I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this before to some extent, but I couldn’t find any posts on the topic. Regardless, I keep running into the same obstacle when talking to some people about War of Nytefall. They hear that the characters are vampires and respond as if Clyde and his friends are running around slaughtering everyone. Cassidy and Lloyd Tenay of Derailing Bedlam are actually more violent than the Dawn Fangs. Still, people here the word ‘monster’ or a monster species then jump to conclusions. It gets frustrating too when you’re bombarded by questions like:
- So, who is the human that they are fighting? Uh, there isn’t one.
- Everyone is a bad guy? No. There are good and evil vampires here.
- Will a hero appear to kill them all? Kind of like that first question.
- There’s nobody to root for. Not a question, but you’re obviously not paying attention.
It’s amazing to me that there is such a wall when it comes to using creatures such as vampires and werewolves as protagonists. It’s like people refuse to believe that these beings can be anything more than blood-thirsty beasts. You do have to maintain some of their grisly and monstrous habits, but it isn’t like they are that removed from humans. In most cases, vampires were once mortal or at least act as part of a society (either covert or overt) that mimics a mortal system. That’s why I find it so odd that people have trouble considering that you can have one who isn’t entirely monstrous. Not like vampiric heroes are anything new too since you have Forever Night, Morbius the Living Vampire, Angel, and some heroic incarnations of Dracula. Yet, I continue to receive messages asking about how I can have a story with no heroes or comments that assume the Dawn Fangs are brutal destroyers.
Part of this could come from how I describe them on the blog. I always maintain that they are not mortal and can be violent. Clyde gets this description a lot, but I can’t always go into that much more detail. I explain that he is still human with feelings, dreams, and some restraint. A big part of the overall series is him holding onto what little humanity he has left since, unlike the other Dawn Fangs, he’s on the edge of being a full-blown monster like people think he already is. I’ve had to forge a balance between his monster and human side with there never being a clear superior. He goes back and forth a lot, which is something you can really only see in teasers and the books themselves. On the blog, I mention he’s a vampire and that seems to seal the deal for some.
Is it really that hard to believe that monsters can be used for more than antagonists? As authors, we’re supposed to put our own twist on ideas. Yet, people are very protective of the idea that monsters are monsters. I remember running a D&D game and the group ran into a band of goblins crossing a bridge. They attacked right away and discovered afterwards that these were miners heading towards a nearby city to deliver bags of gemstones. Keep in mind that it’s really only the ‘ugly’ monsters that get this kind of treatment. Dragons, unicorns, griffins, pegasi, and other types that are seen as beautiful can be anything. Doesn’t matter if they tear somebody apart as quickly as a vampire who is known for fangs, blood, and scary faces. There’s a long history to go up against and I think I underestimated it when I wrote War of Nytefall.
I know is this is near the end, but I’m now going to say what I mean by humanoid monster. These are creatures that don’t so much as look human, but they have the emotions and thoughts that we typically associate with human characters. They might be monster on the outside, but they have depth to their soul. As odd as it sounds, Herman Munster is a great example even though he was made for comedy. He looks scary to some extent while being a loving father and husband. There are human characters that can’t even claim that because they’re monstrous on the inside. Funny how the opposite doesn’t seem to get the same amount of praise unless it’s a romance. Maybe more people should give humanoid monster protagonists a chance in the hopes of making them more accepted by the world. Just a thought. Not that I have a book series to sell. Okay, I do, but it’s my blog and I have to make pitches from time to time.