by Victoria Janssen
Vampire or werewolf? Demon or elf? Ghost or ghoul or unknown creature that goes bump in the night?
One of the earliest decisions most writers make when conceptualizing a novel is the characters. When writing a paranormal, one of the most important aspects of character is, obviously, the paranormal element. It's easy enough to choose if you only like vampires, or have a contract to write a story about a demon, or just got a nifty new book about pookas. But sometimes you have no guidelines, or want to try something new. How do you decide?
That, I think, is the most important part of choosing a creature: seamlessly blending the myth with character and plot and theme, to make it intriguing and surprising to the reader.
I could have chosen other approaches. Many non-European people participated in World War One, and I could have chosen a creature from African or Indian mythology who had traveled with the soldiers, but that choice would have required mythological and cultural research in addition to the historical research, and I had a limited period in which to complete the novel. I'd still like to try that for a future story, though, and have been keeping an eye out for resource material. In that case, I could perhaps explore themes related to colonialism.
For another example, I might have used vampires as a way of underlining the vast loss of life. Ghost stories were common in World War One, and would have easily tied in to themes such as grief, mourning, and memory. The possibilities are endless, and worth thinking through before you begin to write.
The Moonlight Mistress, an erotic novel from Harlequin Spice.
Nominated for an RT Reviewers' Choice Award!