I’ve spent the last few weeks researching vampires and werewolves. There’s something inherently sexy about creatures blessed with immortality and a penchant for drinking bodily fluids, although I can’t work out what the attraction might be.
Vampires are supposed to be deathly pale, they spend the daylight hours asleep and away from sunlight, then they spend the night prowling for potential victims to their unnatural lust. Quite what the difference is between having a vampire in the house and sharing your home with a teenage son is something that escapes me completely. I suppose, even though vampires are blessed with immortality, there’s more chance of one of them growing up and moving out and finding its own home.
Werewolves are governed by a regular cycle where, for three days out of the month, they’re monstrous animals with inhuman rages and a proclivity for causing carnage and suffering to anyone unfortunate enough to stumble into their path. My wife has helped me immensely with my research on werewolves.
But werewolves and vampires seem to go together like pizza and beer or condoms and valentines. They are the perfect example of a natural (or a naturally unnatural) coupling. My only issue with these mythical creatures is that werewolves are seldom portrayed with any sense of realism in films.
This isn’t a problem that affects vampires. Take an actor. Slap white pancake on his/her face. Apply some red lipstick. Shove a set of pointy teeth in his/her mouth and give them a cape: voila! You have a vampire. I appreciate this doesn’t pay full homage to the Stanislavski school of vampiric interpretation, but I’m speaking here in terms of outrageous generalisations. Get an actor to say, “I vont to drink your blood,” and most members of a movie audience will nod enthusiastically and think: that’s a vampire.
Werewolves, however, are a more difficult concept to realise on the big screen. Since Lon Chaney Jr first donned his legendary woolly tracksuit, there has been a tendency for movie makers to accept that all werewolf special effects will look so bad they are less likely to induce horrified screams and more likely to provoke embarrassed cringing. The suits, admittedly, have gotten hairier but there is still an incredible gulf that requires the most enormous suspension of disbelief. Even with the decent transformation effects that are now de rigueur for the majority of werewolf movies, there is still a lot more left to “audience forgiveness” than should be acceptable in a modern movie.
Ah! I can hear you asking: what has watching werewolf movies got to do with serious research for an erotic novel based on the werewolf and vampire legends?
Well, the answer to that one is: quite a lot, actually.
Where else am I supposed to go to research werewolves? The local zoo does not have any captive werewolves. I know this because I have phoned up and asked. I even got to speak to the manager at one point and, whilst he helpfully advised me to pursue my enquiries through the local mental health services (his actual words were, “piss off, nutter,”) he was adamant that no zoos in the UK stock captive werewolves.
Somewhat bravely, I even ventured out on local moors to see if I could encounter a werewolf in its natural habitat. I know this is where werewolves live because in every good werewolf movie I have ever watched, the hero/heroine is always warned, “Don’t go out on the moors!” Ignoring this sage advice, and armed with a crucifix, a silver-topped cane and a pack of Scooby Snacks, I went in search of real life werewolves in their natural (or naturally unnatural) habitats. However, this proved to be another cul-de-sac route of enquiry that was less successful in finding werewolves and more successful in finding doggers.
Serious books that have been written on werewolves seldom discuss their mating habits. Not that there are many serious books on werewolves. Usually it’s archaic BS written by some ancient academic who had seen a big dog and got a bit scared. Again, please remember here that I’m speaking in terms of egregious generalisations.
Novels on werewolves abound – and I know there are some bloody good ones out there. Mathilde Madden’s trilogy of werewolf stories, The Silver Collar, The Silver Crown and The Silver Cage are all scintillating examples of how good erotica can incorporate a credible fantasy element of wonderful werewolves. And Mathilde Madden is not the only clever author who can construct a well written werewolf world. However, if I start to read someone else’s brilliant fiction, the chances are that I shall either get disheartened when comparing these tomes with my own meagre scribblings or, more likely, I’ll end up copying them and trying to pass the stuff off as my own. (NB – please note that last remark was written as an example of self-deprecatory irony and is not intended to be an admission of plagiarism nor encouragement for other authors to commit plagiarism).
So I’m left to study werewolves through the medium of the cinema and my own imagination. Fortunately, the special effects in my own imagination are not hampered by dire acting and dodgy cgi. The only restriction I really face is the omnipresent worry that I might end up writing a story that could be construed as bestiality.
Again, for some peculiar reason, this extension of legality never seems to apply to vampire stories. No one ever argues that vampire fiction is thinly disguised necrophilia. Simply make the distinction that the character is not merely dead – they are undead – and this allows the typical vampire to interact with humans as freely as they wish. I’ve watched Buffy episodes where Buffy (the young, attractive, heroine vampire slayer) has been involved in a sexual relationship with a vampire. There were episodes where she was involved with Angel in 1997 (Angel died and became a vampire in 1753) and there were episodes where she had a sexual relationship with Spike in 2001 (he died and became a vampire in 1880). Any contemporary story that dealt with a woman having sex with someone who’s been dead for more than a century would be hard to publish and the chances are it would be vilified for condoning acts of gross immorality. Yet, because vampires are so sexy, it seems that everyone overlooks this fact.
The same blind-eye is not cast toward werewolves. Too many people think that werewolf stories are thinly veiled yarns about the wrong sort of puppy love. It reminds me of a friend who entered his poodle at a prestigious pet show. The judge let him off with a warning and the condition that he seek psychiatric counselling.
All of which gets me no closer to writing my epic story and makes me wonder if I might just be flogging a dead horse. Or, at least, flogging an undead werewolf. In fact, now I think about it, since I want to add a BDSM twist to this story, that might just be the best way to start the first chapter.
“Ashley Lister Submits” © 2008 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.