VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, FAIRIES – NOT YOUR MOTHER’S OTHERWORLDLIES
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they are changin’. This is very true in the paranormal world. What is it with the vamps, werewolves, even fairies in today’s romance books? I decided to take a look back at myths and legends and how they’ve evolved.
I grew up with Bela Lugosi as Dracula. He was scary as heck and certainly no one I wanted to meet in a dark alley. There was nothing sexy about this vamp. Before the Dracula movies, there was a 1922 German film called “Nosferatu,” loosely based on the Bram Stoker novel. Nosferatu is the ugliest, most vile creature I’ve ever seen. Enough to give a person many nightmares. Sure don’t find any heroes who look like him in today’s paranormal romances.
Our pop culture seems obsessed with vampires. From dark Eastern European legends, the vampire has gone through a metamorphosis into a sexy hero with superpowers. Those original vampires were evil, disgusting dead creatures, like Nosferatu. Now they’re hunky and handsome with great sexual stamina.
Bram Stoker may have started this modern trend with “Dracula,” which changed the vampire from a smelly dead bloodsucker to an intelligent, tortured bloodsucker.
Look at the proliferation and popularity of vampire romances. Especially look at the hugely successful Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Some who study pop culture say our fascination with the supernatural, especially vampires, is an attempt to escape from our dangerous modern world. We want to believe in creatures like vampires who have cheated death and have superpowers.
And then there are werewolves. Here’s what Wikipedia says about werewolves: “A werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope (from the Greek, ‘wolf’, and ‘man,’) is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely, by being bitten by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius. Werewolves are often attributed superhuman strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves and men.”
There it is again – superhuman strength and senses. Is this something we crave in our uncertain world?
Werewolves have been part of folklore since Greek times. Becoming a werewolf simply by being bitten by another werewolf as a form of contagion is common in modern horror fiction, but this kind of transmission is rare in legend. (source: Wikipedia)
Some legends say a person becomes a werewolf as the result of a curse. I used this scenario in my paranormal romance, “Cursed Mates,” when my character, Nicholas, is cursed as a werewolf in 1530 by a demon who is also Nick’s political and love rival.
The susceptibility of werewolves to silver objects and bullets isn’t found anywhere in legend. This silver vulnerability was literary license taken by novelists from 1935 on. (Wikipedia)
Just as vampires of legend were repulsive, wicked creatures, werewolves were blood-thirsty, snarling, drooling beasts. The 1935 film, “Werewolves of London,” was the first to show the werewolf as a tragic figure. Do any of you remember the old “Wolfman” movies with Lon Chaney? The actor played the creature as very tortured. He didn’t transform into a wolf, but into a very hairy man. Definitely not sexy.
Unlike those old films, the werewolf heroes in today’s romance novels and movies shift into powerful wolves. They may be conflicted, like my Nicholas, or some may be evil and relish the killing. In any case, bad or good, they’re not hairy men when they transform. And in their human form, they’re usually sexy and heroic.
Now to fairies. I always pictured fairies as tiny creatures with wings. Tinker Bell, anyone? Now there are romances with fairy heroes and heroines. I’ve read a few, and they’re good, but I can’t get past the image of tiny, winged creatures. When did fairies become sexy?
From Wikipedia: “Fairies resemble various beings of other mythologies, though even folklore that uses the term fairy offers many definitions. Sometimes the term describes any magical creature, including goblins or gnomes; at other times, the term only describes a specific type of more ethereal creature.” Got that?
I was surprised to learn that the diminutive size of fairies is a modern interpretation. They were originally tall, radiant, angelic creatures. Bet you didn’t know that. So the authors who write sexy fairy characters are going back to the original legends. Cool.
Another interpretation is that fairies are demoted angels. That can make for some interesting stories. Some beliefs say fairies are demons. Wow, all kinds of ideas there.
I’m still amazed at how differently our popular culture views these ancient creatures and legends. Maybe the experts are correct and we do need to go to the supernatural to escape the modern world. Works for me.
CURSED MATES BLURB:
Kyla Yaeger is an elite were-hunter with a scarred past. Her life’s mission is to slay the werewolves who slaughtered her parents. Her quest has brought her to Maine where she's been summoned to destroy the werewolf terrorizing the quaint little village of Heavensent. The last thing she needs is to get distracted by her mysterious--not to mention hunky--new neighbor Nick Radford.
