Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Blather: The Case Against Twilight

My passionate hate for "Twilight" that burns with the fire of 1000 suns is not your run-of-the-mill, Gee-that-book-sucked, my-cat's-a$$hole-has-more-personality-that-Kristen-Stewart hate. It runs far deeper, to a personal level. Let's see if I can explain why I feel the urge to burn every single copy of the book and film, and the person who signed Meyers. It's really not a complicated reason.

I'm a writer(Newsflash!) and it is a passion. It has defined my life. I have been writing since I was 7 years old; my very first story was a 13 page story scribbled on unlined paper called "Telephone Terror" staring my brother as the antagonist. I am currently in the process of writing NaNoWriMo, and trying to get four books e-published. I would rather spend my night parked on my couch writing than doing many other things.

I have been trying to get published since I was 14. While I'm glad I didn't at that age, the fact remains that I have been trying.

One of my favorite things to write about is the supernatural: Witches, Werewolves, vampires. I've branched out into demons lately as well. I get to lose myself in the mythos of fantastic worlds-- either hidden in our or obvious in others.

My love for such things is not limited to my writing; I have a degree in literature and enjoy reading and researching these myths as well. I did an extensive paper in college called Dracula Was Schizophrenic: A Study of Clinical Vampirism So do not make the mistake of thinking that I'm just a fan. I have researched the origin myths of vampires and am well versed in lycanthropy and it's manifestations as well. Hypertrichosis-- look it up. I can discuss the influence of Goya on the modern interpretations of the witch. So I am not the casual observer.

That being said, I am more than willing to bend the rules for a good story.

Example 1: JR Ward has an incredible vampire myth going in her Black Dagger Brotherhood. But people-- they eat dinner. They don't sleep in coffins. They can only feed off of other vampires of the opposite sex. I still love these stories more than I can I put into words.

Example 2: The Vampire Diaries, the books. (I haven't been able to keep up with TV show.) Stefan and Damon can go out in the sunlight with the proper charms. I still loved those books.

Of course I can go on. There are a lot of variations on the myth. Nosferatu is nothing like Louis. Damon is nothing like Wrath or Rehvenge. And there's no one who whines quite as much as Louie. It's a bendable myth; it should be as it's a myth.

But even in different myth, the ultimate story stands. Medusa is still ugly. Werewolves still change at the moon. Witches still cast spells. Vampires can't be exposed to sunlight.

Please, read that line again.

Vampires can't be exposed to sunlight. Across the board. Even in TVD, they can't go out with the charms. Sunlight will still kill them. There's none of this sparkling BS. And anyway, how does something dead sparkle? Can you imagine sparkling zombies? They shimmer in sunlight, but that's because of the gore hanging off them. You know, intestines and other such things.

Now, please, keep reading. Because this isn't just about sparkling vampires, bottled in Falls, Washington. This is also about Pants; -- I mean Bella.

I have never met a character as complacent and dis-interesting as Bella Swan. Seriously. I couldn't care less about her if I tried. I've stepped in puddles deeper than her. Have you seen the memes out there comparing her to other characters in other books? There are many that just rip Bella into shreds. She is shredable, too. There is nothing deep or enduring about her. She bases her whole worth on her proximity to Edward and the worth he places on her. Now, while I have not read beyond the first book, it is my understanding that Edward leaves her in order to protect her (what now?) and she basically goes catatonic.

What a FANTASTIC reaction to someone leaving you. What a wonderful thing to teach our girls. No man? Curl up in a ball and lay there. He's not dead and neither is she. She just feels that she has NO worth if Edward isn't there.

Let's explore the Victorian side of the myth: Wilhelmina Murray, Mina to her friends. She is a typical Victorian woman of some means, with a fiancé who does not want to marry her until he has the means to make her life comfortable. When Jonathan, her fiancé, takes sick in Transylvania she does not curl up and die. She travels to find him at an abbey in Budapest and helps to nurse him back to health. They are married there.

The story wanders on, but Mina eventually is tricked into taking Dracula's blood after he takes hers and creates a bond between them. She's still not curling up in a corner here, people. She goes with her husband to fight this creature. Of course he insists that she stay home, but guess what? She's too strong of a spirit to stay and take it laying down. She wants to fight for herself and her husband and her friends. She lost her best friend to Dracula and she didn't want to lose herself.

Doesn't sound much like a Bella, does it?

