Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Supernatural in Romantic Fiction

At the last Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers we had guest New York Times and multiple Bram Stoker award-winning author Jonathan Maberry speaking on “Romance With the Unknown: The Supernatural in Fiction”.
I’m a huge fan of paranormal fiction with or without romance so I was really looking forward to this workshop. Jonathan gave me some fantastic ideas for tweaking a current vampire novel I have and also for future paranormal stories I want to write.
In vampire fiction, some hard core readers might get upset when a writer strays from what is considered “true” vampire folklore. But what we think is true vampire legend is actually based on old movies and not actual folklore.
Here are some examples. Most people “know” that fictional vampires can be killed by fire, beheading, stake through the heart, sunlight, possibly a crucifix or Holy water.
In ancient folklore of vampires, a stake is only used to hold them down, while garlic is stuffed in their mouth and they are the beheaded. A beheaded vampire can still get up and roam around. They need to be secured while the garlic kills them. Modern folklore says that garlic only wards them away, but ancient folklore says that garlic acts like cyanide, or like kryptonite is to Superman. It will kill a vampire.

Sunlight harming vampires was also not in original folklore. It began during the making of Nosfuratu when the director couldn’t decide how to end the film and doing cheaply. And do you know the true meaning of Nosfuratu? Most of us thought it meant the ‘undead’. Its translation means ‘plague carrier’.
The film was shot in shadows and dim lighting to give a creepy effect. It was suggested that sunlight could be what kills the vampire. A cheap way to end the film.
In the original Dracula movie, Dracula was killed by having his throat slit and then stabbed. He crumbled into dust. But by true folklore, that shouldn’t have killed him. He should’ve reformed someplace else. Hmmm.

Jonathan mentioned what seems to be the popular trend in supernatural fiction: Damaged and Dangerous characters. Look at your heroes and heroines in your post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic, and paranormal stories now. Hunger Games is one example. Also when writing paranormal fiction, whether romance or mainstream, make sure your story has a big BAD in the plot. (A threat to the characters, the world, etc.)

When looking for ideas for stories, research old folklore, monsters, creatures from different cultures. Don’t assume you know the characteristic of a werewolf or a vampire or Eigi Einhamr (the creature I based one of my shapeshifters in my Demon’s in Exile books. A Norwegian shapeshifter myth).
What are your favorite paranormal/supernatural stories?

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The booksigning at the Palmer Library in Easton, PA, sponsored by Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers was a fun event. Authors attending were Kathy Kulig, Autumn JordonJonathan Maberry, Christine Bush, Kathleen Coddington and Tina Gallagher.

6 comments:

Karen Katchur said...

Hey Kathy,

It was a fantastic workshop. Who knew a stake through a vampire's heart wouldn't kill him! Very useful information. ;-) Great pics. I love the paranormal in your books and Jonathan's!

Kathy Kulig said...

Thanks Karen. It was a great workshop. Lots of ideas of stirring around now.

Anonymous said...

HA! Garlic is GREAT!!! And that's why you don't see them in southern Italy!

And you thought all those bulbs of garlic hanging from the rafters were for cooking!

LOL!

Terri

Kathy Kulig said...

I'd hate being a vampire then. Because I LOVE garlic. :)

Julianne said...

Interesting article, Kathy. Thanks. Favorite paranormal stories? Hermm. Ghost stories are good, especially the old 19th century style gothics. I'm still a fan of the vampire novels but I do lean more towards the traditional vampire these days, like LeFanu and Rice writes.

Garlic is the killer when it comes to vampires? Darn it. Now my question becomes, what would the kill an Italian vampire? ;)

Kathy Kulig said...

Hi Juianne,

Sorry to miss your post. I was out of town. Thanks for you post. I looove vampires. I'm a big fan of Anne Rice. And I enjoy a good gothic too, all that dark, spooky stuff. What's not to love? I also love garlic so it would be tough to give that up.