The Metaphor

One of the many little details hiding in Vampire Syndrome is a metaphor.

Is is the human condition? Well, I do have the alien Pure Vampires, whose DNA bought about the existence of the genetically-mutated human Vampires. The “Humans”, as the Pures call the human Vampires, embrace their humanity with passion, even when they shouldn’t. The “Normals” (non-vampire humans) deem the human Vampires monsters, but of course no human ever considers themselves to be a monster, human Vampires included.

So, we have these beings that are basically human, yet infused with basal, predatory urges, courtesy of the mutations performed to their DNA sequence by the Pures’ DNA.
A metaphor for the human condition?
Yes, and a rather illuminating one (if I presume to say so myself).

But that’s not the metaphor I’m referring to.
The combative relationship between the human Vampires and the Pures is a metaphor for the vampire itself.

How the evolution of culture has shifted the vampire from the grave-escaping revenants of old-world folklore to the sympathetic, revered heroes of romance.
And how the core supporters of the “classic monster” verbally joust with paranormal romance fans.
Vampire versus Vampire. Old versus new. Demon versus angel.
What the vampire was, versus what the vampire is.

Not to worry, my human Vampires are not “totally Twilight”. Damien and Lilith are as twisted as their rocky 253-year marriage. Zetania feels disconnected from Normal humans after the last of her Normal human family died off. And Jack’s battle to be the champion of human Vampires will far exceed even the challenges he faced in becoming a record-setting Special Olympics champion athlete.

Yet each values their humanity. The difference between them and the carnivorous Pures. The two-legged sharks striking terror in the hearts of all human Vampires.
An apex of fear the Normal humans will never know, except in their collective subconscious. The demon monster of old, refusing to die, rising forth once more to challenge its progeny, the human Vampires of today’s stories.

Even mine.

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Interview with Jack Wendell

Time for me to try something new in the new year.
A character interview, a concept inspired by Joleene Naylor,
but written in my own style.

Spoiler Warning: This interview takes place between the end of “Vampire Syndrome” (book one) and the beginning of “Vampire Conspiracy” (book two).

Welcome, readers of the Vampire Syndrome blog. Today we are proud to feature an interview with Jack Wendell. Currently Jack is between novels one and two, flying in the Council of Thirteen Presidential Jet on his way to Romania to rescue his dear friend Zetania Vinescu from the alien Pure Vampires who kidnapped her in the last chapter of “Vampire Syndrome”. Accompanying Jack in the Gulfstream G550 are Damien Tepesh, Chief Venator of the United States region, and Jack’s new adoptive parents, Ronald and Diane Pepper.

***

Interviewer: Good evening, Mr. Wendell, I’m (redacted), official record-keeper of the Council Of Thirteen. So nice to meet you. (Interviewer and Jack shake hands)

Jack: Hey, wait a minute, how’d you get on this plane?

I: The same way you did, through the door.

J: How come I didn’t see you?

I: I’m Stacy Burnside’s co-pilot. I was in the cockpit until now.

J: Oh, okay.

I: Now let’s get down to business. Tell the Vampire world about yourself.

J: My name is Jack Wendell and I’m nineteen years old. A few months ago, I became a Vampire cause a girl named Janine Perrino got Vampire rabies and bit me.

I: Not the most pleasant way to become a Vampire… (chuckles)

J: Tell me about it! President Lilith told me most of us become vampires from sex.

I: Yes, indeed, sexual intercourse.

J: That’s how Damien and Lilith turned Coach Ron and Diane into Vampires.

I: Ah, yes, Ron and Diane Pepper. Ron was your Special Olympics coach until his recent recruitment into our community.

J: You call that a recruitment? They didn’t get much choice about it.

I: Well, more like drafted, I must admit. And how do you feel about Damien and Lilith turning the Peppers?

J: Why didn’t they ask me first before they did it?

(Damien interrupts): Lilly never was very good about asking people before she…

I: Uh, excuse me, Chief Venator, sir, I’m interviewing Jack here. For the Council record.

(Damien): My apologies. Carry on.

I: Okay, so Jack, let me re-phrase the question. Ron and Diane, now they’re Vampires: Is this good or bad?

J: Good, cause they’re my new family. I guess Lilith wanted to be my new mom, but it didn’t work out. She said she might not be the best mom for me.

