Re-acquainted…

Posted in Blogging with tags on January 28, 2010 by Kristyn

My goodness, one might have believed me to have been swallowed whole if they were to be judging my condition solely by this blog.  No, I’m still here and having gotten a recent comment on this blog, think I’ll be writing here again very soon.  Please forgive my absence, should you remember me of old, otherwise please stay a while and get acquainted.

Kristyn

To stake or not to stake…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2008 by Kristyn

Cross StakesEver the preferred method of killing or immobilizing a vampire, stakes are possibly the most widely recognized method by which a vampire my be dealt with. It’s the number one literary and theatrical vampire bane, it’s so dramatic that authors simply can’t say no. However, like many other vampire myths, killing with a stake has it’s historical significance. The stake driven through the heart is said to strike a killing blow to the undead, it is a technique by which a vampire may be put down while other, more permanent methods may be met, such as decapitation and burning.

Throughout central and eastern Europe this method was taken very seriously. No just any table leg or shard of wood would do. The stakes had to be made of specific materials. In Russia and through the Baltic, for example, the stakes had to be crafted of ash because of it’s magical qualities. In Silesia the stakes were carved of oakwood, while in Serbia they were crafted of hawthorn because of it’s thorny shrub quality, as vampires are said to be highly allergic to thorns and thistles. Each old mythology had it’s very real and very purposeful beginning.

Vampirism was taken so seriously in fact, that in Hungary and Romania, bodies were staked after death to prevent them from becoming the undead.

Most often vampires or suspected vampires were staked through the heart, though in Russia and northern Germany the mouth was targeted for staking. In northeastern Serbia the stomach was the appropriate place to stake a vampire. It was believed that staking a vampire was a way to relieve the bloated body of the devil spirit.

Staking is still, today, a widely used technique for doing away with vampires. Fictionalists utilize this technique over any and all others for the destruction of vampires. However, it is less known that this method, in several mythologies, was used to destroy vampire servants, such as Revenants.

For me, it’ll always harken back to the earliest vampire fictions where finely crafted wooden stakes were driven, by use of a mallet, through the chest of the monsters. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the hunter even carried a kit by which he might destroy the evil undead with it’s child brain. Mythology tells that Bram Stoker was well studied in the ancient mythological techniques.

Stakes have alwyas been, and always will be, the preferred method of vampire annihilation. Good myths live, this one certainly has.

Kristyn

The Dhampir

Posted in Culture, Myth, Vampires with tags , , , on April 10, 2008 by Kristyn

Everyone has heard of vampires, in their various incarnations, but how many amongst us have heard of the Dhampir? Several modern mediums have picked up on the Balkan folklore, most notably Vampire Hunter D, which follows a dhampir predictably named “D” and Blade which stars a dhampir vampire hunter hero. Other notable Dhampir cultural references are Blood Rayne and Castelvania, which are video games, and Dungeons & Dragons: Ravenloft and Vampire The Masquerade both of which are table top roleplaying games. The dhampir is a very popular modern cultural creature.

However, what many do not know is that the dhampir is an ancient Balkan folklore creature existing in the tales of the Roma people, gypsies of the Balkans. They are created when a vampire father breeds with a human mother. Makes sense considering a body must be alive to carry and nurture a child. Interestingly enough, folklore tells that the dhampir are born with all the vampire powers and none of their weaknesses. Also, dhampir are said to be able to see vampires, even when they are invisible, and are believed to be especially adept at killing them. Dhampir, then, are the perfect hybrid of vampire. They’re strong without the downfalls and can kill vampires better than any other.

All in all, the dhampir, at least for me, is a less interesting creature than their vampire predecessors. For me, weakness makes the creature, no creature should be without them, else they’re just a powerhouse monster. That said, Vampire Hunter D and Blade are both really good spins on dhampir idea and both are infused with their weaknesses, though they’re not necessarily vampire weaknesses, with the exception of the character Blade who has a thirst for blood.

So what do you think? Vampires or Dhampir?

Kristyn

Jill Tracy

Posted in Culture, Music, Unusual with tags , , , on April 6, 2008 by Kristyn

I mentioned before that music is a huge part of the writing process for me. I find inspiration and encouragement in music, but it can’t be just any music, it has to fit the theme. I’m not going to be listening to Lisa Loeb and trying to write a vampire/monster story. It doesn’t work. The other day, I found something new, something I have absolutely fallen in love with!

If you’re into darker more macabre music, I highly recommend Jill Tracy. Her music is fantastic. Her lyrics are on the darker, more sinister side, set to piano. So far, “The Fine Art of Poisoning” is my favorite, followed by “Evil Night Together.” Check it out.

The Fine Art of Poisoning:

Evil Night Together (Not an official music video but a vid someone else put together. Very well done in my opinion):

If you’re still interested, you can listen to a few of her other pieces at her Myspace page. I am absolutely in love with her music! It’s so dark and her voice is so beautiful! My birthday is in July and I’m going to try to get my mom or my husband to get me a few of her CDs!

Enjoy!

Kristyn

Don’t kill them, destroy them!

Posted in Vampires with tags , on April 5, 2008 by Kristyn

I find it rather interesting that there are so many articles around the net about “killing” vampires. It’s a bit of a misnomer, is it not? I mean, how can one kill the dead? The answer is, you can’t. You can, however, destroy them, which is a very, very fine difference. Bear with my internal English student for a moment, would you? I feel like this is an important distinction.

