Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Sharon Ashwood

The winner of Sharon's book is: Freedom Star. Congratulations! Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Sharon. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Back to the crypt?

What is the future for our paranormal bad boys? Is tomorrow’s hot vamp going to be the same as today’s? It’s interesting to look outside the romance pond to see what writers from other genres think.

I recently returned from the World Fantasy Convention in Calgary, Alberta, which attracted very fine authors of science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy from all over North America and beyond. I went to a panel on the evolution of the vampire and its hunters.

To boil down one slice of this varied and fascinating discussion, our fangy friends have had a makeover from Nosferatu (evil, dangerous, in severe need of dental hygiene) to the hunky Spikes and Angels of the world. The vampire hunters themselves have changed just as much. Rather than an older Dutch professor armed with a cross, we have hot young women with tattoos and the latest in ammunitions technology.

Those of us dealing in paranormal romance are already well aware of all this, but the larger question is where we go from here. One of the ideas bounced around is that, once the heroic, romantic vampire is old hat, we’re going to start seeing a return of the truly monstrous, evil vampires. At that point, we’ll have come full circle, the vamps will leave our boudoirs and return to their horror fiction roots.

Okay, but I’d like to add that not all vampires, even in paranormal romance, ever completely left their horror roots. It’s true some are quite domesticated, but there’s a range out there. You have to keep some of the “bad” in the bad boys, or you’ve just got bunny rabbits.

And real vampires don’t eat carrots.

Of course, combining the horror and romance elements is a tricky business and takes a light touch. When I was working on RAVENOUS, I found there was quite a fine line to walk between having a vampire who was really just a funny, nice guy with a V8 fetish and one who was a homicidal threat to the heroine. One step too far either way can give you boring or icky. Get it right, and it’s dynamite.

Alessandro Caravelli, my hero, is six feet of blond, leather-clad gorgeousness -- but he is a real, drinking-from-the-vein vampire. In other words, a dangerous guy. Even though sparks fly between Alessandro and his sometime business partner, Holly Carver, they both know anything more than friendship could be fatal. He can protect her from their enemies, but is far more challenged when it comes to protecting her from himself. Fortunately, Holly’s a witch with magic of her own -- she can give as good as she gets when those sparks turn into an inferno.

If I’d left out that element of danger, it would have been a very different tale. It’s far more interesting when the romantic vampire still retains a pinch of that original Dracula. He can go either way -- good or bad. He has to fight his way through his darkness and into the light through a series of tough choices. He’s uncompromising, self-aware, and prepared to sacrifice to get what he wants -- the woman of his dreams.

Overall, I think we probably will see some vampires return to the purely horror genre, but I don’t think that’s the only place the fang-boys are going to hang their literary hats. There will always be a place for this quintessential dark hero. The opportunity for a complex, heart-breaking journey of the soul is just too good to pass up.

What do you think? How scary should our paranormal heroes be? How much of that good, old fashioned monster is too much of a good thing? I’ll pick one answer to receive a signed copy of RAVENOUS once it’s released.

Sharon Ashwood
RAVENOUS (Signet Eclipse, Feb 2009)


Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, Sharon. Welcome to Paranormality. It's great to have you here. I also think lots of vamps never left their horror roots and that the romantic variety won't be leaving our bedrooms anytime soon. Combining romance and horror is a neat trick. Someone asked me recently if my books could really be categorized as "romantic horror." OK. Sounds good to me! The main vampire in my series is also tall, blonde and gorgeous and he revels in the taste of blood. He's a vampire. That's what they do. I think the vampire genie won't be shoved back into the bottle for a very long time. Yay!

7:45 PM  
Blogger robinky42 said...

Hi Sharon
You have to have some evil in the vampire. But the hero must be a good vampire, one who knows you don't have to kill. One who knows how to love where the evil one doesn't.
Robin P.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Tyava said...

How much of that good, old fashioned monster is too much of a good thing?

I don't think there is too much. Good writers will turn almost any character, good or bad, into someone the readers want to revisit again and again.

