I’m going to shift the conversation today away from the vampire to focus on his or her nemesis, the slayer.
It seems lately, when a book or movie focuses on its vampire characters, the vampires are (usually) conflicted about killing, sullen, falling in love with someone or something, and just not evil or dark in any general sense of the word. These are your Cullens, your bodice ripping fuck-buddy vampires, and everything that goes along with that. These are the types of books and movies previously said (by others, not me, read my post on the subject here) to have destroyed the vampire genre. Conversely, books and movies that focus on the vampire’s evil side are told from the focal point of the slayer–the good guy–and that’s who we’re supposed to identify with, believe in, and root for. The vampires here don’t care about love, they’d rather eat you than fuck you, and most of the time they’re absolutely not conflicted over said eating.
Now, it’s been my experience that slayers come in two varieties: extraordinary and not. Or, to put it more simply, beings with abilities and beings without. Some slayers that come to mind with these extraordinary abilities: Blade, Buffy (from the TV show, not the movie), Anita Blake, and pretty much any character you can think of in recent vampire urban fantasy. And yes, I know that’s one of the big things in urban fantasy, to have your main character be the chosen one. Blade was the Daywalker, Buffy was the “slayer,” and Anita Blake is just unkillable.
The flip side to that coin are your human slayers. Jack Crow from Vampire$, The Frog Brothers from The Lost Boys, Van Helsing from Dracula. They fight the vampires in their respective fictions without powers, without great aid, and that makes them far more compelling than slayers with powers. I mean, they’re just human after all, like you and I, and without the extra strength, speed, or magic, one has to wonder how the hell you’d stand up to a vampire.
But let’s face it, having powers is pretty fucking cool, too, right?
These are the two ideas that played a large role in the genesis of the split narrative in They Are Among Us. We start off in the human point of view, following Special Agent Alexandria Maxell and her team as they try to determine if vampires are real and, if so, what then? It’s a process with a large learning curve attached to it, and then I play with the concept of how truly prepared are they, which extrapolates to how capable are we, humans, in general?
The second half of the book follows Jack, a vampire, our creature with abilities, whose job is to kill other vampires, those who don’t conform to their societal rules. He’s not really a cop, as there’s no “protect and serve” with him, but rather a “you fucked up and now I have to kill you” motif. But, powers. And while it’s clear Jack is a cut above most vampires in the speed and agility departments, there is a cost.
My biggest concerns were falling into the quagmire of having an overly emotional vampire hit man and him becoming the vampire I despise. I also didn’t want my humans turning into some new cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So those were my big challenges when examining the world in They Are Among Us, and how each of my characters would behave in it. They each have their goals and how they’re going to go about accomplishing them within the parameters of who they are and my expectations of what vampire slayers should be.
And as I complete the second book, At Dawn They Sleep, we’re going to see how these quirks shape the opening days of the Blood War. I can guarantee things are not going to be the way readers are expecting.
Next week, tune in as I shift gears again and talk about something that’s been on my mind for awhile now, which is the community I find myself in… but not in: the writing community.
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