Sex!!! Part two (with more sex)!

Now that I have your attention, welcome to part two of the discussion I said I’d get to eventually — the one about S-E-X. Kind of. Just enough to get you interested (I told you I’d get to it eventually! I wasn’t lying!).

There is some (not much, but it is there) sexual content in Suburban Vampire. Those of you unfamiliar with the vampire genre will ask why this is — well, sex sells, of course. But that is a lazy man’s answer (I am, after all, a lazy man), and is not the actual truth (sex sells sometimes. But if there’s nothing but sex, then you have porn, and that’s not my deal, thank you). A writer friend once made a comment, and I am probably butchering it here, thanks to my shabby memory, but it went along the lines of “part of the rationale behind the vampire genre is dangerous sexuality”. I at first said “not necessarily” (all sex is dangerous — even in the most tame, monogamous, and dedicated relationships, you run the risk of kids!), but then I thought about it — and came to the conclusion that my friend was right. Sexuality and the vampire are, for better or worse, intertwined, almost from the beginnings of the genre. One only needs to look at one of the earliest works of the genre, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, published in serial form between 1871 and 1872. This work predated the gold standard of the genre, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (published in 1897). Carmilla was a series of stories about a lesbian vampire — that’s right, a lesbian, back in the stodgy Victorian era (although it was not explicit, considering the era, one can easily deduce the author’s intent that, yeah, this vampiress digged chicks). Even in Stoker’s Dracula, there is certainly a less-then-completely explicit undertone of sexuality (Drac stalks Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray. Because of blood. Yeah, that’s it. Plus, he has a harem of ‘brides’. Just because he likes having them around, I guess). Now, the basic story has been embellished since Stoker wrote his book, with the inclusion of a subplot in which Dracula believes Mina to be the reincarnation of his long lost love, a modern invention which has become part of the canon. Some have commented that the underlying sexuality in the Stoker novel may have been derived from Victorian-era fears of miscegenation; this seems a reasonable theory if one considers the attitudes of the place and day. Of course, over time, the sexual element in the vampire genre has evolved, to become more explicit and obvious; the combination of dangerous sexuality and violence speaks to us on a visceral level, reminding us that we, humanity, are greater monsters to each other than any vampire could be. Depressing, huh?

So what does that have to do with Scott Campbell? Well, in remaining true to the genre, sexuality cannot be avoided; it is part and parcel of the story of the vampire. More importantly, in telling Scott’s story, I had to go to some dark places; it helped that I was experiencing some personal darkness during the time I wrote the first novel (no, not going to go there now). Anyone who knows me knows that, personally, I am very conservative and old-fashioned when it comes to sexual matters, in fact I’m darn near prudish (not enough to avoid writing about sex but… eww! Cooties!). But then, Scott Campbell was pretty conservative himself, at least until he became a vampire. Then he started succumbing to the temptation to act on these new feelings — his dangerous sexuality (and his propensity for violence). So we can see, in Suburban Vampire, dangerous sexuality — and its consequences. Scott gets called out for his loutishness, and has to deal with the fallout from that embarrassment. Dangerous sexuality and its consequences — where are we hearing about that, these days? Did I just make Suburban Vampire socially relevant? Gee, I didn’t mean to…

And, of course, there is a little Walter Mitty in all of us. We all want to be irresistible, to be the alpha, and that includes matters of sexuality. Many of us can’t be; those of us who can find ourselves restrained by our own senses of morality and decency (which is a good thing). So, we find release in things like vampires (or James Bond, or any action hero, for that matter). It is often times better to observe these things on the silver screen, or in the pages of a book, than to try them in real life — we don’t want anyone going to jail, after all.

So, what’s my point? Vampires are sexy and dangerous, I guess. In any case, despite all the above, as Freud once mentioned, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. Your mileage may vary. Sleep tight!

 

 

 

OZMA Awards 2017 Short List!

Check this out — yours truly has made the Chanticleer OZMA Book Awards for Paranormal Fiction short list 2017!!!

https://www.chantireviews.com/2018/01/04/ozma-book-awards-for-paranormal-fiction-short-list-2017/?utm_source=Chanticleer+Email+Subscribers&utm_campaign=6e9c0e2d1e-RSS_Contest_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_accbd60faf-6e9c0e2d1e-129981045&mc_cid=6e9c0e2d1e&mc_eid=85e1c46f83

Not too shabby, if I say so myself!

