Forrest Gump: Vampire

What keeps me, an author writing about vampires, lying in bed awake at night?

The ripping terror of disempathetic fanged human-beasts, ripping forest animals to shreds as they wage emotional and physical warfare on themselves and normal humans?
Maybe if I’m up late writing about them… 😈

Sparkling emo vampires dancing around a forest?
This is more disturbing than the first example (at least to me), but I’m not one to dash the hormonally-crazed fantasies of adolescent female youth, unless of course they should stumble upon my novel by accident.

No, the “forest” that disturbs me the most is the “forest” many publishers and Hollywood people would want me to create.

Forrest Gump: Vampire”

I can hear him now, taunting me: “Life is like a box of blood bags, you never know what you’re going to get.”

You see, I’ve created a novel that features a special-needs vampire as the protagonist. Jack is a sympathetic hero, as well. He frequently struggles with his vampire dark side.

Apparently, this would be more than enough of an “original” concept to keep the “commercial” crowd happy. They would be happiest if I kept the whole tale in Jack’s point of view. Simple, happy, sympathetic platitudes. Offset by occasional detours into the new darkness that dwells deep within him, that he always manages to overcome.

Sounds sweet, sentimental and touching, now doesn’t it?

To me, it sounds as saccharine and mawkish as the movie version of “Forrest Gump.” (which manages to be a good movie overall, despite these faults)

I can’t imagine who’d want to read a vampire story like that.
I know I wouldn’t.

What keeps my novel from being “Forrest Gump: Vampire” are my antagonists Damien and Lilith. The Yins to my protagonist’s Yang. Damien and Lilith are gleefully nihilistic, self-absorbed, power-hungry monsters that supply my novel’s, ahem, “bite.” They’re grindhouse Vampires, my Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, ready to bite you with a Razor Blade Smile.

Thanks to them, Jack will have to learn All The Lessons of his new vampire life the hard way. Machinations and manipulations abound as our hero fights to gain acceptance and survive. Paradoxically, Jack winning over Damien and Lilith will put him in greater danger as the story goes on. Damien and Lilith are constantly gaming each other, with Jack as the innocent pawn on their chessboard.

Two original concepts. “Forrest Gump: Vampire” and “Antagonistic Vampire Married Couple”. The Yin. The Yang. By themselves, simple and polarizing. Together, offsetting each others’ weaknesses.

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LaPush – Summer 2011

This year, I dared to cross the “treaty line” into LaPush 😈 , and I present to you these beautiful pictures of the coastline. 😀


(click on a thumbnail to view a larger version of the picture)

Click here to view my post featuring pictures I took in Forks, WA on July 2010.

Bella Italia restaurant, Port Angeles, Washington


Bella Italia Restaurant, Port Angeles, WA

July First. I was on my way to visit a Timber Museum in a small logging town located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Fifty-six miles from my destination, I had a sudden, inexplicable craving for mushroom ravioli. As luck would have it, there was a nice little Italian restaurant right there off Highway 101 in downtown Port Angeles.

By sheer random coincidence 😈 , I parked in front of the Bella Italia restaurant at 4:02 p.m., two minutes after it opened for the evening. My party of one was their second table they seated that evening. A family of five had managed to arrive before me.

I was thrilled to overhear the family’s three adolescent daughters all ordering the mushroom ravioli. I figured, “Wow, this place must have really good mushroom ravioli.”  When the waitress bought my Ensalada Mista and iced tea, she said “Yes, our mushroom ravioli is excellent.” I took a brief walk outside and there was a poster board in the front window explaining about how some author had dined there a few years ago. The author liked the mushroom ravioli so much, she wrote it into a scene in her book where two young lovers go on their first date. After reading this, I was really impressed. With an unpaid endorsement like that, I figured this place must have the best mushroom ravioli in the world.

At last, the plate arrived, and I feasted on the wonderful dish. I can’t really say if it’s the best mushroom ravioli in the world, but it was without doubt the best I’ve ever had. The mushroom flavor was strong without being overwhelming (a hard balance to pull off!), the pasta had a subtle wheat flavor without being “wheat pasta”, and the besclamella (Italian white sauce) perfectly complimented these two flavors, without overpowering them.

I was so impressed with the main course,  I ordered a mixed berry crisp dessert, purely on impulse. Made from local berries, right at the peak of Washington’s berry season. The ice cream was a bit plain vanilla, but the berries were outstanding.

It’s a treat when you travel from afar, and find something that was worth the hype. Really, we all know why so many people go to the Bella Italia and order mushroom ravioli, but I’m glad to report they won’t be disappointed.

Right now, I’m kicking myself for not having taken pictures inside the Forks Timber Museum. I’ll go so far as to say the Timber Museum is the first place you should visit if you happen to be in Forks. 😀

Hamburger Mary’s, Denver, CO

It’s only fitting that my first restaurant review has a tie-in with my novel.
Hamburger Mary’s in Denver is the real-life inspiration for the burger restaurant owned and operated my older gay male Vampire couple, Les and Lou. (Yes, my Vampires can live off of normal food indefinitely, provided the diet regularly includes some form of meat).