Both kill and destroy are verbs, but they’re not synonyms. The definition of kill is “to deprive of life in any manner; cause the death of; slay.” Destroy, however, is defined as “to reduce to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.” The difference, kill is simply not strong enough.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten past that very nerdy point, how exactly does one destroy a vampire? I’m pretty sure that if asked anyone in touch with popular culture would be able to make a pretty complete list, but could they tell you why? Chances are, no. Most people don’t actually care as long as it works with their personal conceptions of the vampire legend, they just take for granted that all ways to destroy vampires have some supernatural significance, but what would they say if they were told that the myth about crucifix and crosses only works for the faithful? It’s debatable, really, but it’s one myth that’s fairly controversial. Heck, even the difference between a crucifix and a cross is in debate where their individual meanings, and therefore usefulness, are concerned. None of their weaknesses are as cut and dry as they look.

For now however, I’m going to leave it at the difference between killing and destroying. Vampires cannot be killed but they can be destroyed. Seems like I’m picking at something that’s six of one, half dozen of the other, but for me, this is one of those aggravating little points that comes down to one huge difference in semantics. My linguists and grammars professor told me that words must have meaning, this is not exception. Don’t blame me, blame my professor.

Kristyn

Drink vamp… rather than the other way around!

Posted in Culture, Unusual with tags on April 4, 2008 by Kristyn

RedI was surfing around on the net today, giving myself permission to do nothing at all, rather than write. I’ve written for 4+ hours nearly every day this week, I’ve done 18 pages so far, I’m taking this afternoon off. I’ll probably write tonight, because writing and this book seems to be the only thing I can keep on my mind lately and it’s there all the time!

Anyway, while surfing, I came across something rather interesting… Vampire Vineyards. Here’s what their front page says…

Rumor has it that the Vampire Vineyards are actually owned by a circle of vampires, and the company’s founder, an entertainment attorney from New York, is actually just a front. (Whether he and his convertible were commandeered by a Vampire is still a subject for debate.) We do know however that after satiating themselves for years with their Transylvanian blood of the vine, the powers that be decided to spice things up and migrate westward like so many vampires before them.

I am dying to try this! Being a vampire fanatic, this is right up my alley. I mean, I could see myself sipping Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon by candle light, clicking away at my keys. Call it setting the scene, a business expense, tax deductible… eh hem, yeah, maybe not.

If your tastes don’t go to wine, and they do have many varieties of wine, they also have Vampire Vodka, Dracola (which I believe was mentioned in a sort of off the cuff way in Blade III), and Vamp energy drink. So, they pretty much have a flavor for any taste. If water, tea, or coffee are your thing, they’ve not quite gone there, but there’s something for everyone else! They even have a beer called Witches Brew!

The wine is $9.99 a bottle and up which is incredibly reasonable!! Some would even call that “cheap wine.” The Witches Brew is a bit expensive for what it is, it’s about $10 a bottle or $130 for a case (12 bottles). So yeah, the stuffs not cheep, but you’re paying for their niche marketing. This sort of thing doesn’t appeal to everyone, after all.

Searching through their shop I found that they also sell wine glasses, various articles of clothing, hats, even skateboard decks and fake “vampire bite” tattoos. I must admit, I’m rather tempted by much of this. I’ll probably leave it alone for now, I have other things I really need to get first, but the day will come when I have glasses that say “Vampire” on them and Vampire Vineyards wine to sip from them!

Anyway, I thought I’d share this little pop culture vampire product with y’all. Someone out there is getting very wealthy selling this stuff! Correction, some vampires somewhere are getting very wealthy selling this stuff!

Kristyn

The able vampire…

Posted in Vampires, Writing with tags , , , on April 3, 2008 by Kristyn

I wrote a few days ago about vampire weaknesses and trying to find a balance for my vampires while still remaining true to their creature type. It wasn’t terribly difficult to come up with weaknesses, the difficulty came when I tried to apply only a few of them to my vampires. Weakness in moderation. If they’re too weak, after all, they’re useless. Trying to strike a balance with vampire power was far more difficult. It’s easy to get carried away and make uber-vamps that can obliterate anything in their way. This is not what I was going for, I’m going for monster-lite, tortured-lite, humanesque. Yes, they’re monsters, but I think the ability to defy age is a pretty awesome power all by itself.

But, simply the ability to live and live isn’t enough for fiction. Vampires have to be super human and mine are no exception. They have powers, I spent days researching and thinking and making notes. I made sure my vamps had powers. My biggest challenge was deciding how the powers would be divided, how did some have certain powers and others others. Once I got that solved, I had to decide what abilities my main character had, what could I give her to make sure she’s not immortal, even though she’s ever living. No one wants a protagonist that can’t suffer a little, that can’t fail. A brick house isn’t interesting to read about.

Strike a balance, that’s what I did. I think I have it worked out, now I just have to make sure I can work it all in. After all, powers are useless if you can’t use them, right? Right. I also have to work to make sure my character isn’t too human, which is something I consciously work at because to me, she always feels a little too human to be a vampire. I’m working on it but it’s not easy. Then again, anything short of ripping out the throat of enemies and eating it will feel a bit too human for me, I’m desensitized.

Then there’s the considerations about how far the character is willing to go with her abilities. Can she kill? Will she if she can? Well, yes, she is a vampire after all. All vampires seem to be able to whoop ass, though I question that, to be honest. Not every human knows how to use a gun, so why should every vampire be able to skillfully execute kung fu or whatever? Not very realistic is it? I mean, a vampire probably has the cold compulsion to kill, they are predators, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically possessed of the ability, does it? So yeah, there are a lot of considerations. My book will probably have a few vamps who can’t fight, they can feed, but that’s hardly the same thing.

In the end it comes down to the ability to what needs to be done to carry out the plot. Characters have to be given the tools to proceed without being too powerful and overthrowing the plot. It’s certainly a balancing act but not impossible by any means. Make your characters able, my vamps certainly are!

Kristyn

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