PDMI presents Paranormal Christmas

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We All Dream Of Iced Screams

Wax Audio: “Enter You”

Time for another Vampire Syndrome snippet! 😈

I’m standing near the entrance of a cave. The stars and a crescent moon are the only lights in the sky, yet I can see all the colors of the surrounding landscape as clearly as if it was daytime. Deep green grass and bright green leaves in the bushes at night. How can this be?
A man in a long black coat points toward the cave. His deep voice startles me.
“It’s time, Jack.”
Time for what? I look at my watch. Three-thirteen a.m.
I take a step, then hesitate.
Somehow, I know I have to go in there. But I don’t want to. Not just because caves are so spooky. I know something’s in there, waiting for me.
The man clears his throat and points again.
I walk slowly to the entrance. Looks okay so far. Time to go inside. It’s dark in here, but I can see everything clearly. The rock walls are filled with little sparkles of gold. Is this an old gold mine? Or maybe it’s all fools’ gold, like in the prospector shop near Buena Vista that Coach Ron and Diane took me to when I was eight.
A crashing noise, coming from farther down in the cave, startles me. Could have been a rock falling. If I keep telling myself that, I might even believe it.
The tunnel becomes steeper as I go down. A very cold breeze is blowing hard on my back. How come I’m not shivering? I don’t even have a jacket on, just a t-shirt and jeans. My brain knows how cold it is, but my body isn’t bothered by it at all.
I pass through the end of the narrow tunnel. Check it out, I’ve just entered a huge underground cavern. The ceiling is full of pointy rocks. Some of them are dripping water. This looks like Carlsbad Caverns, but without all the bright lights. How come I can see all the colors? Lots of brown, green, red, orange and tan. This place is a rainbow of rocks. The white crystal coating on top of the big brown boulders in the right corner makes them look like a giant bowl of frosted cinnamon rolls. Wish I had my camera.
To my left, one of the icicle-shaped rocks breaks from the ceiling and lands in a puddle of water. Was that the same rock-falling sound I heard before? I hope it was. Maybe an icicle rock falling on the floor of this cavern sounds different in the tunnel than it does here. At least I hope so.
I feel an urge to enter the dark tunnel directly in front of me. As if someone inside is calling out to me. But I didn’t hear a sound.
“Jack.”
I heard it that time.
No, I didn’t hear it. It’s coming from inside my mind. Am I hearing voices?
“Jack.”
A woman’s voice. Doesn’t sound familiar, but for some reason, I recognize it.
Gold and silver sparkles on the walls light my way along the tunnel. I increase my pace from walking to running with no extra effort. Feels like I’m moving on a fast conveyor belt.
At the end of the tunnel, a small cave. A beautiful woman stands before me. Her long, curly black hair covers the shoulders of her gold-trimmed black dress.
I know her, she knows me.
Her head is bowed down. Tears trickle down her face. Why is she so sad?
The woman yells, “Look behind you.”
I whip my head around.
Two pale white ghosts. One man, one woman. Both crying out, “Jack.”
It was the ghost woman I heard back in the cavern. Same voice, but now she’s speaking directly to me.
I dash in front of the sad woman. She leaps into my arms and I carry her. How can I be lifting her so effortlessly? I’ve had a harder time lifting a bag of kitty litter.
More ghosts approach us. The sad woman screams in terror. I have to get her out of here.
I run. Fast. Too fast. Even carrying the sad woman in my arms, I’m zipping through the tunnels and caverns like I was downhill skiing. Except I’m running uphill. How can this be?
The echoes of the ghosts calling out my name fade in the distance as I dash up the last tunnel.
Once we escape the cave, a crowd of people watch as I stop running. I release her from my arms and she stands up. We wave to the crowd. She leans down to hug me, her long black hair brushing against me as she kisses my cheek.
The crowd applauds and hollers. I study the people. Where’s the man in the long black coat?
Several men hoist me into the air as the crowd chants my name. Awesome, I’ve become their hero. The woman I rescued begins swaying her hips like a belly dancer. Two women join her in the dance.
I look toward the cave entrance. The man in the long black coat went in there. Somehow, I know he did. I’ve gotta get him out of there. The ghosts will get him.
A woman’s voice. “Jack?”
A nudge on my shoulder. How can that be? I’m way on top of the crowd carrying me.
“Jack?” I know her voice.
Someone just touched my hair.

***

Special thanks to Emily Guido for featuring Vampire Syndrome in Fangs and Hearts Week! 😀

Music Soothes the Savage Characters

Music Soothes the Savage Characters
©April 6, 2011 by Daven Anderson

I’ve been using music (and song lyrics) for my “character building” exercises. Choose three songs that you think represent a particular character. The songs you pick can give you insights into your characters (and even yourself! ) that would not be obvious from any other approach.

Here’s a sample lyric from Devo’s Peek-A-Boo (©1982 Casale/Mothersbaugh), a song I picked for my character Jack:

If you cannot see it, you think it’s not there. It doesn’t work that way.

