Despite rumors to the contrary, work on Bite Me continues apace–I’m hoping for a September release at this point. However, I’m taking my time and getting it right (at least as right as I can with my newby skills). I have to; there are a surprising number of fans out there for what was supposed to be a minor character. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me–Wearing the Cape was originally supposed to be Atlas’ story, after all.
So the purpose of this post was to make the announcement: mid-September, if everything happens right (and I’m looking forward to it as much as everybody else). Then it’s on to Wearing the Cape III (as yet untitled). Meantime I thought I’d ramble a bit, maybe tease a little by explaining where my mind is going with Bite Me: Big Easy Nights–even issue some apologies beforehand.
First, let’s be clear: I like vampires. I was into vampires before Anne Rice. But I think lots of vampire literature has lost track of what they are. To give a quick review, bloodsuckers have been a mythical monster in about every culture in history, demons, witches, spirits that prey on mankind. The ancient Chinese believed in cursed and restless dead. The European vampire comes from Eastern Europe, and was most often a rotting, near-mindless corpse that more closely resembled modern zombies than today’s sexy vampires. Even after The Vampire, Dracula, and Carmilla gave us the modern Romantic version of the vampire, the creature remained a monster. A seductive monster, yes, but a creature whom it was fatal to know.
Then came the modern vampire craze. It didn’t start with Anne Rice, but Interview with the Vampire gave it a helluva boost. Vampires began a transformation from monsters to tortured souls (the good ones, anyway–plenty still embraced their monstrousness), and finally into not-so-tortured souls. The final bridge was crossed when some writers started giving them a way out of their condition, like artificial blood. In most stories now, vampires are no longer predators; they are a misunderstood and feared minority, at best. To be sure, there are exceptions–but in a lot of vampire fiction today, the perks (immortality, superhuman powers, being chick-magnets) outweigh the drawbacks
and vampires wear their undead curse lightly if it’s a curse at all.
To be honest, Artemis was an accident; I wanted a character that demonstrated that there were different triggers for breakthroughs and that not all breakthroughs in the Post-Event universe followed the superhero template. The scene where Astra (using her nifty infrared-vision) discovers a vampire hanging out at The Fortress was originally a throw-away scene that was just Really Cool. Artemis’ rather unique origin springs from the fact that I really couldn’t imagine a mentally-balanced character being so obsessed with vampires as to trigger a breakthrough. And since she hadn’t wanted it, of course she was pissed as hell about it.
But this opened up some interesting possibilities. Breakthroughs happen all over the Post-Event world, and even in the USA not everyone is hung up on superheroes. Fantasy and the supernatural has a lot more fans, thus “supernaturals”–breakthroughs conforming to older types–were born.
So, what do I want to say with Post-Event vampires? One thing I’ve tried to do is take a step back. The vampires of the Romantic authors were not nice. They symbolized both unrestrained sexuality and death (not surprising, given that syphilis was both endemic and untreatable at the time). So with Bite Me, I’ve tried to emphasize their danger; PE vampires are parasites at best, and can be predators. Even feeding openly and with a donor’s consent is morally problematic; a vampire’s bite is both pleasurable and dangerously addictive–making Artemis and her fellow vamps drug-pushers. Add this to their ability to control people’s minds, and you’ve got serious room for abuse and not a lot of room for moral arguments. Include Artemis’ negative attitude towards vampires (perfectly understandable), and you’ve got a story that isn’t exactly bloodsucker-friendly.
Since I’m going to market this as a straight-up vampire novel, it will be interesting to see how it is received.