New Year Status Update

Well, it’s 2018 now. That means the Earth has gone all the way around the sun again. But what does that mean for yours truly? Well, hopefully fame and fortune (Might as well dream big, right?). More down to the previously-mentioned planet, what can you, the reader, realistically expect from me this year (other than hoping that Suburban Vampire makes the NYT Best-seller list)? Let me give you a complete status update, which includes discussing my future projects:

  1. This year, 2018, I plan on publishing the sequel to my first novel. The title of this project is Suburban Vampire: Ragnarok (not to be confused with Thor: Ragnarok). I have submitted this work to a couple publishers, but unless a miracle happens, I will probably end up self-publishing this one as well. The story is set about five months after the end of Suburban Vampire, and is centered around what in film and literary terms is called a McGuffin (check out Wikipedia’s definition here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin) which was revealed in the conclusion to the first novel. This object is called the box of Huginn and Muninn. Its significance was alluded to in the conclusion of Suburban Vampire, and it will be played out over the course of the second novel.
  2. The third novel in the series is tentatively titled Suburban Vampire: Reckoning. This novel is complete and only needs final editing before it is ready to go. This novel will have an overall darker tone than the previous two.
  3. The fourth novel in the series, also complete, is tentatively titled The Holy Death (what do you know, there’s no Suburban Vampire in the title!).
  4. My first non-Suburban Vampire novel, titled Thorn, is also complete and only needs editing. It is set in the Suburban Vampire universe, but with entirely different characters and an entirely different feel — I describe it as a “Hard-Boiled Supernatural Detective Noir” — think Mickey Spillane meets Charlaine Harris. I set out to create a protagonist who is not easy to like, and I think I accomplished that. It is overall the most sophisticated and nuanced work I have yet done.
  5. I am currently working on (again, tentative title) Suburban Vampire: Book of Origins. This will be an anthology-like work that goes into the backstory of some of the non-Scott Campbell vampires from the Suburban Vampire series, including Jeremiah, The Inquisitor, Elizabeth, Father, and Jack. As this is a work currently in process, that is all I can share about it at this time.
  6. Already begun, but currently on hold, is the fifth novel in the Suburban Vampire series, tentatively titled Suburban Vampire: Redemption. I broke ground on this one before putting it on the back burner to work on Thorn, Book of Origins, and some short stories.
  7. Speaking of short stories, I’ve got about five of them, all part of the Suburban Vampire universe. When I’ve written a few more, I’ll consider putting them together in an anthology. That’s off in the future a bit, though.

And yes, I do have other ideas running around in my mind, including a YA novel and other projects that don’t involve vampires. But those are for another time. In the meantime, stay tuned to this channel for more news and information! And have yourself a Happy New Year!

Sex!!! Now that I have your attention…

“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).

Ah, the usual excuse…

Sorry, I know some have been waiting on my rebuttal to some of the criticisms my novel received from Ben at IndieReader.Com, but I’ve actually been kind of busy doing actual writer-like stuff — that is to say, writing. Not to brag, but I have actually written five complete novels so far (to include, of course, Suburban Vampire), only one of which has been published at this time. And now I have broken ground on a project I’ve been wanting to pursue for some time — at least since completing my first novel. Not that I’ve been avoiding responding to criticism… okay, maybe I’ve been avoiding responding to criticism. Whatever. I’d prefer to spend my time creating and expanding my artistic horizons. That’s my excuse… but is it a bad excuse? All too often, we allow the negatives to grind us down. I allowed that to happen for far too long, which is why it took me so long to write something book-length. I don’t want to do that again. You’re going to get criticism in life, some of it will be meant in a helpful light, some of it not so helpful. The point is not to let it grind you down. Learn from it what you can and ignore the rest. I know I’m going to get guff from people who either don’t like or don’t understand what I’m doing. That’s fine. I am not writing for them. I’m writing for the other guys (and gals). The folks who like a good story well-told. Folks who have a sense of humor and enjoy a good time. I’m writing for the folks who do get it — and there are a lot of you out there. And I have faith that you will outnumber the naysayers.

Anyway, that’s my rant for today. As always, stay tuned for more updates — for instance, I have to update you all about my projects. Which I will do… in a future post.

“An ordinary Joe becomes a little more bloodthirsty in SUBURBAN VAMPIRE”

They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and so, in the interest of full disclosure, I present my first professional review from IndieReader.com:

https://indiereader.com/2017/11/ordinary-joe-becomes-little-bloodthirsty-suburban-vampire/

It is a mixed bag, to tell you the truth. And I rather expected that. I tend to be a “glass half empty” kind of guy, and focus on the negatives, but there is positive stuff here as well. I think the reviewer got both my strengths and weaknesses down fairly accurately (I do have some issues with the review, of course, and I will address those in a future post), but he did say he found the novel entertaining and enjoyable. And at the end of the day, that’s what I set out to do. Sounds like a win to me.

Not too bad for a first novel, I think. And it won’t be my last. My best work is yet to come.