The Three Hundred Nineteenth Post: The One Where I Give Credit Where Credit Is Due…

The reason why I call the main category “The Background Chatter In My Head” is because it’s precisely that: it’s what I’m writing in my head, even when I should be concentrating on other things…like cooking, laundry or driving.  Sometimes, there is an idea or a concept that’s in my head that runs around for a while.  This one is going to show up in a couple of my works: the vampire story I’ve been blathering about for a while, and another one which I might discuss later — it’s a take on a very popular Biblical tale.

The concept is the idea of a mentor.  Now, when we thing of a mentor, we tend to think of people who have been instrumental in helping us understand the world and our place in it. Mine are Leslie Dressler and Amanda Hillard-Beam.  These two women have been central in me becoming the writer I am trying to be today.  They have been kind, generous with their wisdom and their time.  They are a sterling example of a good mentor.

What if the mentor wasn’t so good?  What if the mentor seemed to have something against the pupil?  What if your mentor said flat-out that they would not help you, threw a beer bottle at you and said to scram?

What if your mentor was bad?

It doesn’t seem to make sense.  A mentor should at least not want their student to die — even if that’s what it would take to get through their thick skull.  Mentors in TV, stage and cinema were at the very least cranky drunkards who bullied and shoved their student to education and then tell them ‘you had it in you all along’.  They may be crass, but at least they had their student’s best interests at heart.  We have at the other end of the spectrum: the noble and wise teacher, gently pushing their student past their limits with gentle encouragement (or in the case of the Star Wars series, where the notion of mentor was cemented in my young brain) and ultimately stepping aside (or getting a lightsaber jammed in their bellies) to give the student the chance to fly on their own.

The idea of a mentor doing harm isn’t a new one, I know that, but I’m just turning the idea around in my head as what the vampire could be to our protagonist as first, but he’s been a vampire for so long, he might forget (or is he?) that his student is a little bit on the squishy side.  While it’s not actively trying to kill him, but he is certainly making our pseudo-Harker remember the lessons.  While it’s not necessarily a bad mentor, I would certainly hope he grades on a curve.

The other bad mentor I was thinking of is nothing more than the Devil himself.  Him being a harmful mentor is really par for the course.  The notion I am having deals with something that has bugged me for a while: what happened to Abel after he died.  I can see all the theology students raising their hands and stamping their feet for attention (yes, I know that he went to ‘the Bosom of Abraham’ and if you’re a Catholic, he was carried up to Heaven by Jesus during the Harrowing, but that’s not my point).  However, I am not going to let facts get in the way of a good story.  The idea is that Abel discovers a new world after death, and runs into something that is called It-That-Is which enslaves the spirits of the dead.  Abel needs help, and the only one that can help him is Morningstar (try not to call him that, it brings up bad memories).  Obviously, there will be bad blood between the two from that whole Fruit Incident, but there is nowhere else that Abel can go for help.  This is an idea that isn’t going to be worked on for a while because I want to this to an epic series along the lines of “A Song of Fire and Ice” or “The Dark Tower”.  So, there may be notes here and there.

Well, that’s it for now.  I wanted to give some heartfelt thanks to my mentors — who may or may not want to do me harm — and talk about something else in my head.  Thanks for reading and I hope you have a pleasant evening.

Sincerely,

Seething Apathy

 

 

The Three Hundred Eighteenth Post: The One Where I Try to Find My Plastic Glow-In-The-Dark Fangs…

Hello, everyone!  As I am getting ready to get this vampire story fleshed out, I’ve talked about the protagonist a little, but now I want to look at the antagonist.  I’ve called in a vampire, but that’s only because I want to get myself (or the reader) into a certain mindset about the character.  And what is that mindset you ask?

That this guy is mad, bad and dangerous to know.  Much like Lord Byron.

Earlier on, I explained that I wanted to bring back the menace and danger to vampires.  There is a lot we can still do with this particular archetype that doesn’t have to be limited to just sex (although as Stephen King points out in Danse Macabre — that’s what they’re there for), but it can be for any sort of lust.  Lust for money?  Sure — you ever seen a poor vampire?  Lust for power?  Have you ever seen a vampire worry about his voice not being heard in city hall?  Vampires are the spirits of lust given form and substance.  Sex is picked because it’s the most primal and the one that almost everyone can identify with.

