I can't give reams of advice on writing, or share inspirational advice on how my muse and creative genius overflow with ideas and I'm a walking miracle. No. But, I can tell the truth. First and foremost, I'm a reader. I've been reading this genre before it even had a name (urban fantasy), when I used to have to dig through the sci-fi/fantasy racks to find kick-butt heroines and take the right-hand turn into the romance isle when the book mavens told me "There's this really great one you'll love, but for some reason it's over here next to..."
I could care less where the book was shelved, but if the jacket cover (a.k.a. wrongly called back-cover blurb) didn't grab me or sounded too romancey, then the book stayed wherever it was shelved. All my reading did me a world of good. It gave me a in depth education of what some authors adapted from folklore (burn in sunlight, aversion to garlic and holy objects) for their vampires and what some authors made up (sparkle in the sunlight, vamps who feed only on animals, instant Big O with their bite).
It's been hugely entertaining for over fifteen years for me. The flip side is it has also made me a bit of a critic/cynic. I had an idea ping-ponging around in my head for years. I was waiting for it to appear from another author. Why didn't anyone (who wrote that their vamps were impervious/indifferent to the cold) base a story where there was no pesky sunshine problem? North Pole, Russia, Alaska, the far reaches of Greenland and Canada all came to me... ultimately, the perfect spot screamed out as Alaska.
Dark only half the year posed a problem - a vampire couldn't live there in the summertime. So what would bring a vampire there? The population in the darkest places of our world isn't prolific and the inhabitants would stay indoors most of the season, which would equal a problem with how a vampire would feed. How about a vacation spot? A place they could stay indoors, with lots of humans, and venture out when they wanted.
Why would vamps vacation there? It would have to be because they got something there they couldn't get at home. How about a chance to be themselves? Assuming their world was hidden from ours they would have to walk a careful line between hiding their true nature and blending in with society. I never understood the tales that had a creepy gothic castle with vamps running around, orgies of blood with missing young people, or a rash of drained bodies in any urban setting. Hello? Wouldn't the police notice this?
I love the dark stories with a sharp edge of sex in them. They scare and entice all at once. They take you to the edge of your seat and arouse the most important sexual organ in your body at the same time -- your brain. But I wanted some sense of believability (read Greg's old post on that one, he explained it very well).
I loved the idea of Fantasy Island. A far-away location a troubled soul journeyed to and came away, hopefully, a better person. The all-powerful, sexy Mr. Roarke with his funny sidekick, Tattoo. Just Brilliant. I'm surprised there hasn't been a successful remake done.
What if my vamps came to a place like that? What if the whole place revolved around their fantasies coming true? With such a decadent, sexual creature, how could I not have an erotic overtone in the book? Or lets' be more honest - why would I want to write a book that did not have an explicitly erotic theme?
I easily could have made my book one sexual romp after another. I didn't realize I had a talent for writing a sex scene until I sat down to write my first one. Chapter four in Vampire Vacation was a pivotal point in my writing. I had a vague idea I'd throw a dead body into the carefully constructed world of the all-powerful innkeeper and see how she'd react. But what would be the point if there wasn't some hot sex too - after all, isn't vacation designed for hot sex?
We have some friends who only have great sex when they are away on vacation. Something about how she can't really let go of the pressure of the family, house...whatever... unless she is not there. Ummm...okay... I feel for her, but damn that's funny. Oh - and her husband makes sure they go on frequent, expensive, trips with lavish hotel accommodations every other month or so. Poor guy. Good thing she moved away and doesn't read my blog or she'd be pissed at me.
Fantasy - it fuels many people in many ways. Incorporating that into a world of my making with ever-changing guests to spice it up seemed like a perfect idea. That first sex scene I wrote exploded off the page and went on for over a thousand words. When you consider the sex in most mainstream books happens off the page, I knew my book was crossing major boundaries. Mystery, action, suspense, fantasy and explicit sex? Where would it go on the shelf? I read erotica as well and it did not have enough sex to qualify (yes, I swear I'm telling the truth, four or five sex scenes out of 90,000-words does not make a book erotica, it makes it erotic).
Knowing nothing about writing, having never taken a class or a workshop, and with only my own tastes to follow - I did what other experienced writers preach to newbies-- I wrote the book I wanted to read. I wrote what was inside me exactly the way I wanted it. Hot sweaty sex and all.
The topic today made me stop and think about how my idea came to me. Which came first the chicken or the egg? In my case, clearly I thought up the setting and let my imagination flow from there. To be inspired by a place, even a place solely in my mind, allowed me the freedom to tell a tale I hadn't even been aware was brewing inside me waiting to be told.
My most sincere hope is that readers will enjoy what I have created as much as I do.