“Ah, finally,” you might be saying, “he’s going to address some of the criticisms he said he would address!” Well, okay, kind of. And then I’ll go off on a tangent (don’t say I didn’t warn you).
One of the criticisms I received was that my depictions of women in Suburban Vampire are “cliched and oversexualized”. Before I trot out my list of excuses, I will admit that one of my fears was that my female characters were a bit one-dimensional. Of course, that could be because I’m kind of new at the novelist game, and need time to develop myself as an artist. That’s excuse number one; ready for some more?
Admittedly, I did write the book from a guys’ point of view, and I aimed it more towards guys (that does not mean I had to “dumb down” the female characters by any means). However, the very first people to read the early drafts of my work were women. At least three, maybe four of them. I discussed my female characters with them, and they didn’t seem to be concerned (Although, one of my previewers noticed that a certain female character had the same name as her — a coincidence, I just like the name — and was concerned that this character was based on her (I quote, “I hope not, ’cause she’s a bitch!”. True story)). One of my early readers was my own mother (“Would you let your mother read this?” I did, and she loved it), and she had some questions about the depiction of Scott’s mother. I told her that only the most positive aspects of Irene Campbell were based on her, and I meant it (love you, mom). The women who read my book, and loved it, were all strong, independent women, all of whom have my respect. So there.
Second, much of the sexual imagery is tied to the characters who are vampires, especially Scott Campbell. We are seeing things through his eyes, even if it is not completely a first-person POV; I’d rewritten the novel into a first-person narrative, but that didn’t make sense in the total scheme of things, so I changed it back. This will lead me into part two of this discussion, which concerns sexuality and vampires. The two have been intertwined since the beginnings of the genre. But back to my book.
I think much of the criticism comes from my depiction of the character of Dawn Rhinebeck. I didn’t necessarily intend her to be the typical “Damsel in Distress”, although she does come across that way in some scenes. I hope I also made it apparent that this damsel doesn’t stay distressed for long (in point of fact, just you wait until the sequel. She kicks some ass there). However, as the main focus for Scott’s romantic (or, rather, lustful) notions, I did intend to describe her as Scott (the vampire, not the formerly sad-sack mortal who would have had a little more taste and discretion) now saw her. And we all know that vampires are all pretty randy, am I right? Not an excuse, just a statement of fact.
My point is this: yeah, my first book is imperfect. My next one will probably be imperfect, but it will be a heck of a lot of fun, perhaps even more so than the first. Stay tuned!
And, stay tuned for the second part of this discussion. It might have more sex (or, at least the word ‘sex’ may be used more often).