By the time Kyla learns Nick is her target, she's already fallen for him, making her task of killing him that much harder. She is torn between her love for him and her duty to kill her sworn enemy. Nick fights his forbidden love for Kyla, knowing she is duty-bound to kill him. Kyla and Nick must join together to fight an even bigger threat--one that will destroy all humanity. Only by their combined powers can they destroy the evil and bring an end to a centuries old curse.
Available from Noble Romance Publishing, Amazon Kindle, BN Nook.
http://goo.gl/0jEuQ BN Nook
Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvlCLeAV934
CURSED MATES EXCERPT:
There was nothing angelic about Heavensent, Maine. Kyla Yaeger felt evil all around her, watching, waiting. A hell of a lot more was going on here than one werewolf. Her stiletto heels clicked on the sidewalk as she hurried up the street, but she couldn't outpace the feeling of malice. She had to block it out. Nothing could distract her from her mission. As an elite were-hunter, she had one job—slaughter the werewolf haunting this strange little town.
Anticipation of the next hunt pulsed through her. She hungered for it as an addict craved the next hit. Maybe someday she'd find the peace she longed for . . . but not until she had vengeance.
The fresh smell of pine from the surrounding woods wafted by on the slight breeze. The aroma brought the memory of that hunt in the Adirondacks. Foreboding chilled her. Her breath caught. Would she meet the black wolf again? This time, she wouldn't miss.
Quickening her steps, Kyla reached the homey-looking restaurant, a welcome touch of normalcy in this place tainted by wickedness. As she grabbed for the door handle, someone on the other side pulled the door open. Losing her balance, she wobbled in the entrance as a hand cupped her elbow, steadying her. An electric charge coursed up her arm.
"Sorry." The deep voice was definitely male, with a trace of a British accent, and so close to her ear she could feel his warm breath. She inhaled his scent of spice, familiar, yet exotic.
The timbre of his voice ignited a spark of recognition in her. She was eye level with a very masculine chest covered by a black T-shirt that stretched over hard muscles and defined biceps. Slowly raising her gaze, she met deep topaz eyes—eyes touched with sadness that spoke of pain and unbearable loss. Thick, black hair framed the rugged beauty of his face. The large, jagged scar on his neck saved him from being too perfect. She didn't know him, yet she felt as if she did.
He stood holding the door, not moving. The awareness in his eyes gradually changed to shock, then fear. Rooted to the spot, Kyla couldn't look away.
A roaring noise filled her head, and pain stabbed her temples, signaling a vision. The man, the restaurant, the street wavered. Disjointed scenes flickered before her. A tall man, his face shadowed, his long, black hair blowing in a rush of wind, stood before an empty grave. She felt his crushing grief as if it were her own.
She blinked, and the vision left her. And so had the mysterious stranger. The restaurant door closed slowly behind her, leaving her alone on the sidewalk. She looked both ways down the street, but the man seemed to have disappeared.
Cara Marsi likes to describe herself as a former corporate drone and cubicle dweller. Now that she’s no longer a slave to the corporate world, she can more fully indulge her love of romance. She likes to write about feisty, independent women and the hot guys who love them. She’s published in traditional romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. In addition, she’s sold more than a dozen short stories to women’s magazines.
Cara and her husband like to travel, and she loves to write about the places they’ve visited. They share their home with a fat, black diva of a cat named Killer.
Please visit Cara’s website, www.caramarsi.com, to learn more about her books and her life. And to see a picture of Killer all pumped up for Halloween.
Excellent excerpt. I enjoyed it very much. I'll check out the book.
And I loved the info on the paranormal beings. Excellent information and fodder for any number of stories.
Pam, thanks for having me.
I can get definitely get behind sexy vamps and shifters/weres, but fairies just don't do it for me, LOL (apologies to Charlaine Harris and Charlotte Featherstone - I tried, I really did!). I can't get past the 'modern interpretation' I suppose.
Cursed Mates definitely sounds like a great read - thanks for the blurb and teaser!
I also found your take about the mythology of legend intriguing. Maybe our fascination with these creatures comes in part from living in a world mired in technology. Perhaps we like the idea of powerful forces that don’t rely on gizmos, gadgets or nodules to function, that can’t be explained by science.
However, Cara does a great job with her Cursed Mates (which I loved) and made her werewolf into a very sexy man. Loved the characters and story.
Robin, thank you so much for your kind words about Cursed Mates. I do love my Nick.