Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Did I Write a Vampire Novel? by Neil Benson

It started the night I watched the movie Underworld on a DVD. The story begins with the lovely Kate Beckinsale jumping from a bell tower over sixty feet to the ground on a dark, rainy night. She's a vampire, so the long jump to the pavement below doesn't even jar her. She's wearing a black skintight vinyl outfit accentuating her slender figure. (Sigh.)

During the initial action she explains (in a voice over) the history of the war between the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves), which started hundreds of years before the scene takes place. Kate plays the character of Selene, the chief assassin for the vampires in the war against the werewolves. She is lovely, lethal, and answers to no one, not even the current head of her vampire clan. An alpha female if there ever was one.

The scene that led to my writing the vampire novel occurs later in the movie when Kate is searching the room of a doctor played by Scott Spedman. Naturally, she searches the room in total darkness. When the doctor enters, she grabs Spedman just under the throat and lifts him three feet off the ground as if he was a small sack of potatoes.

At that point, I moved the action backward and reran the scene several times. I was struck by the image of a slender, petite woman lifting a man so easily and questioning him in a manner recalling a time when the police could interrogate a suspect using physical as well as verbal means. I didn't know Kate Beckinsale was 5'8" tall. Small detail.

I wondered what it would be like for a mortal man to be in a relationship with a female vampire dominant in and out of the bedroom. First, I needed to create a vampire. Kate Beckinsale and the character she played had an impact on my thinking. However, I wanted a powerful female vampire that used violence only as a last resort, but when necessary killed without hesitation. Then I decided to create a mortal male lover who was tall dark and handsome, with no need to prove his masculinity. In essence, a man who could deal with a powerful female vampire.

I wrote a short story that received positive feedback from several editors. However, they wanted "more," something different from the hundreds of vampire stories they read. I imagined circumstances and events to make the story unique, but I couldn't say them in five thousand words or less. I had received feedback that the story could be expanded to a novel

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