I would rather my daughter imitate Mina rather than Bella any day. Mina had real guts for a Victorian woman, for a woman before Woman's liberation. Bella just whines in the world where she can do practically anything. Talk about taking your position for granted.

And Edward. Well, for him I'm going to have to go to Vampire diaries and compare him to Stefan. Both are older than the woman they are interested in, Stefan far older than Edward. Yet Stefan blends in with the high school crowd. He's not popular, he's not stand-offish. He's just there. I believe that the whole deal with Stefan was that he had seen Elena and wanted to get to know her better. Where Edward, and the entire Cullen clan, just kind of haunt the halls because what better to do with 100 years than play high school?

I can't get into villains because I never got to the Volturi. Though just reading the wiki on them, my ire was raised again. It says that they are a coven of vampires. Vampires are not covens. So even the terms aren't right.

Jacob and his ilk are referred to as werewolves-- which is incorrect as there is no hybridization of the wolf and human. They are either wolf or human. Therefore they are shifters, not werewolves. Though reading again on the wiki it appears she tries to correct this. But why correct when it should have been correct if she had done just a touch of research.

Which I suppose brings me to my last point.

I am more than happy to read a new take on the vampire mythos. I have even bent my own rules and absorbed some others, created my own and tossed other ‘rules’ out the window.

But some rules, some traditions, should never be tossed out the window. People love vampires  because they can’t out the light. People enjoy reading about vampires because they have  the flaw of needing blood. People like werewolves/shifters because they are controlled by the moon. Flaws are what makes the character.

If Meyer had done her research, she would have discovered that there is a real disease that most psychologists and medical doctors point to as the origin of the vampire myth. It’s called porphyria. There are two forms: Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP) and Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria (CEP). They are real diseases, and the second is a link to a support group!

Now, keep in mind, they didn’t know what caused these disease and certainly didn’t have a clue to the cure or control of it. People who EPP and CEP had no choice but to stay inside during the day lest their skin blister and peel due to the over abundance of ferrochelatase which is used in the creation of porphyrin. Porphyrin is poisonous to our bodies and sunlight triggers the poison, which the causes the necrosis (death) of the skin cells.  Sufferers also lack heme, a critical blood component derived from porphyrin necessary to transport oxygen around the body. These two things can cause pelvic and shoulder girdle muscle weakness.


  • Well, if you go out in the sun, your skin blisters and dies. (The sun component to the myth.)
  • You don’t produce enough heme to get the oxygen around your body. (Deathly white pallor myth)
  • You don’t have enough heme, which is blood, so wouldn’t it make sense to replace it? (Blood drinking myth)
  • Muscle weakness. (Hunched or shuffling part of the myth).
And there my friends you have your origin myth of the vampire.

Now, over the years we have called them the undead, given them speed and strength and more recently, sexual appeal. These components have been added over the years out of our misunderstanding of the disease and of the fear of the dark. (A psychologically innate fear that we all have.) Authors have further corrupted the myth by changing some of the basic myth as well. My vampires can’t eat anything except deep red food and raw meat, JR Ward’s can eat anything, Anne Rice’s live on blood alone. It all works because the blood is still there. My vampires can use Moonstones created by Strigoi to go into the sun. Ward’s can’t even watch the sun rise. Rice’s can run like hell on a cloudy day and live. But they all work because again, the fear of the sun is there.

Researching  a little on the psychology of vampires and lycans would reveal why people enjoy them. Would Lestat be more enjoyable if he could go out in the day? Hell, one of my favorite lines from him is, “Madam, my days are sacrosanct!” Or would Claudia’s death have any impact at all if she didn’t turn into that pile of ash in the sun?

By not researching, by not finding out why these myths came about and just tossing it out there that this guy can’t go in the sun because he *sparkles* takes away the character’s flaw, decreasing his personality and appeal. Yes, Louis is whining bastard, but he nearly dies to get revenge on those who killed Claudia because he dashes into the sun after setting the Theatre des Vampires on fire.  That’s something! What happens when Bella get the shit beat out of her in Arizona? Well, there’s Edward. Yawn. Knew that was going to happen.

I really wish that Meyer had not written those books. So many other books are far more worthy of such fame. Please see my book blather post on The Elemental Mysteries for one of them.

I hope that this will also go towards explaining my vampires, my mythos and where they come from. You’ll find that my vampire in “Penumbra: Equinox” is not sexy, not someone you want to know, and loves his blood. He’s a cold hearted bastard, based on some of the finest literary traditions out there.

*insert evil laugh here*

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