I: Indeed, Damien and Lilith did seem to agree that they might not be the best candidates to be your new parents.

J: I love Coach Ron and Diane, and I’m so happy they’re my Dad and Mom now, but I’m scared we’re all gonna get hurt.

I: The Pures. 😈

J: That’s the bad thing. What if the Pures find out about us?

I: The Pures know about your new parents. They’ve been monitoring the Peppers’ cattle mutilation website with a stolen laptop that we’re monitoring.

J: I meant, when they find out Coach Ron and Diane are Vampires!

I: And working as Council investigators, I might add.

J: That’s not funny.

I: No humor intended, Mr. Wendell. We’re in a tough situation here. And you’re heading right into the eye of the storm.

J: But I’ve gotta rescue Zetania from the Pures!

I: Which will put you in grave danger…

J: I don’t care!

(Damien): Cluj Napoca Team has already surrounded the Pures’ hideout.

(Diane Pepper): Oh my, aren’t we confident, Damien?

(Damien): We’ll hit ’em after sunrise so they can’t come out of their cave chasing after Jack.

I: Excuse me, I’m trying to conduct an interview here!

(Damien and Diane, in unison): Sorry!

J: If I can get Zetania out of there, maybe she won’t declare war on the Pures.

I: Her number one enemy for 122 years? You’re quite an optimist, Jack.

J: I’m gonna talk her out of it.

I: Jack, I hate to play devil’s advocate here, but if the Pures killed Zetania, she wouldn’t be able to declare war on them.

J: But then all the rest of the human Vampires would want to kill the Pures cause they killed Zetania. There’d be a big war anyway.

I: Great point, Jack. I can see why Damien and Lilith accepted you into our community.

J: After Damien tried to kill me a couple of times.

(Damien laughs)

(Interviewer continues): And why are you so willing to risk your life to rescue Zetania, Jack?

J: She would do it for me. I know she would. Maybe if I save her, she won’t want to go to war with the Pures cause she knows how bad she could lose. If I get her out of there, she won’t want to be captured again. See?

I: Yes, actually, I do. If you’re right, that is. If Zetania doesn’t see your rescuing her as a golden opportunity to re-group the Romanian Vampires and…

J: Then I better talk her out of the war harder!

I: I wish you the best of luck with your mission, Jack. You’re gonna need it.

J: Thank you.

Very inspiring blogger award

Very Inspiring Blog Award

Mari Wells has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. It’s wonderful to get some recognition after two years of blogging. Thank you so much, Mary! 😀

Here are the rules:
Rules of Participation:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven Things About Me:

1. I might be the only person in the United States who drove a 1960 Plymouth from Denver to Seattle and back, in the year 2012. I even went to Forks. No A/C, AM radio only. My only modernization: a GPS unit. My old-fashioned road atlas was still easier to use for long-distance multi-highway route planning!

2. I was inspired to write Vampire Syndrome after reading the four Twilight books, specifically my disappointment with the ending of Breaking Dawn (an ending which even Stephenie Meyer and the screenwriters have changed for the Breaking Dawn Part 2 movie!)

3. I have visited all the Colorado locations described in Vampire Syndrome, even the “undisclosed” locations of the vampires’ facilities, such as their headquarters compound. I know details of those locations you can only experience from personal visitations, even if they “don’t exist”. 😈

4. Working closely with special-needs individuals for over twenty years helped me to refine my main character Jack Wendell (a human vampire with Down Syndrome) to the point where every reader of Vampire Syndrome who has a special-needs friend and/or family member has praised my portrayal of Jack as being exceptionally realistic.

5. When I finished my first read of “Interview With The Vampire” at age 17, I did not think “I could write something better than that.” Today, I consider it Anne Rice’s crowning glory, so I still wouldn’t think that. Thus, in practice, Stephenie Meyer inspired me much more than Anne Rice. 😈

6. Some would say that I am a “late bloomer”, not starting to write my first novel until the age of 43. Well, for all those years I was “just” reading, the traditional publishing industry had the lock on publishing. Even if I had written Vampire Syndrome ten or twenty years ago, would it have ever seen the light of day back then? A number of authors are in fact reviving their old novels as e-books. I might have been one of them, if I’d been lucky enough to get my rights back. I may not be rich, but I have all the rights to my work and you can buy my e-books. That’s more than what a lot of long-time authors can say, unfortunately.

