At the last Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers we had guest New York Times and multiple Bram Stoker award-winning author Jonathan Maberry speaking on “Romance With the Unknown: The Supernatural in Fiction”.I’m a huge fan of paranormal fiction with or without romance so I was really looking forward to this workshop. Jonathan gave me some fantastic ideas for tweaking a current vampire novel I have and also for future paranormal stories I want to write.
In vampire fiction, some hard core readers might get upset when a writer strays from what is considered “true” vampire folklore. But what we think is true vampire legend is actually based on old movies and not actual folklore.
Here are some examples. Most people “know” that fictional vampires can be killed by fire, beheading, stake through the heart, sunlight, possibly a crucifix or Holy water.
In ancient folklore of vampires, a stake is only used to hold them down, while garlic is stuffed in their mouth and they are the beheaded. A beheaded vampire can still get up and roam around. They need to be secured while the garlic kills them. Modern folklore says that garlic only wards them away, but ancient folklore says that garlic acts like cyanide, or like kryptonite is to Superman. It will kill a vampire.
Sunlight harming vampires was also not in original folklore. It began during the making of Nosfuratu when the director couldn’t decide how to end the film and doing cheaply. And do you know the true meaning of Nosfuratu? Most of us thought it meant the ‘undead’. Its translation means ‘plague carrier’.The film was shot in shadows and dim lighting to give a creepy effect. It was suggested that sunlight could be what kills the vampire. A cheap way to end the film.
In the original Dracula movie, Dracula was killed by having his throat slit and then stabbed. He crumbled into dust. But by true folklore, that shouldn’t have killed him. He should’ve reformed someplace else. Hmmm.
Jonathan mentioned what seems to be the popular trend in supernatural fiction: Damaged and Dangerous characters. Look at your heroes and heroines in your post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic, and paranormal stories now. Hunger Games is one example. Also when writing paranormal fiction, whether romance or mainstream, make sure your story has a big BAD in the plot. (A threat to the characters, the world, etc.)
When looking for ideas for stories, research old folklore, monsters, creatures from different cultures. Don’t assume you know the characteristic of a werewolf or a vampire or Eigi Einhamr (the creature I based one of my shapeshifters in my Demon’s in Exile books. A Norwegian shapeshifter myth).What are your favorite paranormal/supernatural stories?
The booksigning at the Palmer Library in Easton, PA, sponsored by Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers was a fun event. Authors attending were Kathy Kulig, Autumn Jordon, Jonathan Maberry, Christine Bush, Kathleen Coddington and Tina Gallagher.