Since Les enjoys performing as a Vampira-styled drag queen on the stage of his own restaurant, it’s very important that their restaurant’s real-life proxy also features its own regular performances by drag queens (scroll down the link’s page to view the article). The ambiance is strongly LGBT-flavored, right down to the Lettuce-Guacamole-Bacon-Tomato sandwich on Page Three of their menu.

Tempting as that item is, the name of the place is Hamburger Mary’s, so how could you eat anything else besides a burger, really? You can substitute veggie or buffalo patties on any of the burgers, making Mary’s “veggie/health” friendly as well.

My choice was the Big Wahine. This half-pound patty, six-inch-wide, four-inch-high monster really did need the steak knife stabbed through the middle (as shown in the winking Mary logo) to hold it together.

Not the cheapest, but serious burger ecstasy never is. This badboy was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Well worth the ten and a half bucks. The accompanying fries are a high-end version of the “classic fry”, worthy of being paired with this first-class monster burger.

I also had the excellent garden salad. The slight hint of brown mustard flavor in the house vinaigrette dressing was a welcome (and tasty) surprise.

My waiter Jackie was very professional and attentive, always keeping my ice tea full.

All in all, Hamburger Mary’s is a delightful place I will be glad to return to.
If I’m lucky, it will become the new “Bella Italia” (which is the subject of my next restaurant review).

Cheers!

Writer’s Toolbox – TV Tropes.org

Here’s a great website for aspiring authors to consult:
TV Tropes (http://tvtropes.org)
“This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.”

What is a trope, anyway? A figure of speech, a convention, a concept.
“Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.”

You don’t have to be a writer to appreciate (and have fun reading) TV Tropes, but for us, this website is a priceless reference tool. Going far beyond checking your characters for a “Mary Sue” , TV Tropes is a litmus test for your work as a whole. So you want to write a story? Start here.

I wish I had read “Write A Vampire Novel” before I started. 😉

My novel contains an in-universe satire of a popular paranormal romance series. What does TV Tropes have to say about this?

How does your Vampire feel about the depictions of other vampires in movies and literature? It’s usually easy to make an amusing scene where he lambastes them for being painfully inaccurate, but this has now become so common it might actually be a good idea to try subverting it, by having the Vampire be a fan of vampire literature, for all its inaccuracies.
I did make one of my characters (“Z”) a huge fan of my in-universe series, much to the amusement of the other Vampires who know her. I picked her because she would seem “unlikely” to read the paranormal romance genre, yet the books fill her longing for a romantic love her life is lacking.

If you really want to throw this trope out the window, have him be a writer of vampire fiction.
I have such a character in my novel’s universe, but he’s only appeared in short stories. His life’s events never meet up with the novel’s story.
The concept of Vampire as “vampire fiction writer” is excellent. The Vampire author would either want to “set the record straight”, or deliberately obfuscate the “truth” as much as possible. Or maybe do both of these at once. 😈

The merciless lens of TV Tropes will reveal all kinds of conventions in your story, even those you didn’t consciously intend. My chief enforcer “D” and his minions all wear black leather trench coats, the modern version of the Badass Longcoat. And they all drive Cool Cars. Fortunately, my Vampires Are Rich (from their gold mines, in my case), reducing the likelihood of their driving an Improbably Cool Car that’s out of their financial reach.

Quote from the “Improbably Cool Car” page (under Examples, Literature): Entertainingly averted in Twilight (though probably not intentionally). Bella’s impossibly gorgeous, Bad Ass brooding vampire love interest Edward Cullen drives… (drumroll, please) …a Volvo.
Page 454 of The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide reveals this particular Volvo is an S60 R, a 300-horsepower turbocharged sport sedan. A sedate-looking car capable of tremendous performance (a “sleeper” in gearhead speak), the car is an allegory for Edward’s desire to blend in with normal society while concealing his true strength.

A 1953 Chevrolet pickup truck is fairly high on the list of vehicles desired by hot-rodding gearheads, making Bella’s truck almost a case of “improbably cool.” However, it is believable that the Black family would own such a truck, and that mechanically-inclined Jacob would be happy to fix it up to give to Bella.

I’m sure I’m not the only gearhead who winced at the movie versions’ substitution of a later-model (1963) Chevy pickup for Bella. 😦
At least the good folks at the Forks Chamber of Commerce had the sense to feature a book-correct truck in front of their building. 🙂
Photo below taken by me on June 28, 2011

An issue TV Tropes has forced me to address is biological reproduction. Female vampires’ infertility is usually attributed to their “undead” status. But what if your vampires are living, breathing and even (slowly) aging? This easy and logical explanation goes right out the window. To answer the question, I have to specify that my vampires (both male and female) become sterile upon their transformation. Good thing, too, otherwise my female vampires would have to endure an average 7.5 year gestation period (assuming they and the fetus both aged at one-tenth the normal rate). Imagine a grumpy, moody vampire mother pregnant for ninety months. Now that would be a real horror story! 😈

The best news for me is that my novel’s universe handily transcends the Our Vampires Are Different trope. Even in this trope, the writers assume the vampire is (in general) undead and bulletproof. Living, breathing vampires who can subsist off normal food indefinitely and aren’t immune to bullets are more “different” than even this trope expects vampires to be. In this case, I’m glad to say I came up with a very different vampire concept on my own, more than standing up to their challenge of originality.