7. My automotive knowledge is extensive enough to where a mechanic with 40+ years of experience was able to discern exactly what part failed in the transmission of Damien’s 1960 Plymouth Fury, simply from Damien’s point-of-view observations in Chapter Two. No, this was not a case where the same part failed on my own 1960 Plymouth. My car is manual shift, Damien’s is automatic, so my car does not have a torque converter inner bushing, which is the part that failed in Damien’s car. And, I don’t know any owners of an automatic-transmission 1960 Plymouth who had this part fail on them, so I haven’t even heard details of such a failure experience second-hand.

My nominees:

1. Emily Guido (she’s already won it, but still deserves to be #1 on my list!)
2. Lesley Carter: Bucket List Publications
3. Kristen Lamb’s Blog
4. Chris Devlin Writes
5. The Graveyard Press
6. You Jivin’ Me, Turkey?
7. Think Banned Thoughts
8. The Biting Edge
9. You Can Write A Novel
10. The Warrior Muse
11. Write Your Life Story
12. J.A. Kazimer
13. Writers In The Storm
14. The Wordslinger

…and the most inspiring of them all:
15. The World Of Special Olympics 😀

Becoming A Vampire

Jack discovers he is a Vampire

My front teeth still feel like they’re sticking out. I better go in the bathroom and look in the mirror.
Wow, I haven’t even turned on the light yet and it’s bright in here. It’s usually a bit dark in the bathroom before you turn on the light.
The mirror.
My eyeballs are black.
That’s impossible, my eyes are green.
My teeth.
Four of my teeth are sticking out, and they’re pointy. They look like fangs. I touch my fingertip to the point of one. Ouch! It’s sharp.
They are fangs.
My mind flashes back to the crazy Mexican lady in the pink shirt. The one who bit my neck.
She was a Vampire.
No, that can’t be right. Vampires don’t exist. And I’m not dead. I can feel my heart beating. It’s beating fast right now, cause I’m nervous.
That’s why those people came up and pulled her off of me. If they hadn’t, she would have drank all my blood and killed me.
I don’t want to have fangs. I wish they would go away.
I feel my fangs pulling back into my mouth. In the mirror, my eyes are green again. Now it’s darker in here. But it’s back to normal light, not like a big fluorescent light was on.
There’s blood stains on my shirt. I lift the fabric to my nose. It’s from the steak. Oh, that blood smells so yummy.
The bathroom becomes brighter as I feel my fangs come out again. My eyeballs turn black.
No, no fangs!
My fangs slide back into my mouth.
Hey, I can do this.
Out. There they are. Nice. Bright in here again.
In. They went back in. Cool. The light’s back to normal, but I’m not.
I’m a Vampire.
Can I turn into a bat?
I flap my arms and yell, “Bat. Bat. Bat.”
Nothing happened. Guess I can’t turn into a bat.
Oh my god, I better get out of here. Coach Ron and Diane will kill me, for real. Everyone always kills Vampires, at least in the movies. I better go find some other Vampires, ’cause at least I know they won’t try to kill me.
I dash to the bedroom and put on my blue jeans. I grab my wallet and put it in my pocket. Since I can’t turn into a bat and fly, I’ll still need my bus pass.
Shirt, I need a shirt. I grab my black t-shirt from the dresser. The one I got at the 10k run in San Francisco. “Special Olympics Changes Lives.” Not as much as my life has just changed.
I run to the front living room and grab my track jacket from the coat hanger. Coach Ron has several pairs of sunglasses on the table. I grab the darkest pair and put them in my jacket pocket.
Wait a minute. Will I melt if I go out in the sunlight? I don’t think so, I’m already by the window and sunlight is coming in. I’d be burning up by now if this was a movie.

John Franklin Stephens

I wrote a novel with a Down Syndrome protagonist, and I’m proud to say my character Jack Wendell is a dignified, wise being.. just like John Franklin Stephens!

John Franklin Stephens: “Using The “R” Word” essay (Denver Post)

The World of Special Olympics

The following is a guest post in the form of an open letter from Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens to Ann Coulter after this tweet during last night’s Presidential debate.

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow.  So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child…

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