until the early 1800s and the story "The Vampyre" that the seeds of the modern vampire were planted. This vampire was based on the poet Lord Byron. Suave, dressed well, amoral, seduced women, then left them for dead, much like Byron did in real life. Then came Dracula who, despite what the movies might lead you to believe, was not like the Byronic vampire. In the book, Dracula was more akin to the ghoul version in folklore. He was pasty, rat-like, and looked like a well dressed corpse who slept in dirt. It wasn't until Universal Studios and Bela Lugosi resurrected the suave vampire that our modern incarnation of the vampire really reached the zeitgeist.
Then, some forty years later, came Anne Rice. From Lugosi to Rice, vampires became campy due in most part to the Hammer Horror films, who were the only ones putting out vampire films. The atomic age with their huge bugs attacking desert towns, almost killed off the vampire and other monsters. Hammer was the only studio really keeping the vampire alive. They stayed steady with the sexy Count seducing Victorian virgins. Until Rice took them to a new level. She humanized them, brought them into the third dimension. They had problems, some hated what they were, they had consciousness and a conscious. People sometimes ask me if given the choice would I want to become a vampire. The answer is hell to the no. Watching everyone I love die, living for centuries on blood alone, having to kill people so I could live sounds like a living hell. I'm 28 and I'm getting bored, imagine having to endure that for centuries! I would be a Rice vampire. They were us plus.
Vamps vanished from movies and books a little in the eighties and nineties, at least in terms of mass production. Rice was doing her thing, but with the exception of her and a few good movies (Fright Night, Near Dark, The Lost Boys,) they went underground, replaced with slashers and serial killers. (At least there were no giant ants attacking Pittsburgh, right?) Then came a little show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To this day it is one of my favorite shows of all time. Like most vampire authors I owe a lot to this show. It was smart, scary, funny, and real. It showed the right way to handle this genre, a little tongue and cheek but fused with real life problems, the perfect blend of magic and reality. I never missed an episode and it was the only television show to make me cry. (Buffy killing the newly souled Angel to save the world, such a tearjerker).
My own desire to write about the supernatural stemmed from that show. And a little book called Guilty Pleasures by one of my literary idols Ms Laurell K. Hamilton. I was working at Borders in 2003 and noticed at least once a month someone would come in looking for her books, so one day I decided to see what the fuss was about. The Anita Blake series blew my mind. I loved the tough as nails main character, the blending of magic and reality, the action. They were awesome. I went to college the following summer and decided I wanted to try my hand at writing one. I recognized the market for this type of book would blow up eventually and I wanted in. Of course finding time to write while attending college, volunteering at half a dozen places, then looking for your first job put me off track for a few years so I'm coming in late, but I'm finally getting to go to the ball. So while I was writing and living at the library studying, the urban fantasy genre exploded like I knew it would. Who doesn't want a little magic and danger in their lives? Vampires became an antihero, helping the main character but still occasionally killing people, as it should be. Because really, if given super powers, few repercussions, and the need for blood, who wouldn't find themselves being a little bit naughty?
Then came Twilight. I know most of you love it, and I respect that, but I personally have many issues with these books, some from a writing standpoint and others about their influence on teenage girls, but the biggest travesty was that vampires lost their balls. I'm sorry, sparkling? I can understand the vegetarian thing, but not sparkling. I know that vampires evolve but not to this. My concern is that this will continue and all the blood will be drained from them. Vampires are meant to be naughty, evil, a bad boy or girl that tap into our fears about sex and losing control. They are meant to be bad, that's why we’ve always been drawn to them. (Once again, just my opinion. No hate mail, please.)
What is next for the vampire? Not a clue. Two more Twilight movies, another season of True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. All I do know is that in my books the vampires will only sparkle from the moonlight reflecting off their blood drenched body. As it should be.
What about you? Do you have a favorite vampire movie or book? Do you like the gentler vampire or the bloodthirsty kind? What do you think the next stage of evolution will be regarding the vampire?
