Monday, July 9, 2012

Guest Post: Tara Fox Hall Discusses Vampire Stories.



Tara Fox Hall, author of a variety of books in the paranormal genre, is back with me to today to talk about how her stories are different from other vampire stories.

I spent my youth reading about vampires, being in love with the idea of living forever and staying young, partying all night, every night, and having a strong protector that was not only invincible to attack but would love me with a love that would be just as undying as he was.
When I look back at the novels of my youth, all I can say is “Reality check, please.”

Now let me hurry to put in a disclaimer, lest I be staked by tons of rabid vampire fans; I am not against fantasy worlds, all and any definitions of vampire, or star-crossed lovers with hundreds of years in age difference. Love is not always logical; hell, most times it isn’t! I’m just asking for an authenticity to the world, characters and plot that the writer is offering me. I go into a new book looking for a reason to believe in it, hoping to lose myself in its pages until something in real life forces me grumpily to set the book aside. I want to be captured, nay, enslaved, so that that story becomes as real to me as my own life, an alternate realm that I treasure as much as my own reality, with characters that are so real they feel like old friends. There are some vampire novels out there that accomplish this with aplomb. Yet there are far more that don’t.




Be brutally honest with yourself. If you were a vampire who had lived for centuries and experienced tremendous persecution and suffering, would you really go back to high school, so you could get a little more added on? Would you really be haunting nightclubs for eternity, having rampant sex with people for their blood night in and night out? Would you be calling attention to yourself by brutally killing victims in alleys, or sitting on a throne each night for people to stare at and admire? These suppositions all have two things in common; they have been used over and over again for vampire plots and— for anyone who was actually living them for eternity—they would likely be incredibly tiresome, if not mind-numbingly boring.

So why do we vampirephiles like these unrealistic scenarios? Because we remember being in high school, and the dream that the new pale exchange student really was not only “into” us, but also capable of sweeping us away from the rigors of trigonometry and chemistry lab. We hope down deep every time we enter a nightclub that there will be some creature of the night waiting for us at the bar, baring a hint of fang in a sidelong glance of licentious interest. We want the feeling that our normal, everyday lives—no matter how happy we are—could be swept away into a tumult of passion, romance, and danger, of life and death decisions, and love that lasts forever. We want the fantasy so we can drink down every red, sweet drop with insatiable hunger. In our passion to be lose ourselves, we forget about the feelings of the creature we are lusting for: his hopes, dreams, and passions. As such, the vampire in romance is often cookie cutter in the extreme and full of logical contradictions, doomed to spend his eternity suffering in loneliness, waiting for that special someone to turn his immortal existence on his ear.
I want more than that for my fantasy…I want a vampire that breathes.

So what would a real vampire be like? To go on for centuries would take determination beyond love, greed, lust, or even duty. It would take a sheer act of indomitable will to face wars, rises and falls of culture, shifts in world view, the death of your loved ones from your mortal life, and the constant struggle to support yourself along with the need for sustenance, that no matter how the world changed would never accept a vampire’s nature. Having bitter enemies would be a given with immortal life, but good friends would be likely, also. Having
a system of blood donation would be essential, as would security. That the vampire would have loved and lost goes without saying. Personality traits expected would be cynical, opportunistic, and calculating, as well as driven and interested in the world around him. But most crucial to a vampire would be having a purpose, a reason to wake up each night and go out into the darkness.

Enter Danial Racklan, my 400-year-old vampire from Promise Me. A suave businessman who owns the corporate detective business Solutions, Inc., with his werecougar partner, Theo, Danial is no novice at surviving. Ensconced in his private fortress with a network of personal security and blood donors that make house calls, he is secure from his enemies by day. By night, he commits his life to solving mysteries and murders…and sometimes committing the latter in service to organized crime. It’s been so long since he loved anyone that he doesn’t miss it, choosing to bury his passions in work, a course sure to guarantee his heart won’t be broken again.

When Danial goes out to commit a murder on an overcast fall night, he’s sure nothing will go wrong. Caught unawares by a killer he could not have anticipated, Danial is wounded badly, but escapes. Fighting poison, he collapses at the end of an unknown road. And there he would have perished…but for a royally pissed off country woman named Sar who goes to investigate what she is sure are partyers in her neighbor’s rock quarry. Finding Danial unconscious, Sar hauls Danial back to her house—yes, literally, in a front-end loader—and in the process, discovers he is a vampire. Being a vampirephile herself, Sar gives him her blood. While the experience is not what she bargained for, it has the intended result: Danial wakes up…and Sar’s old life is swept away into a tumult of passion, romance, and danger, of life and death decisions, and love that lasts forever.

What can I say? I want a realistic base…but I want the fantasy, too!



Tara's books are available here:


Author Links


Thanks for guest posting today, Tara. Be sure to stop in this Wednesday as Tara talks about her new book LASH.



9 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Someone who'd lived that long would be wise enough not to go back to high school!
He might be a little disconnected as a way of dealing with all of the losses in his life.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

No matter what you did, living hundreds of years would get pretty boring. It's probably why God causes all these floods and wildfires and such because it's got to be pretty dull just sitting around on a cloud watching the world go by.

