Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Vampires Got Back - Stories, That Is

Trying to write a novel without first knowing the back stories of your characters is like trying to put on socks after you’ve already laced up your shoes. But here’s the thing, you don’t need to know all the back story, just the basics. The rest you can develop as the story and the series progress. After all, when you first meet someone in real life, they don’t dump their entire personal history in your lap. Or if they do, you back away slowly and reconsider if you want to be friends with that person. Just as you learn the back stories of your friends as relationships mature, so the writer becomes slowly privy to the personal histories of the characters he or she creates. I can’t  tell you how many times I’ve stared at the computer screen during a writing session and said, “Wow, that really happened to you?” And off it goes into the book.

Of my three series, the back stories that entertain me the most are those found in my Madison Rose vampire mystery series.  Talk about a cornucopia of rich and varied histories. Vampires are a natural for a back story junkie like me. If a character has lived for hundreds or even thousands of years, think of the possibilities!

My favorite character in my vampire mysteries is Samuel La Croix, the enigmatic head vampire who governs the California vampire community with an often harsh but always fair hand. In Murder In Vein, the first book in the series, we learn that Samuel was blinded and forced into slavery as a young boy and grew up in Egypt during the time of Roman rule. Shortly after becoming a vampire, he sought revenge against the man who blinded him and killed his family by raping and murdering the man’s daughters. He is a wild beast who has learned to appear domesticated. Oh, and he looks a lot like Taye Diggs, which doesn’t hurt either.

In Baited Blood, the second book in the series due out September 2011, we learn how Samuel got his name and his penchant for mistresses with promise. Unlike his pal Colin Reddy, the smoldering sexpot vampire in the series, Samuel doesn’t party with vampire groupies. Instead, he chooses women he can mentor, help educate and launch into successful careers. Not only does he get what he wants – refined mistresses for companionship and food source – but thinks of it as giving back, almost penance for the crimes he visited upon those earlier young women who paid for their father’s sins.  We also see a great deal of raw emotion from Samuel in the second book.

Baited Blood also contains many glimpses into Colin’s back story as the plot involves the vampire who turned him.  Born to an English nobleman and his Indian mistress (think Sendhil Ramamurthy), Colin was set adrift in the world when his father died and no one wanted the bastard son around. Just below Colin’s surface is a simmering angst we don’t often see displayed in the more polished Samuel.

I’m eager to begin work on the third book so I can learn more about these fascinating characters and the other undead who populate the series. Something tells me, I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.

Sue Ann Jaffarian
Odelia Grey mystery series
Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series
Madison Rose vampire mystery series.
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Anonymous said...

Oh wow! 2 very nice faces to put with fascinating characters. I willbe there on release day for book #2!

Reece said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reece said...

Nice post, Sue Ann! I guess when you're writing vampire characters, the backstory possibilities are endless!

Shane Gericke said...

I love back story in novels. But parceled out casually, and just so, to avoid the dreaded Data Dump Wall.