The Buzz for Mind Over Monsters
“Monstrously fun! Monstrously suspenseful! Monstrously good!” –Victoria Laurie
“A gritty, dramatic police-procedural with a compelling heroine and a fascinating group of sidekicks.”
“Harlow offers treats for every paranormal lover to relish, with plenty of action, thrills, and laughter.”
--Leanna Renee Hieber
“Mind Over Monsters is funny, scary, and creepy—and ridiculous amounts of fun!” –Kat Richardson
Jennifer Harlow is the author of Mind Over Monsters, the first of the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad series. And yes, there is a vampire. You can check out her blog “Tales From the Darkside” at her website www.jenniferharlowbooks.com. Also friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at jenharlowbooks.
Mind Over Monsters
A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation
By Jennifer Harlow
US $14.95 • CAN $16.95
Trade Paperback Original • 53/16 x 8 • 288 pp.
Paranormal heroes take on zombies in this funny and thrilling debut.
Very few people know the truth about Beatrice Alexander. She’s no ordinary schoolteacher with a fondness for classic movies. Beatrice can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing and dangerous skill that she’s never learned to master — or embrace. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins F.R.E.A.K.S. The Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals is a top-secret offshoot of the FBI that “neutralizes” ghouls, trolls, and other monsters threatening humanity.
Beatrice has no desire to become Buffy the vampire slayer. But F.R.E.A.K.S. offers training to control her power. Also, she doesn’t feel like such a freak next to the other supernatural members, including a cute former detective who’s a werewolf and an unbearable vampire determined to seduce Beatrice. Despite a natural instinct to flee from hideous, bloodthirsty zombies, Beatrice must prove herself on her first mission to find a cunning necromancer.
Oliver is oblivious to my plight. He’s busy with the veritable wall of walking dead surrounding us. The moment he knocks one into a tree or tombstone another seems to take its place in the line like a zombie Pez dispenser. Two of them, one a man and the other unidentifiable, grab Oliver but he pushes them away. Another grabs my arm and tries to bite, but I kick it away. My martial arts trainer would be so proud. His buddy behind me grabs the other arm and chomps down on it. I scream. The gun in the other hand reaches her forehead and a second later, her head is nothing but puzzle pieces. Enough of this.
Something I’ve never felt seizes control. My body turns warm then hot in an instant, like someone’s switched on my boiler. My breath becomes ragged and then stops. The breeze stops moving and everything but the dozen soldiers surrounding us turn black. There are no screams, no moans, no Oliver. The air moves toward me, inside me, through every pore of my body. What feels like two hands squeeze either side of my brain, but it doesn’t hurt for once. I don’t know what’s happening to me…but I like it. I close my eyes and feel the blood trickle out of my nose. I release. Power explodes out of me like a fiery gust of wind in a hurricane. It knocks me on my back. Several daggers plunge into my brain. I cry out, clutching my head. Oh God, it hurts! Just stop it! Hands grab my shoulders.
“Trixie!” a familiar voice shouts. I know that voice…who… “Open your eyes!” I do. It’s blurry at first, but I blink until I see Oliver kneeling beside me. God, he’s good looking when he’s worried. “My dear, can you speak?”
“Never mind. Can you walk?”
“Um…” Without letting me finish he hoists me up by the arms, my injured one throbbing. When I’m up the sight before me draws a gasp. Oh…my…lord. There’s nothing left but the kind of destruction I see on TV after a tornado. Trees lie on their sides, tangled roots above ground. Every headstone within forty feet around rests on its side, a few older ones are now nothing but pebbles and dust. The zombie horde is literally nothing but pieces. Twitching legs, arms, jaws still trying to make their way toward us litter the grass. Every piece bigger than a foot still tries to continue on their mission, but I doubt any of them is a threat to us anymore. A few fresher corpses remain intact but shuffle far in the distance.
“Remind me never to anger you,” Oliver says, serious as death. I’ve scared a vampire. Holy heck. And we take off running.
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The Making of Meaningful Backstory (Part II)
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