I don’t want to call them vampires, though.  That word still has a lot of baggage to it.  Yeah, i said that I wanted to use the word vampire to put myself in a mindset, but I don’t want that word to be used  in the manuscript.  I don’t want my protagonist to suddenly jump up and yell “BLOODY HELL!  YOU’RE A VAMPIRE!

That is not going to help matters.

So, I’m going to call them vampires, but I am going to give them a couple of traditional weaknesses so that the reader can begin to pick up on things, but still leave it open to the reader should they choose to not believe that a bloodsucking fiend from hell could be a bit on the ornery side.

Well, I’m starting to feel a little mentally fuzzy, so I am going to make it an early evening here.  When I come back tomorrow, I’ll get back to the character of the antagonist and maybe think of some ways he can be a mentor to the protagonist and some ways he can be a jerk to him.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day.

Sincerely,

Seething Apathy

 

The Three Hundred Seventeenth Post: The One Where I Realize I’m an Idiot and Have to Fix a *Lot* of Posts…

Hey — did you know that the word ‘and’ when written with numbers — like…say…the title of a wildly popular writer’s blog — that the ‘and’ means a decimal?  Like…say if I mention that this post before this one was the Three Hundred and Sixteenth Post, it would be written out in numbers like this: 300.16.  Which would be cool if it were say… my income from writing for the month.  Not cool for listing off how many blog posts I’ve done so far.

Math.  Numbers.  From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee.

Speaking of stabbing — I’ve been working fairly consistently with the current project “Lard of Love”, but the story is starting to take a life of its own.  I was really trying to keep everything neat and tidy, but now I’m still not to the first date, and I’m almost halfway through the word count (was going to be a prim and proper 55K when it finished, but now it’s at 35K, sitting on the couch and demanding wheelbarrows of Twinkies).  I’m not upset or shouting at my screen for the characters to get on with it, but this is what would happen if I didn’t have some sort of outline.  Of course, all of this is for naught because the daily word count is what matters and that I have stuck to self-imposed deadline of finishing this novel by the end of June so I can get to my next and currently the one I am really jazzed up about.

Speaking of getting jazzed up — I did mention I was going to talk a little about the protagonist for the vampire idea I had…but there’s really nothing new for me to reveal.  He is going to be a slightly squishy hero, because he needs to rise to face the Evil before him…but in the beginning, the protagonist and antagonist are going to be friends…maybe even have the antagonist start out as a mentor figure.  I am not sure about adding in a love interest.  I am personally getting fatigued with the idea that the hero needs to a girl threatened to jar him into action.  Or a guy.  I’m just trying to find some other reason for our intrepid hero to face someone who would probably get into chainsaws if he would just give them a chance.  I’ll toss it around in my head for a couple of days.  We’ll see what happens.

Speaking of running a joke into the ground…I should actually head off to bed.  I’m getting better at writing every day, and I want to be fresh(-ish) for the morning.  Hence why my ‘office’ is a Starbucks.  Free Wi-fi and relatively inexpensive coffee is the quicked way to my heart.

Good night, everyone.  As always, thanks for reading and feel free to check out the offerings on the right, and the bitcoin tip jar.  I am trying to get something set up with PayPal.  I might have to stretch the truth and say that this blog is for charity.

The nuns at Our Lady of Mercy would be so proud of me.

Sincerely,

Seething Apathy

The Three Hundred and Sixteenth Post: The One Where Google and I Are Going to Shack Up Together…

Yesterday, I discussed the secondary protagonist Nigel (not his permanent name, seriously) and I mentioned that next time I was going to talk about the world that this book takes place in: World War I Europe.

Of which I know next to nothing.  This is not the biggest problem I am going to face, thanks to Google, Amazon and Wikipedia.  My biggest problem is going to be picking what time period I want the different acts to take place in.

