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12 Books in 12 Months

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werewolves

Thought Process

Yesterday morning I was mostly taping up resource packs to send to schools (FYI – avoid ‘tesa’ brown tape if possible, it splits if you so much as look at it), and considering the best way to progress with book 4.

Something is bothering me. If I am to write Jennifer as an engaging, even normal-ish teen (who happens to be a vampire), she’s going to need a bezzie.

I’ve set her up with a love triangle, as is the way of things, but between all the unrequited love and the being an orphan and other vampires trying to persuade her to start drinking human blood over animal, there’s too much angst and not enough silliness.

Even the most solitary people I knew at school tended to have at least one friend. Social outcasts band together just as popular types do. And whilst Matthias is a friend to Jennifer, he is also blatantly in love with her. Even though he’s unlikely to admit this to her, she sort of knows, and as a result he’s not someone she is going to be able to let herself go with.

But all this does is provide her with more angst. What she really needs to make her a teenage girl rather than a miserable caricature of one, is someone she can confide in, giggle with, and occasionally fall out with and feel like it’s the end of everything. A BBFL, in fact. And because she’s straight, I reckon it needs to be a female one.

For you see, to me it feels a bit like Jennifer’s self control re not drinking humans is related to not allowing herself to give in to any other hormonal type urges, like going out with Martin who she really likes. Her internal logic dictates that if she gets into a relationship with him she will relax too much, allow her instincts to take over, and possibly bite him.

Either that or someone else will have a go in order to get to her. Vampires are mean that way.

This type of pressure would get to a person, and it would have to manifest itself in some way. A lot of teenagers in a similarly high pressure situation, with a grim secret they can’t tell anyone, would act out (get in with the wrong crowd, do drugs or drink or petty acts of crime) as a cry for attention.

There isn’t a lot of point in Jennifer doing that, as nobody can help her. She has no family, and she can hardly go to a school counsellor or social worker and be like “yeah, I’m a vampire and stuff…” She takes the tack of attempting to remain invisible, and bottling everything up inside. Which is probably just as dangerous as making a fuss, because at some stage all those pent up feelings are going to overflow.

However, if she has a bezzie – a pal who understands that she is different, perhaps guesses at the reason why – then she can let some of it out in increments, and perhaps keep herself from going in to meltdown. Her sanity will be needed for any showdowns that may be forthcoming later on.

If the friend is a girl, maybe a goth who doesn’t have many other mates herself, maybe even one who has some sort of paranormal/supernatural secret not as yet defined (werewolf from space?!), it seems plausible that Jennifer would feel able to relate to her (after an initial period of worrying and over thinking it, naturally).

She can’t be allowed to have a completely straightforward relationship, though. So to complicate matters slightly, I’ve decided to make this girl Matthias’ twin sister. Her name should start ‘Ma’ because owners of twins can be like that, so I’m thinking either Mareike or Mathilde… (They are German, by the by.  It has just occurred to me that this is the first time I’ve actually mentioned character names on the blog so this might not be immediately apparent.  Oops.)

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Research

I’ve done bugger all research for this book, and as yet I haven’t had time to come up with any sort of outline, let alone a chapter plan. Nevertheless I’ve steamed on and written around 10k so far, most of which is actual fiction as opposed to stream of consciousness padding.  I’m not sure whether my voice comes through in the same way as it has done with the last couple of books, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In the last issue of Mslexia, Susan Hill gave an interview in which she suggested that ‘write what you know’ is a load of old cobblers.  Who would want to read about the minutiae of your daily life, she asks. Surely the point of fiction is to take you away from such mundanity?  Writers ought to use their imagination.

A somewhat cynical look at the already fading Paranormal Romance genre may not be entirely what she was getting at, but a certain amount of imagination is required to write about a teenage vampire.  I’m not immortal, or overly sensitive to UV, and I didn’t spend those formative teen years sucking blood.  Well, not any more than is normal for young persons of that age range.  So most of this is going to have to be made up.

Still, I’m a bit worried about running into clichés.  The imagination is influenced by what you’ve seen and read, which means that the more research I’ve carried out the better because I can avoid doing things that have already been done.  Unfortunately I’m limited to ironic viewings of the Twilight movies, 3 episodes of Being Human, and half a short story.  I am, therefore, a mite concerned that my imagination will tread paths already trod.  Frinstance I have been leaning towards sticking a werewolf in there – like that hasn’t been done to death.

Unless I think of an original twist.  Maybe it could be a werewolf FROM SPACE.  M. Night Shyamalan eat your heart out…

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