Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | July 3, 2014

The Vampiress Hunter: Chocolate, Cats, And Relationships

untitled12aaaProbably about the same time the housing market crashed in September of 2008, I had been on a quest to write my own vampire novel.

It was based on a first draft that I had written about eight years before–while I was working at the movie theater (during the “dead hours”)–and I was really into the idea that I could bring something unique to the genre. Even though my understanding of vampire lore and such was relegated to a few movies and zero books. (I never read any of Anne Rice’s novels.)

Still…I had some idea of what to write about and what not to write and during those three months, and I just wanted to see what I could accomplish. Of course, the characters from the first draft and the second had changed–the support character switching genders for example–and so did the story line to some degree.

So when I began the process of rewriting the novel eight years later, I wanted to do it in grand style. First off, I wanted to expand and explore more of my main character’s background. I didn’t do so much in the first draft–a lot of what went on in there was more wishy-washy action themes than anything else and very little in terms of background development–so this time around, I would devote more of the novel to building on the main character and really flesh her out.

And I had a pretty good buzz going on in the early second draft. My vampiress hunter would be a college student at a Berkeley university, be a bit cynical in nature, and have a sweet tooth to beat the band. (Marlena’s addicted to everything chocolate.)

And she would be half-vampire in the process. (I can’t remember if she was full vamp in the original draft. I would have to look it up in my notes.)

So down the line, I kept expanding, developing, adding more to the story and really seeing a world that would make most people insanely jealous and a bit terrified at the same time. Because let’s face it…living in a changed environment takes some getting used to. In this setting of mine, the former USA is no longer in existence, but taken over by a military protectorate after a series of terror attacks in the early twenties cemented the fate of the country as a whole. (And changed the world soon after.)

So…few rights now exist in the country and the Union is no longer truly united; as some states broke away to form their own republic. (With California being a “free state”)

Living has gotten more expensive, there’s no indication of whether or not the old economy still functions or if minimum-wage still exists, but gauging from the daily activities of both my characters (in the novel), I’d say some things are still the same on the surface.

But the important aspect of the novel–thus far–is the relationship factor. Since it’s been quite awhile since my vampire hunter had to hunt down someone and kill them, she’s gone into what I see as being semi-retired. As such, she’s gone to college to become a public school teacher, but lives on a fixed budget. (I wanted to break away from the cliches of vampires being obscenely wealthy and having a load of money in this configuration. Because I didn’t want money to be the sole reason for her entire existence. I wanted to give her some realistic challenges that would resonate with the reader.)

Marlena rents out a studio apartment off campus in a nice neighborhood and has a three-year-old black cat named Sebastian–who is quite the character.

Being half vampire means that Marlena only has to feed when she needs to. And currently, that means after she’s drunker than a skunk and throwing up after a meal deal gone bad. (She’s deathly allergic to garlic as it turns out and she’s not too fond of silver nitrate.)

So there’s some challenges for her to deal with and she deals with them in her own way.

Now…the relationship factor was a bit more fascinating. I wanted her to have a boyfriend, or at least a guy that she fancies seriously and doesn’t judge based on appearances alone. (Vanity issues and such. Things like that.)

So this lucky guy she’s taken a shining to is reminiscent of a former lover who she had a brief fling with 30 years ago. So she takes him by storm, only to find out that he’s carrying some emotional baggage of his own. So the start of that relationship becomes a mix of passion and trust, along with understanding and patience.

Their relationship isn’t quite perfect in retrospect and I didn’t want it to be. I wanted these two to have a lot of leeway when it came to making decisions and choices; what will affect them and what won’t. They also had a tendency to argue along the way and really get on each other’s nerves, but for a first time, things weren’t scripted. (“Hey, you’re going to do this and you’re going to do that…” No. Not going to happen.)

So I wanted that at least in the novel.

I was more interested in how things were going to pan out between Marlena and her new boyfriend. I know all the old stories of one-night stands in college, and I wanted to see if the same would hold up to the same level of scrutiny towards the end.

But since their time together has only lasted a day and a half–it’s the weekend–it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen. But so far, the two of them seem to be holding things together with only a few bumps along the way.

And for Marlena’s sake, it’s a big transition. She hasn’t been in a relationship since the last guy she was with and this time around–30 years later–gives her a chance to reconnect with other people as well as herself; find out what she’s been missing.

Or experiencing.

As for the rest of the novel, I’m still dealing with a detective who has the perchance to getting hammered all the time to drown out her pain (she gets awful headaches and migraines from being in close proximity to the vampiress hunter), while she’s on the case to uncover Marlena’s past and dealing with an ancient threat that has Marlena dead to rights.

But all in all, the novel is pretty solid for a second draft. All 717 pages of it and counting. I can’t wait for the end myself. I want to see how the two deal with this problem together and what the end results would be for the finale. (I already have the sequel planned out in my head.)

So Anne Rice? Eat your heart. Because my novel has anything of yours beat hands down. ^_^

(Oh, if you’re interested in following the story, you can read it here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/17199797-the-vampiress-hunter)

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