Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for Fictional Candy.
A Sheep Among Wolves?
Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be today’s guest blogger at Fictional Candy! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution and Væmpires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new, ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?
Let me assure you that your eyes are not playing tricks on you; what you just read is correct.
Yes, I write vampire novels.
Yes, I am male.
I realize that it is an unlikely combination, but why do I suddenly feel so alone?
Perhaps it’s because I’m sitting alone in a room on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Perhaps it’s because I lack emotional depth or maturity, which drives people away. Or perhaps it’s because the vast majority of my fellow vampire authors are female.
Despite the compelling evidence supporting the first two theories, I prefer the final one. After all, it not only absolves me of any wrongdoing, but it also places me in rather exclusive, if not enviable, company.
I mean, heck, not many people would complain about being trapped amidst a crowd of females. After all, they’re intelligent, they’re kind, they’re emotionally available, they’re soft, and they smell nice.
A crowd of males, I assure you, is none of the above.
Still, puerile insinuations aside, I’d like to tell you a bit about what life as a male vampire author is like.
Managing expectations is not easy. Not my expectations, of course (LOL)—yours. And if not yours, then the next person in line.
You see, most people today equate vampire novels with paranormal romance … so when they open a vampire novel, they want a love story—but multiple love stories replete with a love triangle or even a love square (or two), are preferred.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess: I once toyed with writing a PNR novel. It was an ambitious love story including a vampire, a werewolf, a demon, a witch, an angel, a mermaid, and the crusty old sailor who couldn’t help but love each of them. The six fantasy characters lived in different parts of the world and were oblivious to each other’s existence, until an unfortunate sailing accident brought them together (and bound them forever). The novel, tentatively titled Any Port In A Storm, generated some early enthusiasm until an overzealous agent started referring to its dynamic as a “love heptagon, sea-style,” which he later shortened on Twitter (to make room for all the hash tags) to “luv hep C style.” Unfortunately, the story simply couldn’t stay afloat with the subsequent misinterpretations and backlash.
A voice in my head said that any idea that couldn’t survive a storm or two wasn’t a good idea anyway. Another issued platitudes, such as, “it was meant to be.” Whatever the case, I abandoned the idea of a paranormal romance novel quicker than a captain abandoning a sinking ship.
My book went to Davy Jones’ locker. Par for the course, the agent is now the top ad executive for a major publisher.
But, seriously, I do my best to manage expectations so readers and reviewers understand—before reading—that Væmpires isn’t romance.
Still, I’m my own worst enemy, because not only do I write vampire novels, but my main characters are also teens. This leads many people to believe that Væmpires is a YA novel.
My main characters—protagonists and antagonists—are teens. The obstacles they face are decidedly adult and decidedly deadly. They are thrust into a war they didn’t choose, with the fate of the world lying in the balance.
Again, as far as expectations … I do my best. The story is about a war. An honest-to-goodness war (although I believe that’s an oxymoron) that includes fighting and dying and all kinds of blood and guts action. The title is Væmpires: Revolution; the series is “The Evolutionary War.”
I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the terms revolution and war indicate different situations than, for instance, the terms diaries and academy do.
Now, before I lose everyone, please let me explain. Væmpires has romance in it. And people who enjoy YA can read it. It’s simply not a YA PNR novel.
In fact, from a writing perspective, my biggest challenges were in shaping the character of Cassandra (the vampire princess) and in portraying her relationship with her boyfriend, Daniel. (Væmpires: Revolution goes back and forth between the viewpoints of Cassandra and Daniel. Sure, developing Daniel wasn’t easy, but it was nowhere near as difficult as developing Cassandra.)
As a male, I’m already at a decided disadvantage in trying to accurately portray how a teenage vampire princess thinks and acts and feels, but I also had to contend with having been raised on a steady diet of stories filled with old school gender roles—in which females are beautiful and kind, but no that heroic, while males are the epitome of a hero—to boot. Stereotypes such as those, which are ingrained in my thought processes, provided a consistent need for me to rethink, reexamine, retool, and revise my story.
On top of that, Cassandra and Daniel are in love. And they are in danger. In fact, they spend the majority of Væmpires: Revolution trying to alternately find or save each other. Infusing a novel about a revolution with enough romance to be credible and believable, but not overwhelming, was not easy. I relied on feedback from many people in determining whether I achieved a proper balance.
And here’s a spoiler—there are no passionate love scenes in Væmpires. First of all, they’re teens! But, most importantly, that’s not what the story is about. Believe it or not, some readers are disappointed to discover this.
I can’t help them there. Certainly, I can write a love scene. Any writer with the requisite desire and ability can, to one degree or other, but it’s just not right for Væmpires.
And that leads to another thing that isn’t right for Væmpires—eye candy on the book cover. It’s perhaps the biggest hurdle I face as a male author in this female-dominated genre … but I just can’t have shirtless hunks, oozing machismo while glistening with body oil, adorning the covers of Væmpires.
It might boost sales, but it would be quite detrimental to my self-esteem.
And with that confession, ladies (and gentlemen), perhaps I can, at least, get credit for talking about my feelings.