Copyright

Die Booth

"Dogged"

© 2011, Die Booth
Self Published
die.booth[at]gmail.com

Justin Owen

© 2011, Justin Owen
Self Published
http://www.justinowenphotography.co.uk/
I won't be dissecting (heh) every story I post here but I wanted to say a few words about my first story for the Re-Vamp! project, The Tangled Thread.

I'm not sure it's a scary tale exactly, but the reason I wrote it was to explore the changing vampire 'fashions' and cultural attitudes towards the myth. My idea was to take a modern vampire and place it in a historical setting, then take a traditional, folk-tale vampire and place it in the modern world and see what happened.

In part one (an obvious pastiche on late Victorian/early 20th century horror) our no-nonsense protagonist sees the world very much in black and white and as soon as he realises that the beautiful, sensitive, seemingly doomed creature in the house is indeed supernatural, he uses his knowledge of it to exterminate without compunction. I'm not sure what might have happened if he'd not been so businesslike - he may have spared a cursed yet essentially innocent creature's life, or he may have lived to regret his decision - much like the protagonist in part two.

In part two, I wanted to keep some kind of (tangled) thread running through the narrative, so I had the idea of the second protagonist as a descendent of the first - like history (and storybook monster) repeating itself. As soon as I started writing part two I knew that the family had moved to America - I think this suggested itself to me due to the fact that, much as 'old fashioned' horror conjures images of Transylvanian castles and misty English graveyards, modern horror puts me in mind of America - of Halloween and Psycho and shopping malls full of zombies. I set it in Astoria as a nod to The Goonies!

For me, part two was less fun to write than part one (I can never resist some old-fashioned language!) but much more interesting. Putting a traditional monster with no reason or humanity into a modern setting is terrifying - it's why the vampires of '30 Days of Night' will always captivate me more than any 'Interview with the Vampire' angst.
I drew on the earliest folk traditions of the vampire that I knew of: the blood-gorged, reanimated corpse with no human reason but the obsessive compulsion to count dropped items; traditionally grains of rice or salt, if I remember correctly. This compulsion is mistaken by the protagonist for intelligence, which stalls him from running away - a fatal mistake. This modern teenager only judges by modern standards, brought up in a society that teaches that there are no monsters under the bed and humans control everything. I left the story with him slowly becoming the monster himself, determined that he will overcome and be 'a better vampire' by sheer force of determination - will become, in fact, the creature that his ancestor gunned down in that London apartment.
I'd like to think that as soon as the vampirism took hold, he turned instead into another feral killer.

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