Back in 2006, I was looking for something to read and a bookseller, knowing my love of medievals and Templar Knights, suggested a new author and series to me – Lynn Viehl’s DARKYN series about a race of ‘vampires’ or the Darkyn who began in the Middle Ages. Intrigued, I read the first book in 2 days and went back for numbers 2 and 3 immediately. I’ve now read all of the series AND the spinoff KYNDRED series, too. And some short stories. . . and novellas. Yes, I am truly and well hooked on Lynn’s stories! So, when looking for a guest blogger, I contacted Lynn who is now beginning a new series for NAL – Disenchanted & Co.
Today, Lynn’s going to tell us about how she transitioned from vampires to, um, something else. Welcome, Lynn!
Trading Fangs for Fichus
After writing about vampires for nine years, and publishing three paranormal romance series involving them, I was ready for a change of pace. I wasn’t worried about making the leap; I’ve written in many genres, and I’m always ready to try something new. As a ghostwriter I’d published some critically-acclaimed historical novels, but nothing under my own byline. I’d also never tackled urban fantasy or mystery fiction. This melded together with my love of history into an idea for a steampunk urban fantasy series in a historical era (and so it wouldn’t be left out, my SF side contributed a parallel universe.)
The idea seemed great, and I wrote a draft of the first novel during NaNoWriMo 2009. At that point I discovered many of the differences between writing vampire fiction and non-vampire fiction. Here’s a list of some important points:
Brotherhoods: In non-vampire fiction these are typically made up of a less formidable crew who are not so inexplicably bonded, or engage in conflicts that last for centuries, or hang out in bars not getting intoxicated while discussing the many ways in which they despise humankind but still must protect them at all cost. No, if your characters are in a brotherhood, they generally have the same mom and dad.
Day Job: Unlike your vampire crew, your characters can seek employment with work hours that begin before sundown; this includes but is not limited to landscaping, lifeguarding or suntan oil testing.
Diet: Your characters have to eat food. This would be food that does not walk around on two legs, talk back or fall madly in love with them.
Emotional Relationships: Your characters are free to form friendships, infatuations and/or fall in love with anyone they want, not just the one surly, resistant, combative individual whom Fate has chosen to be their lifemate. They can also break up, end liaisons and get divorced without it condemning their former partner to an eternity of solitude.
Immortality: While we’re on the topic of eternity, in regards to duration of existence, living forever is pretty much off the table completely. Same goes for non-ageing — your characters will get older, sprout gray hairs, wrinkles, paunches, have midlife crises, go through menopause, etc.
Monologues: When your characters rant it won’t be about all the millennia they’ve wandered the Earth, how tiresome it’s been to sleep with thousands of clueless humans, or what instantly-regenerative limb they’d sacrifice to be mortal again. Your characters are going to gripe about things like their unpaid bills, their unsympathetic boss, or the dog chewing to pieces their favorite boots.
Morphing Capabilities: Your characters will no longer be able to flash fangs, make their pupils or irises take on an inhuman glow, or shift into huge, mindless, nightmarish beasts that lay waste to everything in their path. The closest alternative you have here is like them wearing a really convincing costume at Halloween.
Non-instantaneous Healing: When wounded, your characters will need a little more time than twelve seconds to recover. When seriously wounded, your characters will be out of commission for some weeks. And when fatally wounded, your characters will actually have the bad taste to die on you.
Settings: The Arctic fortress of solitude, the elaborate underground warren of pre-WWII tunnels filled with priceless antiques, and the remote European castle secretly occupied since the Romans sacked Britannia aren’t really practical places for your characters to inhabit. Plus they have no access to the unimaginable wealth they haven’t been squirreling away since the Black Death, so they really can’t afford them.
Superhuman powers: This is also a bit of a problem with the non-vampiric sort. You may invest your characters with a middling psychic talent or two, but bench pressing a Subaru, or leaping over the Chrysler Building in a single bound? Not happening.
Although writing my new series has been a challenge in many other ways (no super convenient secret society of vampire haters to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting and blood-dependent), so far it’s been very enjoyable. I may not have huge hulking immortal warriors to storm into a scene, but my Victorian lady private investigator, her gadget-loving inventor neighbor, the brothel madam BFF and the formidable death mage determined to carry off my lady PI do keep things interesting. From fangs to fichus, that’s what is most important with whatever you write: have fun with it.