The issue I have is that America isn’t really central to the story.  I don’t want this to end with the US Marines Expeditionary Force charging over the hill and trampling Dracula.  That’s not what the story is about.  It’s about the death of one age and the beginning of the another.  Nothing here about the dawning American Century.  Just a crazed blood sucker who doesn’t want to swap out a hand-and-a-half sword for a Steyr machine gun.

So — I’m going to have to figure out what’s what as far as acts and where everything is going to take place.  I’ve got a good idea about the first act: Merry Olde England where we find our protagonist.  Not so sure about the second, third or fourth acts, but the fifth act should definitely take us back to England.  Yes, I give the Heroic Cycle some lip from time to time, but it works.  What about the middle?  What do I want to bring up?

Well, there are some neat battles I want to bring in: Mons and Ypres to start with.  Mons just to see if I can incorporate the myth of the Angels of Mons into it somehow.  I don’t know if I want to have the protagonist get signed up right away (if I do, then there is a really good story potential lost there) or I want to wait.  Just a quick look at the article about the Battle of Mons tells me that there’s no way I can do that — the Battle of Mons is the first battle fought by the British Expeditionary Force.  Oh, well…I’ll have to look for some other legendary battles and myths during the middle of the war.  I’m sure I’ll find something.  or I can just make it up.   It’s not like Dracula is going to sue me or anything.

When I come back Monday, I think I am going to really get into the protagonist.  I want to get everything set up for this poor man because he’s going to be pretty much the spirit of the age.  I have to admit, I have cribbed this idea (slightly) from Alan Moore’s From Hell.  Although my protagonist isn’t doing anything as nefarious as Jack the Ripper, but I love the idea that there is something beyond our ken that pushed humanity into the age we know.

Thank you for dropping by and reading my blatherings.  On the right of the screen is my current work, a bitcoin tip jar and works of dear friends.  Feel free to click and look about.  I hope y’all have a good evening.

Sincerely,

Seething Apathy

The Three Hundred and Fiftheenth Post: The One Where I Talk About the Guy With the Bull’s-Eye in His Chest

OK – we’ve talked about the antagonist in this vampire tale, and we’ve touched on the protagonist (I’m going to take about him in depth next time).  Now, I want to talk about the second-most important character in the story: the protagonist’s best friend.  For now, we’re going to call him Nigel.  Of course, this is not his final name, but I am not going to keep typing ‘the protagonist’s best friend’ while talking about him, so Nigel it is.

A lot of times, the secondary protagonist serves the purpose to highlight the main protagonist.  Your main protagonist is a quiet, calculating type, so the best friend is the guns-blazing, shoot-first, second and third sort of person. Your protagonist is a sober sort of fellow who has to come in and bail out his best friend from jail…again.  This a rule that doesn’t need changing a whole lot.  In my last post, I talked about subverting tropes.  I intend to do that with this story, but there are some that shouldn’t muck around with.  This is one of them.

So – as our main protagonist is going to be the Harker-expy from Dracula (I am taking some things from the original text, only because I’m trying to get back to the notion that vampires are thins to be feared, not snuggled), our man Nigel is going to be a little more adventurous.  Hie might even be in the War ahead of Harker and have some responsibilities ahead of him, which no doubt has aged him a little, maybe made him a little more sober about such things.  Not as bad as some people, but we are going to see that war is indeed hell, and one of its Dukes has as of yet to arrive.

Will Nigel get hurt or killed at the hands of either our Harker-expy or Dracula himself?  Not really sure how that is going to fall out.  I’m torn between two camps:

  • Yeah, he should die.  The whole Hero’s Journey shtick has him passing through the Underworld (or the trenches of the Underworld) and something should be sacrificed.  We can’t sacrifice the hero because ultimately it is about transformation.  The sidekick on the other hand is completely open to have abuse after abuse heaped upon it, ultimately ending in his death with this also the spurring action.  This has been done, parodied and lampshades over and over again.  So if I want to play with the audience’s expectations…
  • He should live!  After all, the point of this whole story is to subvert a lot of the audience’s expectations.  We have been primed to believe that the best friend has to undergo something dramatic, or even fatally dramatic. Going back to the inciting action (this could even be the proverbial Call To Action), he doesn’t have to die, he could just see what’s going on and politely opt out.

