VAMPIRE HEAVEN?

pearly gatesDo you think there is a heaven for vampires? Should there be? Would it be the same heaven humans go to, or a place all their own? I’ve explored this thought a LOT, simply because Gabriel Strickland, the double dead vampire in Cold in California, my urban fantasy book being released on May 15, is working his way toward heaven. Sort of. You can imagine how tough something like that would be. Poor dude sees his final demise, thinks it’s totally over, only to find himself living out purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse with a bunch of other dead supernaturals. He has a chance to earn a ticket through the Pearly Gates. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Ladies and gentlemen, let’s go through the pros and cons. Not everyone wanted to be a vampirePRO – Not every vampire asks to become a vampire. We’ve all read the stories and seen the movies, right? Most vampires didn’t ask for it. It’s usually a surprise sneak attack or worse yet, an offer of misunderstood immortality. Granted, the newbie adjusts quickly to the demands of his new existence. He may struggle to hold on to some of his humanity, but to become a cruel, evil creature, one must consciously choose to be so. There are vampires all over the fictional universe that think before making the wicked choices. CON – Not every vampire finds it so terrible, especially if it feeds their need for mischief. Now, naturally there are criminal and questionable humans all over the place—my Uncle Nunzio comes to mind. There is the chance that one of them reluctantly becomes vampire … and zealously likes it. Those personalities relish in the mayhem and bloody chaos they can wreak on human beings, mostly because they liked it so much when they were human. An evil human soul has no more chance at reaching heaven than an evil vampire soul, so I say. gotta eatPRO – A vampire’s gotta eat to survive. Okay, it is a conundrum, but solutions can be sought. Charlaine Harris invented True Blood for her vampires. Being Human’s vampire Aiden worked as a nurse and fed from the blood bank bags. Good vampire souls find ways not to drink too much blood and keep their human hosts, friends, and acquaintances alive and well.  Restraint is the name of the game, even though a vampire has to eat. After all, survival is more than nutrition, it’s also emotional support, a shoulder to lean on, and an occasional ride to the airport late at night. CON – A vampire doesn’t have to kill or turn his lunch into an immortal dining companion either. I sometimes think of vampires as human teenagers just after the full bloom of puberty—out of control with little desire to reign in their new found sexual and emotional tendencies. It must be like eating chocolate. When have you had enough? When should you stop? Opps, the chocolate is gone, too bad, too sad. Seriously, aren’t the vampires who at least try to take the noble road more attractive? Don’t eat so much or so fast, damnit! Bored LestatPRO – A conscience is a good thing! Louis might have bored the hell out of Lestat, but at least he tried to preserve his humanity. Now we’re getting in to the definition of a soul. Is it conscience? Is it guilt? Remorse? Acting and feeling truly contrite for something one has done? If those feelings and emotions relate to the soul, than there are many, MANY, vampires in fiction who have retained their soul. It can be done! YAY! CON – Bad vampires live a lot longer. There’s a lot of fictional proof that evil, cruel, and demonic vampires have an inbred self-survival gene. If it ever comes to their continued existence or the life of a mere human’s—slurp, choice made. Even though many famous and not-so-famous vampires have complained about the boredom of immortality, most aren’t interested in facing the alternative. loving motherPRO – Vampires were once human and cared about society. Yes, they were born, tiny, soft and sweet, loved in their mother’s arms, and taught all the rules of living within society. They understand the laws, the morals, and the reasons for toeing the line. Most people do. Granted, once turned into a bloodsucking monster, it’s a hard road keeping to those strict societal limitations, but luckily, many of our most beloved vampire heroes do their best. CON – Few vampires go to confession. The ones that don’t learn the lesson in their human life then discover that vampiric life is a free pass from all the rules, run amuck. We like those vampires too, don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t love a bad boy? The question is … do they get a chance at redemption? What are your thoughts? Does a vampire have a right to heaven or not? Even if they’re doing their best and being as good as a vampire could be?

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Cold in California

Book 1, Twice Baked Vampire Series

COMING SOON!

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What Happened to My Fangs?

Fangs? Well of course I don’t really have fangs. When I say that, I really mean my creativity, my mojo, my playfulness or my keyboard time. What happened to it? Life happened to it, and in an effort to regain control of my writing time and flow, I decided to play a little game with myself. WARNING: Don’t be trying this stuff at home, kiddos, unless of course you need to blast through a creative wall or are willing to cause havoc with the family who lives under the same roof and expects your undivided attention.

I currently have three books in the works (and another non-fiction, but for that I’m cool, no inspiration needed). All three fictions are steeped in the supernatural, one involves a fallen angel, one incorporates Native American mysticism, and the third is Book #3 of The Twice-Baked Vampire Series. All three have finish deadlines before the end of the year … and all three have hit a wall. I refuse to use the words writer’s block, but sometimes, even when your head is overflowing with ideas and images, you gotta admit that the well is a little dry and the pieces just aren’t fitting together. At times like this there’s only one path I can take.

Let’s take a journey through the vortex, the rabbit hole and maybe even a few nightmares. After all, those are the only ways I know how to grab my creative crown back from oblivion. Here goes.

WHAT YOU REMEMBER

The first place I always start when I’m like this is inside my own real life memories. I explore the things I’ve seen and experienced that made no sense. Was that a ghost I saw last winter, pacing outside the window on my front porch? Did I really feel someone breathe on me or touch my hand the night I was alone? Once while participating in a Native American Peace Ceremony and camping in the high desert, I watched the full moon turn the big boulders into monster opals. And once while sitting in my back yard I saw what I could swear was a UFO, zigging and zagging it’s way across the sky. Then there was the time I sat in traffic on the 405, that notorious Los Angeles freeway that seems to never move, and I felt the world spin into a vortex. It felt like a scene from The Matrix!

