Tuesday July 31, 2012
Bringing scary back
By ELAINE LIES
WHAT with romance and suave, sensitive characters, vampires weren’t scary enough any more for author David Wellington (pic). So he decided to see if he could bring some terror back to tales about the centuries-old undead creatures.
The result was five books starring policewoman Laura Caxton and Justinia Malvern, the ancient vampire she fights, climaxing in the recently released 32 Fangs – a chilling, sometimes graphic tale of their final, epic battle.
“With vampires, it was almost a reaction to what was going on, to seeing more and more of these romantic vampires, these true-blood vampires,” Wellington says in a recent telephone interview.
“They were getting less and less scary and more and more ‘fetishy’ ... I was reading a lot of books that I didn’t really enjoy because the vampires weren’t scary.”
So Wellington, who has also written novels featuring zombies and werewolves, set out to see if he could do something about the situation.
Inevitably, perhaps, this involved what Wellington terms “a lot of blood and gore”, although he says the books are tamer in this respect than his zombie novels. But he tried to make sure the bloodletting had a point.
“I believe that blood and guts for their own sake is really boring. Just spreading carnage gets very old very fast,” he says. “So I wanted to make it mean something. I wanted the reader to be invested with the characters enough so that when they were in danger, it’s scary.”
A long-time fan of monsters who was hooked as a child from reading books his mother left lying around the house, Wellington says the Laura Caxton series grew from a short story he wrote one afternoon. When he decided to turn it into a novel, the character of Caxton “appeared” and practically took over, “basically writing herself”.
But it’s the monsters that make his job most fun. “I think that monsters are really interesting to write about because they have their own agendas and are not really bound by convention. So when you’re writing about real people you’re stuck with what that person does for a living, how they feel about their mother - all the old questions,” he says.
“Whereas with monsters, almost anything goes. They tend not to fall into old cliches as much – which is a strange thing to say, because when you think about things like vampires, you’re thinking about hundreds of years of tradition and folklore.”
As for which sort of monster is most suited to the present age, Wellington says it would have to be zombies, definitely.
“It looks enough like a human being to fool you, but it’s not human, it doesn’t have a brain, it can’t think, it can’t reason, it can’t feel anything,” he points out.
“As we get more and more isolated from each other, it’s hard to remember that other people across the train from you, sitting on the bus, are real people. I think all of us have had moments where we start feeling utterly alone in a world full of zombies.” – Reuters