Vitaortus' conception (or would it be pollination? Fertilization?)
Back in Early 2010, I noticed a number of journalists and critics asking a strange question of writers, actors, and production people involved with all the various Vampire-themed books and entertainment that had been creeping onto the market. The question was, “Does the world really need another vampire novel, film, TV show, etc.?”
I was perplexed. What kind of question was that? Quite clearly, these interviewers had no idea about their subjects’ oeuvre and no clue about its cognoscenti. I mean, after all, would you ask that question of other genres? What about the crime/detective novel, or horror, or romance, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery; what about historical fiction? Could you saturate the market with any of these? Basically, I thought that if you have to ask the question, you probably won’t appreciate or understand the answer. It’s a simple matter of preference.
That was when I realized the vampire novel had really become its own genre. And like any genre, it had a lot of ‘eh, eh’ work, some good work and a little great work. But I also discovered something else when I went searching to see what fellow vampistas thought, which was that, like our dark heroes, we would be eternally thirsting for more, whether it’s soaked in bloody gore or sickly sweet romance.
I always loved the vampire mystique, starting with my first, Bela, who did it so beautifully on film. Everyone knows the original Dracula movie, but when was the last time you sat down to watch it? Oh—and pretend the armadillos are huge rats. Remember that it was 1931 and film was still only toddling at that point, so you whippersnappers must cut it some slack. It's much like the various aspects of Bram Stoker’s novel that would make it unpublishable today.
I was deeply impacted by the imagery of his haven, the ambience and the supernatural intensity of Dracula’s presence and quiet, non-violent attacks. In some ways, it told more than the book. It created a special gothic place in me that I have cultivated ever since. And whatever it says about me, I have to admit that from even that young age, I found the ‘Undead’ as cool and intriguing as I did frightening. They weren’t like other monsters. They were more ‘us’, only darker, wiser, with a bizarre sex-appeal, and of course, diet…and sleeping habits. I sympathized with them.
But, as a lover also of Science Fiction, a few questions chewed like vermin through my brain. It seemed to me that immortal creatures would certainly have to take an interest in what was going on around them. You don’t hang out forever, hunting humans and not getting caught, if you don’t know how to adapt to the times and blend in. Poor Dracula wouldn’t make it too far these days, what with globalization and the technology that comes with the ever-present cell phone. And yet Stoker described him as being very well-read and very, very smart! *Update* The recent BBC version did a WONDERFUL job of bringing the character into the current era.
Another nagging thought was that if a Vampire wanted to live in one area, he/she would have to figure out a way to feed, because they’d get through their local supply in a pretty short time. Also, surely they wouldn’t need to consume much, not being warm-blooded – that’s just basic science, right? Fiction or not. And how would all the things that plague mankind affect such creatures? How did they evolve? And then I wondered, well jeez, all the toxic stuff in humans today would surely do a number on them … and my story was born (germinated?).
I began on Bastille Day, 2010, which my character Georges might or might not appreciate. And what kind of story would my sanguineous bundle be? There were so many choices: Romance, Horror, Mystery, Comedy, Tragedy, Satire … I could set it in current times, or in past or even future. But it made its own choices, based on my circumstances. Living in the Washington, D.C. environs, with an interest in enviro-political affairs, experience in horticulture and a whole host of other factors, ‘Vitaortus’ chose its own path. It told me loudly and clearly that Vampires were going to evolve because they had no intentions of being forced into extinction by unknowing, misunderstanding, disdainful newshounds and non-sanquiniphiles.
Oh, and they were going to use a supernatural plant to do it.
Tune in next blog for more about that!