For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.
Reinventing monsters: I read a fair bit of horror. I watch a fair bit of horror on the television, on Film Four, the Horror Channel, and so on. And I have written a few novels which might be described as horror: the Book of Gana-Ot; the Varnae Trilogy; Ghoul; Guest House; The Hulk; The Black Museum; the Shades Trilogy; and Blood Will Out. You can add to that several ghost stories, and the short novellas Hoodoo Hobo; Demoner; and Z Stands for Zombie.
On thing which I have always strived t be, is to be original. As I have said, in past posts to this site, there is little point in trying to rewrite Dracula. It will simply never be as good as Bram Stoker’s masterwork. The same goes for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
What prospective writers need to do – I can’t speak for creators of other media – is to create afresh the classic monsters, so that they can be enjoyed by new generations of readers. It can be done. We have the technology. We have the power. And it has been done before, sometimes very successfully.
Richard Matheson, in his classic novel I Am Legend, wrote of vampirism as something approaching a plague. Vampires were seen through the glass of science rather than supernaturalism. Oh, and if you haven’t read this novel check it out. You won’t be disappointed. I could not tear myself away from it, and read the novel in a single sitting.
Brian Lumley, in his Necroscope series of novels, created vampires who were truly monstrous; but different, yet again, from any of the vampires which had gone before. Some of Lumley’s creations were closer to the dark imaginings of H P Lovecraft than anything dreamt up by Bram Stoker.
But the point is that both of the authors named above recreated the vampire and its attendant mythology. That is what authors need to do.
What works for vampires works for other monsters, as well: the Frankenstein monster, ghouls, werewolves and zombies. If those monsters, the classic original novel is Frankenstein, of course. The seminal werewolf novel is probably The Werewolf of Paris, by Guy Endore. I can’t really think of a classic ghoul or zombie tale, although I’m sure that there must be many novels featuring those creatures.
Oh, there are other classic monsters beyond those listed. There are demons and devils, which have featured often in the works of Dennis Wheatley; and there are ghosts and spectres, which have featured in countless ghost stories, from many great authors. You might even include faeries here; the Sidhe, who can be terrifying and terrible.
In my own small way I have tried to tell tales of some of these monsters in a new way. I have completed two vampire trilogies: the Varnae books and the Shades trilogy. In the Varnae books I simply tried to update Varney the vampire for a modern audience, making vampires ugly and horrific and with no redeeming features. The vampires of those books are predators and we are the prey. I had great fun writing those three books.
In the Shades trilogy, however, I set about to try and tell the vampire myth in a new way. I don’t want to go into too many details – as I don’t want to put anybody off from checking those books out – but I will say that the vampires of those books are creatures almost of elemental darkness. They don’t sparkle.
I am equally bored with zombies, especially bad zombie movies. There are a lot of them out there. Most of them seem to be exactly the same. About the only zombie film which I have seen recently, which I have actually liked, is the film The Dead. This is probably because it is set in Africa – and you actually get to care about the two main characters.
I have only written one short novella about a zombie: Z Stands For Zombie. That is from the point of view of a person who ‘wakes up’ and discovers that he is a zombie. But another zombie will feature in a novel of mine called Pest Control. That novel has not yet been finished. The zombie in that book is called Dead Man Walking, and he is probably the closest that you will get to a zombie supervillain mastermind. He is not your standard zombie with minimal intellect. I won’t go into the reason for that as I don’t want to spoil it for somebody who might one day read the finished novel.
I have done ghouls in the novel Ghoul, in which the title character is not necessarily a bad guy. He is a carrion creature, and not a murderer. He seeks to find his position in what is a very humanocentric world. Again, why do ghouls as they have been done before?
I have heard people say that ghouls are not any different from vampires, but that is clearly wrong: vampires prey on the living, while ghouls are graveyard creatures, preying on the newly dead.
I must admit to not having read any novels featuring ghouls. But I know that there are a few out there.
I haven’t really done anything with the Frankenstein monster, or similar created men. Perhaps that will be a novel for the future. Or perhaps I will continue the tale of the monster from Mary Shelley’s novel. There is no indication that the creature ages, so he could be alive in the modern world. There is a pseudo-Frankenstein Monster in my uncompleted novel The Horror Show, but that is, still, very much a work in progress.
As for werewolves I get a little tired of them always being seen as savage monsters (in most movies). At some stage I will turn my gaze back to my novel The Moon Blues, which will tell things from the point of view of the werewolf. Wolves are not evil. They are animals. So why must a lycanthrope automatically be evil?
Oh, well, those novels will not write themselves. I had better sign off and get back to trying to finish some of them off.