The Plight of Mab Winthrop

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In the previous volume of War of NytefallMab ended up having a problem.  It wasn’t hidden from the audience, but her family didn’t know.  This would be that she developed an addiction, which wasn’t easy to pull off with a vampire.  Of course, this had to be magical and have big side-effects.  Did she get over it or not?  You’ll have to read War of Nytefall: Ravenous to know about that.  Then again, the title up above can be a big hint.  Maybe?

Here’s the thing with Mab and writing addictions in general.  I realized as soon as I started that I couldn’t have her be an addict in one book and then clean in the next.  First, the two books aren’t that far apart.  Weeks if not a month or two.  That isn’t enough time for her to get clean and through withdrawal.  Dawn Fangs can regenerate from damage, but this felt like it was on a different level.  If this addiction was enough to have an impact on her then it had to be able to circumvent her healing abilities.  Otherwise, she’d never feel it hit or it wouldn’t last more than a few minutes.  This is why I felt like I couldn’t end it in a single volume that happens so close to the start of it.  It simply didn’t make any sense.

Ending it so easily also made it feel insulting to anyone who has survived addiction.  I know that’s a difficult battle, so I wanted Mab to face such a challenge.  It’s not the same here since there are certain factors in her withdrawal and recovery.  That’s a big story point, but I wanted to really amp up the pain and anguish that happens to some who try to kick a habit.  Probably exaggerated it at times since this is a vampire who was messing with a magical addiction.  It needed to be rough and messy.  Again, there are extenuating circumstances here.  Did I really manage to spell extenuating right?  Guess I did, which was surprising.

This whole storyline was a spontaneous decision that popped up when I was doing an outline rewrite.  Things had changed in War of Nytefall: Eradicationso I needed Ravenous to get altered.  Mostly, I really wanted either Clyde or Mab to be suffering from a major loss.  I couldn’t get it to work with Clyde because of his personality and him being upset to this level would normally result in thousands of corpses.  This left only Mab and the addiction appeared in my head.  So, I’ve been crafting it as I go along and looking up information on recovery to get an idea of how it will work.  Nothing has helped that much because of the reasons I previously stated.  There’s the other issue that she shows up in Legends of Windemere: The Mercenary Prince and there were no signs of her having an addiction.  I mean, at least 100 years passed between the two series, so that’s plenty of time for her to fully recover.  It’s still going to be something that gnaws at me for eternity though.

I’ve already written tips about writing addiction into fiction back in September.  So, I don’t have anything else to add there.  Thought I might when I began writing this post, but the only thing I could think of is making recovery difficult.  Having it be too easy feels like an insult or mockery of the challenge.  That’s the last thing I want to do, but I wanted to take on a heavy topic as well.  Seem to be doing that a lot in this series.  Not a bad thing, but definitely a change from the original plan of pure escapism.

So, what do you think about writing about addiction in a fictional setting?  More importantly, what about the recovery stage?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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7 Responses to The Plight of Mab Winthrop

  1. L. Marie says:

    A protagonist with a wound is one I can identify with. The ongoing journey of the addiction makes sense. Anyone who has been to an AA meeting knows this.

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    • Thanks. It’ll be an interesting journey. Though I don’t think it will end as cleanly as it would with AA. Be weird if I went that route. Not that I wasn’t tempted to create a fantasy version.

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  2. I think it’s a great idea. We write a lot of fantastical things, but need to sell our characters such that readers can empathize with them. It’s a brave subject to tackle, and I’m sure you’ve done it well.

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  3. Writing a character with an addiction would require a lot of research and care in getting all the facts and emotional interplay with other characters right. I admire your ability to do it.

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