Okay, right about now you’re starting to think I’m a little off my rocker, but I honestly believe that if you tour through your own memories, you too will find a plethora of unexplained experiences just sitting there, ready to be explored. That’s exactly what I do, I examine these experiences and jot down every possible explanation for them, practical and supernatural, physiological and emotional. Inevitably the thought process leads me like a puppy dog right back to my creative mind and spawns all kinds of plot solutions where I’d originally seen none. I for one am convinced the paranormal is all around, sometimes we just have to acknowledge it … and in return, it will help us expand our creative boundaries.

WHAT YOU READ

Another thing I tend to do when my Fangs are lost, is read. I read contemporary authors and not so contemporary authors. Sometimes I focus on the genre I’m writing and sometimes I look toward historic or science fiction for my reading pleasure. I re-read old favorites and watch for the newest ideas out there. No matter what I read, it triggers something in my head. Sometimes a wisp of a concept that is completely unrelated to the book in my hand, generates a power surge for the book in my head. Needless to say, lots of those books get set aside so that I can write.

If I read that a Victorian character stumbles down the steps and is left in a coma the doctors can’t treat, in my mind that extrapolates into the tumble of a gnome from a latter while trying to escape, or the dangerous, damaging fall from grace by an angel, or the loss of important memories by the devil himself. It all starts to gel! I want a bumper sticker that says “Got Writer’s Block? Read!”

WHAT TERRIFIES YOU

Sometimes I go back to my childhood, or even to last week when I noticed the biggest praying mantis I ever saw walking along my arm. Thinking about what really terrifies me brings home the need for emotion and depth in my work. It pretty much helps me hook into the characters with a fresh point of view. If the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz terrify me, what would terrify a vampire? A savvy business woman? A young witch or an errant angel suddenly blocked out of heaven? What would show their vulnerability? Their not-so-good side? Oh, this little trick definitely helps me flesh out characters and create situations I wouldn’t have thought about before! This one most certainly gives me back my sharp, pointy writer fangs!

WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE

Laugh. Some people laugh when their nervous or afraid, some laugh all the time, some laugh so seldom, the sound of it startles us. I like to take a few minutes to look around me. Look at smiles, listen to laughter, taste the energy of teenager girls giggling, men laughing at the football game, your best friend chuckling on the phone. All the shades and shadows of laughter can add great depth to a character, as well as great humor. I tend to look for comic relief when I write. I often create a character specifically for that purpose, but if I’ve done it really well, Mr. Comic Relief becomes an important part of the story … and a fond friend of mine.

Fangs restored and the family’s reluctant acceptance that I am writing and not to be disturbed, nothing ends the dreaded writer’s block better than a little journey down the rabbit whole. The questions create a thousand other questions that blessedly lead to a million creative solutions.

Now, I have to go write! See you all later!

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of  the Twice-Baked Vampire Series. Book 1, Cold in California

COLD IN CALIFORNIA

 

Ah, Those Wonderful Vampiric Characters that Bite!

Today I thought I’d explore Vampiric Characters … those fabulous supernatural characters who bite into your imagination. They could be vampires, werewolves, members of the Fae, leprechauns, ghosts or even ancient legends that you simply can’t ignore. As lovers of Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy or anything about the supernatural world, we all get hooked. We pick up a book and instantly fall in love with Louie from Interview with a Vampire, the beautiful story of The Lovely Bones, or Sookie Stackhouse and her amazing relationships with vampires Bill and Eric, werewolf Alcide and shape-shifter Sam. As readers we buy into it all, no matter how crazy or far fetched it sounds to our logical, real life minds.

But as writers, something more happens. As writers we become sponges, sifting through the concepts and squeezing out something unique to our own mind’s eye. As writers we strive to push the envelope and create something utterly different and exciting.

As I see it, there are three ways to break through the wall of standard fantasy and push through to create those characters that hook in and refuse to let a reader go.

LOOK AT IT DIFFERENTLY– If most of the urban fantasy we read takes place in New York City, imagine how that story would unfold in Omaha, or Amsterdam or Miami. The colors of the story change and we discover that the location becomes a character of its own. What fun to imagine an adventure taking place in the desert instead of on a mountain top, or in a 1970’s commune instead of a contemporary big city. The same characters we create in our mind act and react differently in a completely different environment. Oh, what fun!

BREAK THE RULES – Just because a concept regarding supernatural characters is generally accepted does NOT mean we have to follow it. Who says vampire always have to feed off humans, what if they would rather feed off your pets? Who says leprechauns have to be short or hiding the pot of gold? Maybe they’re really very tall and are painfully allergic to gold. Who says angels have wings? The devil has horns? The werewolf must shift and kill? It’s all fiction and way more fun to create a fiction no one else ever thought about!

PUMP UP THE CHARACTERS– Vampires have certain abilities, but what if we give them more, or take away the abilities their associates have? Tearing away the stereotypical traits we’ve come to accept can give us writers room to blast a whole new reality for our characters. What if a vampire was made from a Nephalim? What if a shape shifter could only shift into inanimate objects? What if a fairy could only survive as a plant during the daylight hours and a giant in the dark? What if? What if? What if?

Authors have been asking “what if” and stretching our imaginations this way for a long time! Biting into us with unique characters, twisted mixes of human personalities, supernatural qualities and amazing entertainment! What if? The only “what if” I’m glad we don’t have to deal with, as readers or writers, is “What if the imagination stopped flowing?” because THAT would definitely be a dark fantasy of epic proportions! Viva la Creativity!

What vampiric characters have bitten into you lately?

 Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series! Book 1, Cold in California

Cold in California cover, smCOLD IN CALIFORNIA