Monday, August 29, 2011

Name Your Favorite Vampire--Drawing for a Free Paperback

Who is your favorite vampire? TV, movie, or novel; female or male; sensually delicious or savagely cruel?

I’ve researched a number of vampire polls to find out which vampires were most popular. Some listed vampires I’d never heard of; many listed the vampires of recent TV shows and movies. But the name that came up most was still Lestat.

Take a look at the long list of vampires I’ve gathered from recent polls. Tell me who your favorite is and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free paperback of my own vampire novel, Beside the Darker Shore.

I’m eager to see which vampires have stolen our hearts in 2011.


Alphabetical listing of famous vampires in books, movies, and TV—the characters or the actors who portrayed them (*alphabetical by first name):

Akasha

Aleera

Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) (suggested by P.L. Parker--thank you!)

Alice Cullen

Amadeo in Theater des Vampires

Angel

Arkady Tsepesh

Armand

Aro

Aubrey

Barnabas Collins

Bela Lugosi

Bill Compton

Blacula

Blade

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Brian Lumley’s Wamphyri

Camilla

Carlisle Cullen

AU Carlisle Cullen (from Lifetime Prelude and Blood Bank, not from Twilight)

Christian (Lost Souls)

Christopher Lee

Claire Radcliff

Caroline Forbes

Claudia

Coraline

Count Chocula

Count Dracula (legend)

Count von Count (Sesame Street)

Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary

Damon Salvatore

Darla

David Bowie

David Talbot

Deacon Frost

Denholm Elliott

Dominic Purcell

Drusilla

Edward

Elizabeth Bathory

Elvira

Emmett Cullen

Eric Northman

Esme Cullen

Frank Langella

Gary Oldman

George Hamilton

Gerard Butler

Gordon Currie

Jack Palance

Jasper Hale

Javier Caffarena

Jean-Claude

Jeannette

Jessica Hamby

John Carradine

Josef Kostan

Juan R. Caraccioli

Julian Luna

Julien

Kalus Kinski

Katherine Pierce

Kiefer Sutherland

Lenore

Leslie Nielsen

Lestat de Lioncourt (Cruise or Stuart Townsend)

Lilith

Lilith Silver

Lillie

Louis Jourdan

Lucien Lacroix

Marc Warren

Marius de Romanus

Max Schreck (Nosferatu)

Mekare

Michael Jason Patrick

Mick St. John

Miriam Blaylock

Nick Knight

Nosferatu

Pam De Beaufort

Pandora

Rayn Bloode

Richard Roxburgh

Riley

Rosalie Hale

Rudolf Martin

Rutger Hauer

Sain Germain

Selene

Shori Matthews

Sillah (Lost Souls)

Soledad Miranda

Sonja Blue

Sookie

Sophie-Anne

Spike

Stefan Salvatore

Stephen Billington

Thomas Ian Griffith (Jan Valek)

Udo Kier (Andy Warhol’s)

Vampira

Vampire Bats

Vampires from Embraced, Julien and Lillie

Vampires from Kindred (game and series)

Victoria

Viktor

Vlad the Impaler

Yutte Stensgarde (Camilla)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

When craft becomes art again

Craft: a skilled activity or profession, the skill to carry out work
Art: a creative activity, the expression of creative skill and imagination to create objects of beauty

For quite a few years, I watched the writing community trying to defend its passion by redefining writing as a hard-learned craft. Success was based on paid publication, which came about by learning the craft. After all, sitting behind the computer, manipulating sentences, tossing out paragraphs, adding new scenes, fretting over pacing, changing points of view isn't easy. Nor is getting published, most of us know.

Yes, I agree, we do improve as we learn about writing, just as one does with any craft. And it is rewarding to be published (from a craft standpoint rather than financial).

But blog after blog talked about "how to" grab your audience, "how to" plot the perfect tale, "how to" get to know your character by naming what shoes he or she wore. I was wary. Yes, there were some valuable tips in all the crafting exercises, but something seemed to be missing. The writing process began to feel like something you could fit into a template, that you should put into a template to achieve that perfect format that sells.

But I couldn't quite fit some of my favorite books into that template. The Rushdie novel I was reading certainly didn't follow any of the advice on character development and even less on pacing. Could Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler ... have been written according to rules?

Now, there's a new trend in the writers' blogging world: backlash, audacity, calling what we do an art once again. A romantic notion? Think about it. Which scenes are the best in your latest work? Which scene gave you that eureka moment that sent a dopamine surge through your body, a kind of ecstasy that everything worked? Where did that initial rush come from when you first found the story brewing, when you couldn't sleep at night?

Odds are it wasn't when practicing the exercises of craft. Odds are it was a subconscious moment, some magic that pulled everything together and created a kind of beauty you couldn't wait to share.

There are many things to love in writing. Editing your rough draft to make it clean is a satisfying feeling. Finding a new point of view that really lets you feel the characters offers the reward of trying a new technique that works. But when you try that technique, when you slip into that new point of view, what happens? At that point, are you crafting or are you letting the imagination do its thing?

In a recent lecture by Luis Alberto Urrea, he began by saying, "This is not a craft lecture, this is a being-lecture." One of the attendees summarized the lecture, saying that he talked about why people write, the heart of why, "the art of intuition," rather than the how-to's. And it was beautiful, and people cried.

I'm reading blogs now that say, after you learn the rules, remember to break them. I'm reading books on writing that say don't try to know everything; the joy is in the mystery. People are getting tired of the formula, I suspect. Writers are beginning to admit that their job is fun, and yes, a little bit mysterious. The subconscious is fascinating and we shouldn't always be in left-brain mode. We shouldn't have to hold art to the same tests of success as a company's financial records.

Writing is fun when we get to play in it, when we're not churning out the next book to meet the marketer's demand.

Story after story can be written to fit a form that's familiar to people, and they'll eat them up with the same unconscious ease that we do fast food. It's good sometimes. It serves the purpose. But you don't feel it in your gut. You don't get knocked out of complacency. You don't marvel at the crazy mystery of life, how chaos can become the most beautiful pattern just by intuiting the path that we all join on somewhere in our imagination and heart.

So next time you sit down to write, I recommend forgetting all you've learned, just for a little while. Write nonstop and feverishly, and don't let that conscious mind judge what you're doing. It's pretend. It's being a kid again and letting go. See what happens. It's amazing fun, this creative process we were given. That's what it's meant to be. And when you sit down later to refine that product of untethered passion, give it a little leash. Take a chance.