by Camela Thompson
There has been an interesting shift in the world of monsters over the last hundred years. The creatures that started out as nightmares are becoming more human. They brood and struggle with morality. Sometimes they even fall in love with a mortal. For anyone who has enjoyed the surge in paranormal romances, this isn't a surprise. The question I'm interested in is: Why?
I'm not the first person (or most educated on the topic, for that matter) to suggest that the correlation in werewolf tales in the fifteenth century and the rise in rabies are not a coincidence. Humans have a history of inventing powerful monsters to help explain things out of our control or understanding. The same fear of vampires hit the US in the nineteenth century alongside a virulent tuberculosis outbreak. Monsters reflect our fears.
At some point, these monsters became less fearsome. Is it possible that our growing knowledge of biology and epidemiology have taken the fear of magic and the supernatural out of the equation? Perhaps knowing how viruses are transferred and less exposure to wild animals have made the fear of these monsters less real. Of course, zombies are still portrayed as frightening (minus Liv from iZombie), but maybe that's because we still have viruses that terrify us and can't be cured.
Another theory is that time and distance have allowed us to analyze werewolves and vampires in a different light. Writers have developed extensive werewolf behavior profiles based on wild pack dynamics and canid behavior. With our increased interest in animal behavior, we're no longer viewing the animals as monsters and have greater sympathy for their motivations.
There are less facts surrounding my final theory, but my gut tells me I'm onto something. As authors, we are constantly pushed to reimagine things in a different light. People get bored with the same formulas and creatures. The perspective of a monster continues to be interesting, and a one-dimensional bad guy is no longer acceptable. I know I prefer the monster who isn't purely evil.
The literal evolution of any creature isn't due to a single force. These changes are multi-faceted. Obviously, I don't have a definitive answer. Do you have a theory? Why do you think monsters have become more human?
by Camela Thompson
I have enjoyed my share of fairy tale remakes by various authors and screen writers. The one story that never quite works for me is Beauty and the Beast. Occasionally I'll pick up a book that comes close. I like the pace of the story, the writing is solid, but there is one thing I can't get past. Even if the Beast never lays a finger on Belle, the tirades, threats, and yelling paired with the inevitable isolation from the people she loves are hallmarks of emotional abuse. What makes it even worse: The moral of the story is that she is the only one who can fix him because of her love--because she stays with him no matter what.
Do we want to perpetuate that message? Do we want to tell our daughters, nieces, and sisters that they should stick it out no matter what?
I get the appeal of the bad boy. Our society has a fascination with the emotionally unavailable alpha male that runs deep. My mom happily tells everyone that I had a thing for jerks. I think she does that because she's thankful I grew up and married a kind man. And she enjoys embarrassing me, but I digress. The bad boy phase is a strange thing. I've talked to other women who were in the same boat and we all wanted someone who was rough, rude, and ripped on the outside and treated us like a princess. We wanted to be special--the one cherished above all others--the exception.
Unfortunately, that never seems to pan out. In my experience if the guy is an asshole to the waiter, he'll be an asshole at home. It may take a week or a month, but their true nature always prevails. I realize what I've just typed may enrage some people, and if you snagged yourself the unicorn of significant others, congrats. In this instance I don't mind being wrong and hope you have landed your diamond in the rough.
I've been watching the latest Beauty and the Beast television series. I watch a lot of mediocre to poor television because I learn from it. For some reason the quirks and points I take issue with motivate me to imagine how I would do something differently. Sometimes this leads to great ideas. While the relationship in the show nags at me, I wonder if there's a way to turn the classic story into something that works. Can the dynamic be updated to send a more positive message?
At first I toyed with flipping the gender roles, but the switch changes nothing. Now the woman is the abuser with the additional challenge of getting the audience to accept a woman who can physically overpower the love interest. We've made advances, but traditional expectations still exist. Then I wondered about putting both Beauty and the Beast into a single individual. I'm not sure how to pull it off yet. I keep thinking it's too close to Jekyll and Hyde or the traditional werewolf struggle. But there might be a way...
Do you disagree about Beauty and the Beast? Do you prefer the alpha dynamic and feel that too much is being read into the aggression?
by Camela Thompson
I have been thinking a lot about why I write lately. It takes a lot of energy to keep writing while marketing and working a demanding day job. The magic number of five books has been bumped up to ten before a writer collects the readership necessary to have a career. At first I rolled my eyes at these numbers, but it makes sense. Getting published is easier than ever with all of the self-publishing options out there, and the market is diluted. There are authors who have a break-out book, but I don't think anyone is certain why some take off and others don't. Your initial reflex when reading this is probably, "It's simple. Better writing." Not every time. Look at the top-selling books...I've read some great books (better books) that haven't performed well. My point is that deciding to be a writer often means working to sustain two careers instead of one. If writing in itself isn't fulfilling, it can be hard to keep going.