Jack is a vampire. When you consider that vampires are “hidden” from the normal world, this ostensibly simple lyric takes on a whole new relevance. Jack has become something the normal world “cannot see” and thinks is “not there.” Thus, the quoted lyric has far more meaning to Jack (and his kindred) than to the normal people Devo was admonishing for their lack of vision.

The 1973 Fleetwood Mac song Hypnotized (©1973 Bob Welch) would seem an obvious choice to represent my character Gl’Ag, who is of extraterrestrial descent.

Now it’s not a meaningless question to ask if they’ve been and gone
I remember a talk about North Carolina and a strange, strange pond
You see the sides were like glass, in the thick of a forest without a road
And if any man’s ever made that land, then I think it would’ve showed.

The readers’ perceptions of the character, the novel, and even the author can be dramatically widened by tying in the right song. The lyrical theme of Hypnotized is an obvious “tie-in” for an extraterrestrial-descent character. But the possible interpretations run much deeper. Does the author imply that Gl’Ag’s kind are responsible for the anomalous pond in the woods near Winston-Salem? Are their kind hiding in the “place down in Mexico, where a man can fly over mountains and hills?” Is their mothership the “something” that “flies by their window . . . out on that lawn . . . which is wide, at least half of a playing field?” Are his kind’s hypnotic powers why “what matters most is the feeling you get when you’re hypnotized”?

Connect the right song to your character, and you will find out what Aristotle meant when he said, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”

There’s a tendency for authors to view their choices in music as nothing of importance. Something to put on in the background as you type. A song quoted in your pages to spice up your story, at best. This couldn’t be more wrong. Are their choices obscure? Popular? Hackneyed (such as banjo music for a backwoods thriller)? Or do they even bother with music at all? Each of these reflect very different mind sets for both the authors and their stories.

The content of this post should make it clear that each of the songs on my playlist (in my novel’s appendix) is an exercise in character development and character building. Each song I selected says something important about a particular character and makes a comment about the character’s place in my story’s universe.

My writing is intended for those who look for the hidden truths and ask the deeper questions. Yes, I’m aware this is a heavily philosophical approach for a grocery store cashier writing a vampire book. 😉

Readers of my novel who research the lyrics and songs on my playlist will be rewarded with a unique insight into my characters and the novel’s universe. If I’m lucky, a reader or two will be able to make a connection to something I missed. I dream of the time when I can make one of my readers proud at my book signing when I tell them, “You are the first person who got my intended meaning.”

Of course, novels have to stand on their own merits. The connection with music outside the novel is intended for readers who wish to expand their understanding of my novel’s characters and universe. Which leads to my all-time favorite movie quote:

Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.
Lex Luthor in “Superman” (1978)

Your novel has to stand on its own enough to satisfy those who take it simply for what it is. However, great novels should offer a universe of hidden meanings for the readers who wish to dig deeper.

Vampire Love: Thinking Outside The Coffin

Vampire Love: Thinking Outside The Coffin
©May 12, 2011 By: Daven Anderson

Love. The vampire genre is full of “love.” Bookstore shelves are on the brink of collapsing under the weight of an army of paranormal romance titles. Servers for e-books are filled with terabytes of bodice-ripping hunks with fangs.

And therein lies the genre’s biggest problem.

Vampires are, by definition, outsiders. Thus, their experiences of love should also diverge from the normal world. Their dealings with love should be the opposite of the usual “category romance with a sprinkling of paranormal seasoning.” This ceaseless flood of cloned paranormal romance degrades Dracula, debases Bathory, ultimately creating a horde of readers that will never touch the spine of a book with the word “vampire” in the title. Can you blame them?

One of my main motivations for writing is to correct this sad situation.

My character Damien was fourteen years old when he met Lilith, an attractive redhead who appeared nineteen. She was actually a fifty-five year old vampire. Lilith did not bother to inform Damien in advance that consummating their attraction would transform him into a vampire. Even though they are soul mates, and he has remained with her for over 250 years, Damien has never forgiven her for failing to tell him what he would become. This is the reason why Damien seeks solace in the arms of his mistresses, in spite of his wife Lilith’s habit of killing them.

The reason why Lilith didn’t tell Damien is that her first husband didn’t tell her she would become a vampire, either. And Lilith didn’t mind a bit. She loves being a vampire. She sees it as empowerment and deliverance from a menial 18th-century life. Lilith doesn’t think anyone would, or should, ever object to becoming a vampire. Even if they weren’t told about it in advance.

There are way too many books where you can read about a handsome male vampire at long last finding his human female soul mate. Once again, the time is ripe for an author to think outside the (coffin) box and bring the true “outcast” spirit of the vampire back from the, ahem, dead.

What tales of love reside in my novel? Jack, a newly turned young vampire wanting the love of a family, guarded by a Gypsy vampire still mourning the loss of her loved ones. Damien, never forgiving his wife’s act of information omission, seeking comfort in mistresses. Power-hungry Lilith, killing those mistresses to regain control of the “bad boy” husband she loves.

These are not the love stories in your typical dime-a-dozen paranormal paperback. These are the love stories of outsiders.

The love stories of vampires.