Anyway, not that I liked Twilight, but I think part of the reason for going back to high school was as camouflage. Especially nowadays there aren't many remote places left for people to hide out, so if you're frozen at 18-ish forever what else can you do? Move to Antarctica and live off penguins? Hmmmm, I think that will be my next novel. The elevator pitch: It's Twilight meets March of the Penguins! I'll call it the Twilight Death March of the Penguins.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Your questions remind me a lot of Anne Rice and the questions she posed after being disgusted by the fame and money that Twilight generated.

As for me, I do have a guilty pleasure in reading vampire books. The whole idea of someone being so into you just for your blood is what keeps me coming back. As far as vampire worlds go...they are all the same. There is always some authority of vampires that controls everything and they pop up sooner or later.

I think the inventiveness is not in the world at all, but in how you want to portray your vampires and their ultimate relation with the food (humans).

Cindy said...

PT: What a great title..lol.

Mike: Yeah, but won't vampires take the blood from just about anyone so they can live. It's not like you're special. ;)

Tara Fox Hall said...

Alex: I agree that someone who had lived so long would be disconnected, just from the sheer volume of losses they would have had to undergo. :)

PT: Love that title! I have read vampire books with the vampire being isolated in some remote location, because of them looking so young. Camo with other teens makes sense. But in four years, the vampire would have to move on anyway, because his class would graduate. College would be a hiding possibility, but all the vampire would gain is another few years, maybe ten maximum, before he would have to move on, also. But at least there he would have some new topics to stimulate his mind. It is not so much that a vampire couldn't go back to high school, but that he would want to waste so much of his free time, which would be limited anyway with him needing to stay out of the sun (though some vampires in fiction and film now can walk in daylight, I know). And would a person who is mentally hundreds of years old be able to thrive being around others so much younger than they are? Rice did explore that a bit in Interview with the Vampire, with the child vampire Claudia, who looked the same but became a woman in the 70+ years she was a vampire. Her frustration at being trapped in a child's body is what lead her to try to murder her maker. An episode of Moonlight depicted the same thing, with a boy vampire killing women because none of them would look at him as the man he was, only the boy he looked like. I think you should look into writing more about this. :)
Michael: Vampire books are a guilty pleasure :)

Denise Z said...

I am personally going to refuse to have my reality checked LOL I love fantasy and the best part is watching the bad guy get kicked off the throne. I think maybe because in reality the bad guy more often than not gets away with it - so for me a bit of a blood thirsty gal here - I love the virtual stake taking care of business. Trying really hard to stay away from the word allegory here, cause sometimes a good book is just a good book ;) Thanks for the fun post :)

torilridgewood said...

Tara -- I love your description of a good vampire novel, and I have to say, I agree. After reading the same "Twilightish" formula over and over, I have to say that while the post-modern vampire-trying-to-be-good/redemption is nice, I prefer the gritty realistic story. The House of Night series, for example, is mind-candy while Salem's Lot is a steak dinner, rare. The Vampire Diaries and TruBlood are candied popcorn; Promise Me is seared veal with a red wine sauce.

About the high school thing, and camouflage... I teach in a high school. I remember hating high school, as much as I did have good moments. Anyone who would want to relive it from the teen perspective needs their f*&2ing head examined.

If I were a vampire, I might enjoy the rampant sex stuff for a couple of decades, but then yes, it would get old… that actually comes up in the British series Being Human...

I like to think of vampires like those beautiful carnivorous plants in the jungle… alluring for a reason. But what would happen if a vamp was an old person first? Or missing a limb? There's that thing in Twilight when Bella's spine gets repaired and her boobs pop up and stuff… hmmm…

"What would a real vampire be like?" Your description also fits the immortals in the Highlander series! "There can be only one!" It's funny how most of the vampire movies show some gritty realism, the problems that vamps face -- like the logistical issues of survival and organization that come up in the Blade series, in Daybreakers, and Underworld.

Great post, Tara!

Tara Fox Hall said...

Denise Z :) Glad you enjoyed the post :) Yes, I completely agree that novels should deliver satisfying endings, where there is justice that is not always present in real life. As a funny tidbit, my vampire Danial runs his business Solutions, Inc., mainly to make sure bad guys get what they have coming, as in his own life--mortal and immortal--he was often the recipient of injustice by those with power over him.
Tori: yes...I agree with your thoughts, too. Highlander did an excellent job of showing how immortals reinvent themselves through centuries to stave off boredom. So weird that a vampire series has not done an equal expert job with that dilemma...maybe Forever Night, to some extent.
Yes, I could not go back to high school, though I enjoyed my senior year. If I had someone trying to teach me algebra for the umpteenth time, I'd have to walk out into the sunlight...:) Thanks for commenting, and your kind words for Promise Me!

Tara Fox Hall said...

Denise Z :) Glad you enjoyed the post :) Yes, I completely agree that novels should deliver satisfying endings, where there is justice that is not always present in real life. As a funny tidbit, my vampire Danial runs his business Solutions, Inc., mainly to make sure bad guys get what they have coming, as in his own life--mortal and immortal--he was often the recipient of injustice by those with power over him.
Tori: yes...I agree with your thoughts, too. Highlander did an excellent job of showing how immortals reinvent themselves through centuries to stave off boredom. So weird that a vampire series has not done an equal expert job with that dilemma...maybe Forever Night, to some extent.
Yes, I could not go back to high school, though I enjoyed my senior year. If I had someone trying to teach me algebra for the umpteenth time, I'd have to walk out into the sunlight...:) Thanks for commenting, and your kind words for Promise Me!