I poltely decline your call to adventure.
I am half tempted to have poor Nigel end up as the Dragon – the secondary antagonist (the best example of The Dragon is Darth Vader. Also point of trivia: ‘Dracula’ isn’t a name, but a title meaning ‘Son of the Dragon’.  Just sayin’) Ina the story.  This does strike as a little overdone, so maybe this will something I will come back to later on, after I have fleshed out the main antagonist and protagonist a little better.  For right now, Nigel gets to remain alive, sane and possibly a War pensioner by the end of the story.

Lucky man.

Thanks for reading this and bearing with me while I blather on.  As always, if you’re generous and tech savvy, there is a bitcoin link to donate to.  I am working on getting something up like PayPal.  There are also book links on the right.  Feel free to look over those.  Next time, I might explore more of the timeline of this story.

Sincerely,

Seething Apathy

The Three Hundred and Fourteenth Post: The One Where I Sigh Wearily and Slump into a Chair…

…because I am finally caught up with the two missing days of the week!  Anything else I do after this will hopefully put me on schedule to finshing at the end of June and beginning editing.  I do have someone lined up for editing, so hopefully this one will be better than my first novel out there.

I said I was going to talk about my vampire project (which I am not going to get to close to being started until 2018. I am slow, but complete), and I want to talk about the themes I want to work with.  This might have been covered in an earlier post, so I apologize for any repetition.

First off…while I agree with the notion that the vampire is a polite Victorian stand-in for lust, but why should it be only sexual lust?  Yes, I understand that sexual lust exactly what the vampire was representing, and the triumph of the main character is symbolic of the triumph of will and manners over our bestial nature.  With me so far?  Good.

What if we substituted the idea of bloodlust for sexual lust? I know that I described the scene that got me going for this idea earlier on, so I won’t bore you with those details.  The time period I’m picking is World War I, because it’s the perfect time for something like this.  It’s the end if one era and really the beginning of the modern era as far as warfare goes.  The grand nobility of war is wiped away by the mechanization of the tools of warfare.  We get frightfully accurate (for the time) artillery and machine guns mashed together with 19th century tactics.  This is something that a being accustomed to the hot spray of blood on his face should be horrified over.  The intoxicating feeling in watching the light flicker out from someone else’s eyes is now lost to the notion of ‘advancing barrage’, ‘acceptable casualties’ and ‘trench warfare’.  In the modern era, we would shrug our shoulders, even though we are going through that change here and now.  Drones have been put out into the field to not only spy on our enemies, but kill them from long distances.  While it is good in the notion that we are shedding less and less blood on the battlefield (don’t believe me? Take a look at causality statistics going back from their height at the Civil War to today), I can’t help but think Chesty Puller would look at a drone and make the same statement he made about seeing a flamethrower: “Where the hell do you put the bayonet?”

So, if this vampire story is going to be about the spirit of bloodlust giving way to the cold calculations of modern warfare, should our protagonist and handy audience stand in get to become a vampire, or just see the horror first hand?  I’m saying first hand witness, but I do want to have someone undergo the change.  One of the vampire tropes I am not going to openly subvert is the notion that the main character is going to have to put down someone he likes.  We’ve seen this in almost every iteration of Dracula and every other vampire film (not Twilight…for that is not about vampires. It’s about sparkly bitches that my vampire character would tear through to the sound of thunderous applause).  I’m thinking, however, that while in the movies, the character does this with the notion that “so-and-so is dead, I’m just putting him/her to rest”, I want it to mean something else entirely.  What that should be, I have no idea right now.

My ultimate goal with this book is to bring vampires back to being something feared, and not to be cuddled up to at night.  That’s a tall order to be sure, but that’s why I’m not planning on getting to the rough draft until 2018 at the soonest.  I really want this book to be the best one. The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show is going to be my best fantasy work, and The Dreaded Day Job my best comedy — I want this vampire story to be my best horror story.

Double points if I get it finished before I die.

Well, I will work a little more on this and throw some more ideas at you.  Thank you for reading, feel free to avail yourself to the tip jar or buy one of the books to the right.  Have a good evening.
Sincerely,

Seething Apathy