When it comes to vampires, my take is they are essentially selfish beings. Some so much so that their life and comfort is more important than some poor humans. So why wouldn't you write them with an evil or narcissistic side? And personally, I would be excited to read a book where you really don't know if the MC is a good with bad tendencies or a bad guy with good tendencies ... keeps the suspense alive! ;)

5:51 AM  
Blogger Ruth Schaller said...

How much? How can there possibly be too much ... lol. There is nothing that is too scary, well at least to me. I love the scary stuff!!

But if a character is built just right, no matter whether they are good or bad, I'm sure that a reader will keep coming back for more.

I read a book not too long ago where the one vampire was evil but then as the series went on, he actually had more of a heart, even though he didn't want anyone to know that.

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like really scary things. So they should be too scary.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I have written vampires stories for both horror and also paranormal romance, I know both sides of the fence for a long time.
Personally, why not a bit of horror to romance--Ive read many great paranormal romance authors who have done this well. J D. Ward is one.
let's remember romance today os no longer your mother's Harlequins of the 670s and 80s.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Al Leverone said...

Hi Sharon, I think to be a character readers can relate to, a hero has to be flawed in some way. Obviously, the implied threat that he might, at any moment, tear into the heroine's veins and drink her blood makes him maybe a little more flawed than most, but still, a hero without a potential achilles heel is one we don't care about, right?

9:23 AM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

A vampire who always struggles with his desire to feed is a very dangerous guy! But if he succeeds for the heroine, miraculously shunting that visceral urge to the back of his mind, that's a hero.

Can't wait to read your book, Sharon!

10:57 AM  
Blogger donnas said...

"How scary should our paranormal heroes be? How much of that good, old fashioned monster is too much of a good thing?"

They can never be too scarey or too much of an old fashioned monster. However, I do like when they still display more human/real life traits to balance it out and make them seem more real. If that makes sense. An evil blood drinking vampire that preys on humans but still takes care of his best friends human or not.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al writes: the implied threat that he might, at any moment, tear into the heroine's veins and drink her blood makes him maybe a little more flawed than most

LOL. Yeah, and you should've seen the bouquet he had to bring afterward!

Thanks for all your comments!

2:00 PM  
Blogger Pam P said...

I'm with Lynda, keep those vamps in our bedrooms. Dark and dangerous, arrogant and sexy, but still something that makes him a bit more human and wanting a bit of light.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Brooke Reviews said...

I love when there is a mix, the really bad evil vampire vs. the good vampire. The one that doesn't feed on humans, and maybe loves him some adorable human girl. :D

4:26 PM  
Blogger wildflower said...

I like an incredibly hot vampire that is dangerous, but has a good spark that just the right heroine can bring out.

I can't wait to read your book. :)

6:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think a lot of the balance comes with the heroines built to go with them. The vampire has to be her reflection in a way and keep that intrigue despite the danger...


8:29 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

That is a VERY interesting question. I believe that when it comes to vampires it's get as scary as you need to to be able to define your character and make the vampire unique because there are so many vampire books and plotlines now that it's hard to make a vampire incredibly unique and the scary-factor is one of the ways to differentiate. Most vampires have an alluring sex appeal but i find that vampires need to have the danger, the real feeling of death because no matter how you look at it, vampires defy the rules of life and death by rising up in a second life. To me, that idea itself is scary enough. I sometimes feel that vampires are romanticized too much and their potentially nasty side is overlooked. So...scary is good. AS scary as you can get without scaring yourself so bad that you stop writing.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Asylumgirl said...

I'm torn, as a hero, they probably shouldn't be that scary, but at the same time, scary is cool. I guess it all depends on the story and what fits best.


9:58 AM  
Blogger SciFiGuy said...

When I think back over all the paranormal and urban fantasies I have read, the ones that always stick in my mind are those where the hero or heroine was literally risking everything, stepping close to the abyss. Vampires heroes are the undead and they need to be scary enough that the life of the heroine is in question. It provides the required frisson that is essential to the genre.

2:03 PM  

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