Aw crap, there’s a vampire in my book…

Yes yes, I’ve been yammering on about this on Facebook, Twitter and the Blueboards for an intolerably long time now, but it’s true – I’ve written a vampire character into my Frankenstein-inspired WIP. A vampire! Talk about a tired, used-up character type! Ye gods!

I know, it ain't like this guy hasn't been written about before.

My book really is rooted in the mythos of Frankenstein’s monster, albeit in an only semi-coherent hodgepodge of details that I’ve cobbled together from Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s still-stunning novel, the first 3 or 4 Frankenstein movies from Universal Pictures (including the original 1931 film, directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff), a dollop of Mel Brooks’ best film, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and maybe a smidge of Adam Rex‘s picture books FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH and FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE.

Now, I’m not claiming that a Frankenstein book represents the absolute zenith of creative originality. As part of my research I read a great nonfiction book called FRANKENSTEIN: A CULTURAL HISTORY, which paints a vivid picture of the lurching creature’s lasting presence in our society. Peter Salomon, one of my fellow clients at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, has a Frankenstein-inspired story called THE MEMORY OF HENRY FRANKS (quite different from mine, although I still encourage you to check out the excerpt on his website). And of course there’s Shannon Morgan’s exquisite #FrankenSmack story, which sprang from the same writing challenge that started me down the road with this WIP.

You get the picture – I’m hardly taking the path less traveled by getting my Frankenstein on. Ye olde vampyre is a major character, but she (yes, it’s a girl) is the only vampire who actually appears in the book, and while her role has grown considerably over the past week of fast-drafting, the majority of the characters spring from my slapdash take on the Frankenstein story. So I guess the question is: why my temporary-but-unpleasant bout of anguish over the inclusion of one vampire in the new manuscript?

Pretty obvious, isn’t it? It’s not hard to think that vampires have been played out. Jon Scieszka said so during his SCBWILA10 keynote, for crying out loud, and he writes picture books. Everyone says so, including you, don’t lie. Yes, of course there is FAT VAMPIRE, a shining star in the firmament of YA vampire fiction and a stellar bit of evidence that you can write about the most threadbare subject as long as you bring your own fresh take to it. But yo, I am no Adam Rex, no matter how many times I compared myself to him when I first started querying agents.

Incidentally, I, um, stopped doing that after one agent kindly and diplomatically said that it might not be so bright to keep comparing myself to Adam Rex and M.T. Anderson. Thanks, Agent X – quality advice. BTW, if you haven’t already seen the YouTube video of Mr. Anderson singing his faux Delaware state song at SCBWILA, you simply must. Gotta respect a man who’ll lay it all out there in service of his audience.

So naturally, as per usual, I’m totally flying in the face of ABLA agent Mary Kole’s always solid advice. I’m not providing much in the way of valuable tips, info, or ways to make anyone’s life better, but I am jawing unhesitatingly and megalomaniacally about myself and my writing life. I guess I’m just saying that yo, I have encountered a new challenge on this, my second full manuscript. This is where I come to grips with all the advice out there about writing the story that’s crying out to be written, following your muse instead of the market, and not following trends. As also-ABLA agent Jennifer Laughran likes to say, there’s always a market for awesome. Will my new manuscript end up being awesome enough to overcome its derivative roots? I guess we’re gonna find out, eh?

Desperately seeking Abby Normal,


6 thoughts on “Aw crap, there’s a vampire in my book…

  1. A VAMPIRE??!! Oh, bleep, no! But knowing you Mike, which of course I don’t, really, having never actually MET you, I’d bet it’s hilarious. Don’t listen to Jon Scieszka. What does he know, for crying out loud? Oh… yeah… probably a great deal. Forget I said that.

    Yes, all of us unpublished (I started typing unpunished) authors are going against Mary Kole’s sage and sane advice. John Cusick, agent extraordinaire, also says “Write First, Tweet Later.” I may have blogged about that at some point…

    Thanks, btw, for mentioning me in your blogroll. I’m deeply honored. Or possibly screwed.

  2. Derivative roots can be conquered by brilliance and uniqueness. I say go for it. Vampires in fiction are not dead–well, at least I hope so. Anyway, they’re undead so I’m not going to worry too much about them.

    Thanks for including me in your blog roll!

    1. You’re welcome Medeia. I do think my first manuscript has a pretty original hook (and I don’t THINK I’m delusional about that), so it’s interesting to work on a manuscript that I feel less confident about in that way. I imagine it’ll result in some psychological ups and downs.

  3. Ha! This reminds of the time I realized the cool medievalish fantasy series I was falling in love with was going to involve a dragon. I wanted to hide under a bush (but keep reading). Your vamp take will be different. Know how I know? ‘Cause your Frankenstein take is different. And really funny. You could always have your other characters poke a little fun at the presence of a vampire. (“You’re a vampire? Really? Those are still around?”) That way, you’ve addressed it before your reader gets a chance.

    And thanks for the shout!

    1. Thanks Shan! I do have hope that my take on both the Frankenstein and vampire things will at least have a noticeable element of absurdity.

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