When I first started writing, I didn't have a drive to be published. I have always been a voracious reader, but I had hit a streak of books that weren't the best. I kept imagining different ways for those books to end, and eventually I decided to try my hand at writing a better story. I can say with absolute confidence that I did not write a better story that first time. But I kept at it. According to reviewers, I'm doing better than okay.
A strange thing happened as my stories evolved into a more distinctive style. The writing got darker. Honest to goodness I tried to write the light romance my mother hoped for (she takes my affinity for paranormal darkness as a personal affront to her parenting), but someone would die and off I would go with my darker mystery. Or worse. *Gasp* I like to write horror. As I wrote about demons (literally) and antagonists with dark urges, painful instances in my past unwound in a safe and distant way. I could change the outcome to be fair. It was a second chance at an ending that felt much closer to what a craved for closure. Writing helped me heal.
While I hope that my stories entertain people and transport them (and maybe get that justice they crave), I write for me, too.
Why do you read? What motivates you when you write?
by Camela Thompson
This week my health challenges have been extra challenging, so I'm trying to embrace my resolution to take it a little easier. This is something I'm not good at. While "relaxing" I managed to finish a painting that needed work over the past couple years, wrapped up editing and formatting to get Visions of Blood and Bone over to the publisher, and have been finalizing year end reporting at my day job. Yep. I'm really getting a hang of this slacking off stuff.
Annie is a tireless assistant.
I have never been one for meditating or sitting still for long. Being still stirs up my brain and puts it on hyperdrive. I've been trying books on tape while coloring, and that seems to help. I also find escapism on crappy television and pleasure reads (for me this is paranormal suspense with a little romance). Watching Bitten, reading Patricia Briggs, and spending time with Annie has given me some balance in an otherwise hectic week.
The highlight of the week was an intense game of Cards Against Humanity. It really is a game for terrible people, and my sides were sore from laughing by the end of it. The Seahawks had a great game, but it may have set me back in terms of my stress level. I feel terrible for the Vikings kicker, but I'm thrilled he missed. My feed blew up with Ace Ventura references immediately afterwards.
What do you do to relax and keep balance in your life?
by Camela Thompson
I find alphas interesting, but I feel the male alpha has been overplayed, particularly in Paranormal Romance and Erotica. Is there room for more? Of course. People obviously eat it up. But in my opinion, there are times when the alpha male goes so far that the line of consent is blurred and I end up with a very uncomfortable reading experience. It's not my thing. I'll spare you the twenty page rant because stories shouldn't be censored even if I don't agree with them. And it's cool if you enjoy them especially because it's fiction.
What I have been enjoying lately is the alpha female. She's hard to find, but she exists!
I've been binge reading the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Biggs. I love that our good-hearted and sometimes martyr-like heroine kicks major butt and no longer needs to be rescued by the time the rescue committee shows up. Love it! And I have a soft spot in my heart for women who are bossy. I have no idea why that would be... She is alpha in the most literal of senses, and I dig it.
Another interesting find was Bitten in the Otherworld series. I had some issues with the book, although I liked it overall. Then I stumbled onto the Syfy television series. Bitten has the high quality CGI that one should expect with a Syfy series. I realize sarcasm doesn't work well in the written word so I'll explain that these wolves are amongst the most anatomically incorrect creatures I've seen. The legs are just odd. The gait from the side view is wrong. The acting wasn't stellar. But I watched season one in a weekend.
I think I'm fascinated with the series for a few reasons.
In lieu of Nipple Shot, I give you arm porn.
If one were to create a Bitten drinking game based on nipple shots and man booty, one would die. Plus it's horribly immature and possibly sexist. I'm a hypocrite. But I can't stop watching the drivel.
This month promises to be challenging. I've got a healthy work schedule and I'd like to get book three of The Hunted to the editor. My wonderful beta readers have been providing great feedback, so it's time to cut back on all of the reading I've been doing. Which is a shame, because my Goodreads list has gotten a much needed boost.
What I do plan to make time for is The Revenant. Fortunately I've already figured out that there will be no actual revenants featured in this film. That would have been a major let down. Maybe there's a remake in the future....
Do you have any alpha female reads or shows you'd recommend?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.